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Boating terms


Did you find that on your last outing in your boat as a novice, that others were cussing you and shaking their fists? Well, maybe the following explanations will help with that in the future.

When it comes to boating terms, they can be very confusing for the novice boater. I remember my first few experiences, having never taken the time to know whats what in the boating world. Being cussed at, the shaking fists, the threatening looks from others, all wised me up greatly. I thought to myself, 'geeeeze, what am I doing so wrong?".
Lets start with a few simple things that everyone needs to know from the word go. The parts of the boat, specifically the front, sides, and back, all have a word for them. The front of any boat is called the "bow", the back of a boat is called the "stern", the right side of the boat (sitting in the drivers seat looking right) is called the "starboard" side, the left side is called the "port". Bow and stern are pretty easy to remember, but the sides sometimes are hard to make stick in your mind. One easy way to remember which is which, is to think of the port (left) side of the boat has four letters in the word, so does the word left. When you think of left, think of port. Starboard is all together different, and can be easily distinguished by itself, just as bow and stern.

When you are out on the water, lets say you find yourself on course to a head on collision with an oncoming boat, what do you do? Hope the other boater knows which way to go for one thing, but always remember, PASS TO THE STARBOARD SIDE! In other words, go to your right. At the same time, make sure to allow ample room in between. One of the golden rules is never pass within 100 feet of another boat unless you are at idle speed. Both of you will appreciate not being thrown out of your boat from crossing each others wake. What about night operation when you can only see lights coming toward you? This is something VERY important to brand in your brain. A bow light on a boat has two colors for a reason. When you look at your bow light from the front, you will notice that the green lens is on the port (left) side, and the red lens is on the starboard (right) side. When you see an oncoming boat at night, you will know which side you are passing on by looking at the color of the others bow light. As you pass a boat at night, you should be viewing a red bow light, thus passing to the starboard side.

Next, lets look at some common terminology in operation of your boat.

Trimming: This is a term used to determine the angle of the motor or outdrive in relation to the boat. Trimming in, tucks the motor under, and trimming out moves the motor or outdrive outward. When you take off from a dead stop, have the motor trimmed all the way in. After you get on plane, trim it out to raise the bow, smooth the ride, and increase speed.

Planing: When a boat takes off from a dead stop, it is sitting low in the water. As speed increases, the boat rises to the surface and glides on top of the water, thus the term "on plane".

Prop torque: Prop torque comes from power being applied, and the prop meeting resistance to the water. This sometimes can cause excessive force applied to the steering. Outboards and inboard/outboards, have whats called a torque tab mounted on the bottom side of the cavitation plate. To compensate fighting the steering, adjust the tab until the boat can be run at wide open throttle, and goes straight with no hands on the wheel.


nowake.gif - 1302 Bytes The next important items in this topic are the buoys you see while your out on the water. They are not there for birds to sit on, they are there for a reason. Most common are "no wake" or "speed limit" buoys. Sometimes they are in bad shape, but never the less you should take heed of what they say. "No wake" means exactly that, slow down to where your boat causes no wake (wave) behind you. You will most commonly find these in coves containing private docks or marina`s. Besides getting chewed out by dock or marina owners, you can also expect to be stopped by lake patrol or other authorities for violating these buoys. I have also heard of a person being held liable for damages caused by a large wake, so please obey the rules the next time you come upon one of these buoys. Most buoys are pretty much self explanatory, as long as you pay attention to what they say on them.

Next, lets look at buoys that have no writing on them, but have a color to them. You dont run across these too much on fresh water lakes (although they do exist on some lakes and all navigation channels), but are most commonly found in sea going outings.

bgrcan.gif - 332 Bytes These cylindrical buoys are often referred to as can buoys. The can buoy is usually solid green in color. They may also contain an off-green colored reflector. The can buoy will mark the left side of the channel when proceeding from seaward. In the past the can buoy was painted black in color with a green reflector.

brdlig.gif - 471 Bytes The green lighted buoy serves the same function as the non-lighted green can. They tell the boater the margin of the port side of channels and mark wrecks or obstructions which must be past by keeping the aids to navigation on the port side of the vessel.

bgrday.gif - 363 Bytes The square daymark is green in color. It will usually contain two colors of green. One shade of green for the square interior and another green as a reflective outline. This dayboard is used to mark the port (left) side of channels when proceeding from seaward. Daymarks are mounted on a pole, or other structure to hold them above the waterline. Some daymarks will also have a light above them.

brgcan.gif - 364 Bytes When buoys are bi-colored they mark the start of two channel choices. The upper most color marks the preferred choice. Those markers with a top color of green signify a starboard preferred channel. Those markers with a top color of red signify a port preferred channel.

brdnun.gif - 368 Bytes The conical shaped red buoys are known as nuns. Nun buoys mark the right side of the channel when proceeding from the seaward. These aids to navigation are commonly associated with a solid red color. They may also include an off-red color reflector.

bgrlig.gif - 470 Bytes The red lighted buoy serves the same function as the non-lighted red nun. They tell the mariner the margin of the starboard side of channels and mark wrecks or obstructions which must be past by keeping the aids to navigation on the starboard side of the vessel.

brdday.gif - 352 Bytes The triangular daymark is red in color. It will usually contain two colors of red. One shade of red for the triangle interior and another red for the reflective outline. This dayboard is used to mark the starboard (right) side of channels when proceeding from seaward. Daymarks are mounted on a pole, or other structure to hold them above the waterline. Some daymarks will also have a light above them.

bgdnun.gif - 389 Bytes When buoys are bi-colored they mark the start of two channel choices. The upper most color marks the preferred choice. Those markers with a top color of green signify a starboard preferred channel. Those markers with a top color of red signify a port preferred channel.

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