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Nautical Terms

Learn nautical terms in this Howcast boating video with expert Toby Stull.


Hi, my name is Toby Stull and I'm captain with Out in the Water Sailing. We're an adventure sports sailing company, providing charters, sailing lessons, vessel training and consulting. Please visit our website at We're here today in Liberty Harbor to talk about boating.

Terminology for a boat can sound like Greek, and when you're first starting it can be fairly difficult. There are terms for everything on a boat. The kitchen is the galley. The main living space is the salon. Knowing some of the basics to get you going really gets you far.

First off are the directions. The front of the boat is the bow and the back of the boat is the stern. The right is the starboard and the left hand is the port. That's the basic directions on any boat. The area you steer from right behind me is called the cockpit, and the wheel you steer from is the helm.

The cockpit is also the main outside living space on most sailboats, and most other boats as well. On a small boat, the helm will be a stick which will be called a tiller. The skeg in the water that actually turns the direction of the water and steers the boat is called the rudder. And on a sailboat the piece that keeps the boat upright and from sliding sideways, when you're sailing is a big skeg or piece in the water called the keel.

There are many other terms, especially on a sailboat. The stick that goes in the air that holds your sails is the mast. And the other stick or spar, as it's called, that goes back that holds the main sail is called the boom. The front of the boat outside the cockpit on the deck is called the foredeck, and the inside of the boat is the cabin. Once you're down in the cabin the main living area is the salon of the boat, otherwise the living room, but we call it a salon.

As you go, you'll know more and more terms. And as you know more and more terms the more you'll get it.

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