When you buy your first boat, the boating terminology can be a bit overwhelming. For that reason, I put together this article to help you understand what it means when someone says they are going to pass on your port side, or when your mechanic says your starboard engine needs a new water pump.
So let’s get into what the parts of a boat are called.
What Is The Hull Of A Boat?
The hull of a boat is the main body of a boat. The hull encompasses the bottom, sides, and interior of a boat. The hull serves as the structure of the boat. There are many different hull designs from monohull boats like deep-v hulls, bay boats, skiffs to
What Is The Bow of A Boat?
The bow of the boat is the forward most part of the vessel. If you hear someone say “forward” or “fore” they are referring to the front or “bow” of the boat.
Here is an example: We need to set the bow (front) anchor before we get off of the boat.
If the bow is the front of the boat, what is the back of the boat?
What Is The Stern Of A Boat?
The Stern is the back of the boat. You may hear someone use the word “aft” to describe the furthest back part of the boat. Aft is referring to the stern of the boat.
Here’s an example: I need to replace the swim ladder on the stern of the boat.
What Is The Transom On A Boat?
If the stern is the back of the boat, what is the transom and where is it located? The transom connects the two side of the boat together at the stern (back) of the boat. The transom is a critical part of your boat because it anchors the side that and it allows motors to be attached to the back of a boat.
What Is A Boat Chine?
A Chine on a boat is where the sides meet the bottom of the boat. You can have hard chines, soft chines or somewhere in between. In simple terms, a chine refers to angle changes in the cross section of a hull. The sharper the angle the harder the chine. A soft chine would be more round and less of a harsh angle.
What Lights Are Required On A Boat?
For boats under 39.4-feet (12 meters) long, you are required to have three lights on a boat. They include the side markers and an all-around light. The side markers include the red port light and green starboard lights that identify the sides of your boat. The all-around light is a bright white light that is visible from 360 degrees around your boat. The side markets and all-around light must be visible to other boaters for at least one mile.
If you plan to stay on your boat overnight, your all-around white light serves as an anchor light to notify other boats that you are at anchor and to help boaters avoid a collision with your vessel during night time operations.
What Is The Port Side of A Boat?
The port side of a boat is the left side of the boat. An easy way to remember that port is the left side is they are both spelled with four letters.
Here’s an example: Look off of the port side at the two porpoises swimming alongside of the boat.
What Color Light Is On The Port Side of A Boat?
On the port side of your boat, you are required to have a side marker that is red in color. This light indicated to other boaters where the port side of your boat is located so they can safely pass you while running in low light or no light conditions at night.
What Is The Starboard Side Of A Boat?
If the port side is left, the starboard side of a boat is the right side of the boat.
Example: I am going to dock the boat and we will tie up on the starboard side of the boat.
What Color Light Is On The Starboard Side of A Boat?
On the starboard (right) side of your boat, you are required to have a side marker that is green in color. This light indicated to other boaters where the starboard (right) side of your boat is located so they can safely pass you while running in low light or no light conditions at night.
Why Do Boaters Use Port and Starboard versus Left and Right?
The reason boaters use port and starboard is that it refers to the boat and it reduces confusion. The port and starboard of a vessel never change. Using left and right can be confusing because you do not know who’s left or right you are referencing. If am facing the stern of the boat and ask you to tie a line to the right side am I saying my right, your right or the right side of the boat? See how it can become very confusing. If I say tie a dock line on the port side you know without question that I need you to ties a dock line onto the left side of the boat.
What are Gunwales On A Boat?
Gunwales or Gunnels, are the top edge of the side of a boat. The term gunwales came from where guns would be mountain along the “gun ridge” on sailing ships. This area was often reinforced to be really strong to hold guns. Now they are strengthened more to hold rod holders for fighting those trophy fish.
Other Popular Boating Terms You Should Know:
How Boats Are Measured
The beam of a boat is the measurement of a boat width at its widest point.
Deadrise is the angle of a boat hulls “V” shape. It is usually measured in degrees at the transom of the boat even though your deadrise runs the length of the boat. For example, a flat bottom boat would have zero deadrise while other deep “V” boats could have a deadrise of 50. Typically, deadrise is discussed when talking about how comfortable a boat will ride in rougher water. More deadrise is good for cutting through the water, but a lot of deadrise can be a bad thing when you are stopped to fish. A boat with a lot of deadrise can flop side-to-side while sitting still in the water.
When a boat sits in the water, the draft is the total distance of the boat that sits below the water line. A skiff may have a draft of 7 inches while a 29-foot power catamaran has a draft near 18 inches. Boats are often generalized as having a shallow draft or a deep draft.
The weight of water displaced by a boat’s hull is called displacement.
The distance between the waterline of a boat and its gunwales is called a boat’s freeboard. Boats with higher freeboards make passengers feel safer in rough water because they feel better protected from big waves.
The length of a boat’s hull where it meets the water from the bow (front) to stern (back) is the waterline length of a boat. Occasionally you will see this abbreviated at “LWL” in marketing material.
As the name implies, the length overall measures a boat from tip to tip. The hull of a boat might be 21-feet long but it has a swim platform that sticks out another 3-feet from the stern. As a result, a 21-foot boat with a 3-foot swim platform would have a length overall of 24 feet in total. You may see length overall stated as “LOA” for an abbreviation.