The difference between Powerboat and Motorboat Training

In the RYA training world we often talk about Powerboat Training (Level 1, Level 2, Intermediate, Tender Operator and Advanced) and Motor Cruising Training (Helmsman’s, Day Skipper Power, Coastal Skipper Power and Yachtmaster Power).

What is the difference between a Powerboat and a Motorboat

We are often asked this question. There is no exact definition so we have produced some guidance;

Feature Powerboat Motorboat
Onboard sleeping accommodation Not usually as a powerboat is usually an open boat. Yes, there will be a sleeping facilities on board such that a couple or even a family of four could live aboard for several days, rather akin to being in a caravan.
Chart-table on board Not usually. Yes there will be somewhere where the skipper can consult navigational publications undercover. On a small motorboat this may be the saloon table.
Engine(s) Normally outboard petrol engine(s) but can be inboard, petrol or diesel. Can be single or twin. Usually inboard diesel. Usually shaft or stern drive. Can be single or twin, may also have a bow and/or stern thruster.
Heads (toilet) Not normally. Yes there will usually be a “heads” on board
Boat length Typically 3.5m – 10m but can be bigger Typically 7.5m – 24m.
RIB or Hard Boat Either. Usually a hard boat typically GRP, but can be timber, steel or aluminium).
Galley Not usually, Yes there will be somewhere where you can store food and prepare basic meals, this will usually include a kettle, a fridge, hob(s) and a sink.







Powerboat or Motorboat?

There are of course some boats that sit on the cusp between a powerboat and a motorboat, here are a couple of examples.

Axopar 28

Axopar 28

At first glance the Axopar has some of the features common to powerboats, it looks like a large powerboat. It is 8.5m and powered by petrol outboard engines. However if we look closer we see it has cabin space, can sleep two people, has a heads (toilet), a nav area and can be used as a live aboard boat for a few days. On balance we would consider this more of a motorboat. If asked to deliver own boat tuition we would discuss what the owner wants to do with the boat but would be more likley to  recommend the  Helmsman’s and Day Skipper Power courses for the owner.

Bayliner VR5

This Bayliner has a small forward cabin with a berth which will sleep two, however it does not have a galley, it is an open boat and while it has some traits of a motor boat we consider it a powerboat and suitable for the RYA Powerboat Level 2.

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