If you are just starting to get into boating, learning the words for the different parts of a boat can be difficult. So what is the front of a boat called?
Though the words used to describe different parts of a boat might seem like they would be obvious, most boating terms are words that aren’t used in any other context besides when talking about a boat. This means that there are lots of confusing words you’ll need to memorize if you don’t have any previous experience in boating.
So what is the front of a boat called? Unfortunately, it is not simply called the front, or even the hood like on a car. The front of a boat is called the bow and it is pronounced like the word for when you bow toward an audience after finishing a performance.
This may seem confusing, however, after getting used to the different vocabulary used when talking about boats, it will feel like second nature to you. But why is the front of a boat called the bow, and what are some of the other parts of a boat called? Why are there so many different vocabulary words used in boating in the first place? I’ll be answering all of these questions and more for you in no time.
When I was young my dad would take me out on his fishing boat all the time, so I learned all of the associated vocabulary at a very young age. That being said, I completely understand why it is so difficult to learn all of these new words when you don’t have any previous experience using them. Still, there’s no need to worry and with a bit of practice and repetition, you’ll know all the words you need to in order to be a promising skipper.
Why Are There So Many Different Words Used Specifically For Boating?
The terminology surrounding boating can be confusing and intimidating for the majority of land lovers who have little to no experience on a boat. After all, there are entire dictionaries devoted solely to boating terms, so there must be some reason behind the existence of all of these different words.
While the reasons behind the name of each specific term may vary with each word, the existence of this vast vocabulary outside of what normal people know and use is quite simple.
Traditionally, sailors spend a lot of time at sea. So much in fact that the culture and vocabulary surrounding sailing, and later all boating in general, was allowed to develop separately from what people knew on land.
Sailors would spend months at sea, away from any influence of the people on land. During these long journeys, sailors developed their own vocabularies that they could understand and use to easily communicate with each other. Over time, these became quite standardized and now there is an incredibly long list of terminology that boaters use to this day.
Why Is The Front Of A Boat Called The Bow?
Now that you know what the front of a boat is called and why there are so many different vocabulary words used in boating in the first place, why is the front of a boat called the bow? After all, it doesn’t have anything to do with a decorative bow or performers bowing at the end of a show.
Though it might seem random, the reasoning behind the word “bow” is quite simple. Bow, as in a bow and arrow, means to bend or curve. Just like the curve of an archer’s bow, the bow of a boat is named so because of its curve. As you get to the front of the boat, you’ll notice that the sides begin to curve in towards the front-most point of the boat. This curve towards the front is where the bow gets its name.
What Are Some Of The Other Parts Of A Boat Called And Why?
Now that you know what the front of a boat is called and where its name comes from, you might as well learn what the two sides and the back are called so that you have a better picture of what things are called all around the boat.
What Is The Back Of A Boat Called?
The back of a boat is called the stern. While it is not completely obvious where this term comes from, there are a few theories.
First, Stern sounds an awful lot like the word “steer” as in to steer the boat. This would make sense as boats are steered from the rear, either by the rudder or the changing position of the motor.
Another possible explanation comes from Frisian, a group of languages closely related to modern west germanic languages. In this language, the word for rudder is “stiarne” which is also quite similar to stern.
What Is The Right Side Of A Boat Called?
The right side of a boat is called the starboard side, and just like the stern, there are a few theories behind this.
First, before rudders were common ships were steered using something called a steerboard. Because most people are right-handed, the steerboard was located on the right side of the stern. Eventually, the word may have been distorted and used to describe the side of the boat the steerboard used to be on.
Another explanation could involve a step that was located at the right of the helm. This step, or star board, would allow the captain to get a better look at the night sky to properly navigate.
What Is The Left Side Of A Boat Called?
The left side of the boat is called the port side. This undoubtedly comes from the meaning of port as in harbor or even entrance and again has to do with those steerboards mentioned before
Because of the placement of the steerboard on the right side of the ship, ships would dock on their left sides to avoid damaging it. This led to the left side of the boat being known as the port side, as this was always the side that faced the port or dock.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson