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What is a Flat Bottomed Boat Called? (Everything Explained)

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

what is a flat bottomed boat called

Flat bottom boats come in many kinds, such as pontoon, dory, gondola, jon, keelboat, trow boats, etc. As such, it’s no surprise that not many people can say what is a flat bottomed boat called officially off the top of their heads.

The official name for these watercraft is “shallow draft boat.” Others also refer to it as a “shallow water boat.”

We bet you want to learn why the other flat bottom boat name is “shallow draft” or “shallow water.” Keep reading, and we will reveal the answer.

What is the Name?


The official name for a flat-bottomed boat used on rivers and canals (and sometimes coastal areas) is “shallow draft boat.” Some also call it a “shallow water boat,” referring to its intended use – on shallow inland waterways where conventional vessels cannot go.

Why is It Called “Shallow Draft?”


A flat-bottomed boat’s definition stems from its low draft—the distance between its keel and the waterline or the water depth necessary to float the vessel. Whereas small recreational vessels have an average draft of 35.4 inches (2.95 feet), a flat-bottomed boat can have a draft of only 4 to 6 inches.

Even flat-bottomed boats with a slightly higher draft rarely exceed double digits, with 8 to 12 inches being the tallest their draft would go. Hence, we can say that “shallow draft” is the synonym for a “flat-bottomed” watercraft, and so is a “shallow water vessel.”

These boats’ shallow draft hull design makes them ideal for navigating inland waterways, where the water might not be as deep as in seas and oceans.

Other Names


“Punt” is another name for flat-bottomed boats.

However, it is worth noting that “punt” is a flat-bottomed, narrow, and elongated watercraft. Folks call it “punt” because you need a long pole to move the boat in the water by pushing the rod against the river bottom. The person “pushing” the pole is the “punter.”

Jon boats, dory boats, gondolas, and barges are other names for flat-bottomed boats. However, we refer to these vessels as flat-bottomed watercraft types instead of mere synonyms.

What Kind of Boats Have Flat Bottoms

Because a flat-bottomed boat is a hull design classification, let us play a common canal craft crossword to help you appreciate the different flat bottom boat types.

Examples of flat bottom boats with 3 to 4 letters include the following.

1. Jon


A lightweight flat-bottomed boat for camping, fishing, hunting, and transportation.

2. Punt


This vessel is a flat-bottomed boat used on rivers and canals pushed in the water by a long pole.

3. Dory


A flat bottom fishing boat in coastal waters and bays. While its draft is pretty low, a dory boat has high and straight sides.

4. Scow


A flat-bottomed river boat with sails. As its flat bottoms make it hard to navigate in choppy waters, scows aren’t used for traveling over the open sea.

5. Raft


Traditional flatboats made of bamboo or similar materials.

Meanwhile, flat bottom vessels with 5 to 6 letters include the following.

6. Barge


A flat bottomed barge carries people and heavy goods along canals and rivers. This large flat-bottomed boat can also transport scraps.

7. Skiff


A flat bottomed skiff is an outboard motor-powered shall-draft boat in inland waterways.

There are two flat-bottomed watercraft with 7 letters popular among boaters.

8. Pontoon


A recreational type of flat-bottomed boat with air-filled tubes for buoyancy.

9. Gondola


A long-paddled small flat-bottomed boat popular among Venetian tourists.

You can create your crossword clue for these flat-bottomed vessels based on our suggestions and description above.

Related: What is a Flat-bottomed Boat Used for?


You have two answers to the question, “what is a flat bottomed boat called?” These are “shallow draft watercraft” and “shallow water vessels.” Either term depicts a boat that floats on mere inches of water depth.

Boaters must realize that a flat-bottomed boat is not a specific watercraft type. Instead, it is a category of vessels featuring a flat hull and shallow draft. Hence, you’ll see several boats belonging to this category, as pointed out above.

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