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Boat vs. Ship vs Yacht: What’s the Difference?

A couple looking at the sunset as they ride on their sailboat | Sebastus Sailing

Language is a tricky thing, and picking out the differences between similar terms can be confusing. This is especially true when some of the definitions overlap. This is the case with the case of boat vs. ship vs. yacht . What’s the difference? We know in our gut that there are differences between these three seafaring vessels, but unless you’re a harbor master do you really know what counts as what?

Let’s get into some definitions, and we’re going to start with the easiest to explain: What is a yacht? What is a ship? And what is a boat?

Yacht vs. Ship vs. Boat

What is a yacht.

A yacht, I think everyone would agree, is fancier than a ship or a boat. “Yacht” infers some amount of luxury , and definitely recreation. There’s also something to be said about size. A yacht tends to be anywhere between 35 feet up to 160 feet. And some yachts, known as superyachts, go even beyond that. (Jeff Bezos just built a 417 foot yacht, but that’s really breaking yacht records.)

Because of the size, yachts tend to operate in larger bodies of water–generally the ocean. Yachts are able to handle rougher ocean waves, and they are also equipped with more advanced navigation and guidance instruments than smaller boats. Likewise, a yacht tends to have a full crew to help with the navigation, engineering, repairs, as well as having stewards that serve the yacht’s guests. This can be anywhere from a crew of four or five up to a crew of a few dozen on large yachts. 

One interesting thing to note is that outside of the United States, a yacht refers to a sailboat , and a motorized yacht is called a “motor yacht”. 

So, is a yacht a boat? Yes, technically a yacht is a boat. But a yacht is a very specific kind of boat.

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What is a Ship?

The term ship is most commonly associated with a very large boat, and something that is not as fancy as a yacht (one exception is that cruise ships can still be very fancy, but are referred to as ships because of their size and power.)

Ships are generally so large that they would never be found in a lake, with some exceptions for the Great Lakes, and are made for navigating the high seas of the open ocean. An ship can refer to a cruise ship, a naval ship, a tanker, a container ship, and many other commercial vessels.

Ships tend to have advanced navigation and technology, but much more advanced than that of a yacht due to the size, the speed, and the routes that a ship will take. They are meant to be traversing the open ocean for very long periods of time, from one continent to the next, while a yacht may only rarely set across the ocean and most often stays somewhat near land. 

A ship will also have a much larger crew than a yacht or a boat. Ships are typically so large that they need not only one trained navigator but a set of navigators, plus an entire engineering team, and includes many more positions. 

Finally, a ship is meant to carry things. This may be passengers, yes (in reference to cruise ships and some navy ships) but most ships are for carrying cargo–or even carrying equipment to do work on other ships including repair work or refueling. 

What is a Boat?

Well, a boat is harder to define, because a yacht is technically a boat, and a ship is technically a boat. But when people refer to boats, they are almost always referring to something smaller than either a yacht or a ship. Boats may be motorized, like a speed boat, or they may sail, or they may be man-powered, like a rowboat or a kayak. Really, anything up to and including a liferaft, can be called a boat.

(As a side note that will just muddy the waters even further, submarine captains are adamant that their subs are boats. They are not ships.)

motor boat cruising

So, Boat vs. Ship Vs. Yacht?

Ultimately it comes down to this: all three of them are boats, but yachts are fancier, larger, and used for recreation, and ships are even larger, used commercially or by the navy, and are meant to cross oceans. The dividing line is sometimes thin, but generally speaking, when it comes to boats vs. ships.vs. yachts you can go by the adage “ I know it when I see it .”

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Boat vs. ship: What's the difference? The annoying mistake some cruisers keep making

Ashley Kosciolek

Vacationing on a cruise ship? That's great, but for the love of all that is nautical, please don't call it a boat.

Modern-day cruise behemoths have earned the right to be called ships. The name is grand, it implies stature, and it lets everyone know that there's some sort of official larger purpose, whether it's the transportation of goods or of people.

What's the official difference between a boat and a ship? Technically, there isn't one that's universally accepted. Everyone seems to have their own ideas about what defines each, with no final verdict. Some say it has to do with size or tonnage, while others argue it's about how many masts the vessel has or whether it's a submarine (which, I'm told, is always a boat). Still others claim it's more about the bodies of water on which a vessel is designed to spend its days.

Regardless, the one certainty is that you'll sound like you have no idea what you're talking about if you refer to a cruise vessel — except maybe a riverboat — as a boat instead of a ship. In that vein, to help you understand the differences, let's take a look at some of the most popular differentiators, depending on whom you ask.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Vessel size

yacht or vessel

When you ask the average person what makes a vessel a ship versus a boat, they'll often tell you that it comes down to size. A ship is big; a boat is small. That seems to be the most common consensus, but those terms are arbitrary. What constitutes large and small?

In researching, I've discovered there's no official length at which a vessel becomes a ship. Sources cite everything from 100 feet to 200 feet in length and everything in between.

In terms of height, some seafarers insist that any vessel with more than one deck is a ship, and anything with only a single deck is a boat, as presented by The Guardian via a reader in the paper's Semantic Enigmas section.

Another common size-related refrain — one that's used by the United States Naval Institute — is that if a vessel is large enough to carry other vessels, it's a ship.

"In general, a boat is a watercraft ... that is small enough to be carried on board a larger one, and that larger one is a ship," said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas J. Cutler in a blog post on the USNI's website . "This is sometimes expressed this way: 'A ship can carry a boat, but a boat can never carry a ship.'"

Vessel tonnage

Tonnage is another determinant some entities use to qualify vessels as ships instead of boats. In fact, the maritime information website Marine Insight claims it's one of the most important factors to consider.

Vessels of more than 500 tons, regardless of size, are ships, according to the site.

Where the vessel sails

yacht or vessel

I recently sailed on my first U.S. river cruise, during which a lecturer explained that boats are specifically built for inland waterways, such as lakes and rivers. "This is a boat, despite its size," she said, also noting that it carries lifeboats (which would make it a ship by some definitions).

Supporting this theory is Scientific American , which quotes The Straight Dope (Cecil Adams, the self-proclaimed smartest man in the world) as saying, "With regard to motorized craft, a ship is a large vessel intended for oceangoing or at least deep-water transport, and a boat is anything else."

How the vessel corners

A handful of online query results say another way to tell a ship from a boat is by observing the direction in which it leans when it turns.

"A U.S. Navy rule of thumb is that ships lean towards the outside of a sharp turn, while boats lean towards the inside," The Maritime Post said. For a more relatable visual, think about a motorcycle versus a car. The former leans in as you go around a turn; the latter leans away from the center of the turn.

Vessel propulsion and design

yacht or vessel

As you might expect from a larger vessel, ships often have more complex construction than boats. They also have more machinery on board than boats do, whether that's in the way of navigation or engine room accouterments.

Further, how they're propelled might differ. Most modern-day ships are powered by engines, whereas boats can be moved by anything from oars or sails to engines, according to Marine Insight .

Number of masts on the vessel

In terms of sailing vessels, if a rig has three masts or more, it's considered a ship, per the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. To qualify, it must also have square sails on all masts.

Obviously, most modern-day cruise ships don't have masts. (Exceptions are ships from Windstar and Star Clippers.) Although this rule is less relevant today, it does come up frequently in maritime circles when discussing the difference between a ship and a boat.

Bottom line

There's no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to determining whether a vessel is a ship or a boat. Generally, the most common ideas about this seem to revolve around size: tonnage, number of decks or whether or not the vessel can carry other boats.

Lots of people will have opinions about the "correct" criteria, but the bottom line is that you should never refer to a cruise ship as a boat if it carries travelers on the ocean for vacation.

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Sailing Wizard

What’s the Difference Between a Boat, Yacht & Ship?

Whether you are a brand new sailor or just wanting to brush up on some terms, it is essential to know what to call a particular watercraft if you’re going to fit in while you’re at the docks or out on the water. There are many nuances and subtle differences between water vessel types, but below are some of the main differences.

In general, yachts are either sailing or motor vessels used for pleasure. Yachts are often luxurious and equipped with an overnight cabin. Boats can be either propelled sail or a motor and come in varying sizes. On the other hand, ships are usually motor-powered and much larger than boats.

Some of the differences between watercraft types can be a little fuzzy, but once you grasp the main differences between them, it becomes relatively easy to tell them apart. If you have no previous knowledge of watercraft, you are likely very confused about what defines a yacht, boat, and ship, so I’ll try to clarify any confusion you might have in the next few sections.

What is the difference between a boat a ship and a yacht?

Similarities and Differences Between Boats, Yachts, and Ships

The many bodies of water all over the world are home to an extensive collection of different watercraft. There are so many shapes and sizes that they come in that it is nearly impossible to fit every single one into a specific classification.

However, in the following table, I did my best to loosely define ships, yachts, and boats so that it is easy to see the differences between the types of watercraft.

As I mentioned earlier, it is impossible to fit EVERY SINGLE water vessel into a particular category, so there are tons of exceptions out there. In addition to the exceptions, different organizations, laws, and people classify types of boats slightly differently.

There is no universally accepted definition for ships, boats, and yachts, but instead many different sets of rules and regulations. In this article, I have tried my best to use the most commonly accepted definitions for each watercraft type.

Now that we’ve gone over some of the main differences and similarities between boats, ships, and yachts, let’s take a look at each type of vessel individually and look at their most prominent characteristics and attributes.

What Exactly is a Boat?

Boats come in a vast array of sizes and shapes. To many people, the term “boat” simply refers to nearly any watercraft, but there are actually a few restrictions and defining characteristics that all boats have. So let’s just get right into it and take a quick look at what exactly qualifies a vessel as a boat.

Overall Size of Boats

As I said before, there is a massive catalog of different types of boats, and they come in a variety of sizes. There are huge boats that hold lots of cargo or people, and then there are smaller ones that barely can stay afloat with a single person on board.

Typically, boats are defined as watercraft that are less than 197 feet long. However, most boats you are likely to encounter on the water are usually around 30 feet long.

General Price Range of Boats

Again, it is hard to accurately give a price range for all boats because they come in so many different sizes, styles, and types, but most modern boats seem to fall in the $1,500 to $100,000 range. 

Small Jon boats can cost even less than $1,500, while large sailboats and houseboats can cost well above $100,000.

Most Common Uses of Boats

Boats are used all over the world for a variety of different reasons and to do many tasks. Many types of boats serve a wide range of uses, but most are primarily used as a residence, for pleasure, or commercially.

Some of the most popular types of boats, such as sailboats, bowriders, and dinghies, are commonly used for enjoyment, fishing, racing, or other pleasurable activities. There are also many types of houseboats used as residences and commercial boats used for chartering or moving goods or people. 

Propulsion Method of Boats

Due to the wide variety of boats, you are likely to find boats propelled by almost every propulsion method imaginable. Some of the more popular propulsion methods for boats to use are man-power, wind power, and motor power.

Boats on the smaller end often use the power of the people on board to row or paddle, while larger boats rely on sails or powerful motors attached to the stern. Many boats use more than one propulsion method, either together or with one of them as a backup.

What Exactly is a Yacht?

Yachts have many of the same attributes as boats, but their quality, size, and luxury really set them apart. When someone says “yacht,” many people imagine watercraft that are SUPER LARGE, and while there are lots of massive yachts, many smaller boats also qualify as yachts, which might surprise you.

Overall Size of Yachts

There are many different sized yachts, and the rules regarding how big they have to be are not very strict. In general, luxury watercraft greater than 33 feet in length are considered yachts. However, boats smaller than 33 feet are sometimes called yachts if they are exceptionally luxurious and elegant.

There is no upper limit to how large a yacht can be. Yachts longer than 100 feet are often referred to as mega yachts, and ones over 150 feet long called are super yachts.

General Price Range of Yachts

Because the very definition of a yacht requires it to be very luxurious, they often come with quite a price tag as a result. There is quite a range of different price points for yachts, ranging from $250,000 to $50,000,000 and beyond.

Most Common Uses of Yachts

Yachts, because they are so expensive to maintain and purchase, are primarily used for pleasure purposes. Day trips out on the water are typical for yachts, although they often have overnight cabins, so longer excursions are popular.

Chartered yachts are also very popular, which bridges the gap between commercial and pleasure. Although, when you are on a chartered yacht, it is usually for the sole purpose of having a great time and enjoying yourself.

Propulsion Method of Yachts

Because yachts are considered very luxurious and often so large, they are usually solely propelling using motor power. Even if a yacht is on the smaller end of the spectrum, they often only use a motor as a means of driving the craft through the water. 

However, many large sailing yachts out there use sails and the wind to propel the vessel. So while the large majority of yachts use motors, keep in mind that some large and luxurious sailboats can be considered yachts.

What Exactly is a Ship?

Throughout history, large ships have been a helpful tool for many civilizations and have allowed them to transport goods and explore places beyond their homes. In modern times, ships are quite common and are used for a variety of different reasons.

Overall Size of Ships

One of the primary characteristics of ships that set them apart from boats is their size. Ships, especially in modern times, are often MASSIVE and are restricted to navigating only extensive waterways. 

Vessels greater than or equal to 197 feet long are often considered ships. However, most ships today are huge and often fall in the 1,000-foot range or larger.

General Price Range of Ships

Most individuals will never own a ship due to their extreme maintenance and the cost of purchasing one. While many smaller ships are far less expensive, most modern ships cost anywhere between $50 and $500 million.

Large and luxurious cruise ships can even cost upwards of $1 billion to construct, and that’s not even taking into account staff, maintenance, and other costs.

Most Common Uses of Ships

Ships perform many different duties throughout the world, but usually, they are used to transport passengers or goods over long distances. In addition, they are also often used by military, scientists, fishers, and a plethora of other professions and people. They are also often used for pleasure purposes, in the form of passenger cruise ships. 

Overall, ships encompass a large selection of vessels that perform many different duties. 

Propulsion Method of Ships

Due to their large size, most modern ships are propelled using motors. However, even though ships are equipped with massive motors, they are still pretty slow and often move at around 20 knots per hour, although some move much quicker.

While most, if not all, ships today use motors to propel themselves through the water, this was not always the case. Before motors were around, many civilizations used ships for military, exploration, transportation, shipping, and many other uses. During these times, ships were powered primarily by man and wind power. Even today, you can occasionally find a sail-powered ship, though they are quite rare.

James Gerard

Hi, I'm James! I started sailing at a very early age here in the UK, and have enjoyed so many opportunities to sail all over the world. I created this website to share the many sailing tips I've leaned over the years, so that you can also discover the joy of sailing with safety and confidence.

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“Boat” vs. “Ship”: Chart A Course To Understand The Difference

  • Boat Vs. Ship
  • Yacht Vs. Boat

Ahoy, me hearties! A true seadog worth their salt would never let aboard a landlubber who calls their ship a boat . That kind of mixup is the talk that gets you walking the plank!

In this article, we’ll sail the seven seas of nautical knowledge to define the difference between the words ship and boat , explain what they refer to in technical and casual use, provide examples of different kinds of both ships and boats , and we’ll even clear up the meaning of the word yacht .

🚢 Quick summary

In casual use, the word boat is often used to refer to any watergoing vessel, regardless of its size or how it’s powered. However, large oceanfaring watercraft—those that use multiple sails or engines—are more properly called ships . In contrast, the word ship isn’t commonly applied to smaller craft. The word yacht is typically used to refer to any larger noncommercial vessel—one used for sailing or other recreation, as opposed to business.

What’s the difference between a boat and a ship ?

By definition, a boat is “a vessel for transport by water,” “a small ship,” or “a vessel of any size built for navigation of rivers or inland bodies of water.” In casual use, the word boat is used to refer to any vehicle used to travel on the water—anything from a canoe to an ocean liner.

In this kind of casual and general usage, the word boat is often used to refer to watercraft of all sizes and types, as you can see in the variety of terms that include the word, such as sailboat , motorboat , fishing boat , rowboat , tugboat , paddleboat , and lifeboat .

In contrast, the word ship is typically reserved to refer to a large, ocean-faring vessel propelled by multiple sails or engines.

(Of course, the word ship is also used to refer to large, nonwater craft, such as airship and spaceship .)

In technical, nautical contexts, the word ship sometimes specifically refers to a sailing vessel that has three or more square masts. As is the case with boat , though, the word ship is applied in the name of a variety of large watercrafts, including cruise ship , cargo ship , pirate ship , battleship , longship , and steamship .

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In contexts where it’s important to distinguish the difference, the distinction made between ship and boat is typically based on the size of the craft being discussed and if it is used only for ocean or sea travel. Additionally, the word boat can refer to vessels that don’t have any sails or engines, such as a kayak or a rowboat, whereas the word ship usually refers to vessels with many sails or large engines. Even in casual usage, it’s very uncommon for someone to call a small craft a ship , unless they’re doing so jokingly.

One distinction made in nautical contexts is that the word ship often refers to vessels too large to fit inside other vessels. By contrast, the word boat is often used to refer to smaller craft that can fit inside larger ones. For example, a massive cruise ship may have a large number of lifeboats inside it.

What are you sailing? An ocean or a sea ? Learn the difference here.

Yacht vs. boat

The word yacht typically refers to a vessel used for private, noncommercial reasons (those other than business), such as sailing or racing. As a general term, the word yacht can refer to any watercraft that isn’t intended to be used to make money, which includes anything from racing sailboats to billionaires’ floating ultra-luxury mansions.

The word yacht is not used to refer to small vessels, such as row boats or canoes. In casual usage, a yacht may be referred to with the more general terms boat or ship , but certainly not all ships and boats are yachts .

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yacht vs boat

Yachts vs. Boats: What are the Differences?

yacht or vessel

Table of Contents

Many people use the words “boat” and “yacht” interchangeably, and some lean on the latter to make their ride sound more impressive. But what are the key differences between boats and yachts?

First, let’s look at some broad definitions of a boat, a yacht, and other related vessels.

  • “Boat” can refer to just about any kind of vessel— towboat , fishing boat , center console , houseboat , and so on.
  • “Dinghy” designates a small boat with a human or wind means of propulsion including a rowing dinghy or sailing dinghy. It also refers to a tender to a bigger boat or yacht.
  • “Ship” is a large commercial boat, often used for distance travel and transport of goods or passengers – cruise ship, container ship, etc.
  • “Yacht” is typically a larger boat with luxury amenities used as a recreational vessel— motor yacht , sailing yacht .
  • “Superyacht” is a large yacht and is often also called a mega yacht . The delineation used to be at 80-feet but again, with today’s size creep, anything under 100 feet would just simply be called a yacht.

So, yacht or boat? Let’s dive deeper into the elements that differentiate a boat from a yacht.

