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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

Janice aboard Seaweed,
living the good life afloat...

Trawler cruising on $14 per day is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

Janice Marois, nautical journalist.
Accredited member of Boat Writers International.

The Boat Talk page
A glossary for nautical neophytes.


Aphorism Alert:  Your working IQ is your regular IQ, divided by the number of boats you own. Bestathook on Cruisers Forum.


Boat Talk

~ listed alphabetically ~
Link to Article where term is used/mentioned.


1/4 20's: Pronounced quarter twenty's. The bolt is 1/4" in diameter and has twenty threads to the inch. In the photograph, the bolt on the far right. Moby-Cool Installed and  Bolt Sizing Primer.


1-cent trivia: Pre-1982 pennies were 95% copper, 5% zinc. Pennies minted after 1982 are 99.2% zinc with a 0.8% copper coating. Old timers put a few (pre-1982) pennies into our intake strainers. In salt water, the copper dissolves and prevents marine mollusk growth. Spring on Pi Day (copper advice)


8 by 32's: A common bolt used on boats for electronics. Metric size 8 with 32 threads to the inch. Commonly called an 8 by 32. In the photograph, the three bolts on the left.  Bolt Sizing Primer.


10 by 24's: A common smaller bolt used on boats. Metric size 10 with 24 threads to the inch. Commonly called an 10 by 24's. In the photograph, the two in the center. Bolt Sizing Primer.


30 amp Power Cord info: The way I identify the white is this: When looking at the unit, the Neutral is the one the "tab" of the L-shaped ground is closest to. Power Cord Primer.

  • Green = Ground ("L" shaped blade)
  • White = Neutral
  • Black = Hot

Maintenance: spray female inlets with CRC Silicone or dielectric grease once per month.

[Click on this picture to see them labeled.]


"Abandon Ship" means get off the boat or out of the dink, a part of Skipper Training 101. Sometimes she does it and ends up in the water. Skipper is not her most attractive when wet. First Mate, and Abandon Ship!


ABYC: American Boat and Yacht Council. The ABYC develop boat building and repair standards focusing on safety, equipment, installation, etc.  ABYC also offers training and certification. Three Keys When Hiring.


Across the pond: crossing the Atlantic Ocean (to Europe from here or vice versa) Romanticism versus Reality.


Air draft is the height from the waterline to the highest point on your boat. This is important when going under bridges. Buying a Big Boat (part 3).

A.T.F. - Automatic transmission fluid. Transmission Fluid in Bilge.

A.I.S. - Automatic Identification System is a technology that provides the names and other vital data about cruising ships and boats. Many vessels now have the receivers aboard. The fancier yachts also often opt for a transceiver (send and receiving) unit. Anchor Ball.


Alligator clip: a handy device to have in your tools arsenal. It will hold two wires together while you do testing. Inexpensive, and I've got a half-dozen insulated alligator clips in my electrical gear. Anchor Light Fix, and Warranty Paperwork (SeaSense bilge pump)


Amps. For DC power supply, amps are equal to watts divided by volts. Amps = Watts / Volts. (no article yet)


Anchor Ball: A black anchor ball alerts other yachtsmen that your boat is not underway. It is displayed in the daytime, just as your anchor light is shown at night when you are at anchor. Making a Towel Rack.


"At Ease" means stop barking, a part of Skipper Training 101. First Mate.


Backing plates are used to reinforce or strengthen an attachment point. They are generally made from stainless steel or aluminum for items such as deck cleats and windlasses. StarBoard and hardwoods such as oak are also used. Backing Plates.

Backing plate attached with nuts, bolts and fender washers

Beam - The width of a boat. A beamy boat is one that is particularly wide.  On Island Time (Schucker 440 Motorsailor).

Beetleroo was a dinghy manufactured back in the 1940's and 50's. Mine was a beater -- used, abused and enjoyed thoroughly. Glass-bottom Dinghy.


The Bible: Otherwise known as Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual, this is the book that is universally aboard live-aboard boats. When something breaks, Calder's comes out. You'll figure out what is wrong via the troubleshooting charts, diagrams and charts. Then, the illustrations will teach you how to fix what's broken. A New Calder's (2015, 4th Edition)


Big Bend: The area of the Florida panhandle where the state turns and heads south is known as the Big Bend to cruisers and dirt dwellers too. Manatee Moves, and Some Crabbers are Perverse.

Binocs: shortened form of binoculars. Falling Overboard.
"Bleeding the engine" is really a case of letting the air out of the system so that only fuel goes into the motor. It can be done on my Volvo with wrenches (three sizes, and yes, I'll have them attached to bulkheads where needed so I won't have to hunt 'em down) ... anyway, bleeding is just releasing the air from the fuel lines. It's not a filthy job. She runs, however...


Boat Buck: Long-term boaters know that BOAT often stands for Break Out Another Thousand, and though we might smile there is a high level of truth in it. A boat buck is $1000. Hayes is Here (bell housing update)
Boat Cards. Typically the size of your standard business cards, they contain contact information. Out here we swap cards with new friends we'd like to keep in contact with later. My cards have the boat's name, mine, Skipper, the website, plus mailing address and telephone number. The typical Boat Card also tells the name and size of the boat along with a picture of the boat. Intriguing Possibilities (boat cards)

Boat Names: Many of us out here refer to each other by the names of our boats. When you name your boat, try for something that's easy to spell, understandable over the VHF radio and definitely nothing crude. Air Horn Saves the Day, and DeWalt Drill Fix, and Silent Lessons.
BOB: Prepper talk for a Bug Out Bag. Think backpack. The theory is that when stuff goes wrong you pick up this huge backpack that has all the essentials you'll need. Then you to hike to a safe location. Summertime Computer Woes.
Boom Tent: a large piece of canvas supported by the boom of a sailboat that extends to the outside of hull covering the cabin. The boom tent/canvas shades the boat and that makes her cooler inside. Hoops and Loops.

