When it comes to figuring out what type of craft is considered a top ocean boat, it’s important to always remember that ocean conditions vary widely and there will never be a one-size-fits-all answer.
Pro Tip: Your boat needs to be in tip-top shape to be safe in the ocean and no matter the size or type, if it is not mechanically sound and well-maintained, it probably shouldn’t leave protected waterways.
If you’re planning a voyage, consider our five best ocean boat types:
- Inboard Fishing Boats
- Midsize to Large Center Consoles
- Midsize to Large Cabin Cruisers or Yachts
- Some Catamarans (Power or sail)
- Cruising Sailboats
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Inboard fishing boats
Since outboard power has come to dominate the marketplace among smaller fishing boats, most modern inboard sportfishing boats are large and rugged enough for the ocean. There’s no one specific length you can call sufficient, but 30-plus feet is a good starting point. For many people a great way to get out on the ocean in boats like these is to hire a fishing charter so you not only get the boat, you get a captain with oceanic experience as well.
Midsized to large center consoles
Most larger center consoles carry multiple engines—always a good thing, when you’re going out on the ocean—and have deep-V hulls designed to handle big waves. On calm days most boaters consider it okay to take smaller models into the ocean, too, as long as you don’t stray too far from the inlet.
Midsized to large cabin cruisers or yachts
Just about any big cabin cruiser and any boat worthy of being called a yacht can be taken into the ocean. Not all cruisers and yachts are prepared for it—you certainly don’t want to have a set of fine China sitting on the dinette table when oceanic waves start rolling—but most newer models in good mechanical condition can handle a jaunt in open waters.
Some catamarans (power or sail)
Many catamarans are designed specifically to take on big seas and are appropriate for ocean use, but not all of them. Catamarans designed for long passages or living aboard, be they power or sail, are generally considered appropriate for use in the ocean.
Most sailboats designed for extended cruising are relatively large and can handle fairly significant seas. Even when one is ocean-worthy, however, you do have to remember that sailboats travel slower than most powerboats and will take longer to return to port. This makes keeping an eye on the developing weather patterns even more important, so you can plan your trip appropriately.
Again, remember that each individual boat has to be assessed upon its own merits when determining if it should be taken into the ocean. So use good judgment and keep a close watch on the weather forecast, and your oceanic adventure will be a great one.
Need more answers? We got you covered
What boats are good in the ocean?
The best ocean boats are relatively large and designed to take on open seas. But on a calm day if you stay close to home, just about any boat can be a good boat in the ocean.
What size boat is safe for the ocean?
There’s simply no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. In some conditions, it may be safe to launch something as small as a kayak from the beach and go into the ocean. But in other conditions, even the 60-footers should stay tied up at the dock.
Can any boat go in the ocean?
Pretty much, yes! This is always a judgment call and the answer on any given day depends on a number of variables.
It’s important to understand that the condition of a boat determines whether it’s ocean-worthy or not. One day the ocean could be glass-calm and as smooth as silk, and just about any boat would be fine running through its waters. The next day stormy seas could make it uncomfortable even on a 100-foot superyacht.
No size requirements should be considered hard rules and good judgment plus a look at the weather forecast is in order before setting off into the ocean — regardless of what sort of boat you’re on. Check out Weather Safety Tips for Boaters to learn more about how to gain some weather wisdom as it pertains to boating.
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With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites ranging from BoatU.S. Magazine to BDOutdoors.com. Rudow is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk, he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.