If you’re planning on setting sail with the incredible team from Aurora Expeditions, you’ll no doubt want to do some preparation in the lead up to your voyage. This may include learning all about the wildlife in the Galapagos if you’re heading out on our Ecuador expedition, or perhaps the fascinating lifecycle of an iceberg if your sights are set on Antarctica. However, there’s something else you might want to know before you settle yourselves aboard one of our fine vessels, and that’s nautical terms. Knowing the lingo before you go not only fills you with pride, but also the awe of your fellow passengers. So to help you talk the talk, here is our handy guide.

Read more: Get to know the Polar Pioneer

Know your sailing lingo

As you may know, the directions onboard a boat are slightly different to your standard front, back, right, left. Instead you have…

Bow – This term refers to the front of the ship, and is thought to come from the Old Norse ‘bogr’, or ‘boech’ a Middle Dutch word meaning shoulder. The idea is that the bow acts as the shoulders of the ship.

Stern – Referring to the back of the ship, the term stern came about around the 1300s, and is possibly from ‘stjorn’, Old Norse for steering – an understandable connection, as boats were controlled by a rudder off the back.

Port – Otherwise known as the left side of the ship, sailors didn’t always use the word port, according to Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG). The left side actually used to be called larboard, but as it sounded too similar to ‘starboard’ (the right hand side of the ship), it was changed to port as it was less confusing.

Starboard – The canoes of the past were paddled mainly by right-handers, explains the RMG. Logically, this meant that boats were steered from the right hand side as well. The steering paddle became a common feature on the right hand side of vessels, evolving into a type of rudder. The Anglo-Saxons called this rudder a ‘steorbord’, which was moulded into the modern word starboard – still in use today!

Bridge – This is the home of the wheelhouse or navigation station, and also the place where the ship is operated. Raised above the rest of the ship, it is also where the captain conducts their business.

Draft – A term that describes the distance between the water line and the deepest point of the hull, or the keel. The draft, usually measured in feet, informs the minimum amount of water the ship can sail in without running aground.

Zodiac – Nothing to do with your star sign, you may take a thrilling ride to shore on one of these inflatable boats.

Discover the Polar Pioneer on an Antarctic voyage

Check out our departures HERE


Call Now | Find an Expedition