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Our flagship Outback 50 completely re-defines recreational yachting

With more deck space than any yacht in her class, the outback 50 offers the ultimate experience in outdoor living..

An elegant yet modest interior extends naturally from the aft deck, providing expansive views and emphasizing comfort and easy living.

Her uniquely designed hull, shallow draft, and aft engine placement create a smooth, quiet, and comfortable ride.

The Outback 50 is also extremely economical, requiring only 600 total hp to push her to 20 knots.

Whether you’re out on the water for the day, a weekend adventure, or a longer offshore cruise, the revolutionary Outback 50 offers endless possibilities. Fish, dive, or dine from the expansive aft deck, or easily launch your tender, jet-skis, kayaks, or other water toys to enjoy your favorite anchorage.

Find out why it’s more fun “out back!”

Michael Peters Design

Award-winning naval architect and yacht designer Michael Peters has created a clean, contemporary design for the Outback 50 based on our shared vision of a unique motor yacht that combines style, function and performance.

Designed specifically for outdoor living, the Outback 50 is extremely versatile, providing comfort, efficiency, and performance unique among  cruising yachts or traditional trawlers her size.

Be sure to watch our interviews with Michael as he shares his design philosophy, his thoughts on the Outback 50, and his creation of her “almost perfect” hull design.

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Best Shallow Water Sailboats

Best Shallow Water Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

December 28, 2023

When it comes to the best shallow water sailboats, there is plenty of debate between brands. This differs from one person to the next, especially sailing goals.

Shallow water sailing is a unique experience, allowing you to explore lower draft areas where larger boats cannot. So what boats are the best for shallow waters?

The Hinckley Talaria 55, West Wight Potter 19, Catalina 22, and Fountaine Pajot Alegria 67 are excellent options to consider. These cover a wide range of prices, drafts, and space on the boat. Other options include the Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, MJM 53z, and the Outback Yachts 50.

The beauty that most shallow draft boats have is the ability to handle rough waters too. This way you can still explore other areas sailing and go back to shallow waters when you want.

According to expert sailors, there are plenty of places in the world you cannot explore due to the draft limitations. Having a boat that can explore shallow waters is something that larger boats will be unable to do.

Table of contents

‍ 13 Shallow Draft Sailboats to Consider

When looking for the best shallow draft sailboat, a lot of boats fit that criterion. However, each one will need to fit the individual buyer’s needs in size, price, and functionality.

Hinckley Yachts Talaria 55 MKII


While most people think of sailing as strictly using sails, there are boats in use that are powered by motors. For example, the Hinckley Talaria 55 has all of the capabilities of sailing but uses motors for power.

The way the boat has been designed, in addition to the lightweight, allows it to have a shallow draft of about three feet. This will let you explore shallow waters, unlike other larger boats.

If you do not want to compromise luxury and the size of your boat, this is an appealing option to look into. Especially as a larger boat nearing 55 feet long, you have the opportunity to handle shallow waters whenever you want. The prices start at around $750,000 and up.

West Wight Potter 19


You have likely seen this popular boat online for the last decade. It is built by International Marine, which is resilient in creating reliable sailboats.

There have been design changes over the years, allowing it to have more storage and slightly easier to sail. At just 19 feet long, it is a bit easier to handle than other larger boats.

With its rugged build, you can explore harsher waters without giving up any luxury. Due to its design, you can comfortably explore shallow waters, especially with the lifting keel that you can adjust. You can find older versions for around $7,000 and up.

Catalina 22


The Catalina 22 offers a beautiful mix of sport and luxury. With its retractable keel, it makes it easier to haul and to explore shallow waters.

The boat drafts between two and five feet, depending on the extra weight on board. This makes for a great opportunity to explore shallow waters.

With 22 feet of room on board, you can easily have a handful of people on board to travel days at a time. Whether you take it out on the weekends or spend quality time with family, you can go just about anywhere. The prices start around $13,000 for models over 20 years old and go up in price significantly for newer versions.

Fountaine Pajot Alegria 67


One of the more luxurious catamarans out there with a shallow draft is none other than the Fountaine Pajot Alegria 67 . This boat is roughly 70 feet long and has a draft of fewer than six feet.

There are plenty of options available for sailors that want the best of everything when it comes to cruising, living aboard, and exploring shallow waters. The amount of room is enough for large groups and you would not have to worry about “roughing” it.

If you are looking for a larger boat to host parties or enjoy the space, this catamaran has everything you could ask for. The prices start at around $1,200,000 for slightly older models.

Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20


If you want a traditional looking sailboat with the added bonus of a shallow draft, then check out the Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 . As one of the more convenient options out there, you have a lot of features to live aboard or travel whenever you want.

There are plenty of accommodations, such as a pop-up dining table, foldable chart table, and customizable rooms. The only drawback is that there are only 400 of these made, so finding one might prove to be difficult.

For a 20-foot sailboat, there is plenty of room to stretch your legs. If you can get your hands on one, these typically have sold for around $30,000.


Another high quality sailing yacht , the MJM 53z has all the speed and luxury you need. In addition, the maximum draft is just shy of four feet when the outboards are tilted down and the engine is up.

Like the other yachts mentioned, this one has plenty of features to accommodate plenty of people on board. You can find this one around $2,295,000.

Outback Yachts 50


Out of all the sailing yachts mentioned thus far, the Outback 50 offers plenty of room without being too big to handle. It also boasts all luxury accommodations you could ever want, in addition to having just a three foot draft to explore shallow waters.

There are two models you can choose from, either the infinity deck or the extended deckhouse that have slight variations to accommodate your and your guests.  They also showcase an unobstructed 360 degree view within the galley, allowing you to have beautiful views no matter where you are. Depending on the year and model, you can expect to pay around $1,200,000.

Laser Pico Dinghy


If you want something a little bit smaller without breaking the bank and great for entry level sailors, try checking out some dinghies. The Laser Pico is a great example of a boat that fits many budgets and can accommodate roughly two people in more shallow waters.

With the daggerboard keel and removable jib and mainsail, you can easily set up your rig before setting sail. It typically drafts between seven and nine feet depending on the weight in the dinghy. You can find used ones for around $1,500 and up depending on condition.


If you have plenty of experience handling a dinghy sailboat, then the RS Aero might be worth some attention. Whether you are racing or cruising in this sailboat, you have the ability to check out some shallow waters too.

It weighs roughly 66 pounds, making it one of the lightest dinghies out there. It also seats just about a foot in the water, making it possible to go anywhere.

For this particular dinghy, you are likely to pay a little more compared to others. You can typically find them for around $10,000.


The Wayfarer is another great option for a dinghy if you feel like cruising on a 16-foot boat. This one in particular is widely used in training schools and has sold over 12,000 boats.

It also has a classic sailing look to it, with a fractional rig sloop and a centerboard keel. It also drafts around three feet, making it plenty capable of exploring shallow waters.

Depending on the year and condition, you can find these for just a few thousand dollars. Newer ones range up to $12,500, but will obviously have all the design upgrades you need.


The 251 XSS , starting at around $112,000, is an excellent option for cruising or fishing in deep water. It is actually one of the first designed boats to handle inshore and offshore fishing, allowing you to experience the best of both worlds.

With just 13 inches in the water, you will likely never have to worry about running aground. In addition, this gives you plenty of luxury to enjoy your fishing or sailing experience.

175 Sport Dorado


Another choice for sailors that enjoy fishing, the 175 Sport Dorado has an even shallower draft compared to others. For around $44,000, you can enjoy cruising along the coast or offshore.

This boat sports a draft of 10 inches, so there is no need to worry about hitting anything. For the price point, it gives you everything you need without hurting your bank account.


The 177 Sport is just a slight step below the 175 in terms of price and features. However, you can still enter shallow waters with its 10-inch draft.

It is priced around $36,000, but you might be able to find it in a slightly cheaper pre-owned market. With the draft, you should never have to worry about scratching the hull.

Why You Should Consider a Shallow Draft Sailboat

The draft of your sailboat will determine what you are able to do on the water. The deeper the draft, the better the stability usually is.

Boats that have a shoal draft are ones that have a shallow draft in comparison to others of the same size. These might have a slightly different keel or other adjustments to make the boat able to enter shallow waters.

The term “shoal draft” is the boat’s ability to check out shallow water near shoals. So it is important to understand certain features when shopping for a shallow draft sailboat.

How to Find the Perfect Shallow Draft Sailboat

While no sailboat is going to be perfect, you can narrow down your search if you know what to look for.

Every sailor has their preferences on what they want for a shallow water sailboat.

This includes the keel type, price range, and even the size of the boat. Depending on your situation, you can break it down to fit your needs.

For starters, the price is going to deter a lot of sailors from certain boats. After all, you can only afford what you have to spend. Setting up a budget or at least knowing how much you can afford to pay for a loan is going to be key.

Your location might make a difference too, as some boats might be in a prime location. Using Florida as an example, they have the most registered boats in the United States. This could be a good opportunity to shop around if you happen to be close by.

Size of Boat

While some shallow boat options can range between 10 and 70 feet, you have to decide what you want to experience. This also reflects in price, as the larger boats will cost more.

If you have a lot of people that you want to include on your boat, you might want to factor that in. If you plan on sailing with just another person, a dinghy might be more up your alley. The larger boats are typically heavier too, so this should be accounted for when looking at the draft.

Advantages of a Shallow Draft Sailboat

There are two main reasons why shallow draft boats are better than deeper draft boats. This would be the ability to navigate shallow waters and less of a chance of damaging your keel or boat in shallow areas.

Pass Through Shallow Waters

It should come as no surprise when buying a boat with a lower draft, as the whole point of buying a shallow draft sailboat is to enter shallow waters. The boat is better equipped to travel through shallow waters due to the keel type and the design.

The keel is the deepest part of the boat, as it sits beneath the boat to provide stability. It is always a good idea to know exactly how deep your boat sits, regardless if you plan on checking out shallow water or not.

Chances of Damaging Your Boat Decrease

Depending on where you sail the most or plan to sail, there could be plenty of areas where the water is not deep. This is true around the Florida keys or even the Caribbean, which have shallow drafts everywhere.

If you have a boat with a shorter keel and a shallow draft, this will decrease the likelihood that you will not encounter damage. Even if you do not plan on encountering shallow waters, you will be less likely to hit anything.

Disadvantages of Shallow Drafts

While there are plenty of reasons why sailors would consider choosing a sailboat with a shallow draft, there are some disadvantages to take note of. These include stability and righting of the boat.

