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How to Speak like a Boater

Ahoy, mateys! While modern boaters don’t talk like pirates, they do have their own language. We’re going to help you crack the code.


  • Step 1: Sit in the “bow” Head to the front of the boat and say, 'I’ll be fore' or 'I’ll be in the bow.'
  • TIP: All directions are given in relation to the position of the boat itself, regardless of which direction the person happens to be facing.
  • Step 2: Move “aft” Switch to the back of the boat and announce you’re moving 'aft' to sit in the 'stern.'
  • Step 3: Go “starboard” Proclaim you��ll be 'starboard,' then go to the side on the right when facing forward to the front of the boat. Or mention you’ll be 'port' and sit on the left.
  • Step 4: Talk about “leeward” and “windward” Speak authoritatively about the 'leeward' side--the side opposite the source of the wind--or 'windward'--the side of the boat that the wind is coming from.
  • Step 5: Know the ins and outs If the engine is attached to the outside of the boat, comment on the 'outboard' ('That’s one fine outboard!'), as opposed to a built-in or 'inboard' one.
  • TIP: 'Inboard' and 'outboard' can also refer to a direction toward or away from the centerline of the boat.
  • Step 6: Ask about knots Ask the captain how many knots you’re going--the number of nautical miles per hour that you’re traveling, or, duh, how fast you’re moving.
  • TIP: A nautical mile is longer than a mile on land.
  • Step 7: Inquire about the “course” Inquire, 'What’s our course?' A 'course' is the direction in which a boat or ship is sailing. This can be different from the 'heading,' which is the direction in which a boat is pointing.
  • Step 8: Ask for rum Ask for some of the captain’s best rum. You’ve earned it.
  • FACT: If an aircraft circles your boat three times and then heads off in a particular direction, it’s signaling that there is a vessel in distress in that direction that needs your help.

You Will Need

  • Memorization skills
  • And a desire to show off

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