The Anatomy of the Boat

Now that we know about the bow, stern, port, and starboard, let us look at some other boating terms:

Abeam: A direction at right angles to the pleasure craft.

Aft: the area at the back of the boat (or towards the stern of the boat)

Beam: the boat’s width at its widest point 

Bilge:  the lowest part of the boat’s hull

Cleats: the elevated, two-pronged fittings that secure a line to the boat

Deck: the surface the crew and passengers walk on above the bilge

Draft: the distance between a boat’s bottom and waterline, which determines how deep it can safely navigate in

Forward: the direction toward the bow of the boat

Freeboard: the distance from the waterline to the deck’s lowest point

Gunwale: the upper edge of the boat’s side (also called sheer)

Hull: the hollow, lowermost portion of a boat that floats both above and below water and supports it

Keel: the bottom planking intersection along the boat’s centerline or the inside part that backs it up. It helps prevent the vessel from going sideways off course when the wind blows

Pleasure Craft: a watercraft used exclusively for pleasure, not for profit or service

Sidelights: nighttime navigational lights on boats

Transom:  the part of the boat that makes up the stern

Wake: the visible track of “V-shaped” turbulence that’s expelled behind a boat

Waterline: the line on the hull that indicates how high the water can be without causing damage

Here are two important terms to know according to USCG Navigation Rules:

Stand-on: a vessel directed by the Navigation Rules to maintain course and speed; however, appropriate action may be taken to avoid collision.

Give-way: a vessel directed by the Navigation Rules to keep out of the way of another shall, so far as possible, take early and substantial action to keep well clear.



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