Boating Basics Glossary of Terms

Boating Basics Glossary of Terms

ABAFT – Toward the rear (stern) of the boat. Behind.

ABEAM – At right angles to the keel of the boat, but not on the boat.

ABOARD – On or within the boat.

ABOVE DECK – On the deck (not over it – see ALOFT)

ABREAST – Side by side; by the side of.

ADRIFT – Loose, not on moorings or towline.

AFT – Toward the stern of the boat.

AGROUND – Touching or fast to the bottom.

AHEAD – In a forward direction.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION – Artificial objects to supplement natural landmarks indicating safe and unsafe waters.

ALEE – Away from the direction of the wind. Opposite of windward.

ALOFT – Above the deck of the boat.

AMIDSHIPS – In or toward the center of the boat.

ANCHORAGE – A place suitable for anchoring in relation to the wind, seas and bottom.

ASTERN – In back of the boat, opposite of ahead.

ATHWARTSHIPS – At right angles to the centerline of the boat; rowboat seats are generally athwart ships.

AWEIGH – The position of anchor as it is raised clear of the bottom.

BATTEN DOWN – Secure hatches and loose objects both within the hull and on deck.

BEAM – The greatest width of the boat.

BEARING – The direction of an object expressed either as a true bearing as shown on the chart, or as a bearing relative to the heading of the boat.

BELOW – Beneath the deck.

BIGHT – The part of the rope or line, between the end and the standing part, on which a knot is formed.

BILGE – The interior of the hull below the floor boards.

BITTER END – The last part of a rope or chain.The inboard end of the anchor rode.

BOAT – A fairly indefinite term. A waterborne vehicle smaller than a ship. One definition is a small craft carried aboard a ship.

BOAT HOOK – A short shaft with a fitting at one end shaped to facilitate use in putting a line over a piling, recovering an object dropped overboard, or in pushing or fending off.

BOOT TOP – A painted line that indicates the designed waterline.

BOW – The forward part of a boat.

BOW LINE – A docking line leading from the bow.

BOWLINE – A knot used to form a temporary loop in the end of a line.

BRIDGE – The location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled. “Control Station” is really a more appropriate term for small craft.

BRIDLE – A line or wire secured at both ends in order to distribute a strain between two points.

BRIGHTWORK – Varnished woodwork and/or polished metal.

BULKHEAD – A vertical partition separating compartments.

BUOY – An anchored float used for marking a position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring.

BURDENED VESSEL – That vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rules, must give way to the privileged vessel. The term has been superseded by the term “give-way”.

CABIN – A compartment for passengers or crew.

CAPSIZE – To turn over.

CAST OFF – To let go.

CATAMARAN – A twin-hulled boat, with hulls side by side.

CHAFING GEAR – Tubing or cloth wrapping used to protect a line from chafing on a rough surface.

CHART – A map for use by navigators.

CHINE – The intersection of the bottom and sides of a flat or v-bottomed boat.

CHOCK – A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chafe.

CLEAT – A fitting to which lines are made fast. The classic cleat to which lines are belayed is approximately anvil-shaped.

CLOVE HITCH – A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a spar or piling.

COAMING – A vertical piece around the edge of a cockpit, hatch, etc. to prevent water on deck from running below.

COCKPIT – An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.

COIL – To lay a line down in circular turns.

COURSE – The direction in which a boat is steered.

CUDDY – A small shelter cabin in a boat.

CURRENT – The horizontal movement of water.

DEAD AHEAD – Directly ahead.

DEAD ASTERN – Directly aft.

DECK – A permanent covering over a compartment, hull or any part thereof.

DINGHY – A small open boat. A dinghy is often used as a tender for a larger craft.

DISPLACEMENT – The weight of water displaced by a floating vessel, thus, a boat’s weight.

DISPLACEMENT HULL – A type of hull that plows through the water, displacing a weight of water equal to its own weight, even when more power is added.

DOCK – A protected water area in which vessels are moored.The term is often used to denote a pier or a wharf.

DOLPHIN – A group of piles driven close together and bound with wire cables into a single structure.

DRAFT – The depth of water a boat draws.

EBB – A receding current.

FATHOM – Six feet.

FENDER – A cushion, placed between boats, or between a boat and a pier, to prevent damage.

FIGURE EIGHT KNOT – A knot in the form of a figure eight, placed in the end of a line to prevent the line from passing through a grommet or a block.

FLARE – The outward curve of a vessel’s sides near the bow. A distress signal.

FLOOD – A incoming current.

FLOORBOARDS – The surface of the cockpit on which the crew stand.

FLUKE – The palm of an anchor.

FOLLOWING SEA – An overtaking sea that comes from astern.

FORE-AND-AFT – In a line parallel to the keel.

FOREPEAK – A compartment in the bow of a small boat.

FORWARD – Toward the bow of the boat.

