The boot top is the black band running along the hull of the ship. In this case, a model of the USS Arizona.


Also “boot topping”


  • The painted band on a vessel just above and slightly below the waterline.


  • To clean the ship’s bottom by applying a mixture of tallow, lime, sulfur, resin, etc.


Probably earlier than the 18th century.


This can also refer to the paint or the process of applying the paint itself. It was earlier used as a term for the entire coating on the bottom. The purpose was to provide an anti-fouling coating against the growth of barnacles and other sea life, as well as to reduce friction in the water. Modern anti-fouling coatings serve a similar purpose.

The boot top also functions as a type of load line, with the bottom of the band being the Light Load Line (LLL) and the top being the Deep Load Line (DLL).


Kemp, P. (1994). The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford University Press.

King, D., Hattendorf, J.B, & Estes, J.W. (1997). A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O’Brian’s Seafaring Tales (2nd Ed.). Owl Books.

Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport.