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Top 25 Types of Boats

May 2023, by Aquavista

Looking for a list of types of boats? Travelling the waterways, rivers, and canals has become a sought-after pastime in recent years. And for some people living on the water is a full-time proposition.

There are three main types of boats - unpowered, sailboats, and motorboats.

Unpowered boats include canoes, kayaks, and rafts. They rely completely on the power of the user to propel them through the water. Sailboats use wind power to move, and motorboats are powered by a diesel or petrol engine.

Each style of boat offers specific benefits and advantages to those who want to explore the oceans, lakes, and rivers up and down the UK. If you are just beginning your water adventure, you may need help choosing the appropriate small or riverboat type for your travels.

Here are some of the common large and small boat types and their features:

List of Boat Types

1. Narrowboats

Narrowboats are a popular type of boat designed to navigate canals and waterways that run across the United Kingdom.

Narrowboats are 6 feet 10 inches wide and are nowadays mostly made entirely of steel, although some older boats have wooden cabins. Our canals are designed around narrowboats and you can travel the whole waterways system, whereas you can’t do that with a widebeam because many of the canals are too narrow.

Once used to transport goods from town to town, they are now popular recreational vessels. Narrowboats are usually powered by a diesel engine and can be used for leisure cruising or as a permanent home.

2. Wide Beams

Wide beams are similar to narrowboats but are wider and have much more space. They are generally between 10ft to 12ft in width.

These boats are ideal for those who want to live aboard full time and want a more spacious and comfortable living area but who aren’t worried about cruising all of the canal network

3. Dutch Barge

Originally from the Netherlands, Dutch Barges have a distinctive shape and a broad beam, with a curved bow and stern.

These traditional boats were originally used for transporting goods. Today, they are popular for as a permanent home or a liveaboard due to their spacious accommodations.

4. Yachts

A yacht is a versatile type of sailing boat that is used for cruising and competitive racing.

These boats are typically large, with a number of cabins and berths below decks, and are powered by large sails.

Yachts come in various lengths, from small to large, and can be simple or luxurious in design.

5. Motor yacht

Yachts powered by an engine instead of sails are generally popular for recreational cruising or ocean travel.

Some types of motor yachts can be extremely luxurious, and larger versions of these vessels are known as Megayachts or Superyachts and can reach lengths of 70 metres or more.

6. Fishing boats

Fishing boats come in a broad range of types. This includes trawlers, designed for commercial fishing and smaller boats, such as Jon boats and pontoon boats, which are popular for recreational fishing.

Trawlers are larger boats that use nets to catch fish, while smaller, personal boats are designed for freshwater fishing and have a low profile that makes them ideal for traversing shallow waters or narrow inlets.

7. Houseboats

In recent years, houseboats have become popular as permanent homes and offer a cheaper alternative to a typical bricks-and-mortar property.

They are typically designed like a house with a living area, kitchen, and bathroom, and are powered by an engine or generator. They are ideal for those who want to live on the water and enjoy a more relaxed, less expensive lifestyle.

8. Bowrider

Bowrider boats are popular for recreational use and are ideal for leisure cruising and water sports. They are usually smaller than other motorised boats and have an open bow area providing comfortable seating for passengers.

These boats are ideal for on-the-water activities such as water skiing and wakeboarding and may be powered by a sterndrive or outboard engine.

9. Dinghys

Small, lightweight boats that are easy to transport and store. Dinghys can be used as a tender for larger boats or for taking people on short trips around the water.

They are not suitable for extensive travel or for living aboard as there is no cabin or below-deck area on this type of vessel.

10. Lifeboats

Lifeboats are specialised boats designed solely for launching a crew for sea rescue operations and are equipped with safety equipment such as life rafts and life jackets.

They are sent in response to Mayday calls to assist vessels and watercraft that run into trouble on the water.

11. Dragon boats

With origins in China, Dragon boats are very long, narrow vessels used for racing.

They are characterised by a distinctive dragon head on the bow and a dragon tail at the stern and are powered by a team of paddlers who use oars to propel the boat.

12. Banana boats

Banana boats are inflatable boats towed behind a motorboat and designed for fun and entertainment.

They typically have an easily recognisable long, curved shape and can accommodate multiple passengers for tours or day trips.

13. Dory boats

These boats are lightweight and very easy to manoeuvre.

Dory boats are small, shallow boats that are traditionally made from wood. They are often used for fishing and can be easily pulled ashore or moved for storage.

14. Pontoon boats

Pontoon boats are popular with recreational boaters who want to spend a day with friends or family on the water.

This boat is commonly used on lakes and features a flat deck supported by pontoons. They are often used for leisure cruising and water sports and can accommodate multiple people. An outboard or inboard engine powers pontoons.

15. Sedan Bridge boats

Sedan bridge boats are larger versions of motor yachts designed for longer-distance cruising.

They typically have a covered bridge area that houses navigational tools and a spacious interior with multiple cabins and living areas to accommodate guests.

16. Wakeboard and ski boats

This style of boat features a powerful engine purposely designed to create a large wake for water activities and sports. Wakeboard and ski boats are specialised boats designed primarily for fun on the water and used for wakeboarding, water skiing, and wake surfing.

17. Deck boats

Deck boats are similar to bowriders but have a much wider beam and more substantial deck space. They are ideal for recreational use and can accommodate more passengers and activities. They are multi-purpose boats that can be used for day trips, cruising, or water sports.

18. Catamarans

Easily recognisable with their double-connected hulls, Catamaran boats are a popular type of sailboat for leisure and recreation. The dual hulls provide speed and stability, and these boats are often used as party boats or for leisure cruising.

19. Runabouts

Runabout boats are small, open boats designed for recreational use and are typically powered by an outboard engine or a smaller trolling motor. They are ideal riverboat types for occasional use, lightweight, and easy to maintain.

20. Jet boats

As an alternative to diesel or petrol-powered boats, jet boats offer a cleaner alternative.

They are powered by a jet drive rather than a propeller and are ideal for navigating shallow waterways. They are often used for recreational activities such as river rafting and fishing.

21. Cuddy boats

Cuddy boats are small motor boats, sometimes called Cuddy cabins, and are one of the more commonly seen boats with cabins. This type of watercraft features a below-deck area in the bow that can be used for sleeping or storage. They are ideal for short trips and day use but may not offer enough amenities or space to use as a liveaboard.

22. Game boats

Game boats feature powerful engines and have large fishing decks. They are used for offshore fishing and typically have a range of specialised fishing equipment, such as outriggers and fish finders, to target moving shoals of fish.

23. Centre console

Centre console boats have a single console placed in the centre of the boat and are used for recreational fishing.

Depending on the size and length of the boat, it may be used for offshore fishing to target larger species or game fish and features powerful dual or triple outboard motors and fishing equipment.

24. Personal Watercraft (PWC)

Personal Watercraft Boats (PWC) are small, lightweight boats used for recreational or occasional use. They include jet skis and similar jet-powered crafts ideal for water sports, fun, and entertainment.

25. Cabin cruisers

Cabin Cruiser boats are larger motor yachts designed for long-distance cruising and feature multiple cabins and living areas. Sometimes used as liveaboards, they are a popular choice for leisure cruising and can be powered by various engines.

Final words

There are many different types of boats available to suit your needs. Whether you want a recreational boat for water sports or a permanent home on the water, there are many vessels to choose from.

Whether you’re searching for a wide beam or Dutch barge to live on permanently or a narrowboat or yacht to experience recreational cruising, this article should help you to understand the different types of boats and their features.

Once you have established the kind of boat that will suit your lifestyle and preferences, browse our sales page to find available boats for sale for recreation or cruising that will suit a range of budgets.


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