Since there is a shorter keel, there is not the same level of stability as boats that have deeper keels and larger drafts. The longer a keel is, the more stable the boat will be.

You are also limited on the keel type, as most shallow draft boats will either have a lifting keel or something that does not hang as low. While you are capable of taking your sailboat to deeper waters, rough conditions might not be that enjoyable.

Differences in Righting Movement

This is another example of a stability issue, but slightly different. The boat’s ability to maintain “right” or remain stable is very important.

In shallow draft boats, the feeling of being on board during rough conditions might not be the best. Some are equipped with the ability to change the ratio of the ballast, but this could take some practice.

Types of Shallow Draft Keels

The keel can make a huge difference to any sailboat, as it has certain advantages that separate one from another. Depending on the keel type you have, it can help provide stability but also allow for shallow draft areas.

A fin keel is a standard keel type that you will see on many boats, not just shallow water sailboats. These are usually adjustable to add more or less profile to the ballast.

Another variation that you will often see that is similar to a fin keel is a lifting centerboard keel. These are excellent options for sailors wanting to explore shallow waters and not have to worry about running aground.

A wing keel offers plenty of stability without hanging too low underneath the boat. These are often found on boats with shallow drafts, due to their unique design of a wing.

While this keel type has plenty of advantages, the only drawback is that it might create suction in shallow waters. This could cause you to be moved over into mud or currents.

A bulb keel is great for stability and righting movement. They usually have a high aspect ratio with ballast at the bulb, so this is typically a good bet for shallow water boats.

The beautiful thing about this keel is that even if you do get stuck, they are relatively easy to get back out. They can also take a beating, just in case you do happen to overestimate your depth.

Catamarans are not a type of keel, but they should be included since they do not have one. Interestingly enough, these boat types do not need a keel to remain stable.

Every catamaran will have a shallow draft and will be able to enter shallow waters. Without a keel, there is no risk of damaging it or the boat itself.

These boat types have two parallel hulls, sometimes more for trimaran boats, that keep the boat stable. For shallow water boats that include a lot of room and luxury, these are great options.

Related Articles

Best Sailboats For Lakes

Best Bluewater Pocket Sailboats

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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6 Popular Low-Draft Boats for Shallow Water (With Pictures)

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Many people have been asking for low-draft boats.

Here are six popular low-draft boats for shallow water.

Table of Contents

The Tiburon LX-21

shallow draft yacht

The LX-21 has a draft that sits at only 5 inches deep.

It can cruise through the water almost as quickly as a jet ski, and to see it in action is almost surreal.  On top of this, it can retain shallow drafts of 8″ with four adults on top of it.

Tiburon has put this boat’s console right in the center, and a small bench seat stands right behind it.  The boat’s bow has a nice deck on it that would make fishing, crabbing, or even clamming friendly and easy.  It would also make a good jump-off point for anybody looking to do some wading or swimming.

This boat also features six built-in fishing rod holders and two different storage areas for holding gear.

The boat can handle up to a 175HP engine and go up to 50 miles per hour with this engine. This is all fueled with a 54-gallon fuel tank.

It’s also only 21′ long and 8’6″ wide and has a hull weight of fewer than 1,000 pounds.  This makes this boat a comfortable boat to trailer.

The only downside I can see to this boat is that it is expensive.  Expect to pay at least $45,000.00 for a new Tiburon LX-21.

The Egret 167

shallow draft yacht

This boat is 16’7″ long with a beamwidth of 7’3″.

It is made from either fiberglass or Kevlar, with each weighing in at 800 pounds or 700 pounds, respectively.  Not quite as light as an aluminum boat would be but a lot more durable and capable in shallow waters.

The boat comes with many engine options ranging from 70HP to 140HP.  These engines come from Yamaha, Mercury, E-Tec, or Suzuki.  To fuel the engine, the boat has a 41-gallon fuel tank.  This is pretty large, considering the boat is only 16’7″ long.

The 167 also has a center console with a multitude of rod holders attached to it.  However, the seat is a bench seat integrated into the boat, and it seems to sit a bit lower than Tiburon’s bench seat.

You’ll notice that the bow of the boat features a lovely spacious deck with a storage area.  There are also storage areas on the sides as well as at the rear of the boat.  This boat was built for fishing in low waters, and it has a draft of only 9″.

The boat owners say that the boat is too heavy to pole for long periods of time, but it can handle choppy waters incredibly well for a boat of its size.  They like it because it is stable and easy to catch fish from.

These boats can range from the $30k to $40k price points, depending on the year and the options you choose.

Related Article: 9 Affordable Boats With Enclosed Cabins (with pictures)

The Eldora by Hell’s Bay Boat Works

shallow draft yacht

This boat is a true skiff, and it has a draft of only 3.5 inches.

The boat is also 16’4″ with a beamwidth of 69,” so the 3.5-inch draft is pretty impressive.  It also only weighs 350 pounds, so it can easily be towed.

The engine on this boat is a Yamaha 25 Tiller, and it has a 6-gallon removable gas tank.  With its low weight and shallow draft, this boat can be polled through the water quite easily.

It also has a nice standing platform over the engine, so you’ll have a nice place to pole, to fish from, and to get a good view.

At the front of the boat, you’ll also find a nice standing platform.  Also, it appears that the storage can be gotten to from underneath the front deck, so you don’t have to worry about opening any hatches from the top to get to your gear.

The boat doesn’t have a console, so you’ll have to sit at the rear with the engine in hand, but the backbench comes with a nice pad.

Underneath this bench is a lockable compartment for additional storage.

I couldn’t get an exact price from the manufacturer’s website, but these boats appear to be in the neighborhood of just over $30k.

Related Article: 13 Clever Ways to Get a Good Deal on (New) Boats

The Dragonfly 17 Classic

shallow draft yacht

The Dragonfly 17 is a 17′ boat with an 80″ beam and an 8″ draft.

It weighs in at only 700 pounds, and it could be trailered or even placed on top of a yacht.

This boat comes with a 90HP Evinrude engine with a 24-gallon fuel tank.  A plumbed live well comes standard with the boat, and there are recessed push pole holders molded into it.

The boat has a wood grain console and a nice cushioned backrest on top of the bench seat.  In fact, the entire boat has a luxury feel to it. The deck looks more like a yacht than a skiff, and I’d almost hate to get it dirty while fishing.

This being said, the boat looks like it would make a good fishing boat for shallow waters.  In fact, it has an ample number of fishing rod holders throughout the boat.

The boat is also nice and open, so you’d have plenty of space to move around inside.

Surprisingly, this boat comes in at right around $27,000.00.

Related Article: 9 Tips to Sell Your Boat Quickly (Without Dropping the Price)

The 177 Sport by Scout Boats

shallow draft yacht

This boat has a length of 17’7″, a beam of 7’3″, and a dry weight of around 1,000 pounds.

The draft on the boat is 10,” which is pretty good considering it’s not a skiff and can hold an outboard engine of up to 115HP.

The fuel capacity on the 177 is 20 gallons, and the people capacity is five people.  However, I don’t think you’d have a lot of fun with that many people trying to fish on a boat of this size.

This being said, five people could easily go cruising in the 177.

One of the features that first caught my eye when looking at this boat is that not only does it have a two-person bench behind the console, it also has a seat built into the front of the console.

Combine this with the front deck, and I could see how five people could comfortably sit on this boat.

There are 6-rod holders built into the boat and plenty of areas for storage.  You can also add a bimini top to keep the sun off of you as well.

Scout’s website lists the boat brand new at $24,695.00.  This includes the standard engine and trailer.

Related Article: Minimum Age For Driving or Renting Boats: Rules Per 50 States

The Strike by Beavertail Skiffs

shallow draft yacht

The Strike is 17’6″ long with a beam of 73″ wide.  It has a draft of about 6 inches.

Its gross weight is 550 pounds.

This boat can accommodate an engine of up to 90HP but can be used with an engine as small as 60HP.  It is fueled by a 20-gallon fuel tank, which makes sense for a boat of this size.

The Strike also features a backbench seat with a cushioned backrest and a seat in front of the center console. I’d classify its styling as simple yet clean and functional.

As a true skiff, this boat should be easy to pole, and there is a deck at the back to do it from.  There is also plenty of space at the boat’s bow, which should make poling and fishing nice and easy.

The base price on this boat is $33,000.00.

Related Article: How Much Do Boats Weigh? 11 Types (Numbers & Pictures)

What Is the Minimum Draft on a Boat

Technically speaking, there isn’t a minimum draft that is required on a boat.

However, I’ve yet to see a boat with a draft under a few inches.

In fact, once you put a person into a boat, even the best of drafts will get deeper.

Also, one has to consider that a boat will sit deeper into the water if there is more weight on top of it.  This means that any time you bring friends or even gear along with you, you’ll add to the draft of your boat.

Since fishing with friends is half the fun of boating for most people, it doesn’t always make sense to chase the shallowest drafts.

How Deep Is the Draft on a Pontoon Boat

Pontoon boats all have different drafts depending on how large and how heavy the draft is.

Generally, the larger and heavier the boat, the deeper the draft.

Smaller pontoon boats with small engines can have drafts shallower than 10 inches, while larger boats can easily have drafts higher than 12 inches.

Also, one has to consider that a pontoon boat will have an outboard motor attached to it.  This means that you’ll only be able to go so far into shallow water before having to lift your engine.

Since pontoon boats are hard to pole, this wouldn’t be a great idea.

Final Thoughts

There are many great boats out on the market right now with low drafts.

The classic shallow draft boat for poling is still a Jon boat.

You can choose between typical fishing boats to skiffs, and even pontoons, so if you’re considering buying a boat for shallow water, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from!

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The Best Shallow Draft Liveaboard Sailboat 2024

Looking for the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboat.

If you’re looking for the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboat then look no further.

After four years of living aboard our super shallow draft monohull, we are shallow draft boat connoisseurs and we can’t imagine being happy in anything other than a shallow keeled boat.

The Best Shallow Draft Liveaboard Sailboat

There are many different types of sailboats, and the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboat may not be the same for everyone. Some factors you might want to consider when choosing a sailboat include size, type of sailing, comfort, and cost.

One thing is fir sure, when choosing a vessel you will want to take into account the draft of a boat to make sure you can access the waterways you intend on cruising.

In this post, we will take a look at some of the best shallow keel liveaboard sailboats on the market today. So if you are in the market for a new sailboat, keep reading!

Table of Contents

The best large shallow draft sailboats.

  • The best small shallow keel sailboats

Shallow water sailing

The best spot in the anchorage, less chance of grounding, extra moving parts.