Own a Boat or a Yacht? Learn How to Offset the Cost of Ownership by Listing on Boatsetter

Size of the Vessel

Yachts and boats of various sizes.

Some place a hard line at 35 feet. Below that, you have a boat and above, it’s a yacht. However, that’s an artificial differentiator.

Just 30 years ago, a 30-foot boat was considered large and could have been a yacht but as recreational boats grow longer, the term yacht has been pushed up the scale.

That said, a well-kept 40-foot boat designed for recreation can technically still be called a yacht (although larger vessels are likely to cost more, price isn’t a good indicator of yacht status primarily because it fluctuates with brand, age, and amenities).

Check out local yacht rentals near you to understand how size plays a difference.

What it’s Used For

A yacht is a vessel designed for recreational purposes. It generally operates on open waters (rather than small lakes or rivers) and has accommodations for overnight guests.

A cruise ship, on the other hand, accommodates a large number of passengers in a commercial setting whereas a yacht carries a smaller number (of paying or non-paying) passengers for private recreation.

Onboard Technology

yacht navigation electronics

Advanced technology for navigation, communications, and system operation as well as redundant systems for safety can be found on a yacht that is likely to venture farther.

Again, there are caveats because today’s towboats that are fun day boats also feature technology such as GPS and digital switching that integrates many electrical and electronic features.

Propulsion Types

This is a tricky one. “Yacht” comes from the Dutch word “jaght” which referred to a sailing vessel that was used by the navy to capture pirate ships and later for recreation by the affluent.

Today, a yacht can be a large sailing vessel or a motor yacht. All larger yachts will have a motor for propulsion whether they have sails or not. Sailboats by design have smaller motors so trying to put a horsepower minimum on yacht propulsion is simply inaccurate.

Some define a yacht as having multiple crews to operate the vessel and tend to passengers or guests. The larger the yacht, the more crew will be required to navigate, maintain and service the vessel. That said, a couple who owns a 50-footer can call their boat a yacht although it’s owner-operated.

Luxury and Amenities

Yacht luxury interior.

This is perhaps the best measure of a yacht. If the vessel offers accommodations, a galley , a head , and is luxurious in its presentation, it’s most likely a yacht.

That said, there are lots of center console fishing boats and towboats that are pretty nicely equipped these days and they wouldn’t be called a yacht.

All yachts are boats, but not all boats are yachts—and the lines are blurry. The word yacht elicits images of posh seafaring experiences while a boat evokes ideas of fun and perhaps work. Do some research to learn what size and type of boat or yacht is best for you .

To a degree, the point at which a boat becomes a yacht is in the ear of the beholder but if you focus on size, amenities, and the type of use, you’ll be able to discern the difference. Then all that remains is to find a way to spend time and have fun on any kind of vessel.

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Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin. 

A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide. 

Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico. 

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Yacht Vs Boat: What is the Difference?

yacht or vessel

Definitions of words such as “yacht”, “boat”, or even “ship” are not always clear. Most of us make our own (unspoken) rules up, while others simply go with the flow and call their vessel whatever comes up at the moment.

So when does a boat become a yacht? Are all boats yachts? Are all yachts boats? What about ships?

Here is our subjective take on this vital matter.

The definition of a boat

In spoken or written English, it seems that anything able to float can be called a boat . It has little to do with size, function, or fit-and-finish. It is the most general term.

According to many dictionaries, boats are defined as “small vessels for traveling over water, propelled by oars, sails, or an engine”. So, a boat can have recreational purposes as well as commercial ones, but it is expected to be quite limited in size. 

A yacht : our unofficial definition

yacht or vessel

The word “yacht” generally refers to a more sophisticated craft than a boat or a ship. 

Yachts can be sailed or motorized: so catamaran, monohulls, or even trimarans can also be called “yachts”. 

To deserve their name, they have to be comfortable, spacious, well equipped and built with luxury in mind.

Regarding their functions, yachts are purely recreational. 

They are designed for relaxation and leisure first, even though they can be suitable for long stays at sea and transatlantic crossings.  

To sum up, as soon as your boat is a certain size and boasts several luxury features designed for leisure, then you can call it a yacht.

The definition of a ship

yacht or vessel

According to the Oxford dictionary, a ship is “a large boat for transporting people or goods by sea”.

The ship is associated with something larger and less fancy than a boat. 

It is a “working” vessel, unlike yachts which are made for leisure purposes.

A ship usually needs a full crew to operate. A yacht might need a full crew to operate depending on its size. A boat usually implies smaller vessels and therefore most of them don’t need a crew.  

Common vessels that are called “ships” include ferries, petrol tankers, or warships.

Details to look at to know if you are dealing with a boat, a yacht, or a ship

The size: one of the strong factors to identify a boat vs a yacht.

Size is one of the most determining factors to know how to call your vessel.

A boat is often expected to be smaller than a ship or a yacht. Generally, a vessel anywhere from 15-30 feet in length will be called a boat.

Starting from 15 meters (50 feet), private luxury recreational crafts can be considered yachts. 

Starting from 24 meters (79 feet), you are entering the superyachts area. 

yacht or vessel

Above, 50 meters can start talking about mega yachts. Obviously, there is no upper limit to mega yachts. Currently, Azzam, the world’s biggest yacht is 180 meters long (590 feet).

So when it comes to differentiating between boat and yacht, size does matter.

But size alone isn’t enough to know the sort of vessel you are dealing with.

The function of a yacht vs a boat isn’t the same

The main function of its vessel is one of the easiest ways to recognize a boat from a ship or a yacht.

Boats can be used for both leisure and business (fishing, day trips, police, …) depending on their size and options.

On the other hand, a yacht has a purely recreational function. Unlike a “boat”, it can be used for long voyages on oceans thanks to its larger size, better propulsion, advanced electronics, guidance, and safety equipment, but especially thanks to its comfort. Yachts can protect passengers from bad weather and the comfortable cabins can accommodate several passengers for long stays. Yachts are also often available for charter with a staff taking care of the guests at a high standard of comfort.

Ships primarily have commercial functions. It can be forwarding freight, crossing the sea with thousands of people on board, or going on a warzone with a unit and its material.

To add to the confusion, some mega yachts such as Christina O could be called ships due to their initial function or their size.


Besides these exceptions, it’s quite obvious to recognize a yacht from a boat or a ship simply by its size and the luxury of its amenities.

The luxury on board makes it a yacht or a boat

A yacht is a recreational vessel designed with luxury and comfort in mind. 

The facilities, be it furniture, rooms, living spaces, safety equipment, and navigation systems are all luxurious on a yacht. 

yacht or vessel

The notion of space is often very important to feel comfortable on board, even for long cruises. The largest and most luxurious yachts have various spaces such as beaches, sundecks … to make life on board as comfortable as on land, if not more.

To make it simple, if a vessel is luxurious, then more often than not, it’s a yacht.

Check out all our luxury yachts here.

The propulsion of the vessel can determine whether it’s a yacht or a boat

A boat can be rowed, propelled with its sails, or with one or several engines. 

Motorized small boats can have impressive speed on the water thanks to their lightweight, but their engines are usually less powerful and sophisticated than yacht engines. 

Some boats can sail long-distance when they are well equipped, such as solar panel, water maker etc.

On the other hand, equipment on yachts make them able to operate over very long distances, including crossing oceans.

Most ships are designed to cross the sea with safety and they are designed for this objective.

Looking at the propulsion is therefore not enough to know if a vessel is a boat, a yacht, or a ship, although it can give you a few clues.

The crew on board can tell the difference between a boat and a yacht

Commercial ships and professional boats obviously have experienced captains to sail them around the rough corners of the globe. 

For yachts and leisure boats, it is less obvious.

yacht or vessel

Big yachts owners usually employ professionals to sail, but also manage the daily operations onboard. The number of enrolled crew members depends on the yacht’ size.

Usually, boats do not need a professional enrolled skipper to operate, if you know how to sail. But you can always rent a boat and hire a skipper to bring you wherever you want.

So, what should you call your vessel? 

To make it simple, if your vessel is a  luxury craft above 50 feet, designed for fun, recreation, relaxation, and comfort, then call it a yacht.

Anything below that size, call it a boat.

If you own a working craft rather than something recreational, especially if it’s a long vessel, then you are free to call it a ship.

But let’s be honest, nobody will blame you if you use the wrong term. You are entirely free to continue calling your canoe a yacht if you like it that way!

Read Also : How Much does it Cost to Charter a Luxury Yacht?

Starting from 50 feet (15 meters), a pleasure boat is usually considered a yacht.

Yes, a 40-feet boat can be considered a yacht if it has recreational use and a luxurious outfit. Otherwise, it is only a boat!

By definition, a ship is a large vessel that crosses oceans and other deep waters for commercial purposes. It carries cargo or passengers or performs specialized missions, such as defense, research, and fishing. So a boat becomes a ship when it is big, it weighs at least 500 tonnes or above and it has commercial use.

Private recreational boats from 33 feet are actually yachts. Luxury is also an important point once defining a yacht.

No. If the boat doesn’t have a recreational purpose, if it is below 33 feet long (10 meters), or if it is not luxurious, it is not a yacht but a boat!


Luxury yachts for charter perfectly suited for 10 guests, skipper’s job and responsibilities: what you should know, trimaran vs catamaran: what are the differences.

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Yacht or Boat?: What’s the difference?

Yacht, ship, or boat – which is it.

Back Cove 37 Downeast - Luxury Motor Yacht

The English language is full of this kind of intriguing conundrum. Definitions of words like yacht, boat, or ship aren’t always sufficiently indicative of which is appropriate and when. The result is that most of us develop and use our own (unspoken) rules within our boating communities or, when the rules don’t apply, we just wing it!

If ‘winging it’ isn’t your style, or you’re new to the boating community, we have some guidelines to help you along the way to nautical fluency.

Back Cove 41 - single engine downeast motor yacht

When in Rome…

As we mentioned above, everybody has their own ‘rules.’ Moreover, the plasticity of language means that any guidelines have a substantial amount of grey area. So always be aware of those familiar with the vessel in question. If you are invited out on ‘the boat,’ it’s safe to say that is an acceptable term. If a captain or owner refers to their vessel as a ‘yacht,’ then use yacht. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!

There is one bit of unequivocally good news in all this confusion – when it’s yours, you can call it whatever you like!

Back Cove 32 - A Downeast Motor Yacht

PS – Do you find any other nautical terms confusing or unclear? Let us know in the comments!

Yacht or Boat?: What's the difference?

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What's the difference between a 'boat' and a 'ship'?

All dictionaries try to avoid the dread lexicographic condition known as circular defining . This is when one looks up a word such as dictionary , sees that it is defined as “a lexicon ,” and, when looking up lexicon , finds that it is defined as “a dictionary.” Given that we spend a considerable amount of time avoiding this sort of defining, it may come to a surprise to some users to discover that one of the definitions for boat is “ship,” and vice versa.


Take to the sea.

This is not actually a case of circular defining, as these seeming examples of synonymy are but one of a number of possible meanings for each word. And we do not define the words in this manner out of a desire to annoy people who love to observe the distinction between these two kinds of vessels. The reason we offer the definitions of “ship” for boat and “boat” for ship is that this is the manner in which a large number of people use the words.

‘What is the difference between a ship and a boat?’ has a good number of answers, but unfortunately most of these are not couched in the type of precise language a dictionary aims for. Sample responses to this question include ‘You can put a boat onto a ship, but you can’t put a ship onto a boat,’ ‘a boat is what you get into when the ship sinks,’ and ‘a boat is the thing you put gravy in.’

If you were to look for precision by asking this question of ten nautically-inclined people in ten different areas it is possible that you would get a wide range of answers, for the exact moment at which a boat becomes a ship varies considerably. We define ship in the following ways: “a large seagoing vessel,” “a sailing vessel having a bowsprit and usually three masts each composed of a lower mast, a topmast, and a topgallant mast,” and “boat (especially one propelled by power or sail)”. Boat has a slightly narrower semantic range, including “a small vessel for travel on water,” and “ship.”

Usage writers appear to have been warning people about these words since the late 19th century; boat appears on James Gordon Bennett’s “Don’t List” in the New York Herald , with instruction to avoid “except in describing a small craft propelled by oars.” However, the distinction between boat and ship had been observed by others well before this.

Mr. Barnes then proceeded to state the distinction between a boat and a ship, and contended that all vessels above a certain tonnage, and which were registered, came under the denomination of “ships,” inasmuch as boats had no register. — The Essex County Standard (Colchester, Eng.), 29 Oct. 1841 ”What do you think, William, is the next gradation?” ”Why, father, is there any thing between a boat and a ship?” ”We are not come to a ship yet, William; we have only spoken of such sorts of vessels as are moved by paddles or oars.” — Isaac Taylor, The Ship, or Sketches of the Vessels of Various Countries , 1834

Despite the fact that we’ve been receiving admonitions about boat and ship for over a century now, many people cheerfully insist on using boat for waterborne vessels of any size. However, few, if any, use ship to refer to small crafts. If you find that you are unable to remember the which is the larger between ship and boat it may help to sing the children’s song Row Your Boat (“row, row, row your ship ” sounds decidedly odd — small oared crafts are almost always referred to as boats ). No matter how many aphorisms we come up with, it seems unlikely that we are going to get much more specific than 'ships are bigger than boats.'

Considering that our language has hundreds of words for different kinds of things that float on the water it is somewhat odd that we should focus exclusively on the difference between only these two. Should you find yourself beset by an angry sailor who calls you out for using boat when you should have used ship you may turn and ask if they know the difference between a xebec and an umiak , a corvette and a wherry , or an argosy and a garvey (the first ones are all ships and the second ones all boats).

The fact that English usage is messy, and has contributed to a use of boat that is somewhat vague, does not mean that there aren't settings where precision is called for. For instance, when you are sailing on someone else's vessel it is polite to always employ the correct terminology. And if you find yourself at a loss about when a boat becomes a ship you should contact your local maritime authority.

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Yacht vs. Ship: What's the Difference?

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Comparison chart, primary use, crew requirements, design focus, yacht and ship definitions, what is a yacht primarily used for, why are ships essential for global trade, how does a ship differ from a yacht in terms of size, is every luxury boat considered a yacht, how are ships powered, can a ship be used for leisure, is yacht racing a popular sport, how are ships navigated, can yachts cross oceans like ships, what type of crew does a yacht require, why are ships crucial for naval defense, how is the speed of yachts compared to ships, are ships and yachts subject to maritime laws, do yachts have classifications, what's the largest type of yacht, can ships be privately owned like yachts, how long can ships stay at sea, what amenities can be found on luxury yachts, can yachts be chartered, how are ships built to withstand rough seas.

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Yacht vs. Boat | What’s The Difference?

So, we have boats and yachts. At first glance, they both float on water and seem like a great way to spend a sunny day. But look a little closer, and they begin to show their true colors. Think of boats as the regular bicycles of the sea world: they’re handy, straightforward, and get the job done.

Great for short rides or quick tasks. On the other hand, yachts are like those luxury cars you see in movies. More significant, flashier, and packed with all sorts of fancy stuff. They’re for those who love comfort and style on their sea adventures. While both have charm, they serve different purposes and offer unique experiences. Dive in with us as we explore the watery world of yacht vs. boat !

difference between a boat and a yacht

Overview of a Yacht

A yacht is designed primarily for leisure and recreational use, distinguishing it from working vessels like fishing boats or cargo ships. While yachts can be sailed or motor-driven, they are commonly associated with luxury, comfort, and prestige.

What Size Boat is Considered a Yacht?

The classification of yacht vs. boat  is more about design and purpose than strict size parameters. However, in general terms, 30 feet (about 9 meters) and longer boats are called yachts.

  • Super Yachts : Typically, vessels over 79 feet (24 meters) fall into this category.
  • Mega Yachts : These are often over 164 feet (50 meters) and represent the pinnacle of luxury and size in yachting.

Commercial Purposes of Yachts

While yachts are primarily associated with personal leisure, they can also serve commercial purposes:

  • Charter Yachts: Many yacht owners lease their vessels as charter yachts, providing vacationers with luxury experiences on the water. Such charters can range from day trips to weeks-long voyages.
  • Yacht Races & Events : Yachts, especially sailing ones, participate in races and regattas, which can attract sponsorship and media attention.
  •   Training & Certification : Larger yachts requiring professional crew leads to commercial ventures offering maritime training, certification, and placement services.

Overview of a Boat

A boat is a watercraft of various sizes and types, designed to float or plane to provide passage across water. Using primarily for recreation, transportation, and specific tasks, boats serve as invaluable tools and leisure companions worldwide. Here’s a deeper look into what boats encompass:

Size and Types:

While there’s no strict demarcation on size, boats tend to be smaller than yachts, often under 30 feet (around 9 meters) in length. Boats come in various designs and serve multiple purposes:

  • Fishing Boats : Designed primarily for angling activities, they often have storage, bait wells, and rod holders.
  • Sailboats : Relying on sails for propulsion, they come in many varieties, from single-sailed dinghies to multi-mast schooners.
  • Speedboats : Built for speed and agility, these are often used for racing, watersports, or leisure cruising.
  • Rowboats : Powered by human effort using oars, they’re commonly found in calm lakes and rivers.
  • Kayaks & Canoes : Narrow watercraft primarily used in rivers, lakes, and coastal areas.

Usage and Function:

Boats serve a myriad of functions:

  • Recreation : From tranquil fishing trips to adrenaline-filled watersports, boats offer various recreational activities.
  • Transport : Especially in archipelagic or coastal regions, boats provide essential transportation between islands or short distances.
  • Occupation : Many rely on boats for their livelihood, from fishing to tour guiding.
  • Rescue : Lifeboats and other specialized vessels play critical roles in rescue operations in water bodies.
  • Sport : Boating competitions, from kayak races to sailboat regattas, are famous worldwide.

Sea Vessels Explored: Difference Between The Boat vs. Yacht

1. size: the defining dimension.

Boat:  Boats are the compact vehicles of the maritime domain. They typically measure under 30 feet, providing just enough space for basic amenities and functionalities. Yacht: Contrasting starkly with boats, yachts are the giants of the seas. Starting from 30 feet, they often venture into the territory of super-yachts that stretch beyond 200 feet.

2. Propulsion Operations: The Power that Propels

Boat:  How do boats move? The answers are as diverse as the boats themselves. Some rely on human power, like rowboats with oars. Others harness the wind using sails. Many modern boats, especially those used for recreation, utilize outboard motors.

Yacht:  Yachts present a more complex picture when it comes to movement. Their larger structure necessitates sophisticated propulsion systems.

