A whaleboat is a type of open boat that is comparatively narrow and pointed at both ends, enabling it to move either forwards or backwards equally well. It was initially developed for whaling, and later became popular for work along beaches, as it does not need to be turned around for beaching or refloating.
Whaleboats are usually oar-powered, although in whaling use often had a dismountable mast and sails, too. After 1850 most were fitted with a centerboard for marine. When sailing, steering was with a rudder; when rowing, navigation was done with an oar held over the stern. Whaleboats used in whaling had a stout post mounted on the aft deck, approximately which the steersman would cinch the rope once the whale had been harpooned, and by which the whale would drag the boat awaiting it was killed.
The term "whaleboat" may be used casually of larger whalers, or of a boat used for whale watching.