13 Best Cruising Sailboats in 2023 & Why They're Better

If you're interested in long-distance exploration at sea, cruising sailboats are a popular choice. The best cruising sailboats are designed to provide comfort, durability, and seaworthiness. From high-performance cruisers with heirloom-quality materials to versatile boats, there's something in this lineup for your skill level and preference. These boats have raised the bar and are set to provide memorable sailing experiences.

The best cruising sailboats are:

Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54

Jeanneau sun odyssey 490, x-yachts x49, dufour grand large 460, hallberg-rassy 340, tartan 4300, island packet 420, fountaine pajot saona 47, lagoon 450f, bavaria cruiser 46.

One aspect that sets these sailboats apart is their focus on innovation and performance. Let's take a closer look at the 13 best cruising sailboats of 2023 and explore what makes them stand out from the rest.

  • These cruising sailboats feature spacious interiors, sturdy hulls, and versatile sail configurations.
  • These sailboats are equipped with navigation and communication systems, as well as additional features such as watermakers, generators, and refrigeration systems.
  • You can buy these boats for anything between $250,000 and $1.4 million or more.
  • A cruiser is a type of sailboat that is generally larger and more comfortable than a racing sailboat.

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On this page:

Best cruising sailboats, why these sailboats are better, the most popular cruising sailboat.

Size Accommodation Starting Price
50 feet 6 to 8 people $1.3 million
56.5 feet 6 to 8 people $1.4 million
54 feet 6 to 8 people $690,000
49 feet 6 to 8 people $425,000
49 feet 6 to 8 people $1.2 million
46 feet 6 to 8 people $370,000
45.8 feet 6 to 8 people $350,000
34 feet 4 to 5 people $300,000
43 feet 6 to 8 people $600,000
42 feet 6 to 8 people $550,000
47 feet 8 to 10 people $900,000
45 feet 8 to 10 people $700,000
46 feet 6 to 8 people $250,000

In this section, we'll explore the 13 best cruising sailboats of 2023, highlighting their unique features and reasons why they stand out in the market.

Living Space Seaworthiness Sailing Performance Safety Storage Space Energy Efficiency Durability
5 5 4 5 5 5 5
5 5 4 5 5 4 5
5 4 4 4 5 4 4
4 4 4 4 5 4 4
3 5 5 4 4 4 5
5 4 4 4 5 4 4
4 4 5 4 4 4 4
4 5 4 4 4 4 5
4 4 4 4 4 4 5
4 5 3 4 5 3 5
5 4 4 4 5 4 4
5 4 4 4 5 4 4
4 4 4 4 4 5 4

Comfortable living space : A cruising sailboat should have a comfortable living space that can accommodate the crew for an extended period of time. This includes a spacious cabin, galley, head, and berths.

Seaworthiness : A cruising sailboat should be able to handle rough seas and adverse weather conditions. It should have a sturdy hull, a well-designed keel, and a balanced rigging system.

Sailing performance : A cruising sailboat should have good sailing performance, which includes speed, stability, and ease of handling. It should be able to sail efficiently in different wind conditions.

Safety features : A cruising sailboat should have safety features such as a reliable navigation system, adequate safety equipment, and a strong anchoring system.

Storage space : A cruising sailboat should have enough storage space for provisions, equipment, and personal belongings. This includes storage lockers, shelves, and compartments.

Energy efficiency : A cruising sailboat should have an energy-efficient system that can provide power for lighting, electronics, and other equipment without relying on shore power.

Durability : A cruising sailboat should be built to last and withstand the wear and tear of extended cruising. This includes using high-quality materials and construction techniques.

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The Amel 50 is known for its luxurious and comfortable accommodations, and excellent seaworthiness. Its unique features include a spacious interior with modern design, an innovative cockpit layout, and a powerful yet easy-to-handle sailing system.

The Amel 50 has a unique feature called the "Amel Easy Docking" system, which allows for easy and precise maneuvering in tight spaces. It also has a unique "Amel Silent Block" system, which reduces noise and vibration for a more comfortable ride.

The Oyster 565 is known for its high-quality construction, attention to detail, and luxurious accommodations, as well as its excellent safety features. It provides you with exceptional performance and comfort. Its sleek hull design offers fast, stable sailing, while the spacious, high-quality interior ensures you'll enjoy your time onboard.

The Oyster 565 has a unique feature called the "Oyster Deck Saloon," which provides 360-degree views and adequate natural light in the living space. It also has a unique "Oyster DNA" system, which allows for customization of the boat to suit the owner's preferences.

With its cutting-edge design and performance, the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 lets you sail in style. Its chined hull, twin rudders, and easy handling make it a pleasure to sail, while the spacious, modern interior ensures your comfort on longer voyages.

The Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 has a unique feature called the "Dock & Go" system, which allows for easy and precise maneuvering in tight spaces. It also has a unique "Beneteau Smart Sailing" system, which includes a suite of electronic and navigational tools for easy and safe sailing.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 is known for its hard chine design, and excellent performance and stability. It offers innovative design and functionality. Its walk-around decks, unique cockpit layout, and high-quality interior make it ideal for cruising in comfort.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 has a unique feature called the "Walk-Around Deck," which allows for easy and safe movement around the boat. It also has a unique "Jeanneau Sun Loft" system, which provides a flexible and customizable living space.

The X-Yachts X49 combines performance, luxury, and comfort. It is known for its high-performance hull design, excellent speed and stability. With its fast hull, advanced sailing systems, and plush interior, the X49 is perfect for both racing and cruising.

The X-Yachts X49 has a unique feature called the "X-Yachts Pure X" system, which includes a suite of performance-enhancing features such as a carbon fiber mast and boom, a racing-inspired sail plan, and a deep lead keel.

The Dufour Grand Large 460 provides you with both comfort and performance. It is known for its innovative design, featuring a self-tacking jib and retractable bow thruster for easy handling. Its spacious interior, ergonomic deck layout, and powerful sailing capabilities make it an excellent choice for long-distance cruising.

The Dufour Grand Large 460 has a unique feature called the "Dufour Easy" system, which includes a suite of tools for easy and safe sailing, such as a self-tacking jib and retractable bow thruster. It also has a unique "Dufour Grand Large Lounge" system, which provides a flexible and customizable living space.

Experience easy handling and modern style with the Hanse 458. It is known for its sleek and modern design, self-tacking jib, large swim platform. Its innovative self-tacking jib, efficient deck layout, and comfortable accommodation make it perfect for family cruising.

The Hanse 458 has a unique feature called the "Hanse Easy Sailing" system, which includes a suite of tools for easy and safe sailing, such as a self-tacking jib and retractable bow thruster. It also has a unique "Hanse Individual Cabin Concept" system, which allows for customization of the living space to suit the owner's preferences.

Known for its quality and craftsmanship, the Hallberg-Rassy 340 offers you comfort and performance in a compact package. It is known for its classic design, long waterline, spacious cockpit, and comfortable and practical accommodations. With its stable hull, efficient sailplan, and well-designed interior, it's ideal for long-range cruising on a smaller scale.

The Hallberg-Rassy 340 has a unique feature called the "Hallberg-Rassy Hardtop," which provides protection from the elements and a spacious cockpit area. It also has a unique "Hallberg-Rassy Quality Concept" system, which includes high-quality construction materials and techniques for durability and longevity.

The Tartan 4300 delivers a perfect balance of performance and comfort. It is known for its high-quality construction, cored hull and deck for added strength and durability. Its epoxy-infused hull provides lightweight strength, while the spacious, beautifully crafted interior ensures a luxurious cruising experience.

The Tartan 4300 has a unique feature called the "Tartan Infusion Molding Process," which allows for precise and consistent construction of the hull and deck for added strength and durability. It also has a unique "Tartan Smart Sailing" system, which includes a suite of electronic and navigational tools for easy and safe sailing.

For those who value comfort and classic design, the Island Packet 420 won't disappoint. It is known for its full keel design, excellent stability and seaworthiness. Its spacious, well-appointed interior and solid construction make it a reliable choice for long voyages.

