Even if you have all the available time in the world, Do you prefer going slow? Or you wanna go fast? Generally, we know at what pace cars and bikes will move. But what about boats? Do boats go fast in general? Or do they go slow?
The boats that are used by many people (mostly recreational boats) will not go that fast. On average, a recreational boat will go at 10-40 MPH, which isn’t quite fast (though installing extra motors will give a boost). But, considering speed boats that can achieve 100 MPH may imply, boats are fast.
Yeah, boats go fast if you consider cigarette boats or racing boats like the Spirit of Australia, which holds the record speed of 317.6 MPH. But considering the more general cases like recreational boats, which most people use (that go at 10 – 40 MPH on average), then boats won’t go quite that fast.
The majority is kind of vital here because many people will not be using speed boats (cigarette boats that can achieve 100 MPH), which are quite faster. So, considering that, boats won’t go quite that fast. The main reason why boats won’t go fast is it is moving in a fluid medium, which has more frictional resistance.
Even if the boat and car have the same engine and raced in ideal conditions, the boat will not win the race because water is denser than air and always provides more friction than air. And mainly the boat needs to push the water in its way too, but the car has nothing to push, just the air.
We will now see some of the popular boat speeds (both average speed and top speed). By looking at those values, you will get some idea about some of the popular boat top and average speeds. These are just average (approximate values); sometimes, a boat can exceed that speed and may not.
|Type of boat||Average speed||Top speed|
|Sailboat||8 mph||12 mph|
|Pontoon||15mph – 30mph||35 mph|
|Jetboat||30 mph – 50 mph||50 mph|
|Bass boats||30 mph – 40 mph||55 mph|
|Personal watercraft||40 mph – 60 mph||70 mph|
|Jon boats||15 mph – 35 mph||45 mph|
|Deck boats||30 mph – 50 mph||60 mph|
|Cruiser||16 mph – 30 mph||50 mph|
|Cigarette boats||100 mph – 150 mph||150 mph|
|Racing boats||150 mph – 200 mph||200 mph|
You can clearly see that most of the boat average speeds are below 50 MPH, which is fast for many people, but not quite (more) fast. So, boats won’t go that fast (as far as recreational boats considered which are used by most people in general than speed boats like cigarette boats, racing boats, etc.).
Related post – Check my article on Boat vs. Jetski, which ones are faster to know whether all three types of PWCs (jet skis, wave runner, sea doo) are faster than boats or not.
Check this short video on Ken Warby achieving the world record boat speed in the late 1970s using the Spirit of Australia (boat) and to know why that is considered as one of the deadliest records to beat, even till now.
Do boats go faster than cars?
Boats won’t go faster than boats because water is denser than air, and the boat needs more power to push the water out in its way (more friction). Simultaneously, cars are just moving through the air without pushing any (less friction). So, boats don’t go faster than cars.
The main reason behind the slowness of a boat is friction. The frictional resistance is more between the water and the boat’s hull. When you keep the boat in water, it displaces the same amount of space in the water, which is equivalent to the boat’s weight.
Meaning, if your boat weighs 1000 pounds and you kept your boat in water, the boat displaces the same space in the water, which is equivalent to 1000 pounds. Whenever you are boating, the boat pushes the boat’s equivalent weight of water away, every time, which slows down the boat a bit.
So, it requires more power to push the water away on its way. Since the water is denser than air, the boat requires more power to push the water out of its way. More friction is making a boat to move slowly. On the other hand, the car is not pushing anything which is denser than water on its way.
The car has to overcome its frictional components in the drivetrain or driveline, friction between the tire and the surface (road), and the air. And the car is moving against a solid surface (road), unlike the boat is moving against a fluid surface (water). So, boats go slower than cars.
Related post – Check my article on Do boats go faster than cars? to know all the reasons why boats go slower than cars in a detailed way.
Check this small and fascinating video on Boat vs. Car vs. Bike race to know how fast they have traveled, leaving the boat far behind.
So, does boat speed matter?
As you can see, some action-loving boaters might need a craft with plenty of potential for speed. Going fast in a boat can be lots of fun. And that’s the one reason why knowing how fast a boat goes is important. It’s also important to consider boat speed when you’re getting a boat for water activities.
Unless you are doing recreational activities such as fishing, spending time, or so boat speed doesn’t matter much because you might do well with 10 MPH while fishing. But, if you aren’t into recreational activities while boating, then going for bigger options will be a good choice.
Suppose you do boating for fun activities like water skiing, day-night cruising in oceans or seas, etc. And if you use your boat for long trips, then balancing speed and fuel efficiency is important. So, whether do you need more speed or not depends on your activities on board as well.
How you’re going to be using your boat should inform the ideal average and top speed ratings of the boat you ultimately buy. Don’t just go looking for a super-fast boat that you might not ever really take advantage of—what a waste that would be! (Check this better boat post to know more).
