Parts of a Boat

boating terminology

Parts of a Boat: Boating Terminology for Beginners

If you’re new to the boating community, familiarizing yourself with the different parts of a boat will help you talk the talk and ensure you set sail with confidence. Van Isle Marina has you covered with our handy beginner’s guide to the different parts of a boat. From the bow to the stern, and everything in between (the hull), know before you go!

  • Anchor: a large heavy object attached to a boat that is dropped into the water and attaches itself to the seabed to keep the boat in place when desired.
  • Awning: an often-retractable cover used to shield passengers from the weather.
  • Ballast: a large amount of weight (often lead) added to the boat used to better stabilize it.
  • Berth: the sleeping quarters of the boat.
  • Bilge: the lowest section of your yacht where water is collected, near the shower sump.
  • Bimini top: a canvas cover or similar used to occasionally shield passengers from the weather.
  • Bow: the entire front portion of the boat.
  • Bridge: the part of the boat where the controls are; the cockpit.
  • Bulkhead: a supportive structure between the bulk and the deck.
  • Cabin: private living quarters, usually below deck, where people sleep or otherwise spend time indoors.
  • Casting platform: an open area used to cast fishing rods.
  • Coaming: edging added to a cockpit to keep out water.
  • Console: a smaller area above a deck or cockpit offering guests more space to gather.
  • Deck: the part of the boat that is on top of the hull and an area where you can walk or work. It acts as a roof for the hull. Boats can have multiple decks (i.e. foredeck).
  • Dinghy: a smaller boat on board the larger boat uses to get to land easier or as a life-saving apparatus.
  • Fenders: parts made of plastic or rubber that act as a buffer between the boat and the dock or pier and other boats, protecting both from damage.
  • Foredeck: the front-most deck of the boat in boats that have multiple decks.
  • Flybridge: a steering station on specific models that is on top of the boat’s cabin.
  • Galley: the kitchen area where food is prepared.
  • Gunnel/Gunwale: The edge running along the side of the boat, adding structure and strength to the vessel’s design.
  • Hatch:  an opening connecting the bottom of the boat with the deck. There can be many hatches on a boat. Moving down into the hatch is “going below” and moving up through the hatch is “going topside.”
  • Head: the bathroom on board.
  • Helm: the wheel used to steer the boat.
  • Hull: the body (shell) of the boat that encompasses other parts like the deck, bottom, and sides. The hull doesn’t include the rigging or mast of a sailing yacht.
  • Keel: a part of the hull, the keel is the primary middle beam running from the front (bow) to the back (stern). It is considered the foundation of a boat, ship, or yacht.
  • Jump seats: Space-saving small seats you can pop in and out of place in the cabin.
  • Lifeline: lines or cables that act as guard rails, preventing people or gear from falling overboard.
  • Line: a synonym for rope used in the boating world.
  • Mooring: a place where you can safely secure your boat, such as a marina (a dock, wharf, or pier).
  • Port: as you’re facing the bow, the port side of the boat is the entire left side.
  • Porthole: a window in the side of the boat, often circular.
  • Propellers: the blades of a motor that spin and propel the boat.
  • Rigging: the lines used to operate the sails, masts, and yards.
  • Rudder: a vertical appendage attached to the hull and submerged in the water to control steering.
  • Scuppers:  drains on the deck used to spray incoming water from rain and waves overboard.
  • Starboard: as you’re facing the bow, the starboard side of the boat is the entire right side.
  • Stern: the back of the boat.
  • Superstructure: anything above the deck that is not the rigging is part of the boat’s superstructure.
  • Swim deck/platform: an area for swimming, located far away from the casting platform when a boat has both.
  • Tender: another name for a dinghy.
  • Thruster: located on the sides of ships and some yachts, thrusters are used to move the bow or stern sideways in either direction through the water without changing the vessel’s orientation.
  • Topside: the part of the hull that is not touching the water.
  • Underside: the part of the hull that is touching the water.

The above glossary includes the main parts of a boat, yet there are many more out there. However, this list is a good place to start if you’re thinking about embarking on the yachting lifestyle.

Van Isle Marina’s yachting experts will be happy to show you all the different parts of each boat you’re interested in at our marina. Check out the yachts we have for sale right now, or contact one of our yacht sales brokers to learn more about touring our marina and our new and used boats.