The Island Packet 420 has a unique feature called the "Island Packet Full Foil Keel," which provides excellent stability and seaworthiness. It also has a unique "Island Packet Anchoring System," which includes a powerful windlass and a custom-designed anchor roller for easy and safe anchoring.

The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47 catamaran offers you the perfect combination of speed, stability, and space. Its sleek hulls and spacious, well-designed living areas make it an excellent choice for cruising with friends and family.

The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47 has a unique feature called the "Fountaine Pajot Helmsman's Position," which provides excellent visibility and control of the boat. It also has a unique "Fountaine Pajot Lounge Deck" system, which provides a spacious and comfortable living space.

Cruise in style on the Lagoon 450F, known for its spacious accommodations and excellent performance under sail. With its distinctive flybridge, comfortable cabins, and efficient sailing system, it's ideal for multi-day getaways.

The Lagoon 450F has a unique feature called the "Lagoon Flybridge," which provides excellent visibility and control of the boat. It also has a unique "Lagoon Spacious Cockpit" system, which provides a comfortable and practical living space.

The Bavaria Cruiser 46 is a versatile and stylish cruiser that offers excellent performance and comfort. It is known for its innovative design, featuring a drop-down transom for easy access to the water. Its user-friendly sailing systems, attractive interior, and practical deck layout make it an ideal choice for a wide range of cruising adventures.

The Bavaria Cruiser 46 has a unique feature called the "Bavaria Hybrid Propulsion System," which allows for energy-efficient sailing and propulsion. It also has a unique "Bavaria Smart Storage" system, which provides enough storage space for gear and supplies. Additionally, the Bavaria Cruiser 46 has a unique "Bavaria Vision" design concept, which includes a spacious and comfortable living space with plenty of natural light and ventilation.

top 10 sailboats

Cruising Gear Essentials

top 10 sailboats

Key features to look for

Versatile hull design.

This allows your sailboat to navigate in various conditions, making it ideal for long-distance cruising.

Efficient sail plan

By having a well-designed sail layout, your boat provides better control, handling, and propulsion.

High-quality construction

Top-quality materials and craftsmanship not only increase the boat's durability, but also enhance its performance.

Comfortable accommodations

When you spend extended periods at sea, you want your sailboat to feel like home, with adequate living space and modern amenities. For an extended sailing trip, you are going to need these 41 sailboat cruising essentials .

top 10 sailboats

How they improve sailing experience

Easier boat handling.

Advanced rigging systems, self-tacking jibs, and other innovative technologies make it easier for you to manage your boat, allowing for more time spent enjoying the sea.

Increased safety

State-of-the-art navigation equipment and weather forecasting systems help you anticipate environmental changes, ensuring a safe voyage.

Sustainable power options

Many sailboats in 2023 come with solar panels, hydro generators, or hybrid propulsion options, reducing your environmental impact and providing more sustainable choices while out at sea.

Integrated connectivity

These boats boast digital systems that allow you to stay connected, monitor your journey, and update your friends and family with your adventures.

top 10 sailboats

Their advantages over others

Better performance.

These boats have been designed with speed, stability, and maneuverability in mind, ensuring top-notch sailing experiences.

Longevity and value

Since they're built with high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship, these boats are certain to last, making them a wise investment.

Customization options

Many of these sailboats offer customizable features, allowing you to tailor the boat to your specific needs and preferences.

Award-winning designs

Several of these boats have received prestigious awards for their innovative features and performance, making them the ultimate cruising sailboats for any passionate sailor.

The Island Packet 420 and Lagoon 450F are the two most popular cruising sailboats known for their comfort, seaworthiness, and versatility.

The Island Packet 420 is a well-regarded cruising sailboat that has a loyal following. It is known for its spacious interior, comfortable accommodations, and good sailing performance.

The Island Packet 420 features a full keel and a cutter rig, which makes it a stable and seaworthy vessel that can handle a variety of weather conditions. The sailboat has a large master cabin, a well-equipped galley, and a comfortable salon area, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy extended periods of time at sea.

The Lagoon 450F is a popular choice for those who want to explore the world by boat. It is known for its spacious interior, stable platform, and good sailing performance.

The Lagoon 450F features a catamaran hull design, which provides a stable and comfortable platform that is ideal for long-distance cruising. The sailboat has a spacious cockpit, multiple sleeping quarters, and a well-equipped galley, making it a popular choice for those who want to travel with family or friends.

The best size cruising sailboat

The best size cruising sailboat is in the range of 40 to 50 feet. Sailboats in this size range are large enough to provide comfortable accommodations for an extended period of time at sea, yet small enough to be easily handled by a small crew or even single-handed.

Sailboats that are too small may lack the necessary amenities and space for long-distance cruising, while sailboats that are too large may be difficult to handle and require a larger crew. Ultimately, the best size cruising sailboat will depend on individual preferences, needs, and intended use, and it's important to consider factors such as comfort, safety, and ease of handling when choosing a cruising sailboat.

The safest cruising sailboat

Hallberg-Rassy 340, and Island Packet 420 are considered among the safest cruising sailboats. These sailboats are known for their sturdy construction, well-designed hulls, and reliable systems. They are also known for their ability to handle a variety of weather conditions and their comfortable accommodations. However, safety can also depend on the boat maintenance, and the skill and experience of the crew.

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14 Best Sailboat Brands

Explore top sailboat brands with our pro's guide to the best around the world. Perfect for travelers & sailors of all levels seeking quality & adventure.

top 10 sailboats

It really doesn’t matter if you are an accomplished sailor with a Master’s License or a novice who wants to charter a boat for a week on the water in the Caribbean. What does matter is that you want to find the boat that fulfills your dreams from a manufacturer you can trust. Finding that “just right” fit between boat and crew can lead to some magic experiences and remarkable memories.

Our goal is to give you some insight into what the many boat brands have to offer. We will look at quality, construction, features, and customer service.

Hopefully, this will give you some insight into finding the sailboat of your dreams.


Wally Boats has to be at the top of our list as the best overall manufacturer of sailboats. In the sailing world, Wally is synonymous with quality and luxury. Unfortunately, that kind of reputation also comes with a hefty price. Wally Boats will typically also head up the list of the most expensive sailboats in the world.

You won’t find many Wally boats at your local lake marina or the typical coastal municipal marina. We are in a different class of boat here altogether. Wally produces 100-foot-long super yachts, each of which is custom designed.

If you can find one, purchasing a used Wally sailboat is a safe way to go. You will usually get a high-performance racing/cruising yacht that will outperform most other boats in this class day in and day out.

What Do You Get with a Wally?

  • Exquisite Design and Visual Appeal - Let’s face the facts. These are boats that look as good as they perform.
  • Above Average Performance - Wally boats took the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in 2019, 2018, and 2017.
  • Highest Quality Build You Can Buy – At this level, you get what you expect regarding the quality of materials and construction.
  • Innovative Design and Engineering – Wally boats incorporate the latest developments in construction techniques, materials, and engineering.

2. Hallberg-Rassy


Ask cruising sailors their choice of sailboat manufacturers, and many will answer with Hallberg-Rassy. This Swedish yacht builder has built a reputation among cruising sailors for producing boats that are almost in a class by themselves. These are boats that are built to be sailed and provide sailors with the utmost in safety, comfort, and handling.

Hallberg-Rassy is a master at integrating form and function to produce blue water boats that perform as well as they look. Most savvy sailors will recognize a Hallberg-Rassy design almost instantly.

Hallberg-Rassy isn’t one of those static companies that finds a popular design and sticks with it year after year. This company studies its designs and listens to its owners to continually improve their designs. A used Hallberg-Rassy is a good bet if you want to move up to a world-class cruising boat.

What Do You Get with a Hallberg Rassy Designed Boat?

  • Integrated Bow Sprint – No tacked-on afterthought here. The bowsprit forms an integral part of the Hallberg-Rassy designs to make handling and sailing these boats a joy.
  • High-Quality Electric Winches – Electric winches are standard items and ease the effort of sailing these boats in even the toughest conditions.
  • A Cockpit Designed for Blue Water Sailing – A safe and dry place from which to steer your boat makes for a much more enjoyable experience when the weather gets rough.
  • Powerful Engines with Ample Fuel Storage – You can be confident that you have the power to maneuver your boat safely under power.