3. Use: Function Meets Passion

Boat:  A boat’s purpose is as varied as its type. Need to fish? Boats have you covered. They also serve specific tasks, like towing or participating in water sports, ensuring a boat for almost every water-bound need.

Yacht:  Yachts are less about function and more about experience. Imagine cruising through azure waters, anchoring beside secluded beaches, or hosting lavish parties amidst the ocean’s vastness.

4. Luxury and Comfort: The Glamour Quotient

Boat:  Boats are built for a purpose. Their designs are straightforward, keeping in mind the core function. While some modern boats incorporate creature comforts like cushioned seating or basic entertainment systems, they’re not about luxury.

Yacht:  Luxury is the essence of a yacht. It’s not just a vessel; it’s a floating piece of art equipped with modern luxuries. Think of gourmet kitchens, state-of-the-art entertainment hubs, jacuzzis with ocean views, and staterooms rivaling five-star hotel suites. Larger yachts may even feature helipads, cinemas, and gyms, making them floating mansions.

6.  Price: The Investment Spectrum

The cost comparison of Yacht vs. Boat is as:

Navigating the Importance of Distinction

Why is it so essential to understand these differences? Here are some reasons:

Investment Implications:  Discerning between a boat and a yacht helps potential buyers gauge their investment, from purchase and docking fees to long-term maintenance.

Operational Skills:  Larger vessels like yachts demand a more profound understanding of maritime navigation. Some regions even mandate professional licenses or crew for yachts, reflecting their complexity.

Matching Maritime Ambitions: Identifying the right vessel type ensures that one’s nautical aspirations — fishing, luxury cruising, or weekend family outings — are adequately met.

Boats vs. Yachts: Insights from the Crew’s Perspective.

  For Boat:

Yachts vs. Boats: A Nautical Choice

Deciding between a yacht and a boat isn’t just picking a watercraft; it’s about embracing distinct water-bound lifestyles. This choice goes beyond mere selection—it dives deep into the unique vibes, moods, and values that each vessel radiates—both present enchanting seafaring experiences tailored to individual desires and dreams.

Yachts are synonymous with opulence, style, and the magnetic charm of the open ocean. They offer expansive spaces and state-of-the-art facilities and are perfect for hosting grand get-togethers. When a yacht anchors, it silently broadcasts its owner’s love for deluxe experiences and refined living.

On the flip side, boats resonate with liberty, straightforwardness, and closer communion with aquatic wonders. They’re for those who love the undiluted thrill of water escapades, be it a serene fishing day on a secluded lake or meandering through a winding river.

Yacht vs. boat  beckons with the charm of open waters, but they’re designed for different adventures and needs. Think of boats as your go-to for practical tasks or quick getaways, while yachts are all about diving into luxury, relaxation, and unforgettable sea escapades. So when you see a vessel cutting through the waves next time, you’ll know if it’s a simple boat doing its thing or a grand yacht making a statement.


Q: What Is the Difference Between a Yacht and a Boat?

A:  A yacht is a more extensive and more costly form of watercraft than a standard boat. It is frequently utilized for luxury reasons, such as relaxing or sailing around the Mediterranean. In contrast, a boat is a broader phrase that can apply to any watercraft.

Q: When does a boat become a yacht?

A:  Yachts are often more significant than other forms of leisure boats. However, there is no hard and fast line between categories. Nonetheless, the widely accepted point at which a boat might begin to qualify as a yacht is roughly 35 feet, but they can easily be more extended.

Q: Is every boat a yacht?

A:  While there is no legal criterion for a boat to become a yacht, anything longer than 40 feet might be termed a yacht, furthermore, you will most likely enter the “mega-yacht” or “superyacht” area when you increase in size.

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The Key Differences Between a Yacht and a Boat | Yacht vs Boat

Olivia benjamin.

  • June 20, 2023

Differences Between a Yacht and a Boat

It’s a common misconception to assume that there is no difference between a yacht and a boat, but there are notable differences between these two types of watercraft. Yachts are generally larger and more luxurious than boats, typically smaller and designed for recreational activities such as fishing or water sports.

While yachts and boats serve as leisure vessels on the water, yachts often boast additional amenities like air conditioning, multiple bedrooms, and even hot tubs. Conversely, boats tend to have simpler features, such as a small cabin or storage space for fishing equipment.

Gaining a deeper understanding of these differences can assist you in determining whether to choose a yacht or a boat based on your unique needs and preferences. So, let’s dive deeper into the distinctions between these two types of vessels.

What is a Yacht and What is a Boat?

Boats and yachts are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between them. Let’s examine the differences between boats and yachts.

What is a Yacht?

You might think of a yacht as a luxurious vessel often used for leisure activities, like sailing the high seas or throwing lavish parties on board. 

Yachts are typically larger than boats and have amenities such as multiple cabins, bathrooms, kitchens, and entertainment areas. They’re designed for comfort and style rather than speed or efficiency.

However, it’s important to note that not all yachts are the same. Some may be motorized, while others require sails to move through the water. 

Moreover, there are several types of yachts, including racing yachts, cruising yachts, and mega yachts, with sizes ranging from 33 to over 160 feet. Each type caters to specific preferences and requirements, ensuring a tailored yachting experience.


What is a Boat?

A boat is a watercraft primarily designed to float, move, and navigate on water. It is a generic term that refers to a wide range of vessels used for various purposes such as recreation, transportation, military, commercial use, or fishing. 

Boats come in different sizes, designs, and types, each serving a specific need. Small boats like kayaks and canoes are used for recreational purposes, while larger boats like tugboats serve commercial purposes. 

Whether used for pleasure or work, boats offer great maneuverability. They can navigate in shallow waters and tight spaces and come equipped with navigation and other systems.


Boat vs Yacht | What is the difference between a Yacht and a Boat?

Do you want to know the differences between yachts and boats? Well, there are several key points to consider.

A boat is a generic term used to refer to any small watercraft. At the same time, a yacht is a specific type of boat often associated with luxury and recreational purposes. Many differences exist between yachts and boats, including the use, size, construction of these vessels, and many more. 

Let’s explore these differences in detail to help you understand the unique qualities of each type of watercraft.

Difference in Size

Yachts are typically larger than boats, often measuring over 40 feet long. While boats come in various sizes, they often range from around 20-30 feet in length.

Boats are usually smaller and built for leisurely activities like fishing or cruising on lakes and rivers. On the other hand, yachts are designed for luxurious living at sea and are often equipped with multiple cabins, bathrooms, entertainment areas, and even swimming pools. 

The size difference between yachts and boats also affects their handling of the water. Due to their large size and complex systems, yachts require experienced crews to operate them. Boats, on the other hand, can be easily handled by anyone with basic boating knowledge.

Difference in Use

While both vessels are designed for water travel but serve very different purposes, boats are typically smaller vessels used for recreational activities such as fishing, water sports, and short trips along the coast. They’re also commonly used for transportation in areas with many waterways.

Yachts, on the other hand, are much larger and more luxurious than most boats. They’re typically owned by wealthy individuals or companies and used for leisurely cruising or entertaining guests. Some yachts can even be chartered for special events such as weddings or corporate retreats.

Difference in Technology

While many boats rely on traditional engines or rowing, yachts often incorporate cutting-edge navigation, communication, and entertainment technology. 

For example, some luxury yachts have state-of-the-art autopilot, radar and GPS systems that easily navigate even the most treacherous waters. Additionally, many yachts are equipped with satellite phones and other communication devices that allow passengers to stay connected no matter where they are.

Conversely, boats have basic technology geared towards recreational purposes, like fish finders or depth sounders. Older boats may still use traditional analog instruments for compass bearing and navigation.

Regardless of size or purpose, one thing is clear – technology plays a major role in differentiating between a yacht and a boat. 

Yacht vs Boat

Differences in Power and Propulsion

When it comes to power and propulsion, yachts and boats have some key differences. Yachts are often equipped with larger, inboard engines designed for speed and endurance. In contrast, boats may have outboard motors that are smaller and better suited for recreational purposes.

Another key difference relates to the type of transmission used. Yachts often rely on multi-speed transmissions that allow the engine to operate at various speeds. Boats, on the other hand, may have simpler transmission systems that are designed for a lower level of performance.

The type of propulsion used is also important to consider. Yachts may be propelled by jets, controllable pitch propellers or other high-tech means, enabling them to perform well in various conditions. Boats typically rely on simpler propellers unsuited to more demanding environments.

Difference in Price

When it comes to price, yachts and boats are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Boats, being smaller and typically used for recreational purposes, can range from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. 

Yachts, on the other hand, are significantly more expensive. These vessels are often larger and more luxurious, costing several million to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The cost of owning a yacht goes beyond just the initial purchase price. Yachts require significant upkeep, including maintenance, insurance, and docking fees. However, yacht owners are often willing to pay high costs for the prestige and luxury of owning such vessels.

The Difference in Luxury and Comfort

Luxurious yachts have everything from plush interiors with high-end finishes to state-of-the-art entertainment systems. Many yachts also come equipped with luxurious bedrooms, bathrooms, and gourmet kitchens.

In addition to these features, yachts offer expansive decks and outdoor spaces for entertaining guests or simply enjoying the sun and sea breeze. 

When it comes to luxury and comfort, there really is no comparison between a yacht and a boat. While boats may be functional for certain activities, such as fishing or water sports, they offer a different level of extravagance than you’ll find onboard a yacht.

Marina Quay

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost difference between purchasing a yacht and a boat.

Before you set sail, remember, a yacht is not just a bigger boat. The difference between purchasing a yacht and a boat can be significant, with yachts typically costing millions while boats range from thousands to hundreds of thousands.

Are there any legal requirements for operating a yacht versus a boat?

To operate a yacht, you may need a captain’s license and have to follow specific regulations depending on the size of your vessel. For boats, requirements vary by state and type of boat but are generally less strict.

How does the size of a yacht compare to the size of a boat?

Yachts are generally larger than typical boats, ranging from 33 feet to over 160 feet in length. However, the size distinction between a yacht and a boat needs to be clearly defined and can vary depending on personal perception.

Are there any specific maintenance requirements for a yacht that differ from those of a boat?

Yachts require meticulous maintenance to ensure they remain seaworthy. This includes regular inspections, cleaning, and repairs. These tasks are more complex and costly than those typically required for boats but crucial for the safety of all onboard.

What is the largest yacht in the world?

As of 2023, the largest yacht in the world is the SOMNIO , measuring 222 meters (728 feet) in length. The yacht is under construction and due for launch in mid-2024.

A yacht can be likened to a floating mansion, replete with lavish amenities and luxurious features, often owned by affluent individuals who relish time at sea. These vessels boast multiple decks, spacious cabins, and even swimming pools.

In contrast, boats come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from small dinghies to large commercial tugboats. While some boats offer basic amenities like a small cabin or restroom, they cannot compete with the luxury of a yacht.

The primary distinction between a yacht and a boat lies in luxury and comfort. Yachts epitomize extravagance, providing amenities akin to a high-end hotel suite, while boats prioritize practicality and functionality.

Ultimately, choosing between a yacht and a boat depends on personal preferences and intended use.

Olivia Benjamin

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yacht or vessel

What’s The Difference Between Vessel & Boat? Precisely Answered

Many people will use the two terms (vessel and boat) interchangeably, confusing few people in differentiating between them. In this article, we will walk you through the difference between a vessel and a boat to clear your doubt.

The difference between the vessel and a boat is that the vessel is any floating object (boat, ship, barge, kayak, canoe, raft, etc.) used for the carriage of people or goods, whereas the boat is usually referred to as a smaller vessel. So, every boat is a vessel, but every vessel is not a boat.

Moreover, the vessel is like a parent with a boat, sailboat, ship, barge, kayak, canoe, etc., as children. And the boat is defined as a smaller craft or vessel (in terms of length). So, the vessel is the head of the category, and the boat is a subcategory of the vessel (a different variant among vessels).

The word vessel refers to any floating object that carries passengers or cargo, and that includes

  • Boat (regardless of propulsion type)
  • Personal Watercrafts (Jetski, Sea-Doo, WaveRunner)

The term “boat” refers to any smaller vessels, and there are so many types of boats, and we will now see them.

  • Fishing boats (inshore and offshore)
  • Pontoon Boats
  • Bowrider boats
  • Cuddy Cabin boats
  • Cabin Cruiser boats
  • Center Console boats
  • Dual Console boats
  • Motor Yachts

And the list goes on. Check on this Wikipedia page to know more about the types of vessels in a detailed way. We also have written some articles on a few of them, and you can search them on this site at the top right corner. Okay, now let’s continue with the article.

According to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (by IMO ), the word “vessel” includes every description of watercraft, including non-displacement craft, propelled by an engine or not, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

So, any floating object that is used to carry passengers or goods is considered a vessel. Since the boat is also used to carry passengers or goods or for recreational purposes, it is considered as a vessel along with the ship, barge, sailboat, kayak, canoe, raft, etc.

Did You Know? Even Personal Watercraft (Jetskis) are also considered vessels. However, the official definition of a personal watercraft varies from state to state. Still, they are generally recognized as vessels that use an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power and are designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel. Discover Boating

There was one exception for rafts considering them as vessels in the past. American and British 19th-Century maritime law distinguished “vessels” from other craft; ships and boats fall in one legal category, whereas open boats and rafts are not considered vessels (source – Wiki ).

Finally, every floating object that is used to carry passengers or cargo is known as a vessel. Consider it (vessel) as a catchy term to represent any floating object that is used to carry passengers or cargo. But every vessel is not a boat. Boat refers to “a relatively small waterborne vessel .”

Whereas a vessel can be of any length from as small as a canoe to as big as a ship. That being said, we will now see why boats are called vessels and the history behind that term.

yacht or vessel

Why Is Boat Called A Vessel? (The History)

A boat is called a vessel because it is a floating object used to carry cargo or passengers. By definition, a vessel is anything that is floating (object) and used for the carriage of people or goods. So, a boat is called a vessel, along with ships, sailboats, barges, canoes, kayaks, etc.

Since a vessel is anything that can float and can be steered/moved, either by own means or by other means, a boat is called a vessel. So do ships, barges, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, etc. Craft is also similar to the word “vessel” but mostly referred to small boats, whereas a vessel can be anything regardless of the size.

Vessel – The word “vessel” comes from the Old French vessel, which meant a container. The Old French vessel also refers to a ship. The same word came from the Latin vascellum, which refers to a small vase and a ship ( source ). The term “vessel” has a number of different meanings, yet all of them relate in some way to liquids and transportation.

Nowadays, a vessel is a catchall term to describe a floating object used for the carriage of people or goods. Hence, vessel refers to ships, boats, canoes, or any watercraft. It has also been defined as any craft that is capable of floating and moving on water.

A boat is defined as a small craft or vessel designed to float on and provide transport over water. The vessel is a broad definition that includes anything such as a jet ski or even a large ship. Some define it further as a vessel with a hull, as opposed to a life raft. “Boat” is also a naval slang term for a submarine of any size.

Is Boat Considered A Vessel? A boat is considered a vessel because anything that can float and can be steered/moved, either by own means or by other means, is known as a vessel. Boats have the same characteristics, so boats are also considered and called vessels, along with ships, barges, kayaks, etc.

The Key Takeaways From The Post

The difference between the boat and a vessel is that the vessel is any floating object (ship, barge, sailboat, boat, kayak, canoe, raft, etc.) used for the carriage of people or goods, whereas the boat is usually referred to as a smaller vessel. So, every boat is a vessel, but every vessel is not a boat.

My name is Mahidhar, and I am passionate about boating. Every day I learn some new things about boats and share them here on the site.

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Saturday 3 July 2010

Q: what is the difference between a boat, a ship and a vessel.

Posted by Editor at 17:33  

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yacht or vessel

Yacht or Sailboat: Deciding Your Luxury Sea Escape

Embark on a nautical adventure as we dive into the luxe life of yachts versus the windswept world of sailboats—your passport to choosing the ultimate vessel for your sea escapades awaits!

yacht or vessel

The world of boats is complicated to decipher because of how many types, models, and brands exist. Yachts and sailboats are two essential types of boats that are immediately recognizable by anyone. With that said, the yacht vs. sailboat debate ultimately comes down to several distinguishing factors between the two.

The main difference between yachts and sailboats is that sailboats have sails and yachts don’t. Sailboats are also smaller than yachts, feature fewer amenities, and cannot move quite as fast. Yachts are also much more expensive to purchase and maintain, and maintenance costs 20% of the initial cost each year which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s much easier to transport a sailboat than a yacht because yachts have to be shipped on a cargo deck. Conversely, you can attach the average sailboat to a trailer and tow it to a port. Follow along as we highlight the key differences between yachts and sailboats.

What Is The Difference Between a Yacht And a Sailboat?

yacht or vessel

The main differences between yachts and sailboats come down to size, amenities, and build . They serve the same purpose, but yachts and sailboats differ quite a bit when it comes to design. While not interchangeable, many prospective buyers struggle with whether or not to buy a yacht or a sailboat.

The yacht vs. sailboat debate has been discussed for decades, and it is ultimately subjective. However, many key differences can sway your opinion before you make a big purchase. Let’s take a look at the difference between yachts and sailboats and see why they matter.

Sails are the most immediately clear difference between yachts and sailboats. Sailboats always feature sails, but that’s not usually the case with yachts.  The sail on a sailboat helps propel the vessel and is useful whether your boat has an engine or not .

Standard yachts lack sails because it would alter their appearance. Yachts are supposed to look sleek and luxurious which wouldn’t work as well with a sail. With that said, sailing yachts feature sails and are more often used for racing than cruising.

One of the downsides of traditional yachts is that you don’t get the aerodynamic boost that you would get with a sail . If you have a high-powered engine, this isn't a problem, but it will have to work harder without a sail under poor weather conditions.

The average sailboat is smaller than the average yacht.  For example, the average yacht measures 78 feet long and the average sailboat measures 30 feet long . Yachts can be as small as 40 feet long or they can even exceed 100 feet long.

The world’s largest yacht measures 511 feet long and it is unsurprisingly owned by a multi-billionaire . Both yachts and sailboats vary in width depending on the floor plan and how many cabins they feature. Sailboats are generally slender because they feature a small galley and don’t typically include a cabin.

A superyacht is defined as a yacht that is 79 feet long or longer. However, you won’t find many superyachts out on the sea because they cost at least $3,000,000 in most cases.

Yachts are almost always much more expensive than sailboats. The difference in cost comes down to the many amenities that yachts are known for as well as the motor and size.  Yachts start at $500,000 on the low end, but they can exceed $10,000,000 for superyachts over 79 feet long .

The more expensive a yacht is, the more expensive it will be to maintain because of the fuel demands and part replacements. There is more variety in cost when it comes to sailboats because they are a broad category of vessels. For example, a sailboat with no motor will cost thousands of dollars less than one that is motorized.

