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The list for common nautical terminology is long and some dates back many centuries. Until the late 1700’s, vessels were strictly sailing boats and ships. The first steamboat sailed up the Delaware River in 1787, followed by the first commercial steam boat in 1807. It did not take long for fuel-powered boats to follow. Finally, in the mid 1950’s, the first nuclear ship was put to sea.
With all the changes that have taken place in water transportation, the common nautical terminology has maintained its continuity. Some nautical terms have been redefined but the “old salts” prefer the original usage. For example, the difference between “boat” and “ship” used to be that a ship had three or more masts. In modern times, “ship” describes any vessel that is “big,” and yet “boat” is used interchangeably. "Larboard" was a termed used for “port.” "Heeling" refers to leaning the boat with the wind. In the old days, it also meant to lean a boat on its side in order to clean it.
Most common nautical terminology uses the language of sailing ships, as they were the only means of transportation for many centuries. Modern sailors continue to respect the ancient mariners and use their nautical terms. A few examples are:
Common nautical terminology that was used before the 1600’s was:
Nautical terminology has retained its value and integrity more than any other mode of transportation. Progress continues to integrate many of the nautical terms into new and futuristic modes of transportation, such as air and space travel.