What Makes Yacht, a Yacht?

When does a boat become a yacht? When does a yacht become a ship? What about sailboats, are they ever yachts? What about superyachts and megayachts and gigayachts? There are no hard and fast answers. Different groups of boat people will have different answers. The multi-billionaire owner of a 300′ ultra luxury ocean-going vessel may refer to it as simply a “yacht” while referring to his 50′ cruiser as a “boat.” It usually comes down to perspective and the types of people one associates with. But in an attempt to categorize, here is a rundown of commonly accepted types of yachts. First off, a yacht generally means a vessel that is over 30′ and is built for pleasure and not commercial or business use. The main point of using the word yacht is to indicate a level of luxury. The sole purpose of a yacht is for the enjoyment of its owner and the owner’s guests. For example, a cruise ship may be very luxurious, but it would not be considered a yacht as it is meant for hundreds of passengers and built for the purpose of making money. Or a 75′ fishing vessel may have a couple cabins with some nice amenities, but its primary purpose is for commercial fishing so it would not be considered a yacht.

Types of Yachts Explained

77m / 253 ft yacht – under construction – delivery 2017 from Turquoise Yachts on Vimeo.

5. Convertible: Also called: Sportfish, Express Sportfish, Flybridge Sportfish
This last category is the odd brother of the family but it is worth mentioning. The boats are for the deep-pocketed people who like to fish. What differentiates them from standard fishing boats is the level of luxury and performance. These boats are built to go fast and handle the rough seas, something their similarly sized cruiser yacht siblings aren’t made for. For the smaller vessels, the cabin space is sacrificed for large cockpit areas. But there are also sportfishing yachts that approach 100′, leaving plenty of room for the rest of the family and guests.

Because there are so many yacht builders in the world and because the length, size and performance limits are always being pushed forward, there are no standard definitions for the different yacht categories. If one is trying to figure out what a yacht is, most yacht owners would say “if you have to ask, it probably isn’t a yacht.”