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Types of Recreational Boats

Updated on March 5, 2019
Tricia Deed profile image

I love any type of water activity. I have done my share of water skiing, boating, and cruising. I enjoy lake, pool, river, and ocean waters.

Speed Boat Racing

Speed boat racing in ocean waters.
Speed boat racing in ocean waters. | Source

Types of Recreational Boats

Recreational boating is water activity fun. Millions of United States citizens take to the waterways with their favorite manually operated or motorized water transportation.

Paddle or turn a key to switch on the motor and glide on top of the water. Experience the wind blowing your hair and the spray splashing across your face.

The U.S. government defines recreational boating as boats which are used on waterways for pleasure and recreation.

Recreational boats do not include captained, chartered or party boats, ferries, cruise ships or toy boats.

Types of recreational boating defined by http://www. Recreation.Gov

  1. Motor boating
  2. Jet boating
  3. Motorized rafting
  4. Canoe trips
  5. Sailing
  6. Kayaking
  7. Paddle sports
  8. Scenic floats
  9. Tubing
  10. Whitewater rafting
  11. Drift boats
  12. Dory trips

The recreational water site can be in a swimming pool, a river, a lake, a pond, and the ocean. One can enjoy a water sport in one’s own backyard, a community body of water, amusement parks, national and state waterways and parks, and favorite Oceanside locations.

Where to Use Recreational Boats:

  1. Poolside – drift lazily on a raft or tube
  2. Canoeing, rowing a boat, or riding the rapids of a river
  3. Floating, rowing, paddling, fishing on a pond or lake
  4. Water skiing from the back of a motorboat on a lake or on the ocean
  5. Jet skiing on a lake or Oceanside
  6. Houseboat on a river or lake

Motor Boat for Ocean Cruising

Motor Boat
Motor Boat | Source

Motor Boating

A motor boat can be open or have a closed cabin. The power can be from an outboard motor or the motor can be built inside the boat.

Motor boats are also known as speed boats or power boats and their designs range from a simple open boat to a luxury yacht.

These boats are used in yachting, racing, water skiing, and wakeboarding.

I have enjoyed the yacht for pleasure cruising and feeling pampered surrounded in luxury. The athletic part of me enjoys these boats pulling me on water skis. No, I have not had the opportunity to be in a race, although I have watched speed boat races.

Wakeboarding and water skiing performers have entertained me at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida. Unfortunately this beautiful garden and water show park has been closed. It is now known as Legoland. This company continues to have water ski shows in the Pirates Cove.

Jet Boating

The captain of a jet boat doing a reverse turn.
The captain of a jet boat doing a reverse turn. | Source

Jet Boating

The jet boat releases water above the waterline which enhances greater speeds. This boat can spin and turn on a dime as it planes. You will definitely feel the emotional rush and your hair whipping about your face. Do not wear a wig or a toupee. These hair pieces will be gone with the wind.

Whitewater Rafting with Oars

A family on a rubber raft experiencing white water rafting.
A family on a rubber raft experiencing white water rafting. | Source

Motorized Rafts

Motorized rafting and white water rafting– Replacing manual rowing with an outboard motor makes for quicker trips on rivers and riding the waves.

White water rafting can be an individual sport or rent a larger raft and be a part of a large group. The Grand Canyon is one of many popular sites for white water rafting.


Canoe | Source

Canoes and Kayaks

Canoes are generally used for recreation on a lazy Sunday ride on a river or fishing. The kayak is normally used for recreational sporting or watching sea animals.

The blades of a kayak are on both sides of the paddle. Canoes have a blade on one side of the paddle. Kayaks can be used in both fresh and salt waters. The canoe is best used in fresh water rivers and lakes. Both of these boats can be used in racing.

My experience with a canoe was on a river. One or two people can propel the boat with oars. It was discovered on this trip that a canoe can be overturned easily. No horse playing on this boat.

I would highly recommend that shoes be worn when on canoes because walking on the bottom of the river barefooted is not a pleasant experience. The shoes will offer protection for the feet from harmful debris on the floor of the river.

Ocean Cruising with a Sailboat

Sailing the open seas
Sailing the open seas | Source


This recreational boat can be used on both fresh water and ocean faring. This is a craft requiring constant attention by a sailor or many sailors.

Before you sail:

  1. Read, memorize, practice and have thorough sailing knowledge and skills
  2. Boat terminology and types of knots
  3. How to ready the boat with its sails
  4. How to maneuver turns and more in the water
  5. How to recover from capsizing
  6. Know how to swim
  7. Sailing safety

There are online schools but it is also best to attend sailing classes. The first sailing adventure should be with an experienced person or team.

The Rowboat or Dory

Mother and child enjoy a day of fishing in their rowboat.
Mother and child enjoy a day of fishing in their rowboat. | Source

The Dory Boat

The dory is a flat bottom rowing boat which is designed for stability and holding fishing equipment. And yes, an outboard motor can be used on it but oars are preferred.

Not in a hurry? Enjoy fishing? This is the oldest row boat and many boaters have their first experience with a fishing boat.

Do not forget to purchase your fishing license or permit. Check with your state's Wild Game and Fish department for details.

Luxury Yacht

A luxury yacht cruising ocean waters.
A luxury yacht cruising ocean waters. | Source

Costs of Boat Ownership

The costs of owning a boat is a variable. There are fresh water boats and salt water boats, non-motorized and motorized boats from canoes to yachts and large ocean going cruisers.

An online recommendation is where the list contains new and used boats, brand names, private owners, manufacturers, and state locations.

A private owner may be selling their fishing boat in their front yard for about $1200 or if a larger boat is what you have in mind then the price can exceed a million dollars. In other words the cost of a boat will be dependent on your desires, needs, and purpose of use.

Do research before purchasing any boat. Boat ownership has as many responsibilities as owning any other vehicle. There will be legal requirements, educational classes and certification, and decisions to be a diy repair person or hire professionals.

Maintenance costs of boats will include its cleaning, light and heavy repairs, boating accessories, fuels and liquids, storage facilities, a hauling trailer, boat ramps and accesses, permits, boat registration and licenses, boating education and certification, safety equipment, home or rental facilities, and insurance.

Safety at Sea

Life preserver within easy reach. .
Life preserver within easy reach. . | Source

Water Safety Tips for Boating

Boaters! Before Getting Underway:
Know your boat and know the rules of the road. These list of rules are from the US Corps of Engineers, National Water Safety Program.

The U. S Army Corps of Engineers is the Nation's leading provider of outdoor recreation. They are responsible for over 420 lake and river projects in 43 states and over 370 million visitors per year.

  • Take a safe boating course.
  • Check your boat for all required safety equipment.
  • Consider the size of your boat, the number of passengers and the amount of extra equipment that will be on-board. DON’T OVERLOAD THE BOAT!
  • If you will be in a powerboat, check your electrical system and fuel system for gas fumes.
  • Follow manufacturers suggested procedures BEFORE starting up the engine.
  • Wear your life jacket – don’t just carry one on board.
  • Leave alcohol behind to increase your safety and decrease your risk.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • File a float plan with a member of your family or friend.

This is a starter list of government organizations which offer free boating classes. Check online for your state.

  1. U.S. Coastguard Auxiliary
  2. U.S. Power Squadron
  3. U. S. Sailing
  4. American Canoe Association

Boating Laws and Safety Equipment

The Joy of Boating

Do you like boating on fresh water or salt water?

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