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Types of Boats: 15 Common Watercraft (with Boat Pictures)

Whether you’re thinking about buying a boat or just have a fascination naval architecture, it’s always good to know your tugboats from your trawlers. Today, we will discuss 15 most popular types of boats and analyze their purposes, benefits, and unique features.

Types of Boats

If small-time land-based adventures no longer give you the chills, riding the glowing waters may just give you the much-needed adrenaline rush. But if you can’t swim like a dolphin, you better get a boat.

So, what type of boat is ideal for you?

Maybe a small boat, a big boat, pontoon, Kayak, or a lake boat? Let’s discuss the 15 most popular types of boats and hopefully help you find the perfect vessel.

We will also talk about their exceptional features, purposes, and unique advantages.

15 Most Popular Types of Boats

Let’s get one thing clear— a boat is not a ship. The two differ in size and carrying capacity, among other aspects. While ships can cover long distances on rough waters or seas, boats are ideal for navigating inland waterways and coastal locations.

Here are 15 trendy types of boats for adventure seekers:

1. Trawler (Fishing Boat)

Used Fishing Boats

Traditional fishing boats are simple wooden structures used to catch fish using simple tools such as nets and hooks.

Trawlers have more advanced designs and feature trawling motors, a metal body, and a power source. Essentially, they are small fishing boats equipped with modern navigating systems such as GPS, AIS, and sonars.

Because trawlers have advanced navigating instruments, you can safely cruise across longer distances.

You don’t have to stick to river waters, and you can even move across seas with large fishing nets to catch more fish varieties. Better still, sailors can use their AIS equipment to sail to locations rich in specific fish types.

Apart from small fishing boats, you can find bigger ones that measure up to 25 meters and have a weight capacity of roughly 40 tons.

These vessels feature marine engines, sturdy structures, and a propulsion system that make them just as good as mini ships. Even though they are built for easy maneuvering and comfort, they have enough cargo space, allowing you to catch lots of fish.

2. Deck Boats

Small Speed Boat - Deck Boat
via hurricaneboats.com

If you are looking for a small boat designed for speed, you may want to consider a deck boat. As the name suggests, it features a large deck design that throws you directly into the wild when navigating water bodies.

The V-shaped hull structure offers you plenty of seating space where you can host small parties as you ride the rough waters.

Deck boats are recreational boats with robust propulsion systems. Their engines make them excellent for water sports, fishing, and long-distance cruising, among other fun activities. Such vessels are generally the best boats for families looking for water adventures. 

One of the unique perks of deck boats is that you can tow them to your home. It’s no wonder that they are pretty popular along freshwater lakes, rivers, and coastlines. Their design gives them the stability required for safe towing.

Furthermore, deck boats are low maintenance. You can choose from a range of models, some of which are pretty easy to operate.

Irrespective of the variant you choose, it will come with all the bells and whistles of a luxury boat, including expanded swimming platforms, life jackets, fishing accessories, storage areas, and of course, a powerful engine.

3. Yachts

Small Yacht

If you are looking for boats that offer fun and luxury at their best, you may want to consider investing in a yacht.

Even a small yacht can serve the purpose of a luxurious motor boat perfect for recreational adventures. You can throw extravagant parties at sea or just cruise or sail with your loved ones to explore water bodies.

Yacht boats come installed with accessories that enhance comfort and relaxation. While a mini yacht measures roughly 20 meters, some vessels are as long as 100 meters.

Generally, such boats feature a powerful propulsion motor that boasts 105—2000 horsepower. This allows cruising at a speed of 20—45 knots.

One of the most awesome perks of owning a yacht is that it can be easily modified it to your taste. You can spruce it up to make it ideal for cruising, luxury tours, sails, or just relaxed adventures during the weekends.

Better still, you can choose between vessels with a multi or mono-hull construction, depending on your needs and preferences.

4. Dinghies

What Is a Dinghy

A dingy is a small boat designed for various purposes, including water sports, fishing, sailing, or rescue. The vessel can measure anywhere between 12 and 15 feet, and its construction features inflatable rubber or hardwood.

Dinghies come in different shapes and modes of propulsion. Some of the main categories of these types of boats include The Dory, The Whitehall, The Inflatable rubber boats, and The Pram.

All Dingy types can easily maneuver on shallow waters, making them perfect for exploring near shores and lakes

The best thing about dinghies is that they often feature rigid bottom inflatables. You can inflate the boat for use or deflate it for easy storage in your garage. This feature also plays a significant role in lowering the overall maintenance costs.

