What Does it Mean to Plane a Boat?


Boats are built on either displacement or planing hulls. These terms explain how the hull moves through the water. Understand the difference between them and you'll understand what it means to plane a boat.

Displacement Hulls

  • Displacement hulls taper more gently as they move down toward the waterline. They are designed to push water aside, which allows them to move better through rough water. Picture large fishing trawlers and cruise ships. Both use displacement hulls.

Planing Hulls

  • Planing hulls are designed to ride on top of the water, so to speak. When a boat is on plane, only the portion of the hull toward the stern remains in the water. A bass boat or speed boat moves through the water in this way.


  • Getting a boat up on plane requires that you give the boat lots of throttle until it rises out of the water and then moves on top of it, or gets "out of the hole.' Once the boat is up on plane, it requires less power to keep it there. Planing hulls are also faster than displacement hulls.

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  • Photo Credit speed boat image by bwbeck from Fotolia.com
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