Just like any other recreation, boating has its own terminology. It is important to know the correct terminology so that in emergencies and during the course of any cruise, boaters can communicate effectively.
Be aware of the following terms and their meanings.
Abaft – A direction toward the stern.
Abeam – A direction at right angles to the pleasure craft.
Aid to Navigation – Any device or object, outside the pleasure craft, that can be used for navigation. It may be placed specifically for navigation, or it may be a man-made or a natural structure not specifically placed for navigation purposes.
All Round Light – A navigation light on a pleasure craft showing an unbroken arc of the horizon over 360 degrees.
Anchor – A device used to hold a pleasure craft in position by attaching it to the bottom, using line or chain.
Anchor Light – A white light on a pleasure craft showing an unbroken arc of the horizon over 360 degrees.
Astern – A direction behind the stern.
Beam – The width of a pleasure craft.
Bilge – Nearly horizontal portion of the vessel’s bottom, inside or out.
Bitter End – The last part of a cable, rope or chain left on deck (wrapped around a bitt) when the remainder is overboard.
Bow – The forward portion of the pleasure craft.
Buoy – Floating Aid to Navigation
Compass – Instrument, magnetic or electronic, used for finding directions.
Displacement Hull – Hull form designed to move through the water.
Draft – The depth of water required to float a pleasure craft freely.
Fenders – Devices used to protect the side of a pleasure craft and absorb shock.
Gale Warning – Sustained winds at speeds from 34 to 47 knots inclusive.
Give-Way Vessel – The pleasure craft that must yield in any crossing, overtaking or meeting situation.
Hull – Main body of the pleasure craft not including masts, sails, rigging, equipment or machinery.
Hypothermia – Medical condition caused by the body losing heat faster than it can produce heat.
Leeward – Downwind, away from the wind.
Light Winds – Sustained winds at speeds less than 15 knots.
Mayday – International emergency radio call for life-threatening distress.
Masthead Light – White light on pleasure craft centreline showing an arc of visibility for a total of 225 degrees, from dead ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on port and starboard sides.
Moderate Winds – Sustained winds at speeds from 15 to 19 knots inclusive.
Navigation Lights – See Masthead Light, Sidelights, Sternlight, Running Lights.
Operator – The person in charge of, and in control of, a pleasure craft who is responsible for the pleasure craft.
Personal Watercraft – Atype of pleasure craft featuring an enclosed hull with no cockpit and a water jet drive. It is designed to be used by one or more people who stand, straddle or kneel during its operation.
PFD – Personal Flotation Device.
Planning Hull – Hull form designed to operate on top of the water.
Pleasure Craft – Any manner of boat, vessel or watercraft that is designed primarily for pleasure use and does not carry passengers or goods for hire, reward, remuneration or any object of profit.
Port – The left side of the pleasure craft when facing forward.
Power Driven Vessel – Any vessel propelled by machinery. (Collision Regulations, Rule 3, General Definitions)
Rode – Line or chain that connects the anchor to the pleasure craft.
Rudder – Underwater device used to steer a pleasure craft.
Rules of the Road – Marine rules for preventing collisions.
Running Lights – Lights that must be displayed when a vessel is underway at night or in restricted visibility.
Sailing Vessel – Any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used. (Collision Regulations, Rule 3, General Definitions)
Sidelights – Red on the port, green on the starboard, showing an arc of visibility from dead ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on their respective sides.
Small Craft Warning – Sustained winds at speeds from 20 to 33 knots inclusive.
Stand-On Vessel – The pleasure craft with the right of way in any crossing, overtaking or meeting situation.
Starboard – The right side of the pleasure craft when facing forward.
Steerable Nozzle – Device that directs the discharge of the Personal Watercraft jet pump.
Stern – The after portion of the pleasure craft.
Sternlight – White light at pleasure craft’s stern showing an arc of visibility from dead astern to 67.5 degrees forward on both sides.
Storm Warning – Sustained winds at speeds from 48 to 63 knots inclusive.
Strong Winds – Sustained winds at speeds from 20 to 33 knots inclusive.
Trip Plan – Document that outlines the pleasure craft’s intended route and time of arrival. Usually includes vessel description and list of passengers. Given to a responsible person.
Underway – A pleasure craft that is not at anchor or tied to shore.
Wake – Disturbed column of water around and behind a pleasure craft as it makes its way through the water.
Wash – Loose and broken water left behind by a pleasure craft including the water thrown aft by the propeller.
Way – Actual movement of pleasure craft through the water as in, Making Way.
Windward – Upwind, toward the wind.
Next Chapter: 2.1 Equipment Overview