Common Boating Terms Defined

Learn the Boating Lingo

Terms to Know Before Your Yacht Charter

Every industry has their own lingo and more often than not you need to be part of the community to understand the mix of slang and industry-specific terms that create the lexicon. For example, in golf a “birdie” represents a type of golf score. In the marketing world “CTA” means call to action. Law enforcement officers say “alpha charlie” when their assignment is complete and professionals in the financial sector refer to some industries like mining and dredging as “big uglies.”

The maritime industry is no different. The unique parts of a boat and the rules and regulations that govern national and international maritime laws, call for a specific set of terms that the average Joe might not be familiar with. Unfortunately, those average Joes are the people reserving boat rentals and yacht charters – rightfully so.

If you want to sound like an expert, or just understand the crew on your next yacht charter or boat rental, review the terms below. You’ll sound like a boating expert in no time!

Admiralty law – synonymous with maritime law, referring to the rules and procedures governing the boating industry

Ahoy – a verbal cue to pay attention, look (fair warning: this term may evoke feelings of being a pirate)

Ashore – a point of direction meaning toward the shore or on the shore

Backstays – cables on the boat that support the mast head

Bank – part of the ocean that is elevated to create a small shoreline

Bareboat charter – a type of charter where the renter is responsible for hiring of the crew and captain

Beaching – intentionally running the boat aground, usually on the sand (typically used for loading or unloading)

Bear down – to turn away from the wind

Bearing – the horizontal distance between two points

Boat-hook – a tool with a hook used to gather buoys or other floating objects

Bow – the front of the vessel

Catamaran – a type of boat with two hulls

Drifter – a type of fishing boat

Flank – the maximum speed of a ship

Flare – a signaling device to be used in distress

Flank – the maximum speed of a ship

Flare – a signaling device to be used in distress

Galley – the kitchen of the ship

Head – the toilet of the ship

Hull – the bottom part of the ship (the part of the boat that floats in the water)

Inboard motor – a boat with the engine mounted within the hull of the boat (not on the back of the boat)

Keel – the central structural basis of the hull

Knot – a unit of measurement, used like the mile on land

Land lubber – a person who is not familiar with the ocean (FYI – you’ll be a land lubber on your first yacht charter)

Master – the captain of a commercial vessel

Moor – to attach a boat to a mooring buoy or post

Outboard motor – a boat with the engine mounted on the back of the boat

Pontoon – a type of boat that has a flat bottom

Port – the left side (the port side has a red light at night)

sonar – the process of emitting waves in the ocean to determine what objects, if any are closeby

Starboard – the right side (the starboard side has a green light at night)

Stern – the back of the ship

True north – the direction of the north pole

Wake – the waves created by moving the boat through the water

Windward – the direction that the wind is blowing

For more terms check out our list of yachting terms.

Test Your Maritime Lingo – Reserve a Yacht Charter

Did you know that reserving a yacht charter is just as easy as learning the language of the maritime industry? Boatsetter is a ride sharing company that connects boaters with boat owners. Visit our website for more information about our yachting destinations, which include the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Greece, the French Riviera, Croatia and Spain.

Find the perfect yacht charter via Boatsetter

Le FontaineBleau

Cruise with a Yacht

Get Started

Yacht Party Rental

Set Sail Today

Get Started

Good Fellas

Get on the Water

Get Started

Reserve your yacht charter!

Search our fleet and set sail today!

Search Boat Rentals