The most important and frequently used terms are highlighted in yellow. Learn these first.


    In order to assist you with knowing about the vessel and your job, please study the glossary of terms provided.


    Aft- toward the back of the boat.


    Alternating Current (AC)- an electric current that reverses its direction in regular intervals.


    Amidships (or midships)- in the middle portion of ship, along the line of the keel.


    Athwartships – across the boat from side to side.


    Beam- the side of the boat, also the width of the vessel at its widest point.


    Bight (of a line)- mid part of a line.


    Bilge- the bottom most part of a ship’s inner hull.


    Bitt- a large deck fitting used for attaching lines.


    Bitter end (of a line)- the end of a line opposite the eye.


    Bollard- a heavy post for attaching lines located on a dock.


    Bow- the front of a boat.


    Bow line- lines leading from the bow of the boat


    Bowline- a knot used to form a loop that neither slips nor jams.


    Bow thruster - a transversal propulsion device built into, or mounted to, the bow of a ship or boat to make it more maneuverable.


    Breast line- lines running perpendicular from the boat.


    Bridge (pilothouse)- main operating station of the vessel (steering and engine control).


    Bulkhead - an upright wall within the hull of a ship. For watertight integrity or fire protection.


    Bulwarks- a partial wall, less than 42” high on exposed decks.


    Camber- the slight curve of a deck from the center to the sides.


    Capacity- the number of passengers and crew on a boat that can be legally carried as specified by the Certificate of Inspection (COI).


    Cast off- to let a line go.


    Certificate of Inspection (COI) – a document required on every passenger- carrying vessel in the US. Lists critical information including amount of lifesaving equipment, routes of operation, fire extinguishers, manning requirements, capacity and much more. Valid for 5 years but must be annually re-inspected.


    Chock- a partial or round opening in a bulwark or bulkhead that a line is passed through.


    Circuit breaker - a protective device that automatically stops the flow of electrical current if the current becomes excessive.


    Cleat- a fitting on boats and docks to which lines are tied.


    Coil (a line)- to store a line by looping in a circular, clockwise motion.


    Compartment- an enclosed area in the hull of the boat.


    Contingency Plan- a plan for emergencies other than fire, man overboard and abandon ship.


    Coolant - the liquid used to cool an engine.


    Deck - a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. The primary or upper deck is the horizontal structure which forms the 'roof' for the hull, which both strengthens the hull and serves as the primary working surface.


    Direct Current (DC) - electrical current in which the flow moves continuously in one direction.


    Disembark- to depart a boat.


    Draft- the depth of a ship’s keel below the waterline.


    Egress system- route of escape for passengers, includes stairways, landing areas, doors, corridors etc.


    Embark- to come aboard a boat.


    Emergency contact list- a list of relevant police, fire department, USCG and company contact numbers which is always posted in the pilothouse.


    Emergency lighting (dc lighting)- Back up lights aboard the ship that run off DC power used in the event of a loss of generator (AC) power.


    Eye (of a line)- a loop spliced in the end of a line.


    Fake down (a line)- laying a line out in a loose fashion so that no part of the line is on top of another part, but each loop is side by side.


    Fender- an item placed between the vessel and dock for cushion effect.


    Flemish coil- laying out a line in a tight, flat coil.


    Fore and aft – parallel to a line from the stem to the stern.


    Forward (fore) - the front section of a boat.


    Freeing ports- holes in a bulwark that allow water to drain off a deck.


    Fuse - a protective device that interrupts the flow of electrical current if the current becomes excessive by melting a soft plastic link, one tripped, it must be replaced.


    Galley- a kitchen or cooking space on a boat.


    Gangway- a ramp that leads on or off the boat.


    Ground tackle- general term to describe an anchor, line and associated gear.


    Hatch- an opening in a deck providing access to the area below.


    Head- a bathroom on a boat.


    Heaving line- a light line used as a messenger to send a larger line to the dock from the vessel.


    Helm- the steering station of a boat.


    Hold (a line)- to take a wrap with a line so that it will not let out or come in.


    Hull- the frame or body of a ship- the part of the ship that is in the water.    


    Inboard- towards the center of a boat.


    Keel- the central structural basis of the hull. 


    Lazarette-  a compartment below deck typically on the stern of the vessel where steering gear is located.


    Leeward- away from the wind.


    Line- any rope on a boat.


    Main deck - the principal deck of a vessel.


    Make fast- to secure a line.


    Muster- to gather together, usually an area for passengers to gather to avoid danger, or the location where the boat crew gathers for an emergency.


    Outboard- towards the outside of a boat.


    Personal Flotation Device (PFD)- a life jacket.


    Port- the left side of a boat facing forward.


    Public space- space accessible to passengers.


    Quarter- an area 45 degrees off the bow or stern on either side.


    Rub Rail- a projecting strip around the hull that protects the hull.


    Rudder- an underwater blade at the stern of a boat controlled by the helm which controls vessel movement.


    Sea Chest - a box like or pipe structure fitted to the inner hull of a vessel that allows sea water into the vessels piping (bilge, fire, engine) system.


    Shore Power - a power source from shore, connected to the vessel (by a shore power cord) that can be switched to run the vessels electrical system.


    Spring Line- a line from the boat leading either forward or aft.


    Stability- the ability of a boat to remain upright and afloat


    Stability Letter- a document issued by the USCG which sets forth conditions of operation for a specified vessel.


    Starboard- the right side of the boat facing forward.


    Stern – back of the boat.


    Topsides – the upper surfaces of the hull from the waterline to the deck.


    Upper deck - The highest deck of the hull, extending from stem to stern.


    Watertight Door – a door that when closed will hold back the water or fire from one compartment to another. The only vessel in Shoreline’s fleet that has a watertight door is the Shoreline II. Watertight doors must be closed at all times while underway, unless you are transiting through compartments.


    Windward- the direction towards the wind.



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