Motorboats come in all shapes and sizes, ranging anywhere from the little fishing boat meandering lazily across a small reservoir, to massive oceangoing luxury vessels. Technically, a motorboat is any water-going vessel with a gas or electric motor as the primary source of propulsion. This can include speedboats, yachts and even four-person skiffs with outboard motors. Some motorboats may have secondary propulsion sources, such as wind, but they are designed to rely on the motor for their normal everyday function.
Types of motorboats
In most cases, motorboats are classified by their lengths and designated purposes. While the design might indicate to consumers how it might be put to the best use, it's the length of the motorboat that determines the regulations and safety procedures that apply to any given boat.
Motorboats take on many forms, but there are only two types of motors you'll find on such craft-inboard and outboard. Essentially, the difference between the two is that an inboard motor is built into the craft, while an outboard motor exists in its own enclosed box that is attached to the propeller. Outboard motors may be completely portable, and in some smaller boats they are simply strapped or clamped to the back of the boat during use.
Propulsion systems on motorboats vary greatly, generally hinging on the size and purpose of the boat. For instance, a yacht may have a screw propulsion system, which allows it to displace a lot of water and move at a steady pace when the craft is too big to make other types of propellers impractical. Small fishing boats may be equipped with a wheel propeller similar to what you might see on an airplane.
Before you purchase or use a motorboat, you should be aware of the laws and regulations governing your chosen waterway. Many areas are important to the fishing industry, while others are closed systems that present very fragile ecosystems. Both of these types of areas are not likely to allow motorboats, or may have strict rules regarding motorboat use and conduct.
Regardless of what the laws require, it is your responsibility to ensure that your motorboat is in good repair and that you are very familiar with how to operate the boat and apply its safety features. Alternatively, if you hire someone to pilot your boat for you, it is your job to thoroughly vet him to ensure that he not only will keep you safe, but will treat your boat well and does not present a danger to other vessels.
Different sizes and types of boat have different requirements for equipment that you must have on board and functional at all times. This includes safety and repair equipment that is sufficient for your boat's full capacity. If you're not sure what you need to have, contact your local marine or recreation authority for direction. Not knowing the laws is never an excuse for not abiding by them, and they are in place to allow you to have the safest possible boating experience.