A motorized sailboat can cost as much as $250,000 or more whereas one without a motor may only cost $3,500 . Luxury sailboats with cabins can cost $500,000 but without the powerful performance of a yacht. With that said, sailboats cost less to maintain so even buying a high-end vessel may be a worthy investment.

Yachts have a higher capacity than sailboats because of how much bigger they generally are. There are often multiple decks on a yacht which makes it easy to host a large group of guests.  Standard yachts can only accommodate 10-12 people, but large superyachts can hold more than double that in some cases .

Sailboats can typically hold 5-10 people, but it depends on the size of the vessel. You can calculate the capacity for a sailboat or yacht by multiplying the length and width and then diving that number by 15. Otherwise, you can simply refer to the capacity as recommended by the manufacturer.

It’s worth noting that boat manufacturers can only provide approximate estimates for capacity. They base the capacity on an average of 150 pounds per person, but that doesn’t apply to everybody.

Yachts are superior to sailboats when it comes to amenities in most cases. Sailboats sometimes feature a few amenities, such as a cabin or bathroom.  However, yachts are considered luxury boats, so they are more likely to include special amenities such as built-in speakers and even TVs in some cases .

Some yachts even feature swimming pools and hot tubs, but they come at a premium price.  They typically feature at least one deck to accommodate guests and some even feature helicopter pads . You won’t find nearly as many amenities on a sailboat because sailboats are more for practical use.

Larger sailboats may include a private deck and retractable sunshade. Otherwise, there isn’t usually enough space on a sailboat to include luxury amenities such as movie screens and infinity pools.

If you’re looking for a boat with comfortable quarters, then a yacht is ideal for you. Sailboats feature quarters in some cases as well, but yachts specifically emphasize comfort and luxury.  Some yachts feature multiple cabins that can be used for lounging and sleeping alike .

You will also find larger cabins in yachts than sailboats which makes them much more comfortable. Yachts also often feature crew quarters because they sometimes require staff to operate the vessel. Sailboats are usually much smaller than yachts, and the cabins are suitably smaller as well.

You won’t likely find many sailboats with crew quarters unless it is a motorized vessel . Many manufacturers let you customize the floorplan and design for a yacht or sailboat. You can add a cabin to a boat that typically wouldn’t feature one, but it will delay how quickly you get it by up to a year or more in some cases.


Yachts are also faster than sailboats in most cases because of the powerful motor . Sailing yachts offer the best of both worlds because of the aerodynamic boost paired with the motor. Sailboats can still reach high speeds without a motor, especially if the wind is in your favor.

However, sailboats are faster than motorized yachts in some cases and can even reach speeds up to 12 knots or more. Yachts can operate at 10 knots at least, but massive yachts cannot usually maintain a high speed for long.  High-performance yachts from bands such as Foners can reach speeds up to 70 knots, but that is rare .

Luxury yachts that measure 30-40 feet long can run at 30 knots in some cases as well. Otherwise, heavy yachts with an underpowered motor may only run at 10-20  knots.

It typically costs more to dock a yacht than a sailboat, but it depends on the size. Marinas charge varying rates to dock based on the location and the size of your boat.  Boat length is one of the biggest cost factors, and they typically charge $10-$50 per foot of the vessel .

Yachts and sailboats can be similar in length, but yachts are often longer and wider making them more expensive to dock. Many yachts are considered liveaboard boats which can also add to the cost of docking at a marina.  Marinas charge an extra fee if you plan to live on your yacht while docked, and not all of them even allow it .

You will also likely need to pay an extra fee to have your yacht or sailboat pumped at the marina. This is more common with yachts because they almost always feature at least one bathroom, but some sailboats do as well. Pumping may cost as little as $10-$20, but it’s better than having to empty your tank.


Maintenance is a reoccurring cost no matter what type of boat you have. With that said, you will likely need to spend much more to maintain a yacht than a sailboat. Motor sailboats may still require expensive maintenance, but it’s much less than for a yacht.

Yachts require routine maintenance to ensure that the motor and engine can continue to run smoothly.  It costs 20% of the buying price per year to maintain the average yacht, and that adds up quickly . Yachts often cost over $1,000,000, so you could potentially spend up to $200,000 per year in fuel and maintenance in that case.

Traditional sailboats only cost an average of $3,500 per year to maintain, but they can cost as little as $1,500.  Your maintenance costs may exceed $5,000 per year for a sailboat if it is motorized . Even still, it costs tens of thousands of dollars less per year to maintain the average sailboat than a yacht. It also costs much more to insure a yacht than a sailboat.

Sailboats can typically travel further without needing to stop than yachts.  That is because yachts need to refuel which can limit how far you can travel from a port. However, motor sailboats have the same distance limitations as yachts because they rely on fuel.

Traditional sailboats don’t feature motors so they can essentially travel as far as possible until the crew needs to return.  Sailing yachts may be able to travel further than standard yachts because of the aerodynamic boost . This can put less stress on the engine which can help save fuel to let you travel further.


It’s much easier to transport a sailboat to a port or dock than a yacht. In many cases, you simply cannot trailer a yacht and you need to ship it as deck cargo.  You can expect to spend at least $1,000 to ship a yacht as cargo, but it can cost much more for long distances .

Sailboats are easier to transport because you can attach them to a trailer and tow them to a port in most cases. You can tow a sailboat with a trailer as long as it is 22 feet long or smaller. Otherwise, you may need to have your sailboat shipped as cargo like you would need to for a yacht.

Yacht Pros and Cons

yacht or vessel

Yachts are understandably desirable to many, even if they may seem unattainable. Even still, yachts are complicated just like any type of boat and they have various pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the positive aspects of owning a yacht.

First and foremost, yachts are spacious and comfortable which makes them better than most boats. They almost always feature a large galley and at least one cabin that offers plenty of room.  The luxurious appeal of yachts is that they come with many amenities making them akin to a mobile hotel on the water .

Yachts also feature powerful motors that are necessary to move their massive weight. You can fit at least 10 people on a yacht and over 20 on some huge models. This makes them the best boat to take out onto the water if you plan to entertain a large group of people.

  • Comfortable cabins
  • Plenty of deck space
  • Convenient amenities
  • Can reach high speeds

The high cost of docking at a marina is one of the biggest downsides of owning a yacht. They are so massive that spending a fortune on docking fees and club memberships is unavoidable. This is especially true if you plan to join a yacht club which can cost $7,000 or more per year depending on where you live.

Another key downside to a yacht is that they are a poor investment.  The exorbitant cost of yearly maintenance paired with the depreciating value after using a yacht makes it nearly impossible to turn a profit . It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to maintain a yacht depending on how much you use it and how much the initial cost was.

  • Maintenance costs a fortune
  • Expensive to dock
  • Requires a lot of fuel
  • Needs to be shipped

Sailboat Pros and Cons

yacht or vessel

Much like yachts, sailboats aren’t without their problems. With that said, sailboats are also incredible vessels and continue to improve with each generation. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of sailboats.

You can easily maintain a sailboat without spending nearly as much as you would on maintaining a yacht.  That is because the engine on a sailboat is much simpler than one on a yacht which makes maintenance easier . You also get a boost from the wind as you move through the water with a sailboat because of how aerodynamic they are.

Another benefit of sailboats is that the engine doesn’t roar loudly likely a yacht does. This helps create a calm atmosphere for everyone on the boat which is essential when you are at sea. Most importantly, sailboats are inarguably much more affordable than yachts so they are easier for the average person to attain.

  • Aerodynamic design
  • Quiet operation
  • Reasonably affordable
  • Easy to maintain

One of the biggest downsides of sailboats is that they rely on great weather to operate at the optimal level. This is especially true if your sailboat isn’t motorized or simply has a weak engine that can’t keep up with bad weather. Sailboats are also usually much slower than yachts because their engines are less sophisticated.

They can also be difficult to steer in many cases, especially if you are new to sailing . You will also need to replace the sails several every 10 years or 4,000 hours of use, whichever comes first. Finally, sailboats aren’t known for having great amenities, such consider a yacht if you want luxury features.

  • Can’t always reach high speeds
  • Doesn’t feature many amenities
  • Relies on great weather
  • Difficult to steer
  • Must replace sails

What Qualifies a Boat To Be a Yacht?

yacht or vessel

The criteria for a yacht are dubious and frequently, debated, but they typically measure at least 30-40 feet long . Yachts are also almost exclusively luxury boats that feature more amenities than a sailboat, fishing vessel, or pontoon. Most yachts feature cabins, a bathroom, a kitchen, a dinette, and a comfortable galley.

Yachts also typically lack sails, but there are sailing yachts on the market but they are a more recent addition to the world of boats. They also have a unique look that you can recognize right away even if you are unfamiliar with other vessels.  Yachts often feature diesel engines that are powerful enough to move such a massive boat, and some of them come with multiple engines .

Can a Yacht Cross The Ocean?

Not all yachts can cross the ocean, but many of them can.  It ultimately comes down to the fuel source and what kind of engine your yacht has . Yachts with multiple engines in particular can easily cross the ocean up to 3,000 miles in many cases.

It’s important to check the recommended nautical mileage of your yacht via the manufacturer before you attempt this. Many people live on their yachts, and in this case, supplies are an important factor to consider.  It can take over a week to sail 3,000 miles depending on how many stops you make and how fast your yacht is .

In this case, you will need to make sure that your yacht has enough food and supplies to last you for at least a week. Ideally, you should plan a route that will let you stop at ports to refuel, pump your bathroom, and get more supplies to last for the rest of the trip. If this isn’t possible then it’s worth reconsidering and sailing a different route if you’re unsure about your yacht’s capabilities.

Is a Yacht Better Than a Sailboat?

Yachts are better than sailboats if you value amenities and speed . Sailboats don’t always include an engine, but when they do, it’s usually less impressive than a yacht’s engine. However, the sail on a sailboat gives it an aerodynamic boost that yachts simply don’t have.

Yachts are a poor investment compared to a sailboat because of how much they cost to maintain. You may have to spend up to 20% of the initial cost of a yacht per year to maintain the yacht. Overall, yachts and sailboats both have many pros and cons, but sailboats are a more affordable option if you are on a budget.

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Nautical + Sailing Terms You Should Know [578 Phrases]

Nautical + Sailing Terms You Should Know [578 Phrases]

June 5, 2019 2:05 pm

A seaman’s jargon is among the most challenging to memorize. With over 500 terms used to communicate with a captain, crew, and sailors regarding navigation and more, there’s a word for nearly everything. No need to jump ship, this comprehensive list will have you speaking the lingo in no time.

Abaft the beam: A relative bearing of greater than 90 degrees from the bow. e.g. “two points abaft the port beam.”

Abaft: Toward the stern, relative to some object (“abaft the fore hatch”).

Abandon Ship: An imperative to leave the vessel immediately, usually in the face of some imminent danger.

Abeam: “On the beam”, a relative bearing at right angles to the centerline of the ship’s keel.

Aboard: On or in a vessel. Close aboard means near a ship.

Above board: On or above the deck, in plain view, not hiding anything.

Accommodation ladder: A portable flight of steps down a ship’s side.

Admiral: Senior naval officer of Flag rank. In ascending order of seniority, Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, Admiral and Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy). Derivation reputedly Arabic, from “Emir al Bath” (“Ruler of the waters”).

Admiralty law: Body of law that deals with maritime cases. In the UK administered by the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice.

Adrift: Afloat and unattached in any way to the shore or seabed. It may also imply that a vessel is not anchored and not under control, therefore goes where the wind and current take her, (loose from moorings, or out of place). Also refers to any gear not fastened down or put away properly. It can also be used to mean “absent without leave”.

Affreightment: Hiring of a vessel

Aft: Towards the stern (of the vessel).

Afterdeck: Deck behind a ship’s bridge

Afterguard: Men who work the aft sails on the quarterdeck and poop deck

Aground: Resting on or touching the ground or bottom.

Ahead: Forward of the bow.

Ahoy: A cry to draw attention. A term used to hail a boat or a ship, as “Boat ahoy!”.

Ahull: With sails furled and helm lashed to the lee-side.

Aid to Navigation: ( ATON) Any device external to a vessel or aircraft specifically intended to assist navigators in determining their position or safe course, or to warn them of dangers or obstructions to navigation.

All hands: Entire ship’s company, both officers and enlisted personnel.

All-Round White Light: On power-driven vessels less than 39.4 feet in length, this light may be used to combine a masthead light and sternlight into a single white light that can be seen by other vessels from any direction. This light serves as an anchor light when sidelights are extinguished.

Aloft: Above the ship’s uppermost solid structure; overhead or high above.

Alongside: By the side of a ship or pier.

Amidships (or midships): In the middle portion of the ship, along the line of the keel.

Anchor ball: Black shape hoisted in the forepart of a ship to show that ship is anchored in a fairway.

Anchor buoy: A small buoy secured by a light line to anchor to indicate the position of the anchor on the bottom.

Anchor chain or cable: Chain connecting the ship to the anchor.

Anchor detail: Group of men who handle ground tackle when the ship is anchoring or getting underway.

Anchor light: White light displayed by a ship at anchor. Two such lights are displayed by a ship over 150 feet (46 m) in length.

Anchor watch: Making sure that the anchor is holding and the vessel is not drifting. Important during rough weather and at night. Most marine GPS units have an Anchor Watch alarm capability.

Anchor: An object designed to prevent or slow the drift of a ship, attached to the ship by a line or chain; typically a metal, hook-like object, designed to grip the bottom under the body of water.

Anchorage: A suitable place for a ship to anchor. Area of a port or harbor.

Anchor’s aweigh: Said of an anchor when just clear of the bottom.

As the crow flies: A direct line between two points (which might cross land) which is the way crows travel rather than ships which must go around land.

Ashore: On the beach, shore or land.

Astern: Toward the stern; an object or vessel that is abaft another vessel or object.

ASW: Anti-submarine warfare.

Asylum Harbor: A harbor used to provide shelter from a storm.

Athwart, athwartships: At right angles to the fore and aft or centerline of a ship.

Avast: Stop! Cease or desist from whatever is being done.

Awash: So low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the surface.

Aweigh: Position of an anchor just clear of the bottom.

Aye, aye: Reply to an order or command to indicate that it, firstly, is heard; and, secondly, is understood and will be carried out. (“Aye, aye, sir” to officers).

Azimuth circle: Instrument used to take bearings of celestial objects.

Azimuth compass: An instrument employed for ascertaining the position of the sun with respect to magnetic north. The azimuth of an object is its bearing from the observer measured as an angle clockwise from true north.

Back and fill: To use the advantage of the tide being with you when the wind is not.

Backstays: Long lines or cables, reaching from the rear of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.

Baggywrinkle: A soft covering for cables (or any other obstructions) that prevents sail chafing from occurring.

Bale Cube (or Bale Capacity): The space available for cargo measured in cubic feet to the inside of the cargo battens, on the frames, and to the underside of the beams.

Ballaster: One who supplies ships with ballast.

Bank (sea floor): A large area of elevated sea floor.

Banyan: Traditional Royal Navy term for a day or shorter period of rest and relaxation.

Bar pilot: A bar pilot guides ships over the dangerous sandbars at the mouth of rivers and bays.

Bar: Large mass of sand or earth, formed by the surge of the sea. They are mostly found at the entrances of great rivers or havens, and often render navigation extremely dangerous, but confer tranquility once inside. See also: Touch and go, grounding. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Crossing the bar’ an allegory for death.

Bargemaster: Owner of a barge.

Barrelman: A sailor that was stationed in the crow’s nest.

Beacon: A lighted or unlighted fixed aid to navigation attached directly to the earth’s surface. (Lights and daybeacons both constitute beacons).

Beam ends: The sides of a ship. “On her beam ends” may mean the vessel is literally on her side and possibly about to capsize; more often, the phrase means the vessel is listing 45 degrees or more.

Beam: The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point or a point alongside the ship at the mid-point of its length.

Bear away: Turn away from the wind, often with reference to a transit.

Bear down: Turn away from the wind, often with reference to a transit.

Bearing: The horizontal direction of a line of sight between two objects on the surface of the earth.

Bee: Hardwood on either side of bowsprit through which forestays are reeved

Before the mast: Literally, the area of a ship before the foremast (the forecastle). Most often used to describe men whose living quarters are located here, officers being housed behind (abaft) the mast and enlisted men before the mast. This was because the midships area where the officers were berthed is more stable, being closer to the center of gravity, and thus more comfortable. It is less subject to the up and down movement resulting from the ship’s pitching.

Belay: To secure a rope by winding on a pin or cleat

Belaying pins: Bars of iron or hardwood to which running rigging may be secured, or belayed.

Berth: A bed on a boat, or a space in a port or harbor where a vessel can be tied up.

Best bower (anchor): The larger of two anchors carried in the bow; so named as it was the last, best hope.

Bilge: The bilge is the compartment at the bottom of the hull of a ship or boat where water collects so that it may be pumped out of the vessel at a later time.

Bilged on her anchor: A ship that has run upon her own anchor.

Bimini: Weather-resistant fabric stretched over a stainless steel frame, fastened above the cockpit of a sailboat or flybridge of a power yacht which serves as a rain or sun shade.

Bimmy: A punitive instrument.

Binnacle list: A ship’s sick list. The list of men unable to report for duty was given to the officer or mate of the watch by the ship’s surgeon. The list was kept at the binnacle.

Binnacle: The stand on which the ship’s compass is mounted.

Bitter end: The anchor cable is tied to the bitts when the cable is fully paid out, the bitter end has been reached. The last part of a rope or cable.

Bitts: Posts mounted on a ship for fastening ropes

Bloody: An intensive derived from the substantive ‘blood’, a name applied to the Bucks, Scrowers, and Mohocks of the seventeenth centuries.

Blue Peter: A blue and white flag hoisted at the foretrucks of ships about to sail.

Boat: A craft or vessel designed to float on, and provide transport over, water.

Boatswain or bosun: A non-commissioned officer responsible for the sails, ropes, and boats on a ship who issues “piped” commands to seamen.

Bobstay: Rope used on ships to steady the bowsprit

Bollard: From “bol” or “bole”, the round trunk of a tree. A substantial vertical pillar to which lines may be made fast. Generally on the quayside rather than the ship.

Boltrope: Strong rope stitched to edges of a sail

Booby hatch: A sliding hatch or cover.

Booby: A type of bird that has little fear and therefore is particularly easy to catch, hence booby prize.

Boom vang: A sail control that lets one apply downward tension on the boom, countering the upward tension provided by the mainsail. The boom vang adds an element of control to mainsail shape when the mainsheet is let out enough that it no longer pulls the boom down. Boom vang tension helps control leech twist, a primary component of sail power.

