Glossary of Boating Terms

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backing down

Maneuvering in reverse when offshore fishing while attempting to land a fish.

backstay

A support for the mast to keep it from falling forward.

bail

To remove water with a bucket or pump. Also, a component that controls fishing line on a spinning reel.

bait station

Area on a fishing boat for preparing bait.

baitwell

Compartment on a fishing boat for holding live bait, usually with a pump to circulate the water and an aerator to provide oxygen.

ballast

Weight added to the bottom of a boat to improve stability.

bass boat

Low-profile, outboard-powered boat, generally no more than 22 feet long and typically equipped with rod lockers, casting decks with pedestal seats and livewells.

bay boat

Low-profile, inshore fishing boat intended for use in protected coastal waters, and frequently made with rolled-edge construction.

beach catamaran

Small, lightweight sailboat less than 25 feet long that can be easily launched and retrieved from a beach.

beam

Measurement of a boat at its widest point. Also, a transmitted radio, sonar or radar signal.

bear off

To turn away from the wind.

bearing

Direction to an object.

beating

Sailing upwind.

berth

A place to sleep aboard a boat. Also, a boat slip.

bilge

Lowest section inside a boat's hull where water collects.

bimini top

A canvas cover over the helm or cockpit area.

bitt

Vertical post extending above the deck to secure docking lines.

bluewater fishing boat

Mid-size to large deep-V boats suitable for offshore fishing. They are typically fitted with outriggers, fish boxes, aluminum towers, a host of electronics and large fuel tanks.

boom

A spar attached to a sail at its foot.

bow

Forward portion of a boat.

bow eye

A stainless steel U-bolt on a boat's bow stem used to secure tow lines or trailer winch hooks.

bow stop

Rubber blocks on a boat trailer into which the boat's stem rests.

bowrider

A runabout boat with open-bow seating.

bowsprit

A spar extending forward of the bow on a sailboat.

breakaway lanyard

Emergency safety cable on a boat trailer that activates trailer brakes in the event the trailer comes detached from the tow vehicle while underway.

bridge clearance

Distance from waterline to a boat's highest point.

bulkhead

Transverse wall in a boat that usually bears weight and supplies hull support.

bunks

Long carpeted sections of a boat trailer that support the boat's weight.

buoy

An anchored floating object that serves as a navigation aid. Also used to mark a mooring spot.

burgee

Small flag that bears a yacht club's symbol.