  • How To Find The Perfect Liveaboard Sailboat For You

The best large shallow draft sailboats

We’ve got some great suggestions for shallow draft liveaboard sailboats that are 38ft or above. Boats of this size are usually more practical for ocean crossings and have enough living space for a couple who expect to have guests regularly, or for a family.

#1 Kadey Krogen 38

The Kadey Krogen 38

The Kadey Krogen 38 is one of the best large shallow draft sailboats on the market today, offering plenty of space and comfort for all your sailing adventures (and we’re not just saying that because we live on one!)

With a maximum draft of just 3 feet, it can easily go where other boats cannot, making it perfect for exploring shallow waters. We have often entered a busy anchorage, snuck in shallow, and had all the room in the world.

The Kadey Krogen 38s are quite unique. All the ballast is in the tiny keel, and she has two centreboards that help performance. The large centreboard in the middle of the boat helps it point closer to the wind.

After a year of sailing without a functional centreboard we did find our upwind performance improved with the centreboard and tacking and heaving to was easier as well.

The after board helps with weather helm in heavy seas. It does make the steering handle a lot easier and is a great thing to have at your disposal, but we have also been in heavy seas and forgotten to lower it and the boat still tracked fine.

The perfect shallow draft sailboat in the sunset

What we really love about this design is the flexibility. As there is no weight in the boards we aren’t worried about losing them, and therefore losing the keel. The keel is fully encapsulated and going nowhere!

As a liveaboard sailboat, the Kadey Krogen 38s are extremely roomy. They have a wide beam and really make the most of the space. In fact, you could almost say they were designed for liveaboard, as the space is that cleverly laid out.

The cockpit is spacious which is perfect for entertaining. We have regularly seated 8 people in the cockpit and it has never felt like a squeeze. The locker lids are large enough to sleep on and we regularly do in the summer months when it’s stuffy below.

Saying that, we have never felt unsafe in big seas as there is coving all the way around and plenty of handholds and clip-in points.

a sailboat at anchor in a pretty bay

The interior is slightly different on each different boat, but they all have a separate shower in the head which is super handy, and the cabins have their own sinks. The owner’s bed is a full-sized double so you can use an off-the-shelf mattress, and there is storage for days.

One of the biggest drawbacks of this small keeled liveaboard sailboat is the compromise in steerage astern. She doesn’t do well with Med-mooring!

If you’re looking for a great shallow draft liveaboard sailboat that offers plenty of space and comfort, be sure to check out the Kadey Krogen 38.

Check it out on Sailboat Data

#2 Freedom Cat 40 Centreboard

If you’re looking for a great liveaboard sailboat with a shallow draft that offers plenty of space and comfort, be sure to check out the Freedom Cat 40 Centreboard. With a maximum draft of just 4 feet, this boat has no problem exploring the shallow waters of your favorite cruising grounds.

This boat sails well, especially on a reach, and is easy enough to handle as a couple or even a solo sailor.

Like the Kadey Krogen 38, this sailboat has a large cockpit but the Freedom 40 has a centre cockpit, which many prefer.

The Freedom 40 is a great liveaboard sailboat

Another standout feature of the Freedom Cat 40 is its spacious and well-designed interior. This boat is a great size for a liveaboard couple, with a large double bed aft as well as a v-berth forward.

While it does have some drawbacks–like poor maneuverability in reverse – there’s no doubt that the Freedom Cat 40 Centreboard is one of the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboats on the market today.

So if you’re looking for comfort, space, and flexibility, be sure to check out this amazing liveaboard sailboat!

#3 C&C 40 Centreboard Version

C&C 40 Centreboard Version

If you’re looking for an amazing shallow draft sailboat to live on that offers plenty of space and comfort, then the C&C 40 Centreboard Version is definitely worth considering.

With a maximum draft of just over 4 feet, this boat has no problem exploring the shallow waters of your favorite cruising grounds.

To maintain the same stability as the deeper keel versions of this sailboat, the centerboard boat carries an additional 885 pounds of ballast, making her noticeably slower in light air.

In tests, she was shown to be about 4 seconds slower per mile than the normal keel version in about 8 knots of wind, but basically identical in speed with 15+ knots of wind. For most cruisers, this won’t be an issue, but if you’re planning on using this sailboat for racing too then you might opt for the standard keel instead.

Another standout feature of this liveaboard sailboat is its spacious interior, designed for long-term living aboard. This boat can easily accommodate a couple, with a large v-berth forward as well as plenty of storage space throughout the interior.

there’s no doubt that the C&C 40 Centreboard Version is an incredibly comfortable and practical boat to sail.

#4 Privilege 435 Catamaran

Privilege 435 Catamaran

The Privilege 435 is built for performance and comfort, making it the perfect shallow keel liveaboard sailboat.

Most of these sailboats were built relatively recently, so while you might not be able to bag a bargain, you will find the latest navigation and safety equipment on board.

The fit and finish of these catamarans are excellent. You can expect high-quality materials and smart storage solutions. There are four separate cabins with their own heads, making it a great liveaboard sailboat for a family.

#5 Lagoon 40

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If you’re looking for a great shallow draft liveaboard sailboat that’s packed with top-of-the-line features, then the Lagoon 40 is definitely worth considering.

With a maximum draft of 1.35m, this boat offers plenty of space and comfort while being able to explore the shallow waters of your favorite cruising grounds.

One of the biggest benefits of this amazing sailboat is its spacious and well-designed interior. With plenty of room for a couple or even a solo sailor, you’ll love spending long days at sea aboard the Lagoon 40.

One of the biggest downsides of catamarans is usually their upwind performance, but the Lagoon 40 will keep her speed even at a 50-degree apparent wind angle.

So if you’re looking for comfort, space, and flexibility, be sure to check out this amazing liveaboard sailboat today!

#6 Prout Snowgoose 37

Prout catamarans have a great reputation among liveaboard sailors, and the Snowgoose is one of the most popular designs.

Prout no longer exists as a company, as it was bought by Broadblue in the 90s. Broadblue still makes catamarans today, and they have very similar features to the original Prouts, though obviously they are far fancier and have all the benefits of a more modern design!

The Snowgoose catamaran benefits from a shallow draft of 2.08ft, meaning you won’t have any trouble at all in shallow waters. It sails well and is a suitable bluewater sailboat, however, a low bridge deck clearance makes the boat slam in waves, both at anchor and underway.

The best small shallow draft sailboats to live on

a sailboat motoring out of an anchorage

As these are still liveaboard sailboats, we haven’t added any under 30ft. If you’re living aboard solo then 30ft is probably the smallest you will want to go before the sailing lifestyle starts to feel a bit too much like camping!

Here are our top picks for small small keel liveaboard sailboats.

#7 Columbia 31

If you’re looking for a compact, high-quality shallow keel sailboat that’s perfect for both recreational sailing and liveaboard cruising, then the Columbia 31 is definitely worth checking out.

With a maximum draft of just over 3 feet, this sailboat will be able to sneak into shallow anchorages with ease. It sails adequately and will be more than good enough for coastal cruising.

With its small size comes some definite compromises – while it may be great for traveling in sheltered waters and coastal areas, the Columbia 31 doesn’t have much in the way of speed or stability when going offshore.

That said, this little sailboat is incredibly well-built and carries all the hallmarks of quality craftsmanship. Its solid fiberglass hull and spacious interior for a boat of this size make the Columbia 31 a great option for both recreational and liveaboard sailing.

So whether you’re looking to sail in shallow water, explore coastal areas, or just spend some time living aboard, the Columbia 31 is definitely worth considering!

#8 Pearson 35

The sun setting over the sea

Pearson makes some great sailboats and is mostly well-regarded within the sailing community. The Pearson 35 is no exception and boasts the longest production run of any other Pearson model.

Boasting a shallow draft of just under 4 feet and a surprisingly spacious interior for a boat of this size, the Pearson 35 is an excellent small-sized liveaboard sailboat that won’t disappoint.

Due to its relatively simple construction, however, there are some definite downsides – while you’ll be able to find older models at great prices, they often have several issues that will need to be repaired before setting off on your next sailing adventure.

That said, if you’re looking for a dependable little sailboat that will allow you to explore shallow waters and coastal areas, the Pearson 35 is definitely worth considering.

#9 Gemini 105Mc (34ft)

The Gemini 105Mc is still in production in the US, which speaks to its popularity.

If you’re looking for a small keel sailboat on the smaller side, that still has plenty of space for living aboard, then this might be the perfect compromise. Many of these small catamarans have completed ocean passages so you won’t be limited on cruising grounds.

It has two double cabins, good headroom throughout, and nice finishes too.

A significant negative to this boat is the bridge deck clearance which isn’t amazing so you may experience some slamming. But that aside, this is a great small draft sailboat for anyone wanting to live aboard.

#10 Prout Event 34

The sails of a sailboat

These multihulls are quite hard to find, but if you like the Snowgoose but are on a tighter budget then they might be just what you’re looking for. These shallow draft catamarans share lots of features with the popular Snowgoose designs, just on a smaller scale.

There are three cabins, one head, a salon, and a galley, only they are rather squeezed in compared to the larger model.

The Prout Event 34 sails well and has crossed oceans, though it is also known for its slamming so if this is something that bothers you then you might want to think again before buying this liveaboard sailboat.

These shallow draft catamarans have an excellent reputation among cruisers because of their solid build and use of decent materials.

The boat has three cabins, a galley, saloon, and a head, so it’s perfect for slightly larger crews, though it’s obviously on the smaller side compared to some of the large shallow draft liveaboard boats on this list.

This catamaran sails well and people have crossed oceans in them, though they are probably better suited to coastal cruising

The bridge deck clearance is good on this catamaran so you shouldn’t experience too much slamming.

Why buy a narrow keel sailboat to live on?

a shallow draft liveaboard sailboat

There are many reasons why someone might choose to buy a sailboat with a small draft as a liveaboard.

Perhaps you don’t want the hassle of anchoring in deep water or dealing with the challenges that come with mooring, or maybe you simply enjoy being able to explore shallow coastal areas where other boats can’t go.

We’ll explore some of the reasons in more depth below.

Shallow water sailing refers to cruising in coastal areas where other boats cannot go.

The shallow draft of a sailboat means that you can easily explore coves, anchorages, and bays off the beaten track. Even if it’s just for an afternoon, there is something really special about being able to truly get away from it all by sailing away from the crowds in a secluded cove or anchorage.

