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20 Different Types of Boats


An aerial view of a luxury motor boat.

Many don’t know this, but boats and ships refer to completely different vessels. Ships are massive, and can carry everything from large cargo to thousands of passengers. Boats on the other hand are significantly smaller, and can’t carry as much cargo or passengers as a result.

While boats can be described using this general definition, there are many different types of boats available. Some of which can be as long as 1,000 feet.

In this article, we’ll be exploring the most well-known boat types to help you gain a better understanding of these incredible vessels that have been in use since the dawn of mankind.

It is helpful to categorize boats into three main groups.

  • Man powered boats such as canoes and rafts.
  • Sail powered boats such as Hobbie Cats and Sunfishes.
  • Engine-powered boats such as ski boats and yachts.

The following are details about the most common types of boats found around the world. This list is not exhaustive, there are less common boats not included.

1. Bowrider Boats

An aerial view of a bowrider boat by the docks.

With room for more than eight passengers, bowriders are known as the quintessential family boat. The construction of the bow allows for an innovative, comfortable seating arrangement, and the boats even contain a swim platform off of the back.

The swim platform is perfect for storing wakeboards or diving into the water. This runabout-style vessel has a V-shaped bottom that allows it to ride smoothly in different water conditions. Despite the usual rule of using stern drive power, there has been a recent spike in demand for outboard engines.

2. Deck Boats

Deck boats are a popular recreational boat for swimming and water sports with an open deck area offering various seating options.

They typically measure 25-35 ft in length with a stem power drive and have a V-shaped hull with a wide beam. They have a larger passenger capacity than a pontoon boat.

3. Houseboats

A look at a large houseboat on the river.

Sometimes known as Float houses, houseboats come in all different shapes and sizes in order to offer the luxury of living on the water. Most houseboats offer expansive flooring with modern amenities and comfortable sleeping arrangements, making them perfect for recreation and holiday escapes.

The boats are perfect for various activities, from water sports to a leisurely family sail. However, it is important to note that despite being motorized, since most houseboats are typically kept at a stationary location, they are incapable of operating under their own power.

4. Fishing Boats

An aerial view of fishing boat with a fisherman readying the catch.

There is great variance in fishing boats but they all share their purpose of fishing. There are fishing boats specifically used for freshwater fishing versus ocean fishing.

The most important features of fishing boats are stability and durability. The fisherman needs to be able to jump up and reel a fish in without falling and he also needs to be able to navigate with ease to the best fishing spots.

Most fishing boats include a front box, a trolling motor system, rod lockers, live wells, and an outboard engine. Their all man-powered fishing boats but most have some type of electric or power engines.

Ocean fishing boats are typically taller and built to handle the harsher conditions of the ocean and salt water. Whereas the freshwater boats are typically made with aluminum making them more durable and weighing less.

Another type of fishing boat worth noting is the bass boat. It is designed with a slim profile and space for 2-3 anglers.

5. Dinghy Boats

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Inflatables, rowboats, and sailboats are often commonly called dinghy boats. They can be man-powered by oars, sail-powered and or engine powered by compact outboard engines.

The dinghy is often used to access larger boats anchored. They are useful for navigating shallow and narrow waterways. They are a popular boat for camping expeditions.

6. Center Console Boats

A look at a center console boat.

If you love to fish, Center Console boats are the choice for you. They perform well in rough, offshore waterways while boasting essential equipment such as fish lockers, outriggers, bait wells, and gunwale rod holders. Additionally, Center Console boats do not have a cabin or foredeck, with the helm station located right in the center of the boat, which makes it ideal for fishing. The deck also offers a powerful insulation system that is well-suited for fish storage.

7. Sedan Bridge Boat

A luxurious black and white sedan bridge boat.

Sea Ray Company offers a Sedan Bridge Boat, which ranges from 35 to 65 feet in length and boats excellent visibility. The bridge area is extended to make the passengers feel like they are on the bridge of a large ship, and down below there are many accommodations to help make extended stays on the water more comfortable.

8. Catamaran Boats

An aerial view of a catamaran boat navigating the ocean.

