Parts of a Boat: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

Many of the parts of the boat are the same, whether we're talking about cruise ships that carry thousands of people, police speedboats, or small fishing boats with oars. In this lesson, we'll discuss the parts found on most boats.

A Little About Boats

A dolphin jumped off the starboard side and swam under the keel!

No, it's not jibberish and by the end of this lesson on the parts of a boat, you should understand exactly what this sentence means! While most people don't use the words 'starboard' and 'keel' in their everyday lives, understanding these words becomes very important for a sailor or anyone driving a boat!

Boats come in all shapes and sizes. Large boats are called ships. Cruise ships, police boats, and fishing boats are all examples of motorized boats, which move with an engine. Sailboats, rowboats, and canoes don't have an engine, but are boats nonetheless.

Port and Starboard Sides

Imagine being on boat with two people, one facing back and one facing front. It would get very confusing if the person facing the back of the boat began giving instructions about something on their right side, since that's not the other person's right side. Certain words were developed to mean 'left' and 'right' no matter where you're facing on a boat.

If you're facing the front of your boat, the port is the left side of the boat and the starboard is the right side. An easy way to remember this is that the words 'left' and 'port' both have four letters.

Parts of a Boat
Parts of a Boat

Other Parts of a Ship

The bow is the front of the boat, while the stern is the back of the boat. When measuring the length of a boat, you do so measuring from bow to stern.

The main part or the bottom of the boat is called the hull. Hulls can be shaped like a 'V' or flat. A V-shaped hull cuts through bigger waves. The flat hull usually is for lakes or flat waters and can stay in much shallower areas. In the Florida Everglades, which are full of shallow swampland, air boats with flat bottoms move across water and even wet sand.

The keel is a strong beam that runs all the way down the hull from the front to the back to support the ship. A rudder is attached outside of the hull to steer the boat.

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