Bottom Job: For our steel boat to do the bottom means to take the hull down to bare metal and repair any problem areas. Next we would repaint with a concoction of layers Daddy swore worked  best from the waterline to the bottom of the keel. The rest of the hull would be repainted so it would look pretty.

A fiberglass boat would sand from the waterline to the keel, repairing any issues and then repaint with Marine bottom paint. On the St. John's River.

Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and salt water. Manatee Mama and Baby (calf)
Brads are thin nails. Mine are brass so they will not rust. Some are less than 1/2" long. I keep them in an old pill bottle. With one glued to the top I have an easy way of identifying what's inside the container. Screen Update.

Bucket hint: to fill with water from the river, make sure the handle is heavy.  Thus a big knot where I tie my rope to the handle ensures that end will sink first.  I tried using a dinky brass snap but it didn't have enough heft to sink the handle and thus the bucket never filled properly. Anchor Up.
Bulkhead: The interior walls of a boat are called bulkheads. Command in the Galley, and Backing Plates.
Bunny Trail: What my daughter calls the mini-tangents off topic I take when conversing with her. And for the record, I like bunnies. Tired Captain, and Building a Locker (Part 1), and Storing Nuts, Bolts and Screws, and Hanging In the Head.
Butt connectors join two pieces of wire together. They "butt up against" each other and a covering connects and seals them together. For a boat, buy the more expensive waterproof ones or make them waterproof yourself by the addition of heat shrink tubing. Waterproof 8 Gauge Butt Connectors (make your own)

Calder's aka the shortened version of a book titled Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems. I do not know of any larger boat that is lived on or used regularly without a copy onboard. It truly is essential. Is a $20k Boat too Costly?

Case: When changing your alternator you need to verify the outer dimensions of the new alternator matches what you are replacing. This is called the Frame or Case by professionals. Upsizing the Alternator - My Mistake
Catalyst: Two part products often require a catalyst which causes the first part to harden. You add it just prior to use. JB Weld along with many epoxy paints require a catalyst. A catalyst is simply a hardener you stir into the main product.

There is always a ratio (1 to 1, meaning equal parts of both products) or 2 to 1, etc. Read the label and be careful. Hardeners cause the product to heat up so using the proper amount is important. Don't use too much. Follow the directions. JB Weld (cap won't open fix).


Clorox bottle is a term used among some boaters for the lighter weight fiberglass sailboats. They float high and sail fast in the wind. Romanticism versus Reality.
Closed system: The same fluid flows through and returns to the tank aka heat exchanger. There is no overboard discharge for this portion of the cooling system. Marinizing the Cooling System of a Tractor.

Coconut grapevine aka coconut telegraph is a boater's radio net. We all listen in and it's a source of information for cruisers. Though primarily over the air, the grapevine also refers to boaters sitting around discussing items of interest such as workers, boatyards, plus companies and products used aboard our vessels. Stainless Manifold Ordered (tractor motor adapted for boat), and Dealing with Drunks (tool locker and dinette table)


Computer Short-cuts. Consider this your quickie lesson in a few of the short-cuts I have come to use when online. Computer Short-cuts.
Coupler connects the aft end of the transmission to the shaft. It either slides on (one piece) or is a "split ring" meaning there are two portions that bolt together around the shaft. Inexpensive Line Cutter.
Crossed the pond: in boat talk, means crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Progress on Engine.
Cruising in tandem: Two boats cruising along together. Often Loopers journey in groups of two or more boats. Friendships are formed among the boat folks who are traveling in tandem. Dolphin Visits.
Cruising Kitty: Those of us out here refer to our income as the "Cruising Kitty" and it's the money we have to spend each month. I'm at the low end of that scale, but you know what? I'm anchored in the same spots as the fancy Hatteras Motor Yachts, and across the way from me right now is a DeFever44. It's truly not about the net worth -- it's about getting out and experiencing life on the water. Cruising Kitty.
Cuppa is a word used by Bruce Van Sant (of Gentleman's Guide to Passages South fame) and means cup. Vinegar Cleans Pans.
Dead-head is a term used when a company truck is heading back to home base without a load. The trip would be uncompensated, thus the price goes down if you're heading the right way. And I was. Diagnosing a Blown Bearing.
Deck is the part you walk on, on the outside of your boat. On the inside, it is called a sole. Securing a Refrigerator (fans too)
Diapers are these miracle paper rectangles that absorb oil and fuel spills but not water. They are oil absorption pads and prevent discharging oil over the side. That's illegal, but more importantly: it's just not a nice thing to do to the fishes. Bearing Bad News, and Transmission Fluid in Bilge.
Diesel fuel. Diesel weighs 7.5 pounds per gallon. Gasoline is about a pound lighter at 6.25 pounds per gallon. Appearances Can Deceive.
Disposable work rags. I wear long sleeved white shirts and when they become too disreputable to be seen in public I chop them up. One shirt has become a stack of disposable 12" (give or take) work rags. I use them once and then throw them away. Deal Breaker (galley gear in thrift store)

Dolphin Breaths: (Short lesson in breathing) Dolphin have a much faster breath than manatee. It's a Puff versus a more sustained and deeper PUFF from a manatee. At some point you'll hear both exhale if you traverse warm waters. Once you hear the second you'll always be able to recognize them. Pelican Visits Algae.
Downspout: In the marine stores you can find a flexible white vent hose. It has metal to hold it open. That metal rusts and the thin plastic tears. I opted for a standard house downspout gizmo. It bends and thus far (five years) no issues. Spare Prop has Swap Potential.

