Many people love spending time on the water, especially on the high seas.
But only a few know the boats that can withstand the harsh reality saltwater environment.
We have researched the different boats designed for saltwater to help you make an informed choice when choosing a water craft.
But first, let’s answer the question: Can all boats be used in saltwater?
Not all watercraft can survive in saltwater.
While freshwater boats will float on saltwater, their flat hull design makes them susceptible to waves and the highly saline water degrades the hull and propulsion system.
This article summarizes the common salt water boat questions people ask about.
Here are the most common boats you can use for all your saltwater activities.
1) Bay Boats
The low-profile Bay boat is designed for saltwater use although you have to stay close to the shore.
Perfect for fishing and cruising shallow bays and estuaries, these boats can measure 18’-24’ in length and offer more freeboard compared to flat boats.
Because they are built for marine and brackish environments, Bay boats usually have a fiberglass construction.
2) Center Console Boats
These are so-called because they have the helm station at the center of the craft without a cabin or foredeck.
These boats typically measure 13’-45’ long, providing ample space for family and friends to lounge and party.
Thanks to their open hull design, center consoles allow anglers free movement along the bow and stern of the boat, making them excellent saltwater fishing boats.
Whether small-sized or large, center consoles ideal for saltwater fishing and come with powerful outboard motors for fast access and exit on the waterways.
These watercraft feature fish lockers and bait wells for a smooth saltwater fishing experience.
If you love day cruises and skiing with family and friends, the bowrider might be the perfect saltwater boat for you.
The boat has an open bow that sports extra seats for more passengers while the stern features swimming and skiing facilities.
Measuring 17’-30’ long, bowriders are the quintessential family boat.
For a family of four that enjoys spending time on the water, the stern drive or outboard motor powered bowrider delivers a great weekend experience. These are perfect for day cruising.
They belong to the group of boats called runabouts.
4) Cuddy Cabin Boats
At 22-30 feet long, cuddy cabin boats offer both passenger and storage space.
These are small boats ideal for lone or couple anglers who love to fish saltwater species close to the shore.
Cuddy cabins are also runabouts and come with an enclosed deck, sleeping berths, galley and toilet.
While the cuddy cabin has limited space below deck, it’s ideal for overnight cruises for two people.
Another versatile saltwater boat is the cabin cruiser.
This watercraft measure 21’-45’ in length and has a cabin large enough to accommodate several passengers, sleeping quarters, a galley and other facilities to make your fishing trips memorable.
This boat is perfect for people who want to live aboard their watercraft for extended periods thanks to its homely amenities.
6) Downeast Cruiser
This boat got its name from the New England town of Downeast.
A version of the cruiser boat, they come with berths, a dining area, and a head among other facilities.
This watercraft is excellent for offshore fishing and cruising.
They are also known as lobster boats and provide almost the same level of comfort you get in a cabin cruiser.
7) Deck Boats
A deck boat has a distinctive V-shaped hull that gives it exceptional agility in the water.
These boats can be 25’-35’ long and are built with aluminum or fiberglass for improved survivability in the harsh saltwater environment.
They have a large deck that provides plenty of open space for entertainment, water sports, swimming and saltwater fishing
Deck boats are powered by stern drives or outboard motors.
8) Flat Boats
If you are fishing in coastal waters close to rock outcrops, the specialized flat boat will take you anywhere with less than two feet of water.
Flat boats are not only versatile, but they are more affordable and require less maintenance compared to bigger saltwater crafts.
9) All Purpose Fishing Boats
For anglers who love to pursue pelagic and deep-diving fish that don’t give up without a fight, all-purpose fishing boats will take your fishing experience to the next level.
These boats are ideal for saltwater fishing, partying, water sports and more.
They come with the full panoply of features to make the finding, hooking, fighting and landing fish a breeze.
You will find trolling motor systems, rod lockers and live wells on these fishing boats.
10) Sportfishing Boats
Serious anglers appreciate the advanced saltwater fishing features that come with sportfishing boats.
Customized for offshore fishing, everything you need to find, hook and land different species of fish is on this platform.
Plus, these make an excellent cruising platform too.
