Sub-menu Navigation

Types of boating

There are many different ways to get afloat, we’ve listed the categories of boating below.

We have a ‘boats’ category in our online equipment directory showing images and manufacturers details and you can watch clips of different boats being used.

Small boat sailing

Dinghy and Keelboat sailing

A dinghy is a small, light boat that you generally rig ashore and launch every time you go sailing. Because of this, dinghies are easily transportable. They are great fun to sail with an immediate response. Some sailing dinghies have a small liftable keel which make them more stable for people with disabilities who aren’t able to move around to balance the boat.

A keelboat is a larger, more stable boat with a fixed keel which stops the boat from capsizing. Keel boats are a step up in size from dinghies, more like a small manageable yacht but generally not as big as a cruising yacht. They can bridge the gap between dinghies and cruisers, offering many benefits of both, to the adult beginner.

Small boat racing

Motor and Sail Cruising

If living on board, cruising the coast or venturing further offshore appeals to you, why not give motor cruising or sail cruising a go? Cruising yachts have accommodation and cooking facilities, offering a degree of comfort whilst spending time afloat. Cruising boats come in all shapes a sizes from just over 20ft to Thames Barges and tall ships. The facilities and accessibility on board vary depending on the size and layout of the vessel.



Windsurfing is done by standing on board and holding the sail up in the air to catch the wind and make it move.  There are some windsurfing boards called bi-planches these are two boards joined together and offer more stability and even a seat for sailors who may not be able to stand or balance on a single board.

Yacht Racing

Narrow boats

Narrowboats are motor powered boats that generally operate on rivers and canals.  They usually have accommodation on board and can be used for day trips or residential trips. Some have been adapted and have lifts on board to accommodate wheel chair users.



Small open powerboats such as RIBs (rigid inflatable boats), sports boats and small launches. These boats are generally powered by an outboard engine, do not normally have accommodation on board, and so are not intended for extended cruises. They may be used for short coastal or inland trips, fishing, safety cover for other watersports, waterskiing or as a support boat for diving.  Some powerboating have drop fronts making them accessible for wheelchair users.


Find books for your course at the RYA Shop

eBooks in the cloud
Our handy guide shows the books & DVDs that go with your course!
Please select...