What is Boat Draft?

Draft is a term found on the specification chart for most boats, and it’s a measurement that could be very important to some boat buyers. A boat's draft is simply the distance between the waterline and the deepest point of the boat.

boat draft

Expressed another way, boat draft is the minimum amount of water required to float the boat without touching the bottom. It’s also common to hear that a boat “draws 24 inches,” which means its draft in 24 inches.

  • On boats with direct-drive inboard propulsion or inboard pod drives , draft would be calculated to the lowest point of the gear below the boat, which may be the propeller  or the rudder.
  • On outboard- or sterndrive-powered boats , the drive may be raised or lowered, so two draft specifications are often published, one as “drive down” and another as “drive up.”
  • With the drive up , the lowest point on the boat will be the keel—the actual bottom of the boat.
  • With the drive down , the lowest point will be the skeg in front of the propeller.
  • A boat with a jet drive propulsion system draws just to the keel as the entire drive system is located within the boat.

Boat Draft and Shallow Water

Draft is a concern to boat owners who often operate in shallow water , which could be the entrance to a harbor or dock when the tide is out, or a channel from a home dock to open water. Anglers who fish in shallows or flats want a boat specifically designed to draw as little water as possible.

Boats powered by an outboard or sterndrive engine can be operated with the drive raised to get through shallows. Running a long distance with a sterndrive raised, however, can stress the universal joints in the drivetrain and should be avoided.

7 Tips for Boating in Shallow Water

Calculating Boat Draft

The published draft specification for any boat should be considered “approximate” as its a calculation usually made with the boat “dry” (fuel and water tanks empty) and does not take the weight of passengers and gear into account.

Boats may be offered with engine options that can change the weight, and thus draft, of the boat. The more weight you have in the boat, of course, the lower it may ride in the water and the more it may draw.

The design of the hull will affect how much draft changes in response to boat load. Even the location of passengers—seated in the bow or in the stern—can affect the draft of a smaller boat.

If knowing the exact draft is critical, it’s best to load the boat for a typical day on the water and then measure the draft.

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Understanding Boat Draft

draft sailboat definition

For inexperienced sailors and passionate boating aficionados alike, mastering the concept of boat draft is not only crucial for improved safety and navigational skills but also instrumental for enhancing their overall boating experience. This article seeks to provide an extensive understanding of boat draft, its relevance to diverse vessels, and its close relationship with water depth, load disposition, and boating safety. Additionally, it will offer helpful tips to maintain an optimal draft and manage potential risks that could arise from poor draft management.

What Exactly is Boat Draft?

Boat draft, in essence, refers to the measurement of how deep a vessel’s hull extends below the waterline. In other words, it portrays the minimum depth of water needed for the boat to float without touching the bottom. This depth varies significantly among different types of boats, ranging from a few inches for small fishing boats to several meters for cargo ships or luxury yachts.

The draft measurement is critical for many reasons, including safe navigation through shallow waters, avoiding underwater obstructions, and determining appropriate mooring locations. Furthermore, a boat’s draft intertwines with its overall performance, stability, and weight-carrying capacity.

Types of Draft Measurements

There are three primary draft measurements that boaters should be familiar with:

1. Static Draft: Also known as a boat’s resting draft, this measurement reflects the depth of the hull submerged in water when the boat is stationary and unladen (empty of load and passengers). It serves as a starting point to assess a vessel’s potential draft changes.

2. Loaded Draft: This measurement, as the name suggests, is the draft of a vessel when laden with passengers, cargo, and fuel. The added weight consequently lowers the boat in the water and increases the draft. Boaters should take note of their boat’s recommended load carrying capacity, which also affects the draft.

3. Dynamic Draft: This draft is the ever-changing measurement when a vessel is in motion. Factors like speed, angle, and wave conditions can all impact a boat’s dynamic draft at any given moment.

Draft and Boat Type

Different boat types have varied drafts due to diverse shapes and hull designs. Let’s have a brief look at some common boat types and their corresponding draft range:

  • Sailboats: Also known as “keelboats,” sailboats generally possess a deeper draft because of their keel – a flat blade extending below the hull that keeps the boat balanced in the wind. Draft ranges widely among sailboats, from as little as 4 feet to well over 6 feet.
  • Powerboats: This category includes motorboats, yachts, and speedboats with a shallower draft than sailboats, ranging between 2 or 3 feet, making them more suitable for inland waterways or shallow water regions.
  • Catamarans: These unique, dual-hulled boats are renowned for their shallow draft, often as little as 1.5 feet, allowing them to access shallow water areas or sail closely to the shoreline.

The Importance of Boat Draft Management

Efficient boat draft management is essential for both safety and performance reasons. Here are some significant factors for consideration:

1. Navigating shallow waters: Accurate knowledge of your boat’s draft is critical to determining whether or not it’s safe to navigate particular shallow water channels or near shorelines, preventing the hull from striking underwater obstructions or causing inadvertent grounding.

2. Boat performance: What goes down must indeed come up. Too much draft can reduce a boat’s performance, cause drag, and lower the top speed, while too little draft may compromise its stability and make it vulnerable to capsizing.

3. Load carrying capability: Be sure to consider the boat’s carrying capacity to maintain an optimal draft while sailing. Overloading the vessel can significantly affect its draft, performance, and safety.

4. Mooring and harbor arrangements: Draft measurements can prove invaluable for mooring decisions and choosing appropriate marinas with adequate depth to accommodate your vessel.

Tips for Maintaining Optimal Draft

  • Always know the current draft measurement when navigating, especially for places with varying water depths.
  • Regularly monitor and check the load levels and balance to ensure the boat remains stable and safely within the recommended carrying capacity.
  • Stay updated on tide fluctuations, as they impact water depths and draft requirements.
  • Practice proper boat maintenance (including anti-fouling measures and hull cleaning), which can impact the hull’s hydrodynamics and draft.

Understanding boat draft fosters improved safety, performance, and convenience for boaters navigating diverse waters. As with many aspects of boating, knowledge, preparation, and respect for the water are crucial to minimizing the likelihood of accidents and maximizing your enjoyment of time spent on the water.



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What Is Draft on a Boat & Why Does it Matter? Complete Beginner’s Guide

John Sampson

Are you gearing up to buy your first boat? Congratulations! As a brand new boater, this is an exciting time in your life!

The process of buying or even looking for a boat is bound to be more than a little daunting as well, however — not least because, as a first-time boat shopper, you’ll inevitably be overwhelmed by the countless big and little things you have to consider. The fact that you will almost certainly run into new and unfamiliar terminology and boating jargon only makes it harder to buy a boat you will love.

Of course, you will have “big picture” things to think about as you go boat shopping. What type of boat do you want? How many people should the vessel be able to accommodate? What kind of budget can you allocate to your new boat, and should you buy a brand new or used boat ? What about boat registration, insurance, and taxes?

All in all, buying a boat can be just about as stressful as buying a house — and it’s easy to forget important things, unless you break the boat-buying process down into more manageable chunks.

As you’re making yourself a handy checklist that will bring you one step closer to enjoying the boat of your dreams, always remember to keep a close eye on the draft of a boat.

Before you can shop for a new boat like a pro, of course, you’ll have to know what draft is on a boat, and why it matters. After reading this guide, you will understand exactly why the draft is so important — and what to think about as you hunt for the boat of your dreams.

The Basics: What Is Draft on a Boat?

A vessel’s draft measurement is a critical element to take into account when you are shopping for a new boat, as well as while you are operating a boat. That is because the draft measurement determines what you can do with your boat — unquestionably the thing you’ll care most about!

A draft is, in technical terms, a measurement that indicates the distance between the very bottom of the vessel’s keel (or the boat’s deepest point) and the waterline of the boat.

  • The keel is the “backbone” that runs along the boat’s entire bottom.
  • A boat’s waterline — the point at which the boat’s hull makes contact with the water — depends on the load the boat is carrying.

Since the a boat’s keel is not simply a straight line, and hull designs vary greatly, this concept can further be expanded to include the draft aft, draft forward, and mean draft:

  • The draft aft can be measured at the stern’s perpendicular.
  • The draft froward can, meanwhile, be measured at the bow of the boat.
  • To find the mean draft, simply calculate the average of the two.

The draft on a boat isn’t simply an immutable number — you can’t ask a boat dealership what the draft on a boat is, receive an answer, and then walk away thinking that the draft will never change. The draft does shift depending on the weight the boat is carrying. The more heavily a vessel is loaded, after all, the more deeply the watercraft will lay in the water. This affects the waterline, and therewith also the draft on the boat.

The freeboard is, as a related detour, the a measurement that refers to the difference between the draft and the entire height of any given vessel — in other words, the portion of the boat’s height that is not covered by water. It is critical to have sufficient freeboard to operate a vessel safely.

If you have only just started to seriously consider buying a boat, you may want to consider the implications of a boat’s draft in altogether less technical terms. You can just think of the draft on a boat as the volume of water needed to be able to float your boat safely, or without reaching the bottom of the body of water you’re on. The greater the draft, the deeper the water has to be for your boat to be able to go on it.

That’s precisely why you need to be aware of the draft on a boat before finalizing a purchase. Whether you are keen on exploring shallow waters or intending to sail deeper waters, the draft matters. It is risky to take a boat with a deep draft into shallow waters, just like it is risky to take a boat with a shallow draft into deep waters.

To introduce you to another term you may hear, instead of draft, you may also hear that a particular boat “draws [followed by a measurement, such as, for instance, 14 feet]”. This refers to the same concept.

What Hull Types Do You Need to Be Aware of When Buying a Boat?

As you’re beginning your boat-buying journey, you will want to consider the three different main hull styles boats have, and how they impact the dimensions of the draft. Boats can broadly be divided into three categories — skiffs, bay boats, and offshore boats. (For the record, any watercraft that weighs 500 tons or more would be considered a ship, while smaller and more compact vessels would fall under the category of boats.)

What are the differences between each hull style?

The term “skiff” covers a very wide variety of boats that share important common characteristics — skiffs are small boats that feature open hulls and operate using fairly basic systems. Beyond that, though, skiffs are incredibly diverse. Skiffs are often leisure vessels intended for river or coastal use, one popular example being racing sailing boats. However, skiffs can also be used for fishing or as utility vessels. They’re either a one-person operation, or they may have a few seats to accommodate several passengers.

Micro Skiff

Skiffs are boats that have shallow drafts — often drawing no more than three to four inches — and these boats are exclusively suited to shallow and calmer waters.

Bay boats are also called flats boats or, among fishermen, simply “flats”. Bay boats are most famous for their use in fishing, whether commercial or recreational, as these larger but still extremely agile boats perform well when it comes to reaching tricky areas.

Contrary to what you might think when you hear the word “flats”, bay boats don’t always feature a flat hull. Some do (and in fact, some would consider skiffs to be a type of flats boat), but most bay boats have a V-shaped hull design. This design makes a bay boat uniquely maneuverable, but the precise design and angle also have a great impact on the boat’s draft measurement.

Bay Boat

If you are investigating the possibility of buying a bay boat, you’ll have another term to pay attention to in addition to the draft on the boat — deadrise. The deadrise measures the angle of the hull’s V shape. The sharper the V, the deeper the boat’s draft will be. Unless there is a particular reason to do otherwise (which depends on the boat’s design), the deadrise of a bay boat is measured midship, at a cross-section of the hull.

Because there is such enormous variety of bay boats, both in terms of size and deadrise, some bay boats are primarily suited to extremely shallow waters, while others are designed for use in deeper waters. The draft on a bay boat may range from 10 to 14 inches, or the draft may be even deeper.

Offshore Boats

Welcome to the big leagues! Offshore boats are not compact fishing or leisure vessels built to be used on rivers, lakes, and close to the shore. Offshore boats are seaworthy vessels designed for the open waters. Not only are offshore boats much larger, they are also equipped with significantly more complex systems.

Examples of offshore boats include, but are most certainly not limited to, center consoles , sport fishing yachts, and walk-around boats. They represent the largest possible boats — and will, as such, have a deeper draft as well.

An offshore boat may draw anywhere from 14 feet, which enables them to be used with ease in deeper and more hostile waters. Keep in mind that salt water weighs more, per unit, than freshwater, and that this affects the boat’s draft measurement as well.


Why Is Knowing the Draft on a Boat So Crucial?

Being keenly aware of this important measurement is crucial for many reasons — not only as you begin to narrow down your options when you’re hoping to buy your first boat , but also after, when your boat is in active use. Here’s why the draft on a boat is so important.

You Need to Understand Draft When Deciding What Kind of Boat is Right for You

What are you intending to do with your boat? The answer to that question will, to a very large extent, consider how deep of a draft your boat should have.

If you are looking to maneuver your boat easily, across shallow waters, a shallow draft offers many advantages. You will be able to sail right by without any rocks and other obstacles getting in your way, you’ll enjoy increased stability on your boat (which equals improved safety), and you’ll have a great boat to enjoy during solo fishing trips or joyrides.

A boat with a shallow draft will not, on the other hand, allow you to safely move around in even slightly deeper waters, and a shallow draft also means your boat will easily get into trouble on livelier waters.

A boat with a deep draft is designed to be operated on rougher and deeper waters — where the boat will have the stability she needs, while still remaining maneuverable. These boats are also, on the whole, much larger. Basically, if you’re hoping to buy yourself a leisure vessel to enjoy yourself out on the shore with a bunch of friends and relatives (as a huge number of boating enthusiasts are), a nicely-sized bay boat, which will usually draw 10 to 14 inches, may be right for you.

To answer the deeper underlying question you probably have, no — you absolutely don’t need to know an exact number when you are buying a boat. When your boat dealership asks you about the draft you are after, it is recommended that you have a basic grasp of what they are talking about. You can, however, simply answer your boat dealership by describing the activities you are hoping to engage in with your new boat!

