Have you ever read a sentence like “The strakes on the pontoon logs improve planing time and tracking when the outboard is trimmed,” and wondered what language it was? Not to worry, we’re here to help. The vocabulary of boating—specifically pontoons—isn’t difficult to master. To get you started we put together a list of the most commonly used phrases you need to know.
These terms are specific to pontoon boats, and learning them will help you quickly become an expert as you begin your journey toward becoming an owner.
Deck: The flat surface upon which the fence, rail and furniture rest.
Dolphin Nose Cone: 2-piece pontoon tip with integrated splash fin on premium Harris pontoons
Fence: The flat panels that surround the playpen.
Gate: The swinging door through which you enter the pontoon boat’s deck.
Log: A single pontoon tube. Synonymous with tube.
Lounger: A cushioned seat that you can also lie down on.
Motor Pod: An aft extension of the pontoon boat’s substructure meant to improve performance and support a larger outboard.
Playpen: The area on deck inside the fence.
Pontoon: Specifically, pontoon refers to the tubular structures under the deck that the boat floats on top of. More generally, it can refer to the entire boat.
Rails: The framework that supports the fence.
Substructure: The structure that supports the deck, like joists in a floor.
Tube: A single pontoon tube. Synonymous with log. Some pontoons have two tubes, some have three.
Underskin: A flat covering on the underside of a pontoon boat to protect the substructure and improve performance.
Whether you are new to boating or looking to refresh your memory on some basics, below are the most significant general phrases that all boaters need to know.
Bilge: The lowest point inside the boat, where water collects. A pump is generally used to remove the water.
Bimini top: A stowable, cloth cover on a folding framework used for providing shade.
Chine: The angle where the hull bottom meets the hull side.
Cleat: A tie-on point, usually on the gunnel, used for mooring the boat.
Fender: A stowable cushion used to keep the boat from hitting the dock.
Gunwale (aka Gunnel): The upper outer edge of the hull.
Head: A toilet on a boat.
Helm: The captain’s (driver’s) position when operating the boat.
Holeshot: The amount of time it takes for the boat to accelerate onto plane.
Hull: The watertight foundation of the boat, allowing it to float on the water.
Jump Seat: A supplemental seat, sometimes folding and hidden, for additional passengers.
Keel: The centerline at the bottom of a boat.
Strake: One or more pronounced ridges running the length of the hull to improve tracking and performance.
Navigation Lights: Lights used in low light and after dark. Port (left) is red, and starboard (right) is green.
Outboard: The boat’s motor, mounted to the transom.
PFD: Personal Flotation Device, commonly known as life jacket.
Plane: The boat’s stance when underway at an optimal running speed.
Planing: The bow returning to near horizontal after the initial lift of acceleration.
Prop: The fan-shaped device at the bottom of the outboard that makes the boat move by transferring the power of the motor to the water.
Rubrail: A strip, usually rubberized, that runs along the perimeter of the boat to protect it from damage.
Safety Lanyard or Kill Switch: A lanyard which attaches to the driver’s clothing and turns off the engine in the event that the driver is thrown from the boat.
Ski Pylon/Bar: A rope connection point at the stern for towing skiers, tubers, wakeboarders, etc.
Tracking: The tendency of the boat to move in a straight line naturally.
Transom: The back section of the hull upon which the outboard is mounted.
Trim: The angle by which the outboard is adjusted to improve performance.
Twin Engine: A boat with two outboards.
Wake: The waves caused by a boat’s movement.
Waterline: The point at which the boat sits on the water when loaded.
Port: Left, when in the boat and facing forward.
Starboard: Right, when in the boat and facing forward.
Fore: The forward direction inside the boat.
Aft: The backward direction inside the boat.
Bow: The front of the boat.
Stern: The back of the boat.
Length (LOA): The length of the entire boat from bow to stern, not including the outboard.
Deck Length: The length of a deck, not including the tubes (for pontoons).
Towing Length: The length of the trailered boat with outboard raised.
Storage Length: The length of the trailered boat with outboard lowered.
Beam: The width of the boat at its widest point.
Deck Width: The width of a boat’s deck.
Deadrise: The angle of the hull relative to the waterline.
Draft: The depth of the lowest point of the boat when sitting in the water.
Freeboard: The height of the boat that sits above the water.
Dry Weight: The weight of the boat with no fuel, gear, or people.
Towing Weight: The weight of the trailered boat.
Harris Pontoon Layouts:
With Harris, you can choose from a wide variety of deck layouts. Here’s a key to the abbreviations:
CS: L -Shaped Aft Bench Seat
CW: Center Walkthrough
CWDH: Center Walkthrough with Dual Helm Seats
CWEB: Center Walkthrough with Universal Bar on Port Side
CWEC: Center Walkthrough with Entertainment Center
DL: Dual Rear-Facing Loungers
DLDH: Dual Rear-Facing Loungers with Dual Helm Seats
DLEB: Dual Rear-Facing Loungers with Entertainment bar and Pressurized Sink
EGDH: Entertainment Galley with Dual Helm Seats
FC: Fish and Cruise
SL: Single Rear-Facing Lounger
SLDH: Single Rear-Facing Lounger with Dual Helm Seats
SLDDH: Single Rear-Facing Lounger with Two Dual Helm Seats
SLEB: Single Rear-Facing Lounger with Entertainment Bar and Pressurized Sink
SLEC: Single Rear-Facing Lounger with Entertainment Center