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Boating Definitions
aft at, near or toward the stern; opposite of "fore"
aground touching bottom
ahead in the direction of the vessel's bow
bail to remove water from a boat either by pump or bailer
beam greatest width of a boat
bilge the lower part of a boat's hull
bow the most forward part of a vessel
buoy 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
capsize 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
cleat a piece of wood or metal with projecting ends to which lines are tied
cowls hooded openings used for ventilation
draft the depth of the boat below the water line
fenders objects placed along the side of the boat to protect the hull from damage
fore towards the bow; opposite of "aft"
freeboard 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
gunwale the upper edge of the vessel's side (pronounced "gunnel")
hull 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"
keel the boat's backbone, running along the center lengthwise at the bottom of the hull
lanyard used on PWC and some powerboats, a short cord that attaches the ignition safety switch to the operator's wrist or life jacket
launch to move a boat into the water from land
line all ropes used on a boat
moor to keep a vessel in place by setting anchor or tying the vessel to a fixed object or mooring bouy
motorboat 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.
operate to navigate or otherwise use a motorboat or vessel
operator 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
port 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
scope 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
starboard the right side of a vessel as you look forward
stern the rear or back of the boat
transom 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
vessel 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
wake 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