standard house downspout →

Dry Ride is a term that means water doesn't come up over the edges of the dinghy and splash the riders. Some tenders are known for wet bottoms. That means your backside will be wet when you arrive at shore. Ugh. How to Pick an Outboard Motor.
Duplex wire, sheathed: Duplex means two wires, the hot and ground. Triplex means three wires: hot, ground and neutral. Sheathed means there is a plastic cover over the wires. No article yet.
Easter Egg: something hidden in plain sight. Pixar movies often have characters from other Pixar films in the background of scenes. On my website whenever you see a compass, that's an Easter Egg. Click the compass icon    and you'll go to the Sea Fever page. Sea Fever on Gutenberg.
Elasticity: When you use all chain the motion is much sharper. The boat tends to jerk when it reaches the end of the chain. Rope stretches, therefore it is better at absorbing shocks. Three-strand rope has elasticity because it is stretchy. Routine Maintenance and the Thimble.
Embroidery needles have a sharp point while needlepoint needles have a blunt end to poke through the holes in needlepoint fabrics. Both have a much larger eye than the standard sewing version. They are easier to thread on a rocking boat. Sewing Kit Saves Time.

This shrimp boat is listing to port

Even keel: This means keeping the boat level. With water and fuel in multiple tanks, many larger boats use pumps to shift the weight around so the boat sits without any tilt.  Appearances Can Deceive.

Exercise a thru-hull: open and close it. There is a handle, and they do get stiff over time. I open and close each of mine once a month. Rescue Tape Saves Boats.

Fear can be a huge issue and few are willing to admit the fear that happens to ALL* of us.

*ALL certainly does include me. I worry too. It's the nature of the beast, especially as a soloist. The fun outstrips the nervousness and I do enjoy boating immensely. Though I feel anxious I refuse to let temporary concerns prevent me from being a cruiser. Boat Buying with your New Partner.

Fender Washers are very large (usually at least four times the size of the nut) flat disks that help spread the load. Backing Plates.

Fetch is the length of open water between your boat and the horizon. A short distance means winds and waves have less chance to build up. It is safer. More information on fetch can be found in the By the Shipyard article. Missing Medicines, and Hurricane Irma (part 2), Hurricane Irma Saga.


Fiddles are small pieces of wood usually. They hold items in place when the boat rocks. In the Head, and Chaos in the Galley, and Rope Trim (stain and varnish wood).
Filet and Release. Catch, filet and toss overboard the parts of the fish you're not eating, but only if it's legal. Boaters are responsible for knowing the rules, seasons, sizes, etc. Shark Changes Plans.
Fish chumming: On our boat each time we throw any food over the side we slap the hull three times. Thump. Thump. Thump. Fish learn that three thumps means food. Eventually one of those tasty morsels will sit on a hook. Fish Training 101.
Flat-Surface-Itis is characterized by the inability to leave a flat surface empty without putting something on it. Aboard Seaweed, I've hidden my Flat-Surface-Itis traits behind closed locker doors. How to Access Galley Storage.
Flying rats: Daddy called seagulls flying rats because they will eat anything. Seagulls are the clean-up crew of the marine world. The Birds (ordering iced coffee)

Four bolt tune-up: Outboard engines have one distinct advantage. Anything that goes wrong with it can be fixed with the "four bolt tune-up". That means, unscrew the four bolts holding the motor on the boat and take it to a mechanic. Outboard Option.
Frame: When changing your alternator you need to verify the outer dimensions of the new alternator matches what you are replacing. This is called the Frame or Case by professionals. Upsizing the Alternator - My Mistake
Friction Roller Cabinet Catch Latch  aka locker latches. The duo, male and female sides together are known as a friction roller cabinet catch latch. Locker Latch Alignment.

Male and Female
parts of locker latch

Frigatebirds [Old Nautical Lore] Generally not seen close to shore, should you start seeing frigatebirds (think three or more) flying inland, the weather is going to be foul.  Be aware, and set yourself up for stormy conditions. Dolphin Visits.

G-ICW: The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway are a series of interlocking rivers that follow the panhandle of Florida and further westward. Gulf, references Gulf of Mexico. By the Shipyard.

Garbage versus trash: Trash won't biodegrade, so basically that's your packaging and plastics, glass and such. Garbage if left in the sun will stink. Fish Training 101.
Gasoline. Gasoline weighs 6.25 pounds per gallon. Diesel fuel is about a pound heavier at 7.5 pounds per gallon. Appearances Can Deceive.
Gauges of Wire: The higher the number, the smaller the wire diameter. Thus, 00 is big (about the size of your fore-finger) whereas 16 is very small. A round toothpick is approximately the size of 16 gauge. Windlass is Necessary (for me)
'Going over to the Dark Side' is the term used by boaters to refer to moving from sailboats to power. For some like me, we've always been on the dark side -- and we like it too. Blue-Water Boats.
Grand: short for grandchild. Mine's perfect. She is full of energy and stamina. Shark Changes Plans.
Great Loop: The circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as The Great Loop. The trip varies from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles depending on the options used. Many boaters join the America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association aka AGLCA [http://greatloop.org] and if you too dream of "doing the Loop" you might consider the same. Manatee Moves, and  Finding Your Boat (part 1)


Grey Water: the water from your sink or shower, basically soapy/grungy fresh water. Bilge Pump OUCH.

Gunnels are the top edge of the hull. "Over the gunnels" is a bad thing as you're getting water in your boat. Tern Time, and Stabilize a Hard Dinghy (inexpensive how-to), and On the St. John's River, and Cup-holder Repair, and Birds and my friend Dale the Welder.


Halyards: the lines used to raise a sail. Dock Lines from Halyards (snubber too)


Hand Holds: When living aboard a boat, you'll begin to notice specific spots that you'll reach for to balance yourself. Remember those places and find a way to make a hand-hold or handle right there. That is why Seaweed has so many more than most boats. Spook-tacular circa 2014.


Hawsepipe: (pronounced Hawz pipe) is a pipe that allows chain or anchor rode to pass thru. It's a good set-up to have and one not often found on smaller boats.