3. Catalina


If your budget is more modest, but you still want high quality and a feature-rich design, Catalina boats are a good place to start looking. Catalina takes a more practical approach to boat design and building, creating sailboats that meet the needs for practicality, sailability, and price to create sturdy boats that can take you anywhere in the world safely and economically.

Catalina is a manufacturer that is recognizable from weekend inland water sailors to experienced blue water live aboard families. Cataline has been on the scene for many years and remains a mover and shaker in the sailboat industry.

One of the big attractions of Catalina as a boat manufacturer is its across-the-board market appeal. This company has something for everyone, from small, easy-to-manage daysailers to 50-foot blue water cruisers.

What Do You Get with Catalina Sailboats?

  • Customer Service – Catalina has been in business for a long time and has a reputation as one of the most customer-responsive sailboat manufacturers in the business.
  • Consistency and Quality – Catalina owners frequently point out the consistency of Catalina’s designs and the quality of their manufacturing as reasons to buy one of these boats.
  • Financial and Economic Choices – Catalina sailboats offer customers one of the best values on the market in terms of the purchase price and long-term operating costs.
  • Handling and Performance – Catalina owners rave about how their sailboats perform with easy handling in both light seas and heavy weather.

4. Bavaria Yachts

Bavaria Yachts

If you are shopping in Europe for an economically priced blue water sailboat, Bavaria Yachts is a company that you will learn quickly. Sailors in the United States know the name, Catalina. In Europe, Bavaria Yachts have the same sort of recognition and reputation.

The reputation of German manufacturing and engineering shows itself in the Bavaria Yachts operation. Leading-edge technology in manufacturing and production helps Bavaria Yachts keep costs as low as possible while producing very high-quality products.

Bavaria Yachts is focused on its customer base and has a good understanding of who purchases its boats and how those boats are used. These boats are designed to be easy to sail, comfortable to be aboard and to provide service without the constant need for expensive repairs and maintenance.

What Do You Get with a Bavaria Yacht?

  • Comfort and Liveability – No matter if you are day sailing or cruising the world, Bavaria Yachts’ designs excel in comfort and onboard amenities that make them great for long-term cruising.
  • Reliability – Owners point to the quality of the construction of these boats and the reliability they enjoy, which keeps them sailing without constant visits to the boatyard for maintenance and upkeep.
  • Smaller May Be Better – Bavaria Yachts has a large following among smaller to midsized boat owners, and the company pays particular attention to designing boats that offer more to this class of owners.
  • Overall Value and Economy – Many owners choose their first Bavaria Yacht because of the perceived value of these boats.

5. Beneteau


Catalina may be a bit better known than Beneteau, but Beneteau may lead the way in the actual number of sailboats sold around the world. This is one of the top-selling sailboat brands of all time. Beneteau has been building boats for well over a century, and their knowledge shows in the quality of their designs and construction. From its blue water boats like the Oceanis 62 to its tiny First 14.

Beneteau prides itself on filling the needs of every class of sailor, from the racing dinghy to the blue water cruiser. Simplicity is a keyword when describing Beneteau boats.

There is no skimping on quality or on the essential equipment needed to be safe and secure. There are also no unneeded extras to cause you unwanted hassles or maintenance issues.

Being a French company, you would expect style to be a primary focus of the design of Beneteau boats, and you won’t be wrong. With an eye to clean lines and family cruising comfort, Beneteau produces a line of sailboats that catch the eye without straining the pocketbook.

What Do You Get with a Beneteau Boat?

  • Unique and Comfortable Interior Layouts – Your crew or family will feel pampered when onboard a Beneteau boat.  
  • Easy Docking System – Beneteau’s 360-degree docking system allows you to maneuver your boat with a joystick to make tight marina spaces a breeze to navigate.
  • A Finer Hull for a Better Ride – Even the most seasoned sailors comment on how well Beneteau boats move through the water and minimize pitching and rolling.
  • Clear Deck Plans – Beneteau understands that most sailboats are intended for pleasure which makes deck space a premium factor, especially among sailing families who express their love for the clean deck lines of their boats.

6. Island Packet Yachts

Island Packet Yachts

I have always thought that Island Packet Yachts build some of the most beautiful cruising sailboats in the world. This company focuses on cruising, and its boat designs reflect the needs of cruising families. Safety, stability, and comfort are the three key ingredients that make Island Packet Yachts outstanding choices for cruising the world.

Anyone who has spent time on a sailboat knows space is at a premium. Island Packet Yachts have some of the most spacious interior designs on the market, which makes living aboard these boats much more pleasant. If you plan on spending much time aboard your sailboat, all the extra interior space you can claim become a luxury.

The focus on extended cruising requires an eye for safety and stability for your boat. Island Packet excels in these categories. The seafaring capabilities of Island Packet Yachts are well documented and one of the favorite features of these boats among owners. A boat that handles conditions well is easier and more comfortable to sail in the long run.

What Do You Get with an Island Packet Yacht?

  • Build and Material Qualities – Most Island Packet owners are quick to point out the quality of the construction and material used in their boats, which means fewer problems over the years.
  • Full Foil Keel and a Skeg-Hung Rudder - The
  • last place you want to have problems when on a cruise is below the waterline. Island Packet continues to include a traditional well-constructed full foil keel and the extra support of a skeg-hung rudder to ensure that below-waterline problems are kept to a minimum.
  • Sail Handling and Performance – Island Packet Yachts are not built for racing, but they outperform many comparable boats. The self-tacking jib and 170-percent genoa are favorites among cruising sailors when talking about sails and performance.
  • Security Onboard – Island Packet routinely includes a built-in lockbox in their boats to provide a secure place to store your valuables, documents, and other items when onboard.

7. Amel Yachts

Amel Yachts

If you are looking for innovation and technological sophistication on your sailboat, Amel Yachts should offer you exactly what you want. This company has been building some of the finest blue water cruising yachts in the world for 50+ years and has always had an eye on staying just ahead of the technology curve.

These are not production boatyard sailboats. Amel Yachts works closely with each customer to produce a boat this is uniquely tailored to the owner’s needs and specifications while ensuring the highest quality in the build and the best performance on the water.

In addition, you will probably need to go to France several times during the construction of your yacht, which might be seen as a bonus.

With an eye for tradition, Amel Yachts is always looking forward as well. Advanced engineering and materials have made Amel Yachts some of the most sought-after boats on the water. Such things as the use of carbon fiber in mast construction, flexible couplings on propellor drive shafts, and the latest in electronic controls and navigational equipment are standard issue items.

What Do You Get with an Amel Yacht?

  • Eye Catching Lines – Owners are understandably proud of their Amel Yachts and often mention how these boats look on the water.
  • Technologically Advanced Designs – Among the most popular and often spoken about features on Amel Yachts are the solar panels fitted to these boats.
  • Environmentally Sound Concepts – Sailors are usually much more attuned to the environment than their land-based counterparts. Amel Yachts’ use of environmentally friendly anti-fouling paints and the bonus of extra grey water holding tanks are popular among owners who understand the need to protect the water they love.
  • Comfortable on the Water Experiences – Most Amel owners comment on how well these boats ride due to the lower center of gravity that is a feature in most Amel Yacht designs.

8. Nautor’s Swan

 Nautor’s Swan

On the flip side of the coin, if you want a fast and dependable sailboat that you can also cruise, a Nautor’s Swan should be on your top choice list. Based in Finland, this company has built a reputation for designing and building high-quality sailboats that match speed with stability and safety. Yes, you can go fast in comfort.

These boats are not only fast and comfortable, but they are also surprisingly responsive and easy to handle. Using foam=filled fiberglass construction coupled with space-age material like carbon fiber, Nautor’s Swan has an unmatched record for performance and safety. You can cruise leisurely with your family or put on your best crew and expect to compete successfully with almost any other boat.

You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to gain an advantage in speed and performance. Nautor’s Swan boats are designed for cruising comfort and performance results. The hull designs give stable safe rides through even the roughest water to give you a feeling of confidence with your sailboat.

