Marine Adventurer

What is a Gunwale | Complete Guide of a Boat

The gunwale of a boat is the upper edge of the side opposite to the bottom. It is often curved and helps to hold the boat together. The gunwale also helps to protect people from falling out of the boat. It is typically made from wood, metal or plastic and helps to keep water out of the boat. The gunwale also provides a place for people to hold on when the boat is moving. Some boats have a railing along the gunwale to provide further safety.

They are used to mount accessories on boats, such as oars and navigation lights. They also provide a place for people to grip when boarding or disembarking from a boat.

what is a gunwale complete guide of a boat

Gunwale pronunciation

Gunwale is a word often heard in the boating community, but its pronunciation is not always clear. The word comes from the Old English gūnwǣl, meaning “gunwale of a ship.” The gunwale is the upper edge of the side of a boat. It is pronounced “GUHN-wail.

Boat anatomy: What are the basic different parts of a boat?

When it comes to boats, there’s a lot of terminology that can be confusing for the beginner. In this article, we will explore some of the basic different parts of a boat. 

One key part of a boat is the gunwale. The gunwale is the upper edge of the side of a boat and it helps to define the shape and size of the cockpit opening. It also helps to keep water out of the boat. 

Other key parts of a boat include the bow, stern, keel , skeg and hull. The bow is located at the front end of the boat and is designed to cut through waves and chop. The stern is located at the back end of the boat and provides stability in rough water. The keel is a thin piece of metal or plastic that runs along the bottom of a boat and helps to stabilize it in water.

Parts of a boat gunwale

The rail is the top edge of a boat’s gunwale. It provides a place to attach things such as oars, masts, and sails, and it also helps keep people from falling out of the boat. 

The cap is a piece of wood or fiberglass that caps off the end of the rail. The toe rail is a thin piece of wood or metal that runs along the bottom edge of the gunwale. It helps protect the boat from being scratched by things like boat oars and boat anchors . The knee is a curved piece of wood that connects the gunwale to the deck.

What is gunwale length?

Gunwale length is the measurement from the tip of the bow to the tip of the stern along the boat’s centerline. It is a key measurement when determining how much room a boat has for storage, passengers, or cargo. The gunwale length also affects a boat’s stability and wind drag. Boats with a longer gunwale length tend to be more stable in rough water and have less wind drag than boats with a shorter gunwale length.

Gunwales and boats: How do gunwales affect boats?

In boatbuilding, the gunwale is the top edge of the side of a boat. It serves as both a structural member and as a finishing touch. The gunwale affects the boat’s performance in several ways: 

First, the gunwale affects the strength and rigidity of the boat. It helps to hold the hull together and to resist bending and twisting. Second, the gunwale affects how much water can enter and exit the boat. A well-built gunwale will keep out most water, while a weak or poorly-made one will allow water to seep in. 

Finally, the gunwale affects how comfortable passengers feel inside the boat. A smooth, level surface will make passengers more comfortable than a rough or uneven one.

Gunwale Materials: What are gunwales made of?

The traditional material for gunwales is wood, but they can also be made from metal or other materials. Wood gunwales need to be strong and durable in order to withstand the stress of being in contact with water for extended periods of time. The most common types of wood used for gunwales are oak and ash.

Metal gunwales are usually made from aluminum or stainless steel. They are lighter than wood gunwales, but also less durable.

What are the different types of gunwales?

There are three types of gunwales: inwales, outwales, and sheerwales. Inwales are the topmost boards on a boat that run along the inside of the boat’s hull. Outwales are the long, thin boards that extend horizontally from the bow to the stern and act as strengthening members. Sheerwales are the thin vertical members that connect the inwale and outwale on either side of a boat.

Advantages or Benefits of Gunwale of a Boat

There are many reasons why boat gunwales are a beneficial addition to any water vessel. Some of the key advantages include: 

  • One big benefit is that it can help keep you and your boat dry. The gunwale creates a ledge or barrier between the water and the inside of the boat. This can be very helpful if you’re trying to stay dry while fishing or boating in rough waters. 
  • Another benefit of having a boat gunwale is that it can provide extra stability to your boat. This is especially important when fishing, because it can help prevent your boat from tipping over. 
  • It can improve the handling of a boat. A well-made gunwale will be sturdy and provide stability, which can make it easier to control the boat in rough water conditions.
  • Boat gunwales can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to any watercraft. They are also available in a variety of colors and styles, so you can choose one that best suits your taste and personality.
  • Boat gunwales provide a sturdy barrier between the passengers and the water, preventing people from falling overboard. In the event that someone does fall in, the gunwale makes it easier for them to get back on board. 
  • Additionally, boat gunwales can be used as mounts for accessories, such as rod holders or lights.

Installation: How are gunwales installed on boats?

There are several methods for installing gunwales on a boat. The most common method is to use screws or bolts to attach them to the hull. Another method is to use straps or clamps to hold them in place while the adhesive sets. Gunwales can also be attached with rivets or screws that go through the gunwale and into the deck of the boat.

Maintenance: How do you maintain gunwales on boats?

No matter what type of material is used, it will need to be maintained in order to keep it looking good and performing well.

  • One way to maintain gunwales is by cleaning them regularly. This can be done with a soft cloth and a mild detergent or soap. Be sure to wipe down both the top and bottom of the gunwale, and don’t forget about any nooks or crannies where dirt or debris may accumulate.
  • Another way to maintain gunwales is by protecting them from the sun’s rays. Sunlight can cause discoloration and fading over time, so using a UV-inhibitor spray can help keep them looking new.
  • You can maintain you gunwale is by using a good sealant or coating . This will help to keep water and other elements from damaging the gunwales.
  • You also maintain gunwales is by checking for damage regularly and repairing any cracks or chips that may occur. By doing this, you can help to ensure the safety of your boat and its passengers.

How to Repair a Gunwale

If the gunwale is only slightly damaged, you may be able to fix it with wood glue and clamps. If there is a hole or crack in the wood, you can either fill it with wood filler or use a patch kit. For major damage, you may need to replace the entire gunwale.

If you are replacing a gunwale, it is important to select one that is compatible with your boat. You should also make sure that the new gunwale is installed properly so that it will be strong and watertight.

Gunwale vs Gunnel: Is there any difference?

Gunwale and gunnel are both terms for the upper edge of a boat’s side. Gunwale is the preferred term in the US, while gunnel is more common in the UK. It is often pronounced “gunnel,” but the correct pronunciation is “gun-wahl.”

Most people believe that gunwale and gunnel are two different words that have different meanings. However, these words are actually one and the same. The word “gunwale” is simply a variation of the word “gunnel.” Both words are derived from the Old English word “gundel,” which means “side of a ship.” Over time, the word “gundel” evolved into “gunnel” and then “gunwale.

