Section VII

Glossary of Terms

At Anchor

Held in place in the water by an anchor; includes "moored" to a buoy or anchored vessel, and "dragging anchor."

Cabin Motorboat

Motorboat with a cabin that can be completely closed by means of doors or hatches.


Overturning of a vessel. The bottom must become uppermost, except in the case of a sailboat, which lies on its side.

Collision with Fixed Object

The striking by a vessel of any fixed object, above or below the surface of the water.

Collision with Floating Object

Collision with any waterborne object above or below the surface of the water.


Proceeding normally, unrestricted, with an absence of drastic rudder or engine changes.


Under way, but proceeding without use of engines, oars, or sails; carried along only by the tide, current, or wind.

Excessive Speed

Operating at a speed that is not reasonable or prudent considering the circumstances.

Fire/Explosion (Fuel)

Accidental combustion of vessel fuel or liquids, including their vapors.


Filling with water, but retaining sufficient buoyancy to remain on the surface.


The running aground of a vessel; striking or pounding on the rocks, reefs, or shoals.

Improper Lookout

No proper watch; the failure of an operator to perceive danger because no one was serving as a lookout, or the person so serving failed to do so. (For purposes of this report, this term refers only to accidents where the ski observers were not present or failed to do their job, or sailboat accidents where a lookout was not posted or failed to perceive danger. All other accidents involving inattentive operators fall under "Operator Inattention."*)


Changing of course, speed, or similar boat handling action during which a high degree of alertness is required.

Open Motorboat

Craft of open construction specifically built for operating with a motor, including boats canopied or fitted with temporary partial shelters.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

Commonly known as a life jacket or life saving device, a PFD can be a jacket, vest, cushion, or ring buoy designed to serve as a lifesaving aid.

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

A small vessel that uses an internal combustion engine powering a jet pump or propeller. It is designed to carry from one to three persons, and to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel rather than the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.

Rules of the Road

Statutory and regulatory rules governing the navigation of vessels.

* In the report California Boating Accident Report for 1993, the term improper lookout included all types of accidents that were caused by failure to perceive danger or by inattentiveness.

These definitions were adapted from the United States Coast Guard publication, Boating Statistics.

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