Boats are categorized by several features: hull type, number of masts, or number and type of sails. Some boats are hybrids of various types and may feature a subtype in addition to their main boat type, such as a gulet schooner or a cutter sailboat. Here are a few boat types to know – along with the features according to which they’re classified.
This one’s easy – any boat that utilizes sails to propel a boat forward is a type of sailboat. Sailboats are typically mono hulled – that is, they have only one hull as compared with multi-hulled boats, like catamarans or trimarans – and feature anywhere from one to several masts. Some examples of sailboats are sloops, which feature a single mast and two sails; cutters, which feature one mast and three sails; and schooners, which can feature anywhere from two to six masts and an array of sails from stem to stern. Many sailboats also feature a motor in case of emergency, or if something damages or disables the sails.
Smaller sailboats are best suited for cruising, while some larger sailboats – like schooners – can be utilized for racing and transport.
Mono-hulled sailboats are a category of their own. While sailboats are monohulled, not all monohulled boats are sailboats. Mono-hulled boats include all kinds of sailboats, motorboats and powerboats, and yachts. These boats are often best suited to calmer waters, such as lakes and rivers, though some are well equipped for open sea and rough oceanic weather, like schooners.
A multi-hulled boat has two or more hulls that are connected to lend the boat greater speed and, especially, greater stability. Catamarans are a type of multi-hulled boat that have two hulls – trimarans have three. Multi-hulled boats are excellent for open sea sailing and racing. They handle rough weather exceptionally well due to the increased stability that the extra hulls provide, and their speed also allow sailors to deftly maneuver around inclement weather systems. Multi-hulled boats are excellent for long-term cruises as well, as there is more cargo and living space in a multi-hulled vessel than there is in a mono-hulled boat of equivalent or larger size.
As the saying goes, all yachts are boats, but not all boats are yachts – and the chief difference between a yacht and a boat is, apparently, style. Yachts are purely recreational vessels that stand out on the seas as stylish, well-kept, luxurious boats used purely for entertainment (and sometimes racing). Yachts will feature impressive sizes – typically forty feet in length or greater – along with precise and graceful lines, carefully maintained varnishes and trim, and echo polished timelessness and tradition. While the word “yacht” has taken on a high-class connotation in the 21st century, most yachts will stand out from the crowd in comparison with other mono-hulled vessels.
Knowing how to categorize boats is the first step to deciding what kind of boat you might want to rent, charter, or purchase. Going fishing? You might want a catboat. Planning a pleasure party? You know you’ll want a yacht. So the next time you’re out on the water or at the docks, don’t resist the temptation to show off your boating knowledge to your friends and family – tell them how much you love the lines of that powerboat yacht or how sleek that catamaran looks. They’ll be impressed – and you might just create other boat lovers in the bargain.