The main anchor chain exits Anja at the waterline on the starboard side thru a hawsepipe. (Joshua Slocum's) Spray replica Anja.


Head: the bathroom on a boat. Head also is the term used for your M.S.D. aka Marine Sanitation Device. (That's the toilet.) Hanging In the Head.


Head Space: In canning, the air above the food in your jars. Too much will allow bad stuff to grow. Processing in Pressure Cooker (Preserving Meats, Part 2)


Holy Place aka Engine Room. Lots of prayers take place in an engine room, especially when things are going wrong.

Homeport: The place where your boat hails from. On the transom your boat will have a homeport listed. Mine says Pensacola, FL. That is where my daughter resides. Generally speaking your home port is where your boat is most of the time. Paralyzed by Planning (includes sundries list).

Hook, on the: Living on the hook is when you are at anchor. The anchor "hooks" the bottom and holds your boat in one place. Before Outfitting.


Hose hint: When you have a hose that doesn't quite fit (or is supposed to be really snug) you can heat it up and generally it will slide on. Celebrate with Me!


Infrastructure: Multiple ways of generating power and storage for said power. Think solar panels, a wind generator, plus an auxiliary generator. Additionally, you'll need batteries to store said power. Inadequate Boat (Gulfport too)


Isolate metals: Always isolate/separate aluminum from stainless. Corrosion will occur if you do not. Windlass Debris becomes Handhold. Isolate also refers to separating one battery from others in the battery bank. Carbon Monoxide Alarms and Batteries.


JAX is the abbreviation for Jacksonville, FL, thus CG JAX would be Coast Guard station, Jacksonville. Falling Overboard.


Job Creep occurs when during the doing of one job another Good Idea comes to the forefront. The original small project expands. Sometimes this is a necessity, such as when a problem is spotted. Other times, not so much... Job Creep.


Juice aka power. My wind generator supplies power to my batteries, as do the solar panels. Voltage Meters for the Batteries, and Storing the Power (battery charts), and Powering the Refrigerator.

Key: a square piece of stainless (or bronze) that fits into the Keyway. Inexpensive Line Cutter.
Keyway: A slot the square key fits into. It locks the coupler and the shaft together so they spin at the same time. There is a notch in the coupler and an equally deep one in the shaft. The key fits in that slot. Inexpensive Line Cutter, and Transmission Fluid in Bilge.

kWh means kilowatt hours. Thus 7kWh equals 7000 watts (A/C -- your regular house electricity) [To give you an idea what that signifies in real life terms, a standard washing machine uses 2kWh and the drier takes 3kWh per load.] Battery Primer (Tesla)


Lavac head. A well-regarded brand of marine head aka boat toilet. It uses a manual Whale Gusher bilge pump versus an internal pump. When a problem develops with the pump it's a simple matter to swap out pumps. Toilet Tissue (aka TP)


Locker Latches: The duo, male and female sides together are known as a friction roller cabinet catch latch. Locker Latch Alignment.

Male and Female
parts of locker latch


Loopers: Members of the America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association aka AGLCA [http://greatloop.org]. An experienced cruiser once said "The circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as The Great Loop. The trip varies from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles depending on the options used. Manatee Moves.


LRC - Long Range Cruiser. A motor yacht capable of extended voyaging without the need to take on supplies such as fuel, water or foodstuffs. Buying a Big Boat (part 3).


Luke fisherman's anchor on the bow, port side. (Joshua Slocum's) Spray replica Anja.


Make way: go forward in your boat. Sometimes if the current is very strong making way can become difficult. I generally wait for the tide or current to be favorable. That saves fuel. Finding Your Boat (part 5)


"Man the Lifeboat" means get into the dinghy, a part of Skipper training 101. First Mate.


Manatee (West Indian manatee) are found in the southern United States and Caribbean. Calves stay with their mamas for the first two years. They eat sea grass, mangrove leaves and algae. Manatee grow to 1,200 pounds and eat 10% of their weight in greens each day. Manatee Mama and Baby (calf)


Manatee Breaths: (Short lesson in breathing) Dolphin have a much faster breath than manatee. It's a Puff versus a more sustained and deeper PUFF from a manatee. At some point you'll hear both exhale if you traverse warm waters. Once you hear the second you'll always be able to recognize them. Pelican Visits Algae.


Marine Sanitation Device aka M.S.D. - That is the toilet in a boat. Generally it is called a head. Hanging In the Head.


Marshmallow is the term I use for inflatable dinghies because they are poofy. Manatee Moves.


Mechanical motors: A decent mechanic can fix almost anything mechanical, provided parts can be bought. The older engines such as mine are mechanical. By that I mean nothing is turbo powered, no computer sensors -- it's just a basic motor without a lot of complicated "improvements" that can cause diagnostic nightmares when breakdowns occur. Engine Update (swapping motors is complicated)


MiFi - The thumb-drive gizmo is a mifi device that allows me to connect my computer to the internet. I thought they were called wifi thingies however was told that's not true. I don't know nor care what the name is as long as it works. Imaginary Friends IRL (in real life)

MiFi is bent →
The netbook slid off my dinette. Oops!

Mighty Proud translates to "expensive". Budget Spice Shelf (costs less than $1)
Mitered: cut on an angle like picture frame corners. Rope Trim (stain and varnish wood).

Mother Ship: The boat you live aboard would be considered the Mother Ship. Actually in the days of whaling ships circa the 1800's the supply ship was known as the Mother Ship. Because Seaweed supplies my needs I call her my Mother Ship. This is not entirely accurate however it does encompass what my home means to me. Naming Your Dinghy.


MPPT: Maximum Power Point Tracking (a type of solar regulator) It's the better of the two varieties and is of course more expensive. If you have real estate (space for solar panels) then the less expensive version is adequate. Note the word "adequate" versus "best"... MPPT is the best. Solar Regulators (Standard vs. MPPT)


M.S.D. aka Marine Sanitation Device. The M.S.D. is the toilet in a boat. Generally it's called a head. Hanging In the Head.


