nautical adverb

Definition of Aft

Aft refers to the rear or back end of a vessel. It is the opposite of “forward” or “bow”, which refers to the front end of the boat.

Aft is often used to describe the location of various parts of the boat, such as the aft deck, aft cabin, or aft cockpit.

labeled diagram of a boat

The term “aft” is important in boating because it is used to give directions and instructions on board.

For example, a captain might tell a crew member to go aft to perform a task at the rear of the boat.

Do you know what’s equally important?

Understanding the basic terminology of a boat is crucial, ensuring safe navigation. Let’s look at a few examples.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard:

  • Mast lights must be placed over the fore and aft centerline of a vessel.
  • Stern lights must show the light up to 67.5 degrees from right aft on each side of the vessel.
  • A vessel less than 20 meters in length may combine sidelights into one lantern carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel.

For example, the NaviLED PRO Bi-Color Navigation Light, pictured below, is a bi-color light, with the red and green sidelights combined into one lantern.

NaviLED PRO Bi-Color Navigation Light from Apex Lighting

Example of Aft in a sentence

“The skipper adjusted the tiller to steer the boat aft as they approached the dock, smoothly bringing the vessel to a stop.

Synonyms: abaft, behind, astern, back, backward, hind

Related Terms for Aft