What Is The Front Of A Boat Called? | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • The front of a boat is called the bow. It’s the pointy end of the boat that faces forward.
  • The bow is designed to cut through the water and create as little resistance as possible.
  • Some boats have sharp, pointed bows, while others have more rounded or flat bows.
  • The boat's hull is the main body of the boat that sits in the water and provides stability.
  • Lastly, ensure you comply with local and international regulations where applicable.

Are you new to the boating world and want to know what the front of a boat is called? Let’s explain everything that you need to know!

The front part of a boat is called a bow. The bow is the part of the boat that cuts through the water, and it's important to know its name when navigating or discussing boats. It’s important to understand the bow and other parts of a boat, like Starboard and Port.

If you’re passionate about boating, understanding boat terminology can help you communicate better with other boaters. It will also ensure you use the right terms when discussing different parts of your boat. With several years of experience in the boating industry, I’m excited to provide you with all you need to know about boats, specifically focusing on the front of a boat, to help make the most of your boating experience.

Table of contents


What Is The Front Of A Boat Called?

When you're out on the water, it's important to know the different parts of your boat, and that includes the name for the front of a boat. The bow is the front section of the boat that cuts through the water to ensure that you boat forward.

The bow is the first part of the boat that you see when you approach it from the front. When facing forward toward the ship’s front or bow, the port side represents the left side of the boat, while the starboard represents the right side.

The bow is a crucial section that plays a significant role in the boat's functionality, stability, and design, as it helps to reduce drag and increase speed. It's also responsible for creating a lift, which helps the boat to stay afloat.

Different Variations of the Bow

The front of a boat, also known as the bow, has several variations. The main variations of the bow include a raked bow, plumb bow, or clipper bow.

  • A raked bow is angled backward, which helps to reduce drag and increase speed.
  • A plumb bow is vertical, which provides more space in the bow area and improves stability.
  • A clipper bow is a combination of the two, with a slight angle that provides both speed and stability.

Other Terms for the Front of a Boat

When it comes to boats, various boating terminology is used to describe different parts of the vessel. While the front of a boat is most commonly referred to as the bow, there are a few other boat terminologies that you might hear used as well.


The waterline is the line where the boat meets the water. It's the point where the boat's weight is evenly distributed, and it's an essential factor in the boat's stability.

The waterline can change depending on the weight of the boat, the number of passengers, and the amount of cargo on board.


The foredeck is the boat's area located at the front of the vessel, just behind the bow when facing forward. It’s the part of the boat that you would stand on if you were at the front of the boat. Most people often use this area for sunbathing, fishing, or just enjoying the view.

Casting Deck

If you’re an angler or enjoy fishing, you might hear the front of the boat referred to as the casting deck. This is because it’s the area of the boat where you would stand when casting your fishing line. The casting deck is usually flat and unobstructed, making it easier to move around and cast your line.

Other Boating Terms

In addition to the bow, foredeck, and casting deck, there are a few other boating terminologies that you might hear used to refer to the front of a boat. These include:

  • Stem: The stem is the very front of the boat, where the bow meets the waterline.
  • Pulpit: The pulpit is a raised platform at the front of the boat that is used for various purposes, such as anchoring or storing equipment.
  • Bow Sprit: The bowsprit is an extension of the boat's bow that extends forward and is used to attach sails or other equipment.

Understanding these terms can help you communicate more effectively with other boaters and also help you to operate your boat safely and efficiently. That way, you can make the most of your time on the water.

The Rest of the Boat Components

When it comes to boats, there is more to it than just the front. The rest of the boat comprises various sections and components that all play a crucial role in the vessel's functionality.

Here are the most boating terms you’re likely to encounter.

Boat Component Description
Port Side The boat's port bow or side is the left-hand side of a boat when you’re facing the bow (front) of the vessel.
Starboard Side The boat's right-hand side, when you’re facing the bow (front) of the vessel, is known as the starboard bow or side.
Hull The hull of the boat is the main body of the vessel that sits in the water. Hull sides are typically made of fiberglass, wood, or metal fittings. Note that your hull design is important to the boat's performance and stability.
Stern The stern of the boat is the back end of the vessel. It’s where the engine and steering mechanism are located.
Transom The transom is the flat surface at the back of the boat where the outboard motor is mounted.
Freeboard The freeboard is the distance between the waterline and the top of the boat's hull. The freeboard can affect your boat's stability.
Gunwale The gunwale is the upper edge of the boat's hull. It’s where the metal fitting called the cleat is located, which is used to tie the boat to a dock or mooring.
Keel The keel is the central structural element of the boat that runs along the bottom of the hull. It provides stability and helps the boat maintain its course.
Amidships Amidships is the center section of the boat. It’s typically the widest part of the vessel and is where the helm (steering wheel) is located.
Beam The beam is the width of the boat at its widest point. It’s important to know the beam as it can affect your boat's stability.
Draft The draft is the distance between the waterline and the bottom of the boat's hull.
Ballast Ballast is the weight that is added to the boat to provide stability. It’s typically located on the keel of the boat.
Starboard Quarter This is the starboard surface of the boat’s hull and is located right behind the beam.

Unique Boat Front Designs

Different types of boats have their unique front designs. Here are some of the most common front designs for different types of boats:

Bow: This is a typically pointed front designed to cut through the water and reduce drag while increasing speed. Sailboats, cruising boats, and fishing boats often have a bow-front design.

Deck: The deck is often a flat front designed to provide a large, stable platform for passengers to relax and enjoy the water. A good example of a boat with a deck is a Pontoon boat.

Bow front with flatter bottom: Speedboats have a pointed front similar to a sailboat but with a flatter bottom, which allows the boat to skim over the water at high speeds. The front of a speedboat is also where you'll find the winch used to pull the boat onto a trailer.