Never-cold is the irreverent term used for Norcold brand marine (12-volt and AC powered) refrigerators. I liked mine, until it quit. The one on Seaweed was a 1983 model so to have it fail in 2008 was not terribly unexpected. Making a Shelf (and paper towel holder)

NOAA WX is the acronym for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather station reports. NOAA scientists study the oceans and skies. Anchor Down by Noon (policy vs. practice)

Norcold is a brand of marine (12-volt and AC powered) refrigerators irreverently called Never-cold. I liked mine, until it quit. The one on Seaweed was a 1983 model so to have it fail in 2008 was not terribly unexpected. Making a Shelf (and paper towel holder)


No-see-ums are flying wings with teeth that bite. Nasty critters, they are. Bats eat them. Noseeums can fly through your screen without slowing down. They are dreadful. They are why I anchor far away from muddy shore lines where they breed. Foaming Soap Dispenser (how to).

Nuker: We nuke aka cook food in a microwave, thus a nuker is a microwave oven. Rope Trim (stain and varnish wood).


OB is a shorthand online thing you'll see on boating sites. It references an outboard engine. OB's have one distinct advantage. Anything that goes wrong with it can be fixed with the "four bolt tune-up" Outboard Option.


Old Faithful is my compass. I rely on it when cruising.  Yes, I've got my paper charts, and even OpenCPN on the computer but the actual navigation is done by compass heading.  It's easier that way. Fog.


On the hard means the boat has been hauled out of the water and is on dirt. Some northern boats are regularly stored ashore during the winter months when the water is hard, i.e., ice. And when we pull our boats out to redo the bottom paint, that's called being on the hard too. Survey a Free Boat, and Dangerous Boatyards.


On the hook means that the boat is at anchor, i.e. hooked to the bottom versus tied to a dock or underway. Fuzzy Fixed (and manifold update), and Fighting Inertia regarding Boat Gear, and Before Outfitting, and Voltage Meters for the Batteries.


One-off: A single unit made for a specific purpose, thus more expensive than a run of a dozen might have been. Hayes is Here (bell housing update)


Ooze is a term I use for spreading out beyond boundaries. Yes, I have permission to be on this dock while the engine swap continues. That does not give me the right to spread out my stuff all over said pier. Dallas and the Pelican.


OpenCPN [http://OpenCPN.org] is a computer based program that, with a USB attached GPS acts like a chart-plotter. It's open source. Open Source software is supported by donations, so make one.

This program (OpenCPN) works with a GPS attached to the computer via a USB. No internet connection is necessary for it to operate. Fog, and Emergency Anchor Up (OpenCPN info too)


Out-gassing: When batteries go bad they release a gas (out-gassing) that effects/sets off the carbon monoxide alarms. In essence the battery is overheating and a poisonous steam escapes. Carbon Monoxide Alarms and Batteries.


Pan-pan (pronounced pawn pawn) is an alert given on the radio. The vessel would be in a bit of difficulty but not in imminent danger. Most are familiar with the far more serious Mayday call that means I need immediate help. Pan-Pan Ponderings.


Parallel: When batteries are wired in parallel it means the voltage stays the same and the amperage increases. (connect + to +, and connect - to -) Diagnosing a Bad Battery.


Pelican teenager. What you're seeing is an older teenager. He's giving up his fluff and his grown-up feathers are appearing. Dallas and the Pelican.


Perpetual Calendar is simply a date book where you ignore the specified days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) and keep using the same book year after year. Found at the office supply stores, the better ones have a single page for each day. Simply write the year at the front of the line, and then what's important about the date. Flares Expire (my solution)


Pilothouse Paint: In the far north you will notice some boats with Red, Orange or Yellow paint on the pilot house top. This is done so the boats are easier to locate from the air when things go awry. Pan-Pan Ponderings, and Life onboard Lily Maria (Thompson 44 M/V)


Pitching is when your boat rocks fore and aft. Imagine a porpoise leaping through the waves. That's pitching. Another way to think about pitching is to picture yourself on a teeter-totter. Rolling is when  you rock side to side. That motion is likely to cause seasickness. Storing the Power (battery charts), and Powering the Refrigerator.

PO aka P.O. refers to the previous owner of a boat. Is a $20k Boat too Costly?, and All's Well aboard Seaweed.

Pokey Stick: A piece of a used welding rod, sharpened to a point. It's a homemade awl and very useful. Windlass Debris becomes Handhold.

Pony up: pay, spend money. Survey a Free Boat.


Portlight. A portlight differs from a porthole in that a porthole does not open. Portlights open. Weird, eh? Sometimes I think boat-talk is designed to confuse folks but then I remember that 8 ounce canning jars are called half-pints, and not cups so I feel a bit better. Portlight Pretties, and Boat Search for Beginners (DIY survey)


Power of Silence: Bill Watson on TrawlerForum wrote: "Ask a lot of questions and deploy the power of silence after you get an initial answer. The urge to fill the silence is sometimes overwhelming, and you may find out things the owner originally had no intention of telling you." Silent Lessons.


Quarter twenty's: Bolts. Normally written 1/4 20 x (by) length. The bolt is 1/4" in diameter and has twenty threads to the inch. In the photograph, two on the far right are 1/4 20's. Moby-Cool Installed and  Bolt Sizing Primer.

Rabbit Food is the term my family has always used for salads. Drain Cleaner.

Rabbit Trail: a term my Kidlet uses when I start on one subject and sort of meander around versus staying on topic.  Heaters Debunked.


Radio Net: Generally a brief morning VHF show where weather, local events, requests for help, etc. occur. A local boater hosts it. The Radio Net the "party line" for those interested. Participation is the problem. Lots listen and it gets frustrating when people kibitz without contributing. Falling Overboard.


