An Easy Overview of Boat Categories and Vessel Types


For anyone looking to indulge in a little boating fun, here’s a good starting point: know your boats. There are dozens upon dozens types of boats, and while you’re not required to know all types to be allowed on deck, it’s a good idea brushing up on these concepts. Read through this article for an overview.

Three main boat categories

There are essentially three categories of recreational boats: cruising boats, fishing boats and boats designed for watersports. Each category comprises a wide range of models and boat types that may sometimes bridge the gap between categories – for example, there are Fish & Ski Boats which can either be useful for watersports or fishing. Likewise, there are bigger vessels such as Walkaround Boats which are great for open sea fishing even though their main focus is usually cruising.

Remember, each boat type may feature dozens of variants as well as build sizes. In any case, you usually “label” a boat by initially considering which category it matches best.

Category 1) Cruising boats

Cruising boats are meant primarily for relaxing out in the sea, so they’re configured to offer plenty of shaded resting areas and even cabins that allow people to enjoy a comfortable experience. These boats can be big enough to allow enjoying several days out (as in a Cabin Cruiser boat), or small enough to only be practical for a single day excursion (as in a Bowrider boat). Other boats in this category, ranging from larger to small: Trawler boats, Sailboats and Pontoon Boats.

Category 2) Fishing boats

In this boat category, the onboard space is configured to maximize fishing opportunities, rather than resting. In smaller models (like Bass Boats) sometimes this is achieved by sacrificing room for sleeping or even just sitting down, and maximizing the availability of open cockpits that lend well to fishing (as in Center Console Boats). Bigger fishing boats (ordered by size) include Sport-fishing boats, Aluminum Fishing boats and Walkaround Boats.

Category 3) Watersports boats

As the name suggests, boats in this category are configured mainly for watersports; they’re usually quite a bit faster and feature more powerful engines (compared to boat size). There’s usually room for storing watersports equipment, as well as towing capabilities. Some of the smaller boats in this category are Ski Boats and Wakeboard Boats, with Jet Boats and Personal Watercrafts (PWCs) on the higher end.

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