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Marine Guide

Types Of Boats



Types Of Boats

Boats are used every day for various things, be it catching fish in personal or commercial fishing boats, enjoying recreational activities in rented ones or merely spending a holiday on a luxury boat. You must be well aware that there are different types of boats.

Most people are familiar with simple fishing boats which they might have used in lakes and the lifeboats which of course, as the name suggests, are deployed for saving lives. These are generally kept in larger vessels and called for action when this vessel fails, and the passengers have to be transported to a secure location. They have food and water supply that can come handy in case of a shipwreck or a similar situation.

As mentioned earlier, there are different types of boats. The differences lie in the construction material, the mode of propulsion and on use cases. The most widely used materials for construction are fiberglass and aluminum. Pressed aluminum is common in entry-level trailer boats.

Commercial fishing boats and ferries also use aluminum as their building material. Most cruisers and yachts are manufactured from fiberglass. Fiberglass boats are heavier than aluminum boats and are comparatively less durable too. The construction of a vessel relies solely on what a person intends to do with it.

Boats also differ in how they are powered. Motorboats are engine-powered while sailboats are propelled partly or entirely by sails. Rowing boats require skillful handling of oars and one or more pair of strong hands.

The following list of boats has been grouped into 3 main categories: (i) boats for commercial fishing, (ii) boats for sports and recreation and (iii) luxury boats. They come in different sizes and construction.

Boats for fishing

1. Fishing Boats

Fishing Boats

Photo © Joseph Mischyshyn (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The name is pretty self-explanatory. They are robust, stable and durable. Fishermen use these boats for fishing on both saltwater and freshwater. Being constructed of aluminum, they are quite light-weight too. They have their sub-categories. Some of the higher-end models are feature packed having front bows, trolling motors and outboard power.

2. Catamaran Boats

Catamaran Boats

Catamaran Boats

These are an excellent choice for fishing but are not limited to that only. They can also be taken for a cruise because of the way they are made and the features they provide. Unlike the more common single-hull boats, these are multi-hulled boats. The ones having three hulls are called trimaran. Both power and sail versions are available in the market.

3. Center Console Boats

Console Boats

Console Boats:

These are specially built to withstand offshore waters. It is necessary when fishing in the oceans. Even the boat cover is constructed in such a way that it does not interfere with the fisherman’s casting. It is spacious and has the provision for storing fish in iced condition. It also has ample space for keeping gunwale rod holders, outriggers and bait wells.

4. Dinghy Boats

Dinghy Boats

Dinghy Boats

Dhingies are small boats made of rubber and are inflatable. Inflatable dinghies come in three categories: With rigid bottoms, With air floors, and a hybrid between the two – ­ dinghy with jointed or slatted bottoms. These are carried in bigger vessels and are used in shallow places which the bigger vessel cannot access.

They are often called inflatables or rowboats and come with a pair of oars and a small outboard engine. Dinghies are capable of maneuvering in shallow waters and are thereby used for fishing in such places. They are frequently taken on camping expeditions.

5. Game Boats

Game Boats

Game Boats: Courtesy

This boat is typically used for catching fish in the open sea like the tuna and marlin. They are designed with two hulls make it easy for the fishermen to catch large fish. They use diesel and petrol engines to run and can remain in the water for quite some time and when it needs to do so the sleeping berths, and cooking galleys come handy. Catamaran cruises are also quite popular.

6. Bass Boats

Bass Boats

Bass Boats

These are specially made for catching a North American gamefish that is colloquially known as black bass. The outboard motor enables them to move quickly from one place to another whereas the trolling motor allows them to move slowly where the fisherman is fishing. In case of the failure of these motors these boats are so small that they can be propelled by oars if necessary. Either aluminum or fiberglass is used as the construction materials. The aluminum ones are lighter, smaller and less expensive than their fiberglass counterparts. On the other hand, the ones constructed out of fiberglass have more space and better handling.

7. Well boats

These are a special kind of boat focussed on fishing. All the boats mentioned in this list that are used for fishing preserve the fish after catching to be used later. However, these are different. They can breed the fishes until they can be shipped to their respective centers for processing. Thus the fishes remain alive till their ultimate stage of processing. This type of methodology and consequently these types of boats are gaining much popularity today.

Boats for Sports and Recreation

1. Bowrider Boats

Bowrider Boats

Bowrider Boats

This type of boat has an open bow area with spacious seating.  Though more and more people are shifting towards outboard engines, the majority of the existing bowriders are still using the stern drive power. They are used mainly for water sports. They have a swim platform at the stern. Here people can put on their skis or keep their wakeboarding equipment. Wakeboarding is a kind of water sport where the person riding on short wide board similar to a surfboard is towed by the motor powered boat.

2. Cuddy Cabin Boats

Cuddy Cabin Boats

Cuddy Cabin Boats:

These are perfect for fishing and cruising activities with one’s family. These are nimble, giving sufficient control to the person maneuvering the boat. Apart from its ease of use these boats also feature a closed deck with sufficient storage area or a nice place to rest. They also come with a toilet and a sink and sometimes even a cooking area. However, their plumbing capabilities are quite limited. These usually have aluminum or a fiberglass build, and the smallest ones are approximately 4.75m.

3. Trawler Boats

Trawler Boats

Trawler Boats Courtesy:

These boats feature a displacement hull making it an efficient vessel that is easily maneuverable through the waters. It’s easy to sail, and their low fuel consumption makes them an excellent option for long-range cruising activities. They have all kinds of essential amenities necessary for a weekend trip complete with a cooking area, a place to sleep and good plumbing.