Ratlines (generally pronounced Rat Lines though old school calls 'em rattlins) are the wooden steps that run up to the top of the mast from the outer edge of the boat. Sometimes they are just rope too, but the wooden ones are easier to climb. Folke is climbing the ratlines on Anja. (Joshua Slocum's) Spray replica Anja.


Raw water is the water found outside the boat (river water, ocean water, lake water, etc.) Marinizing the Cooling System of a Tractor.


Red Wire on Right: Please note that everywhere there are two wires on the boat, the neutral/ground is on the left and the Positive (red) is on the right. Alphabetically N is before P so I've copied it throughout. If I have to attach something in the dark I know that as long as Red is on the right I'm good. It's simple! More Trolling Motors.

Reefer is what many boaters call our refrigerators. Prepping - Plastics, and Decadence Required, and Storing Nuts, Bolts and Screws.
Relocated a bit, aka dragged anchor. Hot Engine, and Emergency Anchor Up (OpenCPN info too)

Riser: a U-shaped pipe that the exhaust gases flow through. Seawater is injected into the pipe after the hump. That is so that no salt water can back-flow into your engine. The exhaust pipe aka riser has a nipple so raw water (from outside the boat) can enter the pipe. The job of the raw water is to cool. On some risers the raw water completely encases the exhaust pipe. They are called water-jacketed and will cool the exhaust just like mine. Welding Shop and a Riser.


Rolling is when  you rock side to side. That motion is likely to cause seasickness. Pitching is when your boat rocks fore and aft. Imagine a porpoise leaping through the waves. That's pitching. Another way to think about pitching is to picture yourself on a teeter-totter.  Storing the Power (battery charts), and Powering the Refrigerator.


Runabouts are small speedboats that "run about" to fishing spots, swimming holes, sightseeing, etc. Antique Speedboat (id sought)


SALCA aka Sacrificial Anode Line Cutter Assembly. It's a zinc with a blade that  can cut line if you run over a crab trap. Inexpensive Line Cutter.


Saloon: aka salon. The equivalent of a living room on land. Chaos in the Galley, and Getting Betsy Ready-to-go.


Samson post: Used to tie off lines, the samson post is directly behind my LewmarV700 windlass.  The black snubber line hooked over the post is attached to my chain. Normally I'll have the chain cleated (tied) off to the Samson post. Not sure why it isn't in this picture but...! Anchor Down.

"Scored" is boat talk for deep scratches. That is a bad thing. Celebrate with Me!

Scupper: an opening where water flows off the deck and into the ocean or river. On most boats the scuppers are very small. For a working shrimp boat, the scuppers are large rectangles. Lots of water needs to be shed and quickly. That's what a scupper does. Rocky Raccoon Returns.


Series: When batteries are wired in series means the amperage stays the same and the voltage increases. (connect + to -) Diagnosing a Bad Battery.


Sea Fever poem by John Masefield "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;" complete poem: Boating Changes over the Decades.


Sewing Kit: contains embroidery needle, folding scissors, thimble and thread. Sewing Kit Saves Time, and Sewn Up (shopping bag repair)


Shantyboat a type of houseboat, generally home built from materials at hand. Most often found on rivers, ponds and in protected waters. Finding Your Boat (part 5), and Composting Toilet How-To.


Sheathed wire is a term that means the positive and ground wires are inside a covering. The wires are protected and that's called sheathed in the nautical world. [Also see Shielded wire definition, below.] Securing a Refrigerator (fans too)


Shielded wire has a wire wrap around the outside of the positive and ground wires. It is then covered in a plastic sheath. The deal with shielded is this: it's a lot more expensive. However for folks with electronics issues (interference from wiring/power) then the shielded wire can be one component of a fix. [Also see Sheathed wire definition, above.] Securing a Refrigerator (fans too)


Shipwright is simply a fancy term for a carpenter that works on boats versus in houses. It does take a special talent as boats don't have anything that is at a right angle. Not a thing is square. Making a Shelf (and paper towel holder)


Shrimp in quart freezer bags: On the left, five pounds of freshly caught shrimp. After removal of the heads the weight is just better than three pounds. That's the bag shown on right side. 5 Pounds of Shrimp (how to find discount diesel)


Silvered: When teak is exposed to sun and rain it turns a silver/grey color. Seaweed's Dryer Bar.

Single screw refers to a boat with one engine. Anchor Ball.

Skipper Rescue Device aka a dip net. It's always handy to have a net conveniently accessible when you live aboard. Also a boathook is another safety item that you don't need until you need it Right Now. Having a place to store them that is both out of the way and easy to get to is yet another thing to consider as you stow your gear on your boat. Songbird in Water.


Skoolie is the insider's term for a school bus that is turned into a motor home. I Did It.


Small Stuff. That's what Daddy called thin line. Mine's an old flag halyard (string) from a sailboat burgee. Braided, it's 1/8" in diameter. Hatch Cover How-To (Sunbrella and Tenara too), and Rat Traps (securing mouse traps too)


Snubber. The line that attaches to an anchor chain. The 3-strand rope I use offers a spring. When the boat is at anchor and a wind comes up Seaweed naturally stretches out her chain. The snubber allows the boat to ride better with less abrupt movement when the wind blows. Dock Lines from Halyards (snubber too)


Sole is the part you walk on, on the inside of your boat. On the outside, it is called a deck. Securing a Refrigerator (fans too)


Special occasions: Any day I'm alive. Toasting English Muffins on a Heater.


Spinnaker: A spinnaker is the big poofy sail that is useful for sailboats when the wind is light. It will often have a brightly colored decoration though not always. Sewn Up (shopping bag repair)

Photo from my Chapman's.


