Classes of Boats

Boats are identified in classes by length. Federal and state laws require certain equipment aboard boats depending on the class or length of the boat. Learn about different classes of boats and how to measure vessel size.

Fishing Boat Sizes

Boats are divided into four length classes:

  • Class A Vessels: These classes of vessels have less than 16 feet in length.
  • Class I Vessels: These classes of vessels range from 16 feet to no more than 26 feet in length.
  • Class II Vessels: These classes of vessels range from 26 feet to no more than 40 feet in length.
  • Class III Vessels: These classes of vessels range from 40 feet to no more than 65 feet in length.

Measuring Vessel Length

The length of a fishing vessel is measured from the tip of the bow in a straight line to the stern. This does not include outboard motors, brackets, rudders, bow attachments, wake board towers or swim platforms and ladders that are not a molded part of the hull.

Watch the video below for more information.

Fishing Boat Capacity

Always check the capacity plate, which is usually found near the operator’s position or on the vessel’s transom. This plate indicates the maximum weight capacity and maximum number of people that the vessel can carry safely.

Always follow the recommended capacity in the owner’s manual and on the manufacturer’s warning decal.

Check this boat comparison tool from Discover Boating to compare all types of fishing boats.