What Makes a Vessel a Boat or a Yacht
Contrary to popular belief, yachts are not exclusively propelled by the wind. There are motorized yachts, just as there are sailboats. Thus, whether a vessel is to be referred to as a boat or a yacht is not dependent on whether she has a sail.
You will be hard pressed to find clear cut differences between what most people mean when they speak of a yacht, versus times when the speak of a boat. The reference is almost instinctive. After being around sea faring vessels for a while you will know a ship, a boat or a yacht when you see one. It’s not like differentiating between a shrimp fork and a salad fork – there are no hard and fast rules. Any attempt to derive one would be futile.
In an effort to objectify something that is more or less instinctive, let’s look at the defining feature of a vessel – the hull. The hull is the part of the vessel that comes into contact with the water and keeps it afloat. The hull is a watertight compartment that is either planar (skims the surface), semi-submersible (submerged below the waterline partially) or submersible (fully below the water line). Regardless of the hull that is used, it does not determine if a vessel is a boat or a yacht. Yachts, however, do have very well crafted hulls. Every curve is meticulous and graceful if its a yacht. Boats, are streamlined, yes, but they are not as refined in craftsmanship nor engineering.
Does Size Matter?
Might size, length, draught and horsepower offer us some clue into the difference between a boat and a yacht? Unfortunately not. There are large boats and small yachts, and vise versa. But still, when you see a yacht, you know it’s a yacht.
We could go on down this path looking at everything from height of mast, to the depth of the hull; we could try to define it by the number of staterooms and still it wouldn’t work.
So, what will?
It’s the Finer Touch that Counts
It turns out, the reason we can instinctively pick a yacht from a boat is because yachts appeal to the finer side of our taste. Yachts are luxurious; boats are utilitarian. Boats are about getting to the destination, yachts are about the journey. Boats lumber through the water, while yachts sail gracefully.
Starting to get the picture?
A boat is something you go fishing on and open a beer while you bob along with the waves. A yacht, you anchor off an exotic island and sip champagne while you fish.
Boats and yachts both come in various lengths and draughts, neither is defined by its comparative size and dimensions. Both can be motorized or have a sail. Both may have staterooms. Both can be used for personal use, or chartered commercially. The same rules apply for boat rentals as they do for yacht rentals.
Boats and yachts can both be recreational, but a yacht is almost never commercial (there is no fishing yacht, as there is a fishing boat). Boats are almost never luxurious, yachts, almost always are. EIther way, you can choose to rent a yacht
Yachts become yachts because the engineer who designed it, the draughtsman who envisioned it and the craftsmen who assembled it, did it with precision, refinement and highly artistic considerations that elevate it from something that floats and goes from here to there, to something that says, “You’ve arrived.”