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Boating Definitions


at, near or toward the stern; opposite of "fore"


touching bottom


in the direction of the vessel's bow


to remove water from a boat either by pump or bailer


greatest width of a boat


the lower part of a boat's hull


the most forward part of a vessel


a floating signpost showing channels, prohibited areas on the water, or the location of rocks and other obstructions

capacity plate

gives the maximum safe weight capacity (people, gear, and motor) and horsepower rating


to turn over; to turn bottom side up

Certificate of Number (Registration)

the certificate issued annually by the County Treasurer to the owner of a watercraft which must be registered

Certificate of Ownership (Title)

the certificate issued by the Department of Justice identifying the owner of a motorboat or sailboat 12 feet in length or longer


a piece of wood or metal with projecting ends to which lines are tied


hooded openings used for ventilation


the depth of the boat below the water line


objects placed along the side of the boat to protect the hull from damage


towards the bow; opposite of "aft"


the height of the boat above the water

give-way vessel

the vessel that does not have the right of way in a crossing or overtaking situation; it is required to take early and substantial action to keep well away from other vessels by stopping, slowing down, or changing course


the upper edge of the vessel's side (pronounced "gunnel")


the body of the vessel

Hull Identification Number (HIN)

a unique 12-digit number assigned by the manufacturer to vessels built after 1972; typically found on the upper right side of the transom

identifying number

the boat number set forth in the Certificate of Number and properly displayed on the vessel's bow; for example, "MT-4809-AB"


the boat's backbone, running along the center lengthwise at the bottom of the hull


used on PWC and some powerboats, a short cord that attaches the ignition safety switch to the operator's wrist or life jacket


to move a boat into the water from land


all ropes used on a boat


to keep a vessel in place by setting anchor or tying the vessel to a fixed object or mooring bouy


any vessel, including a canoe, kayak, rubber raft or pontoon, propelled by any machinery, motor or engine of any description, whether or not such machinery, motor or engine is the principal source of propulsion. The term includes boats temporarily equipped with detachable motors or engines.


to navigate or otherwise use a motorboat or vessel


the person who navigates, drives, or is otherwise in immediate control of a motorboat or vessel

personal floatation device (PFD)

a lifesaving device designed to keep your head above water; such as a life jacket, life vest, bouyant cushion, or life preserver ring

personal watercraft (PWC)

vessels that use a motor or engine to power a water jet pump as the primary source of propulsion and that is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel


the left side of a vessel as you look forward

registration decal

a serially numbered registration sticker, referred to as the permanent decal, issued by the County Treasurer and displayed as required by law

rules of the road

the nautical traffic rules to avoid collisions on the water


the length of the anchor line; a 7:1 scope means the length of the anchor line from the boat to the anchor is seven times the depth of the water

stand-on vessel

the vessel that has the right of way in a crossing or overtaking situation; it must maintain its course and speed unless it becomes apparent that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action


the right side of a vessel as you look forward


the rear or back of the boat


the vertical surface at the back of the hull

validation decals

the serially numbered validation stickers issued by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and displayed as required by law


every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water; NOT included in this definition are inner tribes, float tubes (belly boats), air mattresses and sailboards when used without mechanical propulsion


path of disturbed water left behind a moving vessel; "no wake" speed means there is no "white" water in the track or path of the vessel or created in waves immediate to the vessel