Parts of a Boat: An Easy Guide
Sep 9, 2020 | 3 minute read
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Knowing your way around a boat is crucial if you want to be an effective angler. Whether you’re on a fishing charter with friends or on your own boat, learning the anatomy of your vessel is essential. With that in mind, we’ve made this quick and easy-to-follow guide on the most important parts of a fishing boat. Next time your fellow angler yells “Fish near the cleat!”, you’ll know exactly where to look.

an aerial view of a fishing boat and the anglers on it

Boat Structure

Let’s cover the basics first. You may have heard of some of these terms already, but it never hurts to refresh your memory. Some of the most commonly mentioned structural parts of the boat are:

  • Bow: The front part of the boat.
  • Stern: The rear part of the boat.
  • Hull: The structural shell of the boat, i.e. the part that rests in the water.
  • Keel: A flat blade running along the bottom of the hull, pointing down into the water.
  • Deck: The flat part of the boat on which you can walk.
  • Gunwale: An upper edge of the side of the boat.
  • Cleat: A robust metal fitting to which you tie or loop a rope – usually sits on a gunwale.
  • Helm: The wheel used to steer the boat.
  • Bimini: A canvas attached to a metal frame used to provide shade over the helm.
  • Transom: A flat platform at the stern used to support the boat’s engine.
  • Mast: A long pole rising from the hull or deck.
parts of a fishing boat outlined on a docked fishing vessel

Boat Size and Orientation

Now, let’s cover some other handy terms. These aren’t necessarily physical objects on the boat, rather useful terms you can use to describe the boat’s position and size.

  • Beam: The width of the vessel.
  • Waterline: A line on the hull at which the boat sits in the water when loaded. 
  • Freeboard: The distance from the waterline to the lowest point of the boat’s deck.
  • Draft: The depth of water in which your boat can navigate – i.e. the distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull
  • Draft marks: Numbers on the hull that show the distance from the bottom of the keel to the waterline.
  • Port: The left side of the boat (looking towards the bow).
  • Starboard: The right side of the boat (looking towards the bow).
a high speed center console fishing boat in the water

And that basically covers the most important parts of a fishing boat. Now obviously, there’s a lot more to a boat than a dozen parts, and every watercraft is a little different. Depending on the type of fishing you want to do, you’ll find a wide variety of fishing vessels. If you’re interested in learning more, we have a complete guide on that very subject.

So there you have it. Are there any parts of a fishing boat you think we might have missed? What type of a guide would you like to read next? Let us know in the comments below.

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