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August 31, 2007

Nautical Knowledge

Improve your knowledge and sound like an expert!

Boating and fishing have had thousands of years to develop a special language to describe actions and equipment. To help you understand the terminology, and to perhaps make reading Sport Fishing's boating articles more rewarding, we offer you our Boaters' Lexicon. Feel free to e-mail with any terms you question in the future.



ABEAM - At a 90-degree angle from the centerline of a boat.

AMIDSHIPS (also midships) - In the center of a vessel; either with reference to her length or to her beam.

ATHWARTSHIPS - Across the length of a vessel; as opposed to fore-and-aft.

BELOWDECKS - An enclosed area lower than the main deck. Often houses living and sleeping accommodations.

BIAXIAL FIBERGLASS - Construction material consisting of fiberglass strands woven in two directions.

BILGE - The area between the bottom of the hull and the lowest floor of the boat.

BOLSTERS - Cushioned pads usually covered with vinyl, placed on the gunwales and coamings so anglers can lean or brace themselves comfortably.

BOW - The pointy end or front of a boat.

BRIDGE DECK - An area between the cockpit and the cabin. The helm is found here on express, walkaround and cuddy boats.

BRIGHT WORK - Varnished woodwork.

BULKHEAD - A vertical wall dividing the hull into separate compartments. Some are watertight. In case of an accident at sea, watertight bulkheads confine seawater to one compartment. A collision bulkhead (in the bow) withstands heavy strain and shock in case the bow is breached.

BULWARK - A solid rail or low wall extending from the hull side upward to prevent boaters and gear from going overboard.

CENTERLINE - The lengthwise line through the longest part of a hull.

CHINE - The point along the length of a boat where the hull side meets the bottom.

COAMINGS - The vertical and horizontal surfaces inboard of the hull at the gunwale.

COMPANIONWAY - A narrow passage, usually leading to belowdecks spaces.

CONSOLE - The dash panel or center structure holding the helm and navigation electronics.

COMPOSITE - A non-fiberglass, non-organic addition to a laminate for strength without weight.

CRASH PUMP - A hose attached to a Y-valve, thence to the engine raw-water intake. In a sinking emergency, it uses the engine as a bilge pump.

CUDDY - A small cabin in the forward part of a boat.

DEADRISE - The angle of a boat bottom, measured from zero horizontal degrees. We quote the angle at the transom.

DISPLACEMENT - The weight of the water displaced by the vessel.

DIVINYCELL - A common core material made of rigid PVC foam with a closed, inert gas-filled cellular structure.

DRAFT - The minimum depth of water required to float a vessel.

EPOXY - A two-part polymer resin used for coatings and adhesives. A chemical reaction takes place between the resin and a hardener, which are mixed just before use. As the reaction takes place, the mixture hardens and binds.

FREEBOARD - The area of hull between the waterline and the gunwale. Also called topsides.

GELCOAT - The glossy outermost layer of a fiberglass boat. Protects laminate from water intrusion and allows for colored hulls.

GUNWALE - (Pronounced gun-nuhl) T-flat cap over the junction of hull and liner of a boat.

HELM - The machinery by which a vessel is steered, including the rudder, tiller, wheel, etc.

ISLAND BERTH - A bed in a cabin with access on three sides.

JOINERY (joinerwork) - The carpentry used in a vessel, most usually cabinetry, bulkheads and trim.

LEANING POST - A bench-type seat at some helms designed for leaning or sitting.

LINER - One of three main parts of most boats. The other two include the deck and the hull.

LIVEWELL - An oval or round compartment with moving water to hold live baits.

LOA - Length overall, including engine brackets and bow pulpits.

LWL (Length of waterline) - The length of a vessel's hull, where it meets the water's surface.

LAZARETTE - A storage compartment in the stern or under the cockpit sole.