In order to make sense of what was happening to us in the locks, none boaty types need the following information.
narrowboat Steel barge, just 7 feet wide, (most locks in England are 7ft 2inches wide) varying lengths - ours is 45 feet long.
bows The front of the boat, tapering to almost a point. The bowline cant (bollard) is on the tip of the point. Tying the rope to anything along the side of the boat allows the boat to swing out because of the angle formed from bow to lock bollard to the crew member on the bows. It is not possible to tie off the rope onto the bow cant once it has been passed round the lock bollard because the bow cant is beyond the reach of the crew member. It is therefore the crew member who takes all the strain of the boat surging under the pressure of the water entering the lock. Other boats have cants on their gunwales (sides) allowing crew members to use the cant to take the strain.
gunwales the exterior walkway on a boat along each side. Narrowboats have narrow ones just below the window line(some narrowboats don't have any). Ours is 4 inches which is quite wide, although MWNN can't put his feet facing forward on them. Other types of boat have wide gunwales that are protected by safety rails, allowing the crew to use them while working in locks.
stern the back of a boat. Our narrowboat has a partially protected stern deck in that the steering position is within steel sides (it's called a semi-trad stern) that continue over the engine that is under the stern deck. The stern cants, however, are exposed on the very back of the deck where there is no safety rail. Normally, we make it a rule that whoever is on the tiller in a lock stays within the safety of the sides.
port Not a drink but the left side of the boat, looking towards the bows. Little reminder 'Is there any port left?'
starboard The right side of the boat, looking towards the bows.
Narrowboat decks Both our front and rear decks are very close to the waterline, which again is very different from other styles of boats, whose decks are usually high above their living quarters. Our low decks make it more difficult for us to get a line (rope) up onto the lockside, necessitating the use of boat poles or climbing of ladders. In England, on the Thames, I would work the bow line from the bows themselves, which are swept up quite high. I would be able to lassoo the dockside bollard from this position. English locks are much safer than French ones, particularly the Thames ones which are manned by people who understand the water and boats.