What is Nautical Freeboard?
According to Google, nautical freeboard is defined as, “the height of a ship’s side between the waterline and the deck.” Where we agree with that simple definition, the concept of why freeboard matters is a bit more complex, especially for boat buyers. To understand the importance, check out Figures 1 & 2 below.
As you’ll see below, a vessel’s freeboard begins at the waterline and moves upwards to the gunwales.
Why Is Freeboard Important?
Most offshore or center console boats have higher freeboard than traditional skiffs or bay boats. The idea is that higher freeboard provides additional protection and helps prevent the boat from being washed out.
The figure below represents a family of four physically standing inside of a boat. As you can see, the children (or smaller passengers and pets) would have to literally jump upwards to the top of the gunwales in order to access the water.