Boom: A spar used to extend the foot of a fore-and-aft sail.

Booms: Masts or yards, lying on board in reserve.

Bosun: Boatswain

Bottomry: Pledging a ship as security in a financial transaction.

Bow: The front of a ship.

Bower: Anchor carried at bow of a ship

Bowline: A type of knot, producing a strong loop of a fixed size, topologically similar to a sheet bend. Also, a rope attached to the side of a sail to pull it towards the bow (for keeping the windward edge of the sail steady).

Bowse: To pull or hoist.

Bowsprit: A spar projecting from the bow used as an anchor for the forestay and other rigging.

Brail: To furl or truss a sail by pulling it in towards the mast, or the ropes used to do so.

Bream: To clean a ship’s bottom by burning off seaweed.

Bridge: A structure above the weather deck, extending the full width of the vessel, which houses a command center, itself called by association, the bridge.

Bring to: Cause a ship to be stationary by arranging the sails.

Broaching-to: A sudden movement in navigation, when the ship, while scudding before the wind, accidentally turns her leeward side to windward, also use to describe the point when water starts to come over the gunwale due to this turn.

Buffer: The chief bosun’s mate, responsible for discipline.

Bulkhead: An upright wall within the hull of a ship. Particularly a load bearing wall.

Bulwark: The extension of the ship’s side above the level of the weather deck.

Bumboat: A private boat selling goods.

Bumpkin: An iron bar (projecting outboard from a ship’s side) to which the lower and topsail brace blocks are sometimes hooked. Chains supporting/stabilizing the bowsprit.

Bunt: Middle of sail, fish-net or cloth when slack.

Buntline: One of the lines tied to the bottom of a square sail and used to haul it up to the yard when furling.

Buoy: A floating object of defined shape and color, which is anchored at a given position and serves as an aid to navigation.

Buoyed Up: Lifted by a buoy, especially a cable that has been lifted to prevent it from trailing on the bottom.

Burgee: Small ship’s flag used for identification or signaling.

By and Large: By means into the wind, while large means with the wind. By and large, is used to indicate all possible situations “the ship handles well both by and large”.

By the board: Anything that has gone overboard.

Cabin boy: attendant on passengers and crew.

Cabin: an enclosed room on a deck or flat.

Cable: A large rope; also a measure of length or distance. Equivalent to (UK) 1/10 nautical mile, approx. 600 feet; (USA) 120 fathoms, 720 feet (219 m); other countries use different values.

Cabotage: Shipping and sailing between points in the same country.

Camber: Slight arch or convexity to a beam or deck of a ship.

Canister: A type of anti-personnel cannon load in which lead balls or other loose metallic items were enclosed in a tin or iron shell. On firing the shell would disintegrate releasing the smaller metal objects.

Cape Horn fever: The name of the fake illness a malingerer is pretending to suffer from.

Capsize: When a ship or boat lists too far and rolls over, exposing the keel. On large vessels, this often results in the sinking of the ship.

Capstan: A huge rotating hub (wheel) mounted vertically and provided with horizontal holes to take up the capstan bars (when manually rotated), used to wind in anchors or other heavy objects; and sometimes to administer flogging over.

Captain’s daughter: The cat o’ nine tails, which in principle is only used on board on the captain’s (or a court martial’s) personal orders.

Careening: Cause the ship to tilt on its side, usually to clean or repair the hull below the water line.

Cargo Deadweight Tons: The weight remaining after deducting fuel, water, stores, dunnage and such other items necessary for use on a voyage from the deadweight of the vessel.

Carlin: Similar to a beam, except running in a fore and aft direction.

Cat Head: A beam extending out from the hull used to support an anchor when raised in order to secure or “fish” it.

Cat: To prepare an anchor, after raising it by lifting it with a tackle to the Cat Head, prior to securing (fishing) it alongside for sea. (An anchor raised to the Cat Head is said to be catted).

Catamaran: A vessel with two hulls.

Catboat: A cat-rigged vessel with only one sail, usually on a gaff.

Centreboard: A removable keel used to resist leeway.

Chafing Gear: Material applied to a line or spar to prevent or reduce chafing. See Baggywrinkle.

Chafing: Wear on the line or sail caused by constant rubbing against another surface.

Chain-wale or channel: A broad, thick plank that projects horizontally from each of a ship’s sides abreast a mast, distinguished as the fore, main, or mizzen channel accordingly, serving to extend the base for the shrouds, which supports the mast.

Chine: A relatively sharp angle in the hull, as compared to the rounded bottoms of most traditional boat hulls.

Chock: Metal casting with curved arms for passing ropes for mooring ship.

Chock-a-block: Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be further tightened.

Clean bill of health: A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no infectious diseases.

Clean slate: At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.

Cleat: A stationary device used to secure a rope aboard a vessel.

Clew: Corner of sail with a hole to attach ropes.

Clew-lines: Used to truss up the clews, the lower corners of square sails.

Club: hauling the ship drops one of its anchors at high speed to turn abruptly. This was sometimes used as a means to get a good firing angle on a pursuing vessel.

Coaming: The raised edge of a hatchway used to help keep out water.

Cocket: Official shipping seal; customs clearance form.

Cofferdam: Narrow vacant space between two bulkheads of a ship.

Cog: Single-masted, square-sailed ship with a raised stern.

Companionway: A raised and windowed hatchway in the ship’s deck, with a ladder leading below and the hooded entrance-hatch to the main cabins.

Compass:   Navigational instrument that revolutionized travel.

Complement: The full number of people required to operate a ship. Includes officers and crewmembers; does not include passengers.

Cordage: Ropes in the rigging of a ship.

Corrector: a device to correct the ship’s compass.

Courses: The mainsail, foresail, and mizzen.

Coxswain or cockswain: The helmsman or crew member in command of a boat.

Cringle: Loop at the corner of a sail to which a line is attached.

Crosstrees: Horizontal crosspieces at a masthead used to support ship’s mast.

Crow’s nest: Specifically a masthead constructed with sides and sometimes a roof to shelter the lookouts from the weather, generally by whaling vessels, this term has become a generic term for what is properly called masthead. See masthead.

Cube: The cargo carrying capacity of a ship, measured in cubic feet.

Cuddy: A small cabin in a boat.

Cunningham: A line invented by Briggs Cunningham, used to control the shape of a sail.

Cut and run: When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.

Cut of his jib: The “cut” of a sail refers to its shape. Since this would vary between ships, it could be used both to identify a familiar vessel at a distance and to judge the possible sailing qualities of an unknown one.

Cut splice: A join between two lines, similar to an eye-splice, where each rope end is joined to the other a short distance along, making an opening which closes under tension.

Cutline: The “valley” between the strands of a rope or cable. Before serving a section of laid rope e.g. to protect it from chafing, it may be “wormed” by laying yarns in the cuntlines, giving that section an even cylindrical shape.

Daggerboard: A type of centerboard that is removed vertically.

Davit: Device for hoisting and lowering a boat.

Davy Jones (Locker): An idiom for the bottom of the sea.

Daybeacon: An unlighted fixed structure which is equipped with a dayboard for daytime identification.

Dayboard: The daytime identifier of an aid to navigation presenting one of several standard shapes (square, triangle, rectangle) and colors (red, green, white, orange, yellow, or black).

Deadeye: A round wooden plank which serves a similar purpose to a block in the standing rigging of large sailing vessels.

Deadrise: The design angle between the keel (q.v.) and horizontal.

Deadweight Tons (DWT): The difference between displacement, light and displacement, and loaded. A measure of the ship’s total carrying capacity.

Deadwood: Timbers built into ends of a ship when too narrow to permit framing.

Deckhand: A person whose job involves aiding the deck supervisor in (un)mooring, anchoring, maintenance, and general evolutions on deck.

Deck supervisor: The person in charge of all evolutions and maintenance on deck; sometimes split into two groups: forward deck supervisor, aft deck supervisor.

Deckhead: The under-side of the deck above. Sometimes paneled over to hide the pipework. This paneling, like that lining the bottom and sides of the holds, is the ceiling.

Decks: the structures forming the approximately horizontal surfaces in the ship’s general structure. Unlike flats, they are a structural part of the ship.

Demurrage: Delay of the vessel’s departure or loading with cargo.

Derrick: A lifting device composed of one mast or pole and a boom or jib which is hinged freely at the bottom.

Directional light: A light illuminating a sector or very narrow-angle and intended to mark a direction to be followed.

Displacement, Light: The weight of the ship excluding cargo, fuel, ballast, stores, passengers, and crew, but with water in the boilers to steaming level.

Displacement, Loaded: The weight of the ship including cargo, passengers, fuel, water, stores, dunnage and such other items necessary for use on a voyage, which brings the vessel down to her load draft.

Displacement: A measurement of the weight of the vessel, usually used for warships. Displacement is expressed either in long tons of 2,240 pounds or metric tons of 1,000 kg.

Disrate: To reduce in rank or rating; demote.

Dodger: Shield against rain or spray on a ship’s bridge.

Dog watch: A short watch period, generally half the usual time (e.g. a two-hour watch between two four hour ones). Such a watch might be included in order to slowly rotate the system over several days for fairness  or to allow both watches to eat their meals at approximately normal times.

Dolphin: A structure consisting of a number of piles driven into the seabed or riverbed in a circular pattern and drawn together with wire rope.

Downhaul: A line used to control either a mobile spar or the shape of a sail.

Draft, Air: Air Draft is the distance from the water line to the highest point on a ship (including antennas) while it is loaded.

Draft: The distance between the waterline and the keel of a boat; the minimum depth of water in which a boat will float.

Dressing down: Treating old sails with oil or wax to renew them, or a verbal reprimand.

Driver: The large sail flown from the mizzen gaff.

Driver-mast: The fifth mast of a six-masted barquentine or gaff schooner. It is preceded by the jigger mast and followed by the spanker mast. The sixth mast of the only seven-masted vessel, the gaff schooner Thomas W. Lawson, was normally called the pusher-mast.

Dromond: Large single-sailed ship powered by rowers.

Dunnage: Loose packing material used to protect a ship’s cargo from damage during transport. Personal baggage.

Dyogram: Ship’s chart indicating compass deflection due to ship’s iron.

Earrings: Small lines, by which the uppermost corners of the largest sails are secured to the yardarms.

Embayed: The condition where a sailing vessel is confined between two capes or headlands, typically where the wind is blowing directly onshore.

Ensign: Large naval flag.

Escutcheon: Part of ship’s stern where name is displayed.

Extremis (also known as “in extremis”): The point under International Rules of the Road (Navigation Rules) at which the privileged (or stand-on) vessel on a collision course with a burdened (or give-way) vessel determines it must maneuver to avoid a collision. Prior to extremes, the privileged vessel must maintain course and speed and the burdened vessel must maneuver to avoid a collision.

Fairlead: Ring through which rope is led to change its direction without friction.

Fardage: Wood placed in the bottom of the ship to keep cargo dry.

Fathom: A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.8 m), roughly measured as the distance between a man’s outstretched hands.

Fender: An air or foam filled bumper used in boating to keep boats from banging into docks or each other.

Fiddley: Iron framework around hatchway opening.

Figurehead: Symbolic image at the head of a traditional sailing ship or early steamer.

Fireship: A ship loaded with flammable materials and explosives and sailed into an enemy port or fleet either already burning or ready to be set alight by its crew (who would then abandon it) in order to collide with and set fire to enemy ships.

First Lieutenant: In the Royal Navy, the senior lieutenant on board; responsible to the Commander for the domestic affairs of the ship’s company. Also known as ‘Jimmy the One’ or ‘Number One’. Removes his cap when visiting the mess decks as a token of respect for the privacy of the crew in those quarters. Officer i/c cables on the forecastle. In the U.S. Navy the senior person in charge of all Deckhands.

First Mate: The Second in command of a ship.

Fish: To repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood. To secure an anchor on the side of the ship for sea,otherwise known as “catting”.

Flag hoist: A number of signal flags strung together to convey a message, e.g. “England expects…”.

Flagstaff: Flag pole at the stern of a ship.

Flank: The maximum speed of a ship. Faster than “full speed”.

Flatback: A Great Lakes slang term for a vessel without any self-unloading equipment.

Flemish Coil: A line coiled around itself to neaten the decks or dock.

Flog: To beat, to punish.

Fluke: The wedge-shaped part of an anchor’s arms that digs into the bottom.

Fly by night: A large sail used only for sailing downwind, requiring little attention.

Following sea: Wave or tidal movement going in the same direction as a ship.

Foot: The bottom of a sail.

Footloose: If the foot of a sail is not secured properly, it is footloose, blowing around in the wind.

Footrope: Each yard on a square-rigged sailing ship is equipped with a footrope for sailors to stand on while setting or stowing the sails.

Fore: Towards the bow (of the vessel).

Forebitt: Post for fastening cables at a ship’s foremast.

Forecabin: Cabin in the fore part of a ship.

Forecastle: A partial deck, above the upper deck and at the head of the vessel; traditionally the sailors living quarters. Pronounced “foc-sle”. The name is derived from the castle fitted to bear archers in time of war.

Forefoot: The lower part of the stem of a ship.

Foremast: Mast nearest the bow of a ship

Foresail: The lowest sail set on the foremast of a square-rigged ship.

Forestays: Long lines or cables, reaching from the front of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.

Forward: The area towards the bow.

Founder: To fill with water and sink → Wiktionary.

Frap: To draw a sail tight with ropes or cables.

Freeboard: The height of a ship’s hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline. The vertical distance from the current waterline to the lowest point on the highest continuous watertight deck. This usually varies from one part to another.

Full and by: Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be possible, so as to make sure the sails are kept full. This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively it implies getting on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or strain.

Furl: To roll or wrap a sail around the mast or spar to which it is attached.

Futtock: Rib of a ship.

Gaff: The spar that holds the upper edge of a fore-and-aft or gaff sail. Also, a long hook with a sharp point to haul fish in.

Gaff-topsail: Triangular topsail with its foot extended upon the gaff.

Galley: The kitchen of the ship.

Gangplank: A movable bridge used in boarding or leaving a ship at a pier; also known as a “brow”.

Gangway: Either of the sides of the upper deck of a ship

Garbled: Garbling was the (illegal) practice of mixing cargo with garbage.

Garboard: The strake closest to the keel (from Dutch gaarboard).

Genoa: Large jib that overlaps the mainsail

Global Positioning System (GPS): A satellite-based radio navigation system providing continuous worldwide coverage. It provides navigation, position, and timing information to air, marine, and land users.

Grain Cube (or Grain Capacity): The maximum space available for cargo measured in cubic feet, the measurement being taken to the inside of the shell plating of the ship or to the outside of the frames and to the top of the beam or underside of the deck plating.

Grapnel: Small anchor used for dragging or grappling.

Gross Tons: The entire internal cubic capacity of the ship expressed in tons of 100 cubic feet to the ton, except certain spaces which are exempted such as: peak and other tanks for water ballast, open forecastle bridge and poop, access of hatchways, certain light and air spaces, domes of skylights, condenser, anchor gear, steering gear, wheelhouse, galley and cabin for passengers.

Groundage: A charge on a ship in port.

Gudgeon: Metal socket into which the pintle of a boat’s rudder fits.

Gunnage: Number of guns carried on a warship.

Gunwhale: Upper edge of the hull.

Gybe: To swing a sail from one side to another.

Halyard or Halliard: Originally, ropes used for hoisting a spar with a sail attached; today, a line used to raise the head of any sail.

Hammock: Canvas sheets, slung from the deckhead in mess decks, in which seamen slept. “Lash up and stow” a piped command to tie up hammocks and stow them (typically) in racks inboard of the ship’s side to protect the crew from splinters from shot and provide a ready means of preventing flooding caused by damage.

Hand Bomber: A ship using coal-fired boilers shoveled in by hand.

Handsomely: With a slow even motion, as when hauling on a line “handsomely.”

Hank: A fastener attached to the luff of the headsail that attaches the headsail to the forestay. Typical designs include a bronze or plastic hook with a spring-operated gate or a strip of cloth webbing with a snap fastener.

Harbor: A harbor or haven is a place where ships may shelter from the weather or are stored. Harbors can be man-made or natural.

Haul wind: To point the ship so as to be heading in the same direction as the wind, generally not the fastest point of travel on a sailing vessel.

Hawse: Distance between ship’s bow and its anchor.

Hawse-hole: A hole in a ship’s bow for a cable or chain, such as for an anchor, to pass through.

Hawsepiper: An informal maritime industry term used to refer to a merchant ship’s officer who began his or her career as an unlicensed merchant seaman and did not attend a traditional maritime college/academy to earn the officer license.

Hawser: Large rope for mooring or towing a ship.

Head of navigation: A term used to describe the farthest point above the mouth of a river that can be navigated by ships.

Head: The toilet or latrine of a vessel, which for sailing ships projected from the bows.

Headsail: Any sail flown in front of the most forward mast.

Heave down: Turn a ship on its side (for cleaning).

Heave: A vessel’s transient up-and-down motion.

Heaving to: To stop a sailing vessel by lashing the helm in opposition to the sails. The vessel will gradually drift to leeward, the speed of the drift depending on the vessel’s design.

Heeling: The lean caused by the wind’s force on the sails of a sailing vessel.

Helm: Ship’s steering wheel.

Helmsman: A person who steers a ship.

Hogging or hog: The distortion of the hull where the ends of the keel are lower than the center.

Hold: In earlier use, below the orlop deck, the lower part of the interior of a ship’s hull, especially when considered as storage space, as for cargo. In later merchant vessels, it extended up through the decks to the underside of the weather deck.

Holiday: A gap in the coverage of newly applied paint, slush, tar, or other preservatives.

Holystone: Sandstone material used to scrape ships’ decks

Horn: A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to vibrate a disc diaphragm.

Horse: Attachment of sheets to the deck of the vessel (Main-sheet horse).

Hounds: Attachments of stays to masts.

Hull: The shell and framework of the basic flotation-oriented part of a ship.

Hydrofoil: A boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull.

Icing: A serious hazard where cold temperatures (below about -10°C) combined with high wind speed (typically force 8 or above on the Beaufort scale) result in spray blown off the sea freezing immediately on contact with the ship.

Idlers: Members of a ship’s company not required to serve watches. These were in general specialist tradesmen such as the carpenter and the sailmaker.

In Irons: When the bow of a sailboat is headed into the wind and the boat has stalled and is unable to maneuver.

In the offing: In the water visible from on board a ship, now used to mean something imminent.

Inboard: Inside the line of a ship’s bulwarks or hull.

