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Boating terminology 101: What you should know

calendar iconJul 10, 2023

When you decide to book your first trip on a boat, you might be surprised to hear many new phrases and words, whose meanings might puzzle you in the beginning. But do not worry, because it is for this exact reason that we decided to bring our customers closer to our everyday life and the boating terminology that comes with it.

When you finally do find yourself on a speedboat, on its way to one of many exciting locations in the Zadar archipelago, you will be able to differentiate quite easily between all the peculiar terms your experienced speedboat guide will use.

Naval and boating terminology does not differ much; from small dinghies to massive superyachts, the sides of a vessel are consistently named the same. So, regardless if you find yourself on an oil tanker or on a speedboat cruise in the Croatian Adriatic Sea, you will always have some terms that coincide, but others that are totally different. This relates to the size and length of the boats in question, their differences in handling, the number of crew and so on.

Nevertheless, port and starboard remain the same on any boat, as well as the stern and the bow. Now, if you wondering what these terms (and many others) mean, we are happy to introduce you to the interesting (and sometimes quite funny) world of boating terminology.

Tourist-friendly boating terminology that guests on a speedboat tour should be aware of

To be able to enjoy your day trip with Zadar Archipelago in a different and more fulfilling way, learning new information while also enjoying the beauty of the Croatian Adriatic sea is a win-win situation. So, take your time to learn some new words, thanks to our boating terminology review.

• Bow: The front part of the boat.
• Stern: The rear part of the boat.
• Port: The left side of the boat when facing forward.
• Starboard: The right side of the boat when facing forward.

Why is port called port and starboard – starboard? Well, the story goes that, in the time of wooden ships, the rudder would be connected to the wheel and would be positioned slightly to the right side of the vessel, or the side that was used to steer the vessel.

A speedboat seen from a bird`s eye perspective
There is no better way to learn the sides of a boat than by spending time on a boat

Through linguistic evolution, the side that “steered the boat” became “starboard” or the side from which you steer a boat. On the other hand, portside was named this way because the left side of the vessel was ALWAYS used to dock the boat at port.

This was because the left side was free from any rudder restrictions (since it was on the left side) and was free to operate without fear of entangled lines or rudder failure.

If you want to learn even more nautical terms – usually found on much bigger boats – you can check out this blog from SuperYachts Croatia.

Funny etymology origin stories, when it comes to boating terminology

We could not resist including some of the funniest stories regarding naval terminology, since maritime culture is a treasure-trove of humorous etymology. Continue reading if you want to experience a “Eureka” moment or just have a bit of fun.

A backflip done from a bow of a speedboat
Every destination we take our guests to is so beautiful, they literally jump with joy!

We hope that you found our list of boating terminology to be amusing and educational and that we will see you boarding the portside of our speedboats, and then sitting on the starboard side. You can also sunbathe on the bow or dive from the stern while following your skipper`s instructions from the helm.

If, after our short boating terminology introduction, you understand the sentence above, congratulations! You are now officially a speaker of a specific subvariant of professional language that only sailors and maritime personnel are aware of. The only thing left now is to book a day trip with Zadar Archipelago and put your theoretical knowledge to practical use.

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