What kind of boat are you? We’ve got your match


CLEVELAND, Ohio — So you want to buy a boat.

You want to capture the “blue mind” state of being, of peace and relaxation and joy on the water.

But what kind of boat do you want? There are more than 700 models, said Norm Schultz, former president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, which hosts the Progressive Cleveland Boat Show every January at the I-X Center. This year’s show has more than 450 boats — plus kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and jet skis.

If you’re overwhelmed, don’t worry. Plenty of us can’t tell the difference between a bowrider and a bay boat, and we don’t know which boat brand makes what.

These types of boats can come in many sizes, with different motors (many of them outboard) and vastly different prices. You can buy a 16-foot bowrider, or a 40-foot one. But this little cheat sheet, which we created with help from the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association and Discover Boating, will at least get you started.

See all of cleveland.com’s boat show coverage.

You want a family boat, one that can take you to the beach and pull the kids around on tubes.

Bowrider: This is the boat you think of when you hear “speedboat.” Open seating up front, so you can feel the spray of the waves. Nearly every boat manufacturer makes a bowrider, so there are lots of choices, for example, from Regal or Sea Ray.

Cuddy cabin: The bow has a low covered area in the bow (aka the front of the boat). Chris Craft makes a classic look, for example, or Chaparral.

Dual console: A newer type of boat growing in popularity, with an open bow similar to a bowrider. But the hull is deeper, and there’s often a hard top. Check out Robalo or Southport.

If you want to bring friends for an afternoon or a weekend.

Cabin cruiser: Cabin cruisers a mini vacation homes with full accommodations. So you can serve dinner and have your friends spend the night. Check out options from Back Cove or Cruisers Yachts

Deck boat: Bigger than a bowrider, the hull is flared at the top to create more deck space for more friends. From Stingray or Tahoe.

Pontoon: This is your party boat, especially for inland lakes, with a flat deck above two pontoons. For Lake Erie waves, try a Tritoon, with three pontoons. Big names are Bennington and Four Winns.

If you boat to fish, you’ll find lots of options with amenities that make fishing more fun — well beyond rod holders.

Aluminum skiff: Small open boats, from makers like Alumacraft or Crestliner.

Bay boat: These take you to hard-to-reach fishing spots in shallow water, from Sportsman and Tracker

Center console: These are taking over the fishing world with open with steering in a console at the center. From many builders including Regulator or Scout.

Multi-hull: Instead of one hull, this has a catamaran, in fishing and pontoon models. From World Cat and Harris.

Walkaround: A fishing boat with a small cabin, with a berth and toilet for overnight stays, often 18-30 feet long. Built by Pursuit or Grady White

Sportfishermen: Large fishing boats, most with accommodations by famous names like Boston Whaler and Tiara Yachts.

If you’re all about watersports, skiing, wakeboarding or wake surfing.

Jet boat: Jet drives are built into the hull, similar to a personal watercraft. So the boat can run in shallower waters. From Yamaha or Weldcraft

Ski boat: Made for speed, with slots for skis and boards. By Nautique.

Wake boat: Wave machines with massive speakers. By Moomba and Monterey.

Dreaming of weekends docked at Put-in-Bay or getaways to marinas throughout the Great Lakes.

Motor yacht: These are the ones you gawk at at the show, big boats with loaded v-berths. There’s no definitive line between what is a boat and a yacht but yachts are generally bigger than 90 feet. From Carver or Tiara.

Trawler: A distinctive upright design traced back to commercial fishing boats. They fature full accommodations, designed for living aboard. By Beneteau or Cutwater

A sporty alternative for boaters who want to race, or enjoy the peace and challenge of harnessing wind.

Sailboat: These come in all sizes, from itty-bitty dinghies a 7-year-old can sail to massive yachts with sleeping berths. Want to race? Try one-designs like J Boats and Highlanders. Want luxury? Look for Jeanneau or Beneteau.

Happy browsing! And boating!

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