A Boat Primer: Owning Your First Boat

A boat primer on the language and lore of owning your first boat, including hull types, mulithulls, hull materials, power and requirements and horsepower capacity.

| March/April 1988

A boat primer on the language and lore of owing your first boat. (See the boat diagrams in the image gallery.)

A Boat Primer: Owning Your First Boat

In 1949, while outfitting themselves to look for oil in the jungles of Guatemala, my father and his partner, E.B. Shade, were shopping for an outboard motor in Guatemala City. In Guatemala at that time, shopping for American items was by brand name—accompanied by a whole lot of gesturing. They went into a sporting goods store and asked the proprietor in their limited Spanish if he had Johnson. The owner replied "no" in Spanish (thinking that they were asking for Johnson & Johnson athletic supplies), but said he had Bauer & Black. Dad answered, "Vamanos a ver." (Let's see!) The shopkeeper returned with a box of first-class athletic supporters.

Chances are good that your initiation into the language of boating won't be quite so difficult. Ask for an outboard and you'll get one. Still, you'll be a lot more likely to obtain a package that suits your needs and finances if you learn to talk nautical. The lingo of the sailor—boatspeak, if you will—is a bunch of fun, and it's also key to joining the clan.

There's a wealth of information contained in the minds of enthusiastic skippers; all you've got to do is ask. You'll find that boat owners enjoy expounding on the merits of their vessels almost as much as they do running them. Visit marinas, boatyards and shops, and ask questions. There you'll learn as much as a person can hope to secondhand.

This article aims to offer enough background to allow you to converse with those who know more. It covers only small powerboats—craft that can be transported by trailer or on a car top—but you'll find that much of the terminology will apply equally well to the larger vessel you may someday own.

Hull Types  

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