Know Your Boats

Know Your Boats

Posted by Jennie Spillane

The boat buying process can be a little overwhelming at times. We understand that. Our experts at Union Marine can point you in the right direction when you come in, but having an idea of what you want can streamline the purchasing process. With hundreds of types and names given to boats along with sub categories that those vessels can fit in, let's get started with the basics.

Bowrider or “Open Deck”

This is typically your day out boat. Most of the time under 40 ft. the bowrider concept allows for everything to be accessible from front to back. Whether it be for friends or family the design maximizes seating all around. These boats do not usually have a head (bathroom) and are used for a day out. Wakeboard boats like Nautique, Heyday and Mastercraft fall into this category as well as the family friendly cruisers like Bayliner and SeaRay.

Cuddy Cabin

Also applying to smaller vessels the Cuddy Cabin style usually also applies to boats 40ft or under. This basic design can at times have a small portapotty or storage area/small seating area in the cabin. Good for when you need to get out of the sun or you need to toss your essentials down below!

Center Console

The center console models embody the Boston Whaler design that we sell here at Union Marine. The entire boat is accessible and more often that not a head is available within the cockpit area. Having either a hard top roof or a bimini (fabric cover) and higher freeboard than other boats in this class it makes it a good all around pick for a variety of waters. Bayliner’s Trophy series also fits this build style with a bimini top. These boats are great for recreational fishing!

Express Boats

Moving along into the larger vessels, express boats are made for comfort. Whether you’re heading out for the day or the weekend, or in some cases a multi day trip, these boats will have almost everything you and yours need in terms of creature comforts. Some of the more notable names you might hear are “express cruiser'', ''cruiser ``,''sport yacht”, or “sport cruiser” virtually all meaning the same thing minus some small variations. Our SeaRay brands Sundancer series fall into this category. Options usually include a cabin with a head, small galley with a BBQ or hot plate area and generally a microwave. The cabin area is set to sleep 4-8 people depending on the size of the boat. These can also be classified into a fishing boat (you’ll see below) that fit in the “express” but with a Tuna Tower (more on that later). 

The Bridge

The definition of a bridge is “The bridge is a room or platform of a ship from which the ship can be commanded.” 

When it comes to mid sized recreational boats this is split into 3 different forms. A tuna tower, flybridge and sedan bridge. Let’s explain.

Tuna Tower: This can be included on a variety of boats from sport fish boats, express sport fish boats. As part of the helm it's usually attached to a flybridge setup, but is included here as a separate entity as not all flybridge helms have a tuna tower setup. The purpose of this type of helm is to provide an extra viewing area to view schools of fish in the distance. Tuna towers can also be used in non-flybridge configurations on fishing boats as well. 

Flybridge: Any boat that has a helm above the interior cockpit. The purpose of this configuration is to allow improved visibility while navigating. There are a multitude of variations of a flybridge, one notable model of the SeaRay brand being the SeaRay L400 Fly which combines the luxury of the SeaRay brand with a 360 degree view via the flybridge. No matter which variation, your crew will be allowed extra seating in the deck below.

Sport Bridge & Sedan Bridge: Accessible via the exterior aft platform of the boat this flybridge configuration can be enclosed and features an upper deck with more creature comforts. Often larger time can be spent on the top deck while the galley, head and cabin quarters are below. 

*Notable Flybridge Configurations*

Aft-Cabin Configuration: Utilizing a flybridge configuration but including a stateroom in the stern. 

Pilothouse: Also a flybridge but with less of a focus on creature comforts and more focused on being true to a navigation helm. This is then set separate from the rest of the boat. More expensive boats in the “yacht” class will have a RPH or raised pilothouse. Which is similar to a skylounge where it’s away from crew and passengers, but still maintains a partially open area. 

Cockpit Motor Yacht: Same as an aft-cabin configuration but with the engines located under the living room floor area. 

Motor Yacht: Also a flybridge however this fits into an area where the vessel has reached a certain length (ie: large). You will see a lot of boat manufacturers classify this into an M/Y abbreviation on their model numbers. 

Skylounge: Arguably the most comfortable flybridge configuration, the skylounge is 100% hard top, fully enclosed and set apart specifically for the boat's “captain”. This has all the climate control functions necessary and seating for anyone looking to be a part of the captain's journey. Think of it as a VIP area above the boat. 