Getting the best spot in the anchorage

One of the great things about living aboard a sailboat is that you have the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. You can easily move on if you find somewhere that better suits your needs, or stay put and enjoy all the great amenities at your favorite anchorage.

While many people love big marinas with all their facilities and good ground tackle, many others prefer the peace and quiet of a secluded anchorage. If you’re one of those people who simply love finding the best spot in an anchorage then living aboard a shallow draft sailboat is perfect for you.

You will be able to sneak into bays that no one else can reach, or anchor in shallow waters of busier anchorages when there is seemingly no space.

a shallow draft sailboat anchored between rocks

On a sailboat with a lifting centreboard you have lowered odds of damaging your boat.

In fact, we have even heard of experienced sailors using their centreboard as a worst-case depth sounder, allowing you to risk sneaking into unchartered shallow waters without any significant risk of damaging your boat.

If you hit rock bottom (literally) then at best your centreboard will be knocked higher into its slot, and at worst you might damage the centreboard a little, but either way, your keel will remain unharmed!

The disadvantages of a shallow draft liveaboard sailboat

the sunset with a sailboat in the foreground

As always, alongside the advantages of shallow draft sailboats are some disadvantages to make you question your decision.

For us, after four years of living aboard, we would say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but it is so depending on personal opinion and taste.

Here are the main disadvantages of shallow keel liveaboard sailboats.

One reason that many people choose not to live aboard a sailboat with a small draft is the reduced stability.

Compared to a deeper draft boat, your centre of gravity is lower on a shallow draft sailboat which can be worrying when you are in open water, particularly if there are swells or high winds.

On our Kadey Krogen 38 we haven’t found this to be a problem. She handles brilliantly in big seas and we have always felt very safe and stable. In swelly anchorages, she doesn’t fair so well and is usually one of the more rolly boats in the anchorages (though interestingly quite often not the worst!)

Another disadvantage of a shallow draft sailboat is that they are not always easy to steer, especially when going astern.

Our sailboats prop walk is quite impressive! Getting into mooring slips astern is very tricky indeed. This is a problem on a lot of deep, full-keeled sailboats so we aren’t alone in our troubles! One way around this is to just enter mooring slips forward and drop an anchor astern.

A sailboat with a centreboard is not as simple to maintain as one without.

In the four years that we’ve owned our boat, we have replaced both her swing keel bearing and the cable that connects it to the winch on deck. For some people, this might be more than they are willing or able to deal with, but for us, it has been simple to do and is part of the reason we love our boat.

How To Find The Perfect Liveaboard Sailboat With A Shallow Draft

a catamaran from above

If you’re looking to buy a shallow keel sailboat then you’ll need to take a few things into consideration.

Budget is key for most people when buying a boat to live in. You will need to compromise between size, age of the boat, and budget. Smaller, older monohulls tend to be cheaper than larger, newer multihulls.

One of the most convenient ways to decide where to search for sailboats is to look in the location you will be cruising in. This is easy enough if your cruising grounds are popular and large, like in Europe or the USA.

You will find it much harder to find the right boat for you if you’re only prepared to buy in a very specific place or on cruising grounds that are tricky to reach, like remote islands. That being said, if you can find the right boat for you in one of these places then you are more likely to get a great deal.

Size of Sailboat

As mentioned earlier, the bigger the boat the more you are likely to pay. That being said, if you’re looking for a liveaboard sailboat then the last thing you want to do is buy a boat that is far too small to meet your requirements.

Consider how many people will be living aboard full time, or almost full time. For a couple, a 38ft boat is usually a comfortable size, though there are couples living on 34-36ft boats (and they’re still together!)

For a family, or if you plan on having crew on for longer periods of time, you might consider getting a larger monohull or a catamaran so that everyone can have their own private space on board.

Larger boats tend to be more comfortable at sea too, so make sure you go for something a little bigger if you plan on crossing oceans.

Conclusion: The Best Shallow Draft Liveaboard Sailboats

a sailboat in the sea

Ultimately, finding the perfect boat will depend on what is important to you and what kind of experience you want to have while living on board.

The best shallow keel liveaboard sailboat is one that meets all of your needs and requirements. Whether you are looking for something large or small, budget-friendly or luxurious, there is sure to be a boat out there that will fit the bill.

So do your research, talk to other boaters in your area, and make sure you find the perfect vessel for your unique needs. Happy hunting!

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Oyster 495 Shallow Draft Anchored Palma Trees Rocks

Navigate shallow waters with confidence, access secluded anchorages, more marinas, and shelter in river inlets at a moment’s notice if the weather changes without warning.

Oyster 495 Shallow Draft Anchored

Experience the best of both worlds. Enjoy the accessibility of a shallow-draft yacht with exceptional sailing performance and luxurious living spaces.

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The world awaits, the oysters 495 is a true bluewater adventure machine, equipped for any voyage, built to withstand the harshest of ocean environments..

Our bluewater cruising DNA is rooted in 50 years’ experience, over 100 circumnavigations and over 20 million bluewater sailing miles. This experience has helped us refine the Oyster 495 to ensure she is capable of sailing anywhere in the world in complete safety, comfort and safety.

Undertaking bluewater adventures requires complete trust in your yacht. Our build quality is key; it is why the Oyster 495 features a stepped-mast and DNV-GL certified hull for strength and integrity. Self-sufficiency is an essential feature, so the large volume hull is designed for generous tankage, comfortable living space and extensive stowage. Must-have bluewater liveaboard features mean the new Oyster 495 is a fully connected, comfortable and extremely practical home from home. Every need has been considered and every piece of equipment is over-specified – from sailing equipment to details like grab handles and latches. The automated sailing systems have failsafe back-ups to ensure you are never compromised or at risk. All of this is designed to give you complete confidence in her capabilities, no matter the conditions you encounter.

The Oyster 495 is packed full of exceptionally practical and useful features that you would expect to find on a significantly larger yacht.

The u-shaped galley is well designed and equipped for cooking at sea, with space for all the appliances you enjoy at home. The saloon is light and spacious, with excellent, natural ventilation from the forward opening saloon windows. It is a social space with deep, comfortable sofas where everyone can come together to relax. There is a good-sized chart table with space for a half-folded Admiralty chart and dedicated day and night reading lights. On deck, the comfortable, protected centre cockpit and helm positions, with sprayhood and bimini, are welcome features on long passages. The spacious flush decks are clutter-free to maximise safe access when sailing in heavy weather.

She is equipped to operate a range of sailing set-ups selected for typical bluewater cruising conditions. Automated sail furling/reefing make for effortless shorthanded sailing.

Every inch of the large volume hull has been considered for your living aboard, daily maintenance and stowage requirements. Extensive stowage allows for ample provision and a wide range of spares to ensure you are ready for any eventuality.

Connected, comfortable and practical, the Oyster 495 is a true liveaboard yacht wherever you are in the world.

Every detail has been considered, making life on board a real pleasure, with no compromises. The full-sized appliances, including large fridge and optional single or chest freezer, mean there is plenty of space to provision for extended periods at sea. The generous cabins, quality deep mattresses, island berths, full length mirrors and proper en-suites create living spaces that are relaxed and comfortable. The forward opening saloon windows and optional air conditioning offer excellent air circulation below decks and keep you as cool or warm as required.

At its heart, the Oyster 495 offers the self-sufficiency you need on long ocean passages and adventures in remote locations.

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Celebrate the Exumas yachting lifestyle with LeVen Yachts , a revolutionary Dutch superyacht line. With its shallow draft, LeVen goes where other superyachts cannot follow.

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Navigate the shallows with confidence, and access those impossible-to-reach exotic beaches in superyacht comfort. Let time slip away while soaking in the sun, or use the ocean as your personal playground.  LeVen is luxury island living.

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Vripack presents 45m shallow-draft yacht concept Krista

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Dutch design studio Vripack has lifted the lid on a 45 metre concept named Krista, a 499-GT superyacht with a shallow draft of just two metres.

The yacht was originally conceived for an owner in search of Italian elegance balanced by impressive cruising capacities.

Key to the yacht’s design was her ability to cruise in shallow water and coastal zones, thus eliminating the need for a tender on the foredeck.

“The cool factor is it’s super shallow, which is unusual for a steel and aluminium boat,” said Vripack’s co-creative director Bart Bouwhuis.  “Compared to other 499GT boats, it gifts a lot of space with four guest cabins and one VIP suite.”

The yacht volunteers a full-beam owner’s suite on the main deck forward, alongside generous lounge areas forward and aft.

Opportunities to relax al fresco continue on the sun deck, where the yacht boasts a lounge area, jacuzzi and sunpads.

A skylight is also located on the sundeck, allowing uninterrupted views all the way down to the lower deck.

Vripack’s award-winning naval architecture has delivered a sculpted, masculine exterior with plenty of glazing and a contrast of charcoal, black and white.

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Salt Water Sportsman

Best Flats Boats for Fishing

  • By SWS Staff
  • Updated: June 22, 2022

Poling the flats for fish

If you intend to stalk bonefish, redfish, permit, snook, striped bass, tarpon or any other inshore game fish on the flats, salt marshes, or other shallow water areas, flats boats and flats skiffs — designed precisely for that style of saltwater angling — offer the greatest advantages to successfully sneak up on your favorite target species, including the shallow draft necessary to venture onto skinny water.

Naturally most of us start our boat search with trying to find the best flats boat for the money, but maybe your budget is a bit higher than most and you can look beyond the category of an affordable flats boat. If that’s the case, you’ll find plenty of those options here as well. Smaller flats skiffs are included too.

To help you find the one that best suits your specific needs and budget, the Salt Water Sportsman staff has compiled and updated a guide to the best flats boats for sale today, comprising timeless classics and the latest designs from numerous manufacturers. Scroll down to check out our list of top 16- to 19-foot options (in no particular order) for serious shallow water fishing.

The Complete List of Flats Boats

Maverick 17 hpx-v ii, yellowfin 17ce, hewes redfisher 18, east cape evo, floyd skiff 10 weight, dolphin 17 superskiff pro, action craft 1820 ace flatsmaster, bonefish bohemian 17, dragonfly emerger, maverick mirage 18 hpx-v, beavertail 17 strike, ankona advent, islamorada morada 18, hewes redfisher 16, east cape fury, spyder fx17 flicker, hell’s bay eldora, action craft 1720 gen3 flyfisher, sterling 180, mitzi 17 tournament, maverick 17 hpx-s, hell’s bay professional, chittum islamorada 18 legacy, action craft 19 ace flatsmaster, bay craft bone skiff 162, yellowfin 17 cc, east cape vantage, dolphin 18 back country pro, beavertail 18 air, dragonfly grand slam 17, hell’s bay biscayne, sterling tr7, spyder fx19 vapor, mako 18 lts, skull island 16, bluewater 180 pro, dragonfly classic 17, hell’s bay marquesa, action craft 1600 flatspro.

