Boating Life

Full Guide to Recreational Boats

February 24, 2022
Ingman Marine
Boat Categories
Helpful Tips
February 24, 2022
Ingman Marine
Boat Categories
Helpful Tips

You’ll quickly realize when doing your research on which boat to purchase, that many boats have emerged over time as hybrids between two existing boats. This can make it very difficult for prospective boat owners to make a decision on which boat is right for them and their family. Choosing the right one will depend on your needs and interests, as well as the area you live in and other technical aspects.

For these reasons, we have put together a guide that will give you some insight into the most popular and broadly used recreational boats. The information includes everything from boat specifications to pros and cons to help you get this fishing season right!

Questions to Ask Before Selecting Your Boat

It will help to start by asking yourself a few questions before narrowing down your choices:

  • What do I plan on using the boat for?
  • What’s the most suitable boat type for me?
  • What’s the passenger limit on the boat?
  • Is the boat suitable for the area I live in?
  • What is the price range for the boat that I want?
  • How much does the maintenance cost?
  • If there is a worst-case scenario involved, can I cover the costs?
  • What warranties does the boat have?
  • Is it possible for me to go on a test drive?

There might be even more questions that need to be asked, but for now, these can set the tone for your boat purchasing experience. The answers to these questions will help you get a better picture of what your needs are. Based on those, you can discover the boat that matches your requirements.

Recreational Boat Types

Center Console Boats

By definition, a center console boat is simply a boat with a helm that is part of a console located in the center of the boat, allowing for 360-degrees of walk-around space. So technically, there are several types of center consoles; flats boats, bay boats, walkarounds – can all be considered center consoles if the console is indeed in the center. The boat that typically comes to mind for most boaters though is the offshore center console which, for all intents and purposes, will be the boat we are referring to here. These boats have distinct differences from any other type of boat that may have a steering station located mid-ship.

Center console boats have come a long way since their inception in the 1960s. Over the years, they have gotten larger and more cross-functional. Originally designed for offshore saltwater fishing, these boats have become one of the most versatile vessels out there. The spacious layouts allow plenty of space for fishing, relaxing, or playing out on the ocean with your friends and family.

Quick Specs

Recreational boating takes a twist with center consoles, as they can accommodate more people than your usual fishing boat. These boats usually range from 18 to 65 feet in length and can comfortably seat anywhere from 5 to 8 people. Offshore center consoles have deep, V-shaped hulls, making them perfect for cutting through the waves for a smooth ride. There are center consoles with different hull designs and lower deadrise, such as semi-V hulls and catamarans, for slower and shallower activities. These are definitely worth looking into if you have your heart set on a center console but like to spend more time closer to shore.

As with most boats, the larger your center console, the more features you will likely have. Most come with a head compartment (bathroom) inside the console, coolers, lockable storage and fish boxes. You will probably also find them now with cupholders, a freshwater shower and swim platforms. If you opt for a larger boat, the inside of your console may hold a full cabin in place of the head compartment.

Popular Uses

These recreational boats are perfect for day cruising and offshore saltwater fishing. They are designed to handle less than ideal weather and sea conditions. These recreational boats can be used in lakes or rivers for freshwater fishing or entertaining your favorite people, but are most often used to get out to sea. Their size and power make them perfect for offshore runs and larger models can even make it out to the Middle Grounds.

A CC is perfect for snagging yourself some Tuna, Snook, Jack, Sheepshead, Wahoo, Snapper, Mahi, Grouper, Tripletail, Triggerfish, Cobia, Mackerel and Trout.

Pros & Cons

Center consoles offer many benefits to families and deep-sea anglers. There is 360° of entertainment and/or fishing space on a vessel fully equipped with all the storage you could need. If the chosen model has a covered console, it offers protection from the elements, making it a much more comfortable ride. These boats are also able to easily cut through the water and handle some intense sea conditions.

Because center consoles are designed to accommodate activities all around the boat, they don’t usually come equipped with a ton of amenities. Of course, boat owners can add-on, but stock options may be limited. Given their popularity and versatility, these boats are often more expensive than other types of fishing boats. Smaller models can get the job done though and won’t set you back too much. Depending upon the materials used in production, center consoles are also not known for being the most fuel efficient. Lastly, center consoles are not ideal for shoreline fishing and recreation because of their draft height; they are meant for the open waters.