Alright! Enough talk about bridge configurations, let's get back to boats! In this case, let’s talk about everyone's fantasy. Yachts. What’s the difference between a boat and a yacht? Well, technically they’re both boats. However, yachts fall into a length 50 feet and greater, and instead of providing the basic creature comforts, they’re luxurious. You want a full head (bathroom remember) you got it. Galley (kitchen) with stove and storage, yachts are the boats that you get on for more than a weekend out. You’re a trip away from a vacation on the water. 

Now that we’ve classified what classifies a “yacht”, let's get into the details of various kinds of yachts. 

Megayacht: This is the type of yacht that you’d see Bill Gates, DJ Khalid or Elon Musk hanging out on. In the millions of dollars range megayachts are between 100 to 200 feet in length and usually have a minimum of 3 decks. The decks are split between the lower decks where the lodging is, the mid level for living areas, kitchen, lounge, RPH or cockpit, and last but not least the upper deck either being a sundeck or enclosed viewing area with another lounge.

Superyacht: If you’re surpassing “rich” and moving into the “wealthy” category, a superyacht is for you. Primarily for tech company overlords, media barons and oil field princes a superyacht cost runs north of the 500 million mark and into the hundreds of millions. Between approximately 200-500 ft range you can hold your entire family, friends of theirs and friends of their friends. This is the penultimate luxury experience. You’ll have your captain, and your crew ready to take care of you and yours head to toe. 

Now that we’ve traversed the luxury end of things, let's take a turn and get into the sport area. The water is your arena, and fish are your trophy! Not always meant for commercial fishing there is an array of river and ocean fishing boats for recreational use. Let us start with a basic sport fishing boat. While they can be 20 feet in length, they’re usually exceeding 30ft. Sport fishing boats are built for rough water. 

Express Sport Fishing: These boats may not have a tuna tower like a traditional sport fishing  boat and the helm is not raised. Our Boston Whaler line fits in this category with their larger Conquest, Realm, and Outrage models respectively. Their smaller vessels are perfect for lakes and rivers, while the aforementioned larger boats are the way to go for sea use.

Convertible Fishing Boat: Alright, we’re back to the luxury high end of the boating spectrum. A convertible fishing boat is more commonly found in warmer areas (think Miami, San Diego, etc). Having an enclosed upper deck these boats are built with the idea that you can catch your dinner and then enjoy it in a 5 star hotel environment. This can also be classified as a “fishing yacht” more so than a fishing boat. Comfort first, fishing second. 

Lobster Boat: Specifically built for the rough waters of the American Northeast Coast lobster boats have an open stern made to make pulling up crab and lobster pots easier as well as fishing nets. With a larger, taller bow these boats are specifically designed to handle the larger waves that the USA’s East Coast has to offer. 

So far we’ve touched on day cruisers, luxury yachts and fishing boats. While the luxury yachts are capable of multi day trips out from shore, what about something a little more reasonable? Are you looking to captain your own boat for long journeys and still maintain all the necessities and creature comforts needed for a comfortable journey or just looking to make your boat a home? Here are a couple examples you can check out!

Trawlers & Fast Trawlers: The trawler category of boats are particularly for longer journeys and while slower, are fuel efficient single engine diesel vessels. Their exterior can be moved around with ease and the interior has everything one needs in terms of head, galley and cabin sleeping and storage space to be sustainable for longer journeys. Fast Trawlers are essentially set up the same as a regular trawler but maintain a dual engine configuration for higher speeds. This style of trawler leans towards the luxury end of the trawler category. 

House Boats: Last but not least we have the houseboat. The slowest moving and coming in at lengths between 70-100 feet the house boat is just that, a house built atop a (usually) pontoon configuration with everything from state rooms, heads, cabin space organized like a home. These boats are almost never found in saltwater areas including bays or more protected inlets. You WILL find them on various lakes and rivers throughout the world. 

AND THAT’S ALL FOLKS! We hope you enjoyed our boat's breakdown and when you come in to visit our sales pros here in our showroom you’ll have a base knowledge going into the purchasing process! Plus…you’ll be the smartest one at trivia night ;). Cheers!