Gunwale vs Bulwark

The key difference between a gunwale and a bulwark is that a gunwale is the top edge of a boat’s hull, while a bulwark is a structure built along the side of a ship to protect passengers from falling overboard. Gunwales are typically made of wood or plastic, while bulwarks can be made of wood, metal, or concrete. Gunwales are typically higher than bulwarks, and they are usually angled inward so that water flows off them instead of collecting on top.

How to install gunwale rubber

Installing gunwale rubber is a great way to improve the look and feel of your boat while also protecting it from scratches and dings.There are a few different ways to go about installing gunwale rubber, but the most common method is to use adhesive backed strips.

  • Before you start, make sure you have all of the necessary tools and materials handy, including a straight edge ruler, sharp scissors, and contact cement or double-sided tape.
  • Cut the strips of gunwale rubber to size using sharp scissors – they should be just a bit wider than the width of your boat’s gunwales.
  • Apply adhesive to the back of each strip and then carefully position them along the top edge of your boat’s gunwales. Make sure they are evenly spaced and that there are no gaps between them. 
  • Use a straight edge ruler to check that your strips are evenly spaced and that there are no gaps. Use contact cement or double-sided tape to hold them in place. 
  • Wait several hours for the adhesive to set and then test your repair by applying pressure on the strips. If they don’t flex, apply more adhesive and try again. 
  • If you are happy with the results, cut off any excess adhesive and remove the strips. That’s all there is to it!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How to clean gunwale rubber.

It’s important to clean gunwale rubber on a regular basis in order to keep it looking and performing its best. Here are some tips on how to clean gunwale rubber: 

  • Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any dirt, dust, or debris from the surface of the rubber. 
  • If there is any built-up gunk or caked-on mud, use a mild detergent and water to clean it off. Be sure to rinse the area well afterwards. 
  • Apply a coat of silicone sealant or protectant to help keep the rubber looking new and protected from the elements. 
  • Apply a coat of gunwale rubber protectant or sealant to help keep the rubber looking new and protected from the elements.

What wood is the best for gunwale?

Choosing the right wood for your gunwale is important. You want a material that is strong and durable, but also lightweight. Different woods have different properties, so you need to choose the one that is best suited for your needs.

Mahogany is a popular choice for gunwales because it is strong and durable. It also has a beautiful finish that will enhance the appearance of your boat. However, mahogany is a heavy wood, so it may not be the best choice if you are looking for a lightweight option.

If you are looking for a lightweight option, cedar or pine may be a better choice. They are both strong and durable, but they are also lighter than mahogany. Cedar also has a lovely finish that will add character to your boat.

Hardwoods like oak are also a good option, but they may not be as resistant to rot and decay as cedar or redwood.

What is gunwale bobbing?

Gunwale bobbing is a movement pattern of a boat in which the bow and stern alternately rise and sink. This movement is caused by the displacement of water as the boat moves through it. The bow is the front of the boat and the stern is the back. When the boat moves forward, the bow displaces more water than the stern. This causes the bow to rise and the stern to sink. When the boat moves backward, the reverse happens.

Gunwales are an important part of boats. They provide strength and stability, and they also help to keep people safe. If you are looking for a new boat, be sure to ask about the gunwales and what type of material they are made from. You should also consider how safe you feel on a boat, and whether or not the gunwales will provide the protection you need.

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What is Gunwale on a Boat?

If you’re a boat enthusiast, you’ve likely heard the term “gunwale” mentioned in conversations about boat construction, design, or safety.

But what exactly is a gunwale, and why is it so important in the world of boating? In this article, we’ll delve into the history, purpose, and types of gunwales on boats, as well as discuss how to maintain and repair them.

Gunwale on a boat. Aluminum center console boat for police, a good example of practical use of aluminum gunwale for multiple purposes.

Gunnels on a Boat

Gunnels, also known as gunwales, are a crucial part of a boat’s structure. Pronounced as “gunnels,” these are the upper edge of the side of a boat. Originally, the gunwale was the “gun ridge” on a sailing warship.

This represented the strengthening wale or structural band added to the design of the ship to securely mount the ship’s guns.

Today, the term gunwale is used to denote the top edge of the sides of the boat, providing structural integrity and serving as a handy place to tie off lines.

Definition and Purpose

The gunwale ( pronounced “ gunnel “ ) is the top edge of a boat’s hull, running along both sides from the bow to the stern. Gunwales serve a variety of purposes, including providing structural support, ensuring the safety of passengers and crew, and offering attachment points for various accessories and equipment.

They often work in conjunction with other parts of a boat, such as a thwart , to provide stability and balance.

Gunwale Construction and Materials

Gunwales can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, aluminum, and composite materials. The choice of material depends on factors like the boat’s design, intended use, and budget.

Each material has its pros and cons, which we will explore in more detail later in this article. Understanding the different parts of a boat can help you make informed decisions about the materials and design of your gunwale.

Gunwale History and Evolution

Historically, gunwales were made of wood and were an integral part of a boat’s hull structure. They were initially used to strengthen the boat and to provide a platform for oarsmen or rowers. With the advancement of boat design and technology, gunwales have evolved to serve a broader range of purposes, incorporating different materials and construction methods.

Today, they can be found on a variety of boats, from small canoes to larger vessels like pontoon boats , and offer numerous options for customization and accessorizing.

Importance of Gunwales in Boat Design

Structural stability.

One of the primary functions of a gunwale is to provide structural stability to the boat. The gunwale ties the boat’s hull together, preventing it from flexing or twisting under stress.

A well-designed and properly installed gunwale can significantly improve a boat’s overall strength and durability, particularly in relation to the transom , another critical structural component of the boat.

Passenger and Crew Safety

Gunwales also play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of passengers and crew on board. They provide a barrier that prevents people from accidentally falling overboard and can also serve as a handhold or support when moving around the boat.

The gunwale design contributes to the overall stability of the hull, with some designs offering greater stability than others.

Attachment Points for Accessories

In addition to structural support and safety, gunwales provide attachment points for various accessories and equipment, such as cleats, rod holders , and paddle clips. This versatility allows boaters to customize their vessel to suit their specific needs and preferences.

For example, accessories for Jon boats can be easily attached to the gunwales, enhancing the boating experience and improving functionality.

Types of Gunwales on Boats

Traditional wooden gunwales.

Wooden gunwales have been used for centuries and are still popular among boating enthusiasts who appreciate their classic appearance and natural aesthetic. They are typically made from hardwoods, such as oak or teak, which offer strength, durability, and resistance to rot and decay.

However, wooden gunwales require regular maintenance, including sanding, sealing, and varnishing, to protect them from the elements and prolong their lifespan. These traditional materials are just one example of the various materials used in boat building .

