Motor Yacht Buying Guide 2023

Read YATCO's in-depth motor yacht guide for those interested in luxury yachts 40 feet & above when purchasing your next motor yacht.

Motor yachts are incredible types of yachts that offer owners and guests an amazing on-water experience. Motor yachts come in all shapes and sizes, with various amenities and luxuries to enjoy. Discover the diverse types of motor yachts available and decide which vessel is for you.

Buy a Motor Yacht FAQ

What is a Motor Yacht?

A motor yacht is a cruising vessel of 40 feet or longer with multiple exterior decks and large interior main spaces for entertainment and relaxation. There are many different types of yachts in this category, including flybridge, sportfish, explorer, center console, and performance vessels. 

Finding a motor yacht available for purchase on is simple. You can start your yacht search here, or you can contact one of our many yacht brokers in our broker finder. Simply use the directory and the brokers will be happy to help you find the motor yacht you are looking for. Upon finding the right type of yacht for you, you’ll be able to have a tour of the motor yacht and head out on a sea trial to see if that particular type of yacht is the perfect one for you. 

Motor yachts can be powered by one strong engine or twin engines. Recently, the motor yachts for sale category have been expanded to include two to four pod drives. These pods add steering capabilities that allow for precise steering in close quarters. If a motor yacht does have pod drives, the yacht owner can travel from continent to continent, go up rivers, or even explore the Great Lakes. These pod drives also make docking the yacht in tight spaces much easier. 

There are a wide variety of reasons why people are so passionate about motor yachts. Some want overnight cruising with staterooms that can be as comfortable as your home, while others seek the thrill of sportfishing out on the ocean.

Depending on the hull design of the yacht, there are many distinct functions that motor yachts have – for instance, a planing hull is one meant for speed, while a full-displacement hull is for slower cruising.

Sportier yachts – even smaller ones such as a Sea Ray – are meant for fast cruising. These motor yachts offer the thrill of speeding on the water and getting to your destination faster, which some boat owners prefer. Other boat owners want slower cruising and to enjoy the journey rather than just the destination. It’s all a matter of lifestyle and preference, and motor yachts of all types are available to meet that need. 

A motor yacht is typically the choice of vessel these days, however, there are plenty of sailing yachts available on the market as well. Luxury motor yachts are popular because they are not only beautiful, but they are also easier to handle and can travel to more places than sailing yachts, which typically have a deeper draft. Luxury motor yachts have a shallower draft than their sailing counterparts, and many can travel to places such as the Bahamas or the Florida Intracoastal. One should be passionate about traveling the world’s waters when wanting to own a luxury motor yacht. These types of yachts are a big commitment, however, they come with plenty of rewards. Spending time with friends and family on trips out at sea is incomparable to any shore-based vacation. Just ask any owner of a motor yacht or sailing yacht. 

Motor yachts above 40 feet can bring you the luxuries you find at home. They are fully operational with electricity, air conditioning, and complete plumbing. These yachts also come with a crew. Crew sizes vary depending on the needs of the owner and the size of the yacht. Your crew or personal staff can flawlessly serve you and ensure you have the ultimate luxury experience; they have their private accommodation away from the living and social spaces of the yacht. The social spaces of the yacht are meant for guests to thoroughly enjoy while the crew ensures top-notch service and safety.

What are the different types of Motor Yachts? 

Aft Cabin Motor Yachts – Perfect for Overnight Stays

If you opt for a larger motor yacht, an aft cabin motor yacht is an excellent choice. You can stay overnight onboard in complete comfort on this type of yacht. Aft cabin motor yachts have staterooms at the back of the boat, hence the name ‘aft’. Aft cabin boats are known for their modest drafts and wider beams, which make these yachts great choices for overnight and day cruising. They are also highly popular vessels for coastal, offshore, and inshore cruising.

Find Aft Cabin Motor Yachts for sale here.

Classic Yachts – Built in the 1980s and 1990s

Classic Yacht

A classic yacht is a vessel that was built in the 1980s or 1990s and has been well-preserved by its owners. Classic Yachts are the first superyachts of their kind and resemble modern boats but often are not as streamlined or fast as newer vessels.

Find Classic Yachts for sale here.

Cockpit Yachts – A Great Boat for Fishing

cockpit yacht

A popular vessel with deep sea fishermen and anglers, a cockpit motor yacht is a vessel that has more cockpit space than deck (or exterior) space. The enclosed area of the cockpit is home to the navigation, helm and storage needed for fishing trips. These types of boats are also very well equipped to handle rough seas.