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You Need to Know Your Boat’s Draft to Operate the Vessel Safely and Responsibly

Boat operators need to remain aware of the draft on the boat to be able to operate the vessel safely and responsibly at all times. This goes far beyond knowing what types of waters your boat can safely traverse, although that is certainly an important component.

Being able to read the boat’s draft also allows you to determine the maximum load a boat can bear without causing a safety risk to yourself, any passengers, and the wider environment. Knowing the draft measurement, in turn, allows you to assess how many passengers your boat can take, and how much other cargo can come on board.

Overloading the boat will increase the draft while decreasing the freeboard. If you push a boat beyond all reasonable limits, you risk flooding — even if you come up against a relatively tame wave. In extreme cases, large amounts of water can quickly collect on the deck, and you could find youself facing an emergency.

In cooler climates, the effect of ice accumulating on the deck of a boat with an insufficient freeboard also has to be considered. Water that builds up on deck will freeze over time, adding weight to your boat and posing a serious safety hazard in terms of slipping as well.

To be able to avoid any undue risk, having the boat’s draft solidly on your radar is always a good idea, and that is true not only for large seafaring ships, but even for boats. It is exactly for this reason that minimum and maximum drafts have been established. As a responsible boater, you want to adhere to international safety standards.

How to Calculate the Draft on a Boat

Are you getting ready to buy your first boat? Whether you are looking to buy a used boat, or are working with a boat dealership and are planning on purchasing a brand new boat, the boat will almost always come with published draft specifications.

These draft specifications offer a very handy point of reference, but are ultimately just approximations. Draft specifications, as published when you buy a boat, are made “dry” — meaning, they refer to the boat’s draft without any fuel, with empty water tanks, without any cargo or gear, and without any passengers. The draft specifications and the draft you’ll see in action will be worlds apart.

Where a new boat is on the market with various engine options, each of which have different weights, you will be able to get an accurate approximation of draft specifications in most cases. However, the hull design of a boat also factors in when it comes to changes in the depth of the draft as heavier loads are carried.

If you want to be able to calculate the draft of a boat manually, meanwhile (perhaps because you’ve come across a boat design and are curious), you can do that, too. Here’s how — but a word of warning, this process isn’t for the math-shy and it also takes a lot of work.

  • The first step you need to take lies in measuring the distance between the hull of the boat and the waterline accurately. If you have the boat in your possession, you can do this by removing the boat from the water and measuring it manually, with a measuring tape.
  • Next, measure the length and the width of the deck.
  • Now, you can calculate the area of the deck by multiplying these two numbers.
  • The unit weight of the water you will be sailing on also has to be taken into account to calculate the draft on a boat manually. For reference, freshwater weighs 62.4 lbs per unit per cubic foot, while salt water weights 64 lbs per unit per cubic foot.
  • Add the weight of all passengers and cargo together.
  • Add all the figures you discovered in steps one through five together. You will then know precisely how much water is displaced by the boat.
  • Next, divide the total volume of water displaced by the boat by the area of the boat’s deck.
  • Add the distance between the hull of the boat and the waterline to the figure you came up with in the preceding step, and you’ll have the exact draft on the boat!

Reading the Draft on a Boat

Did just reading that give you a headache? You’re not alone. The good news is that there’s a much easier way to find out the draft on a boat — one that doesn’t require you to be math-savvy, and doesn’t force you to take your boat out of the water, either.

Simply look at the draft measures on your boat.

Draft markings can usually be found on the sides of the boat, near the stern, and they look exactly like a very large ruler. On cargo ships and other large vessels (including, often, offshore boats), you will find draft measures in multiple places, but on bay boats and other small watercraft, draft markings will be close to the stern.

Are you interested in buying an offshore boat? In that case, you need to know that draft markings are not only present in multiple locations to make determining the draft on the boat easier for the crew. Another purpose for multiple draft measures lies in the fact that the load of a boat affects its inclination. Uneven and asymmetrical loads can lead to an inherent heel or an inherent trim, factors that can render the vessel unstable and dangerous.

draft sailboat definition

Where Is the Draft on a Boat Measured?

The right method to calculate the draft on a boat further depends on the type of boat in question, as the deepest point of the boat will vary.

For instance, for boats with direct-drive inboard propulsion or an inboard pod drive, the draft would be calculated by starting the measurement at the lowest point of the gear sitting below the boat. This would be the propeller or rudder. Boats that are outboard or sterndrive powered will have to be measured twice to calculate the draft — once with the drive down, and again with the drive up. This has a practical purpose, as such boats can safely be operated with the drive up in especially shallow waters, while that would not be possible with the drive down.

What Are Draft Surveys?

Draft surveys are a scientific method of calculating a vessel’s draft with great precision. This allows operators and crews to know precisely how much cargo can be loaded onto a vessel, and where the load should be placed. Draft surveys rely on the vessel’s technical information, in combination with the Archimedes Principle. They are used, however, for large cargo ships and not for leisure or fishing boats .

The Draft on a Boat: A Final Word

In conclusion, you now know that:

  • The draft on a boat is the distance between the boat’s lowest point and the waterline.
  • A boat’s draft is an important factor in determining what kinds of waters a boat can safely enter.
  • Shallow drafts are suitable for shallow and still waters, where they render a boat safe and agile.
  • Deep drafts are seen in larger boats (bay boats and offshore boats), where they add stability and ensure that the boat can venture into deeper and livelier waters.
  • Boats are sold with draft specifications, but a boat’s draft is continuously influence by the conditions, including the load a boat carries.

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John is an experienced journalist and veteran boater. He heads up the content team at BoatingBeast and aims to share his many years experience of the marine world with our readers.

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What Is Boat Draft? What Is Draft On A Boat & Why Is It Important


Table of Contents

What is draft on a boat, drafts for different engine types.

  • How to Determine Your Boat’s Draft
  • Why Knowing Your Boat’s Draft Matters

Navigating Shallow Waters

Frequently asked questions.

  • Does a boat’s draft include the prop?
  • What is the maximum draft on a boat?
  • What is the difference between the draft and the depth of a boat?
  • How do you determine a boat’s draft?
  • What boat has the least amount of draft?
  • What is the difference between draft and freeboard?
  • What is considered a deep draft vessel?
  • How do you reduce the draft on a boat?
  • How shallow can a boat go?
  • What Is The Draft On Sailboats?

What Is Draft On A Boat? Everything That You Need To Know About Boat Draft

Boat draft is the depth from the water’s surface to the lowest point of a boat underwater. It’s like measuring how tall a person is, but instead, you’re measuring how deep a boat sits in the water. If a boat has a deeper draft, its lowest point sits deeper in the water. Having a shallow draft means its lowest point sits shallower in the water, which makes it better for navigating shallow waters.

  • Boat Draft For Inboard Engine Boats: For boats with engines inside them (inboard engines) or special inboard engines at the bottom (pod drives), we look at what sticks out the most under the boat, like the propeller or the rudder. These parts being under the boat make it sit deeper in the water.
  • Boat Draft For Outboard and Sterndrive Boats: These boats have engines that can move up and down. So, there are two ways to measure how deep the boat goes: with the engine all the way down (“drive down”) and with the engine up (“drive up”). When the engine is up, the bottom of the boat (the keel) is the lowest part. But with the engine down, the part in front of the propeller (the skeg) is the lowest. This means you get two different numbers for how deep the boat can go.
  • Boat Draft For Jet Drive Boats: Boats with jet drives are a bit different because all their moving parts are inside the boat, not hanging off the bottom. So, these boats only go as deep as the bottom of the boat itself. This makes them great for getting into shallow places without worrying about hitting something underwater.

How to Determine Your Boat’s Draft

You can find your boat’s draft in the owner’s manual or by measuring it yourself. To measure, find the waterline (where the boat sits in the water) and then measure straight down to the lowest point of the boat. Keep in mind, that the boat’s load affects the draft. More weight means a deeper draft. Additionally, a boat’s “running draft” (its draft when it’s moving) will almost always be lower than its static draft (which is the draft that is usually reported).

Why Knowing Your Boat’s Draft Matters

Understanding the draft of your boat is key for safe boating. It’s like knowing the height of a truck before going under a low bridge. You could hit the bottom if the water is too shallow for your boat’s draft. This is critical for navigating through shallow areas, rivers, and lakes, and deciding where you can safely anchor or dock.

A boat with a shallow draft is like a vehicle with good clearance; it can go places others can’t. It is also helpful to note that when a boat is moving quickly, it will temporarily rise higher above the waterline which lowers its draft. This is sometimes referred to as “running draft” and can allow boats to temporarily navigate water that would otherwise be too shallow. This practice is risky and should only be done by very experienced boaters. We recommend using a marine navigation app to ensure you avoid areas that are too shallow for your draft.

Yes, the draft includes everything below the waterline, including the propeller if it’s the lowest point. This is why knowing the exact draft, including the propeller, is crucial for avoiding underwater obstacles.

The maximum draft is the deepest your boat can be in the water, usually when it’s fully loaded. It’s important to know this to avoid places where your boat could bottom out.

Draft is the vertical distance from the waterline to the lowest part of the boat in the water. Depth refers to the overall height of the boat from the bottom to the top, regardless of how deep the boat sits in the water.

Refer to your boat’s manual for factory specifications or measure from the waterline to the lowest point of the hull. Remember, load and weight distribution can alter the draft.

Generally, flat-bottom boats, skiffs, and those with jet drive propulsion systems have the least draft, making them ideal for very shallow waters. Some boats have as little as 3-5 inches of draft, while most standard bay boats will have at least 10 inches of draft.

While draft measures the depth of a boat below the water, freeboard is the distance of the boat’s side from the waterline to the upper deck. Freeboard refers to how much of the boat is above the water instead of below it.

Large ships, like cargo vessels and tankers, are considered deep draft vessels. They require deep water ports and careful navigation to avoid grounding.

The easiest way to reduce a boat’s draft is to lighten its load. Less weight means a shallower draft. Boats with outboard engines can also tilt their engines up to temporarily reduce draft, and most boats can also temporarily reduce their draft by maintaining a certain speed.

This depends on the specific boat and its draft. Generally, the shallower the draft, the less water depth you need to safely navigate without hitting the bottom. Some boats with extremely low draft can run in water that is less than 6 inches deep. 

Sailboats have a unique consideration when it comes to draft because of their keels. The keel is a large fin-like structure underneath the boat, and it’s crucial for stability and steering. Because of this keel, sailboats often have a deeper draft compared to many motorboats. This deep draft helps them to be stable in windy conditions and when they’re cutting through waves.

Knowing your boat’s draft and understanding how it affects your boating options opens up new possibilities and ensures safer adventures. Whether you’re cruising through open waters or exploring shallow inlets, keeping your draft in mind helps you steer clear of trouble and enjoy your time on the water. New to boating? Check out this article on how to drive a boat next!


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draft sailboat definition


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What Is a Draft on a Boat and Why Is It Important to Know?

Sailboat on water

  • 1 The Importance of Knowing Your Boat's Draft
  • 2 Avoiding grounding
  • 3 Navigating shallow waters
  • 4 Safety on inland waterways
  • 5 Docking and mooring
  • 6 Optimizing weight distribution
  • 7 Emergencies
  • 8 How to Determine Your Boat’s Draft
  • 9 Consult the manufacturer
  • 10 Measure it yourself
  • 11 Conclusion

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Boating is a beloved pastime that allows individuals to escape the chaos of everyday life and immerse themselves in the tranquility of the open water. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice enthusiast, mastering the essential nautical terminology is pivotal for a safe and enjoyable experience. Among these terms, “draft” is a fundamental concept every boater should comprehend. In this blog, we delve into the significance of understanding draft in the context of boating and why it plays a crucial role in your maritime adventures.

Draft on a boat pertains to the depth of water that a vessel’s hull reaches when afloat. It denotes the vertical distance from the waterline to the lowest point of the hull, typically the keel or the bottom. Why does this matter? Well, your boat’s draft directly influences where you can safely navigate, affecting the minimum depth of water required for a voyage devoid of grounding or potential harm to your vessel. Whether exploring uncharted waters, docking, or optimizing weight distribution, knowing your boat’s draft is the keystone to a smooth and secure maritime journey.

The Importance of Knowing Your Boat’s Draft

Knowing your boat’s draft is not merely a matter of nautical trivia—it has real-world implications for your safety and the success of your voyage. Here are some reasons why understanding the draft is crucial for boaters:

Avoiding grounding

The primary purpose of knowing your boat’s draft is to prevent grounding. Grounding occurs when a boat’s hull touches the bottom of the body of water it’s navigating. This can lead to a host of problems, including damage to the boat’s hull, propellers, and rudders. It can also be a dangerous situation if the boat becomes stuck in an area with changing tides, making it challenging to free the vessel.

Navigating shallow waters

By understanding your boat’s draft, you can make informed decisions about where to sail. Boaters can navigate shallow waters or restricted areas more confidently when they have a clear understanding of how much water their boat requires. This knowledge allows you to access remote and less-traveled areas that may be off-limits to boats with deeper drafts.

Safety on inland waterways

Inland waterways, like rivers and canals, often have shallow sections and hidden obstacles. Knowing your boat’s draft is crucial for safe navigation on these water bodies. Hitting submerged rocks or logs due to an inaccurate draft estimation can lead to accidents and costly repairs.

Docking and mooring

Accurate knowledge of your boat’s draft is essential when approaching docks, marinas, or mooring areas. You need to know the minimum water depth in these locations to ensure your boat doesn’t run aground while maneuvering or docking. It’s also important when choosing the right anchor for your boat, as it affects its holding power based on the seafloor’s depth.

Optimizing weight distribution

For sailboats, understanding the draft is crucial for proper weight distribution. By adjusting the ballast and sail area relative to the draft, you can optimize the boat’s balance and stability, ensuring a smoother and more comfortable sailing experience.