Aluminum Gunwales

Aluminum gunwales are popular in modern boat designs due to their strength, lightweight nature, and resistance to corrosion. They require less maintenance than wooden gunwales and are well-suited for a variety of boat types, including canoes, kayaks, and small powerboats .

Some boat owners prefer the sleek, contemporary look of aluminum gunwales, while others appreciate their practical benefits, such as reduced weight and increased durability.

Composite Gunwales

Composite gunwales are made from a combination of materials, such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, or other synthetic materials. These gunwales offer the benefits of both wooden and aluminum gunwales, with improved strength, reduced weight, and low maintenance requirements.

The choice between carbon fiber and fiberglass or other composites will depend on factors like budget and performance needs. Composite gunwales are often found on high-performance boats, where their lightweight and strong construction is highly valued.

Maintaining and Repairing Gunwales

Inspection and cleaning.

Regular inspection and cleaning of your boat’s gunwales are essential for maintaining their appearance and performance. Inspect for any signs of damage, such as cracks, dents, or loose fastenings, and address any issues promptly. Clean the gunwales with a mild soap and water solution, and rinse thoroughly to remove any residue.

Repairing Damaged Gunwales

Damaged gunwales should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the boat’s structure. For wooden gunwales, this may involve sanding, filling, and refinishing the affected area.

Aluminum and composite gunwales may require professional repair or replacement, depending on the extent of the damage. For example, if you have a fiberglass boat hull with damaged gunwales, seek expert advice on the appropriate repair methods.

Upgrading and Customizing Gunwales

Boat owners often choose to upgrade or customize their gunwales to better suit their needs or preferences. This may include adding additional attachment points for accessories, reinforcing the gunwale for added strength, or updating the appearance with new materials or finishes.

Choosing the Right Gunwale for Your Boat

When selecting a gunwale for your boat, consider factors such as the boat’s design, intended use, and budget. Each type of gunwale has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to weigh your options carefully and choose the one that best meets your needs.

Gunwales are an essential component of any boat, providing structural support, safety, and versatility. By understanding the different types of gunwales and their unique benefits, you can make an informed decision when choosing the right gunwale for your boat.

Regular maintenance and prompt repair of your boat’s gunwales will ensure their longevity and continued performance.

What is the purpose of a gunwale on a boat?

The gunwale serves several purposes, including providing structural support, ensuring passenger and crew safety, and offering attachment points for various accessories and equipment.

What materials are commonly used to make gunwales?

Gunwales can be made from a variety of materials, such as wood, aluminum, and composite materials.

How do I maintain my boat’s gunwales?

Regular inspection, cleaning, and timely repairs are essential for maintaining the appearance and performance of your boat’s gunwales.

Can I upgrade or customize my boat’s gunwales?

Yes, boat owners can upgrade or customize their gunwales to suit their specific needs or preferences, such as adding attachment points, reinforcing the structure, or updating the appearance with new materials or finishes.

How do I choose the right gunwale for my boat?

When selecting a gunwale for your boat, consider factors such as the boat’s design, intended use, and budget. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type of gunwale to determine the best option for your needs.

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I worked as an officer in the deck department on various types of vessels, including oil and chemical tankers, LPG carriers, and even reefer and TSHD in the early years. Currently employed as Marine Surveyor carrying cargo, draft, bunker, and warranty survey.

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What Is A Gunwale?

Ian Fortey

The gunwale is the upper edge of your boat along the hull. You might also refer to it as the rim, lip, or border, but it’s officially the gunwale. Though it looks like you might pronounce it “gun whale,” it’s pronounced “gunnel,” so it rhymes with funnel.

The History of the Top Edge of Your Hull: The Gunwale

sailboat gunwale

The gunwale dates back to warships of old, around the middle of the 15th century, and the word “gun” isn’t there for no reason. When artillery became a staple of warships, sailors soon learned of the damage these guns could cause, not just to enemy vessels but to their own. A wooden vessel can only handle so much stress, after all. Imagine resting a cannon on the side of a ship and firing it repeatedly with no reinforced platform beneath it. The pressure would eventually cause damage and could lead to a disaster with that same gun. 

To ensure the guns were correctly supported and the boat’s walls were reinforced to handle the stress, a sturdy platform was added to the upper edge of the hull around the ship. This was often made of a stronger material to reinforce the hull and handle any extra stress of those guns. 

While “gun” is obvious here, the word “wale” doesn’t come from “wall,” as you might think, but the word “plank.” The etymology goes back very far, but you can see where it makes sense when considering the word “weal.” That comes from the same source and refers to raised marks on the skin. Wale, like weal, was a raised edge of the plank. Hence we get gunwale, a raised plank for the guns.

What is a Gunwale Today?

sailboat gunwale

You’re not firing artillery off your fishing boat’s starboard side today, or you shouldn’t be. But that rim along the top side of your hull is still called a gunwale because of tradition. The practice of including a gunwale wasn’t abandoned after guns became unnecessary on boats because it proved to be practical.

Modern gunwales offer a lot of structural support on a boat, which has a lot of value in the ship’s overall design. In addition, while you may not need to mount a cannon on your gunwale any time soon, there are still plenty of things you can attach to it. If you’re so inclined, Gunwale clamps can be used to add oars for rowing and all kinds of extra attachments, from lights to cupholders. Having that extra strength and stability ensures your hull won’t be under too much stress.

What Else Can a Gunwale Do?

Everglades 243 CC Bay Boat

This is more common in saltwater boats, especially flats boats , bay boats , and such, but the gunwales are often used for fishing rod storage. The reinforced aspect of a gunwale and the long, narrow space offers an excellent place to house rods with rod holders that keeps them out of the way of the rest of the boat.

Less common and maybe not always the safest bet, some people use the gunwales to move about the boat or boarding/offboarding. If you have wide gunwales, there is often enough room to use them as a walking path, provided none of those above clamps and mounts are on them.

Walking on the gunwales isn’t always the best idea. Though reinforced, the fiberglass, wood, and foam they are probably made of can’t always hold a person’s weight on small boats. And it’s on smaller vessels where this usually happens to try to stay out of the way of others. Plus, there’s always a slip hazard when walking a narrow path on a boat like that. 

That said if you are boarding a boat from above, meaning the dock or whatever you are stepping off of is raised above the ship, stepping on the gunwale as if it were a step down is pretty standard practice and is usually safe. However, you always want to be cautious when boarding a boat. 

Gunnel vs. Gunwale

Action Craft 1820 Flatsmaster

You may hear, or at least see (since they sound the same), the word “gunnel” is used instead of the gunwale. Both refer to the same thing, so you can choose to spell it either way, though gunwale is the word’s older and more traditional spelling. 

