Ship vs Boat – The Comparison

Author – Kavita Desai

Ship vs Boat Story

The most basic difference between a Boat and a Ship is that Ships are larger than boats. While Ships are vessels involved in transoceanic trips and deep water transport, and have one regular main deck, boats are smaller vessels generally sticking nearer to the coast and more often on the surface of rivers and lakes.

Another main difference between a ship vs boat concerns with the presence of a crew on a ship. A ship by rule has a crew of people headed by the Captain and there is certain code of conduct that the crew is to observe strictly. With ranks to honor it becomes imperative that care must be taken as to the kind of respect that is to be given to each rank holder. A boat on the other hand is generally managed by one person. And if a boat is big enough to have a crew, the crew members share a more casual relationship amongst each other and with the captain too.

Boats are propelled with the help of oars, paddles and at times by a sail. However, there are also motor boats. They are used for entertainment purposes, fishing, carrying mails, to ferry supplies and people between the shore and the ship. Boats are also found on board ships in the form of rescue boats and life boats. Their functions are again a major differentiating factor between boats and ships. While we’ve already discussed the basic functions of boats, ships due to their larger cargo or passenger carrying capacities, are employed for a variety of activities like warfare, public safety, transport of goods, people across the ocean. Also ships are categorized according to their applications like containers/ tankers/ passenger/ general cargo/live-stock, etc.

While ships are meant to traverse deeper waters and longer distances with a displacement of more than 500 tons and technology based operating system, boats are meant for shorter distances and are much easier to maneuver and also do not generally have displacement hulls.

Another difference between the two is that ships are designed to withstand adverse weather conditions and can stay out in water for extended period of time. Boats however are not designed accordingly and therefore have certain limitations attached to them.

There are several ways to categories boats and ships, for instance:

Boats are categorized as

  • Unpowered or human powered boats.
  • Motorboats
  • Sailing Boats

Ships are often categorized according to their use as:

  • Fishing Ships
  • Military/Naval Ships
  • Commercial Ships
  • Inland Ships
  • Research Based Ships

They are also classified on the basis of many other criteria like type of propulsion system used, number of hulls, building material used, shape, size, etc.

Thus we can conclude that the demarcation between a boat and a ship is based on very intricate and thin lines. However the simplest and easiest definition in naval terms is that a boat is a vessel small enough to be carried on ships, vice-versa however does not hold true.

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