Boating Glossary

When you're new to boating some nautical words might not be easy to understand, so we have provided a basic introduction to some of the most common terminology.

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PADDLE

1. A stick with a blade in the end of it used to propel a small boat through the water.
2. The act of using a paddle to propel a boat.

PAINTER

A line tied to the bow of a small boat for use in towing, securing or tying up.

PARACHUTE FLARE

An emergency signal flare that will float down on a parachute after launch, hopefully improving its visibility.

PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE (PFD)

Official terminology for life jacket. When properly used a PFD will support a person in the water. Also called a life jacket, life preserver or life vest.

PIER

A loading platform extending at an angle from the shore.

PILE

A wood, metal or concrete pole driven into the bottom. Craft may be made fast to a pile; it may be used to support a pier (see PILING) or a float.

PILING

Support, protection for wharves, piers etc.; constructed of piles (see PILE)

PILOTING

Navigation by use of visible references, the depth of the water, etc.

PLANING

A boat is said to be planing when it is essentially moving over the top of the water rather than through the water.

PLANING HULL

A type of hull shaped to glide easily across the water at high speed.

PLOT

To mark a course on a chart.

PORT

1. The left side of a boat looking forward.
2. A harbor.

PORTHOLE

Openings in a ship's hull for ventilation, light and other purposes.

POWER WINCH

A powered device on deck, on a spar or otherwise mounted which is used to haul a line.

PREFERRED CHANNEL BUOY

Also known as a junction buoy. A red and green horizontally striped buoy used in the United States to mark the separation of a channel into two channels. The preferred channel is indicated by the color of the uppermost stripe. Red on top indicates that the preferred channel is to the right as you return.

PREVAILING WINDS

The typical winds for a particular region and time of year.

PRIVELEGED VESSEL

A vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rule, has right-of-way (this term has been superseded by the term "stand-on").

PROPELLER

A rotating device, with two or more blades, that acts as a screw in propelling a vessel. Sometimes called a screw.

PUMPOUT

Removing waste from a holding tank.

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