Maverick 17 HPX-V II poling

With its surprising open-water running capability, and quiet and precise poling proficiency, the Maverick 17 HPX-V II has been the bench mark for top-notch technical poling skiffs since its introduction. This skiff is designed for anglers who want top performance in the toughest and most technically challenging poling situations. This next generation of the 17 HPX-V now offers more easy-to-access dry storage, plus a lighter hull, better balanced to match with smaller outboards like a Yamaha F70.


Yellowfin 17CE skimming across the bay

Yellowfin has a new and improved version of its 17 Skiff, the 17 CE (Carbon Elite), features the same simple, but functional and ergonomically designed deck layout as the original 17 Skiff, but with a new hull design and cutting-edge construction techniques and materials. It incorporates a deeper deadrise and sharper entry for long runs across choppy water, new molded-in spray rails, a single step in the boat’s running surface for greater speed and efficiency.


Hewes Redfisher 18 from the bow

This versatile, mid-sized skiff has been a prime choice of many backcountry anglers for decades. Recently redesigned, the Redfisher 18 now has a dedicated anchor locker, a new console that accommodates flush-mounted electronic displays up to 12 inches, and a clever cushion setup. The boat is now built using vacuum infusion (VARIS) for an even lighter, faster and stronger hull that is well balanced with either a 115 or 150 hp outboard. An optional backrest/step integrated into the poling tower provide added comfort and safety.

Xplor X7 running wide open

Xplor Boatworks’ newest skiff, the X7, combines a functional design topside and a smooth- and dry-running hull with performance pad and 7-degree deadrise at the transom. The X7 features numerous storage and livewell options, and boasts the newest design in integrated spray rails that channel water down and away from the boat while underway.


East Cape EVO on the flats

According to the folks at East Cape Skiffs, this flats boat was built to dominate South Florida’s flats fishing scene, much of which centers around the wide-open oceanside shallows of Biscayne Bay and the Keys, where stiff winds and a moderate chop are commonplace. Built to take sizeable waves while still providing a soft, comfortable ride, with its massive built-in spray rails keeping spray to an absolute minimum, the EVO is also fast, extremely maneuverable, and it floats and poles shallow enough to chase tailers pushing up the skinniest of waters. Dry storage is extensive, and the massive round livewell, conveniently located in the middle of the aft deck, enables anglers to carry a substantial supply of baitfish for live-baiting mangrove shorelines or inlets and passes. As with all East Cape Skiff models, every EVO is a custom build, and the layout may include anything from a side console to a tower with elevated helm, to the classic center console with bench-style seating or a removable leaning post.


Floyd Skiff 10 Weight beached

A collaboration between industry legend Chris Morejohn and Brian Floyd, the 10 Weight from Floyd Skiff Company reflects an original technical poling skiff design that will travers open water with ease and comfort, draft just 7 inches, and pole silently when stalking prey on the flats. It features a center console with seat, 30-gallon livewell, hydraulic steering, electric trim tabs, under-gunwale rod racks, and more.


Dolphin 17 Superskiff Pro docked

The hull, inner liner and deck are all made completely of composite materials and fused together for maximum strength and durability. The hull shape is a modified version of the high-performance deep-V from the 16-foot Super Skiff Pro, making the 17 a quick and nimble technical poling skiff that slices through a 2-foot chop and still poles in 8 inches of water. The oversize forward deck makes a perfect casting platform, while the in-floor cast-net and dry-storage compartments accommodate enough gear for 4 anglers. Fore- and aft-facing under-gunwale rod racks hold up to 10 rods. And the ergonomically designed helm seat behind the center console folds down to extend the aft deck for additional casting room. In addition, the 17 Superskiff Pro comes loaded with features like hydraulic steering, trim tabs, gas shocks on all hatches, a 32-gallon oval livewell with high-speed pick up and push-pole holders that increase comfort and make the boat a truly versatile fishing platform.


Action Craft 1820 ACE FlatsMaster idling

Featuring a high-performance, modified deep-V hull design, the midsize Action Craft 1820 ACE FlatsMaster promises a smooth, dry ride. Built with state-of-the-art construction techniques, and boasting Action Craft’s Pocket Drive, it navigates the shallows — powered by either outboard or push pole — extremely well. Anglers looking for a full-featured, high-quality, shallow-draft boat for coastal fishing will appreciate the 1820′s self-draining cockpit, wide gunwales, and long list of standard features, as well as enough room for the family to spend a day on the water.


Bonefish Bohemian 17 at the ramp

Built out of fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber, with integrated structural foam coring and three-piece construction bonded together, the Bohemian from Bonefish Boatworks is light and strong. It sports a stepped V-pad hull that allows the skiff to plane quicker, run faster and ride comfortably without the need for trim tabs, while its submerged reverse chines eliminate unwanted spray. Features include a giant forward storage compartment, plus two large ones on the rear deck, 6 under-gunwale rod tubes, and innovative in-floor storage in the cockpit to stash wet items.


Dragonfly Emerger heading out to fish

The Emerger from Dragonfly Boatworks is designed to be a light skiff for one or two anglers that provides a smooth, comfortable ride, plus access to the skinniest water. Available in either tiller or center-console versions, this 16-foot flats boat features a unique bottom configuration that lets anglers venture easily and stealthily into the whisper zone. It draws just 5 inches, hence the name Emerger.


Maverick Mirage 18 HPX-V cruising across the bay

Maverick’s top selling skiff, the Mirage 18 HPX-V is a stable, easy-to-pole skiff that tracks well, is quick out of the hole, and responsive and nimble on the turns, and remains pretty dry even in windy weather. The popular model includes walk-around gunwales with rod racks underneath, a taller console to house sizable electronics, vertical rod racks, and a removable cooler that doubles as a forward console seat. Twin compartments provide ample aft storage and bookend a 30-gallon livewell with dual in-flow system and raw-water, high-speed pickup.

Beavertail 17 Strike on the trailer

Beavertail considers this the Swiss Army Knife of its boat lineup. The builder claims it can take the rough oceanside conditions often encountered when targeting tarpon in Florida during the annual migration, and also run and pole easily on shallow, backcountry flats to stalk tailing redfish and bonefish. Stealth is a major virtue of the Strike, which Beavertail built to enable anglers to pole silently into position and cast to wary game fish with two to three anglers aboard. This third generation Beavertail was designed to deliver tons of storage and a truly dry ride, thanks to the huge flared bow inspired by Carolina sport fishing yachts. With a unique semi-tunnel hull, and rated for up to 90hp, the builder promises this boat will jump up and race across the skinniest flats without leaving you high-and-dry. Rod racks under both gunwales, trim tabs, jack plate with 4-inch setback, custom poling platform, and an 8-gallon crustacean well with clear lid to keep tabs on the bait are among the boat’s many features.


Ankona Advent cruising on glassy water

Built combining carbon fiber, Kevlar and vinylester resin, the lightweight Ankona Advent draws just 6 inches with two anglers and gear on board. Engineered with a variable-radius transom to enhance shallow-water performance, the hull incorporates sharp spray rails, inset tabs, and a stern pad for added dead rise and a more comfortable ride in a chop. The large, front casting deck with a molded hatch includes ample dry storage, while the specious aft deck includes two 10-gallon wells with angled hatches allows for easy access while in or out of the boat.


Islamorada Morada 18 rendering

With Carbon Innegra and resin-infusion construction, the Morada 18 poling skiff from Islamorada Boatworks offers a lightweight hull designed with 12 degrees of transom deadrise for a soft ride, and a side-hull feature to knock down spray. The outer chine is soft and sits below the waterline to avoid hull slap. The trim tabs are completely recessed to reduce line snags, and a crowned transom makes spinning the boat while poling easier and quieter.


Hewes Redfisher 16 running across the river

The completely redesigned, vacuum infused (VARIS) Redfisher 16 features Hewes’ famous ride. With outboards from 70 to 115 hp, this boat can cover lots of ground comfortably and safely, even in bigger water. The Redfisher 16 floats in 11 inches of water, can be effortlessly poled or fished with a trolling motor, and it easily fits in the garage. Its wide beam and walkaround gunwales offer an exceptionally stable fishing platform.

East Cape Fury ready for fishing

Much like the Vantage, East Cape’s largest skiff, the Fury sports a considerable bow flare and large spray rails incorporated into the hull to knock down any spray and keep anglers dry. The flare, which gradually lessens toward midship, enables a wide forward deck with sizeable storage despite the skiff’s small footprint. It also floats very shallow for an 18-footer. And lightweight and narrow at the waterline, the Fury glides and spins readily with little effort when poling, and it requires only a 60 hp motor to run in the mid 30s. A large livewell, rod tubes below the gunwales and additional dry storage in back are among the boat’s key features. As with all other East Cape models, all Fury skiffs are custom built, and a variety of configurations, with different consoles, seating, rod racks, poling and casting platforms, and even towers are available.

Spyder FX17 Flicker running to the flats

Like Spyder’s larger FX model, the 17-foot Flicker is built with biaxial fiberglass, premium resins, pressure-foamed stringer construction, Baltek foam coring and Nida-Core decks for superb strength without added weight. That lighter weight enables the skiff to achieve top performance with a smaller motor, it makes poling easy and rewards flats anglers with a 7-inch draft. The boat features in-deck storage fore and aft, including twin 70-quart outboard compartments and a livewell with high-speed pick up between them. Standard equipment includes under-gunwale racks for 4 rods, vertical racks for 4 rods on the console (2 on each side), 4-switch panel and trolling motor harness. The Redfish and Pro Flats packages offer a number of upgrades, including finished fiberglass hatches, hydraulic steering, hydraulic jack plate, trim tabs, LED cockpit lighting, a poling platform and more.


Hell's Bay Eldora poling the flats

The Eldora by Hell’s Bay Boatworks boats offers a durable build with a simple interior layout, spacious front deck, and wide-open cockpit. The patented hull design — derived from over 20 years of on-the-water experience — and advanced composites and Carbon Innegra construction were combined to afford flats anglers extremely shallow draft as well as whisper-quiet, easy-to-pole performance.


