Skip to Content

What Size of a Boat Qualifies it as a Yacht?

A white luxurious yacht.

Yachts are the most common type of pleasure boat and are among the most expensive types of boats you can buy. But what exactly defines a yacht? There’s no strict legal definition, but yachts tend to be large and expensive, with luxury being their defining characteristic.

For this reason, there’s no set size that qualifies it as a yacht – they can range from 40 feet to well over 100 feet long.

Definition of a Yacht

A yacht is a very large, multi-million dollar ocean vessel that has an owner who wants to show it off. Yachts are long, luxurious boats owned by those with access to large amounts of money and who want something big to show for it.

A luxury yacht may be used for pleasure cruising, day sailing, or racing, but unlike most small ships which carry cargo and possibly some passengers, a true luxury vessel is privately owned by someone who uses it exclusively for his own enjoyment.

Most yachts are designed from scratch and there are shipyards that are especially geared toward building these expensive vessels.

Much care goes into selecting materials such as bronze or stainless steel because they will have to withstand harsh marine conditions over many years without losing their original luster.

Different Types of Yachts

A white yacht sailing on the sea.

Yachts are available in a range of sizes. Larger yachts can be up to hundreds of feet long. But none is too big or too small to qualify as a true yacht, which is what makes them so impressive.

Here are a few types of yachts you need to know about so that you sound more posh at the marina.

Related to:11 Different Types of Yachts84 Luxury Yacht Interiors: Bedroom, Galley and Salon Pictures

See also  Boat Ownership vs Boat Club - Pros and Cons of Both

Powered Yacht

A powered yacht is really nothing more than a large, luxury sailboat that has an engine on board. Yachts are defined by their beam or width at their widest point.

A smaller vessel used for pleasure cruising that has engines is considered a motorboat—not to be confused with powerboats, which can be much smaller and still have engines.

Luxury yachts typically range from 98–295 feet, but anything over 147 feet could qualify as a yacht regardless of its propulsion method.

Sailing Yacht

A white sailing yacht on the blue sea.

The term sailing yacht can mean different things depending on where you are and what kind of ship you’re talking about. The largest sailing yachts, such as those that participate in long-distance races or travel through the oceans, tend to be between 90 and 100 feet in length.

These ships are still small by today’s standards but some, like The Maltese Falcon which once held King Constantine II of Greece on its decks, have seen celebrity guests in their time.

Though smaller than other ships like cruisers or freighters, sailing yachts are powerful crafts and boast amenities for every member of an extended crew.


Technically, anything more than 82 feet is considered to be a superyacht. However, most yachts that are referred to as superyachts are over 160 feet in length.

In fact, since 2000, over 90% of new custom-built superyachts have been in excess of 160 feet long. Superyachts typically have larger engines and higher speeds than other yachts due to their larger overall weight.


The right side of a huge white yacht.

There’s no official measurement for what makes a vessel a megayacht, but you can use 320 feet and $20 million as rough guidelines. The term is often applied to yachts longer than 131 feet or with a price tag exceeding $20 million.

They usually have between six and 10 decks and they offer some serious luxuries—think helipads, hot tubs, spas, dance floors, staterooms with king-size beds, and swimming pools.

But despite their large size, megayachts are designed to travel at high speeds in open water; depending on your definition, they may be considered anything from a superyacht to an ocean liner.

See also  The Best Shoes for Boating: Here are Your Options and Why

Main Differences Between a Yacht and a Boat

Exterior and Interior Design

A swimming pool on yacht.

A true yacht comes with both exterior and interior design considerations. Each material used in designing your exterior vessel will depend on its intended use, from steel for cruising around rivers and lakes to fiberglass for navigating coastal waters.

The hull, however, is what determines whether or not your vessel is considered a yacht. If it’s made from wood or fiberglass (plastic) rather than metal, your boat isn’t necessarily disqualified—but you won’t be setting sail on anything other than local waters.

A true yacht will be made from aluminum alloys (the same stuff aircraft are built out of) like carbon fiber (made famous by its extensive use in Formula One race cars). It’s an expensive material that’s lightweight and remarkably strong.

Luxury Amenities

With amenities like dance floors, movie theaters, swimming pools, and helicopter pads, yachts definitely live up to their name. The more bells and whistles you want on your new floating home, however, the more expensive it will be.

For example, an ocean-ready elevator can add $5 million to $10 million to your purchase price. A particularly luxurious or large yacht can cost between $20 million and $60 million. The largest yacht in 2022 based on interior volume is named Dilbar.

She is 511 feet long, has two helicopter pads, a gym, the largest swimming pool ever put on a yacht, a beauty salon, a sauna, and accommodation for 24 guests in 12 suites.


Aerial view of millenial jumping of the yacht.

Like everything else in life, yachts are relative; what is large to one person may be small to another. The word yacht originally meant anything used for a specific purpose and has evolved into a small pleasure vessel that is used primarily for entertainment.

For example, someone could technically call their 18-foot skiff a yacht because it is used for recreational purposes.

See also  5 Different Types of Boat Steering Systems

However, most people would argue that something with a length of 18 feet does not qualify as an actual yacht because it’s too small to provide enough space for entertaining guests or accommodating several people at once.

Captain’s Quarters

A captain’s quarters can sometimes be found on yachts, and add additional comfort and space for any passenger. This area is where you will find state-of-the-art electronics and entertainment systems, while also enjoying your own private bathroom.

The captain’s quarters are typically reserved for VIP guests or special events. You’ll want to keep in mind that captain’s quarters are not found on all yachts. It really depends on what type of vessel you’re looking at and what the designer decided to put in.

Maintenance Costs

Yachts are notoriously expensive to maintain, especially considering they’re not likely to be earning you money.

While there are a number of factors that make up the cost of ownership, including port fees and storage, there are two elements that can increase costs: water quality and fuel prices.

Additionally, larger yachts use more diesel than smaller ones. Unless you’re buying new, where newer models tend to use less fuel for propulsion than older ones due to advances in technology.


A photo of superyacht in Port.

From every angle, yachts are one of life’s crowning luxuries. They take us to places we can only dream of, giving people a sense of royalty when they look at it. The feeling is not just for guests but for owners too.

It makes you want to enjoy your own slice of life and be with friends at all times!