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Elements of a Boat

Know the Parts of Your Boat

SEA Marine Yacht Services of Port Townsend, Wa specializes in boat repair, refits & marine electrical & mechanical services

Boating can be much more successful when you are familiar with the elements of the boat itself. We encourage you to take a boating safety course and become familiar with the parts of your boat so that you can go out on the water in the most educated and responsible manner.

What are the Hull and the Keel?

The hull of a boat is an internal framework that extends from side to side (transverse) and also runs the length of the boat (longitudinal). The hull is covered by an outer shell plating, most often constructed of fiberglass or metal. All boats also have a keel: the backbone of the boat that runs along the center bottom of the boat and provides stability in the water.

What are the Bow, Deck, and Stern?

The front of a boat is the bow and its curved shape is designed to the lift the vessel with the waves, rather than cutting into them. The stern is the back of the boat: a flat, square stern has a broader surface for a wave to act upon compared to a round stern. The round, or cruiser stern, is safer in following seas because the wave splits and travels forward along each side of the boat. The deck is the upper surface of the boat. The curvature of the deck allows water to flow off of it.

What is Starboard, Port, and Gunwale?

When operating a boat, the starboard side is the right side of the boat and the port side is the left. The gunwale is the upper edge of the sides of a boat.

What is Sheer, Flare, and Tumblehome?

The curvature of the deck from bow to stern is the sheer, which along with the flare and tumblehome determine a boat’s displacement and buoyancy. Flare increases displacement, and is the outward turn of the hull as the sides rise from the waterline. Tumblehome, the reverse of flare, is the shape of the hull from the gunwale to the waterline.

What are the Chine and Beam?

The part of the boat that is below the waterline is the chine and it determines your boat’s speed and how it handles on the water. If the chine is rounded, it is a soft chine. If it squared off, it is a hard chine. The beam is simply the width of the maximum width of the boat.


What are the Rudder and Propeller?

The rudder steers the boat, which is driven by one or more screw propellers. Propellers rotate and power a boat either forward or backward. These parts of the boat are at the back and located underwater.


SEA Marine Yacht Services of Port Townsend WA will come to you when you need boat repair or other maintenance. Contact us when you need assistance quickly.