What Do You Get with a Nautor’s Swan?

  • Production Boat or Custom Build Choices – Customers of Swan have two choices. You can buy a production model or visit their custom design shop to get a boat tailored to your exact needs. Most customers choose the middle ground and have one of the production designs customized to their tastes.
  • Elegance without Sacrifice – One of the most mentioned features of Nautor’s Swan sailboats are the teak decks featured on their designs which customers love for the elegance this feature yields to their boats.
  • Self-Launching Anchors and Electric Winches – Even the most die-hard competitive sailor is fond of the convenience features of Nautor’s Swan boats, such as the self-launching anchor systems and electric winched.

9. Pacific Seacraft

Pacific Seacraft

If it is traditional lines you want, take a look at the boats built by Pacific Seacraft. This North Carolina-based yacht builder produces some of the most elegant and eye-catching cruising yachts in the world. These boats are built for comfort and cruising, so don’t expect to win any speed prizes if you choose a Pacific Seacraft design.

On the other hand, if comfort and enjoyment are at the top of your list, you won’t find a better boat. Pacific Seacraft boats are probably a bit overbuilt, making them one of the heavier sailboats per foot on the market. This translates into less speed overall but a more stable and better-handling boat that tends to be less tender when sailing than higher-performance boats.

The stability of these boats is unmatched, and the design lends itself well to safe handling, even with a short-handed crew. This feature alone makes Pacific Seacraft yachts a favorite among live-aboard cruising families that routinely don’t have full crews onboard.

What Do You Get with a Pacific Seacraft Yacht?

  • Comfort and Confidence – Families that liveaboard to take extended cruises always mention the space, comfort, and convenience of Pacific Seacraft Yachts as one of the main advantages of these boats.
  • Solid Construction for Easy Maintenance – Anyone who does extended cruising knows the importance of regular maintenance. Owners of Pacific Seacraft extoll the solid construction of these boats that make ongoing maintenance chores less intimidating.
  • Unmatched Customer Service – Pacific Seacraft supports their boats and their customers with some of the best services in the world. Owners regularly report that Pacific Seacraft is easy to contact, quick to respond, and always helpful.
  • Spacious Below Deck Layouts – Live aboard families almost always speak about the creature comforts built into their Pacific Seacraft yacht and in particular, mention how spacious these boats seem below decks.

10. Tartan Yachts

Tartan Yachts

Tartan Yachts has taken a slightly different approach to the concept of cruising with] its sailboat designs. Tartan has made building the strongest, lightest, and safest sailboats in the industry a priority in the business model. They have approached this priority with narrow designs at the water line but provide wider passages.

For those sailors who want comfort, safety, and above-average sailing performance, this makes a perfect combination. In addition, if you want to purchase a boat that holds its value with time better than many other models, you should investigate Tartan. By and large, used Tartans almost always go for a premium price among used sailboats.

You won’t be sacrificing comfort or dependability with a Tartan design. Tartan is well known among owners and enthusiasts as easy to live aboard boats that are simple to maintain, providing years of service. If you anticipate long cruises, a Tartan can be a solid choice.

What Do You Get with a Tartan Yacht?

  • A Reputation for Solid Construction – Many Tartan owners admit that Tartan’s reputation for building well-constructed boats that are safe and easy to sail was one of the biggest selling points.
  • Performance without Sacrificing Comfort – No one wants to be the last one to port when you are cruising with a group. Tartan designs put performance and comfort side by side.
  • Easy Sailing – Most Tartan owners feel like their Tartan Yacht is a forgiving and solid boat that provides an extra level of safety.
  • Value – You may not anticipate trading boats very often, but it is nice to know that Tartan boats seem to hold their value better than many other comparable sailboats from other manufacturers.

11. Oyster Sailboats

Oyster Sailboats

If I were to use automobiles as an analogy for sailboats, the Wally Yachts would be on par with Mercedes Benz, while Beneteau and Cataline would be comparable to Cadillac or Lexus. I would have to put Oyster Sailboats on par with Bentley as some of the most luxurious sailing yachts on the market today.

Oyster Yachts, a British manufacturer, likes to call their sailboats hybrid adventure machines that bring owners life-enhancing experiences. I would say it more simply. If you want the best performance, comfort, and visual appeal, Oyster Sailboats should be your first stop. Oyster provides the utmost luxury but doesn’t come up short in the performance or safety categories.

Oyster Sailboats are considered thoroughbreds in the sailing world. These boats have logged over 20 million sailing miles and can account for more than 90 sailing circumnavigations of the globe. These numbers support the assertion that Oyster Sailboats are among the best and most prestigious sailing vessels available.

What Do You Get with an Oyster Sailboat?

  • Unmatched Elegance – Ask an owner what sets their Oyster Sailboat apart and without hesitation, most will say the elegant and luxurious appointments that these boats bring.
  • Unrivaled Construction – Sailors rarely equate luxury with sailing ability, but in the case of Oyster Boats, most owners consider their Oyster sailboats to be among the safest available based on the quality of construction and materials.
  • Handling and Performance – Being at the helm of an Oyster Sailboat prompts owners of these boats to make statements like, “the best handling sailboat I have ever sailed,” and “I wouldn’t hesitate to take my family and this boat anywhere under any conditions.”
  • Classic Looks – Despite the leading-edge technologies and designs that incorporate the best new ideas, Oyster sailboats are respected among veteran sailors for their classic looks.

12. Hinckley Yachts

Hinckley Yachts

Since 1928, Hinckley has been building top-of-the-line sailboats. This veteran company continues to bring designs with classic shapes, strong construction, and dramatic lines. Based in Maine, Hinckley is intimately acquainted with the challenges of sailing the North Atlantic and building boats to meet these challenges head-on. Impeccable craftsmanship is the name of Hinckley’s game, and the results speak for themselves.

Despite the classic lines of their boats, Hinckley manages to incorporate the best of modern performance design and technologies for construction. Utilizing carbon fiber, Kevlar and computer-designed load paths, the boats are some of the most structurally advanced on the market.

However, advanced technology and performance don’t detract from the comfort of these boats. From the ease with which they sail to the small details and amenities that are often overlooked by other boat manufacturers, Oyster Sailboats put customer satisfaction, safety, and comfort front and center.

What Do You Get with a Hinckley Yacht?

  • Above Average Construction – Hinckley owners make no secret of how much they hold the construction of their boats in high regard. The quality of Hinckley’s construction is one of the most often noted reasons for purchasing a boat.
  • Rich Appointments for a Warm Feel – Many boat owners understand that fiberglass just doesn’t give a feeling of comfort. Hinckley combats this perception by generously using wood inside their boats to bring a rich feeling of luxury.
  • Stability and Comfort – Thanks to the Hinckley gyro-stabilization system, owners are assured one of the most comfortable rides in almost any kind of sea.
  • Customer Service – Hinckley’s Yachtcare program is often cited as one of the best reasons to own a Hinckley sailboat. This program features mobile service teams, yacht delivery, and routine maintenance, which is often the bane of owning this kind of boat.

13. Hylas Sailing Yachts

Hylas Sailing Yachts

Our modern consumable society has spawned a tradition of throw-away products produced in China that are focused more on price than on quality. Wrapping our heads around the idea that one of the best yacht manufacturers is, in fact, based in Taiwan is almost unfathomable. However, in the case of Hylas Sailing Yachts, this is the case.

Hylas, a division of Queen Long Marine Shipyard, has built a reputation for building bespoke yachts for discriminating customers in the custom luxury yacht area. Hylas doesn’t work through brokers or dealers. This innovative company prefers to deal directly with their customer to ensure that complete satisfaction is the result.

The center cockpit design of Hylas’ popular yachts is the centerpiece of their designs. In addition to incorporating the latest in technological designs and materials, Hylas uses almost complete wooden linings on their composite hulls to give their boats rich and warm interiors that exhibit the finest of joinery.

What Do You Get with a Hylas Sailing Yacht?

