Do you know your port from your starboard? Do you know the difference between an on-line and an off-line mooring? If not, then the following should help you understand some of the terms used when people talk about canal boats (courtesy of waterscape.com ).
Aft / stern – back of a boat.
Air draft – the height of the boat taken from the waterline to the highest fixed point on the boat. (So you won’t hit a low bridge)
Beam – a boat’s width.
Bow – pointed front of the boat.
Breasted pair – two boats moored together.
Butty boat – a narrowboat without an engine, usually towed behind or alongside a powered narrowboat, has an open hold to carry cargo.
BWB key - opens sanitary stations, waterpoints and some swing bridges and locks.
- Cill – "doorsteps" inside the lock, on which the lock gates sit.
- Counter – flat area below the water line above the swim.
- Cut – another term for a canal: workers ‘cut’ the ditches to make the canals.
- Draft – the depth of a boat / how deep it is under water.
- Elsan disposal – place to empty disposable toilets.
- Gunwale – the top edge of the hull were it joins the cabin side, pronounced gunnel as tunnel.
- Galley – a boat’s kitchen.
- Gangplank – a plank used for getting on and off when the boat won’t quite reach the bank.
- Hull – the main body of a boat, not including the cabin.
Keel cooled – a closed system, a slab tank (narrow & baffled) is welded to the inside (normally) of the swim, engine cooling water is then circulated through it. (Does the same job as the radiator on a car).
- Junction – where two or more canals meet.
- Linear moorings – moorings along the canal where the boat is tied parallel to the towpath.
- Lock gates – the mechanism that lets a boat into and out of a lock and also holds the water back
- Navigation lights – used in poor visibility on rivers to show other boats where you are and what direction you are going in. White lights – front and back; green light - right hand side; red light - left hand side.
- Offline moorings – moorings in a basin / marina etc, i.e. not along the actual canal.
- Online moorings – moorings along the canal.
- Paddles – trapdoors in the lock gate or side of the wall of the lock which let water in and out of the lock (Also known as a sluice).
- Port or Port side – left-hand side when standing at the stern facing forward (towards the frontend)
- Pound – a section of waterway between locks.
- Pump out – the facility to empty toilets that have a fixed holding tank.
- Restriction – when maintenance work is carried out on a waterway, but the navigation doesn’t have to be closed. Boaters may need to follow special instructions, or be delayed for a certain amount of time etc.
- Rudder – used to steer the boat, it is attached to the back of a boat and into the water.
- Raw water cooled – canal water is drawn in via a mud box (normally a watertight container large enough to allow the incoming water time to settle) before being pumped around the engine to cool it then returned to the canal.
- Screw – the propeller which makes the boat go.
- Skeg – a steel horizontal bar welded to the base plate (normally in channel form) protruding from the stern to carry the lower end of the rudder post and bearing, it also gives some protection to the propeller.
- Skipper – the captain or person in charge of the boat.
- Sluice – trapdoors in the lock gate or side of the wall of the lock which let water in and out of the lock (Also known as paddles).
Stake – Known as mooring pins, you hammer into the ground to tie to tie the boat to the bank (used when there are no mooring rings).
- Starboard or starboard side – right-hand side when standing at the stern facing forward (towards the frontend)
Stern – the back of a boat.
Sterngear – the propeller, propeller shaft, sterntube, sterntube bearing, & stuffing box or packing gland (an adjustable gland to help keep water out of the engine space bilge.
Stoppages – when work/maintenance is taking place on a waterway, a section of it may need to be ‘closed’ to boaters for a certain length of time
- Swans neck – the S shaped steel bar welded to the rudder post to which the tiller bar is fitted (the brass shinny stick with a wooden handle on the end) on a motor boat.
Swim – the after (back) underwater part of the hull that goes to a point to allow a cleaner flow of water over the propeller.
Summit – the highest section of a canal above the top lock.
Tiller – attached to the rudder to control steerage through the rudder.
Transom – the normally rounded after (back) part of the boat above the water where the steerer stands.
Tumblehome – the amount a cabin side slopes inwards (to give more bridge clearance).
- Tunnel light – large beam, like a car headlight, for use in tunnels to see the way and to be seen by on-coming boats.
Waterline – the line on the boats hull were it floats.
- Windlass or lock key – a cranked handle for opening and closing lock paddles.
Weir – an artificial waterfall often built so the river or canal can run around a lock.
- Winding hole – a place on the water broad enough to turn the boat around.
- Windlass – a spanner-like tool used to open lock paddles or sluices.
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