NEFSC Ecosystems Surveys Branch
Guide to Nautical and Fishing Terms
Abeam - At right angles to the keel of the boat, but not on the boat.
Aft - Toward the stern of the boat.
Ahead - In a forward direction.
Amidships - In or toward the center of the boat.
Astern - In back of the boat, opposite of ahead.
Beam - The greatest width of the boat.
Below - Beneath the deck.
Boat hook- A short shaft with a fitting at one end shaped to facilitate use in putting a line over a piling, recovering an object dropped overboard, or in pushing or fending off.
Bongo – a plankton net deployed in the water column from the vessel.
Bow - The forward part of a boat.
Bridge - The location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled.
Bulkhead - A vertical partition separating compartments.
Chart - A map for use by navigators.
Codend – the closed end of a trawl net.
CTD – an instrument deployed from the vessel into the water column to profile salinity, temperature and depth, the acronym stands for Conductivity, Temperature & Depth.
Dead ahead- Directly ahead.
Dead astern- Directly aft.
Doors – a pair of large wood or metal boards that horizontally spread the trawl net.
Draft- The depth of water a boat draws.
Dragger – a commercial fishing vessel that uses a net or dredge to fish.
Dredge (drag) – is a large metal frame that is towed and scrapes the seafloor. Used to catch scallops or clams.
Fathom - Six feet.
Fixed gear – stationary fishing equipment such as lobster pots, long lines or fish traps.
Following sea- An overtaking sea that comes from astern.
Fore-Toward the bow of the boat.
Forward - Toward the bow of the boat, as in forward hatch.
Fouled - Any piece of equipment that is jammed or entangled, or dirtied.
Galley - The kitchen area of a boat.
Gangway - The area of a ship's side where people board and disembark.
Hang – when the net or dredge gets caught on an obstruction on the seafloor.
Hatch - An opening in a boat's deck fitted with a watertight cover.
Hauling the net/dredge – retrieving the net/dredge to the vessel after a tow, haulback is the time when the net/dredge is being retrieved.
Head - A marine toilet. Also the upper corner of a triangular sail.
Helm - The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.
Hold - A compartment below deck in a large vessel, used solely for carrying cargo.
Hull - The main body of a vessel.
Inboard - More toward the center of a vessel; inside; a motor fitted inside a boat.
Jacobs ladder- A rope ladder, lowered from the deck, as when pilots or passengers come aboard.
Keel - The centerline of a boat running fore and aft; the backbone of a vessel.
Knot - A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour.
Latitude - The distance north or south of the equator measured and expressed in degrees.
Lee - The side sheltered from the wind.
Leeward - The direction away from the wind. Opposite of windward.
Line - Rope and cordage used aboard a vessel.
Log - A record of courses or operation. Also, a device to measure speed.
Longitude - The distance in degrees east or west of the meridian at Greenwich, England.
Marlinspike - A tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.
Midship - Approximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stern.
Nautical mile- One minute of latitude; approximately 6076 feet - about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5280 feet.
Outboard - Toward or beyond the boat's sides.
Port - The left side of a boat looking forward. A harbor.
Quarter - The sides of a boat aft of amidships.
Rudder - A vertical plate or board for steering a boat.
Scouting – searching for an area to tow, with good bottom, consistent depth and free of fixed gear.
Screw - A boat's propeller.
Scuppers - Drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself.
Setting the net/dredge – deploying the net/dredge from the vessel for a tow.
Sounding - A measurement of the depth of water.
Stateroom - a cabin or private room aboard a ship.
Squall - A sudden, violent wind often accompanied by rain.
Starboard - The right side of a boat when looking forward.
Stern - The after part of the boat.
Stratum – a defined geographic area. It is based on depth and region for NEFSC surveys.
Streaming the net – towing the net at the surface while the vessel positions to set the net.
Topsides - The sides of a vessel between the waterline and the deck; sometimes referring to onto or above the deck.
Way - Movement of a vessel through the water such as headway, sternway or leeway.
Winch – a machine used for hauling the net/dredge, which has a drum around which is wound the trawl wire attached to the net/dredge.
Windward - Toward the direction from which the wind is coming.