Action Craft 1720 Gen3 FlyFisher at speed

The 1720 FlyFisher offers flexibility and versatility for the light-tackle and fly fishing specialist. A radical, racy chine line, the signature of Action Craft’s exclusive Qui-Dry Hull, reduces fish-spooking hull slap when poling in the shallows, and ensures a remarkably dry ride when running in a heavy chop. A narrow console affords plenty of cockpit room, and wide, 13-inch gunwales provide for easy walk-around and loads of rod storage underneath. A bench-style seat with flip-down back rest is standard, and includes dry storage underneath for two trolling motor batteries. The livewell has recessed fittings to ensure bait remains alive and frisky.

Sterling 180 around grass flats

Sterling’s 180 flats boat is built with an exclusive HPIF process that provides high-pressure foam core, double-hull construction for outstanding strength and rigidity. The 180 is designed to cruise shallow water at speed, yet is silent when poling. Ultra-wide beam offers exceptional stability. Standard features include a self-bailing cockpit, multiple dry storage lockers, specially-made rod holders, angled to protect reels, and more.


Mitzi 17 Tournament at the dock

The top model in Mitzi’s family of skiffs, the 17 Tournament is built around the brand’s successful modified V-hull with a transom pocket and 11 degrees of deadrise at the transom, resulting in a zippy and agile shallow-drafting skiff that is easy pole. It features wide walk-around gunwales, three dry storage compartments (one fore and two aft), rod racks under both gunwales, vertical rack (for three rods) in the console, release well in the aft deck, console baitwell, and poling platform.


Maverick 17 HPX-S flying in the bay

The 17 HPX-S is touted by Maverick Boats as a skiff that floats in less than 6 inches of water, drives like a sports car while keeping its occupants dry and comfortable, and poles with precision and stealth. Its one-of-a-kind VARIS constructed Kevlar hull was designed by one of the most experienced teams in the business, with the latest in CAD-designed naval architecture, and advanced aeronautic technologies, to blend a smooth-running surface with poling performance for fishing in super-shallow water.

Hell’s Bay Professional running to the fishing grounds

Built for maximum versatility in a wide range of conditions and fishing situations, the Professional from Hell’s Bay Boatworks combines shallow draft, a dry and comfortable ride, and cutting-edge design. Developed for guides, tournament professionals, and hardcore enthusiasts, this Carbon Innegra-constructed skiff is one of the leading choices for anglers looking for no-holds-barred, performance in a shallow-water fishing machine.

Chittum Islamorada 18 Legacy launching at the ramp

Stealth and shallow draft are the cornerstones of this full size skiff, built on a patented hull that weighs a mere 400 pounds before rigging and incorporates massive built-in spray rails for a super dry ride, a staggered split chine below the waterline for silent poling, and a radius transom (with no sponsons) to prevent rebound waves that may spook fish. The 18 Legacy is offered in two hull forms: the S with 12-degree deadrise and the SS with 2-degree deadrise, both loaded with features like a “floating” center console with 360-degree toe kick and forward seat with a large insulated ice chest, hydraulic steering, trim tabs, two large aft dry storage lockers, aft anchor/dry storage compartment, 14-rod racks under the gunnels with rod tubes fore and aft, 30-gallon baitwell/release well, carbon-fiber poling platform with with SeaDek, LED lighting in all compartments, wells, console and under gunnels, custom stainless steel and aluminum trailer with walk boards, and more.


Action Craft 19 ACE FlatsMaster at anchor

The bow deck of the Action Craft’s 19 ACE FlatsMaster features a built-in, removable cooler and storage compartment, plus a round livewell and an anchor locker. The aft deck includes a large, oval livewell and two large storage compartments, one of which can be plumbed to serve as a release well. A full-width dry storage compartment is located below the cushioned bench seat, and features a backrest that folds down flat to extend the aft casting deck.

Bay Craft Bone Skiff 162 in the shallows

Designed for anglers who want ample storage and fishing room in an easy-store, shallow-water boat, Bay Craft’s Bone Skiff measures only 18.6 feet in length on a trailer with a swing-away tongue to fit easily in most garages. The boat’s 6-foot, 7.9-inch beam makes it one of the most stable fishing platforms in the industry, and its features include diamond nonskid throughout, all-composite construction, under-gunwale rod storage, self-bailing cockpit, and more.


Yellowfin 17 CC running under a bridge

The workmanship and attention to detail that go into Yellowfin’s offshore center consoles and bay boats is also evident in the 17 CC, the company’s technical poling skiff model. Weighing just 600 pounds, the boat is light and responsive on the pole and it tracks well. Aggressive pebble-style nonskid finish provides good traction even in wet conditions, and the integrated spray rails keep anglers dry during open-water crossings, so this is the kind of technical poling skiff that makes fishing on rough days easier. The boat features a low-profile side console, a cavernous 35-gallon livewell and under-gunwale storage for up to six fully rigged 9-foot fly rods. The cockpit drain system, a unique design feature, allows the boat to self-bail while underway and remain bone-dry at rest with the simple quick turn of the seacocks.

East Cape Vantage fishing the flats

At just over 19 feet, the Vantage has the length to reach the next wave without stuffing the bow when running in choppy, open water, which the V and the deadrise make quite comfortable. The bow flare and large spray rails smartly incorporated in the hull’s design allow the builder to tout the boat as the driest skiff in existence. Despite the 79-inch beam, relatively narrow for a 19-footer, the hull’s footprint is even smaller, helping the skiff attain high speeds, remain nimble and negotiate rough water with ease. When poling, the Vantage exhibits a smaller boat attitude. It tracks very well and spins readily without much effort. On top, the fore and aft casting decks are massive. A cavernous compartment in the front and two generous ones in the rear afford ample storage, and the deep gutters and thick gaskets ensure the contents stay dry. A huge livewell in the aft deck easily accommodates a pair of tournament winning fish or more than enough live bait to chum with. As is the case with other premium skiffs, every Vantage is custom built in a variety of configurations, with different consoles, seating, rod racks, poling and casting platforms, and even towers available, along with a wealth of options, like a hydraulic jack plate, shallow-water anchoring system and more.

Dolphin 18 Backcountry Pro on a glassy bay

Tarpon and backcountry guides from Jupiter to Key West have been fishing aboard the 18 Back Country Pro for over twenty years and brag about its stability in open bays and inlets, the way the deep-V hull cuts through a chop, and the 10-inches of water it only requires to float. With a maximum horsepower rating of 150, this boat tops at around 55 mph, so it’s easy to reach hot spots deep in the backcountry in time for the morning bite, and pick up the family to water ski or dive the patch reefs in the afternoon. Extensive standard features include waterproof switches with circuit breakers, hydraulic steering, trim tabs, cockpit lighting under gunnels and inside livewell and aft storage compartment, in-floor cast net compartment, large dry storage compartments fore and aft, 2 oval livewells (39 gallons combined) with high-speed pickup, storage racks with tubes for 10 rods under the gunnels, poling Platform, recessed push-pole holders, and more.

Beavertail 18 Air running fast

The Beavertail Air was designed to handle the big water of open bays, yet still access the shallow flats where trophy fish live. Built with tournament anglers at heart, the Air sports 360 degrees of fishability, loads of dry storage, and offers an optional 25-gallon release well. Constructed with the most advanced coring & carbon kevlar materials, the hull is infused to create a solid, yet lightweight structure able to take on the toughest of conditions and still float skinny. And with a full stepped hull and a maximum power rating of 115 horses, Beavertail says the 18-foot Air will get you to the fishing grounds and back fast, dry and in comfort. Key standard features include a large forward casting deck with anchor locker, forward large dry-storage compartment, 30-gallon insulated livewell, two large aft storage compartments which can be plumbed as release wells, trim tabs, jack plate, center console with insulated cooler under forward jump seat, hydraulic steering, under-gunnel rod racks for rods up to 10 feet long, and custom poling platform.

Egret 167 poling flats

The smaller sibling to Egret’s signature 189 model is still a sizable platform for inshore anglers to navigate in comfort and fish shallow flats unencumbered. Like the larger 189, this boat reaches considerable speeds and takes on big, open water with gusto. Thanks to the 167′s design, materials and construction, every one that leaves the factory is as light and strong as possible. The hull was design to provide a soft, dry ride, and still float and pole surprisingly skinny. Dry storage at the bow and the rear is both generous and easy to access. Rod lockers along both gunwales include racks that cradle rods pointing fore and aft and prevent tangles. A Ritchie compass, an aluminum poling platform with welded rod holders, trim tabs, hydraulic steering, push-pole holders, cockpit lighting and engine gauges are part of the many standard features.


Dragonfly Grand Slam 17 in the bay

The combination of classic lines and innovative features really sets the Grand Slam 17 apart. The design incorporates many of yesteryear’s eye-pleasing lines in a skiff built with the latest technology to offer comfort and versatility, performing at the level professional guides and serious flats anglers demand. Whether poling in skinny water or storming across an open bay to the next fishing spot, this Dragonfly is sure to please. The skiff is finely tuned and balanced for easy and quiet poling. There’s ample storage, and a recessed shelf keeps batteries secure and out of the way while affording complete access to the front locker and the trolling motor connections. The Sportfishing Console, a popular option, includes 6 integrated upright rod holders and a slide-out drawer to keep essentials at arms length but out of the elements. Recessed grab handles, oversize cockpit drains plumbed directly to the bilge, a Simpson bracket that makes servicing the bilge pump a cinch, recessed push-pole holders that flip up and retract in unison, and a 22-gallon oval livewell with clear lid and LED underwater lights are among the many other smart appointments available.

Hell's Bay Biscayne running through shallows

Designed to provide a comfortable ride while crossing rough water oceanside or across open bays and still pole over shallow flats with ease, the Biscayne may be Hell Bay’s most versatile flats skiff. Its Kevlar hull is designed with a small footprint and a sharp entry to cut through a chop, with spray rails incorporated to ensure the ride is always dry, even in open water. Vacuum-bagged Core-Cell construction throughout make the skiff strong and tough while keeping the weight down. The flat transom allows the poler to spin the skiff quickly and sharply, while a large hatch up front and a pair of smaller shotgun-style hatches in the rear provide access to generous dry storage compartments. All hatches include a slam-latch design, which locks down the hatch as you close it for extra security and peace of mind. Under-gunwale rod racks accommodate seven fly rods, and the top surface of the standard poling platform comes covered in SeaDek for added comfort.