As opposed to other single-hull vessels, Catamarans are made with two hulls of equal size. Their construction allows for higher displacement, shallower draft, and less hull volume, which makes them perfect for any activity from fishing to leisurely cruising.

9. Cuddy Cabins Boats

If you’re looking for a family-friendly boat, the Cuddy Cabin model is the one for you. With a minimum length of 4.75 meters and a composition of fiberglass and aluminum, Cuddy Cabin boats also offer a closed deck over the bow, access to convenient storage space, and a user-friendly navigation system. This vessel is perfect for any activity, whether it be yachting, fishing, or water sports.

10. Trawler Boats

Trawlers are perfect for long-range cruising activities. They have a displacement hull and fuel-efficient engines, which gives them the ability to move through the water without burning too much fuel or using excessive horsepower. They are also equipped with modern facilities for your convenience.

11. Runabout Boats

A runabout boat docked by the river banks.

If you enjoy racing, fishing, or water skiing, runabout boats should catch your attention. Usually able to accommodate between four and eight people, these are often the entry-level vessels for casual boating activities. You can control these boats from behind the windscreen, where a steering wheel and forward controls are located.

12. Game boats

If you’re looking to spend a few days at sea in pursuit of game fish, game boats are the best fit for you. These large vessels are made of fiberglass and powered by either diesel or petrol. Game boats also offer sleeping berths, a plumbing system, and cooking galleys in order to help you feel at home at sea.

13. Cabin Cruiser Boats

Cabin Cruisers are perfect for comfort and relaxation. They offer A/C, power generators, and heaters along with a deep-V bottom, a berth, and a galley. Due to their rudder steering and secure shaft drive mechanism, Cabin Cruisers are best suited for salty water.

14. Motor Yacht Boats

A motor yacht boat speeding on the water.

With a standard length of 12 meters and above, the motor yacht is the most recent iteration of boat evolution. This vessel is perfect for a family trip, leisure activities, and long sails out on the water.

In accordance with the navigation requirement in the ocean or inland waters, the motor yacht has either one or two diesel engines. There are multiple yachts currently on the market: day sailing yachts, weekenders, cruising yachts, and luxury sailing yachts. There is a yacht out there for everyone.

15. Lifeboats

A bright orange lifeboat in action.Lifeboats are the boats you want to see in an emergency! These are small watercraft that are usually attached to larger vessels and are usually equipped with necessities like food, water, and medical supplies. Their job is to help carry the passengers of the vessel to safety in case of an accident.

16. Jet Boats

A jet boat carrying multiple rows of people.

Similar to bow-riders, jet boats offer spacious seating and a swim platform. They are known for their high maneuverability and are powered by ejected water from behind the vessel. In order to protect it from external damage, this type of advanced propulsion system is secured inside the hull.

17. PWC Boats

A couple having a good time on a jet ski.PWC boats are more frequently recognized as water scooters or jet skis. These watercraft are crafted for recreation and adventure, allowing the rider to participate in water activities at their own pace.

There are two models of Personal Watercrafts: “stand up†and “sit downâ€. Stand up models can only be used by one rider, but sit down models can accommodate two or more.

18. Pontoon Boat

A pontoon boat at the canal with a fisherman.Pontoon boats are popular in inland waters or small bodies of water, usually used for recreational activities. They are a flattish shape and rely on multiple aluminum tubes called pontoons in order to float.

They usually range in size from 15 to 30 feet, with a shallow draft, and boats excellent stability. The shape of Pontoon boats also allows for comfortable seating arrangements and other facilities.

19. Ski/Wakeboard Boats

An aerial view of a wakeboard boat.

Despite looking similar, wakeboard boats and ski boats have different capabilities. Accentuated by the shape of the engine and propellor, inboard skis demand a powerful range of acceleration to set it in motion. Inboard wakeboards, however, are set in motion by their deep hulls, V-drive engine system, and large wake.

20. Banana Boats

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With the capacity to sit three to ten people, banana boats are often used for family and recreational activities.

Shaped like a banana, this inflatable boat doesn’t include an inbuilt motor system and floats on water with ease. Fun fact: the vessels that primarily transport bananas as cargo are also called Banana boats!

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