Walkaround Boats

Another type of boat meant for intense, offshore angling, with 360° of deck space, is known as a walkaround. Similar to the center console, “walkaround” is a term often used loosely to reference a particular style of boat. With a walkaround, the helm sits atop a cabin and, depending on the model, could be situated almost anywhere – towards the stern, the bow or in the center of the boat. The main difference here being that the passway on either side of the helm is narrower on a walkaround and there will likely be a rail that borders the bow for added safety. The ability to walk around the entire boat is beneficial for moving about when fighting a fish, docking the boat, and entertaining.

Quick Specs

Averaging 18-30 feet in length with a potential maximum length of 50 feet, walkarounds are built for speed and overnight recreational endeavors, with some models favoring one purpose slightly more than the other. The deep v-hull will smooth out the ride on your extended journey and the wide, flat cockpit with windshield will protect you from ocean spray, making it that much more comfortable.

Depending upon size and design, a walkaround will have 1 or 2 (potentially more) outboard motors, a small- or medium-sized cabin with a sleeping area and head compartment, and seating enough for 6-12 passengers. Many walkarounds now also come standard with livewells and bait wells, fishing and navigation electronics and storage for rods and tackle. If you’re ready to splurge, the larger models may even come with a galley and air conditioning in the cabin.

Popular Uses

As with center consoles, manufacturers have veteran anglers in mind when designing their walkarounds. The exciting performance combined with the comfortable cabin produces an idyllic recreational vessel that will level up your fishing game. Take it offshore or use it in your local lake to hunt for Catfish, Bass, Cobia, Mahi, Jacks, Hogfish, Tarpon, Tripletail, Snapper, Mackerel, Crappie and Grouper. With all the deck and seating space, your friends and family could join you for a comfy, all-day fishing and/or cruising excursion.

Pros & Cons

Because they are truly designed with anglers in mind, you will often find that walkarounds come stock with many fishing amenities. The cabin is also an added benefit for anglers that like to stay out on the water overnight. This is truly something that sets this boat apart.

Although there is plenty of seating and a sleeping area, bringing the whole family along for an overnight trip may not be the most comfortable, as the cabin can get tight, but it does make a long day on the water more relaxing and less stressful. You can of course opt for a model that has a larger cabin, but keep in mind that this will reduce the amount of deck space.

While the performance and agility of a walkaround are perfectly suitable for the intended purposes, they are not necessarily like that of a center console. Performance takes a bit of a hit with this vessel when introducing comfortability, but it’s a nice trade off. Lastly, walkarounds can be used in large lakes, but be cognizant of the depths; the hulls of this boat are not designed for shallow waters.

Similar Model: Cabin Cruisers

Cabin cruisers are most comparable to walkaround boats, with the differences resembling a yacht or houseboat. You can fit up to 12 people on board, depending upon size. They typically range anywhere from 20-40 feet in length.

The main purpose of this style of boat is cruising. They are essentially the RVs of the waterways. They can operate in large lakes and in the oceans, but they are not they type of boat you would want to travel the world in. They wouldn’t be reliable if you were to encounter some rough seas. You can, however, spend your next long weekend out on the water in comfort.

You will also not want to use these boats as your watersports vessels. They are engineered more for cruising, swimming and maybe some light fishing.

Flats Boats

The term “flats” is simply used to reference a wide range of boats that have flat bottoms, which can access shallow waters known as flats (hence the name). A flats boat is often characterized by its flat bottom, square stern and sharply pointed bow. The low draft – anywhere from 0-13 degrees – on this type of boat allows it to reach areas with as little as 12 inches of water. Its length usually ranges from 15-25 feet, and it will be very lightweight. It may have a center console, a small steering column, or a tiller and can be fitted with a trolling motor in addition to the outboard motor. At maximum, there may be enough room for 5 people, but most flats boats have seating for 2-3.