FOULED – Any piece of equipment that is jammed or entangled, or dirtied.

FREEBOARD – The minimum vertical distance from the surface of the water to the gunwale.

GALLEY – The kitchen area of a boat.

GANGWAY – The area of a ship’s side where people board and disembark.

GEAR – A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle and other equipment.

GIVE-WAY VESSEL – A term used to describe the vessel which must yield in meeting, crossing, or overtaking situations.

GRAB RAILS – Hand-hold fittings mounted on cabin tops and sides for personal safety when moving around the boat.

GROUND TACKLE – A collective term for the anchor and its associated gear.

GUNWALE – The upper edge of a boat’s sides.

HARD CHINE – An abrupt intersection between the hull side and the hull bottom of a boat so constructed.

HATCH – An opening in a boat’s deck fitted with a watertight cover.

HEAD – A marine toilet. Also the upper corner of a triangular sail.

HEADING – The direction in which a vessel’s bow points at any given time.

HEADWAY – The forward motion of a boat. Opposite of sternway.

HELM – The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.

HELMSPERSON – The person who steers the boat.

HITCH – A knot used to secure a rope to another object or to another rope, or to form a loop or a noose in a rope.

HOLD – A compartment below deck in a large vessel, used solely for carrying cargo.

HULL – The main body of a vessel.

INBOARD – More toward the center of a vessel; inside; a motor fitted inside a boat.

INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – ICW: bays, rivers, and canals along the coasts (such as the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts), connected so that vessels may travel without going into the sea.

JACOBS LADDER – A rope ladder, lowered from the deck, as when pilots or passengers come aboard.

JETTY – A structure, usually masonry, projecting out from the shore; a jetty may protect a harbor entrance.

KEEL – The centerline of a boat running fore and aft; the backbone of a vessel.

KNOT – A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour.

KNOT – A fastening made by interweaving rope to form a stopper, to enclose or bind an object, to form a loop or a noose, to tie a small rope to an object, or to tie the ends of two small ropes together.

LATITUDE – The distance north or south of the equator measured and expressed in degrees.

LAZARETTE – A storage space in a boat’s stern area.

LEE – The side sheltered from the wind.

LEEWARD – The direction away from the wind. Opposite of windward.

LEEWAY – The sideways movement of the boat caused by either wind or current.

LINE – Rope and cordage used aboard a vessel.

LOG – A record of courses or operation. Also, a device to measure speed.

LONGITUDE – The distance in degrees east or west of the meridian at Greenwich, England.

LUBBER’S LINE – A mark or permanent line on a compass indicating the direction forward parallel to the keel when properly installed.

MARLINSPIKE – A tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.

MIDSHIP – Approximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stern.

MOORING – An arrangement for securing a boat to a mooring buoy or a pier.

NAUTICAL MILE – One minute of latitude; approximately 6076 feet – about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5280 feet.

NAVIGATION – The art and science of conducting a boat safely from one point to another.

NAVIGATION RULES – The regulations governing the movement of vessels in relation to each other, generally called steering and sailing rules.

OUTBOARD – Toward or beyond the boat’s sides. A detachable engine mounted on a boat’s stern.

OVERBOARD – Over the side or out of the boat.

PIER – A loading platform extending at an angle from the shore.

PILE – A wood, metal or concrete pole driven into the bottom. Craft may be made fast to a pile; it may be used to support a pier (see PILING) or a float.

PILING – Support, protection for wharves, piers etc.; constructed of piles (see PILE)

PILOTING – Navigation by use of visible references, the depth of the water, etc.

PLANING – A boat is said to be planing when it is essentially moving over the top of the water rather than through the water.

PLANING HULL – A type of hull shaped to glide easily across the water at high speed.

PORT – The left side of a boat looking forward. A harbor.

PRIVELEGED VESSEL – A vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rule, has right-of-way (this term has been superseded by the term “stand-on”).

QUARTER – The sides of a boat aft of amidships.

QUARTERING SEA – Sea coming on a boat’s quarter.

RODE – The anchor line and/or chain.

ROPE – In general, cordage as it is purchased at the store. When it comes aboard a vessel and is put to use it becomes line.

RUDDER – A vertical plate or board for steering a boat.

RUN – To allow a line to feed freely.

RUNNING LIGHTS – Lights required to be shown on boats underway between sundown and sunup.

SATELLITE NAVIGATION – A form of position finding using radio transmissions from satellites with sophisticated on-board automatic equipment.

SCOPE – Technically, the ratio of length of anchor rode in use to the vertical distance from the bow of the vessel to the bottom of the water. Usually six to seven to one for calm weather and more scope in storm conditions.

SCREW – A boat’s propeller.

SCUPPERS – Drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself.

SEA COCK – A through hull valve, a shut off on a plumbing or drain pipe between the vessel’s interior and the sea.

