Scroll for more

Know Your Aft from Your Elbow

Do you know your aft from your elbow? When you’re buying a luxury yacht, it helps to understand the lingo. Here’s the low-down, a glossary of some of the most commonly-used and important boat, yacht and nautical terminologies.

This isn’t an exhaustive reference for all nautical terms, just a selection that will help you understand Princess Motor Yachts’ vessel specifications and descriptions better.

What is the aft of a yacht?

The aft – Also known as the afterdeck – is at the rear of the boat, also called the stern.

What is the poop deck on a boat?

The poop deck is the aft-most, highest deck. In sailing ships it often forms the roof of a cabin in the stern.

What is a Flybridge on a yacht?

A flybridge refers to an open bridge deck from which the vessel can be fully controlled while providing all round, open air visibility.

What is port and Starboard on a yacht?

Port is left, starboard is right.

What is the bow of a yacht?

The bow is the name for the hull at the front of a vessel, the stern is the hull at the back

What is astern on a yacht?

If you are astern, you’re at the back of the vessel or behind it

What is the beam of a yacht?

The beam is the width of the craft at its widest point

What is the hull of a yacht?

The hull is the watertight body of a yacht and the keel is the lengthwise main structural member or backbone of a vessel.

What is a V-hull on a yacht?

A V-Hull is a hull of a ship that forms a V shape in cross-section instead of a rounded shape, the V being a better shape for offshore craft because it offers more stability.

What is the deck of a yacht?

The deck is the part of the yacht you walk on, and the deckhead is the underside of the deck above.

What are bulkheads on a yacht?

The bulkheads are the dividing walls between cabins and areas belowdecks.

What is a head on a yacht?

The head is the toilet.

What is the galley on a yacht?

The galley is the kitchen.

What is the rudder on a yacht?

The rudder is underwater, at the stern end, and is used to steer the vessel.

What is the propeller on a yacht?

The propeller propels the vessel through the water, powered by the motor.

What is the sterngear on a yacht?

The sterngear refers to the watertight aperture through which the shaft, from the motor, connects to the propeller.

What is a nautical mile?

A Nautical Mile is 1.852 km, 2025 yards, 1.1508 miles.

What is a knot as a nautical unit of measurement?

A knot is a measurement of speed on water, namely one nautical mile per hour.

What is the draft of a yacht?

The draft of a vessel is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull (keel).

What is displacement on a yacht?

Displacement means the weight of water that a craft pushes aside when floating, made up of the weight of the vessel and its contents.

What is ballast on a yacht?

Ballast refers to material used to provide stability. Some vessels (e.g. ships) use ballast tanks to hold water as ballast.

What is the bilge on a yacht?

The Bilge is the lowest internal area of a vessel. It is where water tends to collect and bilge pumps are used to expel the water.

What is a bearing when navigating a yacht?

A bearing is a direction in degrees. This might be an absolute bearing, which is the direction relative to north (true bearing relates to true north and magnetic bearing relates to magnetic north) or relative bearing which is the bearing relative to the direction of the vessel. For example, you might determine the relative bearing of a lighthouse which would be the clockwise angle from the heading of the vessel.

What are the name the masts on a ship?

In three-masted vessels the masts are called the foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast. The foremast is at the front of the vessel, at the bow end.

What is the forecastle of a ship?

The forecastle (fo’c’stle) is the name for an upper deck at the forward part of a ship or vessel. Historically this was where a castle structure would have been used by archers, hence the name.

What is a marina?

A marina is a harbour with moorings for pleasure yachts and small boats.

What is a berth?

A berth can be a bed or sleeping compartment on a vessel. The term is also used to refer to where vessels are moored in harbours and marinas. And the term is also used to refer to the distance between vessels as they pass one another or pass a fixed object (‘give a wide berth’).

What is a mooring?

Moorings are places where you can moor – tie up – a vessel.

What is a quay?

A quay is the edge of a harbour.

What is a breakwater?

A breakwater is a barrier built into the ocean to protect landward vessels and structures from the sea.

What is a buoy?

A buoy is a marker out at sea often warning vessels of danger. They come in many different sizes and have different meanings.

What does ‘The Drink’ mean in boating?

‘The Drink’ (as in ‘he fell in the drink’) is the sea.

What is the Gunwale of a boat?

The gunwale is the top edge of the boat’s side.

What is the helm of a yacht?

The helm is the steering apparatus, in particular the wheel or tiller.

What is the main deck of a yacht?

The main deck is the uppermost complete deck that stretches all the way from bow to stern.

What is ‘the mess’ on a boat?

The mess is where the crew socialises and eats and the mess deck is the deck where the mess is located.

What is a sea trial?

A sea trial is the testing phase of a new craft, taking place on open water and lasting anything from a few hours to several days during which time all of the onboard systems are fully evaluated, calibrated and tested.

Boat Safety first – Know your terminology

Now you know the basics, you’ll know what the experts are talking about when they mention any of the above. But knowing the jargon is about much more than just being aware of technical terminology. It’s also important for safety and security. You need to know, for example, which is port and which is starboard when a crew member wants you to get into a lifeboat in an emergency, a time when seconds really do count.

Knowing what everything is called also increases the pleasure you get from owning a beautiful yacht of your own. That sense of familiarity, of intimacy, helps you feel like you’re the master – or mistress – of the waves!

To learn more about Princess Yachts why not contact one of our team at Princess Motor Yacht Sales at [email protected] or +44 (0)1489 557755.