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Parts of a boat - Bow, stern, starboard, port, draft, waterline

Bow of a boat

Refers to the forward part of a pleasure craft. 

Stern of a boat

Refers to the back end of a pleasure craft.

Bow of a boat  - Stern of a boat

Starboard side

The right side of a pleasure craft when looking forward. Many centuries ago, ships were always moored on the left side; the helm was on the right side and would have been a hinderance while mooring. More information on starboard side.

Port side

The left side of a pleasure craft looking forward. More information on port side.

Port starboard


The depth of water, which a pleasure craft requires to float freely. It is, therefore, necessary to have deeper water than the draft of the pleasure craft, so that it may easily float, otherwise it may run aground.

Beam - Freeboard - Draft - Propeller - Keel


The line marked on the hull of the vessel that separates the submerged section of the vessel from the section above the water level. The waterline must never be submerged.  If it is submerged, the vessel has exceeded its maximum load capacity. Furthermore, if this line is lower on one side, it means that the load is unevenly distributed on each side of the vessel. These two situations represent a danger for the safety of the passengers as well as to the pleasure craft.


The column of water around and behind a moving pleasure craft, which is set into motion by the pleasure craft advancing through the water. Smooth track left by the passage of a vessel.


PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is a personal buoyancy aid designed to provide an individual with additional floating ability while in the water. More information on PFD.



The main body of a vessel from the deck down. It does not include rigging, superstructure, machinery, or equipment.


It's whatever is used to steered the boat, which is generally a tiller or a wheel. “Taking the helm” means that you are in charge of driving the boat.


The distance from the waterline to the upper deck level, measured at the lowest point of sheer, where water can enter the boat or ship.

Stand-on vessel

A vessel which has right-of-way during a meeting, crossing, or overtaking manoeuver, shall maintain her course and speed.


Control the speed and direction of a pleasure craft. 

Give-way vessel

A vessel that is required to keep out of the way of another vessel.


A lifejacket comes only in red, orange and yellow , in order to make you much more visible while in the water. It has more floating ability than the PFD, with the added advantage of turning you on your back, even while unconscious. Currently, there are three Canadian-approved types to choose from:

Standard type lifejackets

Standard type lifejackets

Are approved for all vessels, except SOLAS vessels. They will turn you on your back to keep your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious. They are available in a keyhole model and come in two sizes: one for those weighing less than 40 kg (88 lbs), the other for those weighing more than 40 kg (88 lbs). The standard type lifejacket must be orange, yellow or red, a whistle must be attached to it and it must be of an approved-type. However, compared to PFDs, they are bulky and not as comfortable. 

Small vessel lifejackets

Small vessel lifejackets

Are approved for small vessels. They have less floating ability than the standard type lijejackets. They will turn you on your back to keep your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious, but may do so more slowly. They come in two models (keyhole and vest) and are available in three sizes, one for people over 41 kg (90 lbs), another for people between 18 kg (40 lbs) and 41 kg (90 lbs) and the third for people weighing less than 18 kg (40 lbs).



Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) lifejackets meet very high performance standards and are approved for all vessels. The SOLAS will turn you on your back in seconds to keep your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious. They come in two sizes, for those over 32 kg (70 lbs) and those less than 32 kg (70 lbs). They are available in comfortable and compact inflatable configurations that can be automatically, manually or orally inflated.

Power driven vessel

Means any vessel propelled by machinery.

Restricted visibility

Means any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms or any other similar causes.

Pleasure craft

Means a boat, a ship, a vessel, or any other description of a water craft that is used exclusively for pleasure, and does not carry passengers or goods for hire, reward, remuneration or any object of profit.


 Means any vessel under sail and not assisted by an engine.

Strong wind warning

Sustained wind speeds in the range of 20 to 33 knots inclusive, as defined by Meteorological Service of Canada.

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