Before venturing out on open waters, it’s important to have a basic understanding of common boat terms associated with the positions and directions of your boat. To the uneducated ear, even the simplest of boating terms can sound like a second language.
Knowing these terms can help
SAVE A LIFE. Take them seriously.

Knowing them can make it easier to communicate with people aboard the boat and ashore. Improve your safety by making sure everyone in your boat knows these 15 simple boating terms. 

  1. Bow Front end of the boat. (think about taking a bow)
  2. Stern Rear end of the boat.
  3. Forward Moving towards the front end of the boat.
  4. Aft Moving towards the rear end of the boat.
  5. Underway When the boat is moving on its own, either by motor or wind.
  6. Ahead Boat is moving in a forward direction.
  7. Astern Boat is moving in a backwards direction (reverse).
  8. Port When looking forward in the boat, the entire left side of the boat.
  9. Starboard When looking forward in the boat, the entire right side of the boat.
  10. Port Bow Front left of the boat.
  11. Port Quarter Rear left side of the boat.
  12. Starboard Bow Front right of the boat.
  13. Starboard Quarter Rear right of the boat.
  14. Amidships The central part of a boating vessel.
  15. Topside Moving from a lower deck of a boat to an upper deck.

Arm yourself with these basic boating terms and enjoy the peace of mind of a safe boating trip not only for yourself, but your passengers as well. These boat terms come in very handy when speaking with dock staff and also any communications regarding the U.S. Coast Guard. With a little practice and some memorization, you'll be speaking the boating lingo in no time. Here's to happy boating!

October 06, 2021 — Tom Baker