If you’re not familiar with boating terminology, here’s our Glossary of Boating Terms:
Aft: The rear of the boat (see also stern)
Air Draft: The height of the boat above the water (to the highest point, useful to know when negotiating low bridges and tunnels)
Anode: Sacrificial anodes are metal lozenges (usually magnesium) welded to the exterior of the boat below the waterline. They protect the boat from corrosion due to electrolysis. They should be inspected and replaced as necessary every time the boat s out of the water for blacking.
Anti-cavitation Plate: A plate fitted flush to the uxter plate to cover the weed hatch opening.
Beam: The width of the boat at the widest point.
Berth: (1) A sleeping space (either bunk or fixed bed or converted dinette) in a boat. (2) The space occupied by a boat when tied up
Bilges: The compartment at the bottom of the boat where water collects and must be pumped out of the vessel.
Bilge Pump: A pump for removing water that has collected in the bilges.
Blacking: Generic term for the protective coats of, often bitumen or epoxy based, paint applied to steel hulls to discourage rusting.
Boatman’s Cabin: Originally the after cabin on working boats, which provided the living and sleeping quarters for the crews. Often replicated on modern traditional style boats.
Boat Safety Certificate: The equivalent of an MOT for narrowboats, all boats over 5 years old require a BSSC, it is valid for four years.
Bow: The front of the boat.
Bow Thruster: A small propeller or water-jet at the bow, that can be directed either port or starboard to help turn a vessel at slow speed, and usually powered by an electric motor. Often mounted in a tube running through the bow section.
Bulkhead: Upright panels or walls within the hull of the boat that divide up the living compartments. Particularly refers to a structural wall, which is often watertight.
Bulls-Eye: A small round porthole fitted in the cabin top, has convex glass for allowing extra light into the cabin.
Butty: An unpowered narrowboat towed behind a powered boat, often seen in the days of working boats.
BSC Safety Scheme: All boats require a safety inspection every four years by a qualified Boat Safety surveyor. See Boat Safety Certificate.
Calorifier: Hot water tank normally heated by the running engine, separate central heating boiler or immersion heater when connected to 240v shoreline, (can be a combination of these)
Canal & River Trust Licence: Boat Licence to use the canals and rivers managed by the Canal and River Trust.
Cant: A raised outer section of a deck normally to the fore and counter decks.
Cassette Toilet: A chemical toilet with a removable storage cassette underneath, normally electrical flushing.
Chine: An angle in the hull. There may be several chines, depending upon the hull design. A narrowboat normally has a single chine where the hull wall and bottom plate meet. See also sacrificial chine.
Cockpit: Open area usually lower than the side decks used for storage or sitting out.
Counter: The round or elliptical (looking from above) small stern deck of a narrowboat, forming a ledge projecting over the propeller and shaft.
Cratch Board: A triangular board or frame supporting the forward end of cratch covers.
Cratch Cover: A canvas covering over the cratch board and forward well deck.
Cross Bed: A double bed going across the full width of the boat, the bottom of the bed folds or slides away (and the mattress is in sections) during the day for access.
Cruiser Stern: A style of narrowboat with a rear deck typically 8 feet in length, providing ample social space at the rear for several people.
Dinette: A seating arrangement with storage under and removable table that converts to a bed (can be l-shaped or Pullman style).
Dog Box: A timber-framed fixed or open able double-pitched glazed skylight on roof, very much larger in plan than a pigeon box.
Draft: The amount of the hull below the water line.
Elsan Disposal: A facility usually in a marina or boatyard for emptying the contents of a cassette toilet holding tank.
Fairlead: A deck fitting to guide ropes and reduce wear, frequently fitted amidships to protect paintwork from the centre-line.
Foredeck: The higher level deck at the bow of a boat, often above the gas locker in a narrowboat.
Freeboard: The height of deck above water level, measured to the lowest place of possible entry for water, such as ventilation grilles in the engine compartment.
Galley: The kitchen area of a boat.
Galvanic Isolator: A device fitted to a boats electrical system intended to prevent galvanic corrosion to the hull.
Gunwale: The top edge of the hull were it joins the cabin side, pronounced gunnel as in tunnel.
Hull: The main steel structure of the boat that sits in the water and gives a boat its buoyancy.
Holding Tank: (or black water tank) An on board storage tank used to collect toilet waste and emptied at pump-out stations.
Houdini hatch: A skylight fitted to the roof of the cabin that can be opened for ventilation or emergency escape.
Inverter: Electronic device for taking 12v DC power stored in the battery bank and converting it to 240v AC for use by TVs microwaves etc.
Josher Style Bow: A bow design with a more pointed nose and with a slight S-shaped sweep, named after Joshua Fellows of Fellows Morton and Clayton carriers fame.
