choose your boat
making the right choice
choosing a sailing yacht
get the most from your yacht
monohull or multihull?
a cat or a tri?
cruising catamarans

choose your boat

Air Boats

Air BoatsGlide in very shallow water and typically are used for seeing nature and fishing. Power is usually an aircraft engine with propeller for pushing. 18 to 26 ft. long. (Trailerable; 2-5 people)

All-Purpose Fishing Boats

All-Purpose Fishing BoatsFor those who fish from a boat for everything that bites, these are "generalist" craft with space for fishing gear, several bench seats or a few pedestal chair-back seats, a simple steering station or steer-by-tiller. They can be aluminium or fibreglass, are almost always outboard-powered, and are 15 to low-20s ft. long. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Bass Boats

Bass BoatsSpecialty craft for getting to the bass, fast. Accommodate larger outboards. Have lots of storage space for rods and gear. Outfitted with electronics and livewells. Usually feature a raised-deck casting platform in the bow (and often the stern), with provision for an electric trolling motor. Most often fibreglass, but aluminium models are available. Range from 16 to mid-20 ft. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Bow Riders

Bow RidersAll-purpose runabouts with extra seats and forward access to the bow, a convenient spot to relax and sun. Outboard or stern-drive power. Smaller versions are fine for water skiing; larger versions allow some camping. All are suited to short-distance cruising. Mid-teens to upper-20s ft. long. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)


CanoesPaddle-powered craft for exploring shallows to running white water. Great for fishing techniques. All-purpose aluminium to high-tech composites. Easy to use and enjoy. Range from about 10 to 22 ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Centre-Console Fishing Boats

Center-Console Fishing BoatsAllow angling from any place on deck, since the control station is located in the center. Generally outboard powered, some have small cabins for the "porta-potty" or to escape a squall. Depending on size, can be used offshore as well as near. Length from mid-teens to high-20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Cruising Sailboats

Cruising SailboatsBring the comforts of home and engine-powered travel options to sailboats, offering open-cockpit seating for entertaining above decks and one or more cabins below decks to accommodate family and friends on overnight or extended cruises. Cruising sailboats start at about 30 ft. and keep going up to the "yacht" range at about 60 ft. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people)

Cuddy Cabins

Cuddy CabinsSmall cruisers with compact cabins to camp, do some simple cooking, and get out of the weather. Outboard or stern-drive power. Great day cruisers and overnighters for small groups. Also used on big water for trolling for fish. High-teens to about 30 ft. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Day Sailers

Day Sailers
Small sailboats suited for short day outings on small lakes or calmer waters, ranging from dinghies (with a centreboard) to more substantial boats with a fixed keel. At about 20 ft., day sailors often include a small cabin or "below decks" area for dry storage. So-called "pocket cruisers" range from 21 to about 29 ft., have cabins ample enough to accommodate berths and amenities for basic overnighting. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Deck Boats

Deck BoatsFeature a one-level deck throughout and often rails or gunnels all around, all built on a performance hull. Multi-purpose craft that serve anglers, swimmers, sunbathers, evening social cruisers, and folks at the dock. These are stable craft. A number of guests will find room to enjoy being aboard; six friends on smaller versions, eight to ten on larger ones. Some have small cabins. Most often outboard powered, though some feature stern drives. Range from mid-teens to upper-20s. (Trailerable; 1-8 people)

Dinghies, Sailing

Dinghies, Sailing
Small sailboats with a centreboard (a retractable fin) for use off the beach, around the harbour, or for small-lake sailing and racing. Mostly open-cockpit boats commonly come with just one sail (a mainsail) under 12 ft.; above that they are likely to have two sails and a covered foredeck area for gear stowage. Many dinghies race in popular "one design classes" where all boats in a class are of the exact type and measurement and sailed with equal crews (from one to four). (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Dinghies, Rowing

Dinghies, RowingRather fish than sail? Get the rowing dinghy to get around the harbour and wet a line. Small, car-topable at eight to 12 ft. or so. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Fish and Skis

Fish and SkisInterior layouts of these craft allow boaters to enjoy the two most popular on-water activities. Have enough power, usually outboard, to pull a skier or two, and to get to the fishing spot in short order. Storage allows taking skis and tackle. Three or four can ride and fish in lengths from teens to upper 20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Flats Boats

FlatsShallow-draft hulls, mostly fibreglass, with tilting outboard engines. These craft allow angling access to saltwater flats fish. Each boat features a "poling platform" that allows navigation and fish spotting. A casting deck gives the angler stable control. Upper-teens to mid-20s ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Folding Boats

Folding BoatsMade to store, then unfold and float, these consist of lightweight frames that are covered by fabric or plastic. Usable by one or two, they range from about seven to just over 10 ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

High-Performance Boats

High-Performance BoatsDesigned for speed, these can be deep-vee or catamaran-hulled craft with big power. Creature comforts are included in the cockpit and below decks; fishing craft are more Spartan. Outboard and stern-drive power, often sophisticated engines, can push even larger craft to speeds in the 60-mph range, sometimes faster. Size starts in the mid-20s and tops out in the 50s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