What Are Gunwales Made Of?

sailboat gunwale

Like boats themselves, gunwales can be made of a variety of materials. But since the idea is that this is a structural reinforcement, a proper gunwale needs to be tough. You can find them made of aluminum, and back in the day, they were made from sturdy hardwoods like oak, mahogany, and cherry. Even today, white ash is sometimes used for gunwales. You can also find gunwales made of vinyl or other synthetic materials. Some of these tend to be more popular on a boat, like a canoe, where the gunwales aren’t expected to hold up a person’s weight. 

The Bottom Line

The gunwale, pronounced gunnel and sometimes called a plank sheer, is a structural reinforcement on the top edge of the boat’s hull. It provides strength and protection for the ship at sea and can also conveniently mount various objects. It literally supported guns in the past, but now gunwales generally add to structural integrity.

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My grandfather first took me fishing when I was too young to actually hold up a rod on my own. As an avid camper, hiker, and nature enthusiast I'm always looking for a new adventure.

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Marine Insight

What is Gunwale of a Boat or Ship?

Gunwale

Shipbuilding terminology owes its etymology to various cultures, practices, industrial influences, applications, and other factors. The gunwale of a boat, pronounced “gunnel” and not “gun whale,” is a seemingly simple yet critical vessel component.

On a boat or a ship, the gunwale denotes the upper edge where the hull and deck converge.

This article delves into the gunwale’s multifaceted significance, considering its historical origins, contributions to structural integrity and safety, and diverse modern-day applications.

The name gunwale borrows from a similar term called the gun ridge. Although nearly all boats feature a gunwale, this edge was initially known as a “gun ridge,” a band strong enough to support the weaponry employed on a warship (it does consider additional stiffening and load distribution characteristics to consider ship strength and stability).

Gunwale diagram

In modern times, the association with onboard gun equipment no longer applies, but it remains a crucial design component with functional uses.

Generally speaking, docking and mooring are indebted to the gunwale. Fastening lines and fenders to this particular section (gunwale) secure the boat to a dock or another vessel.

In certain boats (and ships), the gunwale may be fortified (adding additional strength and protection) or broadened to accommodate fixtures like rod holders or cleats as well (image below). They also prevent wearing the shell plates at the edge or rim and any further structural compromises that may arise from long-term use.

Gunwale boat cleat

In addition, the gunwale, for smaller boats, may also protect against water splashing or accumulating over the deck. This is when sailing in choppy waters, where waves can wash over the sides easily. Not to forget, sometimes, they may be used to access different parts of the boat (if wide enough, can be walked or stood upon) and store equipment (for example, in fishing boats).

So, in conclusion, it is important to note the function of a gunwale extends beyond just being referred to as the “edge”. It serves a range of purposes based on the vessel type.

Let me know your feedback, thoughts, and any other ship term you would like to read such an analysis for, in the comments below!

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Disclaimer:  The author’s views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight.  Data and charts, if used in the article, have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight.

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What is a Gunwale on a Boat? (Precisely Answered)

Gunwale on a Boat

The gunwale on a boat (pronounced “gunnel”) is the upper edge of a boat’s hull, where the hull and deck meet. It runs along the length of the boat on both sides and serves as a structural element to provide strength and rigidity to the vessel’s hull.

Table of Contents

The gunwale also serves as a convenient attachment point for various accessories such as cleats, fenders, and railing systems.

In addition to its structural function, the gunwale also provides a convenient handhold for passengers boarding or exiting the boat, and can also act as a barrier to prevent water from entering the cockpit or other areas of the boat during rough seas.

What is Boat Gunwale Made of?

Boat gunwales can be made from a variety of materials depending on the type of boat and its intended use. Here are some common materials used to make boat gunwales:

  • Wood: Traditional wooden boats often have gunwales made of wood, such as teak or mahogany. These are strong and durable materials that also provide a classic, attractive appearance.
  • Aluminum: Many modern boats have gunwales made of aluminum. This material is lightweight, strong, and corrosion-resistant, making it an ideal choice for boats that will be used in saltwater environments.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a popular material for gunwales in many types of boats. It is lightweight, strong, and can be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • PVC: Some smaller boats and inflatable boats have gunwales made of PVC. This material is lightweight, inexpensive, and can be easily inflated and deflated for storage and transport.

Overall, the material used to make a boat’s gunwale will depend on factors such as the boat’s size, intended use, and budget.

What is The Purpose of a Gunwale?

Boat Gunwale

The gunwale serves several important purposes on a boat:

  • Structural Support: The gunwale provides structural support and rigidity to the hull of the boat, helping to distribute the weight of the vessel and its contents evenly.
  • Protection: The gunwale can act as a barrier to prevent water from entering the boat’s cockpit or other areas during rough seas.
  • Attachment Point: The gunwale serves as a convenient attachment point for various accessories such as cleats, fenders, and railing systems.
  • Handhold: The gunwale provides a convenient handhold for passengers boarding or exiting the boat, as well as for those moving around the deck.
  • Aesthetics: The gunwale can also contribute to the overall appearance of the boat, and may be designed to match the boat’s style or color scheme.

Overall, the gunwale is an essential component of any boat, providing both practical and aesthetic benefits to the vessel.

Can Boat Passengers Ride on The Gunwale

No, boat passengers should not ride on the gunwale. The gunwale is a structural element of the boat and is designed to provide strength and rigidity to the hull and to serve as an attachment point for accessories such as cleats, fenders, and railing systems.

Riding on the gunwale can cause damage to the boat and may also be dangerous for passengers.

Riding on the gunwale can cause the boat to become unbalanced, which can lead to capsizing or other accidents. In addition, passengers riding on the gunwale are at risk of falling overboard, which can result in serious injury or even death.

All passengers need to remain seated and follow safety guidelines while on board a boat, including wearing appropriate personal flotation devices (PFDs) and staying clear of the gunwale.

What’s The Difference Between Gunwale and Gunnel?

There is no difference between gunwale and gunnel; they are two different spellings of the same word and are pronounced the same way (“gunnel”).

The term “gunwale” is more commonly used in North America, while “gunnel” is more commonly used in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. Both spellings refer to the upper edge or rail of a boat’s hull, where the hull and deck meet, and serve the same purposes.

Regardless of the spelling used, the gunwale or gunnel is an important structural element of a boat that provides strength and rigidity to the hull, serves as an attachment point for accessories, and can act as a barrier to prevent water from entering the boat during rough seas.

Why is It Called Gunwale?

The word “gunwale” comes from the Old Norse words “gunner” meaning “battle” and “vǫllr” meaning “field” or “plain”. Originally, the gunwale referred to the raised deck that ran along the sides of a Viking longship, where warriors would stand during battles.

Over time, the word “gunwale” came to refer to the upper edge or rail of a boat’s hull, where the hull and deck meet, regardless of whether the boat was used in battle or not.

Another theory suggests that the term “gunwale” may have come from the Dutch word “gondola”, which means “gondola”.

