Parts of a Boat [Motorboat, Sailboat, Fishing Boat]

If you are thinking of buying yourself a boat, it’s important to know the different parts of a boat. What are the different parts of a boat?

Five basic parts of a boat that you should know are as follows:

  1. Bow: The front or forward part of a boat.
  2. Starboard: The right side of a boat when you’re looking forward.
  3. Port: The left side of a boat when you’re looking forward.
  4. Stern: The rear part of a boat.
  5. Transom: The stern cross-section of a boat.

There are many other parts, such as the hull, keel, deck, cleat, and gunwale. By knowing each part of your boat, you can communicate with other boaters and have better control over your boat.

Read on to learn more about the different parts of a boat and their role.

Parts of a Boat

parts of a boat

Your knowledge about each part of a boat will greatly help with your understanding. So let’s begin learning about its parts, particularly those composing the boat’s structure.

Parts of a Boat Related to Boat Structure

Before getting into the finer details, you need to learn the basics. Even if you are not a boater, you might have heard the following terms already from TV shows and movies, and you might already have an inkling of what they mean.

Here are some of the most mentioned parts of a boat and their meanings. These are the same parts found on motorboats, sailboats, and fishing boats:

  1. Hull – It refers to the outer shell of the boat that sits in the water.
  2. Keel – This is the main beam that runs underneath the hull of the boat. The keel runs from the tip of the bow up to the stern. This is the foundation of any boat.
  3. Deck – It refers to the flat part of the boat that rests on top of the hull. It is the specific part where people walk on.
  4. Gunwale – Also called gunnel, this is the upper edge of the boat’s hull. This adds structural integrity to the boat.
  5. Cleat – This is a large metal fitting attached, usually on the gunwale. It is for tying ropes onto, usually for holding the boat securely on a pier.
  6. Helm – It refers to the boat’s steering wheel.
  7. Rudder – This is an appendage protruding from the hull used for steering the boat.
  8. Propeller – This is a rotating wedge attached to the boat’s engine via a drive shaft. However, in the case of outboard engines, the propellers are connected directly to the motor.
  9. Bimini – This part is a large piece of canvas attached to a metal frame on the deck. It can provide shade over the helm, but you can also roll it up if the weather is nice.
  10. Transom – This refers to a flat surface located at the stern of the boat. Here, you can mount the outboard motors.
  11. Anchor – The anchor refers to the heavy object dropped from the boat’s side and attached to a long chain or rope. The line should be long enough so that the anchor reaches the bottom. It helps keep the boat in place while in the open water.
  12. Cabin – This is the room below the deck. You can often use it as the boat’s bedroom or living area.
  13. Hatch – It is the opening that connects the deck to the cabin/s. Depending on the size of the boat, there could be more than one hatch.
  14. Casting Platform refers to the raised platform on a fishing boat deck to stand when casting fishing rods.
  15. Ballast – You can add these weights to a boat to make it more stable on the water. Without a ballast, even the tiniest waves can make the vessel tip and sway.
  16. Cockpit – The cockpit is the recessed and semi-enclosed area on the deck, which houses the boat’s controls.
  17. Galley and head – These two basic parts refer to the kitchen and the bathroom, respectively.
  18. Scuppers – These are the deck’s drains that catch and channel rainwater or sprays from the boat cruising through the water.
  19. Tiller – A tiller is a handle, usually made of metal, wood, or composite materials, connected to the rudder, or in the case of a small boat, connected to a swiveling outboard motor. You can use it for steering.

Parts of a Boat Related to Size and Orientation

Now that you know the boat’s basic parts, you can further increase your knowledge by learning about other handy boating terms. Understanding these terms helps describe the boat’s size and position:

  1. Bow and stern – These terms refer to the front and rear of the boat, respectively.
  2. Port, starboard, and amidships – They are the terms used for the left, right, and middle sides of your boat.
  3. Beam – It refers to the vessel’s width.
  4. Overall Length – This is the boat’s total length, measured from the aft-most to the forward-most parts, also known as the LOA.
  5. Waterline – The waterline refers to the line on the boat’s hull that indicates up to where it is submerged in the water when fully loaded.
  6. Waterline Length – It is the length of the waterline, measured from the bow to the stern.
  7. Displacement – This term describes the weight/volume of water displaced by the boat’s hull.
  8. Topside – It refers to the portion of the hull that sits outside of the water.
  9. Freeboard – It is the space between the waterline and the lowest point of the deck.
  10. Draft – It refers to the distance between the keel and the waterline. You can also use it to describe the absolute minimum depth of water that the boat can navigate through.
  11. Bilge – This is the lowest section of the boat. Because it is the lowest point, the bilge is where water tends to collect.
  12. Mooring – This is the place where you can secure your boat. You can use it to describe the pier and wharf. This word can also describe the lines used for securing the boat to the shore.
  13. Rigging – These are the lines used to secure and control the masts, yards, and sails of a sailboat.
  14. Forward – Ironically, this describes a location that goes closer to the bow than a reference item.

