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In English, we have many words to describe the different types of vessels that travel on water:

  • boat
  • ship
  • yacht
  • dinghy
  • canoe
  • kayak
  • raft
  • watercraft
  • vessel
  • sailboat
  • barge
  • catamaran
  • lifeboat/liferaft
  • and other less common terms

Do these have direct translations into Spanish?

Also, what are the most common generic terms for a boat or ship, and what are the differences between them?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

boat: barco, barca (smaller)

ship: barco, buque

yacht: yate

dinghy: bote neumático

canoe: canoa

kayak: Kayac

raft: balsa (Floating platform, originally formed by timbers together)

watercraft: embarcaciones (generic)

vessel: navío

sailboat: velero

barge: barcaza

catamaran: catamarán

lifeboat/liferaft: bote salvavidas

The generic word for describe a board/ship in Spain is barco. But if you want do be more specific you could use other words like ship.

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I didn't know the word dinghy, but it seems it's a bote, not necessarily neumático. – MikMik Jan 19 '12 at 7:15
How does lancha fit in here? – jrdioko Feb 2 '12 at 18:45
@jrdioko "lancha" is a motorboat – Javi Feb 3 '12 at 8:15
"dinghy: bote neumático" - sorry, that's just wrong. "bote neumático" is inflatable boat. – vartec Feb 3 '12 at 16:50

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