The word “gondola” was used to describe the narrow, flat-bottomed boats used in Venice, which had a similar raised edge running along the sides of the boat. This term may have been Anglicized to “gunwale” over time.

Regardless of its origins, the term “gunwale” has been used to describe the upper edge or rail of a boat’s hull for hundreds of years and has become an established nautical term.

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What Is The Gunwale On A Boat?

Brian Samson

October 20, 2023

What Is The Gunwale On A Boat? | LakeWizard

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

‍ Key Takeaways

  • Gunwale provides structural support and attachment points for accessories.
  • Gunwales serve various purposes, offering protection, depending on the boat's design.
  • Many materials are used to construct gunwales to suit specific boat types and features.

‍ Enhance your boating expertise by unraveling the intriguing role of the gunwale – your ticket to a more enjoyable voyage.

The gunwale on a boat is the upper edge of the boat's sides, running horizontally along its length. It serves as a crucial structural component, providing stability and support. Understanding its role is paramount for safe and enjoyable boating experiences.

As an avid boater, I've come to intimately understand the significance of the gunwale on a boat. My expertise has been honed through countless adventures, and I'm excited to share my insights with you. Let’s explore the ins and outs of this essential component for an enhanced and safer boating journey.

Table of contents

‍ what is the gunwale on a boat.

The gunwale is a crucial structural component of a boat, which serves several purposes to ensure the vessel's functionality and safety. It refers to the top edge of a boat's hull, found on both sides of the boat.

This upper edge plays an important role in maintaining the boat's overall structural integrity and providing support and attachment points for various accessories. Gunwales can be made from different materials, including wood, metal, or plastic.

Different Parts of the Gunwale

The gunwale (pronounced "gunnel") is an essential part of a boat, and understanding its components can enhance your knowledge of boating terms and boat maintenance .

The upper edge is the topmost part of the gunwale that runs along the boat's hull. It provides strength and rigidity to the vessel's body, making it crucial for stability and safety. The upper edge can be made of wood, metal, or synthetic materials, depending on the type of boat and its intended use.

The side of the gunwale refers to the area between the upper edge and the deck. It acts as a protective barrier, preventing water from entering the boat and providing support for passengers.

In canoes and other small vessels, the side is often equipped with handrails or grab handles to assist with boarding and maneuvering the boat.

The wale is a horizontal reinforcing band added to the structure of a ship. Dating back to the middle of the 15th century, the term "gunwale" originated from the "gunwale" on warships, which was crucial for offsetting the stresses created by firing artillery.

The hull is the main body of the boat, including the sides and bottom, giving the vessel its shape and buoyancy. The gunwale is located at the top edge of the hull, playing a crucial role in ensuring your safety and freedom while out on the water.

The deck is the boat's floor, covering the hull and providing a surface for passengers and crew. The gunwale and deck meet to form a strong, watertight seal that ensures the integrity and safety of the vessel.

Gunnel is an alternative spelling for gunwale, though they refer to the same structure: the upper edge of a boat's hull where the hull and deck meet. Regardless of which term is used, the gunwale plays a pivotal role in the boat's construction, safety, and stability.

This table summarizes parts of the gunwale and their purposes.

Purpose and Function of the Gunwale

The gunwale is an essential part of a boat, providing a variety of functions such as support, safety, storage, and boarding assistance.

The primary function of the gunwale is to provide structural support for the boat's hull and deck. Due to its location at the top edge of the boat, it helps maintain the shape and rigidity of the vessel.

Traditionally, gunwales were made of wood, such as white ash, but nowadays, synthetic materials like fiberglass and aluminum are more commonly found on most boats. This structural support is necessary to maintain the boat's stability and integrity.

Safety is another critical role of the gunwale. Acting as a barrier between the water and the boat, it prevents falling overboard, making it safer for passengers on board. Additionally, the gunwale serves as a handrail for those boarding or moving about the boat, offering support and stability.

Gunwales can also serve as mounting points for storage options on a boat, such as rod holders and cleats. These attachments can help keep the boat organized and easily accessible for fishing or other activities.

The gunwale can also assist in boarding by offering a grip point for passengers stepping onto the boat. It can be especially helpful when the boat is not docked, or passengers are boarding from another vessel.

One of the vital roles of the gunwale is protecting the boat's edge. It shields the boat from potential damage when it is in contact with another vessel or dock, which can lead to costly repairs.

Rod Holders

For fishing enthusiasts, the gunwale is also commonly used as an attachment point for rod holders. These devices securely hold fishing rods while the boat is in use, allowing the angler to focus on other tasks or enjoy the fishing experience without constantly having to hold the rod.

Materials Used in Gunwale Construction

The construction of a boat's gunwale is crucial to its functionality and performance. Various materials are used to create a gunwale that serves its purpose, providing strength and durability.

Historically, wood has been a popular material for gunwale construction due to its availability, natural strength, and appealing appearance. Different types of wood are used in building gunwales, such as oak, mahogany, and teak.

Wooden gunwales offer boats a classic look and feel, providing warmth and a sense of tradition. However, wooden gunwales require regular maintenance to prevent rot and damage caused by water exposure.

Aluminum gunwales have become increasingly common, especially in the construction of modern boats. This material is lightweight, strong, and corrosion-resistant, making it an ideal choice for boats that will be used in saltwater environments or subjected to rough conditions.

Aluminum gunwales provide a sleek and contemporary appearance while offering the durability and low maintenance that most boat owners seek. Like wood, aluminum gunwales can be used for various boat types, including canoes, sea vessels, and more.

Fiberglass is a popular material used in gunwale construction due to its unique properties. Made from a blend of glass fibers and resin, fiberglass offers a strong and lightweight option for boat gunwales.

One key advantage of fiberglass gunwales is their resistance to water damage and rot which can affect wooden gunwales over time. They are also low maintenance compared to their wooden counterparts.

Synthetic Materials

Advancements in material sciences have led to the development of synthetic materials for gunwale construction. These materials can offer a number of benefits compared to traditional options, such as increased strength, flexibility, and resistance to environmental factors.

Synthetic materials like composites and plastics can deliver a strong and durable gunwale without the weight of wood or aluminum. They can also be designed to imitate the appearance of traditional materials.

Types of Gunwales and Their Features

When it comes to different types of boats , the gunwales serve various purposes and are made up of distinct materials.

Canoe Gunwales

Canoe gunwales are typically made from natural materials like wood or synthetic materials like aluminum or plastic, which provide stability and support to the canoe. White ash is a popular choice for wooden gunwales due to its lightweight and durability.

Fishing Boat Gunwales

Fishing boat gunwales are designed with anglers in mind, providing easy access to essential gear and equipment. They often feature built-in rod holders, storage compartments, and attachment points for fishing accessories.

Bay Boat Gunwales

Bay boats are versatile vessels used in shallow waters, featuring gunwales that serve dual purposes. They house rod holders and storage compartments and provide a walkway for passengers to move from the forward section to the aft of the boat without stepping on the deck.

Console Boat Gunwales

Center console boats have gunwales that provide additional support to the overall vessel structure. These gunwales serve as the upper edge of the boat's hull and offer space for mounting important accessories and equipment.

The height of console boat gunwales varies depending on the size of the boat and the type of water it is designed to navigate. Materials used for console boat gunwales usually include aluminum, fiberglass, or wood.

Skiff Gunwales

Skiffs are small, shallow-draft boats primarily used for inshore fishing. Skiff gunwales are designed to provide stability and support for passengers and their gear. The materials used for skiff gunwales usually include aluminum, fiberglass, or wood, depending on the boat's design and manufacturer's preference.

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About THE AUTHOR

Brian Samson

I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.

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Where onboard a boat are the gunwales located?

Where onboard a boat are the gunwales located? Gunwales are the rails on a boat that encircle the deck. They are the horizontal beams that run on both sides of a boat’s hull. They’re typically located at the top of the boat’s side.

Gunwales serve as handholds and to help prevent water from washing over the side of the boat. The gunwale is also traditionally used by sailors for mounting their weapons, providing a protective barrier against enemy borders, and in some cases doubling as storage compartments. Nearly all boats have two gunwales running parallel to each other with one located near the bow (front) end of the boat and another at its stern (back). 

It is not recommended to stand on them, as they may break under your weight. The gunwales keep you from falling overboard.

Gunwale is an old English word that means “Guard rail”, which refers to its original use as a barrier for barrels on ships.

gunwale on a boat

What purpose does the gunwale of a boat serve?

The gunwale serves the main purpose of supporting the upper area of the hull of the boat and maintaining the shape of the hull. It keeps the hull of the boat from collapsing in on itself. It helps to add support where the sides of the boat begin. The gunwale also provides stability as it prevents the boat from rolling over on its side as well.

It provides a decorative look. Gunwales are traditionally where the captain of the boat displays their family coat of arms or other symbols. They can also be where the name of the ship is written out. It makes it easy for people to know what boat they’re looking at without having to read everything on it. 

The gunwale provides protection from people falling overboard. All boats have a gunwale where the passenger can hold on to it and then get pulled back in by the crew member if needed. The more elaborate ones are where there is an actual railing that keeps you from accidentally falling overboard.

Gunwales can also be where custom rails are added to help the captain navigate the boat better.

They also serve an additional purpose in that they can be used to support sailing hardware such as sails, where they may act as a brace.

Gunwale vs Bulwark

The difference between a gunwale and a bulwark is where they are located on the boat. Bulwark refers to a vertical, or near-vertical, structure extending from the side of a ship or boat to shelter something such as cannon. A Gunwale, however, refers to the top edge of the deck where most boats have a rail to prevent people from falling overboard.

Are gunnel and gunwale the same?

The answer to this question is yes. Gunnel and gunwale are the same things. It’s just where these words are used in a sentence. Gunwale is the correct word where they are talking about the side of the boat.

The gunwales are located at the upper edges of a boat’s hull. They provide support for people who are on board and offer protection from waves that potentially could spill over the side. On some boats, they also function as handrails or steps to help with boarding. Where on a boat do you find the gunwales?

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Where Onboard a Boat Are the Gunwales Located? – Answered

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

where onboard a boat are the gunwales located

Establishing different safety procedures is very important in boating, and knowledge of the different parts of your boat will allow you to do so. There are many boat parts that boaters need to know about, such as the transom and gunwale.

In this article, we’ll look at where onboard a boat are the gunwales located. Keep reading to learn more.

Table of Contents

Where Are Gunwales Located on a Boat

parts-of-a-boat

The gunwale is the top section of the hull. The name gunwale comes from when gunwales first appeared on combat ships; it referred to the reinforced top section of a ship’s hull, designed to support high-powered guns and the recoil they produced.

Also called the gunnel, it is still used in modern boats to strengthen the hull and make the entire boat structure more stable and secure.

You may be able to recognize it in certain boats because the gunwale may be wider than the hull, or the point where the gunwale and hull join may be visible.

Other Parts of a Boat

where-is-the-gunwale-on-a-boat

There are many parts of a boat, especially if we count the components of the engine or the sailing mechanism. To keep ourselves from getting overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to start with the major parts that can be found on most boats.

The following are boat parts that can easily be identified.

This refers to the front part of the boat. As a point of reference, the bow points to the direction where the boat is going. During times when the water may be turbulent, we point the bow to meet the waves to minimize the risk of the boat capsizing.

The stern refers to the back of the boat and is where any outboard engine would be. If your boat uses a tiller, it would be found at the stern as well. Other parts of the boat that would usually be at the stern are the bilge access, the swim platform, and the boat ladder, though this could also be at one side of the boat instead.

It is very important to remember that while the stern of the boat is strong and sturdy, it is susceptible to leaks, which is why it is important to avoid letting the boat meet the waves at the stern.

The hull is probably the most easily recognizable part of the boat, being the main body of the boat. Some people may be familiar with the hull even when they do not engage in boating activities due to the frequent depiction of boats in literature and entertainment media.

The hull itself has different parts as well. Knowing what the hull is will make it easier to recognize other parts of the boat.

The keel is the bottom-most part of the hull and is considered the backbone of the boat. In wooden boats, it is ideally made of a single piece of wood that is usually thicker and sturdier, running from the bow up to the stern. The keel also contributes to the boat’s ability to keep itself balanced on the water.

It is important to recognize the keel for instances such as when loading the boat onto a trailer or when raising the boat.

You can find the transom at the stern of the boat. It is the cross-section from one side of the hull to the other. If you’re using an outboard engine or a trolling motor, those will likely be attached to the transom.

The boat’s transom is usually the strongest section of the boat. If there is a need to raise the boat, the transom is the first part of the boat you should raise to properly support the weight of the entire boat.

The helm is where the boat is controlled. This includes the wheel to the control console, which houses switches for different devices on the boat, including the engine, the blower, and other electrical devices.

Another characteristic of the helm is that this should be the best spot for observing the boat’s surroundings, including looking out for hazards and other boats alike.

This is the lowest part of the boat, which is why it is usually located at the stern. It is important to know about the bilge as soon as you want to set out on the boat by yourself for safety.

If you’re using a motorized boat, it is important to look out for fume buildup in the bilge along with the possible accumulation of water. Both the bilge blower and the bilge pump work by ridding the bilge of problematic fumes and water. Keeping a good watch on the bilge is one of the important safety measures we need to maintain when boating.

Learning about the information above is just scratching the surface, but it’s an important first step in familiarizing yourself with the many parts of a boat. Hopefully, you can now answer where is the gunwale on a boat with confidence.

