What Is The Best Boat Size For Me?


If you are planning on investing in a boat, apart from the price and use, one important consideration you shouldn’t ignore is the boat sizes. While the ideal boat should be large enough to suit all your boating needs, it shouldn’t break your bank account. As you probably already know, the larger the boat, the more money you will need to own it. Additionally, operating costs increase as the boat sizes increase.

If you have been looking for an answer to the question “what size boat do I need?” this article should help you find the answer. While we won’t be giving you the exact answer to the question, the guidelines in the article should make it easier for you to choose the perfect boat size.

Determining the Boat Size

If you have never purchased a boat before, you may not be familiar with how you are supposed to determine the size of the boat. To determine the size of your boat, you will need to measure along the centerline, from the outside of the boat stern to the outside of its bow.

This tells you that any attachments won’t count toward the size of the boat. Examples of attachments generally excluded from the boat measurement include motor brackets and outboard motors, handles, rudders, bowsprits, wakeboard towers, and swim platforms.

Boat Size Classes

There are only 4 major classes of boat sizes. We have outlined these classes below:

  • Class A – For a boat to fit in this class, its length has to be less than 16 feet.
  • Class 1 – Boats classified in class 1 feature a length of approximately 16 feet to 26 feet.
  • Class 2 – If the size of a boat ranges between 26 and 40 feet, it will be classified in this class.
  • Class 3 – The boat sizes classified under this class range between 40 feet and 65 feet.

Factors Influencing Boat Sizes


When it comes to figuring out the answer to “what size boat do I need?”, several factors have to be taken into consideration. In this section, we will take a deeper look at these factors.

1. Your Level of Experience

A crucial consideration you need to make before investing in any type of boat is how experienced you are. You want to invest in a boat so that everyone can have a good time. If boating safety is not guaranteed, having a good time on the boat and returning to the shore safely may not be possible.

If your experience as a captain is currently limited, you may find it a good idea to invest in smaller boat sizes. Smaller boats are much easier to maneuver compared to bigger boats. If you have sat on a boat seat numerous times, meaning that you are confident about your skills when you are on the water, going for bigger boat sizes may be ideal.

If you are currently less experienced but you would like to own a big boat, you should consider starting small. As your experience with the boat steering wheel grows, you can trade up.

2. The Number of People

When determining which boat sizes can meet your needs, you need to consider the number of people you plan on having on the boat. Your boat should feature comfortable and safe seating for all the passengers who will be boarding it.

Additionally, you will need enough room for both life jackets and towels for each passenger on your boat. While different states in the United States have different rules governing life jackets usage when exploring the waters, the USCG (United States Coast Guard) has a standard.

The USCG requires that each vessel have at least one type I, II, or Type III PFD (Personal Floatation Device) that is approved by the USCG, wearable, and features a proper size for everyone being towed or onboard. What this tells you is that if you have kids on board, you need to have life jackets for kids on the boat and not the regular life jackets.

If the next time you grab your marine binoculars you intend to have a larger boating group or family onboard, you may benefit from investing in a longer boat. To gain additional space in the boat’s seating area, you may need to invest in a wider boat. The answer to “what size boat do I need?” will be a smaller boat if you are planning on having just a couple of friends on board during your boating trips.

3. The Boating Environment

To determine the boat sizes you should consider when you are shopping for your next boat, you should consider the environment you expect to operate in. Most boating enthusiasts would want to deal with calm waters and a sunny sky every time they wear their boat shoes. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In some instances, you may have to deal with rough water boating experiences.

When compared to inland lake boating, the experience may be pretty different on great lakes, which feature sea conditions comparable to the ocean conditions. Before purchasing your boat, you should take your time to consider the boat sizes and their limitations in different environmental conditions.

It is worth noting that a large number of lakes and reservoirs in the United States do feature restrictions when it comes to boat sizes. You should take your time to learn about the maximum and minimum length requirements that apply to the water body where you plan to be doing the majority of the boating.

