Why is a Yacht Called a Yacht?

  • By Daniel Da Silva

Why is a Yacht Called a Yacht?

Why is it Called a Yacht?

Unless you’re looking at a row boat and the Queen Mary, to the untrained eye all these incredible floating vessels and aerodynamic watercraft look the same. So how on earth can one tell the difference between say a Schooner and a Dinghie? Or a SuperYacht and a Sailing ship?

What Exactly is a Yacht?

Wikipedia defines the term Yacht as referring to a vessel that is 12metres in length or greater. It then goes on to say that there are other yachts like the Day Sailing Yacht that are even smaller than this…. It’s all rather confusing really and so I’d rather get to the bottom of it and find out once and for all what is what when it comes to the (not so) humble yacht.

One thing we can agree on however is that the yacht has at some point associated itself with the rich and the famous, and interestingly – it’s a story that goes back a long, long time.

The Rich History of the Yacht.

The Dutch originally designed the Yacht and the term itself comes from the word Jacht, which means to hunt.  Superyacht Masteka II cruising Sydney Harbour This of course was a fitting name for a ship that was specifically designed and used by the Dutch Navy to be light, fast and agile.

Built specifically to pursue pirates the Yacht fast became the destroyer of its day and enjoyed a rich history running transgressors into the shallow waters of the Low Countries. That was until King Charles showed up.

When Charles II of England selected one to carry him to the Netherlands for his restoration in 1660 it lost its identity fairly hastily and the term ‘Yacht’ forever came to mean ‘ a vessel used to convey important persons’.

Interestingly, even today this aristocratic ideology is still very much associated with the yacht and ‘yachting’ in general.

Defining the different kinds of Yachts available.

Let’s take a look at the different types of yachts there are, and more importantly what exactly defines them as a yacht and not a boat or random vessel.

  • Day Sailing Yacht – usually small at under 6 metres in length and sometimes called Dinghies, these yachts often have retractable centreboards and keels.
  • Weekender Yachts – Slightly larger at 9.5 metres in length and more often have twin keels that lift out allowing for use in shallow waters.
  • Cruising Yachts - Ranging from 7 – 14 metres in length these vessels can be incredibly detailed and sophisticated and make up the bulk of privately owned yachts around the world.
  • Luxury Sailing Yachts – Sailing yacht over 25metres in length.
  • Racing Yachts – Yachts used for racing, in case you hadn’t guessed
  • SuperYachts and MegaYachts – Any yacht over 25 metres and 50 metres respectively, although it is fair to say that anything over 40 or so metres and the line between ship and yacht becomes quite blurred.

Are we There Yacht?

Yachting and the associated lifestyle is something most of us will never experience, unless you hire one for yourself of course.



Luxury Yacht Charters are available throughout Australia, with a range of packages and yachts to suit all needs and budgets.
Enquire today and find out how we can help you get onto a yachting experience to be remembered. Contact us – the rest is smooth sailing after that.