  • Solid Core Fiberglass Construction – Owners of Hylas yachts rave about solid core construction. Foam core is much lighter but tends also to be much less rigid than solid core construction.
  • Uncompromising Quality – Those who sail Hylas yachts brag about the quality of the materials used in these boats. Stainless steel tankage, skeg-hung rudders, and the use of Twaron bulletproof fabric in the hulls provide a level of trust that many boat owners can’t understand.
  • Immaculate Construction Standards – How many other boat owners brag about the neatness of the wiring on their boats?  Some even make it a point to show off the meticulous way the wiring and plumbing in Hylas boats are installed.
  • Unbelievable Storage and Stowage – The innovative use of space and the care with which these boats are designed to allow Hylas owners to enjoy an above-average amount of storage space.

14. Sparkman & Stephens

 Sparkman & Stephens

Sparkman & Stephens are a bit different in the way they view themselves. This company is not just a sailboat manufacturer. Sparkman & Stephens consider themselves more of a naval architecture firm than just a boat-building company. It is this way of thinking that affects each boat that is spawned from the Sparkman & Stephens shops.

Tradition is a huge part of the Sparkman & Stephens design philosophy, but it doesn’t get in the way of innovation and sophistication. Incorporating the best of traditional designs and concepts with the latest and greatest in materials, technologies and engineering is at the core of the boat designs from this company. These concepts tend to take the sailing experience to an entirely new level.

Sparkman and Stephens take a very analytical approach to boat design. Every hull form is thoroughly analyzed and tested using the latest in computer modeling technology. Tank testing is done on most designs to ensure the performance and safety characteristics of each design meet their exacting standards.

What Do You Get with A Sparkman & Stephens Sailboat?

  • Unmistakable Designs – Owners of Sparkman & Stephens sailboats enjoy almost instant recognition at any port they visit. The combination of hull forms and profile ensures everyone knows you are sailing an S&S design.
  • A Most Functional Cockpit – Experienced sailors often remark that the S&S sailboats have the most functional cockpit designs and layouts they have encountered.
  • Trim and Finish Details – The quality of S&S sailboats doesn’t stop at the boat’s exterior. Inside, owners find the finest in joinery and finish possible to complete the overall feeling of luxury in these boats.
  • Sailing Characteristics – Ask an S&S owner to describe the way their boat sails, and you will usually get a huge grin and an exuberant “GREAT” as the answer. By and large S&S owners rave about the way these boats handle, maneuver, and perform on the water.

Tobi Miles is a University of Florida graduate turned globe-trotting culinary explorer and digital nomad expert. As the founder of "Bytes & Bites," he combines his passion for international cuisine with practical advice on remote work, inspiring others to experience the world through food and cultural immersion. With 32 countries under his belt and a knack for uncovering hidden culinary gems, Tobi is redefining the intersection of work, travel, and gastronomy for a new generation of adventurers.

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17 Best Sailboats to Live On + What You Should Know First

Many dream of living aboard a sailboat, but finding the right one can be daunting. There are many different types, and countless manufacturers have come and gone over the years. 

Here’s a list of 17 options – a sailboat for every sailor on every kind of budget. 

Best Sailboats To Live On

Table of Contents

17 best sailboats to live on, pros of living aboard a sailboat, cons of boat life.

  • Find Your Type of Boat 

Set Your Boat Budget

What size boat to pick, best liveaboard sailboats under 35 feet (< 35 feet), best liveaboard sailboats under 40 feet (35–40 feet), best liveaboard sailboats under 45 feet (40–45 feet), best liveaboard sailboats under 50 feet (45–50 feet), best liveaboard sailboats under 60 feet (50–60 feet), want to live on a sailboat, best sailboats to live on faqs.

  • Catalina 34/35
  • Panda/Baba 35, Tashiba 36a
  • Gemini 105MC
  • Islander Freeport 36
  • Passport 40
  • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42DS
  • Leopard 42/43
  • Beneteau Oceanis 473
  • Hallberg Rassy 46/48
  • Leopard 46/Moorings
  • Amel Super Maramu 2000
  • Privilege 585

What to Know First

So, boat shopping is a challenge, to say the least. Understanding where to start and what to look for comes down to understanding what you want to do with your boat.

Here’s a look at some pros and cons of living aboard to get you started.

  • Seaside living at a fraction of the cost of a waterfront home
  • Ability to travel anywhere by water
  • Ability to move anytime—not tied to one location/town
  • Different liveaboard lifestyle options to choose from: at a dock, mooring, anchoring, cruising (traveling)—tired of one, mix it up for a different experience
  • Small living space lacks storage and privacy
  • Limited resources: you must meter your fuel, water, and electricity use when not at a dock
  • More exposed to the elements and more affected by weather events
  • Seating and furnishings are less comfortable than in a house
  • Constant maintenance to keep the boat seaworthy and clean

How to Find the Best Boat to Live on Year Round

At first, you might think boat shopping is like looking for a new car. But when shopping for a car, you have a small pool of manufacturers and models to choose from. In the end, you might have five choices and already have an opinion about each maker’s quality and reputation.

Boats are different. We’re usually shopping for boats that are a decade or more old. The manufacturers may have gone out of business years ago. When you total up all the possible makes and models of each type of boat, you might have dozens of choices with brands you’ve never heard of. Yikes!

Find Your Type of Boat

There are dozens of types of boats you could live on, depending on where you want to live and where you want to take it. Most people shopping for a sailboat will choose between coastal cruisers, bluewater boats, and sailing catamarans.

Here are some of the pros and cons of these sailboat types. 

The Coastal Cruiser

  • Inexpensive compared to bluewater and catamarans
  • Perfect for dock living or near-shore hops
  • With modifications and the right outfitting, many have island-hopped the Caribbean
  • Many to choose from, and often they are lightly used
  • Designs are often race-inspired and faster than typical heavy bluewater boats
  • Newer, bigger boat for your money
  • Often production boats have low-quality, lightweight builds

Related: Best Trailerable Sailboats

The Bluewater Sailboat

  • The best bluewater cruising sailboats are capable of going anywhere
  • Built to last and take anything
  • Give the most comfortable ride in rough conditions
  • Newer examples are expensive
  • Good ones sell quickly
  • Older vessels may be tired and in need of an extensive refit
  • Often lack the living space that coastal cruisers have—narrower beams and transoms

The Catamaran

  • Cruising cats have the maximum living space, especially cockpit dining and upper salon
  • Light-filled with plenty of airflow, perfect for the tropics and living at anchor
  • Larger models (40+ feet) are bluewater boats capable of going nearly anywhere
  • A shallower draft than most monohulls allows for more cruising and anchoring choices
  • More expensive to purchase, keep, and maintain than similar-sized monohulls  
  • The most in-demand vessels, prices are high and good ones sell fast 
  • Sometimes hard or expensive to find dock space and boatyards that can haul it out for maintenance

Still unsure which side of the monohull vs. catamaran debate you’re on? Try to get aboard some boats and experience the living space first-hand.

17 Best Sailboats To Live On + What You Should Know First

Everyone has a budget when going boat shopping, even if you’re Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. Establishing how much you can spend on your boat is the biggest factor that will affect your decision, and it’s the backbone for all other decisions. 

You must understand just how much boat costs increase as the size of boat increases. Boats are already expensive, and the average cost of owning and buying a liveaboard sailboat varies dramatically. But when the boat gets bigger, it needs bigger hardware, lines, rigging, sails, motors…everything. And bigger means more expensive, so these costs add up fast.

And then there are your storage and boat maintenance costs, all of which are charged per foot. The marina might charge you $15 per foot/per month for a dock slip, and the boatyard will similarly charge you per foot to haul and store the boat. Divers charge per foot for bottom cleaning, as do detailers for annual compounding and waxing of the hull.

When it comes to budgeting, there are two rules of thumb. 

  • Always pick the smallest boat you can comfortably live on.
  • If you have an amount budgeted for your boat purchase, spend half on the boat and save the other half for outfitting and maintenance.

As you’ll see below, boats can be grouped by price and size. When you go up in size, you go up in price—often by a lot.

The size of the boat is a factor of your budget, but also of how big a boat you can handle. Most people believe this means driving it and maneuvering it, which is true to some extent. But a good training captain can teach you what you need to know to drive any size boat in just a few sessions. 

