Chapter 1: The Basics of Your Boat

Boating Terms and Definitions

The following terms are some of the most important concepts one will encounter while learning about boating. Be sure that you're comfortable with these definitions and concepts, since many safety regulations and future explanations are based on these terms.

Boating terms and definitions

Navigation Lights: Lights used to convey your boat's position to other craft.

Gunwales: The edges of the side of the boat. They reinforce the hull, making it sturdier.

Stern Light: A bright light on the stern of the boat. Used to convey position to other craft.

Cleats: Metal fittings on the top of the boat. Used to attach ropes and cables.

Hull: The body of the boat.

Transom: The back of the vessel, used to attach an outboard motor.

Boating terms

Beam: The width of the boat at its widest point.

Freeboard: The distance between the waterline and the gunwale.

Keel: The lowest point of the boat's hull. The part of the boat that sticks down into the water and prevents the boat from tipping over.

Draft: The draft determines the minimum depth of water in which the boat can safely float. It is the distance between the waterline and the keel.

Bilge: A compartment, at the lowest point, of the hull.

Waterline: The level that water normally reaches on the hull.