SEAMANSHIP – All the arts and skills of boat handling, ranging from maintenence and repairs to piloting, sail handling, marlinespike work, and rigging.

SEA ROOM – A safe distance from the shore or other hazards.

SEAWORTHY – A boat or a boat’s gear able to meet the usual sea conditions.

SECURE – To make fast.

SET – Direction toward which the current is flowing.

SHIP – A larger vessel usually thought of as being used for ocean travel. A vessel able to carry a “boat” on board.

SLACK – Not fastened; loose. Also, to loosen.

SOLE – Cabin or saloon floor. Timber extensions on the bottom of the rudder. Also the molded fiberglass deck of a cockpit.

SOUNDING – A measurement of the depth of water.

SPRING LINE – A pivot line used in docking, undocking, or to prevent the boat from moving forward or astern while made fast to a dock.

SQUALL – A sudden, violent wind often accompanied by rain.

SQUARE KNOT – A knot used to join two lines of similar size. Also called a reef knot.

STANDING PART – That part of a line which is made fast.The main part of a line as distinguished from the bight and the end.

STAND-ON VESSEL – That vessel which has right-of-way during a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation.

STARBOARD – The right side of a boat when looking forward.

STEM – The forward most part of the bow.

STERN – The after part of the boat.

STERN LINE – A docking line leading from the stern.

STOW – To put an item in its proper place.

SWAMP – To fill with water, but not settle to the bottom.

THWARTSHIPS – At right angles to the centerline of the boat.

TIDE – The periodic rise and fall of water level in the oceans.

TILLER – A bar or handle for turning a boat’s rudder or an outboard motor.

TOPSIDES – The sides of a vessel between the waterline and the deck; sometimes referring to onto or above the deck.

TRANSOM – The stern cross-section of a square sterned boat.

TRIM – Fore and aft balance of a boat.

UNDERWAY – Vessel in motion, i.e., when not moored, at anchor, or aground.

V BOTTOM – A hull with the bottom section in the shape of a “V”.

WAKE – Moving waves, track or path that a boat leaves behind it, when moving across the waters.

WATERLINE – A line painted on a hull which shows the point to which a boat sinks when it is properly trimmed (see BOOT TOP).

WAY – Movement of a vessel through the water such as headway, sternway or leeway.

WINDWARD – Toward the direction from which the wind is coming.

YACHT – A pleasure vessel, a pleasure boat; in American usage the idea of size and luxury is conveyed, either sail or power.

YAW – To swing or steer off course, as when running with a quartering sea.

Hull ID Numbers

Hull ID Numbers

Play the Numbers Game (What’s a HIN?)

Did you ever wonder what that strange series of letters and numbers on the transom of your boat are. Well, if you have taken the Nautical Know How course you know they are Hull Identification Numbers (HIN) and that they are required. But, what do they mean?

All boats manufactured or imported on or after November 1, 1972 must bear a HIN. The HIN is a 12 character serial number that uniquely identifies your boat. The HIN has an important safety purpose. It enables manufacturers to clearly identify for boat owners the boats that are involved in a defect notification and recall campaign. A HIN is not the same as a State registration number, which may be required to be displayed on the bow of your boat. The HIN is a Federal requirement; your boatÂ’s registration number is a State requirement similar to the license plate on your car. The HIN, however, is required to be shown on the State certificate of registration.

 

 

 

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*Key to Month of Model Year

Figure 1 – HIN Formats Before August 1, 1984

The boat manufacturer must display two identical hull identification numbers, no less than one-fourth of an inch high, on each boat hull. The primary HIN must be permanently affixed (so that it can be seen from outside the boat) to the starboard side of the transom within two inches of the top of the transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. On boats without transoms or on boats on which it would be impractical to the transom, the HIN must be affixed to the starboard outboard side of the hull, aft within one foot of the stern and within two inches of the top of hull side, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. The starboard outboard side of the hull aft is the preferred HIN location for many manufacturers. On catamarans and pontoon boats the HIN must be affixed on the aft crossbeam within one foot of the starboard hull attachment.

 

 

 

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Figure 2 – HIN Format After August 1, 1984

Boats manufactured or imported on or after August 1, 1984, also have a duplicate secondary HIN affixed somewhere on an unexposed location inside the boat or beneath a fitting or item of hardware. The purpose is to help authorities identify your boat if a thief or vandals remove or damage the primary HIN on the transom. It is illegal for anyone (manufacturer, dealer, distributor, or owner) to alter or remove a HIN without the express written authorization of the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard.

The regulations prescribe the format of the HIN. The first three characters are a MIC (Manufacturer Identification Code) assigned by the Coast Guard to the manufacturer or the person importing the boat; characters four through eight are a serial number assigned by the manufacturer; the last four characters indicate the month and year the boat was built, and the model year. Prior to August 1, 1984, the manufacturer had the option of expressing this in the form of a model year designation.

