Georgia Boater Education Course


CHAPTER 1: The Boat


What a great day to go boating. But before we head out on the water, we need to learn some of the specific terms that are used to describe common parts of all boats. For example, did you know that the two sides of a boat are called “port” and “starboard”, not left and right?

Let’s review some more boating terms, starting with the body of a boat.

  • The body of a boat is called its hullthe body of a vessel..
  • At the upper edges of the boat's hull are the gunwalesthe upper edge of a vessel's side.. The gunwales provide extra rigidity for the hull.
  • The cross-section of the stern, where you attach an outboard motor, is called the transom.
  • On the top of the boat are metal fittings called cleats. When docking your boat, you fasten a rope or cable to the cleats.
  • Most boats are also equipped with navigation lights. Common types of navigation lights are red and green sidelights and an all-around white light, specific to powerboats.


Now let’s learn the words for the front, rear, left and right sides of the boat.

  • The front of a boat is called the bow, while the rear of a boat is called the sternrear portion of a vessel..
  • When looking towards the bow, the left-hand side of the boat is the port side.
  • And starboard is the corresponding word for the right side of a boat. 

A handy tip for remembering which side is port is to remember that port and left have the same number of letters.