You’ve longed to be out on the open water, gazing into the horizon, enjoying the tangy saltwater sprays, and the rhythmic sways of the boat underfoot. Now, it’s time to make it a reality. But first, you need to choose your vessel; specifically you should decide if you want to purchase a yacht or a boat. 

How to choose a boat can be a bit overwhelming especially for first time boat owners because there are just so many different types of boats to choose from. You could spend days scouring the internet looking at various boat makes and models. You can choose from a small fishing vessel, a deck boat, a jet boat, a pontoon boat, a convertible fishing boat, or even a yacht. 

Some things to keep in mind when making a decision on what type of boat to buy include: will you use the boat for recreational purposes or commercial purposes? How often will you use the boat, and where will you use your boat?

How to Choose a Boat? 

Some things that can help you determine how to choose a boat include:

  • Your budget: Set a budget in the beginning of your search process. You don’t want to take a boat out on a sea trial, fall in love with it, and then realize you can’t afford it. To prevent this from happening, use our free online boat loan calculator. This tool can help you get an idea of your monthly loan payments and you can calculate how much boat you can actually afford. Just remember to add maintenance, fuel, storage, and insurance costs. 
  • How you will use the boat? The type of boat you choose depends on how you plan on using the boat. Do you want to host parties on the boat? Will you be using it to travel to exotic locations and explore remote islands? Do you plan on using the boat for commercial purposes such as fishing charters or deep sea fishing trips?
  • Your lifestyle: When figuring out how to choose a boat, it’s important to keep your lifestyle in mind. Think about things like the size of your family, if you want to take the boat out with lots of friends; if you need room for 20 people on board or only a few people. Are you a thrill seeker who wants to engage in watersports? Or, are you more of a sun seeker who is content lying on the deck with a good book soaking up some rays?
  • The durability and functionality of the boat: Choose a durable boat that is functional. If a boat is meant for freshwater, you don’t want to buy it if you intend on going in saltwater. The same applies to boat functionality. Don’t choose a center console fishing boat if you want to have plenty of space on deck for lounging, hanging out, and eating around a table. 
  • Where you will use the boat: Consider where you plan on taking your boat. Do you want a boat that can go in the ocean, in a lake, a river, or a local waterway? Or do you want a vessel that can island-hop and go long distances without needing to refuel? You may want a smaller boat that can navigate smaller waterways like windy canals. Some boats, especially larger boats with v-shaped hulls are designed for the ocean, and others like pontoon boats are much better suited for lakes and rivers.  
  • How often you will use the boat: Before you can know how to choose a boat, you need to think about how often you will use the boat. Be realistic. If you travel for work or have a packed schedule, you may not be able to use the boat every week, and that’s fine. You just want to know approximately how often you will use the boat and then decide what boat and what price range makes sense based on your estimated usage. 

Now you know the major factors that go into deciding what type of boat you should choose. It’s time to decide if you want to purchase a boat or a yacht. Let’s dive into some differences between a yacht and a boat. 

Differences Between Yacht and Boat 

A yacht is a type of boat and is typically longer and more luxurious than other types of boats. Usually, a recreational boat over 45 feet long is considered to be a yacht. The word ‘yacht’ is derived from the Dutch language. It was once used to describe the kinds of boats in the Dutch Navy fleet which were fast and lightweight sailing vessels. However, the word in present times depicts a well-appointed, luxe, large vessel that is often considered aspirational and a status symbol for many. It’s generally the most expensive type of boat on the market. 

You may dream of driving your own yacht and you may be able to do that depending on the boat’s length, how many people are on board, and if the passengers are paying for the experience, such as charter guests, or are just your friends and family. These guidelines vary greatly by state and by country. But overall, most places require you to have a captain’s license if you have paid guests onboard. 

You may want to hire a captain if you don’t have experience on the water and if you want to be able to relax and enjoy the ride. You may also want to hire a crew to assist with things like organizing shore excursions, serving meals and drinks, cleaning, housekeeping, and assisting the captain. Most yachts will have what’s called crew quarters which are where the crew spend time when they’re not working, where they sleep, eat, and shower, etc. 

You can work with a ship builder and design your own yacht, buy a brand new one from a yacht dealer, or buy a pre-owned yacht from a yacht dealer or a personal seller. Yachts have the extra space that many other types of boats don’t have, so they often come with some pretty amazing amenities. 

Some of these amenities include a helipad to land your helicopter on your yacht, an onboard jacuzzi, a sauna, fitness center, a garage to store water toys such as jet skis and kayaks, inflatable water slides, and tenders. Some larger yachts also have sports courts so you can play basketball in the middle of the ocean, putting greens, giant screens to view movies on, and full state-of-the-art kitchens including hibachi grills. 