In emergencies, such as running aground or encountering unexpected shallow waters, knowing your boat’s draft can be a lifesaver. It enables you to react swiftly and make informed decisions to protect your safety and the safety of your passengers.

How to Determine Your Boat’s Draft

To determine your boat’s draft, you can follow these steps:

Consult the manufacturer

The easiest way to find out your boat’s draft is to refer to the boat’s documentation or contact the manufacturer. This information is typically in the owner’s manual or specifications provided by the manufacturer.

Measure it yourself

If you can’t find the information in the boat’s documentation, you can measure the draft yourself. To do this, you’ll need a tape measure or depth finder . Place the measuring device at the lowest point of the boat’s hull, typically the keel, and lower it until it touches the water. Measure it when the boat is afloat and loaded with your typical gear and supplies.

Understanding the concept of the draft is fundamental for any boater. It’s not only about knowing your boat better but also about ensuring your safety and the success of your voyages. By being aware of your boat’s draft, you can confidently navigate different bodies of water, avoid grounding, and make informed decisions on anchoring, docking, and mooring. So, before you set sail on your next adventure, take the time to learn about your boat’s draft. It might just make all the difference between a smooth journey and a rocky one.

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Boat Draft: Understanding the Importance of the Draft of a Boat

Olivia benjamin.

  • August 2, 2023

Boat Draft

Navigating the open waterways requires a comprehensive understanding of various factors, one of which is the concept of boat draft. Whether leisurely cruising in tranquil inland waterways or bracing yourself against the unrelenting choppy tides, a boat’s draft critically impacts a vessel’s maneuverability and safety.

In this article, we will expound on the concept of boat draft – its definition, significance, and how it directly impacts the overall performance of a waterborne vessel.

What is Boat Draft? | The Definition of the Draft of a Boat 

Defining boat draft is straightforward. It denotes the shortest distance from the water’s surface to the lowest extremity of a vessel’s hull, generally the keel. Essentially, it represents the vertical depth a vessel submerges underwater, and you measure it from the waterline.

It’s important to note, however, that what constitutes the ‘deepest part’ of the boat may vary depending on the type of vessel . Inboard propulsion boats usually measure the draft from the rudder or propeller since these parts sit deepest in the water. Contrastingly, sterndrive or outboard boats measure the draft from the drive when it’s lowered into the water.

What is a Boat Draft?

Understanding the draft of your boat imbues you with the confidence to steer through potentially precarious areas, thus preventing mishaps leading to potentially expensive repairs. However, understanding boat drafts isn’t just about dodging underwater obstacles.

Typically measured vertically and stated in units of feet, several factors determine a boat’s draft. These factors include the boat’s weight distribution, the hull’s design, and even the type of boat itself. By understanding these factors thoroughly, you can ensure you are always sailing safely and efficiently.

Boat Draft Measurement | How to Calculate the draft on a Boat

Knowing your boat’s draft measurement is crucial for smooth and safe sailing. The draft refers to the vertical distance from the waterline to the boat’s lowest point, including the keel, propeller, or outboard engine. Understanding how to accurately and effectively measure your boat’s draft is essential for an optimal boating experience.

Here are a few methods you can use to calculate the draft of a boat:

Method 1: Refer to Manufacturer Specifications

One of the simplest ways to determine your boat’s draft is by checking the manufacturer’s specifications in your vessel’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. Boat manufacturers usually provide draft measurements for their models. However, remember that the listed draft is based on a standard model and can vary depending on your specific boat’s configuration, equipment, or load.

Method 2: Measure at the Waterline

A more hands-on approach involves measuring the draft when the boat is on the water. Mooring your boat in calm waters is essential for accurate measurements. With the help of a measuring tape, first, establish the location of the boat’s waterline. Then, moving from the bow to the stern, take vertical measurements from the waterline to the deepest part of the hull. Do not forget to consider parts like the rudder or propeller that may affect the draft measurement.

Boat Draft Measurement

Method 3: Dry Dock Measurements

Another method of measuring your boat’s draft is by taking measurements while the boat is on dry land or in a boatyard. Using a measuring tape, identify the lowest part of the boat’s hull and take vertical measurements from the keel to the waterline marking on your boat. This method allows for a more stable and controlled measurement environment but would require a clear and visible waterline marking on your boat.

Method 4: Calculating Draft Measurement

For those preferring a mathematical approach, you can calculate your vessel’s draft by determining its displacement. You’ll need your boat’s length overall (LOA), beam, and a constant factor related to its hull shape.

Boat manufacturers typically provide these values, or you can measure them yourself. Multiply LOA by the beam and constant factor, and divide the result by the product of 1025 (the average density of saltwater) and 35 (conversion factor for cubic feet to long tons). This calculation can offer an approximation of your boat’s draft.

Boat Draft (in feet) = (LOA × Beam × Constant Factor) / (1025 × 35)

Remember, these techniques may provide different results, and the calculations may give just an approximate figure. So, it’s best to cross-check and be mindful of your boat’s specific factors while measuring its draft.

Key Factors Affecting Boat Draft

Several aspects are pivotal in affecting a boat’s draft, which one must carefully consider. These include the hull’s design and shape, the existence or nonexistence of a keel, the boat’s size and weight, water depth and conditions, and the kind of water body where the boat will be navigated.

To explain the significance of these elements, consider the following key points:

1.Hull Design:  The hull’s design and form significantly influence a boat’s draft. A boat with a deep-V hull usually exhibits a deeper draft than a flat-bottomed hull counterpart. This hull design impacts the boat’s stability, maneuverability, and adaptability to diverse water conditions.

2. Presence or Absence of a Keel:  The keel’s existence is paramount in determining the boat’s stability and draft. Keel-equipped boats have a deeper draft and enhance stability, particularly in choppier waters. Conversely, boats that lack a keel have a shallow draft but may compromise on stability.

3. Size and Weight:  The boat’s size and weight directly affect its draft. Generally, larger and heavier boats have a deeper draft than smaller and lighter vessels. The quantity of gear, passengers, and fuel onboard also plays a role in influencing the boat’s draft.

Importance of Understanding Boat Drafts

Promoting safety on the water.

Being well-versed in your boat’s draft significantly enhances navigation in shallow waters. Shallow conditions pose the risk of running aground, leading to hull damage or even accidents . With a clear understanding of your boat’s draft, you can confidently avoid hazards and navigate towards safer waters.

Selecting Suitable Mooring Options

Different depths demand specific mooring techniques. Knowing your boat’s draft allows you to pick the most appropriate mooring method, catering to distinct water depth conditions. Your knowledge also lets you plan your routes wisely, steering clear of areas with insufficient depth and not getting delayed by bottlenecks or obstructions.

Optimize Your Boat’s Performance

Your boat’s draft impacts its maneuverability, fuel efficiency, and overall handling. By being mindful of the draft, you can make informed decisions regarding the speed and direction to optimize performance. Excessive drafts might lower a boat’s performance, create drag, and decrease the top speed. Conversely, insufficient drafts can compromise stability and make the boat prone to capsizing .

This knowledge empowers you to confidently navigate an array of water conditions, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience on the water.

Assessing Load Carrying Capacity

Every boat possesses a maximum weight capacity that it can safely accommodate. Familiarity with a boat’s draft helps you manage the distribution of the load accordingly. Overloading a boat beyond its draft capacity could result in unstable and dangerous conditions, posing a threat to everyone on board.

The added weight subsequently submerges the boat deeper into the water, increasing the draft. Boaters must remain aware of their boat’s recommended load carrying capacity, as this factor directly impacts the draft.

Importance of boat drafts

Shallow Waters and Drafts

Shallow waters, with their lesser depth compared to deeper seas, can present various challenges for boat navigation. While the precise measurement for ‘shallow’ varies, these aquatic zones generally symbolize areas unsuitable for certain boats due to insufficient water depth. For vessels with a deeper draft, navigating these shallows can pose difficulties, potentially leading to grounding.

Hazards in shallow waters include submerged objects like rocks, sandbanks, and coral reefs that can significantly damage a boat’s hull or propellers. Moreover, the water may be prone to choppy conditions, proliferating navigation difficulty and accident risk.

What is a Shallow Draft Boat?

In the boating realm, shallow draft boats are designed to navigate shallow waters confidently. Unlike their deeper-draft counterparts, these boats boast a hull design that facilitates operation in minimal water depth environments. They are prized assets for boaters frequenting shallow courses such as rivers, lakes, and coastal inlets.

Owning a boat with a shallow draft presents a multitude of benefits. Foremost, these boats provide access to areas otherwise unreachable, encouraging exploration of hidden creeks, marshlands, and backwaters.

They also cater to anglers, able to weave through shallow flats where larger boats hesitate to navigate. Furthermore, their capacity to traverse shallow waters enhances fuel efficiency compared to vessels with a deeper draft.

What is a Deep Draft Vessel?

Unlike shallow draft vessels, deep draft boats require generous water depth to float safely and maneuver adeptly. They are not designed for shallower waterways, which sets them apart from their shallow-draft counterparts.

One clear advantage of a deep-draft design is its heightened stability in choppy waters. With a lower center of gravity and a hull that penetrates deeper into the water, such boats perform better under tough conditions and large waves, making them suitable for extensive journeys and offshore escapades.

However, the disadvantages are also evident. Because of their need for deep water, they are restricted from navigating shallower domains, such as rivers, lakes, and coastal regions, limiting the range of possible exploration sites.

They also consume more fuel than shallow-draft boats, with their voluminous hulls and increased weight demanding more power to move through the water. Thus, a deep draft boat may not be optimal if access to shallow backcountry waters is required.

Understanding the concept of boat draft is essential for anyone involved in water transportation. Boat draft affects the vessel’s safety, efficiency, and functionality, as well as the navigability of waterways.

Knowledge of a boat’s draft, influenced by factors such as hull shape, weight distribution, cargo load, water depth, and tides, allows operators to stay within legal limits, minimizing potential accidents, ensuring the well-being of crew and passengers, and protecting the environment.

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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.

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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.

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What Is the Draft of a Boat? – Important Things to Know

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

what is the draft of a boat

It’s important to know your boat well, and there are some things you need to know early. Such things include engine specifications, dimensions, and the boat’s draft. But what is the draft of a boat and why is it important?

The boat’s draft is the space between the waterline and the boat’s lowest point. In this article, we’ll take a look at the boat draft meaning and other important information.

Keep reading to learn more.

Table of Contents

Boat Draft Specifics

Measuring boat draft, 1. boat area calculation, 2. passenger weight calculation, 3. resulting draft, 1. does boat draft include prop when measuring, 2. which motorized boats have the lowest draft, 3. what is the draft marker.


The draft of the boat or boat draught is the measurement of the straight vertical distance between the waterline of the boat and the lowest point of the boat, though the boat draft definition may vary somewhat between people.

This lowest point is usually a part of the keel or the skeg of an outboard or external engine. But what does draft mean on a boat?

Knowing the draft of a boat is extremely important because this distance determines how shallow the water you can sail with that boat is. This means that a boat with a draft of 6 feet cannot boat through waters that are just 5 feet deep.

However, the base figure of a boat’s draft is not the actual clearance from the water bed; it’s a good idea to allow a bit more distance to ensure that the boat is clear of any obstacles.

Even if there is enough clearance, we can’t be sure that the boat won’t get caught up with anything else on the ground. Rocks or seaweed could still spell trouble for us and our boat.

There are a few other important things to know about boat draft. The first is the draft of boats using outboards. It would be normal to see two draft figures for such boat types: drive up and drive down; they may also be called draft up and draft down.

Draft up on a boat is the boat’s draft when the outboard is raised, allowing the boat to traverse more shallow waters.

Draft down or drive down represents the draft for when the engine is deployed and thus reaches deeper into the water.

There are also average boat draft figures for different boat types. While we cannot assume that these apply to all boats, it’s a good way to see which boat types are more capable of sailing in shallow waters.

  • Sailboat – 4 to 7 feet
  • Daysailer – 3 to 5 feet
  • Catamaran – 2 to 4 feet
  • Dinghy – less than 1 foot
  • Motor yacht – 1 to 4 feet

Looking at the list above, we can see that sailboats are expected to reach further into the water. This is due to the fin on the sailboat’s keel. In contrast, a dinghy that does not use a motor is capable of traversing more shallow waters.

When purchasing a boat, the boat draft is among the expected figures included in its specifications. However, this figure uses the boat’s dry weight and would not properly represent the boat’s state while on the water.

There is also the possibility that the draft figure is not indicated, and this is when it is important to know how to measure draft on a boat.

Before measuring the draft, you need to establish the waterline first. It helps to load up the boat in the way that you do for most outings. Fill up the fuel tank and load up your supplies, then mark the waterline with tape or anything you’d like to use.

You should still be mindful of the maximum draft for a boat that may be indicated in the manual, which is the operational limit of the boat.

Measure the straight vertical distance between the waterline and the lowest point of your boat. Take note of this figure as it will be the base draft of your boat.

Calculating Draft


You can make use of an online boat draft calculator if you have access to one. If not, we can still calculate manually.

  • Measure the length and width of your boat’s deck. Calculate the boat deck’s area by multiplying the figures of length and width, with the width being the measurement of the beam on a boat.

25 ft x 6 ft = 150 ft

  • Have the measurement of your base draft on hand. We’ll use a measurement of 5 ft for this practice calculation.
  • Initial draft measurement = 5 ft
  • You need to determine the unit weight of water you’ll be boating in. That’s 64 pounds per cubic foot for saltwater and 62.4 for freshwater. Let’s use salt water for this exercise.
  • Determine the weight of each passenger or cargo. That weight is then divided by the unit weight of the water. Let’s assume we have two passengers, one weighing 180 lbs and the other at 200; note the result for each.

