What kind of boat do you have?

Docked at the Swantown Marina in Olympia
Docked at the Swantown Marina in Olympia
Good question. We’ve come to learn that there are many classifications, variants and hybrids to sort through and choose from. And just like motorcycling, there seems to be endless debate about it all. Here are the factors that one must take into account:

  • How is the boat powered? Sail, motor or both?
  • What type of hull does it have? If it displaces an equal amount of water to its full weight when underway, it is a displacement hull. If it rides on top of the water when underway, it is a planing hull. If it partially planes when underway, it is a semi-displacement hull.
  • The primary use of the boat can also dictate how it is classified:
    • Zooming around on nice days while waterskiing or sightseeing? That’s called a runabout and is akin to a convertible automobile. Picnic boats may also be in this category. Click here to see a Devlin runabout.
    • Fishing? Depending on configuration, the boat might be labeled as a center console, cuddy cabin, express cruiser or flying bridge cruiser. Click here to see a Devlin fishing boat.
    • Multiple day trips? This is called cruising and a variety of boats can used for such a purpose depending on the level of comfort desired and your sense of adventure. We’ve seen tugstrawlerssailboatsmotorsailers and power boats of all kinds used for this. (Click the links for Devlin examples of each.)
    • And then to complicate things farther, if the boat has sleeping and cooking facilities, it can be called a yacht and considered a second home by the IRS which means boat loan interest can be deducted on one’s tax return.

From a pure technical point of view, we have a semi-displacement power boat. (Most boaters would concur except for a few contrarians that would say it is a semi-planing boat.) Nevertheless, now we can take a stab at classifying our boat:

  • The Devlin website calls our boat a pilot house cruiser.
  • We’ve also seen it called a pocket cruiser elsewhere but we’ve been unable to figure out just what that means.
  • It can be called a motor yacht because it has sleeping and cooking facilities and an engine.
  • The two and a half year old daughter of sailboater at the dock we stayed at in Olympia referred to it as the “caboose boat”.
  • Inga and I call it a “soup-and-coffee-guy-boat” as that is the extent of its galley facilities and its Spartan accommodations;  no hot water, no refrigerator, a tiny sink, a one burner stove, a porta-potti that is not enclosed and a charcoal fired heater suitable only for warming one’s hands on a chilly day.
  • It has been called a “stinkpot” by a sailboater in order to demonstrate his playful contempt for its noisy, smelly diesel engine vs. his quiet, clean and righteous sails. (Our Volvo diesel doesn’t stink but it’s no use trying to convince him. And never mind that he can’t really go anywhere without running his little diesel motor due to the usual lack of wind in Puget Sound except during a storm.)

So what kind of boat do we have? A stinkpot motor yacht? A semi-displacement, pilot house cruiser? A soup-and-coffee-guy caboose boat? Maybe it’s all those things and yet there is something magical and very alive about it that defies being labeled and we find that to be quite comforting and delightful. — Scott Bruce Duncan */:-)

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