Although the term "pleasure boat" is widely used, it is not defined by statute. Under federal law, the term of choice is "recreational vessel" which is defined as a vessel manufactured or operated primarily for pleasure. A pleasure boat is generally defined as any vessel which is not engaged in commercial activities.

A pleasure boat is used for personal recreational weekend fun. Smaller boats are often trailered to many different locations providing a wide variety of places to see and go, while larger boats are normally kept at a marina. They are not necessarily designed for speed, although some can reach respectable speeds.

Common activities include cruising offshore or inland for sight seeing and towing for recreational watersports such as tubing or waterskiing. Often they are used for casual fishing and frequently they include accommodation for use while docked or on an overnight stay.

Pleasure boat styles include runabouts with small cabins or open-bow areas, deck boats, small cruisers, and large yachts which can be live aboards with multiple cabins and deluxe accommodations. The term yacht generally applies to lengths of 36 feet or more with sufficient comfortable living space for several days of pleasure cruising.

Ninety percent of Americans live less than an hour from a navigable body of water and one of the top reasons for boating is simply because it’s so much fun. Boating can improve your quality of life, goes a long way towards reducing stress, and provides the perfect way for relaxing with family and friends.

A safety reminder for pleasure boats, your boat in front of a large commercial ship or barge may not be seen from the bridge of the larger vessel. You could be in there blind spot, and even if the see you it may be hard for them to avoid you. They cannot turn on a dime and it takes a lot of distance to get a large vessel stopped. Give them wide berth for your own safety.

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Boating America Guide to Inland Lakes and Rivers
National Boat Owners Association
United States Power Squadron - The largest boating safety instruction site.
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