Difference Between Boat and Ship (With Table)

Almost all of us have seen movies and documentaries with large ships and a number of boats in them and how they function in a very deep sea of water. Although it can be said that these two are very similar, but certain differences still lie between the two. 

However, one thing to emphasize is that there is no such prescribed difference between these two. We just tend to differentiate between them based on their features and attributes.

Boat vs Ship  

The difference between Boat and Ship is that the former denotes a water vessel of relatively small size with less capable of carrying goods and people while on the contrary, the latter denotes that water vessel that happens to be vast in size and allows more goods and persons to be transported by way of it. Not just this, but a lot of differences between the two can be found in their other features as well. 

A Boat is usually defined as a watercraft or a water vessel that operates in deep water but not too deep. They are mostly seen in water bodies like lakes, rivers, and other small-sized bodies. The presence of boats at sea happens to be very rare and is used as backup support mostly. A number of boats across the world can be seen varying in their built design, the material used, and the purpose they seek to serve. 

A Ship, on the other hand, is nothing but a bigger version of a Boat in simple words. This watercraft can only be noticed operating in deep seas and oceans only as their size does not allow them to be operated in small water bodies. They fulfill a number of purposes, from fishing to transport and from research to defense. In most cases, a ship contains a certain number of boats with it to cope with any emergency that may arise. 

Comparison Table Between Boat and Ship 

Parâmetros de comparação Boat Ship  
Tamanho  It is a water vessel of a small size. It is a water vessel of comparatively large size and happens to be giant in appearance. 
Operational area This is majorly operated in lakes or rivers. This is only operated in oceans and seas. 
Crew  This can be operated by just one person also and does not require a complete team. This is operated by a team of trained professionals and uses a captain for guidance. 
Navigation technology It uses simple and non-complex technology to find its ways to shore. It uses relatively complex technology because of being operative in heavy areas such as oceans. 
Construção  This is constructed in a very simple manner and rarely involves many technicalities. This is constructed in a very complex and completely structured manner to prevent it from malfunctioning and to ensure that it sails smoothly. 
Capacidade  Less vessel capacity. More vessel capacity 
Purposes served  Usually utilized for fishing, traveling in small areas, etc. This is used as a piece of defense equipment, a transportation medium, a fishing and processing plant, etc. 

What is Boat? 

A Boat can be termed as a watercraft or water vessel that resembles a ship to some extent but exists in a very small size compared to a Ship. They can be seen easily in small water bodies such as lakes, rivers, etc.  

A Boat can easily be operated by just one person also and does not require a complete team. This happens because of its small size, and usually, only one sailor is seen sailing a boat in many areas. However, in certain situations, this sailor is accompanied by a few more people. 

The boat can be of two types mainly. One is the category that can be operated by human resources, and the other is the category that requires fuel to run. It uses simple and non-complex technology to find its ways to shore and is constructed in a very simple manner and rarely involves many technicalities. Boats usually serve the following purposes- 

  • Used for fishing 
  • Used for transport 
  • Used in games and adventure 
  • Used as a tourist attraction 
  • Used as lifesaver boats. 

What is Ship? 

Defined by the name, a Ship refers to that category of watercraft that happens to be giant in size and serves bigger and more important functions. Because of having huge size, it is made by many complex and structured technologies and has a very complex structure. 

A Ship requires a whole crew to be present on it to maintain its performance. This crew is accompanied by one or more captains and sails through international waters. This is constructed in a very complex and completely structured manner to prevent it from malfunctioning and to ensure that it sails smoothly. 

In the 15th century, ships were first seen out in the world when people started traveling by way of them for the cause of wars or business. However, today these are not just used for these purposes but serve other duties as well, such as-. 

  • Ships are used as warcraft and protector of a nation in times of way or external aggression. 
  • Ships are used for fishing on a larger scale. 
  • Ships are used for processing fishing products commercially and transport them to different parts of the world. 
  • Ships are used as a transport means and carry goods and people from one destination to other.  

Main Differences Between Boat and Ship 

  1. A Boat is a water vessel of a small size. While on the contrary, a Ship is a water vessel of comparatively large size and happens to be very giant in appearance. 
  2. A Boat has a simple infrastructure and designing manner, while on the other hand, a Ship has a complex and tough structure. 
  3. A Boat operates in small water bodies while a Ship operates in large water bodies. 
  4. A Boat looks small in size while a Ship looks giant and huge. 
  5. A Boat can be operated by just one person only, but to operate a Ship, a whole crew is required. 
  6. A Boat is usually utilized for fishing, traveling in small areas, etc. While as far as a Ship is concerned, it is used as a piece of defense equipment, a transportation medium, a fishing and processing plant, etc. 


Looking at the size and shape of both a Boat and a Ship, one can mark a line of difference between them. But at certain times, the necessity arises to line out the specific differences between these two. 

While both of these are vessels of water, they serve different purposes and perform different functions. To understand these too up to their complete extent, it is crucial to have known the difference that exists between them.  


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3317382
  2. https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199336005.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199336005-e-48
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