The Coast Guard maintains a searchable database of MICs if you want to check yours out.

Individuals building boats for their own use and not for the purposes of sale are what are referred to as “backyard boat builders.” They must obtain a 12 character HIN from their State boating agency. The Manufacturer Identification Code at the beginning of the HIN for a “home built” boat is an abbreviation for the State followed by a “Z” which indicates that it is a State identification.

Ceremony for Renaming Your Boat

Ceremony for Renaming Your Boat

Everyone knows that renaming your boat will bring nothing but bad luck and make your boating experience something that you will want to forget. But what happens when, after months of searching, you find your dreamboat with a name that you just cannot live with. For example, my first love was a 28-foot Alden with the most beautiful lines IÂ’d ever seen. She was named

Perfidious.

How could anything this graceful be named

betrayer of trust

? Well, I never bought her, but I often thought that if I had, I would have renamed her

Magic

, after my wife.

Renaming a boat is, of course, not something to be done lightly. Since the beginning of time, sailors have sworn that there are unlucky ships and the unluckiest ships of all are those who have defied the gods and changed their names. So, is there a way to change a name and not incur the wrath of those deities that rule the elements? Yes, Virginia, there is.

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According to legend, each and every vessel is recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea. It is logical therefore, if we wish to change the name of our boat, the first thing we must do is to purge its name from the Ledger of the Deep and from PoseidonÂ’s memory.This is an involved process beginning with the removal or obliteration of every trace of the boatÂ’s current identity. This is essential and must be done thoroughly.I once went through the ceremony after the owner had assured me that every reference to his boatÂ’s old name had been purged from her. A couple of weeks later, he discovered he had missed a faded name on her floating key chain. I advised him to start over, perhaps with a little extra libation for the ruler of the sea. Unfortunately, he declined.Since then, his boat has been struck by lightning, had its engine ruined by the ingress of the sea, been damaged by collision and finally sunk! It pays to be thorough.In purging your boat, it is acceptable to use White-Out or some similar obliterating fluid to expunge the boatÂ’s name from log books, engine and maintenance records etc., but it is much easier to simply remove the offending document from the boat and start afresh. DonÂ’t forget the life rings and especially the transom and forward name boards.

Do not under any circumstances carry aboard any item bearing your boatÂ’s new name until the purging and renaming ceremonies have been completed!

Once you are certain every reference to her old name has been removed from her, all that is left to do is to prepare a metal tag with the old name written on it in water-soluble ink. You will also need a bottle of reasonably good Champagne. Plain old sparkling wine wonÂ’t cut it. Since this is an auspicious occasion, it is a good time to invite your friends to witness and to party. Begin by invoking the name of the ruler of the deep as follows:


Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name (here insert the old name of your vessel) which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea. (At this point, the prepared metal tag is dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea.)


In grateful acknowledgment of your munificence and dispensation, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court. (Pour at least half of the bottle of Champagne into the sea from East to West. The remainder may be passed among your guests.

It is usual for the renaming ceremony to be conducted immediately following the purging ceremony, although it may be done at any time after the purging ceremony. For this portion of the proceedings, you will need more Champagne, Much more because you have a few more gods to appease.Begin the renaming by again calling Poseidon as follows:


Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as (Here insert the new name you have chosen), guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.


In appreciation of your munificence, dispensation and in honor of your greatness, we offer these libations to your majesty and your court. (At this point, one bottle of Champagne, less one glass for the master and one glass for the mate are poured into the sea from West to East.)

The next step in the renaming ceremony is to appease the gods of the winds. This will assure you of fair winds and smooth seas. Because the four winds are brothers, it is permissible to invoke them all at the same time, however, during the ceremony; you must address each by name. Begin in this manner:


Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel (Insert your boat’s new name) the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.(Facing north, pour a generous libation of Champagne into a Champagne flute and fling to the North as you intone:) Great Boreas, exalted ruler of the North Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your frigid breath.(Facing west, pour the same amount of Champagne and fling to the West while intoning:)  Great Zephyrus, exalted ruler of the West Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your wild breath.(Facing east, repeat and fling to the East.) Great Eurus, exalted ruler of the East Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your mighty breath.


(Facing south, repeat, flinging to the South.) Great Notus, exalted ruler of the South Wind, grant us permission to use your mighty powers in the pursuit of our lawful endeavors, ever sparing us the overwhelming scourge of your scalding breath.

Of course, any champagne remaining will be the beginnings of a suitable celebration in honor of the occasion.

Once the ceremony has been completed, you may bring aboard any and all items bearing the new name of your vessel. If you must schedule the painting of the new name on the transom before the ceremony, be sure the name is not revealed before the ceremony is finished. It may be covered with bunting or some other suitable material.