Top 5 Boating Terms to Know

Westport Marina Boat Rentals - Lake Norman


Any sailor worth his salt knows boating has a language all its own. For generations, boating lingo has separated the salty-dogs from the landlubbers. So, if you want to sound like a pro on Lake Norman here are five key terms you should learn before setting sail!


5. Port & Starboard – On a boat, everything has a special name – even left and right. Port is the left side of a ship and starboard is the right side. These phrases are used because no matter which way the boat is facing, the captain knows which side of his own boat is starboard. But, how did they get their names? Port is named after the side ships unload cargo when docked in a port. But, starboard has more ancient origins. The Olde English word “steorbord” came from the “steering” side of a boat (“bord”), which was usually on the right-hand side.


4. Bow & Stern – When boating, even on Lake Norman, it helps to know your bow from your stern. The bow is the front of the boat, usually pointed to better cut through the water. Anything that goes toward the bow is going “fore.” The back end of a boat is called the stern. Moving toward the stern of the boat is called going “aft.”


3. Galley – On a ship, the kitchen is called the galley. This area of the ship is designed to fit in a small space and to account for the rocking of the waves. Some galleys have stoves that are “gimbaled,” or put on a floating type of suspension, so that food won’t move on stove.


2. Hull & Gunwale – The hull is the body of the ship. Since this is the part of the boat that is in the water its design varies between different styles of boats. On top of the hull is the gunwale, which forms a small wall on the deck. Originally, the gunwale was where boats would mount their guns and canons.


1. Head – When a captain refers to “hitting the head,” he isn’t talking about where he puts his hat! That’s because the head is actually a boat’s bathroom. The head got its name from its position at the front of old sailing ships. This placed sailors out of the way of captain’s quarters on the stern, and also had the advantage of not being downwind of the deck!


If you keep these great boating terms in mind, you’ll sound like a pro in no time! If you want to get started on your nautical knowledge, contact Westport Marina to rent a boat on Lake Norman today!