11) Multi-Hull Powerboats
These boats combine the exceptional stability of the catamaran with high-performance characteristics.
They have a distinct dual-hull construction that delivers exceptional fishing and cruising experience for the serious angler.
Also called power catamarans, these boats can measure up to 25’-40’ long, are more fuel efficient and faster compared to mono-hulls.
Multi-Hull powerboats are catamarans optimized for saltwater fishing.
12) Ski and Wakeboard Boats
These beautiful boats are designed for water sports but they can also be excellent for saltwater fishing.
They are ideal for waterboarding, skiing, and towing inflatable tubes among other uses. You can get ballasted versions to create higher wakes if you enjoy trick skiing.
13) Pilothouse Boats
These boats are hardened for the severe conditions of the saltwater environment.
They are so-called because of their pilothouse which provides adequate shelter from the elements. Pilothouse boats are ideal for extended cruises, fishing, and feature a head and a berth.
Measuring 20’-35’ long, this watercraft is powered by inboards, outboards or stern drives.
14) High Performance Boats
If you love raving on the high seas, these powerful and highly maneuverable watercraft make an excellent choice.
High performance boats are designed for agility, speed and adrenaline-pumping excitement.
Most come with surface drives, stern drives or outboard motors that deliver exceptional propulsion, creating a high power to weight ratio. These boats can measure up to 25’-60[in length and have a steep deadrise and narrow beam.
Their Spartan cabins can comfortably sit 2-6 passengers on a smooth cruise on the water.
15) Fish and Ski Boats
As the name suggest, these boats are designed for fishing and skiing.
They have plenty of cushy sitting space and fishing facilities such as tie downs to anchor your rods, ski lockers and removable tow bars.
These 16’-24’ long watercraft are ideal for families who love fishing and having fun together on the water.
16) Dual Console Boats
The dual console comes with two windshields and dashboards.
There is enough space to walk around the dashes while fishing or cruising on the water. Designed for saltwater fishing, these boats can measure 16’-30’ long.
17) Sedan Bridge Boats
These boats have an elevated bridge that provides an extended visibility for the navigator.
They typically measure 35-65 feet long, have living quarters and are perfect for overnight cruises and fishing trips.
18) Motor Yacht Boats
Motor yachts are at the affordable spectrum of the luxury watercraft market.
Designed for luxury and leisure activities, these boats come with advanced navigational equipment and powerful diesel engines that allow them cruise easily on the sea and inland waterways.
They come with plush dwelling areas, ample sitting space fore and aft and you can use them for a wide range of entertainment or sporting activities.
However, these are pricier compared to other boats on this list.
Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats are also excellent for saltwater activities.
These boats have an aluminum or fiberglass hull with inflatable outer tubes for improved buoyancy and weight reduction. They are powered by outboard motors and have nimble steering systems.
Not only are RHIBs larger and faster than flexible floored inflatables, but they also have higher load-bearing capacity, allowing them to carry more passengers and stores.
They are heavily deployed by navies all over the world for hot extraction and other specialized operations but also perform with excellence in civilian applications.
RHIBs are faster, larger and carry more passengers compared to flexible floored boats.
20) Express Fisherman Boats
The Express Fisherman is optimized for high speeds in offshore conditions.
These boats come with open cockpits and fishing facilities sturdy enough to tackle oceangoing species such as tuna and merlin.
While they are not designed for an extended stay on the water, these boats are perfect for overnight cruises.
For fast access and exit to and from prime fishing sports, you can count on the powerful Express Fisherman.
If spending time on freshwater is not your thing, a boat designed for the tough conditions of the saltwater can provide many memorable weekends and fishing trips for you and your loved ones.
However, not all boats can withstand the rigors of the high seas. Ideally, you want your saltwater boat to come with a corrosion-resistant hull and a design that minimizes contact with the saltwater.
This is why most of the boats on this list have a deep-V hull design. While this construction makes the boat rock when anchored, it creates an exceptionally smooth ride when the craft is moving at full throttle.
You can choose from a wide range of saltwater boats of different sizes and capabilities. Whether you are an enthusiastic deep-sea angler, water sport lover or you have an affinity with the aquatic life, there is a perfect boat for you out there.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.