As we mentioned earlier, boats come in many shapes, sizes, and models and can include things like fishing boats, deck boats, high performance powerboats, cruisers, and more. Conversely, yachts basically fall into two categories: sailing yachts and motor yachts. Both types of yachts boast spacious quarters, heads, below deck cabins, kitchens, comfortable living spaces, and room to gather and entertain. 

Boats can be found in all waterways including canals, lakes, rivers, intracoastal waterways, and the ocean. However, yachts are really designed for the ocean. You may find some in other deep waterways, but they can’t fit in narrow canals, and aren’t suitable for shallow water areas. In fact, you will need a tender (a smaller boat) to transport you from your yacht to a shallow water area such as a beach, sandbar, or even some waterfront restaurants, and beach clubs. 

Trident Funding finances both boats and yachts; pre-owned and new. We offer boat loans up to $2 million and our application process is easy and fast. Approvals are normally given within 48 hours and we pride ourselves on helping you through the entire loan process. We really do make it smooth sailing. 

Pros and Cons of Buying a Boat 

Some pros of buying a boat instead of a yacht include:

  • Lower purchase price
  • Lower overall costs including fuel, insurance, docking, storage, maintenance, and repairs
  • No crew or crew quarters required 
  • Less restricted waterways
  • No caption needed

Some cons of buying a boat include:

  • Boat won’t hold as many people as a yacht
  • All boats aren’t suitable for the ocean
  • Most boats don’t have sleeping quarters
  • Less on board amenities 

If you’re ready to start the boat buying process, check out Boat Trader.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Yacht 

Some pros of buying a yacht instead of a boat include:

  • Enjoy a luxurious experience
  • A host of onboard amenities
  • More comfortable spaces
  • On board sleeping and eating spaces
  • Option for a crew to assist with all your wants
  • Able to travel long distances
  • Can use the yacht instead of a hotel
  • Great entertainment venue

Some cons of purchasing a yacht include:

  • The overall cost including the purchase price and ongoing costs to maintain the yacht
  • A captain may be required
  • Not all marinas, docks, or waterways can accommodate large yachts
  • Most yachts aren’t very environmentally friendly 

If you’re ready to start the yacht buying process, check out Yacht World.

Difference Between a Yacht and a Boat: The Wrap Up

When researching how to choose a boat that’s right for you, keep your budget at the forefront. Also, keep in mind how you plan on using the boat, how often you will use the boat, your lifestyle, and how durable, and functional the boat is. 

Remember the key differences between a yacht and a boat, including their lengths, their ocean capabilities, fuel consumption, and overall costs. Other things to keep in mind include the number of people they hold, if there are crew quarters, the amenities onboard, and if a captain’s license is required to drive the boat. Generally, yachts are luxurious, 45 feet or longer, and are designed to cruise long distances in comfort. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Much Does a Yacht Cost?

Like all vessels, the cost of a yacht varies based on a number of factors. Pre-owned older models with more hours will be less expensive than brand new yachts. And, yachts are generally less expensive than super yachts or mega yachts. The more amenities and technological features onboard, typically the higher the price will be. You may find a smaller pre-owned yacht for about $250,000, but most yachts range from $500,000 to well over $2 million. 

If you need yacht financing, apply online with just a few clicks at Trident Funding. We’re the leader in the marine financing industry and can match you with a loan that is unique for your financial profile. We’ve been trusted for more than three decades and we help you cruise through the entire purchase process from the time you apply for a loan, all the way until you get out on the water in your very own yacht. 

Are Yachts Bigger Than Boats?

The simple answer to if yachts are bigger than boats is yes. There is no ‘set in stone’ rule to how big a yacht is, but typically a yacht is at least 45 feet and may go all the way up to hundreds of feet long. In fact, some of the largest yachts in the world are over 500 feet long. To put that in perspective, that is more than one and a half times longer than a football field. Yachts are either motor yachts or sailing yachts. However, most sailing yachts also have motors to keep them going when there isn’t enough wind. 

What Can Yachts Be Used for?

Yachts are typically used for recreational purposes, for water sports, and vacations. They can also be used for fishing, for hosting parties and events, and for traveling the world. Yachts are often showcased at boat shows around the world and some are even used as short-term vacation rentals for travelers who want the unique experience of staying overnight on a yacht. 

You can purchase a yacht and offset some of your costs by chartering it for a couple weeks, or even a few months at a time. This is an especially popular option for wealthy people who want to explore the Caribbean or the Mediterranean but don’t own their own yacht, or don’t have their yacht nearby.