4. Boating Activity

If you have already figured out how to stop seasickness, then, you may be confident that you can handle all types of boating activities. It is, however, worth noting that boat sizes vary depending on the boating activity. In this section, we will be looking at the ideal boating activities for different boat sizes.

Offshore Fishing

For off-shore fishing, you would want a large and sturdy boat, capable of handling the rough water conditions and heavy waves. An ideal offshore fishing boat should be at least 30 feet long.

If you go offshore fishing on a smaller boat, the larger open water chops can toss and turn the vessel. On top of creating an uncomfortable experience, this could be dangerous for both you and the people on board. In extreme situations, you may have to deal with a capsized boat.

Inshore Fishing

In most cases, huge waves and rough water conditions are not largely a major concern. However, you may need your boat to have the ability to reach shallow and often hard-to-reach locations.

Irrespective of whether you intend to go offshore fishing on a river delta on the west coast or in the intertidal shallows near the Florida Keys, having a boat that has the ability to cut through the shallow areas and tight corners is never a bad idea. This makes boat sizes ranging between 17 and 20 feet ideal for inshore fishing.

Bay Boating

If bay boating is your preferred activity, you will need a combination of both versatility and size. The majority of bays in the United States feature choppy and rough waters. However, when compared to the open ocean conditions, the conditions in the bays are less tough.

Bays do feature obstacles, such as other boats, buoys, and water-way makers. All these make combining size and the ability to maneuver the boat extremely important. When purchasing a boat for bay boating, investing in a 20 to 30 feet boat is a good idea.

Pleasure Boating/Cruising

If your goal is to relax while cruising the waters, your main concern will probably be the comfort and having a marine subwoofer that delivers good music. The ideal boat sizes for cruising boats range between 20 and 30 feet.

A 17 feet boat may not have the ability to offer the leg-stretching comfort you might need. Additionally, a 40 feet boat is likely too huge for your cruising needs.

Water Sports

Maybe you have always been a water sports enthusiast. Maybe you have even managed to study and master all the powerboat parts.

If you are tired of staying on the sidelines and you intend to get involved in water sports, you would want a boat that has the ability to maintain both speed and performance. A 17 feet boat featuring a powerful engine for pulling skiers and also maintaining the right speed, in this case, would be an excellent idea. It is possible to go up to 25 feet and still have the preferred performance.

5. Your Budget

As we had mentioned earlier, the figure on the price tag increases as the boat sizes increase. To find an ideal answer to “what size boat do I need?”, you have to consider the amount of money you are willing to part with when purchasing your boat.

After purchasing your boat, you will probably need to spend some additional money on the bonus items, including a marine GPS and maybe a marine battery. If you are willing to forego these accessories, you may have the ability to purchase a bigger boat. In some instances, you may decide to invest in a smaller boat so that you can invest in bonus items that improve your experience every time you pack your clean life jacket and decide to explore the waters.

6. How Long You Will be in the Water

Different people will have varying preferences when it comes to the amount of time they want to spend on the water. Also, the boating distance varies among boating enthusiasts.

If you intend to be on the water for a longer period of time so that you can cover a long distance, investing in a larger vessel may be an excellent idea. On top of having a larger fuel capacity and range, the larger boats feature more comfort for you and the other people who will be onboard.

7. Dock Space

The slip space, in some instances, can be a limiting factor when it comes to the boat sizes you can invest in. For example, you may not have the ability to purchase a 40 feet boat if the available dock space cannot accommodate this particular size.

Globo Surf Overview

Since the ideal boat size varies, we cannot say that a specific answer for the question “what size boat do I need?” actually exists. However, by providing all the facts related to boat sizes, we are hoping that we will make things easier for you when you finally decide to purchase a boat.

In this article, we have outlined the crucial factors that you need to consider when you are trying to figure out the ideal size for your next boat. If you are still finding it tough to determine the ideal boat size even after going through the above factors, consulting boat experts could make things much easier for you.

More Boat Reviews:


  1. 3 Factors That Should Affect Boat Length, Sopelbike.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!