Types of Boats

Having some knowledge of the different types of boats avilable will help you decide what type of sailing best suits you.  There are any different types of sailing boats, from childrens dinghies that cost a few hundred dollars to boats that can accomodate a family for overnighting and passagemaking worth thousands.  In general sailing boats fall into three broad catagories – Dinghies, Keelboats and Powerboats – but there are hundreds of different types of boat within each – called classes.

Types of Boats


A dinghy is a small sailing boat usually sailed by one or two people. Dinghies and catamarans are transportable on trailers and sometimes are stored on racks at sailing clubs. Unlike keelboats a dinghy has no keel or heavy lead under the boat to counteract the force of the wind in the sails. The crew move their weight to balance the boat against the win, and stop it from capsizing. 

Learning to sail in a dinghy is a great way to start. Everything in the boat is very simple; they are easy to get ready and are light to handle. A dinghy responds quickly to your movements and sail adjustments, so it’s easy to see the effects of your actions and to feel the way the boat reacts. When learning to sail, people usually start in a fairly stable and simple boat and as you improve you might choose to progress to a higher performance boat with more complicated sails. Starting to sail in a dinghy can be the quickest way to learn.Keelboat

A keelboat has a weighted keel under the hull that prevents it from capsizing. They are larger than dinghies and are usually kept in the water, on a mooring or at a marina. They are sailed by a skipper and a crew. Keelboats do not offer the fast response and instant feedback of dinghies because of their greater size and weight. A keelboat is generally more stable and dry and often more comfortable to sail. Keelboats usually have beds (bunks), a kitchen (galley) and toilet / bathroom (head) on board for added comfort. Catamaran

Catamarans have two hulls and come in all shapes and sizes from small off the beach boats to big cruising boats. Although catamarans and Tri-marans (three hulls) are very stable compared with dinghies, they can still capsize if allowed to heel (lean over) too far. Multihulls are lightweight and fast so they feel exhilarating to sail. Many catamarans are sailed by two people and they need slightly different sailing techniques than dinghies, as they sail faster but turn more slowly.Kiteboard

A Kiteboard has a board with or without foot-straps or bindings, combined with the power of a large controllable kite to propel the rider and board across the water. There are a number of different styles of kiteboarding, including freestyle, freeride, downwinders, speed, course racing, wakestyle, jumping and wave-riding which is focused on kitesurfing big waves using a directional board similar to a surfboard.Windsurfer

Windsurfers are sailed using the same principles as dinghies, but balance against the force of the wind is achieved by the weight of the body, standing upright.  Trailer Sailor (Trailable)

Trailables are larger than a dinghy, often with accommodation like a keelboat. They are stored and transported on a trailer so they can easily reach different sailing areas.

They have a centreboard and weighted keel that can be retracted for trailering. They usually have a crew of three to four but can be sailed by less. Day Sailors are a form of trailable yacht, without the onboard accommodation, and are good for adults to learn in. Sports Boats are a trailable yacht for people interested in more exhilarating performance.Powerboat

Power boating describes activities performed in a motorized boat. Generally, a power boat has a high power-to-weight ratio and a hull design that allows for easy planning, which allows for higher speed and improved handling. Also, the shape of the actual boat is usually very streamlined, which minimizes air resistance and drag, therefore increasing speed.

Powerboats themselves are a great way to get out on the water, either for a day trip, or if you have a Motor Cruiser with on board berths for a longer time. Many powerboats and motor cruiser owners join sailing clubs to both store their boat and participate in social activities at the club.

Click here if you are looking to buy a new or used sailing boat.