Quick Specs

There won’t be any complex plumbing or electrical systems, but there will most likely be a livewell and rod holder. Additional accessories are available for flats boats that can make your day more comfortable. Flats boats typically have wide gunwales and often have decks that are flush with the side of the boat to eliminate obstruction from an angler’s path. An additional feature that many manufacturers make standard on a flats boat is a poling platform. Because they are so light, flats boats can be maneuvered using a push pole. We will touch more on that below. This platform helps anglers with visibility and push pole operation.

Although flats boats are not known for being decked out with all kinds of accessories, there are a lot of optional features these days that make for a much smoother day on the water. Try enhancing your boat with accessories for crabbing and clamming; built-in coolers; a sound system; or fish finders.

Popular Uses

This type of boat is almost exclusively used for fishing in shallow water, and with the ability to cruise in both salt and freshwater, the opportunities to target Redfish, Bonefish, Snook, Permit and Tarpon are endless. Not to mention, this boat is ideal for crabbing and clamming.

One of the most popular fishing methods when fishing from a flats is push poling. In push poling, it is most common to have 2 anglers aboard; one that stands atop a poling platform at the stern, while the other situates themselves on the casting deck. The poler navigates the boat around the water with a pole, maneuvering slowly and quietly, allowing the anglers an advantage over the fish. Although there is a type of boat, the technical poling skiff, designed specifically for this purpose, it is possible to pole almost any type of flats boat.

Additionally, a flats is perfect for cruising around in lakes, rivers, streams or the shallows of an ocean, taking in all that nature has to offer. Flats boats are not, however, to be used offshore or in choppy waters. It is also not advised to control this type of boat by rowing or paddling.

Pros & Cons

The most obvious benefit of a flats boat is its unique ability to reach shallower waters for anglers that just want a peaceful fishing experience that doesn’t require a trek or a lot of work. This lightweight vessel is easily transported on a trailer, easy to handle on the water and doesn’t require a ton of maintenance. It is designed with anglers in mind, offering simple yet efficient deck space and plenty of upgrade options.

Because of the flat bottoms, these boats are incredibly stable on calm water. The lack of deadrise keeps the boat from rocking and provides stability when walking around. Most are also equipped with foam in the hull that aides in floatation, making them unlikely to sink.

They are also much cheaper than most other boats, considering list price, low maintenance costs, low/non-existent storage costs and better fuel economy.

The best thing about the flats boat, however, could also be the worst thing about it for some anglers; this boat is simple and lacks functional versatility. Other than fishing, there is not much to be done from a flats when compared to something like an offshore center console or pontoon. You cannot bring aboard several passengers or a ton of supplies.

They also do not shield you from the elements and can’t handle choppy waters, requiring nothing less than mild weather for your fishing days.

Similar Model: Skiffs

You may hear the words “flats” and “skiffs” used interchangeably, which is not necessarily wrong, but we will clarify a few of the nuances below. Skiffs are flats boats by definition since they can access the shallows. They just have some particulars that set them apart from aluminum fishing boats and other generic flats boats offered by certain manufacturers.

For starters, we must clarify that not all skiffs have flat bottoms, which is a basic trait of typically flats boats. Originally, skiffs boats were designed specifically for stealthily catching fish by floating in really shallow waters. Over time, manufacturers have taken liberties with the design, making them slimmer to get into even shallower waters or changing the hull type to allow boaters to venture away from shore. From these design updates came iterations such as technical poling skiffs, microskiffs and other modified v-hull skiffs. These iterations still maintain a relatively shallow draft, but they have become more powerful and better equipped to handle rougher water conditions.

Think of skiffs as the sleeker, faster, sturdier, more “decked out” flats boats.

Similar Model: Aluminum Fishing Boats

Then we have aluminum fishing boats. As with skiffs, aluminum fishing boats have 3 different categories; 2 of which stem from modifications to the original: the jon boat. They have morphed to now include modified/semi v- and deep v-hulls. While aluminum fishing boats can be considered flats boats, the original jon boat does not have the archetypal pointed bow of most flats. Instead, both the bow and stern are squared off. There is also no deck; a jon boat is essentially a hull with bench seats. This makes it harder to walk around, eliminates room for storage and poses a tripping hazard. For these reasons alone, a jon is not considered a family boat.

