What is a Boats Draft?

boat draft beneath water

To new boaters, boating is an activity that seems to come with a brand-new language to learn. Even the sides of the boat have different names. These include the starboard, port, stern, and bow. The center part of the boat is called the amidship. The names for the different sides can even be combined to the port bow, port quarter, starboard quarter, and starboard bow.

Movement throughout the boat also has special names. Walking or moving toward the stern, or back of the boat is referred to as “going aft.” Moving forward is referred to as “being underway.”

While some boating terms may seem like useless jargon, there are several terms that you should pay attention to, especially as a new boater. One of the top terms you should learn is “draft.” What’s a draft, you may ask. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a boat’s draft.

What Does Draft Mean When Boating?

When you purchase a boat or watercraft, you’ll likely learn about the different specs. These may include the hull length of the boat, the beam, seating capacity, the type of engine, and max ballast. However, a key spec you’ll need to pay attention to is the draft of the boat, which is also sometimes called the “draw”.

To put it simply, a boat’s draft is the distance from the water line to the deepest point of the boat that sits in the water. Since boats can get damaged by scraping along the seafloor, the draft is often treated as the minimum water depth that the boat can travel through.

What’s The Deepest Point of a Boat?

The draft is the deepest point of a boat. Yet the draft doesn’t necessarily mean the deepest point of the hull, which is considered the bottom of the boat.

Whether the draft applies to the hull depends on the type of boat. Inboard propulsion boats often have the rudder or propeller sitting deepest in the water so the draft will be measured based on the depth that part sits in the water. Sterndrives and outboard boats mean that the drive can be lowered into the water or above the water. For these types of watercraft, the draft is measured from both the lowest point of the hull (also called the keel) and the bottom of the propeller.

Most cruisers and runabouts will have a larger draft of 2.5 feet to 3 or 4 feet. On the other hand, smaller boats like skiffs and bay boats may have a draft of a few inches to a foot and a half. Pontoon boats and boats with a flat hull tend to have less of a draft whereas boats with a v-shaped hull will sit deeply in the water.

When it comes to the draft, think of the manufacturer’s listed draft as a minimum draft for the watercraft. This is because once the boat is loaded up with people, gear, coolers, and fuel, it will be heavier and sit lower into the water. Additionally, there may be rocks and debris along the seafloor. Because of this, it’s best to add a foot or two to the draft to be careful.

When Does Draft Matter?

The draft is important to know for whenever the boat is in shallow water. While boaters may not plan to drive the boat through shallow water, sometimes the water in the harbor, by boat launches, or next to a dock can be shallow.

Hagadone Marine Group

Take the guesswork out of what draft is right for you and your needs. At Hagadone Marine Group, we offer a fully customizable Build-A-Boat program. In our Build-A-Boat program, our sales team will help you design a customized boat for your water sport and recreational needs. Our sales team can also help you select from our selection of new and used boats and help you determine how deep of a draft is needed for your fun on the water. Learn more by visiting us today in Coeur d’Alene, at 1000 S. Marina Dr.