Boating Acronyms We Think You Should Know

When it comes to the boating/marine/nautical world, there’s an endless glossary of acronyms to learn that can make things very confusing for the novice boater. 

PFD: Personal Flotation Device

Here at the blog, we’ve been guilty of using some boating-related acronyms without spelling them out. What can we say? We don’t follow an actual style guide like the AP (Associated Press) style guide. In other words, we should spell every acronym out on first reference but well, we don’t always do. With that in mind, we put together a short list of acronyms we’ve either used in our content, is relevant to our content, or that our editor included here just to shamelessly plug our content (and products, wink-wink).  

Here’s a short list of boating-related acronyms and abbreviations (we think) you should know.  

AGM: Stands for Absorbent Glass Mat, and it’s a technology used to make marine batteries with the electrolyte in fiberglass mats that sit between the plates in the battery. These battery types can be mounted on their sides, they don’t need to be topped off, and won’t leak if the material gets cracked. 

Read more about marine battery types here: How to Choose Marine Batteries

CCA: Speaking of batteries, here’s another battery acronym you may come across. CCA stands for Cold Cranking Amps, with the CCA rating being a measurement of how much power the battery can provide without depleting itself while the battery and the ambient temperature are both cold.

We’d call this a “cheat”, but since we don’t use an actual style guide, here’s more about CCA batteries from the blog of our sister site Cold Cranking Amps Explained

DIY: Stands for Do It Yourself, and here at we have our own YouTube channel dedicated to DIY outboard maintenance and repair videos.

Check out and subscribe to the YouTube channel here: on YouTube 

EPA: Stands for Environmental Protection Agency, and it’s the United States (US) governmental authority for exactly what their acronym stands for. Per their website: The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment. When you go boating, you need to know EPA regulations about things like boat fuel spills and the protection of marine wildlife, which you can read more about here:

Tips for Preventing Fuel Spills

Boating Safely Around Marine Wildlife

EPIRB: Stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, and it’s an essential piece of boating safety equipment used to alert search and rescue services by transmitting a coded message and a homing signal for rescuers to find boaters in distress.

Read more about essential boating safety equipment and gear here: Guide to Essential Boating Safety Equipment

GPS: Stands for Global Positioning System, and it's used by the aforementioned EPIRBs to triangulate your position for search and rescue teams to be able to find your boat. There are also plenty of GPS navigation systems available for your boat, some of which can be found here on (shameless plug alert)!

Buy Humminbord GPS navigator

Buy Lowrance GPS navigator

LED: Stands for Light-Emitting Diode, and it’s become an increasingly popular technology used for lighting equipment, particularly LED lighting kits for boats and trailers. These types of lights are also popularly used as underwater lights, for upgrading runabout boats, and for maximizing the resale value of a boat.

MOB: Stands for Man Overboard, and while we don’t think you’ll ever hear anybody shout “MOB!” when somebody falls off a boat, it’s still a good boating acronym to know.

Read about what to do in a MOB situation here: What to Do if Someone Falls Off the Boat

NOAA: Stands for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US governmental agency whose mission, according to their website, is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, ocean, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. 

We don’t have any related content or products to shamelessly plug related to NOAA, but it’s also a good acronym to know.

OB: An acronym we never, ever use in our blog because it’s bad for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) if we don’t spell it out! OB stands for Outboard, which is our specialty here at, since (very shameless plug alert) we’re one of the leading retailers of OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) outboard parts at the lowest prices available!

Read more about here: Our Company

OEM: Didn’t we just cover that one? Anyway, it does stand for Original Equipment Manufacturer, and we use that acronym to distinguish boat and outboard parts made by manufacturers like Mercury, Yamaha and Honda from aftermarket parts made by third party companies like Sierra.

OMC: Stands for Outboard Marine Corporation, once the world’s largest manufacturer of outboard motors. The company went defunct in 2000, but we still sell OMC parts here.

PFD: Stands for Personal Flotation Device, and it mainly refers to life jackets and vests, but can also refer to any individual flotation device such as a life ring or a floating cushion kept on a boat to keep passengers and crew afloat out on the water. 

Read more about personal flotation devices here: 5 Essential Boating Safety and Survival Accessories

PTFE: An acronym for Polytetrafluoroethylene (say that 3x times fast!) known for its excellent chemical resistance and dielectric properties. You’ll see the PTFE acronym in a variety of products such as Mercury Quicksilver marine grease, which we use in many of our DIY repair videos.

Buy Mercury Quicksilver marine grease

Buy Cal June life ring

PU: Sounds like something stinky, but it's actually just an acronym for Polyurethane, a compound found in many marine sealants that’s highly resistant to water, and is used for permanently bonding surfaces above and below waterline fixtures. Polyurethane sealant is great for repairing boat deck joints and hull joints.

Read more about marine sealants here: Understanding Marine Sealants

PVC: Stands for Polyvinyl Chloride, a tough synthetic resin used for a wide variety of products such as pipes, flooring and even inflatable boats.

PWC: Stands for Personal Watercraft, and it mainly refers to jet skis, but can also be used to refer to any small 1-2 person motorized recreational watercraft such as a small inflatable boat, dinghy or raft, or even a water scooter.

RIB: Stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat, which is a motor boat made of a fiberglass hull with inflatable rims. 

Read more about inflatable boats here: Things to Know About Inflatable Boats

SOLAS: Stands for Safety Of Life At Sea, and it refers to The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, an international maritime treaty that sets minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of merchant ships. Not to be confused with SOLAS, the manufacturer of some of the best boat propellers available on the market (and available here at

USCG: Stands for United States Coast Guard, the maritime security, search and rescue, and law enforcement service branch of the United States Armed Forces. For boating purposes, think of the USCG or simply Coast Guard as the governing authority of domestic and international waters alike. When it comes to boating safety equipment and gear, most of it has to be USCG-approved, such as the minimum requirement of at least one PFD for every person aboard. You can buy a USCG-approved boat starter kit here.

VDS: Stands for Visual Distress Signal, which the USCG also requires having on your boat, and can include anything from flares to distress lights, as well as orange smoke signals and distress flags. VDS are used to signal search and rescue teams and other nearby boaters to let them know you’re in need of emergency assistance.

Read more about visual distress signals here: Guide to Marine Visual Distress Signals

VHF: Stands for Very High Frequency, and it’s a technology used in boat radios and antennas for long-range communications. A VHF radio allows you to call for help in distress situations. For calling the USCG, use VHF channel 16.

VST: Stands for Vapor Separator Tank, and it’s the unit that houses a fuel filter and a fuel pump in an outboard’s fuel system.

VST: Vapor Separator Tank

WOT: Stands for Wide Open Throttle, a rating determined by an engine manufacturer for the RPM range the motor should achieve when the throttle is set to maximum. When you buy or test out a boat's engine, you should always run a WOT-RPM test to make sure the engine and the boat it's going to propel are a right fit.

Read more about Wide Open Throttle here: Why the WOT RPM Test Matters

WOT: Wide Open Throttle

And finally, while the word “boat” isn’t an acronym for anything, we found some funny interpretations on the WWW (World Wide Web) for the word if it were an acronym that stood for something. Just for fun, here are some of our favorites:

What does BOAT stand for?

  • Bankruptcy On A Trailer
  • Best Of All Therapies
  • Best Obsession After Thirty
  • Break Out Another Thousand

And our personal favorite, BOAT stands for Best Of All Time!




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