On the other hand, jon boats offer recreational options that make them one of the most versatile flats boats. Not only are they favored among anglers, they are also great for exploration, hunting, bow fishing and transportation. They are also one of the only boats that can get into 12 inches of water or less, allowing anglers to get shallow enough to catch catfish, gars, blacktail redhorse, bowfin and warmouth.

Primarily controlled by a tiller with trolling or outboard motor, jon boats can be maneuvered by rowing or paddling, which are the only flats boats recommended for such. They don’t come standard with poling platforms, but some boat owners have added them on.

Basic jons don’t usually come outfitted with amenities like most other flats models, but they are certainly customizable. You can technically fit up to 8 passengers in larger models, but the more you customize, the less room you will have. Depending on the intended purpose, there are plenty of customizations available. Similarly, semi- and deep-v aluminum boats can be customized enough to resemble a bass boat.

Jon boats are most often made of aluminum, but it is not impossible to find them made of fiberglass or polyethylene. The benefit though, of aluminum is what draws many anglers and shoppers to these boats. The shallow draft, aluminum design is what allows boaters to get into the shallows with rocky bottoms or lots of debris. Fiberglass will get easily damaged, whereas aluminum is sturdy and durable. They can also be used to navigate through reservoirs and impoundments. Aluminum fishing boats can also be slightly smaller than your average flats boat, ranging from 8-24 feet.

Bass Boats

Just as the name implies, bass boats were originally created, and are still primarily used, for bass fishing. They are the most commonly used boats for bass competitions. This is not to say that you cannot fish for other species. Bass boats are also great for catching Catfish, Carp, Crappie, Bowfin, Gar, Shad and Bluegill.

The uniquely large casting decks at the front and back of the boat make it comfortable for anglers, but don’t offer a lot of move-around room. There is, however, enough room for anglers to pop out their fishing chairs.

Additionally, as a brief disclaimer, we recommend only experienced boaters drive a bass boat. They are lightweight like aluminum fishing boats, with a lot of horsepower. This makes them incredibly fast and easy to lose control of.

Quick Specs

As with skiffs, Bass boats come in a variety of models; some are small, some are large, some are made of fiberglass and some are made of aluminum. The one thing they all have in common is their speed. For such a lightweight vessel, their horsepower is almost unmatched. This is all thanks to the performance hull design; also similar to a skiff, the bass boat has a flat bottom with a pointed bow and mod-v hull.

Bass boats often come equipped with large livewells, several fishfinders and storage for fishing supplies. They range anywhere from 16-25 feet in length and cannot hold more than 3 people; most bass boat owners stick with 2 passengers, giving them each plenty of room to fish.

Popular Uses

The bass boat is a freshwater fishing boat that is not meant for much else. There are some watersports that can be performed and day cruising in an option, but the limited seating and low sides make it less than optimal for guests, especially children. They are best used inland, on lakes, rivers and inlets.

Pros & Cons

We clearly know now that bass boats are incredibly fast. For seasoned anglers and experience boaters, this probably sounds like music to their ears. They also come with plenty of storage for catches, supplies and equipment.

Because of the speed, lack of deck space and low sides, bass boats are obviously not an option for families. They are also not multi-purpose boats, making them ideal only to anglers looking to achieve one goal; but hey, maybe that’s all you need!

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Bay Boats

A bay boat is a type of center console that was designed to achieve a happy-medium between shallow-water boats like skiffs or jons and larger, offshore vessels. It is essentially a hybrid; small and agile enough for back-country waters, yet large and stable enough for offshore waters just off the coast. Often equipped with a spacious deck, fishing accommodations and storage options, it is truly a dream come true for many anglers.

Quick Specs

Because this boat is ideal for shallow-water fishing, it needs to retain a short stature. Most bay boats range from 17-25 feet in length and have short, wide gunwales and a shoal draft. They can comfortably seat up to 5 passengers. The semi-v or step-hull is what allows these boats to venture out further than flat-bottomed boats, while still maintaining a shallow draft, giving it the ability to get close to shore. They are not designed, however, to be taken out unless the weather is favorable; going out too far could result in a very uncomfortable and even dangerous ride.

