There are different types of boats ( boat types ) than one can possibly imagine. But in general, a boat can be classified into three main categories and their subcategories; unpowered, motorboats and sailboats.
Now, these categories can be further classified into different subcategories with distinct boat types. Each one has its own unique advantage or purpose. But there are 15 types of the boat which are most popular.
Today boats are used to support larger vessels, in border patrol, for inland transportation and commercial fishing. But it recreational and sports boat which accounts for the majority of these boat types.
A boat is a watercraft that is designed to work in shallow waters and have huge maneuverability advantages over large ships. Traditionally people use to differentiate ships from boats based on their size.
But with time it became hard to answer just by looking at its size; so I write a big article on the site “Boat vs Ship“ marking out their 8 key differences.
A boat on another hand can be divided into just three main types; handheld or hand-powered, sailboats, and motorboats. All other boats that we love whether be a kayak, yacht, pontoon, banana boats, and more fall in one or another above category. So here are we with a list of 12 most common boat types.
- 1 ) A Fishing Boat Or Trawler
- 2 ) Tug Boats
- 3 ) Deck Boats
- 4 ) A Dingy or Dinghies
- 5 ) Life Boats
- 6 ) A Sail Boat Types
- 7 ) Cuddy Cabin Boats
- 8 ) The Pontoon’s Or Pontoon Type Boats
- 9 ) A Ferry Boat
- 10 ) Houseboats
- 11 ) A Yacht
- 12 ) Center Console Boat
- 13 ) Bass Boat
- 14 ) Bay Boat
- 15 ) A Bowrider Boat Types
- 16 ) Convertible Fishing Boat
- 17 ) Dual Console Boat
- 18 ) Catamaran Boat
- 19 ) Inflatable Boats
- 20 ) Utility Boat
Types Of Boats – Their use, Pictures & More !
1 ) A Fishing Boat Or Trawler
Just because you can fish on a boat using some handheld fishing gear, it does not mean its a fishing boat. Traditionally a fishing boat is used to be a wooden hull structure made from simple tools. They were used to catch fish in fresh and salty waters from ancient times using very simple tools like spears, hook, and nets.
A commercial fishing boat or trawler on another hand is a large metal structure that uses sophisticated tools like; trawling motors, trawlers, live wells, and electric power sources to do the job. These large boats generally have set of trawlers at their stern with trolling motors, ropes, and other fishing equipment.
Robust in design and equipped with modern navigating instruments like G.P.S, sonars, and AIS; they are no longer just restricted to coastal or rivers waters but even beyond. They catch their fish by dragging the trawl ( A large fishing Net ) in the water; in areas shown by AIS equipment to be rich in particular fish type.
These large boats are around 20-25 meters long and weight around 30 to 40 tonnes under draft condition. Equipped with superstructures, dedicated marine engines, propulsion systems, and cargo space; they are more common to a ship than a regular boat. Smaller-scale bass boats are commonly used in fresh and salt waters for low scale or recreational fishing.
These small boats are designed to give better maneuverability, comfort and help while catching fish; rather than going after quantity as with large commercial fishing boats or trawlers.
2 ) Tug Boats
Have you ever seen any large ship near port? If you do, you must have noticed some small boats; which came to it to support and help with securing to the port terminal. These small boats whose main job is to help maneuver large ships even in congested area are what called as the tug boats.
Well since i have worked on these for a brief period before joining big ship; i cal tell its pretty small but quite powerful. Other than helping larger ships navigate through narrow passage or near ports; its also plays role as salvage boats, ice breakers and even carry out fire fighting duties when required.
Traditionally tug boats are generally placed in or near ports, harbor, rivers and in strategic sea routes such as in canals and shallow or narrow water reasons. A tug generally push or pull a large ship using a secured tow line or physically to tow it to secure position. It only manage to do such thing because of its high power to weight ratio.
The main advantage of tug boats over others ships and boats is its high power to weight ration and great maneuverability. It is this maneuverability that allows it to help other ships or boats in canals, ports and rivers. And the 3-4 Hp four stroke marine diesel engine that helps do its daily job.
3 ) Deck Boats
Known for its unique design, large deck space and speed; a deck boat is a motor driven boat with an open deck structure. The boat got its name “Deck Boat” from the extra deck space it get from unique hull structure. Came in 18-24 ft construction with wide deck space and powerful stern propulsion; its idle for fishing, cruising, quality family time and some water sports.