If you know anyone else wondering where onboard a boat are the gunwales located, please share what you’ve learned. We’re also eager to hear from you, so drop your comments below.

Remember to boat safely.

sailboat gunwale

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Boat Repair, Restoration, Building

New Gunwales

The graceful sweeping curves of the new inwales clearly show the need for steam to bend them into place.

Gunwale is an old nautical term.  A wale is a plank on the side of a ship or boat.  The top wale on a sailing warship was called the gun wale and was reinforced to carry the stresses imposed by heavy cannon.  Typical of nautical terms, it is not pronounced like it is spelled.  “Gunnel” is the correct pronunciation.  In canoes, it has come to mean the reinforcing strips along the top edge of the boat.  Specifically, there are usually two strips, an inwale and an outwale.

That’s what we have, and both need to be replaced.  Removal of the old pieces revealed a bit of rot in the top edge of the top strip on each side.  Injecting CPES into these strips stiffened them up in preparation for attaching the new pieces.

This contraption is my steam generator. If you look closely you can see the reflectix bag in the background where the inwale is being steamed.

I decided to make the new pieces out of Fir.  It’s moderately rot resistant, fairly tough, and steam-bends fairly easily.  You can see from the photo above that there is quite a bit of bend in these pieces–more than you could accomplish without steam.  I milled out the general profile of each piece out of a single piece of wood, and drilled the slots in the inwale to allow for drainage when the boat is upside down.  Each piece had to be steamed for 4 hours to bend it in place.  If you’re interested in steam bending, check out my earlier post on the process here .

Using the boat as a form to clamp the inwale to after steaming.

The easiest way to hold your piece in the shape you want it after steaming is to clamp it to the boat.  That’s what you see here.  I’ve clamped the inwale to the outer face of the boat since it’s easier to get to.

Here I've added the outwales to make a complete gunwale on each side of the canoe.

Once I had the pieces bent, I fastened them in place with screws and epoxy, sealing the whole assembly with 3 coats of clear epoxy to guard against rot in the future.

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How to strengthen gunwales in fiberglass boat.

  • Thread starter pcrg28328
  • Start date Aug 18, 2011
  • Aug 18, 2011

sailboat gunwale

Supreme Mariner

Re: How to strengthen gunwales in fiberglass boat. hi....welcome to iboats ! im kind of lost on your plans..... i think we need more detailed pics but a sure fire way to re inforce the gunwhales so you can pull a net over them.....is to glass with 1708....just one layer. if you are really worried.....glass in a piece of plywood from the deck to the gunwhale under the cap.  

Re: How to strengthen gunwales in fiberglass boat. Hi oops!, Thanks for the greetings. My boat is a 1 ply with no sub floors. Wall is approx 1/4 thick and it has no caps only looks like they bent the glass over horizontally to add stability. I attached a drawing of how it is. With the 1708 would you put it on the inside or out? View attachment 108789  

Re: How to strengthen gunwales in fiberglass boat. here is another pic of the 1x2's used. the top is still weak and so are the sides. View attachment 108841 Also while I am sanding the old paint off, the boat is covered in spider web cracks. Can I just prime over them and paint? They go down to the gel coat, but feel smooth to the touch.  

Re: How to strengthen gunwales in fiberglass boat. links didnt work. the spider web crracks are called crazing.....if you prime and paint.....the will show thru in a short while......but unless you want to do a total restoration.....you might want to live with them. i need to see the pics before i can really make an accurate call....but i think the wooden gunwhale supports on the inside are the way to go  

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Gunwale Drain

  • Thread starter MikeHoncho
  • Start date Sep 15, 2018
  • Hunter Owner Forums
  • The Cherubini Hunters

MikeHoncho

I feel your pain. I have the same issue on my '77 h30. In '79 or '80 they put a drain in the lowest area and piped it to a thru-hull about a foot from the toe rail. I've often thought about doing that, just haven't gotten around to it.  

jssailem

David in Sandusky

A PO drilled a drain through the toe rails on both side of my stern.  

I was thinking about putting drains in and plumbing them to the cockpit scupper drain.  

Dalliance

Roland5048 said: I feel your pain. I have the same issue on my '77 h30. In '79 or '80 they put a drain in the lowest area and piped it to a thru-hull about a foot from the toe rail. I've often thought about doing that, just haven't gotten around to it. Click to expand

Will Gilmore

Will Gilmore

jssailem said: For @Roland5048 One of your very own. View attachment 156358 Click to expand

rardiH36

It's a little bit of a problem on my Cherubini Hunter 36. But not so much that it's any bother. One item that I have noticed through the years is that the hose connecting the drain and the thru-hull readily collects debris. Periodically, certainly when I notice it's draining slowly, I put the water hose nozzle into the thru-hull opening to blast out the clog. Easy to do while washing down the boat. Just be sure that the hose is well clamped on both ends!  

jssailem said: For @Roland5048 One of your very own. Will Gilmore said: Now all you need is to buy some time. Time is expensive, but it goes hand in hand with owning a round tuit and is so worth it. You might want to look into getting an up tuit as well. Click to expand

Mohawk Jack

Mohawk Jack

IMG_8110.JPG

I love to sail my boat more than I like to scrub the decks. I can't see that part of the deck while I'm sailing so it really doesn't bother me until I either get on or get off. My ToDo list is never lacking so I feel your pain. Don't spend your Round Tuit all in one place.  

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Definition of gunwale

Examples of gunwale in a sentence.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gunwale.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English gonne-wale , from gonne gun + wale entry 1 ; from its former use as a support for guns

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Dictionary Entries Near gunwale

Cite this entry.

“Gunwale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gunwale. Accessed 1 Apr. 2024.

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Kids definition of gunwale, more from merriam-webster on gunwale.

Nglish: Translation of gunwale for Spanish Speakers

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COMMENTS

  1. Gunwale

    Gunwale. The gunwale ( / ˈɡʌnəl /) is the top edge of the hull of a ship or boat. [1] Originally the structure was the "gun wale " on a sailing warship, a horizontal reinforcing band added at and above the level of a gun deck to offset the stresses created by firing artillery. Over time it remained as a valuable stiffener mounted inboard of ...

  2. What Is A Gunwale

    The gunwale is the upper edge of the side of a boat and it helps to define the shape and size of the cockpit opening. It also helps to keep water out of the boat. Other key parts of a boat include the bow, stern, keel, skeg and hull. The bow is located at the front end of the boat and is designed to cut through waves and chop.

  3. What Is Gunwale On A Boat?

    The gunwale ( pronounced " gunnel ") is the top edge of a boat's hull, running along both sides from the bow to the stern. Gunwales serve a variety of purposes, including providing structural support, ensuring the safety of passengers and crew, and offering attachment points for various accessories and equipment.

