What Are the Different Parts of a Boat?

Do you dream of hitting the water in a sparkling, brand-new boat, where you can both enjoy the outdoors and entertain your friends?

Or are you a current or soon-to-be new boat owner who is ready to learn all you need to know to captain your new watercraft?

Maintenance is a big part of keeping a boat seaworthy. To maneuver AND care for your boat, you will first need to become familiar with the parts of a boat.

Check out our beginners guide below to learn the common parts of a boat, including their names and locations.

Exterior Basics

The outside parts of the boat have specific names that signify direction. A partial list includes:

  • Bow: the front part of a boat
  • Port: the left side (looking forward)
  • Starboard: the right side (looking forward)
  • Stern: the rear of a boat
  • Transom: the cross-section of the stern
  • Gunwale: the top edges of the sides of a boat

The majority of the boat is made up of the hull, or the boat’s body. The hull includes the part of the boat that ends up in the water. The waterline is the point on the hull where the boat sits in the water when it’s properly loaded with people and cargo.

One of your major maintenance tasks will be to make sure the exterior of the boat is kept clean and free from waterline stains, rust, and exhaust stains, particularly on the hull. Take a look at well-reviewed hull cleaners, and use them when cleaning a boat to keep the exterior looking fresh.

Interior Basics

Here are some interior items that are common to most boats that provide the basic structure of the craft.

The deck, which is the flat surface of the boat, sits on top of the hull. The helm, which contains the steering wheel or mechanism is part of the upper deck. Some boats have multiple decks, others just one.

Most boats have a keel, which is a beam that runs from the bow of the boat to the stern and goes through the middle of the vessel. The keel provides stability for the vessel.

An important interior piece is a bilge, which collects excess water that is accumulated when the boat is on the water. The bilge is the place where that water is collected and released, so the boat can be kept afloat.

Other Common Parts of a Boat

Your boat will have an anchor, a heavy weight that is dropped into the water until it hits the bottom of that body of water. The weight then secures the vessel so it will not float away when idle.

A line is a rope that lets you drop the anchor and a cleat is the metal piece attached to the boat that the line secures to.

A propeller with rotating blades moves the boat through the water, and the rudder, which sits below the boat, is a mechanism that steers.

Enjoy Boating

Although a boat involves a large commitment of time and money, the result is fun for you, your family, and friends for years to come. Knowing how the parts of a boat work is key to responsible boating!

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