Its V-shape hull structure provides the extra space needed to provide more room for seating arrangement with much open deck. These boats holds such large space that you can literally throw your small parties. These large deck space is mostly utilized for more seating space; you can also use them fishing gears.
The best part is you can tow them to your garage or carport on any regular trawler. So you don’t have to worry for trawler size and strength when carrying deck boats. Thanks to is versatility its popular and widely used along the coastlines, rivers and fresh water lakes. And it is it’s hull design that makes it more stable.
These boat types are quite easy to operate and do not need much maintenance. Which in fact is quite easy to do once familiarized with. Depending on what you want from them, there are many variants available to choose from. All its models contain a powerful engine, Bimini top protection, expanded swim platform, storage area, accessories, and life jackets.
4 ) A Dingy or Dinghies
Dinghies are the small boats most common at sea shores and lakes used for a variety of purposes; from fishing, rescue, sailing to water sports. Typically of 12 to 15 feet length these small boats are stores and used in large boats and ships in event of emergency. They can be both made of hard wood or inflatable rubber.
Being somewhat classic and amazingly simple in design they can be powered by oars, sails and outboard boat engine. Based on its shape and mode of propulsion, a dingy can be classified into 4 main sub types; The Whitehall, The Dory, The Pram and last The Inflatable rubber boats most common these days.
Because of its capabilities to work even in most shallow waters with great maneuverability; they are often times used by enthusiast around the world looking for nice time in lakes and near shores. The same feature also makes it the perfect companion for large boats and ships; carrying people in event of emergency or if the large boat or ship simply just cant dock.
While you can use any of its types as dingy the most commonly used are the rigid-bottom inflatables; thanks to its ability to quickly inflate and deflate with no risks to others boats in vicinity. They can be quickly deflated and stored in a closet and are just more affordable; both as an first hand investment and recurring maintenance cost.
5 ) Life Boats
A life boat are these rigid-hulled inflatable small boats used for rescue and search operation during emergency condition. All large ships are required by the law to have a minimum number of designated life boats on board. These boats are generally used to carry passenger to safe places; and thus holds all basic necessary from tools to first aid and signalling equipment.
The rigid hull construction over the inflatable design makes it more stable, sturdy and capable of withstanding extreme weathers with maximum possible load. While RHIB ( Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat ) are the most common used boat types used as the rescue or life boat; but they are not the only design.
In fact many new merchant ships use more of closed lifeboats which provide additional safeties; but still carry one RHIB type life boat mostly for rescue purposes. The self inflecting collar at its top which surround its whole structure restricts itself from sinking; even if its been accidentally thrown aboard in extreme weather conditions.
Irrespective of its type all lifeboats are made in compliance to the rules laid out by the SOLAS and LSA. The SOLAS stands for “International convention for the safety of life at sea” while LSA stands for “Life-Saving Appliance Code”. Modern lifeboats are also equipped with EPERB, Radar reflectors and SART equipment.
6 ) A Sail Boat Types
Sailboats are here around us humans probably since the time there are sailors. One of the oldest and basic boat types which tap into the power of wind; to move from one place to another even continents. In times before the discovery of motors or engines it was the only and effective way of transportation across large distance.
Although it wasn’t be able to predict precisely when was the fist sail boat built; but archeologist found paintings with sail boat like structure as back as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Traditionally these boats used to be mono hull construction with multi hull design gaining polarity in recent times.
Traditionally a sailboat contains two sails ( Main + Head sail ) attached to it using different lines. I found this article on ( Liveabout.com ) which explains how the sails are rigged before actual sailing. Component like “Jib Halyard”, “mainsail”, “Luff”, “jib sheets” are then manipulated to give the forward push to the boat.
On a sailboat when winds flows over these main and head sails they apply force on these sails; to get a more foil like shape which then helps generate positive pressure difference. It is this pressure difference combined with water drag that push the boat in forward direction. This makes the boat to move at an angle opposite to the winds direction.
7 ) Cuddy Cabin Boats
A cuddy cabin boat is definitely for those who’s looking for a family friendly boat with secret cabin space; nimble in size and have good maneuverability. These versatile boats generally provides much better control while cruising, more storage space and even a secret cabin within the closed deck space.
Slightly different than a cabin cruiser where you don’t have to look around to find cabin; these boats have cuddy or simply a small cabin below the deck space. These cabins have V-shaped berths with optional tables, porta potty and typical storage area. Basically its a comparison between a perfect cabin cruiser and a deck boat.
