Types of Boats and Ships

Even though air travel has eliminated the need for passenger liners crossing the oceans, there is still a need for boats and ships for carrying cargo, for leisure and for use by the military. There are various types of boats and ships used for all kinds of purposes. Their sizes and the material used in the construction help determine how they are used.

The various categories of ships and boats include:

• Commercial use
• Military use
• Fishing use
• Inland and coastal use
• Leisure Use

Commercial vessels are all referred to as ships, as the word boat seems to refer to smaller vessels. Oil tankers fall into this category, as do all ships that carry freight. Cruise ships carrying hundreds and thousands of passengers also fall into the commercial category even though their main purpose is to provide the passengers with leisure activities and vacations. There are ferries that accommodate passengers and vehicles of all sizes and have cabins where the passengers can sleep. Smaller ferries also fit into this classification even though they do not have sleeping accommodations for short rides. Tugboats, rescue boats and ice breakers are also considered commercial vessels.

Naval vessels used by the military come in all shapes and sizes. The largest of these are submarines and warships. Warships can be further subdivided into aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes, to name just a few. The military also uses smaller boats to patrol areas and to sweep for mines. Then there are hospital ships to care for the wounded, although most of the larger military vessels do have a small hospital on board. The governments of each country with a coastline also have patrol vessels in the Coast Guard that monitor the activities taking place on the sea.

Fishing vessels, too, come in all different sizes. Inshore fishermen usually have smaller boats, while those that fish offshore have larger boats capable of carrying much larger amounts of catch. Some of the inshore boats are open boats powered by outboard motors. The larger fishing boats have closed in wheelhouses, sophisticated electronic equipment, a galley and bunks for the crew. They also have stabilizers that help keep the boat balanced in times when the wind is high.

Inland waters and coastal areas require different kinds of boats for the needs of the people that use them. Barges carrying freight are often used and there are inland ferries carrying passengers across large rivers. On the Great Lakes, lake freighters are used for carrying freight.

For leisure pursuits on the water, there are sailing boats, yachts and dinghies. Sailing boats can also be powered by engines for times when there is no wind or for when the winds are too high. Cabin cruisers are almost like a holiday home on the water with separate living and dining areas. They can also be compared to houseboats, which could be the family home. In some parts of the world people do actually live on boats. Small dinghies, often called dories, can be propelled by rowing with oars or by small engines. Rubber dinghies are also used as lifeboats on larger ships.