Neath and Tennant Canals Trust

Affiliated to the Inland Waterways

24 July 2024

Glossary of Terms

If you’re not quite sure what a term or phrase means, check out the following descriptions of common terms and phrases below.



Cut - A boatman's term for the canal.

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A -

A -mid -ships - To, near to, or in the middle of a ship
Abaft - Towards the stern
Aft - The rear of a boat
The rear of a boat, sometimes also called the stern.
Answer Pins - Detachable hooks which fix to steel eyes protruding from the boat's name panel on a butty.
Apron - Part of the lock bottom where the sills are fixed
Arm - A cul-de-sac canal of short length serving either a town , factory or quarry.

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B -

Boater - A person living or working on a canal boat
Bore - A tidal wave, as seen on the River Severn. The Severn Bore.
Bow -haul - To pull a boat by hand
Butty - A unpowered boat being pulled by a powered boat.

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C -

Carvel Built - Designating a boat or ship built with the hull planks lying flush or edge to edge, rather than overlapping.
Clinker built - A boat built with overlapping planks or boards.

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F -

Free board - The amount of boat left above the water when loaded

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G -

Gongoozeler - A casual observer to be found near you on the canal bank/bridge/lock especially as you mess up an otherwise standard manoevure.
Gunwale - The narrow deck along the motor's cabin and top edge of the boat's side.

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I -

Inclined plane - Where there is a large change in levels, rails are laid at a steep gradient and tanks are run up and down the slope with boats floating in them
Inside - On the same side as the towpath.

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L -

Lock - Used to raise or lower boats
A mechanical construction used to raise or lower boats between different water levels on rivers or canals using controlled changes of water levels to float the boat to its new level.

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O -

Outside - Opposite side to the towpath

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P -

Pound - Length of canal between locks

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S -

Swan's neck - The motor's steel tiller without the detachable section.

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T -

To wind - Pronounced as in wind and rain. To turn a boat around.
Tug - A boat designed for towing as opposed to carrying

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W -

Winding Hole - An especially created widening of the canal to allow narrow boats to turn.
Windlass - An "L" shaped handle for winding lock paddles

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