Bay boats typically have trolling motors that can be used in place of the loud outboard motor while shallow water trolling. The trolling motor makes it easier to fish alone and can even be lifted to allow for gentle, quiet floating.

Most bay boats are equipped with rod holders and/or rod racks, a livewell, fishboxes and dry storage. There are also usually casting decks located at the bow and/or stern, depending on the model. These casting decks provide visibility, stability and enough room to fish comfortably.

Popular Uses

Bay boats are most commonly used by anglers for trolling the shallows of both fresh and saltwater, and occasionally heading offshore on a beautiful day. This is not the type of boat used for poling, as it is too heavy. On the flipside, it should not be taken too far out because the ride can get rough due to the shallow draft and low gunwales.

The flexibility this boat offers to troll different depths means that the variety of fish you can target is limitless. Set your sights on Bass, Trout, Red Drum, Carp, Catfish, Tilapia, Tarpon, Crappie and many others!

Pros & Cons

The best thing about this boat is its versatility as a freshwater, saltwater, shallow water and offshore appropriate vessel. Anglers can lift the motor to float in the shallows or head out beyond the coast; it’s smooth sailing either way. The short gunwales make it easy to observe the fish and to pick your catch up out of the water or release it back out.

However, the most obvious downfall, depending upon your recreational preferences, is that bay boats aren’t made to trek that far out into open ocean. This includes, but is not limited to hull design, lack of protection from the elements, limited amenities, horsepower, size and fuel limits. You will also find that although there are certainly features that can be added on, the features, both standard and optional, are quite limited compared to larger offshore boats.

Pontoon Boats

A pontoon is, despite its reputation, more than just the party bus of the waterways. Yes, it is the ultimate entertaining and cruising vessel, but it is also wonderful for fishing and even some water sports. It was originally made for slow cruising in lakes and rivers, but more and more manufacturers are equipping them for saltwater endeavors. Its unique design makes it easily recognizable and desirable.

Quick Specs

Pontoon boats are known for their unique rectangular shape and for being able to accommodate up to 15 people. These recreational boats vary between 16 and 30 feet long with a large deck, large outboard motor and 2-3 aluminum pontoon tubes that keep the boat afloat and make for a stable, smooth ride. The captain’s chair sits behind a small console located on one side of the boat, close to the center or situated aftly. Many pontoons come standard with rod holders and livewells; if not, you can always add them on.

Popular Uses

Among the most popular uses for pontoon boats is relaxation. Pontoons are perfect for a lazy cruise out on the water with your friends and family. You can even crank it up a notch and entertain your guests with food, drinks and music. A party day out in the sun! Throw in some water skiing, tubing or wakeboarding and you’ve got yourself the do-it-all vessel. Just make sure you have the proper towing equipment.

There are pontoons manufactured specifically for fishing, which are quite popular because of the stability that the flatness of the boat offers. If you’re an angler, make sure you have all the right accessories and keep an eye out for some Tarpon, Snook, Bass, Skipjack, Red Drum, Catfish, Perch or Shad.

The pontoon is ideal for small bodies of freshwater such as rivers and lakes, but they can handle saltwater, as long as you don’t venture out too far.

Pros & Cons

An affordable, versatile leisure boat that will keep you busy. What more could you ask for? The pontoon is spacious, comfortable, and easy to clean. The high sides provide a level of security that will ease any parent’s anxiety while on the water. You’re guaranteed to have fun on a pontoon no matter which water activity you have planned for the day.

Just keep in mind that the pontoon is not meant for speed or for offshore and rough waters. The deck is often open, not including any top you choose to purchase, so passengers are exposed to the elements. Because it often requires a large motor, it can often be quite noisy. These are minor disadvantages though, considering all the pontoon has to offer.

