The Different Types Of Boat Hulls

Boat Hull Types

There are a lot of different boat hull types just as there are a lot of different boat types. They are made in different shapes and have different sizes, with every one of them being a great engineering and design wonder. Although they are made in a lot of different types, the boat hulls you can choose between are all made to do just one of the two main things: plane on top of the water or displace it.

Planing hulls are made to increase the speed of the boat. They will usually be used on smaller boats that aren’t made to keep a lot of weight on them. The planing hulls are made to get out of the water when reaching higher speeds. Small watercraft and power boats will be equipped more often with planing hulls for this reason alone.

Cruise ships, cargo ships, and sailing boats are the ones that will have hulls made to displace water. They’re thought to be installed in boats that move slower and lower in the water, being usually used to pull very heavy loads at slow speeds. These boats need hulls that can push a lot of water out of their way.

Ok, so at this point, you know the two main styles of hulls available for boats. It’s time we get into more specific designs that you might come across at the marina.

Types Of Boat Hulls

Round bottom boat – These boats are made to move easier through the water when at slow speeds. They will, however, need stabilizers or deep keels to prevent them from rolling. A lot of sailboats, canoes, and trawlers will come with a round bottom.

Vee bottom boat – Due to its sharp entry into the water, the vee bottom will provide a very smooth ride through rough waters. However, one of the downsides of these boats is that they need additional power to be able to get to the same speed. The vee-bottom will usually be used by the runabouts. To guarantee better performance, most of them will also have a deep V.

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Flat bottom boat – THese boats will usually have the part of the boat that goes under the water, which is called the draft, shallow. They will also be pretty inexpensive to build. Due to their flat bottom pounding on each individual wave, these boats tend to give you a pretty rough ride. They can easily get up on plane in rough waters. They will also need careful balancing of both the crew and its cargo because they are considerably less stable than other boats. Some examples of flat-bottom boats are high-speed runabouts, small utility boats, and Jon boats.

Multi-hull boats – Pontoon boats, trimarans, Catamarans, and some houseboats are the most common ones to use multi-hull design. They usually have great stability due to their wide stance. The above bottom designs can be carried by each of the hulls.

Below you will find a closer look into both of the two more common multi-hull boats.

Trimarans: The difference between a catamaran and a trimaran is the fact that the first has two hulls, while the second has three. The usual trimaran will be kept stable by a main hull that sits in the middle and is flanked by two side hulls. Although some of them will have foldable arms to make them easier to transport out of the water and smaller overall, most of these boats will be rather wide. You will also notice that most trimarans will be sailboats. They will need a small engine for propulsion due to their small profile.

Catamarans: These are the types of boats that will have two separate hulls that will either have a stretcher material suspended between them or a deck that connects them. Compared to other types of vessels, they have a lot more storage and living space, due to the two hulls. They also have great stability on the water. The sickness passengers experience is also reduced due to increased stability. They are also very easy to pilot because they feature two engines. Keep in mind that they will need a lot of room to maneuver and will have a rather wide footprint due to their two hulls. They are used a lot for charters.

Now Let’s Talk About Those Funny Shapes On The Hull

Hulls ExplainedThe funny shapes you will see on the hull are called chines and strakes. The strips that are stretching all across the hull of a boat from the front to the back are called the strakes. You will most likely notice them on planing boats. The reasoning behind these small strips is to help lift the boat from the front when in the water, to increase speed and reduce drag. They will be found on most of the more modern boats.

Interestingly enough they are also needed for the comfort of passengers and the overall stability of the boat. When a boat has to charge through a choppy wave, the strakes are made to help soften the impact. They are also made to deflect the water sprays back into the sea instead of towards the cockpit. As a final point, they will also act like smaller flat bottom hulls where needed, to boost stability.

Chines are bigger folds you might see in the hulls of a boat.

You will see the chines where the sidewall meets the hull of the boat. Most of the time, they shouldn’t do much. There are, however, some boats that were designed to have the fold exaggerated so that it assists the boat from getting out of the water. There are larger chines that will help the boat stay as stable as possible when at rest. You can think of chines as flat-bottom hulls, that will help fishing boats stay as stable as possible when the angle wants to walk from side to side. They are also used to improve the general maneuverability of some boats and reduce rolling motions.

What Boat Hull Design Is Best For You?

Different types of boaters will need different types of hull shapes. Below you will find information on which hull type works best with which pursuit.


When getting a boat to go fishing, the type of boat hull to opt for will usually depend on what you’re fishing for and your usual fishing conditions. You will need a whole different hull type when harpooning for a whale than you’d need when casting for perch. Catamaran and Deep-V vessels will work great on the coast, while fishermen going for freshwater fishing would do just fine with a shallow-hull bass boat. There will also be some anglers that will prefer an inflatable kayak or even a pontoon fishing boat.

Speed Junkies

For real speed enthusiasts, there are two ways you can go. A flat-bottom boat will work nicely on calm, flat waters, like some rivers and lakes. Problems will arise for flat bottoms when the water is somewhat choppy. In these instances, a deep-v hull boat design will work better. When going out on the ocean, the best way to make sure you go faster is a deep-V. It will ensure that you won’t get thrown around by rougher waves.

Sports Enthusiasts

If you’re a waterski or waterboard enthusiast, then you might need a special modified-V boat, especially if you’re interested in increased performance for your preferred sport. You actually have quite a few different shapes you can choose between, made specifically for different needs, different waters, but also different types of sports.

Casual Boaters

The V-shaped hull is able to offer the best practicality and versatility for more casual boaters that just want leisurely family outings. These help you explore close coastlines without worrying about whether the boat is properly prepared or enjoy a gentle put around lakes. If, instead, you’re only going out for a casual outing from time to time, you might not need anything more than a sturdy inflatable boat. This would be a cheaper option as well.

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