Inboard-Outboard drive system: A larger Power Boating alternative drive system to transom mounted outboard motors.

Jack: Ship’s flag flown from jack-staff at the bow of a vessel.

Jack-block: Pulley system for raising topgallant masts.

Jack-cross-tree: Single iron cross-tree at the head of a topgallant mast.

Jacklines or Jack Stays: Lines, often steel wire with a plastic jacket, from the bow to the stern on both port and starboard. The Jack Lines are used to clip on the safety harness to secure the crew to the vessel while giving them the freedom to walk on the deck.

Jackstaff: Short staff at ship’s bow from which the jack is hoisted.

Jackyard: Spar used to spread the foot of a gaff-topsail

Jib: A triangular staysail at the front of a ship.

Jibboom: Spar forming an extension of the bowsprit.

Jibe: To change a ship’s course to make the boom shift sides.

Jigger-mast: The fourth mast, although ships with four or more masts were uncommon, or the aft-most mast where it is smallest on vessels of less than four masts.

Junk: Old cordage past its useful service life as lines aboard ship. The strands of old junk were teased apart in the process called picking oakum.

Jurymast: Mast erected on a ship in place of one lost.

Kedge: Small anchor to keep a ship steady.

Keel: A boat’s backbone; the lowest point of the boat’s hull, the keel provides strength, stability and prevents sideways drift of the boat in the water.

Keel: The central structural basis of the hull.

Keelson: Lengthwise wooden or steel beam in ship for bearing stress.

Kentledge: Pig-iron used as ballast in ship’s hold.

Killick: A small anchor. A fouled killick is the substantive badge of non-commissioned officers in the RN. Seamen promoted to the first step in the promotion ladder are called “Killick”. The badge signifies that here is an Able Seaman skilled to cope with the awkward job of dealing with a fouled anchor.

Ladder: On board a ship, all “stairs” are called ladders, except for literal staircases aboard passenger ships. Most “stairs” on a ship are narrow and nearly vertical, hence the name. Believed to be from the Anglo-Saxon word “hiaeder”, meaning ladder.

Lagan: Cargo jettisoned from the ship but marked by buoys for recovery.

Laker: Great Lakes slang for a vessel who spends all its time on the 5 Great Lakes.

Landlubber: A person unfamiliar with being on the sea.

Lanyard: Rope or line for fastening something in a ship.

Larboard: The left side of the ship.Derived from the old ‘lay-board’ providing access between a ship and a quay.

Lastage: Room for stowing goods in a ship.

Lateen: Triangular sail rigged on ship’s spar.

Lateral System: A system of aids to navigation in which characteristics of buoys and beacons indicate the sides of the channel or route relative to a conventional direction of buoyage (usually upstream).

Laveer: To sail against the wind.

Lay down: To lay a ship down is to begin construction in a shipyard.

Lay: To come and go, used in giving orders to the crew, such as “lay forward” or “lay aloft”. To direct the course of the vessel. Also, to twist the strands of a rope together.

Lazaret: Space in ship between decks used for storage.

League: A unit of length, normally equal to three nautical miles.

Lee shore: A shore downwind of a ship. A ship which cannot sail well to windward risks being blown onto a lee shore and grounded.

Lee side: The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (opposite the weather side or windward side).

Leeboard: Wood or metal planes attached to the hull to prevent leeway.

Leech: The aft or trailing edge of a fore-and-aft sail; the leeward edge of a spinnaker; a vertical edge of a square sail. The leech is susceptible to twist, which is controlled by the boom vang and mainsheet.

Lee helm: If the helm was centered, the boat would turn away from the wind (to the lee). Consequently, the tiller must be pushed to the lee side of the boat in order to make the boat sail in a straight line.

Leeward: In the direction that the wind is blowing towards.

Leeway: The angle that a ship is blown leeward by the wind. See also “weatherly”.

Length at Waterline (LWL): The ship’s length measured at the waterline.

Length Overall (LOA): The maximum length of the ship.

Length: The distance between the forwardmost and aftermost parts of the ship.

Let go and haul: An order indicating that the ship is in line with the wind.

Lifeboat: A small steel or wood boat located near the stern of a vessel. Used to get the crew to safety if something happens to the mothership.

Line: The correct nautical term for the majority of the cordage or “ropes” used on a vessel. A line will always have a more specific name, such as mizzen topsail halyard, which describes its use.

Liner: Ship of The Line: a major warship capable of taking its place in the main (battle) line of fighting ships. Hence the modern term for most prestigious passenger vessel: Liner.

List: The vessel’s angle of lean or tilt to one side, in the direction called the roll.

Loggerhead: An iron ball attached to a long handle, used for driving caulking into seams and (occasionally) in a fight. Hence: “at loggerheads”.

Loxodograph: Device used to record the ship’s travels.

Lubber’s line: A vertical line inside a compass case indicating the direction of the ship’s head.

Luff: The forward edge of a sail. To head a sailing vessel more towards the direction of the wind.

Luffing: When a sailing vessel is steered far enough to windward that the sail is no longer completely filled with wind. The flapping of the sail(s) which results from having no wind in the sail at all.

Lugsail: Four-sided sail bent to an obliquely hanging yard.

Lutchet: Fitting on ship’s deck to allow the mast to pivot to pass under bridges.

Lying ahull: Waiting out a storm by dousing all sails and simply letting the boat drift.

Mainbrace: The brace attached to the mainmast.

Mainmast (or Main): The tallest mast on a ship.

Mainsail: Principal sail on a ship’s mainmast.

Mainsheet: Sail control line that allows the most obvious effect on mainsail trim. Primarily used to control the angle of the boom, and thereby the mainsail, this control can also increase or decrease downward tension on the boom while sailing upwind, significantly affecting sail shape. For more control over downward tension on the boom, use a boom vang.

Mainstay: Stay that extends from the main-top to the foot of the foremast.

Man overboard: A cry let out when a seaman has gone overboard.

Manrope: Rope used as a handrail on a ship.

Marina: A docking facility for small ships and yachts.

Martingale: Lower stay of rope used to sustain the strain of the forestays.

Mast: A vertical pole on a ship which supports sails or rigging.

Master: Either the commander of a commercial vessel, or a senior officer of a naval sailing ship in charge of routine seamanship and navigation but not in command during combat.

Masthead Light: This white light shines forward and to both sides and is required on all power-driven vessels.

Masthead: A small platform partway up the mast, just above the height of the mast’s main yard. A lookout is stationed here, and men who are working on the main yard will embark from here. See also Crow’s Nest.

Matelot: A traditional Royal Navy term for an ordinary sailor.

Mess: An eating place aboard ship. A group of the crew who live and feed together.

Midshipman: A non-commissioned officer below the rank of Lieutenant. Usually regarded as being “in training” to some degree.

Mizzen staysail: Sail on a ketch or yawl, usually lightweight, set from, and forward of, the mizzen mast while reaching in light to moderate air.

Mizzen: Three-masted vessel; aft sail of such a vessel.

Monkey fist: A ball woven out of line used to provide heft to heave the line to another location. The monkey fist and other heaving-line knots were sometimes weighted with lead (easily available in the form of foil used to seal e.g. tea chests from dampness) although Clifford W. Ashley notes that there was a “definite sporting limit” to the weight thus added.

Moonraker: Topmost sail of a ship, above the skyscraper.

Moor: To attach a boat to a mooring buoy or post. Also, to a dock a ship.

Navigation rules: Rules of the road that provide guidance on how to avoid collision and also used to assign blame when a collision does occur.

Net Tons: Obtained from the gross tonnage by deducting crew and navigating spaces and allowances for propulsion machinery.

Nipper: Short rope used to bind a cable to the “messenger” (a moving line propelled by the capstan) so that the cable is dragged along too (Used because the cable is too large to be wrapped around the capstan itself). During the raising of an anchor, the nippers were attached and detached from the (endless) messenger by the ship’s boys. Hence the term for small boys: “nippers”.

Oakum: Old ropes untwisted for caulking the seams of ships.

Oreboat: Great Lakes Term for a vessel primarily used in the transport of iron ore.

Orlop deck: The lowest deck of a ship of the line. The deck covering in the hold.

Outhaul: A line used to control the shape of a sail.

Outrigger: Spar extended from the side of the ship to help secure mast.

Outward bound: To leave the safety of the port, heading for the open ocean.

Overbear: To sail downwind directly at another ship, stealing the wind from its sails.

Overfall: Dangerously steep and breaking seas due to opposing currents and wind in a shallow area.

Overhaul: Hauling the buntline ropes over the sails to prevent them from chaffing.

Overhead: The “ceiling,” or, essentially, the bottom of the deck above you.

Overreach: When tacking, to hold a course too long.

Overwhelmed: Capsized or foundered.

Owner: Traditional Royal Navy term for the Captain, a survival from the days when privately-owned ships were often hired for naval service.

Ox-Eye: A cloud or other weather phenomenon that may be indicative of an upcoming storm.

Painter: Rope attached to the bow of a boat to attach it to a ship or a post.

Pallograph: Instrument measuring ship’s vibration.

Parrel: A movable loop, used to fasten the yard to its respective mast.

Patroon: Captain of a ship; coxswain of a longboat.

Pay: Fill a seam (with caulking or pitch), or to lubricate the running rigging; pay with slush (q.v.), or protect from the weather by covering with slush. See also: The Devil to pay. (French from paix, pitch).

Paymaster: The officer responsible for all money matters in RN ships including the paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools, and spare parts. See also: purser.

Pilot: Navigator. A specially knowledgeable person qualified to navigate a vessel through difficult waters, e.g. harbor pilot, etc.

Pipe (Bos’n’s), or a Bos’n’s Call: A whistle used by Boatswains (bosuns or bos’ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube which directs the breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high pitched notes. The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.

Pipe down: A signal on the bosun’s pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.

Piping the side: A salute on the bos’n’s pipe(s) performed in the company of the deck watch on the starboard side of the quarterdeck or at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship’s Captain, senior officers and honored visitors.

Pitch: A vessel’s motion, rotating about the beam axis, so the bow pitches up and down.

Pitchpole: To capsize a boat end over end, rather than by rolling over.

Pontoon: A flat-bottomed vessel used as a ferry or a barge or float moored alongside a jetty or a ship to facilitate boarding.

Poop deck: A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.

Port: Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly Larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.

Preventer (Gybe preventer, Jibe preventer): A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat’s deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent or moderate the effects of an accidental jibe.

Primage: Fee paid to loaders for loading ship.

Privateer: A privately-owned ship authorized by a national power (by means of a Letter of Marque) to conduct hostilities against an enemy. Also called a private man of war.

Propeller walk or prop walk: Tendency for a propeller to push the stern sideways. In theory, a right-hand propeller in reverse will walk the stern to port.

Prow: A poetical alternative term for bows.

Purser: Ship’s officer in charge of finances and passengers.

Quarterdeck: The aftermost deck of a warship. In the age of sail, the quarterdeck was the preserve of the ship’s officers.

Quartering: Sailing nearly before the wind.

Quayside: Refers to the dock or platform used to fasten a vessel to.

Radar reflector: A special fixture fitted to a vessel or incorporated into the design of certain aids to navigation to enhance their ability to reflect radar energy. In general, these fixtures will materially improve the visibility for use by vessels with radar.

Radar: Acronym for Radio Detection And Ranging. An electronic system designed to transmit radio signals and receive reflected images of those signals from a “target” in order to determine the bearing and distance to the “target”.

Rake: The inclination of a mast or another part of a ship.

Range lights: Two lights associated to form a range (a line formed by the extension of a line connecting two charted points) which often, but not necessarily, indicates the channel centerline. The front range light is the lower of the two, and nearer to the mariner using the range. The rear light is higher and further from the mariner.

Ratlines: Rope ladders permanently rigged from bulwarks and tops to the mast to enable access to topmasts and yards. Also, serve to provide lateral stability to the masts.

Reach: A point of sail from about 60° to about 160° off the wind. Reaching consists of “close reaching” (about 60° to 80°), “beam reaching” (about 90°) and “broad reaching” (about 120° to 160°).

Reef points: Small lengths of cord attached to a sail, used to secure the excess fabric after reefing.

Reef: To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.

Reef-bands: Long pieces of rough canvas sewed across the sails to give them additional strength.

Reef-tackles: Ropes employed in the operation of reefing.

Reeve: To pass a rope through a ring.

Rigging: the system of ropes, cables, or chains employed to support a ship’s masts and to control or set the yards and sails.

Righting couple: The force which tends to restore a ship to equilibrium once a heel has altered the relationship between her center of buoyancy and her center of gravity.

Rigol: The rim or ‘eyebrow’ above a port-hole or scuttle.

Roach: Curved cut in the edge of sail for preventing chafing.

Roband: Piece of yarn used to fasten a sail to a spar.

Roll: A vessel’s motion rotating from side to side, about the fore-aft axis. List (qv) is a lasting tilt in the roll direction.

Rolling-tackle: A number of pulleys, engaged to confine the yard to the weather side of the mast; this tackle is much used in a rough sea.

Rostrum: Spike on the prow of warship for ramming.

Rowlock: Contrivance serving as a fulcrum for an oar.

Royal: Small sail on the royal mast just above topgallant sail.

Running rigging: Rigging used to manipulate sails, spars, etc. in order to control the movement of the ship. Cf. standing rigging.

Sailing Certification : An acknowledgment of a sailing competence from an established sailing educational body (like NauticEd).

Sail-plan: A set of drawings showing various sail combinations recommended for use in various situations.

Saltie: Great Lakes term for a vessel that sails the oceans.

Sampson post: A strong vertical post used to support a ship’s windlass and the heel of a ship’s bowsprit.

Scandalize: To reduce the area of a sail by expedient means (slacking the peak and tricing up the tack) without properly reefing it.

Scud: To sail swiftly before a gale.

Scudding: A term applied to a vessel when carried furiously along by a tempest.

Scuppers: An opening on the side rail that allows water to run off the deck.

Scuttle: A small opening, or lid thereof, in a ship’s deck or hull. To cut a hole in, or sink something.

Scuttlebutt: Cask of drinking water aboard a ship; rumour, idle gossip.

Scuttles: Portholes on a ship.

Sea anchor: A stabilizer deployed in the water for heaving to in heavy weather. It acts as a brake and keeps the hull in line with the wind and perpendicular to waves.

Sea chest: A valve on the hull of the ship to allow water in for ballast purposes.

Seaman: Generic term for a sailor.

Seaworthy: Certified for, and capable of, safely sailing at sea.

Self-Unloader: Great Lakes slang term for a vessel with a conveyor or some other method of unloading the cargo without shoreside equipment.

Shaft Horsepower (SHP): The amount of mechanical power delivered by the engine to a propeller shaft. One horsepower is equivalent to 746 watts in the SI system of units.

Shakes: Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very little, leading to the phrase “no great shakes”.

Sheer: The upward curve of a vessel’s longitudinal lines as viewed from the side.

Sheet: A rope used to control the setting of a sail in relation to the direction of the wind.

Ship: Strictly, a three-masted vessel square-rigged on all three masts, though generally used to describe most medium or large vessels. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “scip”.

Ship’s bell: Striking the ship’s bell is the traditional method of marking time and regulating the crew’s watches.

Ship’s company: The crew of a ship.

Shoal: Shallow water that is a hazard to navigation.

Shrouds: Standing rigging running from a mast to the sides of ships.

Sickbay: The compartment reserved for medical purposes.

Sidelights: These red and green lights are called sidelights (also called combination lights) because they are visible to another vessel approaching from the side or head-on. The red light indicates a vessel’s port (left) side; the green indicates a vessel’s starboard (right) side.

Siren: A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to actuate either a disc or a cup-shaped rotor.

Skeg: Part of ship connecting the keel with the bottom of the rudderpost.

Skipper: The captain of a ship.

Skysail: A sail set very high, above the royals. Only carried by a few ships.

Skyscraper: A small, triangular sail, above the skysail. Used in light winds on a few ships.

Slipway: Ramp sloping into the water for supporting a ship.

Slop chest: A ship’s store of merchandise, such as clothing, tobacco, etc., maintained aboard merchant ships for sale to the crew.

Small bower (anchor): The smaller of two anchors carried in the bow.

Snotty: Naval midshipman.

Sonar: A sound-based device used to detect and range underwater targets and obstacles. Formerly known as ASDIC.

Spanker: Sail on the mast nearest the stern of a square-rigged ship.

Spanker-mast: The aft-most mast of a fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged vessel such as schooners, barquentines, and barques. A full-rigged ship has a spanker sail but not a spanker-mast (see Jigger-mast).

Spar: A wooden, in later years also iron or steel pole used to support various pieces of rigging and sails. The big five-masted full-rigged tall ship Preussen (German spelling: Preußen) had crossed 30 steel yards, but only one wooden spar—the little gaffe of its spanker sail.

Spindrift: Finely-divided water swept from the crest of waves by strong winds.

Spinnaker pole: A spar used to help control a spinnaker or other headsail.

Spinnaker: A large sail flown in front of the vessel while heading downwind.

Spirketing: Inside planking between ports and waterways of a ship.

Splice: To join lines (ropes, cables, etc.) by unraveling their ends and intertwining them to form a continuous line. To form an eye or a knot by splicing.

Sponson: Platform jutting from ship’s deck for gun or wheel.

Sprit: Spar crossing a fore-and-aft sail diagonally.

Spritsail: Sail extended by a sprit.

Squared away: Yards held rigidly perpendicular to their masts and parallel to the deck. This was rarely the best trim of the yards for efficiency but made a pretty sight for inspections and in the harbor. The term is applied to situations and to people figuratively to mean that all difficulties have been resolved or that the person is performing well and is mentally and physically prepared.

Squat effect: Is the phenomenon by which a vessel moving quickly through shallow water creates an area of lowered pressure under its keel that reduces the ship’s buoyancy, particularly at the bow. The reduced buoyancy causes the ship to “squat” lower in the water than would ordinarily be expected.

Standing rigging: Rigging which is used to support masts and spars, and is not normally manipulated during normal operations. Cf. running rigging.

Starboard: Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward. Denoted with a green light at night. Derived from the old steering oar or ‘steerboard’ which preceded the invention of the rudder.

Starbolins: Sailors of the starboard watch.

Starter: A rope used as a punitive device.

Stay: Rigging running fore (forestay) and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull.

Staysail: A sail whose luff is attached to a forestay.

Steering oar or steering board: A long, flat board or oar that went from the stern to well underwater, used to control the vessel in the absence of a rudder.

Steeve: To set a ship’s bowsprit at an upward inclination.

Stem: The extension of the keel at the forward of a ship.

Stemson: Supporting timber of a ship.