These versatile boats are used mostly to spend quality time with friends and family other than; sailing, fishing, yachting, swimming and other water sports. The cabins are somewhat modest and provide more comfort and space then what generally expected. Equipped with swim platform, water generator, sink, taps and a cabin its a good boat for recreational purpose.
A common cuddy cabin boat lengths about 20 to 30 feet and are equipped with 500-1000 horse power inboard or outboard engine. This power again can be obtained from either single engine or in form of multiple small engine’s. The good thing about this boat is its size; so you can still easily toe them wherever you want.
8 ) The Pontoon’s Or Pontoon Type Boats
If there is one boat among many boat types that really gained popularity in the recent times; it would be non other than the Pontoon’s. In fact it has made quite an journey from being an ugly boxy watercraft to an luxurious pleasure boat. With an outboard propulsion engine with 16-30 ft length these boats are fit for day cruising, Water sports and fresh water fishing.
While other boats relies on solid hull structure for buoyancy these use three hollow aluminum tubes with taper ends in front. It is these hollow tubes with which other support structures are welded. A flat deck is then mounted on top of these platforms allowing much larger deck space.
So if you are limited to just rivers and lakes there is no better luxury pleasure boat for the price. The boat is designed to hold 10-15 members, somewhat more than perfect for any family. More than that the 900 horse power engine gives you the much needed speed while the pontoon tube design keeps it stable.
The good thing about pontoon’s is that they don’t demand much maintenance and care as many other boats do. It gives you more space for your kids to play, is idle for fresh water fishing, can be used for skiing, is comfortable. more safe in stable waters, lasts quite long ( 10-15 years ) and provides much bigger storage area.
9 ) A Ferry Boat
Even if you don’t know much about boats or seen any one of them before; i believe you must have heard the term “Ferry” before. Basically its a large enough boat to carry passengers and vehicles on board from one place to another. Generally you will find them as the cross river ferries moving from one shore to another in large rivers.
While most ferries do just what they are intended to do; some offers services like restaurants, entertainment area, a brief tour and even a living space. These boats are generally small in size considering the narrow passages and add up to its maneuverability. A ferry is an integral part of public transport system designed and constructed for short distance transportation.
While many other boat types are distinct to their design a ferry is distinct based on its function or its purpose. A ferry boat can be of four main types namely; catamaran, hydrofoil, cable and Ro-Ro. These particular types are used based on the requirement and operating cost; but of these the most used type is the Ro-Ro vessel.
The biggest difference between a Ro-Ro ship and a Ro-Ro ferry is its construction and use of materials. While ships are made for international trade; and thus follow internationally acceptable design, methods and limits. On another hand Ro-Ro ferry are relatively cheaper, simple in design and follow national limits and construction guidelines.
10 ) Houseboats
Houseboats have really transformed the way boats are been looked after from recreational to having luxurious home to live on in waters. In fact, in many countries its been quite normal to spend significant part of life living on one of these. Even in developing countries like us its gaining quite popularity these days.
These houseboats themselves can be of two types; the less popular static ones and the more known houseboats with propulsion capabilities. While static houseboats is like any other luxurious home in the middle of the water; its this other one which we use for throwing luxury parties, spending vacation, water sports, family time and relaxed sailing.
A house boat can be of different size from one which can accommodate just one or two; to the ones with the capacity of 4 families with separate living space. These boats have their dedicated engine rooms much like a large ship with main engine and generators for power. Similarly it incorporates dedicated fresh water generator for daily necessities.
These boats can range from 30 to 75 feet long with single and multiple deck construction. Because of their large size these boats don’t give you that speed; but still a perfect boat to spend vacations. In fact of all boat types they are the most wished for; thanks for their closeness with nature and ease to do other water sport activity.
11 ) A Yacht
If these is any boat of these different boat types which represents luxury and fun; it is the yacht. Its basically a luxurious motor boat designed for recreational purposes. The term yacht came from a dutch word “jacht” meaning a boat used for cruising. Other than using them for cruising or to sail they are used more for pleasure of throw luxurious parties.
A standard yacht lengths about 20 meters and contains everything in need for relaxation and comfort. But it can be anywhere in between 9 meter to as long as 100 meters. The propulsion motor on these boats are of 105 to 2000 horse power based on their size; and give top speed ranging from 20 – 45 knots.
