10 of the Weirdest Boating Words You Have Ever Heard

By Debbie Hanson

Apr 18, 2014

​So, you have been thinking about buying a boat so that you can get to some of those coveted fishing spots you have been hearing about. 

So, you have been thinking about buying a boat so that you can get to some of those coveted fishing spots you have been hearing about. There’s only one problem… every time you talk to a boat-owning friend or do any online research, you come across an array of boating terms that sound more like part of Captain Jack Sparrow’s dialogue in Pirates of the Caribbean than any basic boat parts or terms that you would actually understand.


How will you be able to captain a boat if you don’t know all of the weird boating lingo? Learn it! Take a boating basics course and then read the definitions for ten of the weirdest words right here.

  • Athwart. When referring to direction, anything that is perpendicular to a boat's centerline.

  • Baggywrinkle. A soft covering for cables or other obstructions to reduce sail damage or chafing. There are many points in the rigging of sailing ships where the sails come into contact with the standing rigging. Unprotected sails can develop holes at the points of contact without baggywrinkle to provide a softer wearing surface for the sail.

  • Burgee. Small flag that bears a recreational yacht or boating club's symbol.

  • Daggerboard. A keel-like device, most often used on sailboats, that is manually raised and lowered vertically without using a hinge.

  • Drogue. A parachute-like sea anchor that is attached to the stern and used to slow the boat down in foul weather. A drogue helps to keep the boat’s hull perpendicular to the waves.

  • Genset. Another name for a gas or diesel-powered electric generator.

  • Nuns. Red cone-shaped buoys marked with even numbers that boaters use as navigational aids.

  • Scuttlebutt. The scuttlebutt is a drinking water cask or container on a ship. Throughout history, sailors would often gather around the scuttlebutt to engage in conversation so the word has also taken on a slang meaning that refers to rumor or gossip.

  • Skeg. A fin or vertical projection below the hull that provides a boat with directional stability. A skeg can also be a fin-like projection at the bottom of an outboard.

  • Yaw. To deviate temporarily from a straight course.


Are there still more boating words that you don't understand? Check our boating glossary to further expand your knowledge of boating terminology.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.