  4. Understanding The Gunnel Of A Boat: Anatomy, Functions, and Maintenance

    January 25, 2024. The gunnel of a boat, sometimes spelled as "gunwale," refers to the upper edge or railing that runs along the sides of a boat. It is an essential component of a boat's structure and plays a crucial role in providing support, safety, and functionality. The gunnel serves as a barrier that helps to prevent water from ...

  5. What Is A Gunwale?

    The gunwale, pronounced gunnel and sometimes called a plank sheer, is a structural reinforcement on the top edge of the boat's hull. It provides strength and protection for the ship at sea and can also conveniently mount various objects. It literally supported guns in the past, but now gunwales generally add to structural integrity.

  6. Understanding Gunwales On A Boat For Increased Stability And Protection

    Definition and Purpose. The gunwale is an essential component of a boat's structure that serves multiple purposes. It refers to the upper edge or rim of the boat's sides, running horizontally along the hull. The gunwale provides structural support and rigidity to the boat, preventing it from collapsing inward.

  7. What is Gunwale of a Boat or Ship?

    The gunwale of a boat, pronounced "gunnel" and not "gun whale," is a seemingly simple yet critical vessel component. On a boat or a ship, the gunwale denotes the upper edge where the hull and deck converge. This article delves into the gunwale's multifaceted significance, considering its historical origins, contributions to structural ...

  8. What is a Gunwale on a Boat? Here is the Answer!

    Also known as a gunnel (pronounced closer to the said spelling), a typical seafarer will define a gunwale as the top part of the hull that reinforces it - or, in even simpler terms, its rails. In order to not confuse it with sea mammals or a certain country that's part of the UK, we need to dive into a bit of its etymology.

  9. What is a gunwale?

    What is a Gunwale? Pronounced, "Gun-null" it's the upper edge of a boat. In most modern saltwater fishing boats such as bay boats, center console boats, flats, or skiffs, gunwales have dual purposes. The first, they house rod holders but also serve as a walk way for passengers to move from the forward to the aft of the boat without ...

  10. What Is A Gunwale? (Upper edges of the boat's hull)

    A gunwale is the upper edge of a boat's hull, where it meets the deck. The word comes from Old Norse gunnr, meaning "edge" or "gunnel". Gunwales are typically made of wood, metal, or fiberglass. The main purpose of a gunwale is to provide structural support for the deck and hull. It also serves as a handrail for people boarding or ...

  11. What is a Gunwale on a Boat? (Precisely Answered)

    The gunwale is a structural element of the boat and is designed to provide strength and rigidity to the hull and to serve as an attachment point for accessories such as cleats, fenders, and railing systems. Riding on the gunwale can cause damage to the boat and may also be dangerous for passengers. Riding on the gunwale can cause the boat to ...

  12. What Is The Gunwale On A Boat?

    The gunwale is a crucial structural component of a boat, which serves several purposes to ensure the vessel's functionality and safety. It refers to the top edge of a boat's hull, found on both sides of the boat. This upper edge plays an important role in maintaining the boat's overall structural integrity and providing support and attachment ...

  13. Where onboard a boat are the gunwales located?

    Gunwales are the rails on a boat that encircle the deck. They are the horizontal beams that run on both sides of a boat's hull. They're typically located at the top of the boat's side. Gunwales serve as handholds and to help prevent water from washing over the side of the boat. The gunwale is also traditionally used by sailors for ...

  14. Where Onboard a Boat Are the Gunwales Located?

    Where Are Gunwales Located on a Boat. The gunwale is the top section of the hull. The name gunwale comes from when gunwales first appeared on combat ships; it referred to the reinforced top section of a ship's hull, designed to support high-powered guns and the recoil they produced. Also called the gunnel, it is still used in modern boats to ...

  15. New Gunwales

    New Gunwales | Ashley River Boatworks. August 28, 2016July 15, 2018 by Tim Taylor. New Gunwales. The graceful sweeping curves of the new inwales clearly show the need for steam to bend them into place. Gunwale is an old nautical term. A wale is a plank on the side of a ship or boat. The top wale on a sailing warship was called the gun wale and ...

  16. Gunwale

    gunwale. gunwale, gunnel upper edge of a ship's side, formerly serving to support the guns. XV ( gonne walles ). f. GUN + WALE. gun·wale / ˈgənl/ (also gun·nel) • n. (often gunwales) the upper edge of the side of a boat or ship. PHRASES: to the gunwales inf. so as to be almost overflowing: /the car is stuffed to the gunwales with camera ...

  17. Video: Riding on the Gunwales, Bow, and Transom

    Riding on the Gunwales, Bow, or Transom. On-screen text: BOATING. Speaker 1: So where are the unlawful places to sit? Speaker 2: In New Hampshire, it is illegal for people to sit on the gunwale, the transom, and straddle the bow with their legs or feet hanging over the bow. Speaker 1: Is it safe to sit in those places at slow speeds? Speaker 2: It's still not safe to sit in these locations ...

  18. Repairing structural areas of gunwale (gunnel) in boat or canoe

    Certain components of a boat are structural. The bulkheads and the gunwale are a few. What does that mean? It means that these components actually "hold" ...

  19. How to strengthen gunwales in fiberglass boat.

    Mar 30, 2011. Messages. 51. Aug 18, 2011. #1. I have a 1969 Island Maid 14' that some one has put 1x2 runners along the gunwales on the inside and out side then bolted them on. While this lends to "some" strengthening, it does a very limited job. The boat has zero braces from the top of the middle seat to the gunwales, approx 6" or so.

  20. Gunwale guards

    Jun 17, 2012. 24. Bristol 35.5 Escanaba. Mar 23, 2021. #8. Gunnel guards are available at Defender Marine and Jamestown: Gunnel Guard is best installed by driving self-tapping (or self-drilling for fiberglass) 1/2", stainless steel #6 Phillips screws with stainless finishing washers through each tab, spaced every 3 to 4 inches.

  21. Gunwale Drain

    Sep 23, 2018. #10. Roland5048 said: I feel your pain. I have the same issue on my '77 h30. In '79 or '80 they put a drain in the lowest area and piped it to a thru-hull about a foot from the toe rail. I've often thought about doing that, just haven't gotten around to it. I have a 1980 Cherubini 30 with the deck drain.

  22. Gunwale Definition & Meaning

    The meaning of GUNWALE is the upper edge of a ship's or boat's side. How to use gunwale in a sentence.

  23. Dynamic Dolly for the Laser® Sailboat

    Snug-fitting edge trim atop the handle fitting protects the gunwale gelcoat. Type is suitable for Laser, Byte, Gig Harbor 16, and more. • Boat-specific tube and sling lengths provide a custom fit for each boat, enabling a balanced handle load and easy maneuvering. • All joint fittings are through-bolted and designed for increased torque ...