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Understanding Boating Jargon

Regardless of whether you’re planning to spend more time on the water, simply want to understand the terminology you hear on the docks or on TV, or just want to learn something new, it’s important to have an understanding of boating jargon. This jargon does more than simply provide a unique set of terms — it also helps everyone on a boat stay safe and understand directions when they’re given. Here are some terms you might want to know.


Directional jargon tells you what side of the boat you’re talking about. These include: 

  • Hull. The bottom of the boat.
  • Stern. The front of the boat.
  • Helm. Where the steering wheel is.
  • Port. The left side of the boat.
  • Starboard. The right side of the boat.

 In the Water

Jargon doesn’t just apply to the boat. Here are some terms that apply to what’s in the water.

  • Bar. A shallow, often dangerous, area at the mouth of a river or approach of a harbor.
  • Bombora. A shallow area, often involving a wave break.
  • Breakwater. A structure built to protect the shoreline from waves and erosion.
  • Wake. Waves created when the boat moves above a certain speed.


To properly use a boat, you have to understand how to steer it, and that comes with the jargon of its own. You’ll need to understand: 

  • Heave to. Steering into the wind.
  • Go astern. Travel backward or reverse the engine.
  • Knots. A unit of speed equal to 1 nautical mile per hour.
  • Planning. Moving on top of the water instead of through it.
  • Stand on. Continue with the same speed and course.


Here are a few more terms you’ll need to know that doesn’t fit into other categories:

  • PFD. A personal flotation device.
  • Windward. The direction of the wind.
  • Plot. Planning a navigation course.
  • Quartering. The direction of the waves about the heading, specifically at about a 45-degree angle.

Contact Rogue Jet Boats

Now that you’re more familiar with boating jargon, you may want to hit the water. To do that, you need a boat, and there are no better boats than the ones sold by Rogue Jet Boats. Contact us today to learn more.