Jet-propelled boats come in all shapes and sizes, carrying several advantages over more traditionally powered vessels. The propulsion units operate much like that of a personal watercraft, pairing an inboard engine to a jet pump that sends a powerful stream of water through the rear to propel and steer the vessel.
Enviable acceleration, instant maneuverability and strong top ends are the pros of jet drives. The prop-less design also benefits vessels navigating in waters with sand bars, rocky bottoms or crab pots that stop boats with propellers.
While not particularly fuel-efficient, the beauty of this specialized, niche propulsion is that it can be scaled to work on everything from jet skis to sportfishing machines to superyachts. Typically, jets appeal to owners who crave performance and perhaps the bragging rights of owning a jet-powered boat.
Our 7 favorites, from the Yamaha 27SDX to the 165-foot Mangusta REV, show the versatility of the jet drive.
Despite sleeping up to eight guests, the Sanlorenzo SP110 has, as its superpower, the ability to convert into a massive dayboat. As such, it has exceptional exterior space, including a long, empty cockpit and bow lounge forward. Both can be filled with guests on sunpads. With 6,000 total horsepower pushing its jet drives, the SP110 can hit a top speed of 40 knots and cruise at 32. This yacht is widely admired for its innovative interior. The 110-footer has a split-level upper and lower salon, both located at the after end of the boat, with unfettered ocean views. One of the beauties of jet drives mated with a hull design like the SP110 is that running on just one engine at low speeds results in exceptional fuel efficiency.
Mangusta 165 REV
There are very few yachts in the world that will turn heads like this beautiful, massive Mangusta. The 165-footer’s exceptionally low profile was inspired by sportscars of the 1930s, but its ridiculously powerful engines are definitely 2023. The 165 REV has four 2,600-horsepower Roll-Royce engines paired to Kongsberg-Kamewa waterjets. That propulsion package delivers a top end of 34 knots, which is extremely fast for a yacht this large. The 165’s interior includes four staterooms, large salon ahd full galley, but the exterior gives off a beachy vibe—most notably at the stern. The beach club, which is part of the opening transom, ends with a large, telescoping ladder that leads directly into the water.
Spencer Yachts ‘Wall Hanger’
The jet-powered 63-foot Wall Hanger from North Carolina-based Spencer Yachts is a true rarity in the sportfishing world. The yacht’s cockpit looks like most pelagic-centered convertibles, with a fighting chair, mezzanine seating, and plenty of fishboxes and other dry stowage. But where Wall Hanger takes a left turn is in the engine compartment. The owner wanted the boat to have an under-four-foot draft to access the dock at his vacation home, so he opted for twin 1,700-horsepower Caterpillar engines matched to waterjets. The engines offer a top speed of 51 knots and a cruise of 40 knots—which make running to distant fishing canyons to hunt billfish easy work.
Seven Seas Hermes Speedster
From Greek builder Seven Seas comes one of the prettiest little boats you’re likely to see anywhere—the Hermes Speedster. The 22-footer has retro styling inspired by the Porsche 356 roadster, a precursor to the 911. That includes eye-grabbing touches like a rearview mirror, a convertible top, stainless analog gauges at the dash, and supple leathers throughout the interior. With its 170-horsepower Bombardier Rotax engine, the Speedster can hit 45 knots. But the compact size, combined with jet propulsion, also means the boat can spin on a dime. Fully equipped, the Hermes Speedster sells for about $250,000.
Hinckley Talaria 57
Few builders know more about jet boats than Hinckley. The Maine-based shipyard is world-famous for Down East vessels inspired by the working lobster boats that patrol the New England coastline—though Hinckley adds a lot more luxe and glam to its designs. Propless jet propulsion, Hinckley decided, would be the best power choice to ensure its Picnic Boats and Talaria could navigate Maine’s rocky coast. The flagship Talaria 57 above comes in both flybridge and coupe versions, boasting a top end of 40-plus knots and cruise speed of 35. With its two staterooms, the 57-footer makes for an excellent weekender.
AB 100 Superfast
Italian builder AB didn’t mince any words naming this 100-foot-long megayacht. With triple 2,600-horsepower MTUs, the AB can top out at a nearly unheard of 60 knots, or a blistering 69 mph. The boat is not just fast, but truly high performance, with excellent acceleration and a deep-V hull that slices rough seas with ease. The four-foot draft also means it can run in shallow harbors that would be inaccessible to other boats its size. This 100-footer has multiple layout options for accommodations, while the rest of the interior is also customizable.
This Yamaha flagship excels both on lakes and coastal waters. At its heart, the 275SDX is all about entertaining, which means it can be packed from the open stern to the open bow with guests. Mirroring lounges in the bow, twin lounge chairs at the transom, and more seating amidships make this a great boat for young families with friends in tow. Twin 225-horsepower engines offer not only quick acceleration but an impressive speed of 53 mph. Yamaha’s Drive Throttle control system also makes docking and maneuvering at slow speeds much easier. The system incorporates a toggle on the steering wheel that can move the boat forward or in reverse, without needing to ever let go of the wheel. This 27-footer is an example of how jet power has gone mainstream in the runabout market.