Check this small video by boats website to know how to increase the boat speed smartly (even as a newbie) by doing those small tricks.
What affects (reduces) the boat speed?
Going fast in a boat can be lots of fun, but some external factors apply some brakes to the boat, reducing the speed a bit. We will now see some of the external factors that affect (tries to reduce) the boat speed.
1. Boat’s hull and bow design can decrease the boat speed
The boat’s hull and bow design will affect the boat speed because if it has a planning hull and slender bow, it will not push the water away on its way like a displacement hull boat. Instead, it goes on top of it by making less contact with water, which will increase the boat speed a bit.
The displacement hulled boat tries to push the water away on its way, whereas the planning hull boat will try to go on top of the water with minimal contact with the water. Pushing the water away on its way will decrease the boat speed for a displacement hulled boat.
More contact with the water means more friction, and if the friction is more, it reduces the boat speed. For example, only the prop and lower unit remain in the water at high speeds in a bass boat. For a displacement hulled boat, 1/3rd to 1/5th of the boat will be in contact with the water.
So, the boat’s hull and bow design are crucial for a boat to achieve good speeds. If you are looking for a speed boat, better go with a planning hull and slender bow designs to get the max out of it (only if you don’t concern about less storage because a planning hull boat will have less storage space than displacement and semi-displacement/planing hulled boats).
2. Low water depths (shallow waters) will decrease the boat speed
Shallow waters reduce the boat speed because the water flowing under the boat moves fast in shallow waters, creating high velocity, which lowers the pressure under the boat; thus, the boat sinks more and displaces more water. So, the boat needs to push more water on its way, which lowers the speed.
The draft of the boat will increase in shallow waters because, in shallow waters, the boat will be moving so close to the ground, and there is less space for the water to flow under the boat, which increases the water flow under the boat (velocity at that particular point in the water increases).
From Bernoulli’s principle, if the velocity is high at any point in the liquid, then there is a corresponding drop in the pressure at the point. Generally, the pressure is required to lift the boat in the water, and if that pressure decreases, the boat will sink more in water, thereby increasing the draft.
If the boat’s draft increases, the boat displaces more space in the water, and the boat needs to push more water out of its way. Pushing more water out of its way means the boat takes more power and time to push that extra water out of its way, decreasing the boat speed a bit.
Related post – Check my article on Why does a boat speed slows down in shallow waters? to know more about what affects the boat speed in shallow waters in a detailed way.
3. Low water temperatures will decrease the boat speed
Coldwater decreases the boat speed because water’s viscosity increases if the water’s temperature drops, which increases the intermolecular attraction between the water molecule (increasing the thickness of water molecules). It becomes harder for a boat to move, so boat speed reduces in cold waters.
Viscosity increases with a decrease in water temperature. If water temperature decreases more, then viscosity increases more (meaning the water molecules’ intermolecular attraction increases, which increases the water’s thickness). So, the boat speed decreases if water temperature decreases.
As the water becomes more viscous, frictional resistance increases between the boat’s hull and the water, which eventually decreases the boat speed in cold water. But, it’s only a small decrease in speed, not a noticeable decrease in speed.
Related post – Check my article on Why boat speed decreases in cold water? to know more about the reduction of the boat speed in cold waters in a detailed way.
4. Boat speed decreases if the boat is heavy
Boat speed decreases if the boat is heavy because a boat displaces more space in the water if the boat is heavy, and the boat needs to push that (more) water out of its way, which requires more power and time, decreasing the boat speed. So lighter the boat, the faster you go.
When you keep the boat in water, it displaces the same amount of space in the water, which is equivalent to the boat’s weight. Meaning, if your boat weighs 1000 pounds and you kept your boat in water, the boat displaces the same space in the water, which is equivalent to 1000 pounds.
Whenever you are boating in water, the boat is displacing (pushing the water away) the boat’s weight of water, every time. If the boat weight increases, it displaces more water, and it needs to push more water out of its way, which means the boat takes more power and time to push that extra water out of its way, decreasing the boat speed.
Those are some of the main reasons that effects (decreases) the boat speed. However, you may not see the difference in speed reduction; it won’t be a noticeable difference.
Relayed post – Check my article on Essential factors that affects the boat speed to know about all the above factors in a detailed way.
General boats that are used by most people (mostly recreational boats) will not go that fast. On average, a recreational boat will go at 10 – 40 MPH, which isn’t quite fast (although installing powerful or extra motors will give a boost). But, considering speed boats that can achieve 100 MPH may indicate that boats are quite fast.
The main reason why boats won’t go fast is they are moving in a fluid medium that has more frictional resistance. Since friction between the water and boat’s hull is more, boats go slower in the water compared to cars or any other vehicles.
A boat, no matter how slow it is going, is always going uphill. It is trying to overcome its bow wave. No matter how slippery water may feel, it is denser than air and always provides more friction. So, boats won’t go quite that fast due to all those factors.