A boat can be a simple vessel or it can be a complex wonder, full of modern navigational gadgets and instruments. But whatever be the complexity, a few of the many different parts of a boat will be common across the various makes and builds. It pays to know the different parts and understand the functions of each as well as their interactions.
Every boat has a hull. The hull of a boat is an internal structure of frames that run transverse, from side to side and also traverse longitudinally the length of the boat. An outer shell, usually made of steel or fiberglass, covers and protects the internal structure. Below the boat, running along the bottom center, is a keel. This is the backbone of the boat. The boat is kept right-side up by the ballast of the keel. It also prevents sideways motion of the boat by the wind.
The front part of the boat is the bow, the rear part is the stern. When the boat moves on water, the front part lifts with the waves instead of cutting through them, and this is because of the special shape of the bow. A boat’s buoyancy and displacement depends on the shape of the hull. Increased displacement is caused by a large flare of the hull. Buoyancy also depends on the shape of the deck, which is curved from stem to stern.
Moving towards the front part of the boat, or bow, is said to be going forward. Moving towards the rear of the boat, or stern, is going aft. A moving boat is said to being underway. A forward moving boat is moving ahead. When the boat moves backwards, it is going astern. The entire right side of a boat is called the starboard side, the entire left side is called the port side.
Starboard bow is the front right side of the boat. Port bow is the front left side. Starboard quarter is the boat’s right rear and port quarter is the left rear. Central part of the boat is called amidships. Starboard beam is the right center side of the boat, while the port beam refers to the left center side.
Boats can be manually propelled by oars, or by an on-board engine. The engine drives one or more screw propellers, which are positioned at the rear of the boat, under the water level. For steering, a boat uses a rudder. Another method of propulsion is using the power of the wind.
A piece of fabric called the sail is rigged to the mast. The sail catches the wind allowing it to propel the boat. The bottom of the sail is fixed to the boom which is capable of swinging across the boat. This arrangement facilitates control over movement of the sail. Direction from which the wind blows is called the windward and the direction against the blowing wind is the leeward.
The best way to get to know the different parts of a boat, is to get inside one. It is easy to locate all the different parts mentioned above and understand quite clearly as to what they are used for. Cruisers and large yachts are much more complicated and require more skills. Smaller dinghies are easier to handle.