Sponson is an attachment that keeps your canoe from tipping over. The sponson is generally one long tube placed on each side of the canoe. It adds floatation at the gunnels. I've created something similar on Algae. The fenders add stability, much like a sponson would. Tern Time.


Spreading the Load means that a larger surface is involved. Fender Washers spread the load (enlarge the contact point) so that the danger of a bolt pulling through is abated. Your cleats, windlasses and swim platforms all have backing plates that help spread the load. Backing Plates, and Backing Plate Concerns.


Spring-form pan* side piece fits exactly around the raised part of my burner on the propane stove. Using it helps keep the burner lit when the wind is blowing. Drain Cleaner.

*Spring-form pans are used when making pineapple upside down cakes. They have a spring closure on the side that allows the part shown on the right to be removed from the cake. Thus, as long as your size is close, it will work on your burner as a wind shield.



SSCA: The Seven Seas Cruising Association [http://ssca.org] From their SSCA website, "Founded in 1952, SSCA is one of the oldest and largest organizations of cruisers in the world. The goals of the original six founders are still the goals of SSCA today: to share cruising information and camaraderie with fellow cruisers, and to leave a clean wake for those who follow."  Cup-holder Repair.


StarBoard: StarBoard (brand name) is a marine-grade polymer sheet made by King products. It is pronounced Star Board (two words). Basically it never rots. You screw it together. It's great stuff, and easy to cut too. StarBoard comes in 4x8' sheets like plywood. It is also available in a variety of widths and cuts. If you've the room and purse, a full sheet is the least expensive way to go. StarBoard Stops.

Stateroom is what we'd call a bedroom in a house. Keeping in Touch with Grandchildren.

Stop Anchor: serves a very important role aboard a vessel. Should I have an engine failure being able to immediately hold the boat in place is vital. All that I need to do is drop the stop anchor overboard. The chain and rope will feed out automatically. The end of the rope is always secured to a cleat on the boat when I am underway. When the anchor catches and the rode is fully extended my boat will stop. Routine Maintenance and the Thimble.


Stuffing Box Primer: Well, first of all, it's not a box -- it's round and cylindrical. Basically the shaft that spins the propeller exits your boat and to prevent water from coming in around the shaft there is what is known as a Stuffing Box. Celebrate with Me!


Sunbrella is a woven fabric with good UV (sunlight) protection that lasts well in a marine environment. In the picture below the bimini and window shades are made from sunbrella. It's very popular on boats because it holds up well. Hatch Cover How-To (Sunbrella and Tenara too)

The bimini and window covers on Lily Maria are made with Sunbrella fabric


Swallowed the anchor: Move off the boat and live ashore. The Fishing Boat, and Falling Overboard.


Swimming lessons: Something went into the water. Most of the time it's an accident, such as when I drop my sunglasses overboard. Once in a while it's bugs. I hate creepy crawlies! Upside Down Tomato Plant How-To.


Switch Troubleshooting: A switch is merely an interrupter of sorts. The problem I had was that though power reached the switch (tested with my multi-meter) the light was not coming on. Anchor Light Fix.


T/T means Tender To.

Illustration: Seaweed is the Mother Ship. Algae could have been called T/T Seaweed. Instead I opted for Algae which is of course is a component of Seaweed. Naming Your Dinghy.


Tandem: Cruising in tandem means that two boats are heading the same way and follow along as a pair. Sometimes two boats, sometimes more but all heading in the same general direction. Cruising in Tandem.


Tea lights as a heater. Tea lights are those dinky candles that offer ambiance but not much else. Heaters Debunked.


Tenara Thread: Usually what fails on boat canvas is the thread sewing the panels together. There is a solution. Specify Tenara brand thread for your project.

Tenara is Very Expensive, and worth every penny of the additional cost. Hatch Cover How-To (Sunbrella and Tenara too)


Tender: that's a fancy name for our dinghy. A tender could be a dinghy, rowboat small sailboat, canoe or kayak. All provide transportation and are carried with or towed behind our floating homes. Naming Your Dinghy.


TEOTWAWKI: The End Of The World As We Know It, i.e. doomsday or Apocalypse causing societal collapse and anarchy. Small Powerboat Option.


"There be Pirates in the cove" means bark! That's a part of Skipper Training 101. First Mate.


Thrifting: It's a made up word. It means going shopping in various thrift stores such as Salvation Army. Garbage Bag Solution.


Throttle Clues: The red Turks Head knot is on the left side of the throttle control which reminds me I need to keep my red markers to the port side.

The blue (eventually Green) is on the wheel. That's tells me to open the thru hull for my engine prior to starting her. Running Aground, and The Helm.


Thru-bolted is a fancy way of saying the fastener (bolt) goes from the inside, through to the opposite side of whatever you're attaching to. Generally, when you thru-bolt you also use a backing plate to secure the item. Anything that is subject to strong forces should be thru-bolted with a backing plate. Backing Plates.


Toast: Not recoverable. If told your battery is toast that means it won't work any more. The term is used most often in computer repair dens. "The hard-drive is toast" means the part has failed and data cannot be recovered. Carbon Monoxide Alarms and Batteries.


Transom squat occurs when you move the throttle forward to go faster. Instead the transom digs in (gets lower). Your speed does increase, minimally. A level boat burns less fuel. Engine Debacles.


Transvessselite - a boater that starts out on a sailboat but gradually realizes that power boats are better and switches sides.  Pronounced: Trans-vessel-ite. Time Stopped.


Trash versus garbage: Trash won't biodegrade, so basically that's your packaging and plastics, glass and such. Garbage if left in the sun will stink. Fish Training 101.


Triplex wire, sheathed: Triplex means three wires: hot, ground and neutral. Sheathed means there is a plastic cover over the wires. Duplex means two wires, the hot and ground. Moby-Cool Installed.


