Common Safe Boating Terminology

Boaters should be familiar with the common safe boating terms. The following terms are referenced throughout the BOATsmart!® Study Guide and in the final boat license exam.

Abaft: A direction toward the stern.

Abeam: A direction at right angles to the pleasure craft.

Aid to Navigation: Any device or object, outside the pleasure craft, that can be used for navigation. It may be placed specifically for navigation, or it may be a man-made or a natural structure not specifically placed for navigation purposes.

All Round Light: A navigation light on a pleasure craft showing an unbroken arc of the horizon over 360 degrees.

Anchor: A device used to hold a pleasure craft in position by attaching it to the bottom, using line or chain.

Anchor Light: A white light on a pleasure craft showing an unbroken arc of the horizon over 360 degrees.

Astern: A direction behind the stern.

Bilge: Nearly horizontal portion of the vessel's bottom, inside or out.

Bow: The forward portion of the pleasure craft.

Buoy: Floating Aid to Navigation

Compass: Instrument, magnetic or electronic, used for finding directions.

Fenders: Devices used to protect the side of a pleasure craft and absorb shock.

Gale Warning: Sustained winds at speeds from 34 to 47 knots inclusive.

Give-Way Vessel: The pleasure craft that must yield in any crossing, overtaking or meeting situation.

Hull: Main body of the pleasure craft not including masts, sails, rigging, equipment or machinery.

Hypothermia: Medical condition caused by the body losing heat faster than it can produce heat.

Light Winds: Sustained winds at speeds less than 15 knots.

Mayday: International emergency radio call for life-threatening distress.

Masthead Light: White light on pleasure craft centre line showing an arc of visibility for a total of 225 degrees, from dead ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on port and starboard sides.

Moderate Winds: Sustained winds at speeds from 15 to 19 knots inclusive.

Operator: The person in charge of, and in control of, a pleasure craft who is responsible for the pleasure craft.

Personal Watercraft (PWC): A type of pleasure craft featuring an enclosed hull with no cockpit and a water jet drive.

PFD: Short form for Personal Flotation Device.

Planning Hull: Hull form designed to operate on top of the water.

Pleasure Craft: Any boat, vessel or watercraft that is designed primarily for pleasure use and does not carry passengers or goods for hire, reward, remuneration or any object of profit.

Port: The left side of the pleasure craft when facing forward.

Running Lights: Lights that must be displayed when a vessel is underway at night or in restricted visibility.

Sailing Vessel: Any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used. (Collision Regulations, Rule 3, General Definitions)

Sidelights: Red on the port, green on the starboard, showing an arc of visibility from dead ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on their respective sides.

Small Craft Warning: Sustained winds at speeds from 20 to 33 knots inclusive.

Stand-On Vessel: The pleasure craft with the right of way in any crossing, overtaking or meeting situation.

Starboard: The right side of the pleasure craft when facing forward.

Stern: The after portion of the pleasure craft.

Stern light: White light at pleasure craft's stern showing an arc of visibility from dead astern to 67.5 degrees forward on both sides.

Storm Warning: Sustained winds at speeds from 48 to 63 knots inclusive.

Strong Winds: Sustained winds at speeds from 20 to 33 knots inclusive.

Trip Plan: Document that outlines the pleasure craft's intended route and time of arrival. Usually includes vessel description and list of passengers. Given to a responsible person.

Underway: A pleasure craft that is not at anchor or tied to shore.

Wake: Disturbed column of water around and behind a pleasure craft as it makes its way through the water.

Wash: Loose and broken water left behind by a pleasure craft including the water thrown aft by the propeller.

Way: The actual movement of pleasure craft through the water as in, Making Way.

Windward: Upwind, toward the wind.