How Much Water Does a Boat Need to Float?

By Matt Claiborne

As long as there is more water depth than the draft of your boat, you’re good to go. 

The draft of a boat is a measurement provided by the manufacturer and is how deep it sits below the water.

How Do You Know Your Boat’s Draft?

A boat’s draft is a published specification, like its length, beam, or height above the water. If you don’t know the draft of your boat, the best thing you can do is search the internet for the answer.

How Do You Know Your Boat’s Draft?

Your next option is to go out and measure your draft. This is easily done when the boat is out of the water. Just find the deepest part of the boat, and measure in a straight line downward from the waterline.

How Do You Know the Water Depth?

Knowing how much water your boat draws is step one. Step two is staying in water that is deeper than that at all times.

Types of Draft on a Boat

Minimum vs Maximum Draft


The minimum is when all the boards or keels are fully raised, and the boat is lightly loaded. Maximum draft is the absolute deepest draft it could have with the keel all the way down.

Static vs Running Draft in Shallow Water


A canting keel is found only on the most cutting-edge ocean racing boats. They swing not aftward, like a swing keel, but instead side to side.

Palm Leaf

Minimum Water Depth for Boat

Best Boat for Beginners