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With many terms out there for everything boating and nautical related, learning all of them would be like learning a new language. And though these terms are all important, a recreational boater can get away with understanding a handful of terms. 

These terms will help to keep you and everyone else on the water safe. Understanding the meaning of these terms is important for all boaters. Whether you’re a seasoned boater or new to the world of boating, you should know what the following terms mean. 

1. Port 

Port refers to the left side of the boat when in the driver’s seat. It is important to understand the port side because the port always has the right-of-way, which is good to know for any body of water. 

Quick tip: the port side is indicated by a red light on the left side of the boat.  

2. Starboard 

Starboard refers to the right side of the boat. Opposite the port side, the starboard boat will not get the right-of-way. The starboard is indicated by a green light on the right side of the boat.  

3. Stern 

The stern of the boat refers to the back of the boat. Typically, motors are also positioned in the stern of the boat. It is important to understand this term to correctly relay any messages to anyone else on board. 

4. Bow 

The bow of the boat refers to the front of the boat. Depending on what kind of boat you’re on, this could mean a pointed bow or pickle-fork on a V-hull boat, a rounded seated area, or other kind of bow. 

5. Navigation Lights 

Next, you’ll want to know about the navigation lights. These are the lights that let other boaters know you’re on the water while it’s dark out. These are required by law to have on your boat. 

6. Anchor Light 

Another required light is an anchor light. This light is placed at the top of your bimini or tower. This stands out on the water. It allows other boaters to notice you from a distance away.  

Understanding the importance of the anchor light and how to turn it on and off is necessary for the safety of you and any guests on board.  

7. Trim 

For those who own a boat with an inboard motor, you won’t have to worry much about trim. However, it is still good to understand the term. For those with a sterndrive or an outboard motor, you will deal with trim often. 

Trim refers to the movement of the engine up and down in the water. Moving the trim on a boat is important for these boats to utilize the performance of the boat. Trim is useful for these boats because it allows the boats to go into shallow water whereas an inboard doesn’t have that option.  

8. Cleat

A cleat is a mechanism found on boats that makes tying a boat up a simple task. Nautical cleats are found on the port and starboard side of boats and are placed to easily tie a boat up using dock lines.

9. Impeller 

Ah yes, the impeller. The impeller is an important feature of your boat’s cooling system. It catches any debris from entering your boat’s cooling system. Understanding the function of an impeller and how to keep it healthy is important for any and all boaters because this could possibly be the source of your boat’s overheating issues.When an impeller gets clogged, you’ll need to have this replaced before you can use your boat since it’s a crucial feature in the boat’s cooling system. Contact your local Action Water Sports to have this replaced and serviced. 

10. Underway 

The final term you will want to know is underway. This term refers to a boat that is in motion. Often people will say that a boat is underway to indicate that it is in forward gear. 

This helps to decrease any confusion about whether the boat is in gear or not. It is extremely important to use this term when someone wants to get into the water. For safety reasons, you won’t want anyone in the water if your boat is underway. 

Ready For the Water 

While all these terms are helpful, this list doesn’t cover all the terms. If you find yourself not understanding a term, please reach out to us. 

Boating terms are important to understand when you’re out on the water. This is why it’s important to review these terms no matter whether you’re new to boating or have been boating for years. With this knowledge, it’s time to get out on the water and enjoy your boat.  

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