180 / 64 = 2.81

200 / 64 = 3.13

  • Add the resulting figures in the passenger calculations; if you have more passengers, just repeat the step as many times as needed. Add the figures together. For this instance, we have a total of 5.94.
  • This figure will then be divided by the boat deck’s area that we calculated earlier (150 ft). The result should then be added to the initial draft measurement.

5.94 / 150 = 0.04 ft

5 ft + 0.04 ft = 5.04 ft

The resulting figure is the total draft of the boat when it is loaded with your usual gear and fuel along with two passengers aboard. Remember to calculate both passengers and any cargo for an accurate figure.

Now, this is a bit of a long calculation process. You can also just load everything up on the boat then jump into the water and measure it there. This works as long as you don’t mind going for a bit of a swim.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, it does. For motorboats that use an outboard engine, the skeg will be the lowest part of the boat and the prop will be near it.

Motorized boats that use an inboard motor or jet propulsion are known to have the lowest draft.

Some boats have markings on the hull indicating how deep the hull should be underwater. These are the draft markers.

Now you know what the boat’s draft is. You’ve also learned that the boat’s draft is essentially its minimum water depth for operation. Calculating the boat’s draft can be complicated, but it is still worth knowing how to do.

Should you encounter someone asking what is the draft of a boat, please share what you’ve learned with them as well. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to drop them below.

Remember to boat safely.

draft sailboat definition

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Average Sailboat Draft

Average Sailboat Draft | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Sailboat draft varies between different sizes and vessel types. Also, hull type plays a large part in draft depth.

The average draft of a typical production coastal cruising sailboat is about 3 to 4 feet. Some vessels, such as fin keel racing boats, can have much deeper drafts regardless of overall length. The deepest draft sailboats are full-keel blue water cruisers, while the shallowest draft vessels are centerboard island hoppers.

In this article, we'll go over the average draft of sailboats by type and usage. We'll also cover why some boats have deeper drafts than others and what depths are best for applications such as bluewater sailing, racing, and beaching.

We sourced the information in this article from sailboat design guides, experienced sailors, and our own analysis of boat construction and sales trends.

Table of contents

‍ What is Sailboat Draft?

Draft is a term we use to describe how deep below the water a sailboat hull (and everything attached to it) goes. This information is useful because it gives us an idea of how the vessel handles and what conditions it can sail in.

For example, a 40-foot sailboat with a draft of 5 feet could make an excellent blue water passagemaker, but its draft is far too deep for beaching on an island or exploring shallow coral reefs.

Average Draft of Small Sailboats

Some small sailboats, known as island-hoppers or 'gunkholers,' are designed to have flat bottoms and. a retractable centerboard to reduce draft.

These vessels, which are designed to be beached and to sail in shallow water, have a board-down draft of a foot or two and a board-up draft of 10 inches or less. Smaller sailboats, such as dinghies, have an even shallower draft of Just a few inches.

Average draft of Coastal Cruising Sailboats

Coastal cruising sailboats are small, but they're a bit heftier than centerboard island hoppers. They range in size from about 22 to 30 feet in length, and they have an average draft of three feet.

Draft depth is reduced on some vessels that utilize swing keels, which are like centerboards that pivot up into a shallow trunk when the captain needs to reduce draft.

Average Draft of an Offshore Sailboat

Offshore sailboats are known for having a deep draft, and many of these boats keep a significant amount of ballast as low as possible to increase stability. The draft of offshore sailboats ranges from about 3.5 feet on the low end and 6 feet or more on the largest vessels.

Owners of offshore sailboats with deep drafts have to be very careful when navigating harbors and channels, as underwater obstacles or the seafloor can easily cause tremendous damage to a deep keel.

What is Shoal Draft?

A shoal draft sailboat is a vessel with a shallow draft, usually under 3 feet. Examples of shoal draft vessels include the Catalina 22 (with a swing keel) and the West Wight Potter 19. Shoal draft sailboats are usually flat-bottomed (like sharpie sailboats) or, more recently, built with V-bottom hulls.

Shoal draft vessels are great for rivers, lakes, and island hopping but usually aren't comfortable in heavy seas.

Does Draft Affect Stability?

Draft depth can affect stability, but it doesn't always. Instead, the things that affect stability often affect the draft of a sailboat. For example, a heavy ballast keel is long and deep, which helps a sailboat remain stable in rough weather.

A shallower boat with additional internal ballast will sit lower in the water, thus increasing its draft and stability. However, adding an extra two feet to a centerboard likely won't help increase stability, though it will dramatically increase your draft.

Draft Vs. Drag

Many people believe that deeper draft sailboats have more issues with drag than shallow draft boats. This is sometimes the case, but it doesn't tell the full story. Modern deep-draft sailboats often have shallow, rounded hulls and a long fin keel.

The fin keel, which is responsible for the vast majority of the draft depth, is narrow and designed to produce very little drag. These boats are fast and nimble, which makes them popular with modern sailors.

Older vessels with traditional full keels do experience more drag, though they enjoy enhanced stability and superior motion comfort.

Are Deep Draft Sailboats Better?

Deep draft sailboats are usually better for offshore sailing, and some modern deep draft vessels are great for racing. However, the majority of production racing sailboats have flush hulls and a somewhat modest draft, and some utilize multiple blade keels.

For an everyday cruising boat, a deep draft is usually better unless you frequently encounter reefs, sandbars, or other shallow water hazards.

Can You Reduce the Draft of a Sailboat?

Generally speaking, you can't dramatically reduce the draft of a fixed-keel sailboat. If your boat has a centerboard or a swing keel, you can dramatically reduce the draft by retracting it (just don't forget the rudder).

If you're looking to shave a couple of inches off the draft of your sailboat, try emptying the fresh and wastewater tanks and shedding unnecessary items. Don't try to remove any original ballast, as it could completely throw off the stability of your boat.

How to Beach a Deep-Draft Sailboat

Beaching is a fun way to berth your boat. Some sailboats are easy to beach (if they're designed for it), while others require great care. It's possible to beach a deep-draft sailboat, though it requires careful tide planning, terrain exploration, and some extra equipment.

A popular method is to use specialized poles. When you find a good beach, position your boat at high tide and deploy the poles, They'll settle and keep your boat upright when the tide goes out. This method isn't safe for all vessels, so intentionally grounding a deep-draft boat is generally best to avoid altogether,

Related Articles

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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What Is Draft On A Boat? Why Is It So Important?

What Is Draft On A Boat? Why Is It So Important?

Are you planning on buying a new boat?

Have you heard the term ‘draft’ and wondered what it meant?

Draft is one of the most important factors to consider if you want to buy a boat . The draft on a boat will determine how and where you can safely use your vessel.

Buying a boat is a big investment, and you want to be sure that the one you buy is suited to your needs, i.e. whether you can use it in deep or shallow waters.

Understanding a boat’s draft can help you make an informed decision, allowing you to buy the boat that truly makes you happy.

In this article, I will answer the question: what is draft on a boat? You will also find out why draft is important, tips on reading a boat’s draft, and how to choose between the different types of boat drafts depending on your needs.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Table of Contents

What is Draft on A Boat?

3 main hull styles, why is draft on a boat important, how to read draft in a boat, which one is better: shallow draft vs deep draft, summary: what is draft on a boat.

What is Draft on A Boat

A lot goes into deciding which boat to buy. The condition, history, accessories, and aesthetics all play a role in the value and utility of the boat.

One of the most important decisions you will make when buying a boat is draft measurement.

So what is draft on a boat ?

Draft is the vertical height between the waterline and the lowest point of the hull. It is how deep the hull can go, allowing the boat to float freely and without touching the bottom of the water body such as the sea, ocean, or lake.

The boat’s draft will tell you how deep the waters need to be to take your boat out safely. Before deciding on the best boat draft, you must determine where you want to use your boat in the first place.

If you plan to use your boat for offshore trolling where the waters are deeper, you will need a boat with a different draft than if you want to use your boat in shallow waters or near the shores.

Taking a boat with a shallow draft into deep waters is inconvenient and dangerous. The same is the case with a boat with a deep draft in shallow waters.

Boats are categorized into three main classes based on the type of hull . Draft on a boat is largely dependent on the full size.

Next, let’s look at the three hull categories.

Boats fall under one of three different categories depending on their hull size. These categories include:

  • Offshore boats


Skiffs is an umbrella term used to describe small boats . Skiff boats share similar characteristics—they are small, open, and come with simple systems. They have a few seats, an outboard engine, and a shallow hull.

Due to their small size and simplicity, most skiffs are not suited for large, rough water bodies. If you want to take your boat out into shallow waters, a skiff boat with a draft of 3 to 4 inches may be suitable.

2. Bay Boats

Bay Boats

Also known as flats boats, bay boats are suitable for getting to hard-to-reach areas in shallow waters.

These boats are typically larger than skiffs, and their hull is moulded into a V shape, making it a more powerful vessel for maneuvering shallow open waters.

Bay boats are, however, unsuitable for choppy waters. They should not be taken to deep seas or turbulent waters, given their smaller size and shallow hull.

Most bay or flatboats have a draft of 10 to 14 inches, allowing you to navigate shallow waters and slightly choppy conditions safely.

3. Offshore Boats

Offshore Boats

Offshore boats are much bigger vessels that allow you to get into the deep sea.

Navigating the deep seas in search of large fish requires a boat with a large hull that can stay afloat in these large and open water bodies.

Popular offshore boats include walk-around boats, center consoles , and sportfishing yachts. These boats have a deeper draft, usually 14 feet and above and are suitable for the immense depth of larger water bodies.

So, now that you know what draft is, you might be wondering why it is important. Let’s take a look at that next.

Why is Draft on A Boat Important

Knowing the boat’s draft ensures that you use the vessel properly and safely. At a technical level, measuring a boat’s draft ensures that you safely balance the maximum load that the vessel can carry without compromising its stability.

When buying a boat, you certainly want one sizeable enough for you and your family and the occasional entourage of friends. If you use your boat for fishing, you also want to ensure that it can support the weight of the fish and the human passengers.

If you need a boat that can support significant weight, you should look for one with more draft to ensure balance, stability, and overall safety.

Placing excessive weight in a boat can push the hull further down toward the surface of the water body, increasing the chances of flooding in the chance that you encounter even the smallest waves.

Another danger of not considering a boat’s draft is that water can collect in the deck when the hull is too low. This water can freeze over the hull in cold weather or cooler waters, causing the engine to fail. The additional weight can also destabilize the boat.

International boat safety standards provide the minimum and maximum boat draft for different boats. When buying a boat, it helps to consider the typical weather patterns in the areas you plan to sail. Also, keep in mind that different water bodies in different regions have varying physical and chemical characteristics that should be accounted for when determining the most appropriate vessel to use.

Knowing the draft on a boat is a safety precaution. A shallow draft in deep waters lacks stability and can be thrown off by simple changes in weather or sea conditions. Drastic conditions can even cause the boat to flood, overturn, or capsize altogether.

Did you know that you can read a boat’s draft? Waterborne vessels have draft measures indicated on the sides close to the stern .

The draft measures are unmissable- they look like a large ruler with figures written on the boat. If you buy a large offshore boat, the draft markings will likely be on several locations for easier visibility. You can find the draft markings on the rear, front end, and in the middle of the boat’s hull in these vessels.

When buying a boat, you should also check the documentation; this usually includes information about the boat’s draft.

The method used to calculate the draft in a boat will vary from one boat to another. The draft is calculated from the gear below the boat for boats with inboard pod drives. This may include the propeller or rudder.

The draft measurements are indicated as the distance between the drive and water level for outboard boats . When the drive is up, the measurement is known as drive-up. When the drive is down, it’s known as drive down draft.

When the drive is up, the draft is measured from the bottom part of the boat or the keel. If the drive is facing down, the draft is measured from the skeg at the front of the propeller .

Some boats have their drive system located inside the vessel. The draft in these boats will be measured from the water surface to the keel.

It is important to remember that the draft measurements indicated in your vessel’s documents were taken when the boat’s fuel and water tanks were empty. These measurements also don’t include additional weight such as passengers or cargo.

Other factors such as the hull’s design and cargo and passengers’ weight distribution will influence the draft measurement.

To check your boat’s draft for accurate estimation, I recommend loading the amount of cargo and passengers the boat would normally carry.

Then, identify the boat’s lowest point, also known as the keel. Keep in mind that different vessels have different keels that will also be positioned differently. Take this into account when measuring draft on a boat as the position of the keel can increase the draft—the goal is to measure from the bottom part of your boat.

Next, measure the distance from the waterline where the boat’s side meets the water down to the lowest point of the boat. The draft of your boat is measured in centimetres or feet.

The choice between a shallow draft vs. a deep draft boat comes down to one question: How will you use your boat?

There are advantages and disadvantages to using either one of these two. Let’s talk about this in the next section.

Shallow Draft Boats

Shallow Draft Boats

Many shallow draft boats do not have a keel and are flat at the bottom. The absence of the keen makes the boat less stable in deep or choppy waters.

This is one of the reasons shallow draft boats are best used in shallow and calm waters where a keel isn’t required.

Some boat owners opt to install an engine at the bottom of the vessel. This can be problematic when moving through shallow waters despite the boat having a shallow draft.

If you want to maneuver very shallow waters, your best bet is a shallow draft boat with a flat bottom.

Advantages of shallow draft boats

Here are some pros of using a boat with a shallow draft:

  • The flat bottom in a shallow draft boat increases the vessel’s stability. This not only makes the boat safe but also comfortable to ride in shallow and sometimes rocky water bodies
  • The flat hull lets you move through shallow waters without getting caught up in rocks or reeds
  • These boats are generally smaller and easier to maneuver

Disadvantages of shallow draft boats

While shallow boat drafts have their advantages, they also have downsides. Here are the main disadvantages:

  • Boats with a flat hull may be stable in shallow waters. But, these vessels can quickly lose their stability and dependability at the slightest change in conditions. Slight wind or small waves can easily throw the boat off balance.
  • Shallow boats limit you to the very shallow waters. If you want to venture out near shore or even offshore, it would be neither safe nor possible to do it with a shallow boat with a flat hull and no keel.