Find Cockpit Yachts for sale here.

Conversion Yachts – Transformed Commercial Vessels

Conversion yachts are private motor yachts that have been converted from commercial ships, warships, or boats. Most often, conversion yachts are transformed into expedition vessels because they are cheaper to buy and upgrade than build from scratch. Also, conversion yachts are often equipped with helipads, steel hulls, and large decks, which makes them an ideal platform for recreational yachting.

Find Conversion Yachts for sale here. 

Displacement Yachts – Efficient and Stable Vessels

Displacement Yacht

As motor yachts are often large vessels, many of them will have displacement hulls. Displacement yachts are round on the bottom and are slower moving than planing hulls, but they can take more weight and cruise more smoothly. A displacement yacht uses buoyancy in the water to support itself and thus is more efficient.

Find Displacement Yachts for sale here.

Sportfish Yachts – An Angler’s Dream

Sportfish Yacht

Sportfish yachts are extremely popular with fishermen and deep-sea anglers as they offer visibility over the water but protect those on board from the elements. The enclosed bridge will be home to the helm and control center, and often includes seating and a staircase directly linked to the salon on the main deck.

Find Sportfish Motor Yachts for sale here.

Expedition and Explorer Yachts – Built for Extended Trips Around the World

Expedition and Explorer Yacht

There are some motor yachts such as explorer yachts that are meant for extended trips or long-range cruising. These explorer yachts are large – way beyond the 40 feet where motor yachts begin. They are typically above 100 feet and are built or refitted to offer facilities for sailing in harsh conditions. Often, explorer yachts can go on extended trips that can take you anywhere from the landscapes of Alaska to the fjords of Norway. Extended trips are meant for friends and family who enjoy traveling together and exploring far-off places, learning about nature and what the world has to offer.

Find Expedition and Explorer Yachts for sale here.

flybridge yacht

A flybridge yacht is designed with an upper level (or ‘fly’) on top of the vessel’s superstructure. The ‘flying bridge’ is an external place to steer or control the yacht, with navigation equipment. On larger yachts, this space is home to a helm station, sunbathing areas and socializing space. The fly is typically partially covered by a hardtop that offers shade from the sun.

Find Flybridge Yachts for sale here.

Flybridge Yachts with Euro Transom

Flybridge Yacht with Euro Transom

A Flybridge Yacht with a Euro Transform features a helm design that joins the transom and the raised part of the cockpit. For boats with outboards on brackets, a Euro Transom is where the brackets are integrated into the boat’s mold.

Find Flybridge Yachts with Euro Transom for sale here.

Liveaboard Yachts – An Owner’s Primary Residence

Liveaboard Yacht

Liveaboard Yachts are not defined by features or amenities, but rather by the owner’s use of the boat. Usually, Liveaboard Yachts stay in the same location for over a week and is the primary residence of the owner.

Find Liveaboard Yachts for sale here.

Mega Yachts – Large Motor Yachts

Mega Yacht

Mega Yacht is a term that is often used interchangeably with superyacht. Mega yacht is most often used in North America, while ‘superyacht’ is a more common definition in Europe. There is no official definition of these types of vessels, but it is generally agreed that a mega yacht is a vessel powered by a motor that is above 100ft (30m). These types of yachts are usually constructed from steel, fiberglass or aluminum.

Find Mega Yachts for sale here.

Motor Sailors – The Best of Sail and Motor Power

Motor Sailor

Motor Sailors are vessels that can be powered by either a motor or wind power. These types of vessels have an engine but also have sails to help them cruise across the ocean. Motor sailors are built with a multiple sail formation (unlike a sloop or a cutter, which have single masts) to improve handling and stability while underway.

Find Motor Sailors for sale here.

Ocean Going Yachts – Built to Travel Vast Distances

Not all boats are equipped to travel vast distances across oceans. However, Ocean Going Yachts are vessels built with ocean crossings in mind. Ocean Going vessels will need to have a range of 3,000 nautical miles and all the facilities to cater to a crossing of the Atlantic or Pacific. Typically, Ocean Going Yachts are larger than 40ft (12m).

Find Ocean Going Yachts for sale here.

Offshore Yachts – Built for Long Journeys

Offshore Yacht

Built to withstand harsh climates and rough seas, an Offshore Yacht is similar to an Explorer or Expedition Yacht. If you are looking to travel for long distances or venture to destinations such as Antarctica, an Offshore Yacht will be an excellent choice of motor yacht.

Find Offshore Yachts for sale here.

