Draft refers to the depth from the waterline to the deepest portion of the keel. It measures the minimum depth in which a boat can operate without going aground.
Single engines are more economical than twin engines, but twins provide more security.
A kill switch is a safety switch attached to a lanyard that shuts off the motor if the driver leaves his or her seat.
Don't make the amateur's mistake of trimming up at low speeds and then trying to put the boat on plane. The motor will roar and the water will fly, but you'll go nowhere fast.
A boat likes to keep spinning the way it's backing. If you're backing to starboard, spin the wheel to port before putting it into forward. This encourages box and stern to keep doing what they're doing and will spin the boat smartly.
Opt for a bright-colored rain suit: In the unlikely event that you or any crewperson ever falls overboard, yellow or bright orange is a lot easier to see in the water than green.
Never ground the boat on a full or falling tide, because the water will soon fall out from under it. This leaves the hull lying on its side like a beached whale—and about as easy to lift.
Cordage is the general term used to refer to all the ropes, lines, anchor rodes, etc. used aboard a boat. Line is what's normally called "rope" ashore—it can be of any size and either twisted or braided. It's usually classified according to diameter, with a _-line being _-inch thick. A rode is a line attached to an anchor. Sheets are lines used to tension sails.
Some canoes are equipped with oarlocks and can be rowed even more easily than paddled. Rowing lacks the silent grace of paddling, but it puts two blades to work rather than one and requires less skill than solo paddling.
Volume, as it's applied to kayaks, refers to the total area enclosed by the outer hull. It's a way of measuring the buoyancy of one kayak design against another.
If you see a red light and a white light on an approaching boat, it's going to pass port side to. Green plus white, it's going to starboard. Red and green at one, it's headed right at you—change course! (On boats without a masthead light or a 360-degree stern light you will see only the red; you'll see the green box lights as it approaches head on.)
Electronic navigation systems offer a wide variety of features and prices. Review the way you'll actually use your system aboard and select those that provide the most bang for your buck.
One of the most important "tools" you can carry on your boat is a spare battery. When your main 12-volt source dies, a back-up is a godsend, and having two or more batteries also splits the load for many operations, allowing both to live longer.
Tacking is sailing back and forth on a series of beats to work toward an upwind objective.
Most small sailboats are tiller-steered, which means a straight handle rather than a steering wheel controls the rudder. Tiller steering is different than wheel steering because you push the handle left to go right, and vice versa.