Deep Draft Boats

Deep Draft Boats

Deep draft boats have a bigger, more pronounced hull that extends deeper into the water. In these vessels, the bottom of the hull is not always the lowest point.

Deep draft boats will typically come with a keel, which goes deeper into the water to increase the vessel’s stability. The addition of the keel gives these boats a deeper draft .

Like shallow draft boats, deep draft boats have advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of deep draft boats

  • Deep draft boats offer stability and reassurance when you are navigating choppy waters.
  • If you are looking for a vessel that can safely navigate deep-sea water and survive the conditions there, a boat with a deep draft is the ideal choice.

Disadvantages of deep draft boats

The main disadvantages of a boat with a deep draft are:

  • Deep dive boats don’t offer as much comfort, especially when riding in choppy waters.
  • A deep draft boat may not be the best investment if you can only access shallow backcountry waters. These boats are best suited for larger water bodies such as lakes, oceans, and seas.

Draft is an essential factor when determining a boat’s suitability. Measuring the depth from the waterline down to the bottom-most part of the boat will give you a rough estimate of your vessel’s draft. Choosing a vessel with the appropriate draft for a particular use ensures safety and stability when using the boat.

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The draft is affected by the boat’s weight and the distribution of weight onboard. Adding or removing weight can change the draft and subsequently affect the boat’s stability and performance.

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Draft Minimum and Maximum

Draft can vary from very shallow to very deep, as defined in Table One below. Shallow draft is important for exploring "gunk-holes" or for cruising shoal waters such as some of the estuaries along Long Island Sound or the Gulf of Mexico. Also, the shallower the draft, the easier it is to launch and retrieve a trailerable boat at a ramp, and the less top-heavy the load will be while traile-ring on a highway. Conversely, deep draft is important for efficient sailing close-hauled (with or without centerboard) and (if keel is weighted with ballast) for stability while sailing and comfort in a seaway.

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Readers' Questions

How does fuel load effect draft on a yacht?
The fuel load on a yacht can greatly affect its draft, which refers to the depth of water needed to float the boat. Here's how fuel load can affect draft: Weight: The fuel on a yacht is usually stored in tanks located in the lower part of the vessel, primarily in the bilge area. Fuel is relatively heavy, and as more fuel is loaded on the yacht, its weight increases. This additional weight can cause the yacht to sit lower in the water, increasing its draft. Center of gravity: Fuel storage tanks are often located closer to the center of the yacht, which affects its center of gravity. As more fuel is loaded, the center of gravity moves downward. The lower the center of gravity, the more stability the yacht has. However, if the center of gravity becomes too low due to excessive fuel load, it can reduce the yacht's ability to handle rough sea conditions. Buoyancy: As fuel is burned off during the yacht's operation, the weight of the yacht decreases, which increases its buoyancy. This allows the yacht to sit higher in the water, reducing the draft. However, it's important to maintain a sufficient fuel load for safety and stability purposes. Maneuverability: A yacht with a higher draft will generally have less maneuverability in shallow waters. A reduced draft due to lesser fuel load allows the yacht to navigate in shallower areas without running aground. Therefore, it's essential for yacht owners and captains to consider the fuel load carefully. Balancing the desired draft for maneuverability, stability, and the yacht's specific design is crucial to ensure safe and efficient operation.
Can a 60 foot tall sailboat with a 6 ft draft go down the missippi?
Yes, a 60-foot tall sailboat with a 6-foot draft can navigate down the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is deep enough to accommodate vessels of various sizes, including larger sailboats. However, it is important to consider other factors such as bridge clearances and navigational restrictions while planning the journey.
What is the definition of draft in boating?
In boating, a draft refers to the depth of water that a boat requires to safely navigate and float without running aground. It is measured vertically from the waterline to the deepest point of the boat, typically the keel or hull. Knowing a boat's draft is crucial for planning routes and avoiding shallow areas or obstacles that could pose a risk to the boat's integrity.
What does draft mean in boating?
In boating, draft refers to the depth of water required to float a vessel, particularly the distance between the waterline and the lowest point of the boat's hull. It is an essential measurement because it determines the areas where a boat can safely navigate without running aground. The draft can vary depending on the boat's design, load, and other factors. It is typically measured in feet or meters.
What is the diffrwnve betweem max dragt and minium fraft on a boat?
Max drag is the force of the water acting on the boat when it is moving at maximum speed, while minimum drag is the amount of resistance the boat experiences when it is moving at low or no speed. The maximum drag is usually associated with a higher amount of friction, which reduces the boat's speed and the amount of fuel it consumes. The minimum drag is associated with a lower amount of friction, which increases the boat's speed and the amount of fuel it consumes.
Which sailboat design has the dipest draft?
The Jaguar 22 sailboat designed by Gary Mull has the deepest draft among traditionally designed boats at 6 feet, 5 inches. There are other boats with a deeper draft, such as the Farrier F-33 trimaran, but it is designed for multi-hulls and is not considered a traditional sailboat.
What does the nortec 34 minimum draft rating?
mean The Nortec 34 minimum draft rating is a measure of the minimum water depth needed to safely operate a Nortec 34 vessel with full engine power. It is calculated based on the design features of the vessel including hull shape, propeller, etc. It should not be confused with the vessel's actual draft.
What is the definition of draft boat?
A draft boat is a vessel designed for navigation in shallow waters, with a shallow draft (depth of water taken up) to a specific height above the waterline. This shallow draft allows the boat to float in shallow waters while still giving enough weight to the boat to remain stable when moving on the water.
What does max draft mean on noat?
Max draft on a boat refers to the deepest point of the boat's hull, measured from the waterline to the hull's bottom. It refers to the maximum depth of water that a boat can safely navigate, and it is a key factor in determining the suitability of a boat for a particular body of water.
Do boat specs show max or min draft?
Yes, boat specs will often show both the maximum and the minimum draft.
What is the defference between max draft and min draft boat?
Max draft is the deepest water that a vessel can go without running aground, while min draft is the shallowest water that a vessel can safely navigate. Max draft is usually determined by the vessel's design and construction and is an important factor in determining the vessel's navigational capabilities. Min draft, on the other hand, can vary from place to place, depending on water levels, currents, and other environmental factors.
What is max draft sailboat?
The maximum draft of a sailboat can vary greatly depending on its size, design, and keel type. The average maximum draft of a sailboat is between four and six feet. However, it is not uncommon for some sailboats to have a maximum draft of up to twelve feet or more.
When is a power boat at maximum draft?
A power boat is at maximum draft when it is sitting at the deepest part of the water it can reach without sinking.
What is the boat draft minimum maximum?
The boat draft can vary depending on the size and type of vessel. Generally, the minimum draft is between one and two feet, while the maximum draft of recreational boats is around eight feet.
Is a boats maximum draft important?
Yes, a boat's maximum draft is an important factor when considering how far a boat can travel in shallow waters. If a boat has a shallow draft, it can safely travel in waters with shallow depths. On the other hand, a boat with a deeper draft is more likely to ground on shallow shoals, which can be both dangerous and costly.
What is minimum and maximum draft?
The minimum draft of a ship is typically around two feet, and the maximum draft is typically between 25 and 30 feet.
The minimum draft of a boat can vary depending on the type and size of the boat. Generally, a boat with a draft of less than 2 feet is considered to have a shallow draft.

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What Is The Draft Of A Boat?

If you are a boat enthusiast or just curious about how vessels are made, then you will want to know what the draft of a boat is.

While it may sound like something difficult to understand, this important aspect of marine engineering is surprisingly simple and easy to comprehend given its importance in maneuvering boats on the water.

Before buying our shallow draft sailboat we did a lot of research into how it would affect things like speed and maneuverability, and it turns out draft has a lot to do with how well a boat will perform. But there are lots of other important considerations to make too.

In this blog post, we will discuss what exactly the draft of a boat is and how it affects not only performance but other key parts of sailing and liveaboard life too.

From analyzing different types of drafts and their advantages or disadvantages to understanding why drafting works at all – by the end, you’ll have an excellent grasp on just why it’s such an integral part when designing ships big or small!

what is the draft of a boat?

Table of Contents

Why is boat draft important, how do you calculate the draft of a boat, what is the average draft of a boat, how does boat draft affect where you can sail, does boat draft include the prop, which boats have the shallowest draft.

lots of boats in a boat yard

Draft refers to the depth that must be taken into account when designing and constructing boats.

It determines the stability, speed, and navigability of any vessel in the water, as well as its ability to safely navigate shallow waters such as rivers, lakes, and seas.

A good understanding of this concept can help those looking to buy, build or repair boats make smart decisions based on specific needs for their applications.

The draft of a boat alongside other factors can also affect the capsize ratio of the boat you’re in, so it’s well worth looking into it before you make a purchase.

the draft of a boat

The draft of a boat is the depth of water needed to float it, and it can change depending on factors like its load and hull shape.

To calculate the draft of your boat, you need to measure the hull from where it hits the water surface, to the lowest point (usually the bottom on the keel).

Most boats will have their draft included in the paperwork. It’s important to note that this is the draft when the boat is dry and unladen. Where the boat sits in the water will change slightly (or even significantly) depending on factors such as how much weight it’s carrying and how wet the hull is.

You can do a calculation to work out the draft of your sailboat if you know certain figures.

DR =( W / D )/( L ∗ W )∗3

  • Where DR is the estimated draft (ft)
  • W is the weight of the boat (lbs) Don’t forget passengers, fuel etc.
  • L is the length of the boat (ft)
  • W is the width of the boat (ft)
  • D is the density of the water (lbs/ft^3) salt water has a different density than fresh

It might be easier to just jump in and measure the boat’s draft from in the water when you’ve stocked up your boat!

draft sailboat definition

The average draft of a boat can vary significantly depending on the size and design of the vessel.

Generally, smaller boats have a shallow draft while larger boats can have much deeper drafts.

A large cruise ship, for example, may have a draft of up to 15 meters, while a small recreational sailboat may only have a draft of 0.9 meters.

Monhull sailboats also tend to have deeper drafts than motor cruisers. Where as catamarans have very small drafts.

Some boats have lifting keels that can change the draft of the boat, so you can use a deeper keel when sailing for added stability or lift the keel when entering shallow anchorages.

In general, it is the size of the vessel and the type of sailboat keel that will affect the draft of a boat.

draft sailboat definition

The draft of a boat is one of the most important factors to consider when planning where to sail.

Draft refers to the depth of the water that a vessel requires in order to pass, making it an essential component of selecting waterway locations.

You’ll need to plan trips around areas with depths greater than your boat’s draft. This is easy to do when you have decent charts of the area available, but when you’re maneuvering in less well-known areas you will have to use a decent depth sounder and lots of local knowledge to help you out!

Depending on the size and style of the boat, the draft may be as shallow as 8 inches but can reach up to 12 feet deep for larger vessels.

It is wise for any boater to understand their vessel’s draft before taking it out on unique bodies of water; deeper drafts may restrict more waterways than anticipated.

Ultimately, your boat’s draft will determine whether or not you have full access to exploring new destinations on the open seas – so plan accordingly!

Should you include the prop when you calculate boat draft?

Boat draft is typically measured from the surface of the waterline to the lowest point beneath.

The prop is a primary undercarriage component of a boat and therefore can determine how deep the boat will sit in water.

Usually, the keel will be the deepest part of a boat and in these cases, the prop depth doesn’t make a difference, but in some boats, the prop will sit lowest in the water.

Remember, the whole point of calculating the draft of the boat is to help determine the depth of water you can navigate in, so if your prop is the lowest point and will hit the ground first, it needs to be included in the calculations.

a sailboat out of the water with a large draft

Boats with the shallowest draft are usually those that are smaller in size, often inflatables or small sailboats. This is due to their lightweight materials and air-filled components, which allow them to quite literally float closer to the top layer of the water.

However, there are some great shallow draft liveaboard sailboats out there if you look hard enough. They provide decent living space but can also sneak into shallow waters when you desire.

If you opt for a boat with a lifting keel or centreboard you can have the best of both worlds. Boats with these options tend to track better than shallow draft boats in big seas, but they can also get into shallow anchorages when necessary.

Conclusion: What Is The Draft Of A Boat

Ultimately, understanding what the draft of a boat is and how to properly measure it can help any boat enthusiast to determine when and where it’s safe to navigate their vessel.

With this knowledge, you can securely traverse rivers, oceans, and other waterways with confidence knowing that your vessel won’t run aground.

As each body of water is unique and has its own dangers presented in the form of unseen obstacles, measuring the draft of your boat with precision is fundamental for anyone who loves spending time on the water.

Remember, always practice safe boating while remaining mindful of whatever waters you’re entering at all times.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

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Draft vs. Beam: Which Matters More for Sailboat Stability?

Published by oceanwave on august 19, 2023.

Sailors are frequently presented with a crucial query regarding sailboat stability that might influence their entire nautical experience: Beam vs. Draft: Which Is More Important? Sailboat aficionados know that stability is the key to safe and pleasurable sailing, whether they are taking on ocean cruising expeditions or competing for victory in racing regattas.

The stability of a sailboat is primarily determined by two important parameters, the draft and beam. A sailboat’s draft, which is defined as the depth of the keel or centerboard, is crucial to maintaining stability in choppy waters. The width of the boat at its widest point, or beam, on the other hand, affects how a sailboat manages the power of the wind and waves.