Why do you need to learn the parts of a boat? The main reason is so you can find your way around the vessel. For instance, if you are fishing with your buddies, and somebody yells, “fish near the bow!” you can avoid embarrassing yourself by going towards the side.

You need to know your boat inside-out because it lets you figure out what is wrong with it when the time comes, and believe me, problems will arise. Boats are notorious for being high-maintenance, so you will need to do the minor repairs yourself if you cannot afford to have a professional shipwright do all the regular maintenance.

Although it is not a requirement that you know all that there is to know about your boat, learning just the basic parts can already be of great help. Having conversations with other seasoned boaters will not just become much less awkward. Still, it will also turn beneficial because you will be getting quite a lot of helpful tips on maintaining and piloting a boat.

Now that we have looked at various parts of a motorboat, parts of a sailboat, and parts of a fishing boat, let’s look at easy ways to maintain the boat.

Easy Ways You Can Maintain Your Boat

Now that you know your boat’s basic parts and the most commonly used terms for those who own this boat, it is time to know a bit about its maintenance. The most basic maintenance task that you can do to make sure that your boat will always work as intended is to keep it clean and well-lubricated (where needed) all the time.

Even such small maintenance tasks have a huge impact. For instance, if you do not regularly clean and wax, the fiberglass gel coating will cause it to oxidize and get chalky. You also need to clean and drain your bilge so that you can spot right away if there are any leaking fuel or other fluids.

The most basic maintenance task that you should do is give your boat a quick visual inspection after every trip to ensure that all the systems are working properly. If you find anything wrong, you can then decide if you will be fixing it yourself or if it is way beyond your skills and you need to take it in for professional repairs.

Bringing Your Boat in for Maintenance

Most boat owners leave the annual maintenance tasks, like oil changes, re-lubricating fittings, and re-painting the hull’s bottom, to the pros. Even if you know by heart the parts of a boat, you will discover that changing the oil of a boat is an entirely different ball game than changing the oil of your car.

Moreover, it would be better to leave boat trailer maintenance in the hands of professionals. Keep in mind that you will be placing a very expensive watercraft on the said trailer, so it needs to work properly. However, lubricating any moving parts that you have access to is completely acceptable and highly recommended.

Cost of Boat Maintenance

When it comes to boat maintenance, the common rule of thumb is that it should not exceed 10% of the boat’s original cost. A couple of decades ago, when most boat parts do not need replacing, the costs would have been significantly less. However, you should also take into account the type and the size of your boat. Consider how often you use it and the conditions that you use it in, too.

Some boat owners like to get their hands dirty while working on their boats, while others do it just for the sake of saving money in boat maintenance, which can get quite pricey. You should try to do simple repair jobs whenever you can.

For instance, if you want to have your boat deck repainted, you can do it yourself. There really isn’t too much technical know-how needed, and you will only be using a brush and a roller for applying the paint. You can save hundreds of dollars, and you can learn everything you need through online video tutorials.

parts of a fishing boat

At-Home Maintenance Cost

If you will only be doing the basic maintenance works on your boat, the costs would be quite negligible compared to the professional costs. You will only need a bit of boat soap, a plastic scrubbing brush, wax, and a rag. However, doing proper cleaning and maintenance will save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

The only thing that you will need to invest a lot of is your time. You will be cleaning a large vessel, so you should free up an entire afternoon to get it all done.

Boat Service and Repair Cost

Of course, if the damage to your boat is quite extensive, then you will need to spend more money to salvage the boat. Aside from the repair costs, it is also essential to include hauling. Towing and getting it into the shop will also cost you a lot.

Of course, your boat insurance will cover the majority of the costs of repairs. But you will still be paying out of pocket for damages not covered by your policy. This is why you need to get proper insurance for your boat. Study the policy to make sure that you understand the kinds of damage they cover.

Conclusion – Parts of a Boat (Fishing Boat, Sailboat, Motorboat)

By knowing the basic parts of a boat, you can converse confidently with other boat owners. You will also get to know your trusty boat more thoroughly. When you study a boat’s makeup, you will discover how to care for it properly. You can also spot problems early, preventing them from getting worse.

The 5 main parts of a boat are as follows:

  1. Bow: The front or forward part of a boat.
  2. Starboard: The right side of a boat when you’re looking forward.
  3. Port: The left side of a boat when you’re looking forward.
  4. Stern: The rear part of a boat.
  5. Transom: The stern cross-section of a boat.

Owning a boat may seem like a lot of fun, which is true, but it is also a huge responsibility. You have to learn and understand every bit of your vessel. Know your boat inside and out, so you can properly take care of your craft.

Related reading:

Impeller Vs Propeller [What Is the Difference Between Them?]

Stern of a Boat or Ship – What and Where Is It?