Bowrider Boats

Arguably, the most popular type of family boat is the bowrider. You may see it referred to as a runabout, but both names refer to the expansive amount of space at the bow. This is the signature design element in a bowrider, regardless of size or model. It is the perfect boat for first-time boat owners and drivers. The price tag won’t give you sticker shock, and it is small but fast. The hull design makes it easy to maneuver around sharp turns and in choppy inland waters. This boat tends to run smaller, but there are so many iterations of the bowrider, from quaint and humble to large and luxurious, that we can assure you will find exactly what you need.

Quick Specs

As with many of the boats we have covered thus far, bowriders have v-shaped hulls. Some of the subtle differences you’ll notice are the sportiness, speed, the offset helm and of course, the roomy bow area. Their sleek, sporty design limits these boats to an average length of 15-35 feet and width of 10 feet. The purpose of the oversized bow space is completely up to the boat owner. While they do often come with built-in seating, the seating can often be manipulated to provide room for passengers to stretch out or sunbathe. For added safety, there may be rails along the area, as well as seat belts. In addition to the seating up front, there is plenty of seating behind the cockpit. Bowriders can fit up to 10 people, depending on model size.

Something else that is not always typical is that bowriders can have an outboard, stern drive or even a jet-propelled motor. Because bowriders are meant for leisure as much as sport, you may find standard features such as a decent sound system, cup holders and lighting. There are also, of course, add on accessories available to cater to your entertaining, sporting or fishing needs. Even the most luxurious bowriders will not include heads or cabins, but they are known to feature wet bars, cockpit tables and deluxe added seating.

Performance is a main consideration for bowrider manufacturers. Bowriders are designed to be fast or for more gentle cruising, whichever the particular model is meant to achieve, but performance is never sacrificed. They have registered speeds up to 60mph and even though their main purpose is not to tackle offshore activities, they can certainly handle themselves if the waters get a little choppy. Because performance is a primary focus, bowriders are not known for having a ton of storage or deck space.

Bowriders are meant for day trips, not overnight ones, and for lakes and coastal waters, not the open ocean.

Popular Uses

If you’re interested in stepping up your watersports game, consider looking at some bowriders. The performance focus produces powerful and speedy vessels capable of towing water skiers, tubers and wakeboarders. They are also known for being an alternative to pontoons as an option for entertaining. Adding to their versatility, there are also models developed with a focus on angling. Surprisingly, bowriders make for decent fishing boats.

Pros & Cons

The element of the bowrider people find most intriguing is the space within the bow. It is also incredibly popular due to its multi-purpose functionality. Its fast and powerful, for those days you need the ultimate watersports boat. It’s comfortable for those days you just want to relax. It offers you the chance for some spectacular fishing. Not to mention, it’s affordable and easy to drive.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to board without swim platforms or some other helpful mechanism. It can also get tough to handle if the waves pick up. It’s not meant to venture out into open seas and it can sometimes feel unsteady, especially when at rest. Other than the windshield at the helm, bowriders offer no protection from the elements. There also aren’t amenities that would make overnight trips possible, such as a head or galley.

Similar Model: Fish & Ski Boats

One iteration of the bowrider that is also inspired by fishing boats like the bass boat, is the fish-and-ski model. It is the perfect choice for families that need something to fit every interest. This model is most often meant for freshwater fishing, watersports and cruising.

There are a ton of amenities on this model that you may not see on traditional bowriders, such as increased storage for fishing and sport gear, large swim platforms to aid your passengers when getting out of the water, and rod holders. You can also add on things like ski racks and fishing chairs to this model based on your needs. Because of the added accessories and slightly different design, the fish-and-ski can usually only fit up to 5 passengers.

Since the engines on fish-and-ski boats are often so powerful and could scare away fish, some boats may make use of trolling motors to gently position the boat when fishing.

Similar Model: Tow Sports Boats

Tow sport bowriders are meant for just that – tow sports. There are different models that accommodate different sports and even models that accommodate them all. Some models may have the engine in the center to keep the ride smooth for skiers, or the engine could be in the rear, creating larger wakes. They are designed to handle the choppy waves better so that the wakeboarders and surfers can use the waves to do tricks. There is even a newer engine that was created recently, designed to enhance performance. It is similar to a stern drive, with the propellers in the front.