Tuna door: A tuna door is an opening in the transom originally designed so fishermen can easily drag aboard large fish. Mostly though they are used to make boarding the boat easier for humans and large dogs. I want one. Anchor Light for Dinghy, and From Carrabelle to St. Pete (via truck)


Turn-key: a term meaning you get on board, flip the ignition switch and the engine starts. She runs a-okay. Everything aboard the vessel works perfectly. Turn-key is the Ideal Boat for those who can afford her. Turn-Key versus Fixer-Upper.


Turnbuckles: Though turnbuckles are common on sailboats, I found mine useful for tightening the alternator belt on the gasoline beast. The turnbuckle is the stainless piece on the left side of the photo with a forked end at the top. Expert Advice versus Intuition (spare parts inventory)


Two bits equals twenty five cents. In and Out (clearing clutter)


Tyranny of the Tiller refers to the fact that some boats (be they power or sail) must always be steered. There is no setting a course and securing the wheel (or tiller) and letting her go along in a straight line. Tyranny of the Tiller (pre-purchase advice)


Under Load essentially means while being used propelling the boat through the water.  More fuel will be consumed when underway versus in neutral or at idle while tied to a dock. She runs, however...


The Unknown Citizen. There are the saboteurs who will do all they can to try convincing you their staid life is safe, secure and oh so much better than a life aboard a boat.  They are The Unknown Citizen spoken about so eloquently by W. H. Auden. Complete poem: The Fishing Boat.


UpWords game: The letter blocks in UpWords lock in place so even if the boat rocks, your tiles won't move. If I weren't a soloist, I'd have my game onboard. Afternoon Entertainment.


Velcro is actually the brand name of hook and loop. The loop part is soft, and the hook side was included in my screen kit. Screening My Hatch (eBay advice)


Vent Hose: In the marine stores you can find a flexible white vent hose. It has metal to hold it open. That metal rusts and the thin plastic tears. I opted for a standard house downspout gizmo. It bends and thus far (five years) no issues. Spare Prop has Swap Potential.

standard house downspout →


VHF radio listening habits: Folks whose VHF is never off are what I consider the old timers. They are ready to respond to calls, and interested in the world outside the boundaries of their hull. Experienced boaters listen constantly whereas, generally speaking, the folks without many years aboard do not. Boat on Fire!


VHF Weather Alert: On VHF radios if you push and hold the Wx (Weather) button the radio will show ALT (means Alert) on the screen. Then, when an urgent weather forecast is issued, automatically the radio switches over to the broadcast, presuming your radio is turned on. You'll hear a series of beeps first, then the Marine/Storm Warning. Anchoring.


Wall-banger: a room air-condition like you'd have in a house. Inadequate Boat (Gulfport too), and Air Conditioning, and Draft Prevention using Foam.


Warm motor does not refer to ambient temperature of the air. Instead it means a motor has been run and is therefore warm/hot. Engines that have been warmed up generally start faster and run smoother. How to Pick an Outboard Motor.


Water sparkles. Picture a dark night. I have a bucket on a rope I toss over to get water to rinse off the swim platform and when the bucket hits the water it sort of glowed. (insert spooky music here) Well you know we're close to a government facility, it's dead dark, and nobody's around? And the water is glowing at least momentarily... Carrabelle Sparkles.


Watts. For DC power supply, watts are equal to amps times volts. Watts = Amps x Volts. (no article yet)


Wet Bottom is a term that means water splashes in the dinghy when you are in it. The water gets your backside damp when going to shore. Having a dry ride in the tender is definitely preferable. How to Pick an Outboard Motor.


WetSnail is a semi-true nickname for the Westsail32.  They are big, beamy, heavy boats and stable too. However, they do tend to have a wet helm and don't go as fast as the sleeker, lighter weight Clorox bottles.  Westsail's have circumnavigated and are well-regarded.  Many have teak decks. Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child)


Whale Gusher. A brand of manual bilge pump. Manual means it's people powered, not electric or 12-volt. Toilet Tissue (aka TP)


Wind-gen aka wind generator. Mine's a three-blade unit by Air-Breeze. Is a $20k Boat too Costly?


WiFi - The thumb-drive gizmo is a actually a MiFi device that allows me to connect my computer to the internet. I thought they were called wifi thingies however was told that's not true. I don't know nor care what the name is as long as it works. Imaginary Friends IRL (in real life)

MiFi is bent →
The netbook slid off my dinette. Oops!


Wind Shield for around a propane burner. On Seaweed I use the ring from a spring-form pan. Mine is used to keep the flames from blowing out on my propane stove. Pots and Pans Primer.


Wired in Parallel means the voltage stays the same and the amperage increases. (connect + to +, and - to -) Diagnosing a Bad Battery.


Wired in Series means the amperage stays the same and the voltage increases. (connect + to -) Diagnosing a Bad Battery.


Woody: a term meaning the hull of the boat is constructed of wood. Most boats pre-1960 are wooden though larger ships might be steel. M/V Lutin (a family tradition).


Work boats: Those vessels owned by shrimpers and oystermen, dive boat captains, professional fishermen, oil platform suppliers, tug boat drivers, cargo ship masters, etc. Learning about Life Afloat (a checklist)


WYSIWYG: Computer talk for What You See Is What You Get. Viewing what I type on the screen, deciding on the placement of photos, the proportions (90% or 75% of screen width) and such are all second nature for me after this many years using FrontPage. Summertime Computer Woes.


"You're breaking up" meaning the VHF radio transmission/reception is not clear. Back on the east coast whenever the boys were saying stuff I didn't want to hear, or disagreed with, I'd reply "You're breaking up" (meaning "horse pucky") In the Rain.


Zodiac is a brand of inflatable dinghy. Warranty Paperwork (SeaSense bilge pump)



My home is not fancy by any means, however you cannot imagine how wonderful it is to come back to her after an expedition on shore.

If I can live this life, why not you too?

Skipper, First Mate extraordinaire

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