No, the size of the boat you can manage refers more to how much maintenance you want to do. The bigger the boat, the more complex and plentiful its systems. There’s more to break on a bigger boat, and more things broken means more time fixing things.

Catamarans compound this by doubling a lot of the systems. Two engines, two saildrives, two hulls to wax, two hulls to bottom paint—you get the idea.

Another factor you should consider early on is getting insurance. Yacht insurance has gotten harder and harder to get in recent years. If you’ve never owned a boat and have no experience, you might be forced to get something small (think an under 30-foot daysailor) to get some experience on before you move up. It’s also difficult because many underwriters won’t write policies for liveaboards. 

As a general rule of thumb, most people will find boats under 35 feet too small to live on full-time. Most of these vessels don’t even have standing headroom. There is often only a “wet head,” one where you take showers while sitting on the toilet.

Boats 35 to 40 feet are good for solo travelers or couples who don’t mind living in small quarters. The beds will be small and accessed only from one side, as in a v-berth or a Pullman-style berth. If there is one, the second bunk is likely only for the occasional guest. 

You’ll get better accommodations when you move up to 40 to 45 footers. The second bunk may be in its own stateroom. The main suite will have an island-style berth that can be accessed from both sides—a huge upgrade for most couples. The head will likely have a separate, enclosed shower. This size sailing yacht makes a good liveaboard sailboat for most boaters.

Boats bigger than 45 feet are best for bigger families. If you often travel with kids or guests, these are the boats for you. They’re extremely spacious and make boat living easy, but the extra maintenance and cost may not be worth it.

The List — Best Sailboats to Live Aboard

All lists, whether found in internet blogs or international sailing magazines, have issues. There’s no one list to rule them all because there are simply too many different boats out there. And everyone uses their boat differently, so the “best” for you might be a terrible choice for me. Different boats for different folks, so to say.

So, what’s the deal with this list? It’s made from personal experience of having seen a lot of boats out cruising. And it’s a list that tries to put aside the fantasies—Oysters and Gunboats are pretty in magazines, but like Ferraris, not many of us will ever own one. So let’s look at some practical boats that fill each size category. 

For every boat on this list, a dozen or more could’ve been included. Use these models to research brands and see which sizes suit your needs.

Boats under 35 feet tend to be best suited for solo travelers or couples comfortable living in small spaces. As always, coastal cruisers in this class have much more space than bluewater boats do. Catamarans in this class are also coastal cruisers—you need more length and volume to get real bluewater performance out of a cat. No matter which type of boat you’re looking at here, storage space on this size of liveaboard boat will be limited.

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Coastal Cruiser Under 35 — Catalina 34/35

If you want to move aboard, you’re on a budget, and you want the most space you can get, it’s really hard to beat an older Catalina. Starting with the Catalina 30, these beamy boats have a surprising interior volume. They make great first liveaboards.

Bluewater Sailor Under 35 — Panda/Baba 35, Tashiba 36

The famous yacht designer Bob Perry drew these Taiwanese-built boats, all tracing their lineage to the older Tayana 37 . They’re updated slightly and built by different yards, but all full keels with cutaways and built for bluewater cruising. They all have gorgeous teak joinery and are comfortable and forgiving at sea. 

Catamaran Under 35 — Gemini 105MC

The Gemini 105M and 105MC were arguably the most popular cat models ever. They’re American-built, with a single diesel engine and a narrow beam that allows them to be parked in a standard boat slip. In the US, this means many more marina choices if that’s how you roll. The boat has centerboards and kick-up rudders, so the board-up draft is a scant 18 inches—gunkholing perfection. 

While some Geminis have crossed oceans, they aren’t made for it. They have average (sometimes below-average) build quality and fiberglass work. However, they’re perfect coastal cruisers and capable of heading into The Bahamas.

The Gemini should be on your shortlist if you’re looking for a cheap catamaran .

Runner Up: PDQ 32

Are you looking for a small cat with better build quality? They didn’t make many of them, but the PDQ 32 is what you seek. It’s an attractive small catamaran with a wider beam. It came with twin outboards in wells, but the LRC (long-range cruiser) option had inboard diesels.

best liveaboard sailboats under 40 feet

Forty feet is the sweet spot for most cruising couples—big enough to be comfortable and carry enough provisions but small enough that handling and maintenance are manageable. This class of boat has a lot of excellent choices in both coastal cruiser and bluewater boats, making it a good size range to find the perfect affordable liveaboard sailboat.

The catamaran group from 35 to 40 feet has a few very popular choices, but they are right on the edge of being too small for most cruisers. Counterintuitively, these cats are perfect for couples who don’t mind downsizing and traveling lightly. These shorter cats are prone to hobby horsing and don’t provide as comfortable a ride in bluewater as slightly longer cats do. 

Coastal Cruiser Under 40 — Islander Freeport 36

The Islander brand is no longer around, but these California-built production boats from the 1970s and 80s were well-built and well-liked. The I32 and I36 were very popular cruising boats designed by Bob Perry. The Freeport 36 is a before-its-time European deck salon with enormous windows. The swing-down swim platform is another bonus for a boat from this era, as are the Pullman-style berth and forepeak-located head (some layouts). If you can find one in good condition, these boats make excellent liveaboards. 

Bluewater Sailor Under 40 — Passport 40

Yet another boat from the desk of Bob Perry, the Passport 40, is a sharp-looking aft-cockpit bluewater cruiser from one of the best yards in Taiwan. They feature a long fin keel and skeg-mounted rudder. Everything about this sloop is just right for long-term cruising.

Catamaran Under 40 — Prout 38

The Prout 38 traces its heritage back to the earlier Prout Snowgoose. The boat is still being made, now under the Broadblue brand. It’s a sturdy British-built cat made for serious offshoring. While it lacks some of the open feeling that newer charter boats have, it more than makes up for it with its robust and high-quality build.

Runner Up: Leopard 40 (2005-2009)

This early L40 (don’t get confused with the newer ones built around 2020) was designed by famous multihull designers Morelli and Melvin. It’s got more of the things you might expect from your typical charter cat: a sliding salon door, galley-up layout, and a huge walk-through cockpit.

While this seems a small step up from the size of boats above, prices increase rapidly above the 40-foot mark. At this point, the boat’s gear needs to be bigger and heavier, from all the lines and rigging to each block and winch. Engines are now larger four-cylinder diesels, and there’s much more hull area to clean and paint. 

A 45-foot coastal cruiser has enough space to keep a small family happy for short trips or a couple happy for any length of time. These boats usually have island berths in a spacious master bedroom, so no more crawling over each other just to go to the bathroom! Bluewater boats in this class are a little smaller inside, making them just right for most couples doing a long-term cruise.

As far as catamarans go, the 40 to 45-foot range is the perfect sweet spot for most cruising couples. A spacious interior plus excellent seakeeping abilities make these top picks. There are tons of boat choices out there, and most of the best cruising catamarans come from this size group.

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Coastal Cruiser Under 45 — Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42DS

Jeanneau is part of Groupe Beneteau , but their boats often have a more refined finish than Beneteaus. The DS stands for “deck salon.” They feature larger windows that let in more light and have better visibility than a standard cruiser. This is especially welcome if you’re attracted to the living space in a catamaran but need something smaller and more affordable. 

The 42DS also has an enormous island berth, plus a huge twin-helm cockpit with lots of space for entertaining.

Bluewater Sailor Under 45 — Hylas 44

The Hylass 44 is regularly picked as one of the best offshore cruising boats. It’s a center cockpit boat designed by German Frers.  It has a wonderful layout with tons of living space and a large, usable galley. The aft cabin has a large island berth with an en suite head. 

Catamaran Under 45 — Leopard 42/43 (2001-2006)

These early Leopard charter cats are highly sought after on the used market. Like all charter cats, the best finds are the “owners versions” with one hull dedicated to the master stateroom with en suite head and shower. The Leopard 42, which came out in 2002, had a soft canvas cover over the cockpit and was updated to the Leopard 43 with a hardtop. 

Above 45 feet is another big price jump. For beginners, these big boats will require some training and experience before you head out on your own. 