Based on your need and purpose these yacht are modified to suit certain needs building a sub category within yacht itself. These sub types are cruising yacht, extra luxury yacht or luxury sailing yacht, day sailing yacht and the weekender. Based on their needs these boats are made of mono hull or multi hull construction.
12 ) Center Console Boat
A center console boat is typically a saltwater fishing boat designed for fishing along with other boating adventures. It’s basically for those who love fishing but likes to try a hand on different boating activity. With no cabins and helm station at its center; it offers the large working space idle for both sea and freshwater fishing.
The design of the center console is all about securing more working space, so any floor space either gets into a storage area or working space. Depending on it’s it can have either single or double helm seat with a varying head height from company to company. Although it’s built for fishing; its high speed and rugged construction make it’s idle for racing and other competitive water sports.
Equipped with a high capacity outboard engine it can go as far as 60 knots with ease. These fishing cum day cruising boats are of 18 to 70 ft long in length and can carry up to 7 persons. Even modern console boats are equipped with a stereo system, cup holders, USB ports, coolers, and dedicated swimming platform.
The best part of these boats is that you can easily increase or decrease its speed; simply by adding additional outboard engines in parallel. The second thing that i love about them is that you can toe them easily on any standard trailer; thus saving time and energy finding a suitable trailer for the purpose.
13 ) Bass Boat
Bass boats are a small-sized boat made of aluminum or fiberglass used for recreational fishing in freshwater. One of the key features of a bass boat is its flat deck, aerated live wells, and a powerful outboard motor. Some times they also have a trailing motor for slow-speed maneuvers.
These boats are specially designed for bass fishing. A fishing method that involves fishing with sleek. This usually needs a boat that stays low profile with the least disturbance in the water. Ranging from 14 to 26 feet in length these boats can hold 3 to 4 anglers ( fishers ).
It’s Light, quite efficient, offers great control in calm water, and is great for freshwater fishing. Sometimes also features swivel chairs that allow one to cast all around his or her boat. The aerated live wells have recirculating water flow which allows them to store fish alive.
By design, these are less stable due to lack of freeboard or any raised sides. It almost floats in the water with much of its part kept out. At cruising speed, almost all its part except the stern and the motor is outside water. Although great for river fishing it becomes hard to control in choppy waters.
14 ) Bay Boat
Bay boat is a utility fishing vessel made with advanced technologies to fish in shallow waters. Some of the key features of this boat is its center console, V-shaped stepped hull, folding jump seats at the back, higher freeboard, transom ladder, high power outboard motor, short gunwales, fish storage etc.
Known for its versatility it can be used offshore, rivers and inland lakes. These boats are high in speed, have good performance, and are comfortable for four anglers. Typically made from fiberglass they can range between 18 to 25 feet in length. This allows us to have all fishing amenities without cramming the interior.
It was designed as a performance fishing boat between the flat fishing boats in freshwater and the seagoing center console boat. It is going to boat type for anglers who like to fish both in fresh and seawater. Creating casting decks areas around the center console provides added stability and space for anglers.
15 ) A Bowrider Boat Types
A bowrider is similar to a runabout boat by design and a deck boat by features. It has an open bow area that allows for extra seating space forward to the helm. It is why they are as roomy as a deck boat but with a little larger length. They can be propelled by a sterndrive or have an outboard motor.
Tailored for family use its idle for a family adventure, recreational fishing, day cruising, ski, and other watersports. The bowrider came with a swim platform that came in handy for swimming and putting on wakeboards. Its a nice boat to have if you want to have fun on the boat with your family and friends.
Having a V-hull design it offers great performance, speed, and handling in different water conditions. Since it features comfortable seating in front of the helm; you can have anglers casting ( fishing ) off the bow. A typical bowrider range in between 17 to 35 feet in length.
These types of boats are often used more for traditional watersports then for fishing. Based on manufacturer the boat can have seat belts or a protective rail to prevent falls especially in the bow seats forward to the helm. The best point about this boat is the endless possibilities; water sports, day cruising, family and friends.
16 ) Convertible Fishing Boat
Perfect for pleasure cruising and offshore fishing it suits anglers who want the best of a fishing trawler and luxurious Motoryacht. It features an elevated helm to have better look and an aft fishing deck. While having many motor yacht cues such as dual mezzanine decks, outside galley, lounge seating, and comfortable living space.