As we delve into the draft vs. beam argument, we’ll examine the importance of these variables in various sailing circumstances, expose actual situations where they affect stability, and assist sailors in making knowledgeable judgments utilizing sailboat data and specs. Which element, then, ought sailors to give top priority for the best stability on the open seas? To discover out, let’s set sail on this nautical adventure.

Understanding Sailboat Stability

The foundation of safe and fun sailing is the stability of the sailboat. Stability essentially refers to a boat’s capacity to avoid capsizing or severe heeling when sailing. This essential element of sailing makes sure your boat stays upright and balanced despite the dynamic forces of the wind and waves.

There are many different sailing settings where sailboat stability is important. Stability is crucial for safety when ocean cruising because lengthy trips might result in encounters with unpredictably bad weather. A sturdy sailboat can withstand storms with more assurance, giving sailors who are setting out on long voyages peace of mind. On the other side, steadiness might mean the difference between winning and losing in the high-stakes world of racing. Racing boats frequently exceed the speed limit, and by keeping stability, they may use the full force of the wind without losing control.

The Role of Draft in Sailboat Stability

Definition of sailboat draft:.

Draft is the vertical distance from the waterline to the lowest point of a boat’s keel or centerboard. It’s a crucial measurement since it establishes how far below the water’s surface the boat extends. A sailboat may be able to achieve more stability the deeper its draft.

Impact on Stability:

The stability of a sailboat is significantly influenced by the draft. A sailboat with a deeper draft can generate more water resistance, which would balance the wind’s impact on the sails. The boat is less likely to heel too much because of this resistance that keeps it upright. Sailboats with deeper drafts are frequently preferred for ocean cruising, where stability can be an issue of safety in uncertain weather.

Draft becomes very significant for ocean cruising. Sailors may run against anything from calm seas to strong storms while traversing huge stretches of open water. A sailboat with a sufficient draft is better able to manage these situations, offering stability and guaranteeing the crew’s security and comfort.

The Significance of Beam in Sailboat Stability

Definition of sailboat beam:.

A sailboat’s beam is its widest point, and it is commonly measured in feet or meters. It’s a crucial measurement since it establishes the width of the boat from side to side.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of beam in a sailboat’s stability. A broader beam gives the boat more lateral stability, making it less prone to heel or tip over. A wider beam allows a boat to carry more sail area while maintaining stability, which increases speed in racing, especially in high-performance boats.

Speed and agility are essential in racing boats, hence broader beams are frequently used to maximize stability. This gives them the opportunity to increase their sail area and use the wind’s energy to their advantage. A solid foundation might be the difference between winning and losing in the world of racing, where every second counts.

Sailors trying to select the ideal sailboat for their unique needs must understand both draft and beam. The interaction between draft and beam will influence the sailing experience, whether you’re going on an ocean cruising vacation or competing in a racing event. Sailors must choose a boat that best suits their objectives on the sea by carefully balancing these aspects, which is the art of sailboat design.

Sailboat Data and Specifications

Knowing a sailboat’s specifications is essential for safety, performance, and overall enjoyment. Specifications for sailboats cover a wide range of information, including measurements, weight, materials, sail area, and design elements. These standards serve as the vessel’s blueprint and aid sailors in making wise choices.

Sailboat Data as a Tool

For sailors, sailboat data is a gold mine of knowledge. You can delve into the specifics of a sailboat’s design and performance attributes. Data on sailboats frequently contains crucial parameters like draft and beam, which are essential for stability. You may learn more about how a specific sailboat will perform under different conditions by looking at this data.

Finding Sailboat Data

There are many places where sailors can find sailboat data. Manufacturers and dealers of sailboats frequently offer comprehensive specs for various models. Sailors can share and discuss sailboat data on specialized websites, journals, and forums. By having access to this knowledge, sailors are better equipped to choose a sailboat.

Draft vs. Beam: Real-Life Scenarios

Issues with draft-related stability.

The significance of draft in sailboat stability is demonstrated through real-world examples. Sailors operating shallow-draft sailboats, particularly those who are ocean cruising , may run into difficulties when navigating in deep waters. With heavy winds or waves, a sailboat with insufficient draft may find it difficult to maintain stability.

Stability Problems Affecting Beams

Beams are also important in determining how stable a sailboat is in practice. For example, racing boats with an excessive beam may find it challenging to maintain control during high wind gusts. More lateral surface area is produced by the broader beam, which may jeopardize stability and cause noticeable heeling.

Comparison of Draft and Beam

The decision between the two depends on the particular sailing objectives and conditions, as shown by a comparison of the impact of draft and beam in various scenarios. The ability to withstand strong wind gusts or stability in deeper waters must be carefully considered by sailors.

Choosing the Right Sailboat

Guidance on sailboat selection.

For each sailor, choosing the correct sailboat is a crucial choice. It entails a careful assessment of individual sailing goals and the intended use of the vessel. The decision between draft and beam becomes crucial for individuals who value steadiness. Sailing enthusiasts should base their decision on their major interests, which may include ocean cruising, racing, or recreational sailing.

Prioritizing Draft vs. Beam

The sailing objectives determine whether draft or beam should be prioritized. For increased stability on long trips, ocean cruisers frequently favor deeper drafts. To maximize speed and agility, racing aficionados could want bigger beams. The secret is to match the sailboat’s requirements with the sailor’s goals.

When making decisions, sailboat data and specs are essential tools. Sailors can use this information to make educated decisions about draft and beam for the best stability, safety, and performance.

How Sailboats Work

The idea behind sailboats is to use the wind’s energy to move the craft forward. The pressure difference caused by the wind filling the sails produces lift on their curved surfaces. The boat can move forward against the wind thanks to this lift and the resistance of the keel or centerboard in the water.

Why Do Sailboats Lean?

Due to the wind’s force acting on the sails, sailboats lean, or heel. A turning force (torque) is produced as wind pushes the sails of the boat, trying to topple it. The boat leans to one side in an effort to balance this force. For sailboats to maintain stability and control, heeling is necessary.

When Is a Sailboat a Stand-On Vessel

The stand-on vessel in sailing has the advantage over the give-way vessel. When the wind is blowing from a specific side (referred to as the “port tack”), a sailboat is normally a stand-on craft. While the give-way vessel (the one that must yield) should change its course to avoid a collision, it should keep its course and speed.

What Are Stabilizers on a Yacht

Yacht stabilizers are equipment that lessens the rolling motion of the boat, resulting in a smoother and more comfortable ride. There are two kinds: passive stabilizers, such as gyroscopes, which offer stability by their spinning motion, and active stabilizers, which employ moving fins to combat rolling.

Which Sailboat Has the Right of Way

In sailing, a number of variables, such as the wind direction, sailboat type, and whether they are on a collision course, determine which sailboat has the right of way. Sailboats on a port tack often have the advantage over those on a starboard tack. To sail safely and courteously, it is necessary to grasp the right of way regulations because different circumstances and locations may call for the application of particular laws.

A sailor’s particular goals and circumstances must be taken into consideration when deciding between draft and beam for sailboat stability. Data and specs about sailboats offer the crucial information needed to make wise decisions. We acknowledge that there is no universally applicable response to the primary topic, Draft vs. Beam: Which Matters More for Sailboat Stability. Instead, sailors are advised to assess their unique requirements and consult sailboat data while choosing the boat that would best fulfill their sailing ambitions. The steadiness of your sailboat will be your dependable travel partner on your nautical experiences, whether you’re traversing an expansive ocean or racing to the finish line in an exhilarating competition.

To discover more about various sailboats , yachts, and catamarans, check out this Sailboat Data page. You may discover comprehensive details on different sailboat models and their performance here, making it easy for you to pick the best boat for your requirements with Ocean Wave Sail !

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draft sailboat definition

Do you know your numbers when it comes to sizing up your boat? Accurate measurements for figures like length, draft, beam and clearance will keep your boat free from damage in marinas and private boat dock slips as well as while traveling beneath fixed bridges.

Boat length is measured from the bow to the stern. However, the number is not as set in stone as it may seem. It can vary depending on whether there’s a swim platform, a bow pulpit, a dinghy on a davit or other things that contribute to the length overall (LOA). Knowing the correct length of your boat is just as important as knowing how to properly operate it. We’re not talking about that number the manufacturer says it is … the one that’s part of the model name. For example, a Hatteras GT45X is 45 feet long, but with a swim platform and a bow pulpit, it could technically come closer to a total of 47.5 feet. This number can change from boat to boat (even among the same model and manufacturer) as well as type of boat. Correct length is especially useful when docking or choosing a private boat dock rental. Trying to fit a boat into a slip that’s too small can result in damage to the boat, the dock and other property around it.      

Example Average Length

  • Cruising Sailboat: 16’ – 50’
  • Catamaran: 32’ – 47’
  • Cabin Cruiser: 25’ – 45’
  • Motor Yacht: 29’- 65’
  • Center Console: 18’ – 32’

Another important factor is draft. A boat’s draft refers to the vertical distance from the waterline (where the hull touches the water) to the bottom of the hull, or keel on a sailboat. It determines the minimum depth of water a boat can safely navigate without running ashore (which, by the way, is very bad). Put simply, it helps you know how deep the water needs to be. Like length, it can vary from boat to boat. A sailboat can have a very large draft based on whether it has a keel (and whether the keel is removable). Each dock has its own specific draft allowance, which is based on things like water level, tides and how flat or angled the ground is under the water. One dock can be vastly different than others in the area. Dock draft measurements can be taken by dropping a long length of rope (weighted) or chain into the water, marking it at the water level and then measuring from the bottom up out of the water. Private docks on our site are listed at the low tide water level. This way, you know the absolute minimum depth of water. It’s always best to be conservative by one or two feet if you’re not completely sure you’ll be able to dock at that boat slip – due to things like changing tides, weather and boat wakes. 

Boat Size vs Draft

  • Low Draft: A boat 32 feet long and under needs 3 feet or less of water
  • Medium Draft: A boat 45 to 65 feet long needs 4 to 5 feet of water
  • High Draft: A boat 65 feet long or greater needs 5 to 7.5 feet of water

To throw a wrench into these statistics, there are instances where this might vary. Sailboats can be an exception as they may have a non-retractable keel, which gives them the need for a larger draft (since the keep gives them a bigger draft measurement). On the other hand, since catamarans are wide and displace water very efficiently, they may only need 4.5 feet of draft even if it falls into a bigger category.

Average Boat Draft

  • Cruising Sailboat: 5’ (but could be more if it has a non-retractable keel)
  • Catamaran: 2’ – 4’(large cats could need more)
  • Cabin Cruiser: 3’
  • Motor Yacht: 4’ (the bigger the yacht, the bigger the draft)
  • Center Console: 2’

As a general rule, the bigger the boat is, the deeper the draft will need to be. Factors like weight and beam play into this concept. The hull shape can also play a part. A flat or multi-hull boat (like pontoon boats, jet skis and dinghies) has a low draft. A deep V-shaped displacement hull (like most power boats and cruisers) allows the boat to sit deeper in the water, resulting in a high draft.

Beam refers to the distance from the widest point of the boat to the other side (think: middle of the boat from side to side). Catamarans are very wide compared to that of center consoles and cabin cruisers. Most boats fall into the 18 to 20-foot beam category, but cats can be as wide as 22 to 30 feet.

The beam of a boat will determine how wide of a boat slip rental you need. You’ll want to measure the dock to make sure it’s wide enough that your boat won’t bang against the sides.

Average Beam

  • Cruising Sailboat: 12’
  • Catamaran: 22’ to 30’
  • Cabin Cruiser: 8.5’
  • Motor Yacht: 13’
  • Center Console: 9’

Clearance, or vertical clearance, is important for sailboats and catamarans with a fixed mast, as well as sportfish boats with tall towers. It refers to the height of the boat from the waterline to the top of the mast or flybridge (or any non-removable part). Some masts can be lowered, so that would not be included in your clearance number.

Out in the wide-open ocean, clearance isn’t too much of an issue. The time it becomes an issue is when you’re sailing under a fixed bridge. A drawbridge is no problem. You just need the patience to wait till it opens. Sailboats can require anywhere from 35 to 75 feet of vertical clearance, so you’ll want to check out those fixed bridge heights when charting your course or choosing a boat dock for rent. Be sure to take into account low tide when determining clearance.

Average Boat Clearance

  • Cruising Sailboat: 50’
  • Catamaran: 39’
  • Express Cabin Cruiser:  9’ 10 “ with tower up / 7’ 7” with tower down
  • Motor Yacht: 14’ to 15’
  • Center Console: 9’ 6”

Whether you’re docking your boat at a marina, a mooring or a private boat dock rental, the correct measurements play a big factor. Hopefully this has given you some good advice to make the whole docking process a bit easier. Now if you could just control the wind while docking.  

draft sailboat definition

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Shaping Your Mainsail, Part 3: Draft Shape and Position

Welcome to our series on upwind mainsail trim. This article covers Draft Shape and Position, which is Part 3 of a four-part unit on shaping your sails.

In this series, we’re presenting a comprehensive review of basic and advanced mainsail trim concepts. We want the series to be useful and understandable for all levels of sailors.

Our strategy is to start with small bites and build them into a complete picture of sail trim. We’ll use a visual approach, and give you questions to think about during the presentations. We’ll stay practical, using theory only as needed.

Each topic will have a video and outline version.

Special thanks to Will Hendershot, who contributed photos and much wisdom to this article. Other sources include A Manual of Sail Trim , by Stuart Walker, Illustrated Sail and Rig Tuning, by Ivar Dedham, and North U’s Performance Racing Trim , by Bill Gladstone

Video – Draft Shape and Position

Text Version of Video

Draft shape is really three related concepts – entry shape, position of maximum draft, and exit shape.

