Boating Basics For Beginners

Types of boats

Boating is an incredibly popular activity, both for leisure or sport. If you are considering learning this as a new skill or hobby or possible career path, there are many skills you will need, along with lots of knowledge. There are many courses and certifications you may undertake in order to become a skilled boatman. Here are just a couple of basic pieces of information about boats, the types of boats you may come across, and common phrases that you may hear.

Types of boats

Boats are an essential form of transport and have been used for hundreds of thousands of years. There are numerous types of boats that are used for many different things, from catching fish to recreation. Some of the most common include:

  • Yacht- a luxurious motorboat designed for recreational use. There are different subtypes of yachts, including cruising yacht, extra luxury yacht, and weekender. Yachts can vary in size and price, with the most expensive yacht in the world costing $4.8 billion.
  • Ferry boat- a large boat that carries passengers and/or vehicles from one place to another.
  • Houseboat- modified boats that are designed primarily to be used as a home. 
  • Trawler- robust, large metal structures that use sophisticated tools like trawlers to catch fish.
  • Catamaran- a yacht or boat with two parallel hulls.
  • Sailboat- one of the oldest and most basic types of boat, with cave paintings depicting sail boat-like structures dating from ancient Egyptian times.

Learning to boat

There are many reasons why you may choose to learn to boat or sail. Learning to boat is a challenging, physical experience that can be a lot of fun, but it is incredibly important to ensure you are doing it safely. Depending on local requirements, you may need a boating license in order to operate a boat, such as this one at, or other forms of certification or qualification. There are also many courses that you can take which will teach you everything you need to know about sailing and boating, and how to do it safely and properly. You may just want to sail for fun and leisure or may be interested in it as a sport or career.

Common phrases and words

There are whole glossaries of nautical terms that you will need to get to grips with when learning to boat or sail. Some may be completely new to you, and others you may use in your daily life without even realizing their maritime origins. Some basic nautical terms and phrases include:

  • Bow- the front end of the boat
  • Stern- the back end of the boat
  • Aft- at, near or towards the stern
  • Bosun- ship’s officer who is in charge of the crew and equipment
  • Starboard- when standing at the back of the boat, looking forward, this is the entire right side of the boat
  • Port- when standing at the back of the boat, looking forward, this is the entire left side of the boat

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