4. Jetboat

Jet boats

Jet boats

Unlike most of the boats in this list, these boats don’t use motors and propellers to move them forward. Instead, they come equipped with pump-jets that draw water from underneath before pumping it out through a nozzle at the stern. They are highly maneuverable and can stop very quickly. This is called a ‘crash stop’. These solved the problem where propellers would strike the rocks in shallow waters and thus damage the boats’ components. These are becoming increasingly popular in all places where a boat is required, be it rescue operations, ferrying, sports or fishing.

5. PWC (Personal Water Craft) Boats

PWC (Personal Water Craft) Boats

PWC (Personal Water Craft) Boats

These are one of the most common boats when it comes to water sports.  They are safe and comfortable and are packed with top-notch features. Their small form factor makes them ultra-portable storable and maintaining them isn’t much of a hassle either. They can accommodate 2 or more people at a time and are a solid choice for adventures and trips. Most popularly used for waterskiing, they are also used for a variety of activities. They have two categories depending on whether the rider sits down or stands. The ‘stand-up’ styles are used for racing and doing tricks in competitions.

6. Runabout Boats

Runabout Boats

Runabout Boats:

The difference between a cuddy cabin and a runabout is that the latter doesn’t have a cabin space. They are open boats and equipped with forward controls operated with a steering wheel. A cuddy cabin just has enough space to store life jackets and other gear. They are categorized under entry-level boats for fishing and boating.

7. Banana Boats

Banana Boats

Banana Boats:

These are not to be confused with the banana boats which were actual ships used for transporting bananas. These are simply banana-shaped inflatable boats that lack any kind of inbuilt motor and is used solely for recreational activities. Up to 10 people can fit in this boat.

8. Pontoon Boats

Pontoon Boats

Pontoon Boats

They are among the top 10 most famous boats in the world. These types of boats are popularly used as ferries to cross rivers or lakes. They have a flat structure and are kept buoyant with the help of aluminum tubes. This enables them to carry huge weights which comes in handy while transferring goods within short distances. Their shallow drafts (8 inches) prevent underwater damage. They have wide and spacious decks and can be used for leisure trips as well.

9. Kayaks



Kayaks are narrow and small in size. They are propelled with the help of a double-bladed paddle. Kayaks are used for various purposes like fishing, photography, surfing, and other recreational activities. Kayaks are available in different types and use various kinds of material like wood, canvas, carbon fiber, fiberglass, polyethylene, polyester, neoprene, and the list goes on.

Luxury Boats

1. Houseboats



These boats cater towards the needs of people who want to live on the waters as opposed to navigating them. They are extremely popular in Kashmir and Kerala in India. In the western countries, these boats are either owned privately or are rented out to people who want to spend their holiday in some canal or lake.

Just like hotels, houseboats too vary regarding luxury. While the cheap ones are not well furnished, the expensive ones offer some of the best facilities that are available including fine dining and comfortable sleeping arrangements.

2. Cabin Cruiser Boats

Cabin Cruiser Boats

Cabin Cruiser Boats

These are cheaper than the yachts. The owner can operate the cabin cruiser, whereas the yachts need a dedicated crew. They are less expensive than yachts while providing almost similar facilities. Cabin cruisers have a spacious cockpit they come with a toilet, a galley and at least one berth. They also have a dining area. Some of the expensive models come with pre-installed air-conditioning and power generators. Due to their size, they can handle water well and provide a stable ride.

3. Motor Yacht Boats

Motor Yacht Boats

Motor Yacht Boats

These are popular among people who want to enjoy a longer trip with their family. They come equipped with one or two diesel engines and are capable of sailing on big rivers and oceans for prolonged periods. There are several different types of motor yachts like- The daily sailing yachts, also known as sailing dinghies, are meant for a few hours of daily usage. The weekender yachts are a little better equipped and come with a single cabin, kitchen and even a double bed. The sedan yachts have a separate area on the top in addition to a control panel and lounging and sitting area. The rooftop of the yacht greets the passengers with a 360-degree open view. The other yachts include cruising yachts, luxury sailing yachts, and racing yachts.

Other types of boats

In the boating world, deck boats are almost synonymous with versatility. They in a way that they can maximize the open space. They have necessary safety equipment and have a V-shaped hull. Though they have easy controls they are catered more towards the seasoned boaters.

If you are a novice or just getting into boating, you might be interested in Skiff and Jon boats. They are entry level boats coming with steering consoles that and are perfect if you want to get a feel of it. These can be navigated through shallow waters.

Some other boats that don’t belong to any of the above categories include pilot boat, fire boat, patrol boat, etc. Each of them is used for unique situations.

The pilot boats are used to ferry pilots and helmsmen to their respective vessels from the harbors and back.

The fireboats are used to combat fire on the docks or to assist the firefighters on the shore. They have the advantage of the unlimited supply of water as they pump it directly from below the hull. For coastal defense duties, coast guards use patrol boats.


Though I have categorized the boats based on their usage, it is safe to say that most of these boats serve multiple purposes and thus a small fishing boat might very well serve the purpose of a leisure boat and vice-versa.

It all depends on what kind of water you wish to take it on or for how long you need it on the waters and whether you need a lot of storage or not. A little bit of research would tell you what kind of boat would be perfect for you.

Several other kinds of boats are employed in different parts of the world to carry out different tasks. Many of them are very similar to one another and do more or less related tasks with little variations here and there – sometimes the size might be a bit different, sometimes the shape and sometimes they just belong to different brands.

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