House Boats

House BoatsThese are the recreational vehicles of the water, with wide beams and cabins that cover most of the deck. Inside are private staterooms, a head or two (with shower), a big galley, and eating and entertainment areas. Generally used on calm bodies of water, though some with modified vee-hulls are found on big rivers and the Great Lakes. Fiberglas or steel hulls are common. Even the small house boats that start about 30 ft. are spacious; hotel-sized craft range up to the 50s and 60s. (Not Trailerable; 1-8+ people)

Inflatable Boats

Inflatable BoatsShort five- and six-footers are used as dinghies. Mid-sized models in the 12- to 18-ft. range are more durable, have more interior space, and can handle an outboard; such mid-sized models can carry several passengers and serve as runabouts. Newer, hard-hull (or rigid) types of 20 ft. and over take moderate power and work well near and offshore. The "smalls" are easily transported; the "bigs" can be trailered. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Jet Boats

Jet BoatsSo described because they are powered by jet pumps linked to engines. Fun and usually wet, small versions starting at about 12 ft. can take two or three along; larger versions ranging to 18 ft. can accommodate a couple more folks or pull tubers or skiers. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)

Jon Boats

Jon BoatsMulti-purpose camping, freshwater fishing and hunting craft, typically aluminium and powered by a small to moderate outboard or oars. Length in mid-teens to low-20s; accommodates three to five on bench seats, plus gear. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)


KayaksOne- or two-person craft traditionally used for short- distance transportation, now expanded to include whitewater rapids duty and some for "sea kayaking" on bigger lakes and along coasts. (Trailerable; 1 or 2 people)

Motor Yachts

Motor YachtsAll the amenities of home in a traditional vee-hulled craft for gracious cruising or entertaining at the dock. A number of design variations offer more aft deck space for fishing, private aft cabins, sunning space on flybridges or on front decks. Fiberglas and aluminium hulls, sophisticated electronics, choice of gas or diesel inboard power in singles or twins. Typically range from 30 ft. to the 60s and 70s. Accommodations range from five or six to a dozen or more. (Not Trailerable; 1-8+ people)

Multihulls, Sail

Multihulls, SailCalled "catamarans" when they have two hulls and "trimarans" if they have three. Come in a variety of sizes, ranging from the popular 14-ft. and up "cats" launched from the beach, to high-speed ocean racers of 70-ft. or better. The lightweight hulls make these boats quicker under sail and well-suited to cruising and anchoring in shallow waters. Wide cockpit and deck layout in the back and "trampolines" in front provide lots of lounging options. Larger multihulls come with substantial cabins. (Trailerable; 1-5 people).

Offshore Sportfishing Boats

Offshore Sportfishing BoatsCombine the comforts of motor yachts and the functionality of large aft cockpits to work trophy fish and bring them aboard. Classic, durable deep-vee hulls in fibreglass and aluminium, often with twin inboards, large fuel capacities for long range, sophisticated electronics, cabin space for crew and guests. Range from the mid-30s to 50s and 60s. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people).

Pedal Boats

Pedal BoatsLeg-powered, two- or three-seaters for lazy small- water excursions. Classic lake boat, great diversion for the kids and not-so-serious anglers. Eight to 12 ft. or so. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Personal Watercraft

Personal WatercraftMore often known by brand names such as "Jet Skis" or "Sea Doos." Two varieties include stand-on or sit-on; latest versions have gotten a bit bigger to accommodate three adults. Fun, fast, wet. Range from about six to 10 ft. (Trailerable; 1-3 people)

Pontoon Boats

Pontoon BoatsTwo tubes, usually aluminum, under a stable deck surrounded by railings and powered most often with outboards. Often covered with a canopy, featuring plenty of seating space (sometimes convertible to sleepers). Good for fishing, swimming and sunning. Start in the high-teens and go to the upper-20 ft. range. (Trailerable; 1-8 people)

Racing Sailboats

Racing Sailboats
Span a wide variety of possibilities from high-performance dinghies with spinnakers and trapezes to a newer crop of offshore one-design classes, ranging from 30 to 70 ft. These performance-oriented boats trade off weight and luxury for speed and manoeuvrability, and are generally more spartan below decks with utility berths, head and galley equipment available over 22 ft. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people)


RunaboutsFeature open or closed bows, outboard or stern-drive power, and mostly vee-hulls. Fun for water skiing and wakeboarding, fishing, cruising, sunning throughout the day. Some add camper canvas to allow overnights. Probably the most popular fibreglass boat made, though some are aluminium construction. Range from about 16 to upper 20 ft. (Trailerable; 1-8 people)


Surfboard with a sail for those who like to work waves and wind for an "athletic" form of solo sailing. Like water and snow skis, sailboards and sails are specialized for different windsurfing styles and skill levels, from easy gliding to stunts and jumps. Wider, more stable options are user-friendly to beginners. Range from eight to over 12 ft. (Trailerable; usually 1 person)


TrawlersThese sit high in the water, atop stable hulls that get there in comfort, leisurely. Boast big cabins and all the creature comforts. Handle big rivers, lakes and oceans on moderate days. Mid 30s to upper 60s in length. (Not Trailerable; 1-8 people)

Waterski Boats

Waterski BoatsPowered by inboards, these "throw" a perfect wake for very serious water skiers and wake boarders. Used at tournaments and for training. Passengers usually include the driver and a "spotter." Range from about 18 ft. to the mid-20s. (Trailerable; 1-5 people)