Keel cooled: A closed water coolant system, where a slab tank (narrow & baffled) is welded to the inside of the swim below the water line, engine cooling water is then circulated through it. (Does the same job as the radiator on a car).
Macerator Toilet: A type of pump out toilet where the waste is macerated into slurry by blades before being pumped into the holding tank.
Mushroom Vent: A vent in the roof of the boat shaped like a mushroom, which provides ventilation.
Pigeon Box: A rectangular hole in the deck head (cabin ceiling) covered with a hinged roof and used for ventilation.
Pram Cover: Canopy fitted on a folding framework that is easy to put up and down, fitted over a narrowboats cruiser or Semi-trad deck to protect the helmsman from the elements.
Port or Portside: Left-hand side when standing at the stern facing forward.
Pump-out Toilet: Toilet where the waste is flushed into a holding tank, which is then pumped out at a canal side facility.
Raw water cooled – Direct: Canal water is drawn in via a mud box (normally a watertight container large enough to allow the incoming water time to settle) before being pumped around the engine to cool it then returned to the canal. Important Note the engine and every part of the cooling system must be completely drained during cold weather to prevent frost damage.
Raw water cooled – Indirect: Canal water is drawn in via a mud box (normally a watertight container large enough to allow the incoming water time to settle) before being pumped though a heat exchanger mounted on the engine it is then returned to the canal. The engines own coolant is also pump through the heat exchanger but is kept separate inside the heat exchanger enabling the engine to be protected with anti-freeze. Important Note The raw water side of the heat exchanger and unprotected parts cooling system must be completely drained during cold weather to prevent frost damage.
RCD = Recreational Craft Directive. EU Mandatory standards for the construction of new boats. The RCD certificate lasts four years, after which boats must have a Boat Safety Certificate.
Reverse layout: An interior layout with the bedroom at the front and the galley or lounge at the rear.
Rubbing Strake: Reinforced steel strips fitted to the outside of the hull, usually at deck level to protect the topsides from damage.
Rudder nib: The extension to the rudder above the waterline on narrowboats.
Ruddertstock: The bar, tube or post connecting the rudder vane to the steering mechanism.
Rudderstock tube: A tube in the hull through which the rudderstock passes.
Sacrificial chine: Extension to the bottom plate to provide protection and wear edge for the chine.
Saloon: The living area or lounge on a boat.
Scumble: A painting technique that gives a wood grain appearance.
Scuppers: Holes through hull sides for draining decks & lockers.
Semi-Traditional: Narrowboat stern style that is a good compromise between at trad stern and cruiser stern. Combines the looks of a Trad, with the outside space of a cruiser.
Shoreline: An electrical lead connecting the boat via an external socket to a 240v electricity supply.
Single Lever Morse Control: A hand lever combining the functions of gear and throttle control.
Skeg: A steel horizontal bar welded to the base plate protruding from the stern to carry the lower end of the rudder post and bearing, it also gives some protection to the propeller.
Skin tank: A steel tank welded to the interior face of the hull. The skin tank forms part of the engine cooling system; engine coolant passes through the tank and is cooled by contact with exterior hull plating and canal/river water.
Starboard or starboard side: The right-hand side when standing at the stern facing forward. Taken from the Norse steerboard, the oar that was used to steer the boat.
Stern: The back or aft part of the boat.
Sterngear: The combination of propeller, propeller shaft, stern-tube, stern-tube bearing, & stuffing box or packing gland (an adjustable gland to help keep water out of the engine space bilge).
Stern gland: Greased packing arrangement that is used to prevent water from entering a vessel at the point where the propeller shaft passes through the hull.
Stern tube: The tube through the hull that the propeller shaft passes through.
Superstructure: The structures on a vessel that project above the deck (the cabin top on a canal boat).
Swans neck: The S-shaped steel bar welded to the rudder post to which the tiller bar is fitted on canal boats.
Swim: The after (back) underwater part of the hull that goes to a point to allow a cleaner flow of water over the propeller.
Tiller bar: Handle that fits on the swans neck of a canal boat to give extra leverage. (The brass or chrome shiny stick with a wooden handle on the end).
Transom: The normally rounded after (back) part of the boat above the water where the steerer stands.
Traditional Style: A style of narrow boat typified by short back deck of 2-3 Feet in length, giving more room inside for living.
Tumblehome: The amount by which the cabin sides slope inwards (to give more bridge clearance).
Uxter Plate: The steel bottom plate of a narrowboat’s stern counter deck, where it projects over the propeller and rudder.
Waterline: The line on the boats hull were it floats.
Weedhatch: A hatch with a watertight lid through the counter of a narrowboat providing access to the propeller for cleaning off weeds or other obstructions.
Well Deck: the floor of a well or cockpit.
Windlass or lock key: A cranked handle for opening and closing lock paddles.
To find out more, please contact us.