Types of Boats

5 Basic Boat Types and Their Uses

There are many types of boats, each designed with a specific activity in mind. Boats come in all sizes and types; to know which one best fits your ideal boating scenario or just to learn about boats in general, take a cruise around the links below where you will learn distinguishing characteristics that set different boats apart and which boating activities are recommended for each.

Fishing Boats

Santa Barbara harbor
Mitch Diamond/Photodisc/Getty Images

There are many types of fishing boats for both freshwater and saltwater including bay boats, flats boats, center console and walkaround boats. Fishing boats are designed with a specific marine environment in mind such as offshore, inshore or flats fishing.

Before you buy a fishing boat, it's important to match the boat to your needs. These include the type of fishing you will be doing, the marine environment, fuel capacity, and rod holders. It pays to do your research to find out which boat is best in the area in which you plan to do most of your fishing. If you like different types of fishing and can't afford multiple boats, be sure you get one that can be used in a variety of types of fishing environments.

© Mastercraft

Wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing are some of the most popular watersports. Boat builders are designing boats that are sleek, fast and powerful to accommodate boaters who are passionate about watersports. These boats have to have enough speed and maneuverability for towing.

You should look for an inboard tow boat, which uses what is essentially a car engine made for the water. Those are easier to do maintenance on and repair. More »

Runabouts

Photo Courtesy Cobalt

A broad category of boats, runabouts are the most common small boats and include bowriders, deck boats, and cuddy cabins. These boats are versatile, accommodating large numbers of passengers and can be used for virtually any type of boating activity including day cruising, overnight cruising, fishing, watersports, or entertaining.

Bowriders have an open bow where you can carry more passengers. They are good for day cruising as well as skiing and swimming platforms.

Deck boats can carry a dozen or more passengers, but you do everything on the deck, making them useful mostly for day trips.

A cuddy cabin has an enclosed deck with space for sleeping berths, toilet, and galley. If you plan an overnight cruise, this is a better choice for comfort. They have less space below deck than a cabin cruiser, so comfort becomes an issue if you are going to be out for more than a couple of nights or have more than one or two people.

Pontoon Boats

Manitou Legacy 24
Manitou Legacy 24. Photo courtesy Manitou

Once thought of as just a leisure boat due to its slower speeds and high seating capacity, a new generation of pontoon boats is emerging on the market that ​are ​powerful enough to pull skiers and wakeboarders. Pontoon boats are popular with boaters who enjoy cruising but who may also want to entertain, fish and now even engage in watersports.

Cruisers

Regal Windows Express 2860. Photo Courtesy Regal

Cabin cruisers are another popular and versatile boat. They are larger and more spacious than cuddy cabins. Cruisers accommodate several passengers with amenities such as a galley, head, sleeping quarters, and other comforts that make cruising a pleasure and extended trips possible. If you envision long trips on your boat or living aboard it while it is docked, look into getting a cabin cruiser that will meet all of your needs.