5. Houseboats

Houseboat - Best Boats for Families

A cruise on a sea or any other water body such as a lake gives you a liberating experience. Some people even choose to spend a significant amount of time floating.

If you would also not mind living on the water for days or weeks, investing in a houseboat may make sense.

There are two types of houseboats—static houseboats and engine propelled houseboats. If you want more than just a luxury home in the middle of the water, the latter option is ideal for you.

Engine propelled houseboats are recreational boats ideal for spending vacations on seas, throwing luxury parties, or just chilling with your family for days on end without returning to land.

Houseboats have just about everything you need to survive on water for days without compromising your comfort. They have a dedicated engine room, just like most types of ships.

They also have a freshwater generator and dedicated generators and engines for power. Some houseboats are small and can accommodate only one or two people, while others are large enough to house entire families.

6. Pontoon Boats

Luxury Pontoon Boats with Cabin

While the first pontoon’s aesthetics were nothing to write home about, modern varieties are more visually appealing. They are built with luxury cruising in mind and are also ideal for fishing and water sports.

Pontoons have three hollow aluminum tubes at the front for impact resilience. These tubes also provide a base for attaching other support structures that enhance stability.

The watercraft also features a flat deck for added convenience. Depending on the size of the vessel, it can hold 10—15 people.

Luxury pontoon boats with a cabin offer significantly more comfort and cover from the elements, making for nicer extended stays on the water.

Note that this may not be the small boat for you if you mainly cruise on the sea. Instead, it is perfect for smaller water bodies such as rivers and lakes.

The vessel has an engine that produces roughly 900 horsepower which is enough to attain a good cruising speed. We must also mention that, unlike most cabin cruiser boats, pontoons are cheaper and require lower maintenance levels.

7. Sailboats

Small Sailboat with Cabin

Sailboats are among the oldest types of boats in today’s market. They are wind-powered, although modern varieties also feature engines or motors for easier and safer sails.

It is also worth mentioning that while traditional sailboats featured a mono-hull construction, current variants have a multi-hull design. Sailboats with a cabin are also quite livable as a home away from home, or even full-time marina life.

Sailboats are the most pocket-friendly to own, operate and maintain. This is more so when you depend entirely on wind power to generate a positive pressure difference and sail the boat.

Typically, this positive pressure difference coupled with the water drag allows you to move the boat forward in any direction. The engine only comes in handy when it’s not windy.

8. Ferry Boats

Different Types of Boats - Hydrofoil

Are you thinking about setting up an entertaining area or a restaurant on water? If you do, ferry boats may just turn your dreams into a reality.

While they are designed to carry passengers, cargo, and even vehicles across large water bodies, they also make excellent recreational boats.

Unlike commercial ferries, ferry boats are smaller in size for effortless maneuvers. They are ideal for short-distance transportation, although you could also convert them into touring watercraft or even a floating living space.

The main ferry boat varieties include Ro-Ro, hydrofoil, catamaran, and cable. These differ in their purpose and operating cost.

9. Dual Console Boat

Family Boats - Dual Console Boat
via sailfishboats.com

As the name suggests, dual console boats have two consoles. They are a top choice for people who love day cruising or recreational fishing.

Compared to the center console boat, the dual console boat offers more space for increased comfort when relaxing or basking on sunny days. Better still, it can accommodate larger seats and more storage space.

The versatility of this vessel makes it an ideal choice for casual boaters, skiers, and anglers.  Other great features you may appreciate are the V-shaped hull and dry storage space, thanks to the better weather protection offered by the boat’s design.

Also, keeping the vessel clean is easy-peasy because it doesn’t have carpet on the fiberglass deck.

10. Cuddy Cabin Boats

Cuddy Cabin Cruiser Boats
via intrepidpowerboats.com

Cabin cruiser boats hold real appeal for casual boaters because of their family-friendly features. The cuddy cabin boat is more of a hybrid that blends the best elements of the deck boat and cabin cruiser.

It has a small secret cabin within the closed deck space that offers plenty of storage space and even a place to overnight.

Moreover, the vessel offers enhanced cruising control, making it ideal for a range of activities including yachting, fishing, swimming, water sports, and sailing.

The cuddy cabin is built with recreational boating in mind. It comes equipped with sinks, taps, a freshwater generator, and even a swimming platform.

Thanks to the 500-1000 horsepower engine, you have plenty of juice to go for day-long adventures and enjoy memorable moments with your loved ones.