Sterling TR7 in profile

This unique skiff incorporates a non-slap hull design that makes it a stealthy fishing platform, with a tunnel that runs the entire length of the boat, allowing the motor to be set higher and run at high speed in ankle-deep water. The tunnel also acts as a keel during high-speed turns and helps the boat track straight while poling. Like all Sterling models, the TR7 is built using a proprietary, three-piece construction process whereby the outer hull and inner liner are bonded together, injected with foam flotation under high pressure and then chemically bonded together with the cap to form one solid piece. The boat is made entirely of carbon fiber and Kevlar, delivering a hull weight of just over 500 pounds. Standard features include the poling platform, trim tabs, hydraulic jack plate, a 10-gallon baitwell and 25-gallon release well, removable backrest, LED courtesy lights and a custom Ameritrail aluminum trailer.

Spyder FX19 Vapor heading out for fishing

With a length of 19 feet and a narrow beam of 6 feet, 11 inches, the FX19 Vapor requires less power to achieve top performance. The long planing pad and transom pocket increase its shallow-water capability. The boat is responsive on the run and takes tight turns as if it were on rails. It also glides and spins easily with the push pole, with hull slap negligible at worst. There’s a 100-quart insulated fish box in the forward deck to ice down the day’s catch and three 70-quart storage compartments, two of them located aft, bookending a release well with high-speed pickup. The Vapor also comes pre-wired for a trolling motor, with a molded pad on the bow to accommodate a quick-release mount, and rod racks — carpeted and recessed — under the gunwales. Finished fiberglass hatches, upgraded vertical console racks for 6 rods, cockpit and baitwell lighting, and a removable folding backrest are included with the Redfish or Pro Flats packages. The latter also includes a poling platform with hinged legs so it lies forward when servicing the motor.

Mako 18 LTS in a glassy bay

The 18 LTS is a clean, simple and well-executed boat that excels at many things. The foredeck is accented with a nice toe rail and incorporates a large casting platform with a sizeable dry-storage compartment underneath. There is a place for an optional trolling motor on the foredeck and a large anchor locker forward with a double-sided hatch and a gasket to keep water out. There are three vertical rod holders on each side of the console, and the cushioned forward console seat houses an 18-gallon aerated livewell. The business side of the console has a panel for flush-mounting electronics, a side-mount binnacle control to save dash space, and a gauge cluster that’s easily read in front of the helm. The console seat is a 72-quart cushioned cooler with a flip-flop backrest, so you can sit facing aft when drifting and lean back. Along with a long list of standard features, every 18 LTS comes with a trailer, and Mako also offers a wealth of options to rig out the boat for any situation.


Skull Island 16 off a small cay

Made from 100 percent vinylester resin and a combination of aerospace-grade closed-cell foam, woven fiberglass and Kevlar cloth, and the builder’s proprietary laminate schedule, the Skull Island 16 achieve an impressive strength-to-weight ration. The sharp forward entry with the wide flare of large Carolina-style game boats and integrated spray rails results in smooth, dry runs. A unique transom feature allows the engine to be mounted higher for increased shallow-water performance, while the lightweight, non-slap hull design makes poling truly effortless. The boat spins on a dime, and its 60-inch beam enables anglers to explore narrow creeks inaccessible to larger skiffs. The Skull Island offers spacious, double-gasketed storage compartments fore and aft, a large self-draining cockpit, under-gunwale racks for six 9-foot rods and a variety of cockpit configurations, including center-console and tiller setups. A powder-coated 12-gallon aluminum fuel tank and trim tabs are also standard, with an extensive list of options available.


Egret 189 carving turns

There’s no doubt this is a premier flats boat. The builder’s quality construction, superb fit and finish and great attention to detail are evident. The hull design provides a soft, dry ride, and surprisingly shallow draft. It’s also capable of considerable speeds and safe, comfortable runs in big, open water. Dry storage fore and aft is extensive and easily accessible. Rod lockers along both gunwales are impressive, designed to prevent tangles while safely cradling rods pointing in both directions. The tinned wiring and electrical connections are clean, well-organized and finished with heat shrink to prevent corrosion. Standard features include a Ritchie compass, hydraulic steering, trim tabs, push-pole holders and a poling platform. An extensive list of options include a casting platform, console vertical rod racks, flush-mount rod holders on the gunwales, on-board battery charger, bow-mount trolling motor and more.

Bluewater 180 Pro overhead

A semi-custom boat designed to bridge the gap between a flats boat and a bay boat . Aided by lifting pads amidships, a unique design feature in the boat’s hull, the Bluewater 180 offers top performance and excellent range. Generous dry storage compartments are fully finished, and deep gutters keep water from seeping in. Walk-around gunnels are complemented with rod racks underneath, and the 30-gallon livewell with rounded corners comes plumbed to circulate water from the bottom up to ensure good flow of raw water and keep live bait nice and frisky. And a wealth of additional fishing features, both standard and optional, meet the demands of even the most hardcore shallow water angler.


Dragonfly Classic 17 nearshore

The Dragonfly’s sensuous curves evoke memories of classic yacht design, like the mahogany sportfishers of yesteryear. Only this flats skiff is constructed of tough, modern materials in a perfect blend of tradition and the latest technology. The long list of standard features includes safe-tee steering, Lenco trim tabs, plumbed livewell with quick change pump, poling platform, recessed push-pole holders and hand holds, and rod storage below the gunwales.

Hell's Bay Marquesas in shallow water

The Marquesa from Hell’s Bay Boatworks is designed to float in only 7 inches, and comfortably handle bigger water and more anglers, with a running pad that increases the hull’s running speed and improves tracking and spinning while poling. The front deck is designed free of snags, with plenty of room for a casting platform and substantial dry storage underneath. In the rear, a large livewell fills the needs of live-bait and release tournament anglers, and twin storage compartments hide under hatches that allow easy access from every direction.

Action Craft 1600 FlatsPro idling

The 1600 FlatsPro is yet another model from Action Craft to rank among today’s best flats skiffs. While designed for shallow water use, this 16-footer is US Coast Guard-rated to carry up to five people—more than many larger flats boat models, with storage capacity also substantial. Stability is a key feature of top flats boats and, thanks to its 14-degree transom deadrise and 7-foot beam, the 1600 FlatsPro is super stable. Action Craft also offers multiple seating options to increase the comfort level onboard, including a bench-style helm seat with flip-up backrest that folds flats with the aft deck for fishing, and a raised console with leaning-post seating for better visibility when cruising or scouting for fish. Under-gunwale rod racks and spacious fore and aft casting decks, both boasting a livewell topping 20 gallons, are among the many fishing amenities.

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Shallow vs Deep vs Shoal Draft. Boat Draft Explained

shallow draft vs deep draft

When it comes to buying a boat there are lots of different types to choose from, with what seems like an overwhelming number of different design characteristics. Arguably the most important thing to consider though is whether the boat has a shallow draft or a deep draft.

But what on earth do these terms mean and which one is best for you?

Boat draft – shallow vs deep vs shoal

Advantages of a shallow draft boat, disadvantages of a shallow draft boat, advantages of a deep draft boat, disadvantages of a deep draft boat, advantages of shoal draft, disadvantages of shoal draft, shallow draft hull designs, deep draft hull designs, how to decide between a shallow draft, deep draft boat or shoal draft boat.

Shallow draft and deep draft refer to the depth of the lowest part of a boat.

A shallow draft boat has a bottom that lies not far below the waterline and is usually flat with no keel.

Deep draft refers to a boat with a bottom that lies much further below the waterline. However, a deep draft boat’s lowest point may be a keel that lies even lower in the water.

Shoal draft can be considered a hybrid design of shallow and deep draft boats.

Each draft type has advantages and disadvantages which I cover below.

Shallow draft vs deep draft vs shoal draft

For people new to boating the vast amount of features in boat design that are available can overwhelming and making a choice between those designs can be a daunting task.

Although there are an array of different features available on different boat types by far the most important choice you will make as a new boat owner is deciding between a boat with a shallow draft or one with a deep draft.

Because the choice you make will determine where you can use your boat.

Not all boats can navigate the same waters! The draft of a boat determines where it can be used.

The draft of a boat is usually determined by how deep in the water the bottom of the boat sits.

Although it is usually the bottom of the boat that determines its draft sometimes additional things need to be considered.

For example, if a boat has a fin keel that extends much lower than the boat’s bottom then this will determine the boat’s draft rather than the bottom of the hull. Don’t worry, this will all make more sense as you progress through this article.

To understand the difference between deep draft and shallow draft I will give a brief explanation of what each one is, along with its advantages and disadvantages.

shallow draft boat in shallow water

Shallow draft explained

I’ve already mentioned that draft refers the depth of the lowest point of a boat. So, what is shallow draft?

On a shallow draft boat this is almost always the boat’s bottom as a shallow draft boat will usually have a flat bottom with no keel. There are exceptions, such as a keel on a shallow draft canoe , but these are not important for understanding the basic principles.

If we take a Jon boat as an example of a shallow draft vessel we can see that its hull design has a flat bottom .

This flat bottom sits just a few inches below the waterline.

In other words, there is only a few inches depth of water between where the boat meets the water and the bottom of the boat which means the boat has a very shallow draft.

The depth of the bottom of the boat is also uniform across the width of the boat and most of its length  – thus forming a solid flat surface that basically sits on the water. This means a shallow draft boat can navigate very shallow waters. Very shallow draft boats, like a Jon boat, can navigate waters that are only a few inches deep.

If you haven’t realized already there are some key advantages to having a boat with a shallow draft.

The 2 major advantages of having a shallow draft boat are:

  • In calm water the flat bottom hull makes the boat exceptionally stable and comfortable to ride in.
  • The shallow draft allows the boat to navigate very shallow waters without the worry of snagging the boat on rocks or debris.

But as with everything in life there are cons as well as pros to having a boat with a shallow draft.

The 2 major disadvantages of having a shallow draft boat are:

  • In choppy water and windy conditions the boat can become unstable.
  • The boat is not seaworthy. It can only be used in the ocean close to the shoreline and in optimal weather conditions. A shallow draft boat cannot handle waves. In strong winds and choppy ocean water it will almost definitely capsize. There are exceptions such as a catamaran and some Jon boat owners take their vessels on the ocean but for the most part shallow draft vessels are not seaworthy.

eep draft v-shape hull

Deep draft explained

What is deep draft?

Deep draft refers to a boat that sits much deeper in the water.

Although a boat with a deep draft will have a hull bottom that sits lower in the water than a shallow draft boat, the bottom of the vessel may not always be the boat’s lowest point. A keel may extend much deeper into the water to offer a seaworthy vessel more stability in very turbulent water thus creating an even deeper draft.

Just like a shallow draft boat has advantages and disadvantages so too does a deep draft boat.

