In modern times, yachting is considered both a relaxing and interesting hobby, one could use it in weekend sailing getaways or for competitive racing. A yacht applies to two rather different classes of sea vessels, whether it is sailing yachts and power yachts. Usually, yachts were distinguished from working ships mainly by purpose, since yachts were swift and are the comfortable means of sea transport of the wealthy and powerful.
However, it was not until the dominance of steamboats and other types of motor boats that sailing vessels came to be viewed as luxury items. Modern use of the yachting term applies to nearly all sailing boats other than sailing dinghies, and is utilized for either yacht racing or pleasure cruising.
Owning a yacht can be a very exciting and pleasurable one. The excitement of being in a vessel, whether it be a sailing dinghy or a cruising yacht and going into a sea excursion or just island-hopping with friends and family can be a truly priceless experience. These days, yacht racing and dinghy racing are familiar participant sports around the world, principally where favorable wind conditions and access to logically sized bodies of water are available and within reach.
Competitive yacht racing would also be a perfect way to enhance ones' sailing skills, as well as soaking in the fun and competition. Most yachting today is conducted in salt water, but smaller craft can be, and are also raced on lakes and even large rivers.
Cruising in a yacht also evokes a sense of adventure and thrill, and it could be a trip to the other side of the bay or across the oceans to the islands of the South Pacific. Safe cruising across long distances entails a large degree of self-sufficiency and a wide range of skills beyond handling the boat. The skill of long-haul sailing involves the knowledge of navigation, meteorology, mechanical and electrical systems, radio, first aid, sea survival, nutrition, and these are essential and can be life saving when cruising to distant shores.
In recent times, small- to medium-sized private yachts have advanced from being fairly simple vessels with rudimentary accommodation into sophisticated and luxurious boats that have the modern comforts of home. This is chiefly due to reduced hull-building costs brought about by the introduction of fiberglass hulls, increased automation and production-line techniques for yacht building, especially in Europe and in the United States.
In recent years, the extent of electric equipment used on yachts has been further enhanced. As early as 20 years ago, it was not common for a 25-foot (7 m) yacht to have electric lighting, and now all but the smallest, most basic yachts have electric lighting, radio, and navigation aids such as GPS, or Global Positioning Systems.
Yachts with lengths of around 33 feet or 10 meters have added luxuries such as hot water, pressurized water systems, refrigerators, etc. Navigational aids such as radar, echo-sounding and autopilot are frequently added. The addition of modern sailing equipment and technology has not only made yachting a pleasurable or competitive hobby, but has also enhanced the safety of both sailors and their crews.