Boat Anatomy: Learn the Parts of a Boat

June 5th, 2019 by

If you’re buying a boat for the first time you may not know all the vocabulary. Learn the parts of a boat in this post so you know what you’re talking about before hitting the open water!

Going boating from time to time is not the same as owning a boat. A few trips out on the water may inspire you to buy a boat, but you have to know a thing or two about how these powerful machines work before you get your own.

The most basic knowledge every boat owner should know includes how to drive a boat, the parts of a boat, and basic boating terminology regarding the water and weather conditions.

Oh, and you will need a boating license to take your boat out.

If you want to start learning about boats so you can buy the one you’ve been eyeing, keep reading to discover all the parts every boat has.


1. The Hull

The hull of a boat is the body. This is usually the biggest part of the boat.

It runs from the front of the boat to the back and includes the bottom side of the boat that sits on the water. Hulls have various shapes and structures, depending on the kind of boat they’re made for.


2. The Keel

Speaking of the bottom of the boat, the next part you should learn about is the keel. The keel is a beam on the bottom of the boat that begins at the bow and reaches the stern. These are other boat terms you’ll learn in the points below.

More things you need to know about the keel, though, include the fact that the hull is built around this piece and there are some boats without any keels at all! Those are boats with enough power to propel themselves above water; they don’t need a keel to keep them steady.


3. The Stern

If you’re still wondering what the stern is, here you go: it’s the back of the boat.

It’s important to note not all sterns look alike. Some have a square shape to them while others have softer edges and look rounder. These aren’t only for aesthetic purposes, either.

The shape of the stern plays a large influence in how a wave breaks against the back of the boat. In some situations, it’s better to have one kind of stern versus another if you’re on rocky seas and want to keep from tipping over.

Think about the area in which you live and where you plan to boat before committing to a certain model. This way, you can consider the safety aspects from all angles – including the back.


4. The Bow and the Deck

Up next is the bow and the deck. The bow is the front of the boat and the deck is the “hang out” part of the boat.

Some boats have two or three decks on them while others only have one. The deck includes the captain’s area and the wheel (aka the helm), a lounging area for guests, and on larger boats, an entertainment area of some sort like a table for dining or big chairs on which to lay and sunbathe.

The bow is much more practical. This is the part of a boat that helps the boat stay above waves; it takes it over the next wave instead of breaking one in half.


5. The Cleat

Another important part of a boat to make sure you know about is the cleat. This is the metal piece the boat’s line secures to. The line is what lets you drop the anchor and stay in one place, hence the saying “drop the line.”

You always want to know where the cleat is whether you’re shopping for your own boat or venturing out on someone else’s. It’s one of the more important features that doesn’t always get talked about.


6. The Helm

The next part of a boat to familiarize yourself with is the helm. You’re going to be spending a lot of time here, considering the helm is where the steering comes from.

It’s not just the wheel, though. The helm refers to all the steering mechanisms on a boat. The kind of boat you buy determines all the smaller parts that make up the helm.

A speedboat and a sailboat, for example, have different steering features. Whichever boat you buy, you should get to know all the parts that create the helm.


7. The Bilge

The final boat part you need to know about is the bilge. This is the lowest point on the boat from the inside. It’s somewhere you can stand on if you’d like, but this is best to do when the boat isn’t in motion.

The bilge serves an important purpose – collecting water. Water? On a boat?

This may sound backward, but it’s necessary. The bilge collects excess water to pump back into the ocean. Think about it: when you’re out on the water, the boat’s deck is going to get wet.

A boat collects more water than you think, so it needs one specific place where all the water can release. The bilge is that place.

Not all bilge systems operate in the same way, though. While they all have the same purpose, it’s good to know where the water on your future boat will collect and how it will release.


Taking Care of All the Parts of a Boat

It’s one thing to learn all the basics parts of a boat, and it’s another to know how to take care of each one. Being a boat owner is a serious responsibility. While there are times when your boat feels like the best toy you ever bought, there are also moments when repairs remind you it’s a serious investment.

You can keep your boat running well with the help of our service department. Learn why Westshore Marine is one of the top spots for customers to visit when purchasing their new boat.

But first, you have to buy your dream boat! Click here to browse our inventory.

Posted in Boating, How-To, Safety, Summer