Here's a Cheat Sheet For Sounding Like a Moron When Talking About Boats

Sterndrive / I/O / Inboard/Outboard / Outboard / Inboard / Jetdrive: These are all just marketing terms that all mean the exact same thing. All of them will drain your wallet while sometimes propelling your boat across water. Whatever one YOU have, that’s the best one. 

Wakeboat: this is a bloated version of the old “ski boats” that evolved from utility boats intended for work. People used to do watersports behind them because they were light, well balanced, and had big engines. “Wakeboats” are primarily used for drinking beer, making waves so large they cause light coastal flooding while costing more than the average 2,000sf home in the continental US. Oh and surfing.


Fishing boat: literally any boat. Show me a boat and I’ll show you a boat you can hang a string off the side with a hook attached, while you drink beer and avoid your wife.

Jonboat: small boat that can be used for fishing (duh), fits in the back of your truck because if you own a boat you have to have a truck even if you never use it to do anything but drive to the marina where you keep your boat, goddamnit you could tow your boat if you had to and so you NEED 10,000 torques just in case!! What was the question?

Oil change: homonym of the term commonly used to refer to the preventative “oil change” you might do to your car. But it will cost much, much more and they will find other things broken because it’s a boat.

Low hours: low miles, but for boats. All hours fall into three categories: low (low), just broken in (high), and well-maintained (time bomb).  


Lower Unit: get your mind out of the gutter, this is a part of many boats that drives it along in the water. If you hit a rock with it, it will feel like you’ve been kicked in the “lower unit” when they tell you how much it will cost to fix.

Thruster: stop making that motion, Bob. Please stop you’re moving your cubicle wall STOP IT. This is like automatic parallel parking, where you can maneuver your boat in unnatural ways; formerly reserved for large ships, now found on much smaller boats that they inexplicably give to anyone with enough credit (see “wakeboat” above) regardless of their ability to dock a boat weighing as much as a Sherman tank. Really, it just means the boat is going sideways when it slams into the dock. Momentum is a bitch.


Gunwales: historic term referring to the raised sides of a boat, where people used to sit to gun down whales, probably. Now, it’s where you sit if you want to fall off when you throw back that last sip of Bud Light Lime.

Port and Starboard, Bow and Stern: these are words that the “captain” will inexplicably “scream at you” at the “top of his lungs” right before slamming into that piling because he couldn’t find the brakes and you didn’t put out the fenders so now this is all your fault. The empty beer cans rattling around on the floor have nothing to do with it.


For Sale:  The two words boat owners like the most. You’re either getting a new toy that will try to drain your bank account but you don’t know that yet, or you’re selling this floating marriage-ender and can’t wait to put that money toward something you’ll both enjoy. Like that sweet 4-wheeler you always wanted. 


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