Stern tube: The tube under the hull to bear the tail shaft for propulsion (usually at the stern).

Stern: The rear part of a ship, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter to the taffrail.

Sternlight: This white light is seen only from behind or nearly behind the vessel.

Sternpost: Main member at the stern of a ship extending from keel to deck.

Sternway: Movement of a ship backward.

Stevedore: Dock worker who loads and unloads ships.

Stokehold: Ship’s furnace chamber.

Strake: One of the overlapping boards in a clinker-built hull.

Studding-sails (pronounced “stunsail”): Long and narrow sails, used only in fine weather, on the outside of the large square sails.

Stunsail: Light auxiliary sail to the side of principal sails.

Supercargo: Ship’s official in charge of business affairs.

Surge: A vessel’s transient motion in a fore and aft direction.

Sway: A vessel’s motion from side to side. Also used as a verb meaning to hoist. “Sway up my dunnage.”

Swigging: To take up the last bit of slack on a line such as a halyard, anchor line or dock line by taking a single turn round a cleat and alternately heaving on the rope above and below the cleat while keeping the tension on the tail.

Swinging the compass: Measuring the accuracy in a ship’s magnetic compass so its readings can be adjusted – often by turning the ship and taking bearings on reference points.

Swinging the lamp: Telling sea stories. Referring to lamps slung from the deckhead which swing while at sea. Often used to indicate that the storyteller is exaggerating.

Swinging the lead: Measuring the depth of water beneath a ship using a lead-weighted sounding line.

Taffrail: Rail around the stern of a ship.

Tail shaft: A kind of metallic shafting (a rod of metal) to hold the propeller and connected to the power-engine. When the tail shaft is moved, the propeller may also be moved for propulsion.

Taken aback: An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails “backward”, causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.

Tally: The operation of hauling aft the sheets, or drawing them in the direction of the ship’s stern.

The Ropes: Refers to the lines in the rigging.

Thole: Pin in the side of a boat to keep an oar in place.

Three sheets to the wind: On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind.

Tiller: Handle or lever for turning a ship’s rudder.

Timberhead: Top end of ship’s timber used above the gunwale.

Timenoguy: Rope stretched from place to place in a ship.

Timoneer: From the French, “timonnier”, is a name given on particular occasions to the steersman of a ship.

Ton: The unit of measure often used in specifying the size of a ship. There are three completely unrelated definitions for the word. One of them refers to weight, while others refer to volume.

Tonnage: A measurement of the cargo-carrying capacity of merchant’s vessels. It depends not on weight, but on the volume available for carrying cargo. The basic units of measure are the Register Ton, equivalent to 100 cubic feet, and the Measurement Ton, equivalent to 40 cubic feet. The calculation of tonnage is complicated by many technical factors.

Topgallant: Mast or sail above the topmast and below the royal mast.

Topmast: The second section of the mast above the deck; formerly the upper mast, later surmounted by the topgallant mast; carrying the topsails.

Topsail: The second sail (counting from the bottom) up to a mast. These may be either square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often “fill in” between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.

Topsides: The part of the hull between the waterline and the deck. Also, Above-water hull.

Touch and go: The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.

Towing: The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.

Traffic Separation Scheme: Shipping corridors marked by buoys which separate incoming from outgoing vessels. Improperly called Sea Lanes.

Tranship: To transfer from one ship to another.

Transire: Ship’s customs warrant for clearing goods.

Transom: A more or less flat surface across the stern of a vessel.

Travellers: Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the inboard end of the mainsheet; a more esoteric form of traveler consists of “slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays”.

Treenail: Long wooden pin used to fix planks of the ship to the timbers.

Trice: To haul in and lash secure a sail with a small rope.

Trick: A period of time spent at the wheel (“my trick’s over”).

Trim: Relationship of ship’s hull to the waterline.

Trunnel: Wooden shipbuilding peg used for fastening timbers.

Trysail: Ship’s sail bent to a gaff and hoisted on a lower mast.

Tuck: Part of the ship where ends of lower planks meet under the stern.

Turtleback: Structure over ship’s bows or stern.

Turtling: When a sailboat (in particular a dinghy) capsizes to a point where the mast is pointed straight down and the hull is on the surface resembling a turtle shell.

Under the weather: Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.

Underway: A vessel that is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.

Underwater hull or underwater ship: The underwater section of a vessel beneath the waterline, normally not visible except when in drydock.

Unreeve: To withdraw a rope from an opening.

Vanishing angle: The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to an upright position.

Wake: Turbulence behind a ship.

Wales: A number of strong and thick planks running length-wise along the ship, covering the lower part of the ship’s side.

Walty: Inclined to tip over or lean.

Wardroom: Quarters for ship’s officers.

Washboard: Broad thin plank along ship’s gunwale to keep out sea water.

Watch: A period of time during which a part of the crew is on duty. Changes of watch are marked by strokes on the ship’s bell.

Watching: Fully afloat.

Watercraft: Water transport vessels. Ships, boats, personal watercraft.

Waterline: The intersection of a boat’s hull and the water’s surface, or where the boat sits in the water.

Waveson: Goods floating on the sea after a shipwreck.

Wear: To turn a ship’s stern to windward to alter its course

Weather deck: Whichever deck is exposed to the weather—usually either the main deck or, in larger vessels, the upper deck.

Weather gage: Favorable position over another sailing vessel to with respect to the wind.

Weather side: The weather side of a ship is the side exposed to the wind.

Weatherboard: Weather side of a ship.

: If the helm was centered, the boat would turn towards the wind (weather). Consequently, the tiller must be pulled to the windward side of the boat in order to make the boat sail in a straight line. See lee helm.

Weatherly: A ship that is easily sailed and maneuvered; makes little leeway when sailing to windward.

Weatherly: Able to sail close to the wind with little leeway.

Weigh anchor: To heave up (an anchor) preparatory to sailing.

Wells: Places in the ship’s hold for the pumps.

Wheelhouse: Location on a ship where the steering wheel is located, often interchanged with pilothouse and bridge.

Whipstaff: Vertical lever controlling ship’s rudder.

White Horses: Waves in wind strong enough to produce foam or spray on the wave tops.

Wide berth: To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) to allow space for a maneuver.

Windage: Wind resistance of the boat.

Windbound: A condition wherein the ship is detained in one particular station by contrary winds.

Windlass: A winch mechanism, usually with a horizontal axis. Used where mechanical advantage greater than that obtainable by block and tackle was needed (such as raising the anchor on small ships). Modern sailboats use an electric “Windlass” to raise the anchor.

Windward: In the direction that the wind is coming from.

Xebec: Small three-masted pirate ship.

Yard: Tapering spar attached to ship’s mast to spread the head of a square sail.

Yardarm: The very end of a yard. Often mistaken for a “yard”, which refers to the entire spar. As in to hang “from the yardarm” and the sun being “over the yardarm” (late enough to have a drink).

Yarr: Acknowledgement of an order, or agreement.

Yaw: A vessel’s motion rotating about the vertical axis, so the bow yaws from side to side.

Yawl: Ship’s small boat; sailboat carrying mainsail and one or more jibs.

Zabra: Small Spanish sailing vessel.

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Houseboat Vs Yacht (Differences & Comparison)

Brian Samson

August 30, 2022

Houseboat Vs Yacht (Differences & Comparison) | LakeWizard

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

For most people, a houseboat and a yacht refer to the same thing. But is that the case? This houseboat vs. yacht comparison guide has the answer.

If you are looking to spend some of your time living on the water, you can either purchase a houseboat or a yacht. After all, they are the same thing, right? Not exactly. Houseboats are yachts are two different water vessels.

A houseboat is more of a floating house. It’s specifically built for permanent residence in water. And while it can move around, most houseboats spend the majority of their time moored to a port. Yachts, on the other hand, are designed for leisurely water activities like racing and vacations.

In this houseboat vs. yacht comparison guide, we will take a closer look at how these two water vessels compare. We will explore their designs, the different types available, their floor plans, and their pricing. And by the time you finish reading this guide, you will have a clear idea of the differences between a houseboat and a yacht. Also, this guide will help you to know the right choice for your needs.

We aim to provide our readers with informative, well-researched, and trustworthy content. And this is made possible thanks to our ever-dependable team, composed of respected journalists, experienced researchers and various other experts, drawn from different specializations. So, whenever you come across any type of content piece on our site, you can rest assured that the information you are getting is credible.

Table of contents

One of the main differences between a houseboat and a yacht is their design or appearance. If you take a closer look at a houseboat, you will notice it resembles something that looks like a floating home. And this explains why it’s called a houseboat. It’s a combination of a small house and a boat, thus the name.

A yacht, on the other hand, looks like an ordinary boat. Hence, it’s almost impossible to confuse the two, in terms of appearance, since they are considerably different.

A notable difference in their appearance is the hull. Considering that different water vessels come with different types of hulls, this is also the case with these two. For a houseboat, you will notice that it has a flat bottom hull. The flat bottom hull is designed to enhance its stability in the water since it spends the majority of its time docked alongside a pier, berth, or slip.

On the other hand, yachts come with V-shaped hulls. The V-shaped hull is designed to enhance the vessel’s agility and speed. Unlike houseboats, yachts spend most of their time moving around on the water. And this explains why they come with this type of hull design.

So, if you come across a water vessel that has a flat-shaped hull, it’s highly likely you will be looking at a houseboat. On the other hand, if it has a V-shaped hull, the chances are it’s a yacht or other similar water vessels built for agility and speed.

But, it’s also worth mentioning that some high-performance boats like tournament waterski boats also have flat-bottomed hulls. This hull design is to enable them to skim smoothly on the water surface.

Similar to other water vessels, houseboats and yachts come in different types, shapes and sizes. So, if you are looking to purchase any of these two water vessels, here are the different available types.

There are two main types of houseboats. These are static or non-cruising houseboats and bluewater or cruising houseboats. Each of these two types is built for a specific purpose and utilization.

Static Houseboats

As their name suggests, static households are not built for moving around. Most of the time, they are anchored or moored to a designated spot, which may be a dock or marina. Static houseboats are the most popular out there.

Non-cruising houseboats come equipped with almost all the modern conveniences that you would find in a normal house. However, these boats like propelling mechanisms, meaning you can’t move around in them.

Cruising Houseboats

A cruising houseboat is almost similar to a static houseboat, in terms of design and furnishings. But, it comes with a propelling mechanism, which may be a sail or engine. These are designed for individuals that want to travel around in a floating house. They are mainly built for vacationing.

But, as much as you can move around in a cruising houseboat, you can’t operate it on open or high oceanic seas, meaning you can only cruise with it on small water bodies. Cruising houseboats are not as popular as their static counterparts are.

While there are two main types of houseboats, you will come across numerous types on the market, branching from these two basic ones. Some of the different kinds of houseboats that you will find on the market include:

Pontoons are flat-looking cruising houseboats, mainly made from materials like wood, marine-grade aluminum, plastic, steel or fiberglass. They are mainly designed for vacationers. Pontoons are popular among houseboat lovers because of their practicality, stability and affordable prices. Also, they are easy and safe to operate and their maintenance costs are minimal.

Barges are large houseboats, which can be moved around or permanently anchored at the bay. Barges are the most popular houseboat styles due to their generous amounts of storage space. A conventional barge can accommodate approximately 10 people, making them ideal for families.


Trailerables are houseboats with a narrow and long design. Their narrow design makes them ideal for cruising small river systems and canals. Its name comes from the fact that you can tow it with a vehicle and move it around since it’s lightweight. Trailerables are smaller than the majority of other houseboats. But, if you only wish to spend a short amount of your time in the water, then a Trailerable will be the ideal vessel.

Floating Home

A floating home is a non-cruising houseboat, ideal for people who don’t want to cruise around in their boats. It’s a great retirement home for someone who wants to spend the majority of their time staying on the water. Floating homes are among the cheapest houseboats. They are affordable to build and easy to maintain.

River Houseboat

If you are planning to be living permanently on water, then you should consider building or buying a river houseboat. Houseboats are usually made of fiberglass. Also, they are customizable, meaning you can have them built according to your specifications. River houseboats and you can furnish them with various conveniences.

Full hulls are popular houseboats that you will mainly find in the U.S. Full hulls come with a spacious interior, meaning they can accommodate several people. And thanks to their design, they have higher buoyancy, meaning they can handle rougher waters better than most other types of houseboats.

Just like houseboats, yachts come in different types. Yachts can be categorized based on size and purpose, among others. Let’s take a closer look at the different yachts that fall under each of these categories.

When it comes to size, you can buy a smaller yacht, medium-size yacht, mega yacht or a super yacht. As you may expect, the bigger the yacht, the more it’s going to cost you to buy and maintain.

Smaller Yachts

Smaller yachts range between 10 meters to 20 meters. The majority of smaller yachts are usually privately owned. They are mainly used for water recreational activities like water sports or cruising. These yachts can be sail-driven, motor-driven or a combination of both.

Medium-sized Yachts

Medium-size yachts range from around 20 meters to 30 meters. They are ideal for tourist groups or bigger families. Medium-sized yachts may have a small crew for operating and maintaining them.

Super Yachts

These yachts measure around 30 to 50 meters long. They come with several nice features like sky lounges, Jacuzzis, bars and dining rooms. They can be sail-driven or motor-driven. Superyachts also have a professional crew for serving the people on board.

Mega Yachts

These are the biggest yachts currently. They are usually owned by super-rich individuals since they are quite costly. Some are also owned by organizations that offer water tourism.  Megayachts measure around 50 meters long or even more. Similar to superyachts, mega yachts also have a dedicated crew that works round the clock. They are also adequately outfitted with numerous luxurious facilities and amenities like cafeterias, swimming pools, suite rooms, restaurants, gyms, conference banquets and pubs, just to name a few.

Different yachts are built for different purposes and target markets. Some of the different yachts that fall under this category include:

Cruiser Yachts

As their name suggests, these yachts are mainly built for moving around or vacationing. Cruiser yachts come in different types and sizes. They are built for long-distance trips. Luxury yachts usually fall under this category.

Sports Cruisers

These yachts are built for short fast traps and water sports activities. They are quite compact and smaller in size than most of the other yachts. And as you may expect, their accommodation spaces are also limited.

Fishing Yachts

Fishing yachts are purposely built for fishing and leisurely activities. They come with adequate space for storing fishing gear. These yachts come with open decks, to make fishing easier. While you can use them in various fishing spots, they are not allowed for deep-sea fishing.

Expedition Yachts

If you love exploring or touring using water vessels, then expedition yachts are the perfect fit for you. They are built for long-distance water trips and vacations. Expedition yachts are given permission to explore remote and uncharted locations, which is usually not the case with cruiser yachts.

Trawler Yachts

Trawler yachts are also fishing vessels. However, they are built for large-scale or commercial fishing. But unlike ordinary fishing yachts, trawler yachts come with some comforts like sleeping bunks, since the crew may spend several months fishing.

Comfort and Livability

You can live on both a houseboat and a yacht. However, yachts tend to be more expensive compared to houseboats per square footage. Therefore, for the average person, a houseboat provides the most practical, affordable and convenient option.

Houseboat Floor Plan

The floor plan of a houseboat resembles that of a conventional house. As for the yacht, its floor plan resembles that of a conventional boat. For a houseboat, there will be a living room, bathroom, bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen, meaning it accommodate an entire family.

Considering that houseboats have a shape that is almost similar to that of a residential home, you will notice that their layouts are also similar. So, in case you live in an area where property prices are too high, you can simply opt for a houseboat. You will have almost similar living quarters at an affordable cost.

Yacht Floor Plan

As earlier mentioned, yachts are mainly designed for leisure activities like water sports, boat parties, fishing and weekend getaways. Therefore, they are mainly designed for vacationing and not long-term living in the water.

As for the floor plan, its layout will be similar to that of a boat. However, a yacht will come with more luxury features and comforts compared to a conventional boat. For instance, most speedboats don’t have indoor living spaces. They usually come with a captain’s seat and a bench. Some may also have a low table, but this feature is quite rare in speedboats.

A yacht, on the other hand, will have several luxurious features, which you can’t find in a speedboat. The main issue with yachts is that interior space is quite limited. While it may appear posh and luxurious, it lacks enough space, meaning it’s not ideal for long-term living on the water. Also, yachts tend to have limited headroom, compared to houseboats.

When you compare the two, you will conclude that a houseboat will be cheaper per square footage, compared to a yacht. If you browse the prices for these two water vessels of comparable size, you will notice that a yacht will cost you considerably more than a houseboat.

Wrapping It Up

A houseboat and a yacht are similar in various ways. Both are built for people that want to spend time in the water. But, they also have considerable differences. A houseboat is more of a floating house, designed for those who want to establish a permanent residence on water. Yachts, on the other hand, are ideal for recreational purposes. So, if you are looking to settle permanently close to a water body, then a houseboat will be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you are planning on going for a vacation or other water-based recreational activities, then a small yacht will serve you well.

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Brian Samson

I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.

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After spending over 30 years on houseboats, the memories and knowledge we've gained will never fade. Learn from our experiences here on LakeWizard. You can read more about us and our team, here .

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Jail Cells? Morgues? Your Cruise Ship Has Some Surprises for You.

Here are five unexpected features on ships, some of which you hopefully won’t discover on your own.

A close-up photograph of three decks of a cruise ship's cabins, each of which has a balcony with a half wall of blue glass and two chairs.

By Ceylan Yeğinsu

Cruise ships have hidden features that many passengers, particularly first-timers, don’t know about. Some ships are as big as small cities, and while it’s relatively easy to familiarize yourself with a seemingly endless number of amenities — water parks, tattoo parlors, multiple restaurants — there is also an entire ecosystem, often below passenger decks, that is shrouded in mystery.

Here are five things that cruisers may not know about cruise ships:

There’s a morgue …

Cruise ships carry millions of passengers each year, and it is not uncommon for deaths to occur on board. Most vessels are required to have a morgue and additional body bags in the event of an emergency.

The morgue, usually a small stainless steel refrigerated room on the ship’s lowest deck, accommodates between two to 10 bodies, depending on the size of the vessel. When a passenger or crew member dies, officials on the ship will notify the authorities on shore and a medical team will assess the body and move it to the morgue, where it is kept until arrangements are made for repatriation. In most cases, the body will be removed at the next port of call, but sometimes will remain on board until the end of the voyage.

…and a jail

There are no police officers on cruise ships, but most vessels have small jails known as the brig, and unruly passengers could find themselves locked up if the ship’s security team determines that they have violated the cruise line’s code of conduct.

The brig, usually a bare-bones room with a bed and bathroom facilities, does not have iron bars like a traditional jail cell. It is used to detain guests who commit serious crimes like assault or possession of illegal substances. Drunk and disorderly passengers may be put under “cabin arrest,” meaning they cannot leave their cabin without a security escort.

