The Glossary of Nautical Terms

Nautical Glossary

This post is also available in: French

The nautical terms sometimes look like a foreign language. The boat jargon runs deep and it is not always easy to understand it as an outsiders. Here is a mini glossary of most used nautical terms to help you out charter your yacht. Learn them and take full advantage of the yachting world.


Something located at the back of a sailboat is called located aft, or at the stern of the boat. To move aft is to move back. 

APA: (Advance Provisioning Allowance)

The APA corresponds to the amount of money paid to the captain of the boat to cover the (estimated) expenses related to the operation of the boat during the rental: food, drinks, fuel, port tax, berth, extra services … Generally speaking, the APA envelope represents on average 30% of the rental price.

Before departure, clients will have completed a “preference sheet” (defined in this glossary) in which their wishes in terms of food, drinks, magazines, and other specific requests will be listed. The Captain will regularly inform the clients about the situation of the expenses. If the amount of the APA, during the navigation, proves to be insufficient, the Captain may have to ask for a supplement.

Conversely, if the expenses at the end of the cruise were lower than the estimated APA, the Captain will return the excess to the customer. Please note that the client has access to the detailed expenses supporting documents of the expenses. This board cash box is managed in full transparency.

Yacht Glossary


Bareboat (bareboat charter)

A bareboat charter is a boat that the client charter without a crew so that he can steer it himself. He will have to justify a nautical permit and an up to date nautical CV.

Bareboat Catamaran charter



A berth is a location used in a port or harbour where yacht can moor safely.

Boats have many moorings that differ according to the location: deep water, small traditional marinas, or developed commercial harbours. The berth fees vary from one harbour to another and are part of the charter budget to be planned.

Please note: during the high season, it is not always possible to find a berth in the busiest harbors. The MYBA charter contract stipulates that although the captain will always do his utmost to satisfy the client’s requests for berths, he cannot be held responsible in case of non-attribution.


A bow if the forward end of a boat.

Charter broker 

The yacht broker is your advisor for your yacht charter project. He assists you in choosing a vessel, deals with contracts, gives you the crew details, the ideal destination and takes care of the operations of your charter beforen during and after your cruise.

Among the 200 charter companies around the world some are better than others, and many of them specialize in certain categories of boats. One way to make sure you are dealing with a top-tier company is to choose a member of a professional association and to use regularly updated contracts (the MYBA contract for example).

Your choice of broker depends on the quality of service you are looking for and the broker’s in-depth knowledge of the yachts he recommends. 


The cockpit of the yacht is its exterior saloon.

Crewed Yacht Charter or Luxury Yacht (luxury charter with crew) 

A crewed yacht charter or a luxury yacht charter is a charter of a boat from 17m and above that comes with a crew.

In this category, the size of the boat requires a professional crew enrolled all year round (as opposed to flying crews). The composition of the crew (captain, deckhand(s), hostess(es) etc.) depends on the size of the boat.


The flybridge is the upper deck of the boat.

Often very open, it includes a steering position used in good weather as well as various equipment: spa/jacuzzi, bar, dining area, sunbathing… On larger units, it corresponds to the sundeck.



The term “galley” refers to the kitchen onboard a boat.

Guest Cabin 

The guest cabin is the cabin with en suite shower room and two separate single beds.


The knot is the unit of measure for speed used in nautical activities. 1 nautical mile is equal to 1,852m.

Master Cabin or Owner’s Cabin

The master cabin, also called the owner’s cabin is the largest and most beautiful cabin of the boat. It usually includes a double King size bed, an adjoining bathroom/shower room, and sometimes a closet and a small separate desk located in the entrance corridor.


MYBA: (Mediterannean Yacht brokerage association)

MYBA is the acronym of the International Yachting Association, which was founded in 1984 by a group of influential yacht brokers to promote standards of professionalism and ethics in the yachting industry across the Mediterranean and around the world.

The charter contracts for luxury crewed yachts are usually MYBA contracts.  The terms of this agreement are usually signed by four people: the charterer, the owner, a stakeholder, usually the yacht’s central agent, and the charter broker. Other types of charter contracts exist such as CYBA, HYBA, you may want to ask your charter broker about details. 

MYBA contracts in France will be under WNT conditions, i.e. “Western Mediterranean Terms” where the price includes:

– The charter of the yacht and its equipment in good working order.
– The insurance of the yacht.
– Salaries and meals for the crew.

Most of the large units (boats) are operated under MYBA charter contracts, which offer a precise regulatory framework. In the Caribbean, yachts under 35 m (115 ft) are generally chartered under Caribbean Terms (CT), which include food, fuel, and beverages.

Preference Sheet

The Preference Sheet is a document filled by the clients and delivered to the charter broker to help him organize the cruise. It includes :

– Arrival and departure dates.
– Information on transfers: airport/boat or hotel/boat for example.
– The guest list. – Contact information if necessary.
– Preferred itinerary and planned activities.
– Food and beverage preferences.
– Medical, or dietary restrictions: allergies, diet, etc.
– Any other information that may be useful to run the charter smoothly.


A pullman is a single fold-up bed, often hidden in a bulkhead. It can be opened as needed to accommodate a child. 

Toys (Water Toys):

“Toys” in yachting are actually water toys such as: jet boards, longboards, jetskis, and many others. They grew in popularity and are more and more often included with yacht charters.

The trend is also for inflatable structures such as slides, trampolines, or climbing walls.

Water toys


The saloon is the interior room of a yacht where one can meet, especially to take meals. 


The stern is the name for the back end of a boat.

VIP Cabin 

The VIP cabin is the second largest cabin of a yacht.

It usually includes a Queen size bed and en suite bathroom/shower. Bareboat + skipper (crewed charter): the client chooses to charter a boat (bareboat) with the services of a crew (professional skipper and/or hostess).

Do you now feel more familiar with the yacht charter industry? Feel free to reach out with our team if you have any further questions.