Stern vs. Port and Other Basic Nautical Facts You Should Know

When you own a boat, knowing basic nautical lingo and facts is essential to keep your vessel running safely and legally. Whether it’s the difference between stern vs. port or other key concepts related to vessel registration, such knowledge will ensure your time spent on the water goes off without a hitch. From stern and port orientation to recommendations for outfitting vessels with navigational equipment – this blog covers the basics. The Maritime Documentation Center was designed to serve not just as a center for application forms but as a center of knowledge as well. 

So, What is the Difference between Stern vs. Port? 

While stern and port may sound similar, they are actually quite different. The stern refers to the rear of the boat, while the port is on the left side when facing forward. If you’re trying to decipher a vessel’s documentation, being able to differentiate between these two terms is crucial. It’s believed that these terms come from old English sailing terms, as a majority of sailors were right-handed and the steering oar was on most vessels’ stern. 

Navigation Aids for Boaters

Map reading is a traditional method that relies on charts and paper maps to plot courses and plot distances. While electronic charts are a modern alternative that offers more precise and accurate information for boaters, maps are still an invaluable tool for boaters to familiarize themselves with routes and important landmarks. Learning how to navigate using both methods will provide boaters with a well-rounded understanding of the waters they’re navigating, increasing their confidence, and ensuring safe and enjoyable journeys on the water.

Basic Boat Etiquette 

As a responsible boater, it’s important to follow nautical etiquette to ensure the safety of everyone on board and other vessels nearby. This includes obeying speed limits, giving the right of way to larger boats, and properly maintaining and cleaning your vessel. It’s also important to be courteous to other boaters, such as reducing your wake in no-wake zones and avoiding anchoring too close to other boats. By following nautical etiquette, you not only promote a safer boating environment but also set a good example for others to follow.

Essential Safety Equipment Every Boat Owner Should Have Onboard

As a boat owner, safety should always be your top priority each time you set sail. One of the best ways to ensure a safe voyage is by having essential safety equipment onboard. Whether you’re cruising on a lake or sailing on the open sea, having some key pieces of safety gear such as life jackets, emergency flares, fire extinguishers, and a first aid kit can make all the difference in case an unexpected emergency occurs. These items are not only necessary but they are also required by law in most states. A responsible boat owner should not only have this equipment but should also be knowledgeable on how to properly use them. So don’t wait until an emergency arises, be proactive and invest in crucial safety gear to give you peace of mind on every boating adventure.

Stern vs. Port

Where to Find Your Vessel Documentation 

Now that you know the basics (or you’ve had a refresher of basic facts you know) you’re ready to head out on the water. That said, you may want vessel documentation before you do so. We can help you not just apply for and procure the forms you need but to maintain your documentation as well.