Related: Best Boat for Beginners

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Coastal Cruiser Under 50 — Beneteau Oceanis 473

This big Beneteau came with either 2, 3, or 4 staterooms. Finding the right layout is as important as finding the right boat. The two-stateroom version has enormous berths and lots of storage, perfect for couples with occasional guests or families of three. Most have the standard keel with less than a six-foot draft, making this fin keel/spade rudder boat a rare find. They were built from 2000 to 2005.

Bluewater Sailor Under 50 — Hallberg Rassy 46/48

Hallberg Rassys are well-regarded boats built in Sweden, mostly designed by German Frers. These are high-end boats of the best quality, so don’t expect to find one available cheaply. They’re gorgeous, however, and make wonderful world cruisers.

Catamaran Under 50 — Leopard 46/Moorings 4600 (2006)

If you want a big catamaran, it’s hard to go wrong with the 2006 Leopard 46. Where modern Lagoon and Leopards have tall profiles with tons of windage, this is one of the newest, largest boats that still have single-level living. It has distinctive hull chines that increase living space without increasing wetted surface and plenty of sail area for good performance. In true Leopard fashion, all lines are led to the helm for easy short-handed cruising despite the boat’s large size.

best liveaboard sailboats under 60 feet

Boats in this class are borderline yachts based on their sheer size. If you were to charter these boats, they’d usually come with a crew. That size means they’re more expensive and more of a handful to manage daily. 

Coastal Cruiser Under 60 — Irwin 54

The Irwin brand is long gone, but many examples are available on the used market. They were known especially for their large center cockpit ketches, like this 54-footer. This is a spacious, big water boat that certainly meets the qualifications of most bluewater boats. They can go anywhere, but they may need maintenance and refit given their ages. 

Don’t get to lured by the low prices of these boats. You’ll have to lay out some serious cash to get one ready to cruise long-range. But if you aren’t opposed to some hard work and projecting, the Irwin can get you a lot of boat for not much money.

Bluewater Sailor Under 60 — Amel Super Maramu 2000 (53′)

Made famous by the Delos YouTube channel, the Amel is a French-built brand of high-quality bluewater boats. Today, this brand’s new models look like many others—wide sterned, flat-bottomed sloops. But the Maramus that made them famous were unique—ketch rigged and ruggedly built, designed to take a cruising couple anywhere. Electric winches were standard on everything to keep such a large boat easy to operate.

Catamaran Under 60 — Privilege 585

Privilege is the French-made catamaran that you don’t hear enough about. Unlike Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot, these are beefy cruising boats ready to take you anywhere. Their construction and fit-and-finish are first-rate, as is the joinery down below. 

Living on a sailboat is an adventure—it’s not for everyone. Finding the right boat is an important part of doing it successfully, but it’s not the only step in preparing for the lifestyle.

You should also consider checking my post on liveaboard catamaran options, to make sure you research thoroughly enough!

What makes a great liveaboard sailboat?

Everyone’s priorities for a liveaboard sailboat are different—a bluewater cruiser looking to sail around the world might pick a very different boat from someone who lives full-time dock life. In general terms, you need to find a boat that is safely capable of taking you where you want to go and has enough living space to be comfortable while doing it. 

Sailing catamarans are some of the most popular liveaboard sailboats because their living space is unmatched. Most are also bluewater-capable cruisers that can go pretty much anywhere. 

What is the best size sailboat to live on?

The size of the boat you’ll be comfortable on long term is a personal choice that depends on your personality and the number of people you’ll be traveling with. Solo travelers may be content with a sailboat around 30 feet, while most couples are comfortable on something around 40 feet. Forty-five to fifty feet is more realistic if you often have guests or kind on board. 

With all of this in mind, however, it’s really important to remember that the costs of buying and maintaining a sailboat increase exponentially with length. Getting the smallest boat you are comfortable living on is always better because that will be easier to manage and keep in the long run.

What are the negatives of living on a sailboat?

People live on their sailboats differently, so it’s difficult to narrow down the biggest negatives. Everyone struggles with the small living space that a boat affords. You’ll have to downsize your possessions to the absolute minimum you need. And getting personal space away from your spouse or family is pretty much impossible on a small boat. 

Why are sailboats so expensive?

New boats require a massive investment in time and resources to produce. The nicer the boat, the more time and skill it takes to build, which makes costs soar. Some production companies, like Beneteau, have found ways to reduce production costs and keep the price of new boats more reasonable. But these boats pale compared to other yachts in terms of overall quality. 

Older used boats can be found pretty cheaply. In fact, it’s often possible to find free or nearly-free boats that are on their way to the junkyard or dumpster. The key is understanding how much work and money it will take to get these boats ready to go again. 

Is it a good idea to live on a sailboat?

Living on a boat is an amazing way to experience seaside living or traveling the world by water. But it’s also a unique, out-of-the-ordinary lifestyle choice that’s not without challenges. 

Before you move onto a sailboat, you’ll want to research the topic carefully and talk to some folks who already to it. Many people start with occasional boating, spending a week or more onboard to try it out. With a little experience, it’s easy to see if it’s something you could do for the long term or if it’s best to keep a land house and enjoy the water occasionally.

Can you live comfortably on a sailboat?

Many people live comfortably on sailboats, but a lot depends on the size of the sailboat and your tolerance for living in a small space. Even the largest sailboats can feel cramped, while some folks love the cozy feeling of living on the tiniest boats. 

top 10 sailboats

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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10 Best Sailboats for Sailing Around the World

It’s easier than ever to sail around the world with the sailboats available nowadays. It can, however, be quite an overwhelming search trying to find the right boat for the job. What are the best sailboats for sailing around the world?

We have narrowed down the 10 best sailing around the world boats. Our 10 picks are as follows:

  • Beneteau Oceanis 46.1
  • Island Packet 349
  • Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42
  • X-Yachts X4.9
  • Figaro Beneteau 3
  • X-Yachts Xp55

These sailboats provide comfort, performance, and dependability, all important features for your journey.

Read on to learn more about the best sailing around the world boats, including their dimensions and key features.

Also, we hope you find the links here useful. We may get a commission if you purchase something through a link on this page, so thank you!

Also, if you plan on sailing around the world, an inflatable paddle board is the perfect toy to enjoy the water when anchored:

SereneLife Stand up Paddle Board Inflatable - Non-Slip SUP Paddle

Click here to see it on Amazon.

10 Best Sailing Around the World Boats

1. beneteau oceanis 46.1.

sailboat to sail around the world

The Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 , with a stepped hull design, is the most popular model Beneteau Boats has ever manufactured. Not only did the Beneteau company incorporate the best qualities of their previous masterpiece, Oceanis 45, to Oceanis 46.1, but also, they increased the overall performance, design, and quality of the boat.

Oceanis 46.1 offers more space by adding a taller mast and deeper lead-bulb keel, in which both provide 28% more sail area. The company also released a ‘First Line’ edition wherein both speed and comfort can be experienced. From a roomy and functional cockpit to an enormous forward owner’s cabin, the Oceanis 46.1 lets you sail in luxury and comfort – perfect for sailing around the world.

Oceanis 46.1’s LOA and LWL are 47’11” (14.60m) and 43’5” (13.24m), respectively. It has a hull length of 44’9” (13.65m). Its standard power engine is a Yanmar diesel with 57 HP, while there is an option engine Yanmar diesel with 80 HP.

This model comes with 5 different layout versions: 3 cabins 2 heads, 3 cabins 3 heads, 4 cabins 2 heads, 4 cabins 4 heads, and 5 cabins 3 heads. This model allows you to sail short-handed and allows you to control the winches from aft. 

In terms of design, its interiors below deck are covered with brushed light oak veneer. You can also find wide sunbeds with separate shower and heads compartments. It is equipped with large hull portholes, allowing natural light into the saloon, making it spacious and comfortable below the deck.

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See the below video to get a walkthrough of the Beneteau Oceanis 46.1:

2. Island Packet 349

sail around the world boat

The Island Packet 349 was crowned by the Cruising World as the ‘Best Midsize Cruiser Under 38 Feet.’ [ 1 ] It provides passengers safe and comfortable long-haul sailing and cruising despite bad weather conditions. 