Deep draft vessels have some key advantages over a shallow draft vessel.

The 2 major advantages of having a deep draft boat are:

  • The boat very stable in choppy waters.
  • The boat is seaworthy and can easily handle waves, thus allowing you to go in the ocean regardless of the conditions.

Of course there are disadvantages to owning a deep draft boat as well.

The 2 major disadvantages of having a deep draft boat are:

  • A deep draft boat is not as comfortable to ride in.
  • A deep draft boat is restricted to deep waters such as the ocean or very deep lakes and therefore is not suitable for most inland waterways.

Shoal draft explained

There is also something known as shoal draft.

Boats with shoal draft are much less common than the other two types.

A shoal draft boat is one which has a shallower draft than other boats of comparable size.

To read more about shoal draft read my article on the topic here .

When you want the best of both shallow and deep draft worlds then a shoal draft boat is what you need.

The 2 major advantages of having a shoal draft boat are:

  • The boat can be used to navigate through shallower bodies of water than a standard deep draft ocean-going vessel.  This allows the boat access to the shoals or shoreline.
  • The keel is long enough to provide a safe trip across deep open waters such as the ocean.

Of course there are also disadvantages to owning a shoal draft boat.

The 2 major disadvantages of having a shoal draft boat are:

  • The boat does not have as much stability, especially in very choppy water, as a deep draft vessel. Ocean sailing is not as safe or comfortable as it would be in a deep draft boat.
  • Access to the shallows is limited. although a shoal draft boat can gain access to shallower areas than a deep draft boat, most inland waterways are too shallow for this craft.

How draft is determined by hull design

It is the lowest point of a boat, as it sits in the water, which determines whether a boat has a shallow draft or deep draft. But, although it may be the lowest point of the boat that determines its draft but this is not the only difference between shallow draft and deep draft boats.

Shallow draft boats and deep draft boats also have different hull designs.

Although you will come across variations to the hull designs shown in the image below, the five basic designs I have given will give you an idea of how the bottom of boats are constructed. The catamaran shown in the image is a special type of pontoon boat .

typical hull designs

The main contributing factor to the draft of a shallow draft boat is its hull design, specifically the bottom of the boat. This is because a shallow draft boat will almost never have a keel. A keel is designed to give a boat more stability in turbulent water and as a shallow draft boat is designed to be used on calm water a keel is unnecessary.

So, the lowest point of a shallow draft boat is almost always the bottom of the hull.

However, if you fit an outboard engine onto your boat then you must take into consideration the depth of the propeller when attempting to navigate shallow waters. Many Jon boat owners will keep some form of manual propulsion onboard, such as a paddle or pole , for use in very shallow waters or when approaching river banks etc.

A boat with the shallowest draft will always have a flat bottom.

A flat bottom gives a boat great stability in calm water and creates its shallow draft as the large surface area at the bottom of the boat forces the boat to “sit on” the water rather than to “sit in” the water.

However, not all shallow draft boats have a flat bottom. A pontoon boat has a fairly shallow draft which means it can access much shallower water than a deep draft boat like a v-hull for example. A semi-v hull boat, likewise, can access fairly shallow waters and navigate waters where a deep draft boat could not go. Its semi-v bottom gives it more stability in choppy waters than a flat-bottomed boat though.

However, neither a pontoon boat nor a semi-v boat can access the type of very shallow waters that a flat bottom boat can.

shallow draft hull designs

A seafaring boat, or one that regularly navigates choppy turbulent waters, needs much more stability for handling rougher waters. Obviously this means a flat bottom hull design would be unsuitable.

A deep draft boat will therefore have either a deep round bottom or a deep “V” shaped bottom so it sits deeper in the water.

Ocean going vessels will also usually be equipped with a deep keel to offer even more stability in very turbulent water.

deep draft hull designs

If you are unsure about which draft type best suits your needs simply ask yourself this question:

Where will I use my boat?

Answering this question will let you decide which draft type is the best fit for you.

As you have already seen, navigating shallow rivers, streams and lakes requires a shallow draft boat while navigating open choppy water, like the ocean, requires a boat with a much deeper draft.

So, if you intend to stick to inland waterways for freshwater fishing, hunting or you just want to enjoy leisurely trips up and down rivers and streams then it is best to get a shallow draft flat bottom boat.

Inland waterways tend to be calm and have at least a few stretches of water, if not the entire waterway, that is too shallow for a deep draft boat.

On the other hand, if you plan to take to the ocean then a shallow draft boat is not a good idea. You will need a deep draft boat with a keel for more stability in turbulent waters.

If you want to have the option of deep open sea access but would also like to navigate the shoals or wish to hug the coastline tightly then a shoal draft boat is your best choice.

Mick McGrath

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Cabot Lyman and his family have had a working relationship with designer Ted Fontaine for nearly thirty years. The relationship started in 1983 when Fontaine, while managing the Ted Hood Design Group, drew the lines for the 55' ketch JANMAR for a customer of Cabot’s.

After completing JANMAR, Cabot approached Fontaine to design the Sequin 49, an aft cockpit, shallow-draft centerboard ocean voyager. Five were built including Cabot and Heidi Lyman's own CHEWINK, a boat built for him and his family to sail around the world with his young family. In fact, Cabot and Heidi just returned from a month aboard CHEWINK in the Caribbean.

In 1991, after returning from the family sailing sojourn Lyman continued the relationship with the newly established Fontaine Design Group collaborating on three highly respected cruising yachts including the building of the 60' aft cockpit cruising sloop WINDWALKER. Upon completion of WINDWALKER, work commenced on building the composite hull, deck and internal structure for Dana and Martha Robe's 65' pilothouse sloop SARA JANE.

The most recent Lyman-Morse/Fontaine Design Group collaboration was the well-known AMELIA. Launched in 2002, she is a 63' center cockpit pilothouse design. Featuring, a shallow draft keel centerboard hull form, AMELIA is a fast and comfortable sailing platform.

We are pleased to announce that this proven and successful hull shape has been lengthened to 67’ and is available now as a semi-custom series – the A 2 .

Built to Lyman-Morse’s exacting standards, A 2 will be fast, comfortable, and long-legged, destined for anything from high latitude adventure sailing to island hopping in the Med or Caribbean or Maine. A 2 has an attractive profile, one that blends a low coachroof, center cockpit design with an attractive pilothouse with full standing headroom. The low profile pilothouse design is still unique because of the comfort and security provided by the low profile roof top. In fact, the top of the pilothouse is so low one can easily see over the top while standing or seated at the helm.

The pilothouse is arranged with forced hot air heating and air conditioning as well as an abundant amount of natural ventilation; with two opening hatches and two removable windows aft making her close to a convertible top.  The center cockpit arrangement is a refinement of the many successful Little Harbor center cockpits that Ted Fontaine designed with all of the sail control lines led aft to the primary and secondary winches, both of which are within easy reach of the helmsman position behind the wheel.

The deck arrangement has been drawn to be as simple to sail as she will be to maintain.  Originally conceived as a low-maintenance deck with no varnished teak, the builder and designer could not resist adding a bit of varnished teak nosing to the pilothouse and coach roof as well as the teak cap rail to the bulwark.  The net result is undoubtedly worth the effort.

Because of her roots as a long distance family cruiser, the ocean going interior is arranged to provide comfort afloat for up to six passengers in three double cabins.  The large main salon is accessed via the center line passage from the pilothouse.  Stepping down three steps, one finds oneself in a wide open salon area with convertible dining table to starboard that folds away neatly into a lounging cocktail table.  The interior decor is comprised of lightly painted bead board trimmed elegantly with glossy varnished mahogany.  Intricate beading along the perimeter of all doors and drawers provides a classical detailing to the interior joinery.  The main salon leads to the two symmetrical guest cabins.  Each features generously sized upper and lower berths and each cabin is outfitted with shared center line bureaus, a design perfected on the many Little Harbors penned by the Fontaine Group.  Each guest cabin has its own en suite facilities and appropriately sized hanging lockers.

Aft of the main salon along the port side one passes through a galley more typically found on yachts of much larger size.  Beautifully sculpted joinery, abundant counter space, a four burner stove located outboard with a double under-hung stainless steel sink inboard are all components of an excellent sea going galley. The galley is equipped with enough freezer and refrigeration space to keep a young family of six well fed for months at a time. 

Opposite the large front opening refrigerator/freezer space, one finds a detailed electrical panel and large watertight door that leads into the walk-in engine room.  It is truly amazing what the designers have fit into this 67’ design.  Most yachts this size are designed with only the interior accommodations in mind.  Fontaine and his team have been able to achieve an excellent accommodations plan while providing an almost commercial quality to the engine room space.  Not one but two or even three people can fit within the engine room where access is provided by walk-through doors from the galley or aft owner’s shower.

The new design boasts additional waterline length added to create a more comfortable and voluminous aft cabin. The owner’s cabin is located aft of the galley where the motion in heavy weather is more comfortable.  The cabin is fit with an oversized center line walk around double berth with settees port and starboard.  The owner’s aft cabin is large and airy with cleverly placed hull ports and deck hatches.  

The design brief called for a yacht that could go anywhere with a high level of performance and comfort.  She will be as light as is practical considering the stores and sea kindliness that Lyman-Morse has come to expect on a yacht destined for global travel.

An all up displacement of 60,000 lbs. fully loaded, of which 22,000 lbs. is positioned down low in an externally cast bulb keep, a carbon fiber mast with in boom furling systems and optional carbon rigging will provide exciting sailing performance. 

Of course one can always design lighter, narrower, faster yachts, but the objective with this design was to make the fastest boat possible considering the requirements for a shallow draft hull, three private interior cabins, a walk in engine room space, comfort, sea kindliness, and extended range. 

A deep hydro-dynamically shaped centerboard extends the draft from the 6.5’ fixed draft to over 12’ when lowered, enabling excellent upwind sailing angles while minimizing wetted surface off the wind.  A retractable hydraulic bow thruster is fitted forward in the forepeak allowing for easier maneuvering in tight quarters.

Please contact us  for more details and pricing.


Principal Dimensions

65 starboard rendering

www.fontainedesigngroup.com Copyright © 2012 Fontaine Design Group

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  23. Shallow Draft Elevating Boats

    Shallow Draft Elevating Boats, Inc. (504) 682 - 2100. 1035 Hwy 39. Braithwaite, La 70040. click here to view our fleet. vessels. let's us help you today!!! 40 years of experience with the safest record in the business! Talk to us about your upcoming projects! Shallow Draft Elevating Boats, Inc.