11. Center Console Boat

Types of Small Boats - Center Console Boat
via boats.com

A center console boat is a fishing boat uniquely designed for cruises and boating adventures on saltwater bodies.

Because this boat doesn’t feature a helm station or cabin, it offers more space at the center for enhanced versatility. You could use the extra space for just about anything, including storage, workspace, or party floor.

The majority of center console boats have a single helm seat. However, some varieties feature double helm seats, so you must choose the option that matches your needs.

One of the top perks of owning this type of boat is its rugged construction. Compared to a regular fishing boat, the center console boat also offers higher cruising speeds. 

Moreover, it has a powerful engine and the capacity to accommodate up to 7 people. Most models come with techy additions such as USB ports, coolers, and even stereo systems, just to mention a few.

Generally, center console boats are perfect for quiet cruises, fishing, swimming, and competitive water sports, among other activities.

12. Convertible Fishing Boat

Fishing Yachts - Convertible Fishing Boat

The convertible fishing boat boasts the best features of a yacht and fishing trawler. It’s an excellent option for offshore fishing or just chilled-out cruises with friends or loved ones.

Some of the features that may make your fishing voyages more luxurious include the lounge seating, outside galley, mezzanine deck, and cozy living space.

Convertibles often range from 30 to 35 feet in length, although some are about 50 feet long. Such boats are built for comfort, power, and riding safety, especially during rough water sports or fishing adventures.

They are lightweight for enhanced speed but strong enough to remain stable during inclement weather.

13. Bowrider Boat

Deck Boat vs Bowrider

It’s safe to say that the bowrider boat is a hybrid made from a solid blend of the best sides of a runabout and deck boat.

Essentially, this vessel’s design resembles a runabout boat, but its features are not so different from those of a deck boat. Bowrider boats offer spacious seating rooms on the open bow area and are highly popular for being roomy.

The bowrider is one of the best boats for families, watersports, day cruising, ski or recreational fishing adventures. It has a swim platform and a V-hull design that ensures speed, performance, and better handling during watersports.

Generally, this is a fun kind of water vessel whose versatility allows endless possibilities.

14. Bass Boat

Small Fishing Boats - Bass Boat

Among the most prominent features of the bass boat are its powerful engine and flat deck.

Bass boats also fall under roundabout boats because they are designed for all-around use instead of a specific purpose. The vessels are lightweight with a fiberglass or aluminum construction that ensures enhanced control during recreational fishing. 

Bass boats are mainly used for freshwater fishing on calm waters. Typically, riding them on choppy waters is somewhat challenging.

They are uniquely designed with bass fishing in mind and even have aerated live wells that allow you to store your fish alive. This can be pretty convenient, depending on the goals of your fishing adventures.

Moreover, a decent number of bass boats feature high horsepower trailing motors for super-fast or slow but low-profile maneuvers.

Their construction and style of operation allow movements that cause the least disturbance to the water to ensure more productive bass fishing.

15. Bay Boat

Runabout Boat - Bay Boats
via sportsmanboatsmfg.com

Different types of boats are ideal for activities on particular kinds of waters. For instance, the center console boat is perfect for saltwater activities, while the bass boat provides excellent service on calm waters.

If you desire lake boats for activities on shallow waters, inland lakes, or rivers, the bay boat is undoubtedly your best bet.

Bay boats are a type of roundabout boat that comes equipped with techy additions for enhanced convenience. They also have plenty of enticing features, including a center console, high freeboard, fish storage, folding jump seats, and transom ladder, just to mention a few.

Most importantly, the vessel comes with a reliable outboard engine that allows high-speed cruises and outstanding performance.

Why Get a Boat?

Boats make great investments. While they may not provide material returns like a mutual fund or real estate, they hold the key to invaluable adventures and pursuits of pleasure. Arguably, time spent on the water offers the most freedom and a priceless liberating experience.

If you are looking for a boat that delivers the best bang for your bucks, the first step is to know about the different types of boats in the market.

There is a whole array of recreational activities you can enjoy with your friends and loved ones when cruising on a boat. And they are not limited to fishing, or snorkeling, or deep-sea diving.

Types of Boats: Final Words

The markets have different types of boats at various price points. Irrespective of the option you choose, you are bound to make a significant investment. This makes it imperative to hit the markets as an informed consumer and make the right choice the first time.

So, do you plan to go on fishing adventures, or do you want a boat for luxury cruises? Will you be riding on a river, lake, or sea? We would love to hear about it in the comments section.

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