As with any bowrider iteration, tow sports boats will have included and add on amenities available, such as ballasts and towers.

The main downfall is that these models are often more expensive and utilize a lot more fuel.

Deck Boats

If you want a boat that is as versatile and open as a pontoon with the power and speed like that of a bowrider, look no further than the deck boat. It takes the bowrider, tweaks the hull design to create a larger deck and adds some size to accommodate additional seating and storage. Yes, you may lose a little by way of performance, but you’re compensating with comfort.

Just like with bowriders, you do have the option to select a model with amenities purposed for fishing or watersports, or both. The primary difference between a deck boat and bowrider is function over performance.

Quick Specs

Deck boats average 18-28 feet in length, fitting up to 14 people on the largest models. They are made of fiberglass or aluminum and have deep-v or tri-hull designs that are flared at the front, creating a wide bow. You may even come across deck boats with a catamaran hull design, which increases deck size even further and provides enhanced ride quality. Deck boats provide safety with taller profiles, extra room to move about and plenty of seating.

You are likely to find a head compartment and a kitchenette or at least a small sink aboard a deck boat, enabling longer trips. There may even be towers for certain tow sports. As for available accessory options, it is possible to customize your deck boat for particular purposes by adding fish boxes and livewells, additional storage space or additional seating.

Popular Uses

Similar to bowriders, deck boats are great for day cruising, entertaining, watersports and fishing. You may have to look for particular models designed for specific interests and outfitted with your ideal amenities, but your dream deck boat is certainly out there.

Pros & Cons

Deck boats are perfect for families, as they have safety enhancements and plenty of deck space, storage and seating. The slight flatness of the hull makes them a bit more stable than a bowrider.

They can, however, be a bit pricier than other boats with similar purposes, like the pontoon or bowrider. They also don’t come with much protection from the elements, although boat owners can purchase tops for this purpose.


Last but not least, the legendary sailboat. Beautiful. Graceful. Sporty. There are all types of sailboats used for a variety of purposes, like racing sailboats, cruisers and daysailers.

Quick Specs

Depending on the model, sailboats can accommodate 1-4 passengers and can measure in at 7 feet, 100 feet or anywhere in between; some sailing yachts even exceed 100 feet! There are monohull (single hull) sailboats, as well as multi-hull (catamarans have two hulls, trimarans have three). Multi-hull sailboats are obviously larger, making them sturdier and adding space for cabins, galleys and heads.

Sailboat design has improved tremendously over time, making them stronger, yet lighter. They can still move easily in the wind but can also stand strong against the waves. They are also even easier to sail with all the advancements that have been made to onboard equipment. Most sailboats still use the wind, but some now come with inboard or outboard motors as well.

Sailboats cannot travel in shallow waters because of their deep drafts.

Popular Uses

The most obvious use for sailboats is, well, sailing. You can take a dinghy out on a lake for a day cruise or to teach someone to sail; you could take your bluewater on a cruise around the world; race your sailboat in the harbor; entertain your friends on an overnight trip. The possibilities are endless.

Sailing in and of itself is a sport. It requires experience because it is the responsibility of the boater to control the boat. It’s not like driving any of the other boats we have covered. There is an art and a science to sailing that needs a fair amount of attention.

Pros & Cons

Sailing the boat can either be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your preferences, but we’re assuming you are interested in this fact if you’re considering a sailboat. If you have the experience or the time and will to dedicate yourself to learning, a sailboat could definitely be worthwhile. It also requires a ton of energy to be out on the water with a sailboat.

However, sailboats are extremely environmentally friendly, given that they rely on wind power. Because of this, they are also very quiet, which can make traveling very peaceful. It also affords you the opportunity to explore the globe if you so desire. It may take you longer to get to where you want to go though, as you are at the mercy of the wind. Relying on wind power can also be a disadvantage if you find yourself wanting to do something that requires more power and/or speed. Don’t be fooled though – sailboats can reach pretty high speeds.

Lastly, sailboats are quite expensive, from the initial purchase price through maintenance and upkeep. Equipment repair and replacement came come with some hefty price points.


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