Look up "port" in Websters, and youll have to suffer through discussions of wine, gates, openings, how to carry military weapons, and electronics connections, before you finally discover what you really want to know: Its the left side of the boat. Its frustrating sometimes that the rest of the world doesnt seem to prioritize the mariners point of view---which is obviously the most important view of all. To save you boaters from the pain and suffering of land-based linguistics, Ive amassed this boaters dictionary. Im confident that while you read it, youll be using your head.
Anchor - A heavy item you use to put chips and dings in the side of your boat.
Bilge - The place in your boat where you put the kids when they out-fish you.
Bow - The front of your boat, which is pointed, so you always know which wrong direction youre going in.
Calm - A sea state in which there are no waves, wind, or swells, also known as "nonexistent."
Capsize - What happens when youre fishing from a canoe and you sneeze.
Chaffing Gear - Protective items you place on lines to prevent them from becoming worn and breaking before your knots have time to come undone.
Danforth - A type of anchor which holds well in all bottom types for all kinds of boats, except yours.
Deck - The part of the boat where you drop delicate handheld electronics and cell phones.
Dock - The big wooden thing you slam into right before disembarking from your boat.
Engine - The part of your boat that goes "vroom vroom."
Flake - A method of laying your rope on-deck in perfect figure-eights so it can dry in the sun until you trip over it and fall overboard.
Flame Arrestor -A very important part of your engine which keeps your boat from blowing up prematurely before you have a chance to use the alcohol stove in the galley.
Flush- What you will do when youre finished reading this article.
Galley - The area of the boat commonly used for preparing food, drinks, and catastrophic boat fires.
Gelcoat - The exterior coating on fiberglass boats, which looks shiny and crisp until you try using your anchor.
GPS - The little box you scream and yell at when you get lost.
Gunwales - (pronounced "gunnels") The top of the sides of your boat, meant for slipping off of as you board.
Hatch - A door or cover over a compartment in your boat, which is commonly used for slamming on your fingers and toes.
Head - The part of a boat (or house) youre most likely to be reading this article in.
Hull - The part of your boat that usually hits rocks, stumps, and an occasional crippled duck.
Inboard - A type of power system in which the shaft and propeller protrude through the bottom of the boat in order to make a hole for water to get in through.
Junk - An ancient type of Chinese sailing vessel which, like everything they make in China, is a piece of junk.
Knot - A unit of speed equal to 1.15 miles per hour, which mariners prefer to use instead of miles per hour in order to confuse an inferior species called "landlubbers".
LAT/LONG - An abbreviated way of saying you dont know where the heck you are.
Marinized - The process of taking something designed for use on land and adapting it for use at sea, so it can break more quickly.
MFD - An acronym for "multi-function display," though many mariners think it stands for "many failures daily".
Navigate - The process by which you get completely and utterly lost, either at sea or in the back-country.
Overboard - Where all your sunglasses go.
PFD - (Personal Floatation Device) Those puffy orange things you use as pillows and cushions.
Port - The left side of the boat. Did you really forget already?
Propeller - Also known as the "screw." This is the part of your boats underwater gear which you use to hit rocks, logs, and other items missed by the hull.
Quartering - How you describe the waves when theyre striking the hull at an angle, right before they swamp your boat.
Rough - How you describe sea state, right before your boat gets swamped.
Seasick - How you feel whenever the water gets gets rough.
Sea State - Something that always seems best described as "rough".
Shake-down - The initial cruise of the season, which most people use as a convenient time to discover what theyll forget to get fixed before the real boating season begins.
Starboard - The opposite of port.
Stern - The back of a boat. This term can also be used to describe the looks your wife gives you when you buy a new boat.
Sunpad - A cushioned area of the boat you and your guests can use to get sunburned more quickly.
Transom - The back of your boat over which you will at one time or another puke, pee, and quite possibly plummet.
Underwater Gear - Any tool you hold while leaning over the side of your boat.
Varnish - Something you can use to make the wood trim on your boat look nice, as you permanently stain the fiberglass surrounding it.
VHF - The acronym for "very high frequency," which is what your voice sounds like when you scream "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!" into the microphone.
Wealthy - Another name for your marine mechanic.
Wind - What you should expect lots of every Saturday and Sunday you have free.
XTC - An acronym for "cross-track error," which you will have a lot of when navigating with your GPS.
Yawl - A type of sailing vessel which, like all other sailing vessels, is very boring and thus causes you to yawln often.
Zinc - The sacrificial anode on your boat, which attracts corrosion so the rest of your boat can fall apart more quickly.