Know Your Boat Inside Out

Seamanship is simply the skill of managing a boat and encompasses: navigation; safety; boat handling; line handling; anchoring; troubleshooting engine problems; and appropriate emergency response.

The first discipline of good seamanship is to know everything about your boat. You should know your boat’s construction, layout, carrying capacity, limitations, and capabilities. Be familiar with equipment and where it is stowed to the point that you can locate and operate it in the dark. You should also get to know your boat’s propulsion, electric, and power systems, and how to deal with common problems.

Operational Characteristics and Limitations
Knowing the operating characteristics and limitations of your boat is important for safe boating, and can even help reduce fuel costs. You can find this information in the boat’s operating manual, including:

• maximum carrying and load capacity
• maximum speed and range at various speeds
• maximum fuel range
• maximum draft
• economical cruising speed

If possible, find out the boat’s wind and sea limitations. If the operating manual doesn’t state it specifically, contact the manufacturer to find out the maximum sea conditions for your boat.

Boat Nomenclature
Nomenclature is a fancy term meaning “system of names used in a discipline.” In other words, get to know terms for location and direction aboard your boat, its hull type, and the names of its various parts.

Boat Measurements
Length overall is the distance from the foremost part of the boat’s bow to its stern, and is expressed in feet. Length is one of the most common ways to describe a boat. Waterline length is the distance between the fore and aft parts of the boat that meet the surface of the water. The beam is the distance between the right-side hull to the left-side hull.

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