Depending on the circumstances, most passengers put in the brig will stay there until they can be handed over to law enforcement officials.

Many ships don’t have a Deck 13

Many cruise ships do not have a Deck 13 because of the widespread superstition in Western culture that the number is unlucky. Ships with a Deck 13 typically use it for public areas, not cabins.

Some ships, like Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class vessels, have a Deck 13 because the vessels are used mainly for the company’s market in Asia, where the number is not considered unlucky. MSC ships also have a Deck 13, but not a Deck 17, because the cruise line’s founder is Italian and 17 is considered unlucky in Italy.

Cruise lines entertain other superstitions, like appointing godmothers to bless new vessels and ensure the safety of passengers and crew. They also hold naming ceremonies in which a bottle of champagne is smashed against the hull of a new ship for good luck. If the bottle fails to break, the vessel will, according to superstition, have bad luck. These days, cruise lines use mechanical devices to ensure that does not happen.

Hidden pools and facilities for the crew

There are typically more than 1,000 crew members on board large cruise ships, and while they spend most of their time serving passengers, there are several areas on the lower decks designated for them to unwind.

The facilities vary from ship to ship, but there are usually small pools in the ship’s bow exclusively for crew members, as well as restaurants, bars and recreational areas like game rooms and gyms. The designated bar, a central social hub for employees after they have finished their shifts, often hosts live music and events in the evening.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, has an entire “neighborhood” dedicated to its 2,300 crew members, with a clubhouse that has massage chairs and virtual balconies — large screens that show real-time views from outside — as well as a restaurant with portholes looking out to the ocean.

Most ships host A.A. meetings

With all-inclusive beverage packages and countless bars, cruise ships can be a tough environment for guests in recovery. Many cruise lines offer daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that are usually scheduled as “Friends of Bill W.,” a reference to William Wilson, who co-founded the A.A. program in 1935.

The meetings are usually held in a quiet place like the library, where guests can feel comfortable and maintain their anonymity. They are also open to other support group members, like Women for Sobriety and Narcotics Anonymous.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter for The Times who frequently writes about the cruise industry and Europe, where she is based. More about Ceylan Yeğinsu

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 Icon of the Seas: Our reporter joined thousands of passengers on the inaugural sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas . The most surprising thing she found? Some actual peace and quiet .

Th ree-Year Cruise, Unraveled:  The Life at Sea cruise was supposed to be the ultimate bucket-list experience : 382 port calls over 1,095 days. Here’s why  those who signed up are seeking fraud charges  instead.

TikTok’s Favorite New ‘Reality Show’:  People on social media have turned the unwitting passengers of a nine-month world cruise  into  “cast members”  overnight.

Dipping Their Toes: Younger generations of travelers are venturing onto ships for the first time . Many are saving money.

Cult Cruisers: These devoted cruise fanatics, most of them retirees, have one main goal: to almost never touch dry land .

I went on Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship and saw why bookings are surging to record highs

  • Royal Caribbean has been increasingly targeting multigenerational families.
  • The cruise line's president and CEO said its new Icon of the Seas megaship is a "great example."
  • I went on the world's largest cruise ship and saw how it could appeal to younger and older guests.

Insider Today

Royal Caribbean has a secret to its smashing success.

No, it's not its cruise ships' water parks or Broadway-style shows.

It's you, your parents, and your young children. Or, as the industry calls it, "multi-generational families."

In 2023, Royal Caribbean's bookings hit an all-time high ahead of the launch of its newest ship, the Icon of the Seas.

Interest has yet to wane: The three strongest booking weeks in the company's history were at the start of 2024 and "wave season," when cruise lines typically roll out flashy discounts to incentivize reservations .

Sure, its achievement is in line with the rest of the mass-market cruise industry.

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Companies such as Carnival and Norwegian have also seen wild success over the last year, with some now running low on cabins and others charging fares surpassing pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

But Royal Caribbean's success, in particular, could be due to its shifting attempt to win over families .

Great timing: More people want to cruise with their kin now.

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The trade group Cruise Line International Association called multigenerational cruising one of the top 15 trends in a September 2023 report, noting that 73% of responding cruisers said they're traveling with at least two generations of family members .

Royal Caribbean says these travelers are its bread and butter.

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Like other cruise lines, the company now aims to poach families considering land-based vacations. Think of the US theme-park capital, Orlando.

"We've started this transition from being a traditional cruise vacation to being a multi-generational family option that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Orlando and Las Vegas," Jason Liberty, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, told investors in February.

To do this, Royal Caribbean has been "acutely focused" on this family segment, Michael Bayley, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, told investors on the same call. "And I think Icon of the Seas is a great example of that," Bayley said.

On paper, it’s easy to see how the world’s largest cruise ship appeals to young children.

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I joined the ship's complimentary, three-night preview sailing on January 20.

Its flashy, kid-friendly amenities — a short list of which includes a six-slide waterpark, a theme-park-like thrill ride, and a mini-golf course — consumed most of my time .

But if you pay close attention, you might notice the little designs and amenities that make it a great option for parents and grandparents too.

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The water park is a good example.

Not every adult would love the 46-foot-tall drop slide. But children and their parents could gleefully go a few rounds on the multi-person raft slides .

Activities such as the rock-climbing wall, the mini-golf course, and the Crown's Edge thrill 'ride' are all near the water park.

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Grandparents could spend an hour playing mini-golf with their grandchildren.

But if they prefer to sit out, they can watch their little ones from the adjacent covered lounge, where they can sip on a drink and pick at finger foods instead .

Or they can head to the adult-only infinity pool and bar behind the mini-golf course and water park.

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A "family vacation" doesn't mean the family has to stick together for the entire trip.

Instead, on Icon of the Seas, adults can lounge around the ship's de-facto pool club, mai tai in hand, while their children spend their afternoon running around the activity-filled deck .

Like most cruise ships, bars are littered throughout the 1,198-foot-long, 20-deck vessel.

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There's even a watering hole in the one neighborhood designed for toddlers, Surfside.

Large candy-shaped decals line Surfside's walls while a giant flamingo grounds the outdoor space. In between, there's a carousel, small dry and water playgrounds, and a pay-to-play arcade .

But just because your toddler can't drink doesn't mean you can't, either.

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For supervising adults, Surfside has a watering hole: Lemon Post, which flexes lemonade-stand-inspired alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.

The bar has great views of the water playground, so parents can sip while their kids play.

Across the way, there's also an all-day brunch restaurant where children eat for free, creating several spaces for multigenerational families to spend time together .

One of the ship’s seven pools has a swim-up bar.

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Children can splash around while their grandparents unwind with a cocktail. Are you sensing a theme yet?

Or, like most other cruise ships, parents can head to the spa after sending the young ones to the children's and teen's clubs .

To my surprise, the cruise ship’s shows could also delight travelers of all ages.

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I have vague childhood memories of hating cruises — and cruise shows. I remember them being tacky, boring, and plotless.

I wanted an exciting performance. Where are the dramatics?! Where are the plot twists?!

I didn't ask to be fidgety or sleepy during these shows, but the singers doing boring and campy covers of oldies hits surely helped me do both. (Can you tell I was later diagnosed with ADHD?)

Fortunately, the shows on the Icon of the Seas were good.

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Two decades later, I still don't love most song-and-dance performances.

But I'll admit, the Icon of the Seas' shows were spectacular enough to win me over. The rendition of the Broadway hit "Wizard of Oz," which featured a flying bed and "monkeys," would've delighted kid me .

And I have no doubt even the most bored kid would also love 'Aqua Action!'

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At times, I found the striking display of divers, nine-foot-tall robotic arms, and synchronized swimmers a bit cringey — especially the segment where the swimmers danced with flashlights.

But it was still an impressive show of acrobatic talent — enough to delight attendees of all ages.

If your children enjoy Cirque du Soleil-like acts, they will surely like "Aqua Action!"

In terms of dining, parents and their parents could be charmed by the ship’s plushest offering, the Empire Supper Club.

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A meal at the Empire Supper Club — meant more for adults than children — includes several courses, cocktail pairings, and live music. At $200 a person, it's the most upscale restaurant on the ship.

Yes, there's a dress code. And yes, kids are allowed, as well .

The ship’s seemingly never-ending access to alcohol and the opportunity for fine dining could appeal to most parents and grandparents.

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The family-oriented waterslides could be a big hit with all demographics as well.

But in my opinion, the most subtly successful way the ship targeted multigenerational groups of guests was through the proximity of relaxing lounges to children-oriented amenities such as the water park .

So far, targeting these diverse age groups has been paying off: The new ship has been a massive success.

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The Icon of the Seas' fares have been "double or triple" Royal Caribbean's previous new ship launches, Liberty told investors in February .

These high rates don’t seem to impact reservations. Bookings for the new vessel have also been 'phenomenally strong,' Liberty said.

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The company saw a record-setting booking day when it opened reservations for Icon of the Seas in October 2022 — over a year before the ship's launch.

A few months later, Bayley called the ship the "best-selling product in the history of our business."

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  • Main content

BREAKING: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene files a motion to oust Speaker Mike Johnson

Second aid ship expected to set sail for Gaza as Palestinians await distribution from first delivery

JERUSALEM — A shipment of aid that  arrived on Gaza’s shore  on Friday is expected to bring some respite to starving Palestinians in the enclave’s north — but how and when it will be distributed has yet to be seen.

Tons of flour, rice and canned foods were offloaded from the ship Saturday, according to World Central Kitchen, the charity that collected the food and organized the maritime aid shipment. The much-needed aid was was transported 200 miles from the Larnaca port of Cyprus to Gaza by the Open Arms, a ship named after the charity.

On Sunday, World Central Kitchen, which was launched by celebrity chef José Andrés and which runs a network of around 60 kitchens across the Gaza Strip, said the aid was in a warehouse and had yet to be distributed.

Earlier Sunday, COGAT, Israel's military liaison with the Palestinians, said World Central Kitchen trucks had "distributed the aid" from the maritime delivery in northern Gaza. A spokesperson for COGAT later told NBC News that was not correct and said it was a separate aid delivery that was distributed north.

The location of the warehouse where the aid was being held and the plan to distribute the food were not immediately clear, with World Central Kitchen noting Saturday that "this is a constantly evolving mission that changes constantly due to the realities on the ground."

The second vessel from World Central Kitchen.

John Spencer, a retired Army infantry officer who now serves as chair of urban warfare studies at the U.S. Military Academy’s Modern War Institute, said in a phone interview Sunday that it should be no surprise organizers have remained tightlipped around the plans for distribution of the widely covered aid shipment.

Noting a recent string of deadly incidents in which Palestinians have been killed while waiting for or trying to access much-needed aid, he said: “It makes a lot of sense to me that details of the distribution of the aid are being very close-held.”

He also noted that organizers would be unlikely to distribute aid from the same point more than once due to safety concerns. “They’ll probably move points around,” he said. “If you set up one point, that just gives bigger chances for bigger crowds and chaos.”

Spencer was also unsurprised by discrepancies in statements from the charity and Israeli officials.

In addition to statements on the distribution of aid, there have also been discrepancies around how much aid was included in the maritime shipment, with the World Central Kitchen saying 200 tons of aid was on the Open Arms vessel, while COGAT initially said there were 115 tons, before shifting to 200 in a later update.

Spencer said there were “lots of reasons” for such discrepancies, including the general communication issues that can arise while executing a difficult plan in a chaotic environment. But he said it would not be surprising for an aid organization to want to separate itself from military or government efforts in a conflict zone “when there’s two warring parties.”

The IDF said in a statement Friday that the maritime aid shipment was being facilitated in coordination with COGAT and with the Israeli government’s approval.

It said naval and ground forces had been deployed to secure the area upon the Open Arms’ arrival, but it was not clear if the military was expected to be involved in the management or the distribution of aid — or what efforts were being made to ensure that aid would reach civilians safely after several deadly incidents related to aid deliveries.

Humanitarian aid loaded onto pallets.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said on Thursday that a number of people were killed and dozens were injured while waiting for a separate aid delivery.

The IDF rejected claims that its forces fired on the crowd and shared footage it said showed “Palestinian gunmen opening fire in the midst of Gazan civilians” about an hour before an aid convoy arrived. NBC News could not immediately independently verify the IDF’s claim or determine what exactly is happening in the video.

It came after several other deadly incidents in recent weeks, including the violence on Feb. 29 during which more than 100 Palestinians were killed as they gathered in anticipation of the arrival of much-needed aid.

The Israeli military said the majority of people were trampled on or run over in the incident, but witnesses said Israeli soldiers killed civilians, shooting at them and firing tank artillery shells.

Friday’s nautical aid delivery came amid mounting frustrations over the lack of aid flowing into Gaza, despite tons of food and supplies sitting on trucks in Egypt awaiting permission to enter the enclave, where Palestinians are facing starvation. The United Nations warned that around a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are “one step away” from famine . Already, Palestinian health officials have reported dozens of deaths from malnutrition in the enclave, with most of the victims being children.

World Central Kitchen said it was already loading a second boat with 204 tons of food for a second sailing to Gaza — and it said it planned to “establish a maritime highway” of future boats and barges.

Israel has maintained tight control over the entry of aid, particularly through the country’s Kerem Shalom border crossing and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

The U.S. and its international partners have pushed for Israel to ramp up the flow of aid into Gaza, with the Biden administration recently announcing plans to build a temporary port to help facilitate future maritime deliveries.

World Central Kitchen said it had to construct a jetty built from the rubble of the war off Gaza’s shore in order to facilitate Friday’s aid delivery. Video captured by NBC News’ crew on the ground showed trucks carrying goods away from the makeshift jetty.

While aid groups welcomed the recent arrival of aid by sea, as well as via airdrops, they have condemned plans to build the port, as well as the focus on a maritime aid route, when the most practical means of delivering food and other goods to Palestinians in desperate need in Gaza would be by land.

“Any aid that can be provided is helpful and good given the overwhelming levels of need on the ground,” Ciarán Donnelly, the International Rescue Committee’s vice president of crisis response, said in a phone interview Friday. “At the same time, the reality is that the most direct distance between two points is a straight line and there are cheaper and more effective and easier ways to get aid to Gaza than relying on planes and boats from airdrops and maritime routes.”

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Chantal Da Silva is a breaking news editor for NBC News Digital based in London. 

Watch CBS News

Plan to recover "holy grail" of shipwrecks holding billions of dollars in treasure is approved over 3 centuries after ship sank

Updated on: March 21, 2024 / 8:29 AM EDT / CBS/AFP

More than three centuries after the legendary  San Jose galleon sank off the coast of Colombia while laden with gold, silver and emeralds, the nation has officially approved a plan to recover the wreck and its treasures, officials announced this week.

Dubbed the  "holy grail" of shipwrecks , the 316-year-old wreck has been controversial since it was discovered in 2015 , because it is both an archaeological and economic treasure --  estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

"For the first time in history, a model of comprehensive public management of the archaeological site and asset of cultural interest, protected by regulations and public missionality, is advanced," the Colombian government  said in a news release Tuesday.

Colombian will invest more than $1 million in the recovery process, which is expected to get underway next month, officials said.

Last month,  Culture Minister Juan David Correa told Agence France-Presse that an underwater robot would be sen t to recover some of its bounty.


Between April and May, the robot would extract some items from "the surface of the galleon" to see "how they materialize when they come out (of the water) and to understand what we can do" to recover the rest of the treasures, said Correa.

The robot will work at a depth of 600 meters to remove items such as ceramics, pieces of wood and shells "without modifying or damaging the wreck," Correa told AFP aboard a large naval ship.

The location of the expedition is being kept secret to protect what is considered  one of the greatest archaeological finds  in history from malicious treasure hunters.

The San Jose galleon was owned by the Spanish crown when it was sunk by the British navy near Cartagena in 1708. Only a handful of its 600-strong crew survived.

The ship had been heading back from the New World to the court of King Philip V of Spain, laden with treasures such as chests of emeralds and some 200 tons of gold coins.

Before Colombia  announced the discovery in 2015 , it was long sought after by treasure hunters.

The expedition to start recovering the shipwreck's trove comes as a case is underway at the UN's Permanent Court of Arbitration between Colombia and the U.S.-based salvage company Sea Search Armada -- which claims it found the wreck first over 40 years ago.

In June 2022, Colombia said that a remotely operated vehicle reached 900 meters below the surface of the ocean, showing  new images of the wreckage.

The video showed the best-yet view of the treasure that was aboard the San Jose — including gold ingots and coins, cannons made in Seville in 1655 and an intact Chinese dinner service.

At the time, Reuters reported the remotely operated vehicle also discovered two other shipwrecks in the area, including a schooner thought to be from about two centuries ago.

More from CBS News

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Metal detectorist looking for World War II relics finds medieval papal artifact

Bolivia claims its second largest drug seizure ever

At least 8 killed as chemical tanker capsizes off Japan's coast

India to prosecute 35 pirates who hijacked ship off Somalia, navy official says

Hijacked ship MV Ruen freed

The Reuters Daily Briefing newsletter provides all the news you need to start your day. Sign up here.

Reporting by Krishn Kaushik; editing by Miral Fahmy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. , opens new tab

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Thomson Reuters

Krishn reports on politics and strategic affairs from the Indian subcontinent. He has previously worked at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an international investigative consortium; The Indian Express; and The Caravan magazine, writing about defence, politics, law, conglomerates, media, elections and investigative projects. A graduate of Columbia University's journalism school, Krishn has won multiple awards for his work.

Faith leaders place their hands on the shoulders of U.S. President Trump as he takes part in a prayer for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

Russia warns Japan of 'serious consequences' if Patriot missiles made there end up in Ukraine - RIA

Russia's newly appointed ambassador to Japan has warned Tokyo of serious consequences and retaliatory steps if Patriot missile systems manufactured under U.S. licence in Japan end up in Ukraine, the RIA news agency reported on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves, in Tel Aviv

China’s Navy Ship Tails Philippine Coast Guard Amid Sea Spat

  • More than a dozen Chinese vessels visible from Thitu island
  • Southeast Asian nation has intensified maritime surveillance

A China Coast Guard vessel in the South China Sea on March 5.

A China Coast Guard vessel in the South China Sea on March 5.

The Philippines said a Chinese Navy ship “shadowed” its coast guard vessel en route to a Philippines-occupied island in the South China Sea in the latest incident between the two nations asserting overlapping maritime claims.

The Philippine Coast Guard issued radio challenges to the Chinese Navy vessel that followed its ship on Tuesday, but didn’t get any response, spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela said Thursday from Thitu island in the Spratlys.


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