  • Entry shape refers to whether the leading edge of the sail is round or flat.
  • Exit shape refers to the trailing edge of the sail – the leech. We say that the leech can be either hooked, flat, or open.
  • Position of maximum draft refers to the location of the deepest part. We measure it in percentage of the distance along the chord line.

draft sailboat definition

Why is Draft Shape and Position Important?

Improved pointing.

You may want to point higher when you’re in flat water and/or when you’re temporarily trying to hold a lane. Two aspects of sail shape will help you point.

  • Boat can head up higher without luffing the  leading edge

draft sailboat definition

  • Causes more upwash in front of sail
  • Increases weather helm, adding lift from rudder
  • Good for pinching off boats on hip
  • Boat will struggle to maintain speed with too much hook

draft sailboat definition

Overall sail performance

We’ll discuss overall sail performance in terms of VMG, or velocity made good. See our post on VMG if you’re unfamiliar with this term.

As we’ve emphasized in this series, improving sail performance is about increasing the lift to drag ratio. In most conditions, the highest lift to drag ratio gives you the best VMG.

  • Lift force is directed more forward. (Drawing is exaggerated for illustration.)

draft sailboat definition

  • Allows gradual curvature throughout the sail for greater efficiency
  • 45 – 50% aft if jib is present

draft sailboat definition

  • Better lift-drag ratio
  • Less side force

Wider groove

A wider groove means that the sail performs well  over a larger range of angles of attack. This makes accurate steering less critical. A wider groove helps in rough conditions to aid steering and compensate for effects of pitching.

  • Reduces chance for stalling at luff
  • Think about a simple kitchen experiment. A knife stalls sooner than a spoon.

draft sailboat definition

  • Lets leeward side pressure gradually rise to match   windward side pressure at leech

draft sailboat definition

Controlling Draft Position and Shape

  • Reduces curvature in front of sail, so position of max draft moves aft
  • Tensions luff to move draft forward
  • More pronounced in upper leech, especially with large upper sail area 
  • When bending mast, compensate by adding cunningham to return draft to desired position
  • Flattens or hooks upper leech

Indications and Cues

  • Aided by draft stripes

draft sailboat definition

  • Also affected by separation bubble
  • Stalling is expected due to intermittent vortexing at leech 
  • 50% stall is most efficient trim
  • 70-80% stall is OK for temporary pointing

Interactions and Challenges

Here’s a preview of a few of the interactions and challenges associated with draft shape and position. We’ll discuss more of these interactions in future parts of this series.

Sail design

Sail design has a lot to do with draft shape and position. As an example, one sailmaker told me that his sails are designed with a lot of luff curve. Therefore, with a straight mast, the entry shape is round. In order to point well in light air, he bends the mast slightly with vang to make the entry a little flatter.

Gust response

When a gust hits, you must depower the sail so the boat doesn’t heel up.  In a sharp gust, the quickest way to depower is to ease the main sheet quickly. This lets the leech open.

Older sails

When I was starting out, I was sailing next to a more experienced sailor and not keeping up. He looked at my old sail and said to try adding some cunningham tension. I was immediately faster. Only later did I learn why.

As sails get used, the cloth stretches, especially along a direction 45 degrees to the weave of the cloth. This is called bias stretch. In simple terms, if the sail is loaded along the bias, it will stretch more in that direction. In many cuts of sails, this makes the aft portion of the sail fuller, also resulting in a hooked leech. Thus, using the cunningham can help older sails perform better.

MC Scow Sail Trim – Sailmaker Discussion Mainsail Telltales – A Better Approach Velocity Made Good – Definition and Application Shaping your Sail, Part 1 – Angle of Attack Shaping your Sail, Part 2 – Camber Shaping Your Sail, Part 4 – Twist

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Lift and Drag: Prevent Common Sail Trim Errors

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What Is Shoal Draft & Why Your Boat May Need A Shoal Keel

shoal draft

The draft of a boat determines the depth of water the boat can be used in. You may be aware of shallow draft, on boats that can navigate very shallow waters, and deep draft, on boats that are used in deeper more turbulent waters, but what exactly is shoal draft?

What Is Shoal Draft?

A) shoal draft allows a boat to pass through shallow waters, b) shoal draft means you are less likely to damage your keel, i) shoal draft boats are not as stable in turbulent waters, ii) shoal draft gives a boat a different righting moment, 1. fin keel, 2. wing keel, 3. bulb keel, 4. catamaran (no keel).

Shoal draft refers to the draft of sailboats that have a shorter type of keel than a boat of similar size. The shorter keel allows the boat to pass through shallower waters than a full keel would. Shoal draft gets its name from the boat’s ability to better navigate the shallow waters found near shoals.

Most sailboats are fitted with a full length keel to give them better stability in deep water, especially when the water is turbulent. They are said to have a deep draft.

Because a a shoal boat has a shorter keel it can access shallower water and is said to have a shallower draft.

Because the keel length prevents the boat from accessing very shallow water, like a flat bottomed Jon boat , it is not a shallow draft vessel.

Likewise, because the keel is much shorter than a full-length keel it is not a deep draft vessel either. We can think of it as a cross-between the two types of draft.

Because a shoal draft boat is used in open ocean water but can also access water near sandbanks and shoals that form in coastal areas, these boats are referred to as shoal draft boats.

Although sailboats that can access shoals are often referred to as shallow water sailboats, every ocean-worthy sailboat will be a shoal draft boat as shallow water boats are rarely fitted with keels (one exception being the canoe ).

Why You Would Need A Shoal Draft Boat

Shoal draft is almost always used to refer to the draft of a sailboat that is shallower than your would normally expect on an ocean-going boat of that size.

Shoal draft allows a sailboat to access the type of shallow waters that a deep draft sailboat would be unable to navigate.

This unique capability has both advantages and disadvantages as we will see.

Before moving on to the advantages and disadvantages of shoal draft though you may want to read the article about shallow draft vs deep draft to get a better understanding of how draft affects a boats performance.

Be aware that shoal draft is not the same as shallow draft. For simplicity terms you can think of shoal draft as referring to a deep draft boat that has a shallower draft than normal.

The 2 main advantages of shoal draft

Below are the two key advantages that shoal draft offers:

  • The ability to pass through shallower waters close to shore or submerged banks.
  • Less likelihood of grounding or damaging your keel in shallow water areas.

It should come as no surprise that a boat with shoal draft is better equipped to navigate shallower waters than a deep draft boat of similar size.

The boat’s capacity to pass through shallower waters is due to the shorter length of the boat’s keel.

draft sailboat definition

As the keel is the part of the boat that sits deepest in the water a boat with a shorter keel will be able to access water with less depth than a deep draft boat (with a longer keel) would need.

But, why would you need this capability?

Well, if you regularly sail in waters that have shallow areas, or plan to cruise around shallow bodies of water where you run the risk of entering shallow areas by mistake, like the Florida Keys for example, then it would be best to get a shoal draft boat rather than a deep draft one.

Having a shorter keel, and thus a shallower draft, means you run much less risk of damaging your boat on the bed.

Passing through shoals or shallow waters with a boat that has a full keel, and thus a deeper draft, would likely result in the boat getting stuck (best case scenario). Or, the keel can become damaged (most likely scenario).

When this happens the bottom of the boat may also become so damaged that the boat starts to take on water and sinks (worst case scenario).

So, a shorter keel on a boat that usually has a full length keel gives the boat a shoal draft which allows it the ability to pass through shallower waters, such as shoals, more easily and safely.

The 2 main disadvantages of shoal draft

As with everything in life where there are advantages there are also disadvantages.

Below are the disadvantages of shoal draft:

  • Not as stable in turbulent waters.
  • Different righting moment.

Shoal draft on a boat does give you the advantage of traversing through shoals easier but this comes at the cost of stability in turbulent waters.

Although a shoal draft boat is more than capable of ocean voyages it does not offer the same type of stability as a deep draft boat especially in challenging conditions.

The longer the keel, the more stable the boat is in turbulent water.

The shorter keel on a shoal draft boat means less stability in turbulent waters.

If you plan on taking your boat to deep choppy waters, you might be better opting for a deep draft sailboat rather than a shoal draft one for the extra stability it offers.

This is another stability issue.

The righting moment of the boat is defined as the ability of the boat to maintain static stability.

With a shoal draft, the righting moment of the boat can be compromised because of the shorter appendage of the boat (the keel).

Usually, this is remedied by adjusting the ratio accordingly. This means that to correct the righting moment of a shoal draft boat the keel of the boat must be heavier.

Additionally by lowering or increasing the ballast it is possible to adjust the center of gravity of the boat, thus normalizing the righting moment.

Some boats do this better than others.

The 4 Types Of Shoal Draft Keel

As you know, the keel is the lowest part of a boat that is responsible for maintaining the stability of the boat while it is in the water.

As we have already learned a shoal draft keel is shorter than a full keel in order to allow the boat to navigate shallower waters.

There are several types of shoal draft keels found on boats (and a no keel shoal draft boat). They are:

  • Catamaran (no keel).

Let’s take a quick look at these keels now to see how they contribute to the shoal draft of a boat.

Fin Keel

This is a variation of the standard deep fin keel but the draft is adjusted by reducing the keel length and profiling the keel to be able to add more weight to the ballast.

A lot of yachts are usually equipped with this or given the option to swap their full keel to this type of keel.

Another variation of this is a fin keel with a retractable centerboard .

This is usually used by people who take interest in sailing because the retractable center board makes it easier to avoid grounding.

Wing keel

This type of keel is usually used on boats with shoal drafts because the wing keel provides a way to be able to reduce your boat’s draft.

Wing keels are usually found on yachts that regularly pass through shallower bodies of water.

This keel gets its name from its wing type protrusion at its tip (as seen in the image above).

A disadvantage to this is that wing keels tend to create a suction effect in soft mud bottoms slowing down the boat or even getting it stuck.

Bulb keel

The bulb keel is a type of keel that usually has a high aspect ratio foil that has a ballast at the bulb.

A bulb keel is good when it comes to providing an efficient and effecting righting moment especially when your boat has a shoal draft.

Another good thing about this keel is the fact that it does not often get stuck in the ground but in the event that you do get stuck, it is relatively easy to free.

This makes the bulb keel one of the most suitable and common for shoal draft boats.

Bulb keels also come in centerboard designs allow it to be lifted thus giving the boat an even shallower draft.

The Catamaran is an ocean -going vessel that has no keel therefore it is considered to be a boat with a shoal draft.

A catamaran does not need a keel to be able to stay stable, and not tilt, because of its multi-hulled design which is geometrically stabilized by the two parallel hulls and the wide beam it possesses.

If you would like to know about the different types of shoal draft boats available read our article what is a shoal draft boat .

Mick McGrath

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Why Ricky Pearsall? 49ers describe him like they did Brandon Aiyuk in 2020

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 14: Ricky Pearsall #1 of the Florida Gators reacts after scoring a touchdown in the second half of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — “Fire pick.”

General managers and head coaches get a lot of congratulatory texts following draft selections, but the one John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan got on Thursday night stood out because it was from Brandon Aiyuk .

The San Francisco 49ers receiver, whose name was bandied about as a trade candidate throughout the first day of the draft, mentored Ricky Pearsall , the team’s surprise first-round pick, when Pearsall was a freshman at Arizona State in 2019. Aiyuk let the 49ers know he liked the move, and he also got on the phone with Pearsall after the selection.


“He was telling me over and over again: ‘You’re a first-rounder. Soak it up,’” Pearsall said in a video call with reporters.

NFL Draft 2024 tracker: Live blog, pick-by-pick grades and analysis Big board best available: Who’s left from Dane Brugler’s Top 300? Draft pick grades: Nick Baumgardner, Scott Dochterman rate the selections Full draft order: Team picks for all 257 selections “The Athletic Football Show”: Watch live reaction to the draft

Although the 49ers got a slew of phone calls about Aiyuk before and during the draft — more on those below — he remained a 49er at the end of the day. And his text to Shanahan and Lynch suggested that relations between the team and receiver aren’t quite as icy as they appear. Indeed, as the draft began on Thursday, there was a sense that progress was being made on a long-term contract extension.

“I know we’re continuing to have positive talks with BA,” Lynch said. “And we are really efforting to get something done with him. We’re excited about continuing down that path.”

While Aiyuk was pleased with the pick, 49ers fans seemed puzzled.

No pre-draft publication listed Pearsall, who transferred to Florida in 2021, as a possible first-round selection, and there were more highly touted players, including at receiver, available when the 49ers took him at pick No. 31. Pearsall didn’t visit team headquarters in the run-up to the draft, which is usually the case with early 49ers draft picks. In fact, he said his only involvement was at the Senior Bowl in January when he had what he termed a speed-dating session with them along with several other teams.


49ers draft Ricky Pearsall: How he fits, pick grade and scouting intel

In touting the choice, Shanahan and Lynch sounded a lot like they did four years ago when they traded up, from No. 31 to No. 25, to select Aiyuk. At the time Shanahan said he liked that Aiyuk can play every receiver position.

“He can run every single route and he can do it outside the numbers and he can do it inside the numbers,” Shanahan said in 2020. “He can play the X, he can play the Z, he can play the F. He’s got the speed to get on top. He’s got the quickness to play in the slot. He’s got the toughness to go over in the middle.”

He had a similar assessment of Pearsall: “He can separate down the field, he can separate underneath. He’s got really good hands. Extremely smart, very well developed. You could tell he was — I guess I’d call it a gym rat or something because he was working on his routes and putting in a lot of hours. And you could see it on tape.”

More than anything else, Shanahan seeks receivers who can separate, which was Persall’s top skill at Florida. He had 65 catches for 965 yards last season while also serving as the Gators’ return man. That could be one of his rookie roles with the 49ers, who lost 2023 return man Ray-Ray McCloud III in free agency.

