Explore different boat types to find the answer to your marine dreams.
Explore different boat types to find the answer to your marine dreams.
Do you want to do a lot of fishing (and if so, what kind)? Look forward to entertaining friends and family onboard (and how many)? Enjoy watersports like waterskiing and wakeboarding? Dream of weeks-long ocean adventures? The boat you choose will expand or limit the activities you can pursue on the water, so plan carefully.
There are lots of questions to ask yourself before buying a boat. How much boat can you afford? Will you buy new or used? And how will you pay for it?
One boat financing option is a U.S. Bank boat loan. With our easy online application, you could have a decision the same day you apply.
These highly specialized angling vessels feature an extra-low profile and run shallow, allowing you to access those heavily weeded hidden spots with ease. They also prioritize deck space over expansive seating, so they’re less ideal for general-purpose boating with the family. Still, while they’re designed specifically for bass fishing, you can also fish other species or cruise fresh waters in a bass boat, as long as you don’t need a lot of room for passengers.
Bowriders are relatively small runabout-style boats with extra seating in front, ahead of the main cabin area (hence the term “bowrider”). They’re powered from the rear (usually with one or more outboard motors) and can typically seat as many as six to eight adults.
Many first-time powerboat buyers choose a bowrider for its flexibility. They’re spacious enough for cruising with the family, powerful enough to tow waterskis and wakeboards, and well-suited to freshwater fishing of all kinds. Bowriders come in a wide range of styles, so you can find one that’s purpose-built for fishing or watersports if you have a passion for one or the other.
Named for the location of the steering console, center consoles are highly capable fishing boats. But with seating and deck space generously distributed fore and aft plus a wide range of onboard amenities, it’s easy to see why they’re the general-purpose pleasure boat of choice for many. Most include a head compartment, and larger models may even have a full cabin below deck with a head, galley and even a berth for sleeping.
For serious anglers, center consoles excel in both fresh and ocean waters. They’re designed for a smooth, stable ride even in choppy surf, and the biggest models can take you safely into deep waters for big-game fishing expeditions. Closer to shore, they’re also ideal for watersports towing.
Also called cabin cruisers, these seaworthy vessels tend to be roomy and luxuriously appointed within their enclosed cabins. Depending on the size of the boat, you’ll find standard accommodations including a head compartment, generous cooking space and sleeping accommodations for as many as 12 people on board.
For extended voyages with a large crew, it’s hard to beat the comforts of a cruiser. You can rent a slip at a marina and set up a home-away-from-home for local adventures, or pull up to seaside restaurant for a relaxing dinner after a day of cruising.
Smaller and more agile than cabin cruisers but still outfitted for overnights, cuddy cabin boats are versatile enough to handle almost any recreational pursuit on the water. Onboard cabins vary in size, but most will include a head compartment and compact sleeping accommodations. Larger cuddy cabins can seat as many as eight and may include a galley area for food preparation.
A cuddy cabin makes a great all-purpose boat for family fun. Tow wakeboards, waterskis or tubes, anchor in your favorite swimming hole, or just cruise and drop a line when the fish are biting.
Another of the most popular powerboat styles, deck boats are characterized by a flared hull design that maximizes deck space and provides comfortable seating for a whole crew of family and friends. Deck boats are versatile enough to keep everyone entertained, from fishing and watersports to shoreline tours at a good clip. They can also be outfitted with extra creature comforts (like a head compartment) for long, languid days on the water.
In some sense, every boat can be a fishing boat, but this category is a catchall for boats of all shapes and sizes that are geared specifically for fishing. If you’re just looking for a boat to tool around the local lake and drop a leisurely line, you may want to consider something small and simple like a jon boat or a dinghy that can be rowed or outfitted with a small motor. Aluminum fishing boats are also very popular, since they’re durable, lightweight, easy to trailer and relatively inexpensive. They’re also great for saltwater fishing due to their ruggedness and corrosion resistance.
For deep-freshwater or deep-sea fishing, you’ll want something larger that’s built to remain stable and withstand high seas when necessary. Depending on where you plan to embark, there are multiple different configurations to consider, from center consoles, walkarounds and trawlers all the way up to high-end sportfishing yachts.
