Types Of Boats

Types Of Boats: Hulls Runabouts Fishing Cabins Cruisers

What Type Of Boat For Me

So you're looking for a boat? You probably have an idea about what type you'd like, or at least know what you'd like to use your boat for. In this article, we go over the types of boats out there, and explain each.

Types Of Boat Hulls

Before going through the types of boats, you first must be familiar with the different types of hulls available. The Hull is the boat itself, the "body" if you will. Displacement hull boats are boats that move through the water, pushing the water out of the wave of the boat - displacing the water. Displacement boats displace an amount of water equal to that of the weight of the boat regardless of the cruising speed. Displacement hull boats boast a smooth ride even in rough water, but due to their design they cannot attain fast speeds. Planning hull boats ride on top of the water, climbing over their own bow wave created by a limited displacement capability.

A planning hull boat is basically a displacement hull boat at slow speeds, but at higher speeds these boats use their power to ride over their own bow waves - and propel forward instead of pushing water out of the way. Planning hull vessels often have "V" or flat hull designs. Finally, "semi-displacement" hull boats do not reach a plane like planning boats, but do transform from a displacement mode to climb their own bow wave. Larger boats, including trawlers or cruising yachts, often have semi-displacement hulls. Now, on to the specific types of boats, and their usual hull shapes.


Runabouts, like the 18' Bayliner, are the most popular boats on the water today. They are compact, sporty, and can be used for anything from fishing to clamming to skiing to pulling up to a deserted island in the bay and having a mid-afternoon picnic. Runabouts have a great look, and you can find them at an equally great price. For example, both Bayliner and Maxum start their runabout model lines at less than $10,000.

These are two of the most respected and best looking brands out there. Many runabouts are considered "Bowriders." A bowrider is a boat that has split windshields as to allow passengers to sit in the comfortable bow area of the boat. Don't confuse bowriders with bowriding - a dangerous activity where passengers ride on the very top of the boat, sometimes with their feet dangling off the side.

Sport Fishing Boats

Sport fishing boats are very attractive boats, but considered a more utilitarian version of a runabout. Pictured to the left is a 24 foot Robalo fishing boat. Boston Whaler, Sea Chaser (By Carolina Skiff), Hydra-Sports, along with such brands as Robalo and Pro-Line make the most attractive sport fishing boats. These boats often are "walkarounds" or "center console" models.

There is a console in the center on the boat where all of the steering, electronics, and sometimes even a portable head are located along with storage. Passengers are free to walk around the console. Sport fishing boats are more expensive than runabouts, but there are serious boats that are very sturdy and reliable.

They range from under 100 horsepower to over 500. Donzi and Baja make astoundingly sporty sport fishing boats than will make any prospective (or current) boater simply say "WOW!"

Cuddy Cabins

Boats with a "cuddy cabin" are runabouts or cruisers with a small cabin for resting or overnight anchoring. Most cuddy cabin owners use their small cabins for storage more than anything else, as the cabin area is usually too small (and there are too many bugs in there) to get a good night's rest.

These boats aren't the best for fishing, as the only way to set anchor or reach the bow area is to climb through a hatch inside the tiny cabin. Most of the time, the "novelty" of having a boat with a cabin wears off mighty quickly - especially for fishermen who need space to manipulate equipment.

Luxury Cruisers

Boats like the Sea Ray 55 footer to the left are expensive, require a lot of maintenance, and have a high operating cost - but they're incredible to own, use, and explore with. These boats can take on the high seas, travel to exotic ports, and feel just like living in a luxury apartment. From prices around $100,000 to well over $1 million, luxury cruisers are the ultimate way to travel. The largest cruisers are powered by inboards, while smaller models can be powered with strong stern drive engines.

Skiffs, Aluminum, and Utilities

The Starcraft 18 footer is a high-quality aluminum boat. Aluminum is a material you may want to consider along with their fiberglass cousins. Aluminum boats are tough and durable, and often include the same features you'd get in a fiberglass boat. They can have a bumpy ride in choppy water, but are great for fishing and clamming as well as water sports.

Fiberglass models resembling these aluminum boats exist too. Boats like the Carolina Skiff 'J' series and the Boston Whaler 12' sport models are good boats that can take the tough use intended.

Utility boats usually do not have consoles, are usually made of aluminum, and are quite small. They are good lake boats.

Inflatable Boats

Inflatable boats are very popular with the Coast Guard and marine police agencies, but they are now becoming mainstream boats for recreational boaters too! Sometimes called "Zodiacs" because of a popular brand (like tissues are sometimes called 'Kleenex'), these boats are made extremely tough.

They are amazingly stable and can carry a large load. Sailors often use inflatable's are dinghies. Some inflatable's even feature fiberglass bottoms; these are called Rigid Hull Inflatable's or "RIBs." Pictured to the left is a 2002 model inflatable from Avon. The most popular brands are Avon, Zodiac, Sea Eagle, Caribe, and Quicksilver.


Houseboats offer home convenience with the option of slow cruising. Some houseboats even have enough power, however, to tow a skier. Houseboats cannot operate in rough waters, and lack general seaworthiness. They do, however, offer a lot of on-board space. No picture here yet, but check out the movie "Sleepless in Seattle."



Narrow Boat    Privacy Policy  Terms Of Use  Earnings Disclaimer  Commission Disclosure  Contact Us  About Us