Pilothouse Yachts – Protection from The Elements

Pilothouse Yacht

A Pilothouse Yacht or Boat is a type of vessel that has an enclosed (or interior) helm but still maintains excellent visibility of the surrounding cruising grounds. These boats are designed for crew that need to be protected from the elements, such as wind, rain or snow. A Pilothouse Yacht allows the owner or captain to remain warm and dry even during spells of inclement weather.

Find Pilothouse Yachts for sale here.

Raised Pilothouse Yachts

Pilothouse Yacht

Raised Pilothouse Yachts are a type of Pilothouse Yacht, where the wheelhouse is elevated above the main deck of the yacht. 

Find Raised Pilothouse Yachts for sale here.

Semi-Displacement Yachts – A Vessel that Offers Speed and Stability

Semi-Displacement Yacht

A semi-displacement yacht (also known as a semi-planing vessel) is built with a specific type of hull shape. A semi-displacement hull has a mix of rounded and flat sections that decrease drag on the water, which enables them to travel at much faster speeds but keeps the yacht stable. Semi-displacement yachts incorporate elements of both the displacement and the planing yacht hull form.

Find Semi-Displacement Yachts for sale here.

Shadow/Support Yachts – A Sister Ship

Shadow/Support Yacht

In recent years, there has been a growing trend for yacht owners who want more facilities and amenities but do not wish to own a bigger yacht. Shadow and/or support vessels are usually smaller yachts that follow alongside the ‘main’ or ‘master’ yacht, and are used to carry equipment, extra crew, supplies, water sports toys or additional guest space.

Find Shadow/Support Yachts for sale here.

Sky Lounge Yachts – Cruising with a View

Sky Lounge Yacht

Much like a Flybridge Yacht or a Pilothouse Yacht, a Sky Lounge Yacht has an enclosed area on top of the yacht’s superstructure. This area of the yacht provides more space for the owner and guests to use, but also commonly has many windows so those on board can enjoy the beauty of their cruising grounds.

Find Sky Lounge Yachts for sale here.

Superyachts – The Ultimate Luxury Vessel


A superyacht is normally defined as a yacht over 100ft (30m). Superyachts are luxurious vessels that became very popular in the 1980s. Superyachts offer owners and guests incredible amenities, with multiple cabins, communal areas, water toy collections, large crews and expansive deck space. Superyachts are powered by a motor.

Find Superyachts for sale here.

Tri-Deck Yachts – Three Levels of Luxury to Choose From

Tri-Deck Yacht

With an abundance of space to choose from, tri-deck yachts are an immensely popular vessel with owners and guests. As the name would suggest, tri-deck yachts have three levels of both enclosed and exterior space and these types of yachts offer expansive rooms and living areas.

Find Tri-Deck Yachts for sale here.

Vintage Yachts – Classic Vessels from the Twentieth Century

Vintage Yacht

Large yachts built between the 1920s and the 1980s are known as Vintage Yachts. These types of yachts are beautiful examples of the shipbuilding prowess of their time, often made with ornate wooden elements. Vintage Yachts are labor of love for their owners, and although they now boast many modern technologies and equipment, they require a lot of upkeep to maintain them to their standards. Feadship Classic boats are an excellent example of Vintage Yachts.

Find Vintage Yachts for sale here.

What Are Motor Yachts Made Of? 

A motor yacht can be made of various materials with many different construction options. Typically, these materials are either

  • fiberglass,
  • aluminum, or
  • steel,
  • but some vessels are even made of wood.

Motor yachts need to have the capacity for extended trips on the water, which is why they need to be made of such strong materials.

  • Fiberglass is a lighter-weight material that many production yachts are constructed of.
  • Production motor yachts have a proven hull form and are reliable on the water as they have been tested repeatedly.
  • Custom motor yachts are typically made of aluminum and steel.  

What is the Best Motor Yacht Brand?

The yacht industry has many excellent builders and shipyards. Each shipyard has unique characteristics and skills, so it’s hard to decisively say which is the best motor yacht brand.

The most high-profile shipyards in Europe that offer custom built vessels include

For semi-custom or production yachts,

are very popular choices. If you’re curious about how the various types of yachts move and feel, speak to your yacht broker about booking a sea trial on a few vessels to learn more about their cruising style.

What Length Boat is Considered a Yacht? 

There is not a conclusive definition of what makes a yacht and/or superyacht. However, many in the industry would say that any vessel above 33ft (10m) will be a yacht, and above 100ft (30m) would be a superyacht. 

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