Traditionally convertibles are 30-35 feet in length but it is not uncommon to see them as long as 50 feet. Made for serious sportfishing in offshore waters; it is safe, powerful, comfortable, and idle for raising fish. With a cruising speed of 28 knots ( 32 mph ); it can easily go as far as 40 knots under moderate sea conditions.
When it comes to construction this boat maximizes strength while minimizing weight. Built with fiberglass they easily crush waves stabilizing boat in the roughest weather. One of the distinct features of a convertible is its flybridge; which came in helping to keep an eye on an offshore structure like weed lines and rips that attracts fish in the large amount.
17 ) Dual Console Boat
Dual console boats are some of the most popular boats for recreational fishing or day cruising. The name dual-console came from its unique design with two separate console and their windshields. There is an access passage in between to the seating area at the bow. You have the helm at right while the left side has a regular passenger seat.
Known for its versatility it is a preferred boat type for most anglers, skiers, and casual boaters. Being much spacious than the center console boat it offers better mobility, comfort, storage space, and larger seats. For casual sunny days on the water, it offers better relaxation and thrill of day cruising.
Some of the key features of a dual console boat are overall extra space, better weather protection, V-shape hull, forward sitting space, more dry storage space, and fishability ( came with rod holder, fish box, and live wells ). Furthermore, it has a carpet-free fiberglass deck which is easy to clean with an outward drain.
These boats can range between 15 to 30 feet in length and have outboard motor propulsion. Modern designs also have a sperate compartment in the passenger’s side console; which came in handy to relax or change. Since the dual console boat has more seats than other similar boat types; it sacrifices this on having less foot space.
18 ) Catamaran Boat
A catamaran is another type of boat used primarily for sailing. It is a multihull watercraft that features two parallel hull on either side. Because of its large beam, it is naturally balanced on its two hulls. Thanks to its inbuilt higher stability cameraman feature larger living space; do not yaw, can sail in low drafts condition, etc.
Since catamaran is a much broader boat type; it allows agility of movements with real room size cabins with windows. This makes you feel at home and is much more comfortable. These have two sperate engines or propeller, one on each hull. This allows for better control and maneuverability as you can literally turn it 360 degrees in its place.
Some of the key features of this boat are; smaller draft ( 1-1.2 meter in comparison with 2-2.4 meters in the normal boat ), greater speed ( multihull construction and lightweight design allow it to sail faster ), Better stability and movement ( thanks to its large width it do not tilt or move much in water – good for people who suffer from seasickness ).
Having a multihull design with a lower draft it can anchor much close to the shore. You may be surprised to know but pontoon is based on the design concept of caravans. Modern catamarans can be classified into two main types based on their application; sailing cameraman and cruise cameraman.
19 ) Inflatable Boats
OF different boat types this is the one which you can literally store in the trunk of your car. Inflatable boats are light and are constructed of tubes filled with pressurized air. These can be made from one out of three material; PVC, Hypalon, and polyethylene. Usually, 6 to 14 feet in length they may or do not have an aluminum floor bed.
Because of their flexibility and ability to take different shapes, you can find inflatable dingy, inflatable pontoon, inflatable life raft, etc. A soft inflatable boat is one that does not have an aluminum floor bed for added rigidity; while a rigid inflatable boat is one that has an aluminum floor bed.
These boats have an outward motor for propulsion which is installed separately once fully charged with pressurized air. These boats are great for the rescue operation, shallow waters and are easy to deflate and store. I personally find this suitable for new boaters, emergency services, river rafting, and solo fishing.
20 ) Utility Boat
Utility boats are the most basic yet powerful boat idle for freshwater among different boat types. Made to last in the tough condition it is usually made with aluminum. This is used mostly where the water is mostly calm or shallow. This flat bottomed vessel can range between 12-20 feet in length.
It features an open hull construction with 2-3 sitting bench. Such open hull flat bottom construction proved to be idle for fishing. As rather than cutting through the water it rides over the waves. These helps keep the water calm and does not distract fish away. They are simple, inexpensive and is to maintain.
Conclusion – Different Boat Types
There are 20 different types of boats ( boat types ) namely trawler, tug, deck boat, dingy, lifeboat, sailboat, cuddy, pontoon, ferry, houseboat, Center Console Boat, bass boat, bay boat, bowrider, Convertible Fishing Boat, Dual console boat, catamaran, inflatable boats, utility boat & yacht.
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