As the name implies, these sleek marine machines are built to thrill. Thrust can be supplied by an inboard engine or multiple outboard motors, and V-shaped hulls slice through the choppiest surf. Ranging in size from about 20 to 50 feet or larger, performance boats are available in many configurations – some with comfortable, enclosed accommodations for up to eight people, and some with just enough open seating for two who don’t mind the spray in their faces and the wind in their hair.
Really a type of propulsion system rather than a style of boat, jet boats come in many different styles for different pursuits. Instead of an inboard or outboard motor, jet boats are powered by an impeller that draws water in and spits it out in a high-pressure stream. The impeller is powered by an internal combustion engine, so fuel economy may be a concern.
Jet boats have several advantages over traditional outboard or sterndrive boats. Because the drive system is contained within the hull, there’s no propeller extending below to catch weeds or potentially damaging rocks. And due to that extra clearance, jet boats can run well in very shallow water. They’re also a blast to drive, with neck-snapping acceleration and tight, precise handling even at high speeds.
Among the simplest and certainly one of the least expensive types, a jon boat is a perfect way to dip your toes into the world of boating. Jon boats are small, lightweight and flat-bottomed, enabling them to explore shallow waters that other boats can’t reach. Flat edges on both ends allow for mounting a small motor, although many jon boaters use paddles, oars or even a pushing stick to maneuver in the shallows. Seating is usually limited: basic and bench-style, with room for two or three at most.
Like jet boats, these span a broad range of individual boat styles, the only common feature being multiple hulls (usually two). Pontoon boats are technically multi-hull powerboats, but generally considered a category unto themselves.
Non-pontoon multi-hulls offer certain advantages over single-hull vessels. Their deep hulls provide extra interior space for more amenities, like sleeping quarters, galley space and often more than one private head compartment. Dual hulls also slice through the water better than wide single hulls, improving fuel efficiency and acceleration. And because of their wider stance, multi-hull powerboats are more stable in both calm and rough water.
Built not for performance but for stability and comfort, a pontoon boat is the ultimate party barge. Ample deck space and comfortable seating accommodate more of your friends and family (as many as 15 or more in some cases). Available on-board amenities such a convertible canopy, a head compartment, a small refrigerator or even a small bar can make a great day on the water even better.
Most pontoon boats aren’t particularly quick, but they do have plenty of speed to give waterskiers a great ride. They’re also extremely stable, especially in calm waters, making them great for relaxed fishing in open water.
Boats powered by the wind come in all sizes, from under 10 feet to more than 100. A small dingy can be outfitted with a sail for light freshwater use, while the largest sailboats can be raced across bays or even overseas at speeds limited only by the weather. Most sailboats have a small motor for docking maneuvers, but some are equipped with full-size engines and can be operated either way as conditions dictate.
Sailboats are available in single-hull and multi-hull styles. Multiple hulls mean greater stability and more interior living space for sleeping, cooking, and of course, bathrooms.
Like bass boats, these highly specialized craft are built to do one thing very well: in this case, tow waterskis and wakeboards. Since waterskiing and wakeboarding benefit from different water-surface conditions, you can find boats specifically designed to leave a flat wake for waterskiing and boats made to accentuate the wake for high-flying wake surfing acrobatics. There are also hybrid models with various means to alter the shape of the wake for optimal skiing or surfing. Inboard power is preferred over outboard for wakeboarding, since the propellers of an outboard motor can disrupt wave formation in the wake.
When nothing but the most luxurious and capable vessel will do, a yacht is the go-to choice. Beautiful, stylish and endlessly appointed, these queens of the marina generally range from about 40 to 90 feet in length (get one any bigger and you may need to hire a professional captain and crew). With private bedrooms and bathrooms for guests, social areas, expansive galleys, outdoor lounging and dining areas, the sky’s the limit for entertaining. And with the ability to navigate high seas over long periods, you can island-hop or even travel overseas in luxury, comfort and style.
When buying a boat, there are good reasons to consider both new and used. Let us help you decide.
Still undecided? You can explore all kinds of new and used boats available now from our participating dealers in our boat marketplace. You’re sure to find one that inspires the mariner in you.