What does draft mean on a boat?

All boat operators must be able to communicate in the same "language" about the safe operation of a vessel with others.

That's because it guarantees consistency in the use of terminology, helps avoid miscommunication and will save time in case of an emergency situation on the water.

Also, all boaters must be able to define important boating terms or expressions and use them whenever required.

For example - do you know what draft means?

​​The boating term DRAFT means: The depth of the ship's keel below the waterline.

The boating term "draft" means: The depth of a ship's keel below the waterline.

In other words, how much of the boat is under the water.

In addition to the definition, here's an example conversation between Jack and Grace, with the term draft in it:

GRACE: "Say Jack, you have a motor yacht right?"

JACK: "Yeah, why?"

GRACE: "Since big yachts generally have a deep keel and need quite a bit of water to float - what's the draft on your boat?"

JACK: "Grace, because I boat on a fresh water lake these days, I need no less than four and a half feet of water to float. But, a few years back when I had her in salt water on the west coast, I didn't need as much water to float.

GRACE: "What does salt have to do with it?"

JACK: "It's all about salt, Grace. The more salt in the water, the easier to float, therefore I had more freeboard, less draft. That means, on fresh water it's the other way around, less freeboard and more draft.

GRACE: "Hmmm. You learn something new everyday, Jack. Thanks."

Honestly, the word draft doesn't come up as much as other boating terms - but you should definitely know what the draft of your boat is, so you avoid grounding your boat in shallow waters.

For this purpose alone, remember, draft means the depth of a ship's keel below the waterline.



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