Nautical Terminology

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Abaft means in the direction toward the stern.

Aft: we go aft towards the stern.

Ahead means in a direction or position pointing forward of a vessel.

Astern means in a direction or position pointing behind a vessel.

Beam: Total (greatest) width of the vessel (from port to starboard or vice versa).

Bow: the bow of the vessel is the forward end of the craft.

Draft is the depth of water which a vessel requires to float freely.

Fenders: (see right) are devices that cushion the shocks and protect the side of a pleasure craft.

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Forward: we go forward towards the bow of our vessel (when one faces forward, they look towards the bow).

Freeboard: The vertical distance from the surface of the water to the gunwhale.

Gale Warning: sustained winds of 34 to 47 knots.

Gunwhale: (pronounced Gunnel) the upper edge of a boats sides.

Hull: the body of a pleasure craft exclusive of masts, sails, rigging, machinery, and equipment.

Light Winds: sustained winds less than 12 knots.

Moderate Winds: sustained winds of 13 to 19 knots.

Operator: means the person in effective charge and control of a pleasure craft. The operator is ultimately responsible for the vessel, crew and passengers.

Pleasure craft: is a boat, ship, vessel or any other description of water craft that is used exclusively for pleasure and does not carry passengers or goods for hire, reward or any object of profit.

Port: when one faces forward the port side is on the left.

Small Craft Warning: sustained winds of 20 to 33 knots.

Starboard: when one faces forward the starboard side is on the right.

Stern: the back of the boat is called the stern of the vessel.

Storm Warning: sustained winds of 48 - 63 knots.

Strong Winds: sustained winds of 20 - 33 knots (this is when small craft warnings are issued).

Transom: the stern cross-section of a square-sterned boat.

Underway: when a vessel is making way through the water (ie: not moored, anchored, or aground).

Wake: smooth track left by the passage of a vessel.

Wash: Visibly agitated water caused by the propeller of a vessel.