Of course, Shanahan also cited separation skills with another receiver he fell for, Dante Pettis , a 2018 second-rounder who lasted only two and half seasons in San Francisco. Shanahan, however, on Thursday noted Pearsall’s toughness and contact courage, which is something Pettis lacked.

The top play on Pearsall’s highlight reel, in fact, is a one-handed snag against Charlotte in which he got sandwiched between two hard-charging defenders. Lynch and Shanahan said there were plenty of those types of plays on Pearsall’s film. And while Pearsall isn’t a Deebo Samuel-like tackle breaker, he did have 374 yards after the catch last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

OH MY!!!! WHAT A CATCH @S1ickSzn 😳 💻 ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/4zzupSxOfJ — Florida Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 23, 2023

“He makes guys tackle him,” Shanahan said. “You watch so many guys and they get what’s there and they go down. … You kind of want to not have to ask guys to fight for every yard. You’d like to have to pull them back.”

As for Aiyuk and trade discussions, Day 1 of the draft went a lot like it did two years ago when Samuel was agitating for a contract extension.

Back then, the New York Jets were willing to give the 49ers the No. 10 pick plus a Day 3 selection in exchange for Samuel and the 49ers’ second-round pick, a package that didn’t tempt the 49ers. The Detroit Lions also made an offer the 49ers found even more underwhelming.

The team took several phone calls for Aiyuk in the run-up to the draft with a few more coming on Thursday. None, however, came close to the mid-first-round selection the 49ers needed to seriously consider moving their top wideout. According to a league source, the best offer the 49ers got was for a second-round pick. Another team picking in the middle of the draft discussed an Aiyuk trade that involved swapping first-round picks, though there was never any formal offer.

Of course, the fact that the 49ers used their top pick on a receiver means that trade speculation won’t go away, and neither Lynch nor Shanahan would rule out the possibility of moving Aiyuk or Samuel on Friday when Day 2 gets underway. However, drafting Pearsall seemed to be done with an eye toward 2025 when Jauan Jennings is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and when a massive salary boost for quarterback Brock Purdy could prompt the 49ers to part with a high-priced player like Samuel.

Pearsall, who grew up in Chandler, Ariz., said he’s never met Purdy, who’s from nearby Gilbert. But he said he remembers playing Purdy’s team in high school in 2017.

“I’ll be the first to admit it,” Persall said. “We played each other. I think he put 70 on my team. I remember him because he was in the end zone a lot.”

Pearsall was good that day. He had eight catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Purdy, however, had four passing touchdowns in the 70-24 win.

(Photo: Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images)

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Matt Barrows

Matt Barrows is a senior writer for The Athletic covering the 49ers. He joined The Athletic in 2018 and has covered the 49ers since 2003. He was a reporter with The Sacramento Bee for 19 years, four of them as a Metro reporter. Before that he spent two years in South Carolina with The Hilton Head Island Packet. Follow Matt on Twitter @ MattBarrows

Blog The Education Hub


New RSHE guidance: What it means for sex education lessons in schools

RSHE guidance

R elationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) is a subject taught at both primary and secondary school.  

In 2020, Relationships and Sex Education was made compulsory for all secondary school pupils in England and Health Education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools.  

Last year, the Prime Minister and Education Secretary brought forward the first review of the curriculum following reports of pupils being taught inappropriate content in RSHE in some schools.  

The review was informed by the advice of an independent panel of experts. The results of the review and updated guidance for consultation has now been published.   

We are now asking for views from parents, schools and others before the guidance is finalised. You can find the consultation here .   

What is new in the updated curriculum?  

Following the panel’s advice, w e’re introducing age limits, to ensure children aren’t being taught about sensitive and complex subjects before they are ready to fully understand them.    

We are also making clear that the concept of gender identity – the sense a person may have of their own gender, whether male, female or a number of other categories   – is highly contested and should not be taught. This is in line with the cautious approach taken in our gu idance on gender questioning children.  

Along with other factors, teaching this theory in the classroom could prompt some children to start to question their gender when they may not have done so otherwise, and is a complex theory for children to understand.   

The facts about biological sex and gender reassignment will still be taught.  

The guidance for schools also contains a new section on transparency with parents, making it absolutely clear that parents have a legal right to know what their children are being taught in RSHE and can request to see teaching materials.   

In addition, we’re seeking views on adding several new subjects to the curriculum, and more detail on others. These include:   

  • Suicide prevention  
  • Sexual harassment and sexual violence  
  • L oneliness  
  • The prevalence of 'deepfakes’  
  • Healthy behaviours during pregnancy, as well as miscarriage  
  • Illegal online behaviours including drug and knife supply  
  • The dangers of vaping   
  • Menstrual and gynaecological health including endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and heavy menstrual bleeding.  

What are the age limits?   

In primary school, we’ve set out that subjects such as the risks about online gaming, social media and scams should not be taught before year 3.   

Puberty shouldn’t be taught before year 4, whilst sex education shouldn’t be taught before year 5, in line with what pupils learn about conception and birth as part of the national curriculum for science.  

In secondary school, issues regarding sexual harassment shouldn’t be taught before year 7, direct references to suicide before year 8 and any explicit discussion of sexual activity before year 9.  

Do schools have to follow the guidance?  

Following the consultation, the guidance will be statutory, which means schools must follow it unless there are exceptional circumstances.   

There is some flexibility w ithin the age ratings, as schools will sometimes need to respond to questions from pupils about age-restricted content, if they come up earlier within their school community.   

In these circumstances, schools are instructed to make sure that teaching is limited to the essential facts without going into unnecessary details, and parents should be informed.  

When will schools start teaching this?  

School s will be able to use the guidance as soon as we publish the final version later this year.   

However, schools will need time to make changes to their curriculum, so we will allow an implementation period before the guidance comes into force.     

What can parents do with these resources once they have been shared?

This guidance has openness with parents at its heart. Parents are not able to veto curriculum content, but they should be able to see what their children are being taught, which gives them the opportunity to raise issues or concerns through the school’s own processes, if they want to.

Parents can also share copyrighted materials they have received from their school more widely under certain circumstances.

If they are not able to understand materials without assistance, parents can share the materials with translators to help them understand the content, on the basis that the material is not shared further.

Copyrighted material can also be shared under the law for so-called ‘fair dealing’ - for the purposes of quotation, criticism or review, which could include sharing for the purpose of making a complaint about the material.

This could consist of sharing with friends, families, faith leaders, lawyers, school organisations, governing bodies and trustees, local authorities, Ofsted and the media.  In each case, the sharing of the material must be proportionate and accompanied by an acknowledgment of the author and its ownership.

Under the same principle, parents can also share relevant extracts of materials with the general public, but except in cases where the material is very small, it is unlikely that it would be lawful to share the entirety of the material.

These principles would apply to any material which is being made available for teaching in schools, even if that material was provided subject to confidentiality restrictions.

Do all children have to learn RSHE?  

Parents still have the right to withdraw their child from sex education, but not from the essential content covered in relationships educatio n.  

You may also be interested in:

  • Education Secretary's letter to parents: You have the right to see RSHE lesson material
  • Sex education: What is RSHE and can parents access curriculum materials?
  • What do children and young people learn in relationship, sex and health education

Tags: age ratings , Gender , Relationships and Sex Education , RSHE , sex ed , Sex education

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Iran's President Raisi killed in helicopter crash

By Kathleen Magramo, Deva Lee, Rhea Mogul, Jerome Taylor, Antoinette Radford and Rob Picheta, CNN

Our live coverage has ended

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi here .

Global leaders send condolences following Raisi's death

Reaction to the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi continued to filter through on Monday.

  • Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Iran, "we send your country our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy" following the crash, which killed Raisi along with eight others. "May God have mercy on them," the crown prince added.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "I remember Mr. Raisi with respect and gratitude. As Türkiye, we will stand by our neighbor Iran in these difficult and sad times, as we have done many times."
  • Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent "a cable of condolences" after the crash, "wishing them [families of the deceased] and the Iranian people and solace."
  • NATO spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah said in a brief statement that the Western military alliance sends its "condolences to the people of Iran for the death of President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and others who perished in the helicopter crash."
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping said, "his unfortunate death is a huge loss to the Iranian people and also makes the Chinese people lose a good friend," according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. "The Chinese government and the Chinese people cherish the traditional friendship between China and Iran very much, and believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Iran will continue to consolidate and develop."

Read more on the international reaction here.

Iran's army chief orders investigation into cause of helicopter crash

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi  

A rescue team carries a body following a helicopter crash carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, Iran, on May 20.

Iran’s chief of staff of the Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri, has ordered an investigation into the cause of the helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Tasnim news agency said. 

A high-ranking delegation, headed by a military commander and including technical experts, will go to the crash site in Eastern Azerbaijan, Tasnim said.

The helicopter crashed in a remote mountainous region in northwestern Iran on Sunday, killing Raisi, his foreign minister and seven others.

Upcoming election could be "watershed moment" for Iran, analyst says

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi waves after casting his ballot for presidential election, in Tehran, Iran, on June 18, 2021.

The upcoming, early election to replace Ebrahim Raisi as president could be a "watershed moment for Iran" if the country's supreme leader allows a range of candidates to stand, a Middle East expert has told CNN.

"I would argue that the most consequential immediate impact of his death is who will come in his wake," Mohammad Ali Shabani, the editor of Amwaj.media, told CNN's Becky Anderson Monday.

"That election can be a watershed moment for Iran," he said.

Shabani conceded that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "is more inclined towards conservative rule than to open up the political space."

But he said Khamenei "has always emphasized voter turnout as a litmus test of the legitimacy of the system."

Raisi became president of Iran in June 2021 after winning a historically uncompetitive presidential election. Many reform-minded Iranians had refused to take part in an election widely seen as a foregone conclusion, and turnout slumped below 50%.

Khamenei "has now... a golden opportunity to, in a face-saving way, reverse course" by allowing competitive elections and encouraging turnout, Shabani said.

Body of President Raisi to be moved to city of Mashhad on Tuesday

From CNN’s Adam Pourahmadi

The body of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the other victims of Sunday's helicopter crash will be transferred on Tuesday from Tabriz to the northeastern city of Mashhad, where Raisi was born, according to Fars news. 

A large public ceremony is scheduled to take place at a prayer hall in Tabriz at 4 p.m. local time on Monday, Fars news reported. 

At 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday, a large procession will accompany the bodies of Raisi and the other victims from Tabriz Martyr's Square to the city's airport. From there, the bodies will be moved to Mashhad, according to Fars. 

Raisi was born in Mashhad in 1960. He ran the powerful charity known as Astan-e Quds-e Razavi, which manages the huge Imam Reza shrine, a major Islamic holy site in the city.

Iran's president has died. Here's what we know about what comes next

From CNN Staff

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi at Saadabad Cultural & Historical Complex in Tehran, Iran, on April 29, 2023.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi was confirmed dead by state media on Monday morning, after a helicopter he was traveling in alongside Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and seven others crashed in foggy conditions in the country's remote northwest on Sunday.

Here's what to know now:

Acting president: In the wake of Raisi's death, Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has been appointed as acting president.

Acting foreign minister: Ali Bagheri Kani, who has led Iranian delegations through indirect negotiations with the United States over nuclear issues and prisoner exchanges, has been appointed acting foreign minister after the death of  Amir-Abdollahian , state news agency IRNA reported.

New elections : The Iranian constitution mandates that the three heads of the branches of government, including the vice president, speaker of the parliament, and head of the judiciary, must arrange for an election and elect a new leader within 50 days of assuming the role of acting President. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a message to state news agencies that Mokhber was responsible for organizing  elections for a new president within that time.

Public mourning: Ayatollah Khamenei has announced five days of public mourning after the crash, and expressed his condolences. All cultural and arts activities have been canceled in Iran for the next seven days.

Global reaction: The loss of Raisi — a conservative hardliner and protege of Ayatollah Khamenei — is expected to sow further uncertainty in a country already buckling under significant economic and political strain, with tensions with nearby Israel at a dangerous high. His death has already triggered international reaction with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India and the UAE leader expressing their condolences for his death. Lebanon has declared three days of mourning .

Militias respond : Iran-backed militant groups Hamas, the Houthis, and Hezbollah have sent condolences to Tehran over the death of Raisi. 

Iran cancels all cultural and arts activities for seven days

From Negar Mahmoodi

All cultural and arts activities in Iran will be suspended for seven days following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, the Ministry of Culture announced on Monday.

Raisi died in a helicopter crash at age 63.

The country’s foreign minister and seven others were also killed after the crash in a remote, mountainous area of Iran’s northwest.

Iran's acting president holds "extraordinary meeting" with heads of legislative and judiciary branches 

From Alireza Hajihosseini

Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber speaks during Iran's government cabinet in Tehran, Iran, on May 20.

Iran's acting president Mohammad Mokhber held an "extraordinary meeting" on Monday with the heads of the legislative and judicial branches following the announcement of President Ebrahim Raisi's death, according to Iranian state media. 

Mokhber spoke with Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Hujjat al-Islam Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i, the head of Iran's Judiciary, according to Iran's semi-official Tasnim News. 

The three expressed their condolences and reaffirmed the three branches of government will continue its duties to the nation "without any interruption," Tasnim reported.  

Iran appoints top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani as acting foreign minister, state media reports

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem

Iran's Chief Nuclear Negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani leaves the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria, on August 4, 2022.

Ali Bagheri Kani, who has led Iranian delegations through indirect negotiations with the United States over nuclear issues and prisoner exchanges, has been appointed acting foreign minister after the death of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian , state news agency IRNA reported.

Amir-Abdollahian was among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Iran's remote northwestern mountainous region on Sunday, along with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

“Following the martyrdom of Hussein Amir Abdollahian, the Foreign Minister of our country, with the approval of the Cabinet Board, Ali Bagheri, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs, was appointed as the acting minister of the ministry,” state news agency IRNA said.

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