The IP 349 is designed as a two-cabin boat wherein the single head offers a separate shower compartment that is unique to boats under 38 ft. It comes with a complete set of furniture— refrigerators, a pull-out spice rack cabinet, under-counter storage for dry goods, numerous SS overhead and bulkhead mounted handholds, and much more. The saloon also has an L-shaped built settee to port, while the dining table can be folded away when not in use to provide more space.

The Island Packet 349 has an LOA and LWL of 38’ 3” (11.65m) and 31’ 5” (9.58m), respectively. The beamwidth is 12’ 6” (3.81m), while the draft is 4 feet (1.2m). It can carry up to 55 gallons of fuel and 100 gallons of water. It is equipped with a powerful engine of Yanmar diesel with 45 HP, which can travel a distance of 500 miles at a cruising speed of six knots.

The IP 349 has a 32-foot waterline that gives a nominal hull speed of around 7.5 knots. With its full keel, 20,000 lbs displacement, and a ballast-to-displacement ratio of 39%, this model is safe to navigate in sea conditions.

Number 3 in our list of best sailing around the world boats is the Neel 51 . This trimaran had grown popular among its customers when it was launched after the successful Neel 45 and Neel 65 flagship. This model is favored by the majority for its wide deckhouse. The double headsail rig, controlled by Harken 52 winches, is easily accessible within reach from the helm.

But there is visibility restriction from the helm by the headsail, which is a common problem with multihulls. If you want to hang out and relax, there is a large and comfortable lounging area found next to it. The below deck comes with two center-hull cabins equipped with separate head/shower. The Neel 51’s trim is in Alpi wood and flooring in a hard-wearing polyester material.

The Neel 51 has an overall length of 51 feet (15.6m) and an overall width of 29 feet and 18 inches (9.2m). It has a 90sqm live-aboard space and an 18sqm tender garage technical room. It is equipped with a Volvo diesel inboard engine with a 75 HP sail drive.

It can carry up to 160 gallons (600 L) of water and 160 gallons (600 L) of fuel. The Neel 51 has excellent directional stability and can be driven easily. It has no problem sailing from 6-7 knots up to 10-11 knots of breeze, raising its boat speed.

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4. Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

The Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 is the 4th and smallest monohull model in the Wauquiez Pilot Saloon series. What stands out with this model is its modern and semi-minimalist design. It has predominantly white interiors, giving it a clean and spacious look, while brightly lit LED lights surround the saloon. The design is meant for max comfortable cruising for long ranges, from country to country, or even take it around the world.

The Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 is powered by a regular Yanmar diesel engine with 57 hp, which also has a larger alternative option, the 80hp Yanmar diesel engine. The Pilot Saloon 42 has an overall length of 42’6” (12.99m) and beam width of 14’2” (4.34m) that covers 973 sq. ft. (87 sq. m) of sail area at 100%. It has 110 gallons (416 L) of fuel capacity and 162 gallons (613 L) of water capacity.

The Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 is equipped with a twin rudder system at the stern, allowing its passengers to easily control and steer it on upwind courses because of its excellent grip in the water. The Wauquiez PS42 can sail up to 12-16 knots on onshore wind and rarely goes below 7 knots.

5. Arcona 435

arcona world sailboat

The Arcona 435’s blueprint was incorporated from the Arcona Yachts’ successful predecessor, the Arcona 430. With its improved up-to-date design and performance, the Arcona 435, a monohull offshore cruiser-racer sailboat , outweighs its predecessor by proving to be a fast and easy-to-manage 43-foot performance cruiser and one of the best sailing around the world boats . It is equipped with a lead bow and a wider stern, more space in the saloon, and an enormous cockpit while providing more stability . 

The Arcona 435 was designed to offer exceptional performance without sacrificing the comfort below deck. Below the deck, it has a traditional, light Scandinavian design featuring quality woodwork. It offers its passengers the freedom to move with its large saloon and spacious kitchen while having 3 comfortable double cabins (one forward and two aft) without restricting space for sleeping and storage.

The Arcona 435’s LOA and LWL are 43’4” (13.2m) and 40’ (12.1m), respectively, while it has a beamwidth of 13’1” (4m). It can carry a maximum of 47.6 gallons of fuel, at the same time, a maximum of 79.3 gallons of water. It is powered by a Yanmar JH45C inboard diesel engine with 45 HP, and its hull speed is at 8.48 knots.

6. X-Yachts X4.9

Number 6 on our list of best sailing around the world boats is the X-Yachts X4.9 – the third model launched in the new ‘X’ series. This model aims to showcase a comfortable and stylish interior without compromising performance. Its interior design has a mix of both exquisite looks and practicality.

On the deck, from bow to stern, are pinstripes of full teak. With 4 electrically powered winches, this boat makes it easier to handle. All of the 4 winches are placed at the back of the cockpit, making the lounging area clean, with no ropes in the way.

The below deck of the X4.9 is exceptionally designed. Down to its Nordic oak finish and U-shaped sofa, it looked warm and comfortable to live in it. The L-shaped galley has white Corian worktops with a stove cover, a double sink, and a space for a fridge, microwave, and espresso machine.

The forward owner’s cabin has bed-level hull windows featuring a minimalist concept with a large island bed and a thick mattress , including a separate shower compartment.

It is designed with an overall length of 49’7” (15m) and a waterline length of 44’5” (13.58m) while having a 14’7” (4.49m) beamwidth. It covers a 1,290 ft2 (129.1m2) sail area and has a carrying capacity of 66 gallons (300 L) of fuel and 68 gallons (310 L) of water. The X4.9 is powered by a diesel engine with 57 HP (42.5 kW).

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7. Figaro Beneteau 3

The Figaro Beneteau 3 is the first foiling one-design monohull. It is a game-changer like its successful predecessor, the Figaro Beneteau 2. The FB3 is primarily built for people wanting a classic single-handed race. This model is exceptionally light and very sensitive for its size.

The FB3 is designed to have a light helm, which is needed in long offshore races as well as for single or double-handed racing. The Figaro Beneteau is built for speed, but it can be great for sailing around the world, especially if you want to sail around the world fast.

The Figaro Beneteau 3 is a monohull single-handed racing sailboat with an overall length of 35’7” (10.89m) and a waterline length of 31’ (9.46m). It has a beamwidth of 11’5” (3.48m) while its waterline beam width is 8’2” (2.50m).

On the upwind sail area, it covers a total of 752 sq. ft, while on the downwind sail area, it can cover up to 1555 sq. ft. It has a hull speed of 7.28 knots that can carry up to 11 US gallons (40 L) of fuel. It is powered by Nanni Diesel N3 inboard engine with 21 HP.

8. Hylas 48

The Hylas 48 is named by the magazine Cruising World as the ‘Best Full-Size Cruiser Under 48 feet’. [ 2 ] It is built with a solid stainless-steel stem fitting and double anchor rollers— intended and equipped for the long haul. It also is characterized by solid hand-laid fiberglass with a lead fin keel. This model provides a self-tacking jib for upwind sail and a mounted-forward Genoa for off the wind (downwind sail).

The H48’s layout is traditionally designed, and that is having a cockpit at the center, with a large dining table occupying the saloon with U-shaped seating to port, and a cushioned bench on the centerline. The H48 offers a range of options for customization, depending on the customer’s preferences. The interior finish options available are teak, light oak, and maple.

A Yanmar 75 HP turbo diesel fed by a dual Racor fuel filtration system powers the Hylas 48. This model can travel 8.1 knots at 2,400 rpm and can reach 8.9 knots at 3,100 rpm. It has an overall length of 48’ (14.6m) and a waterline length of 42’ (12.8m). Its beam width is 14’6” (4.4m), and its draft width is 6’6” (2m). It can carry up to 290 gallons of fuel and 119 gallons of water.

9. X-Yachts Xp55

Another X-Yacht is included in our list of best sail around the world boats. It is the Xp55 , a sibling of the X4.9, that is also mentioned in this article. The Xp line focuses on the performance of the boat . This Xp model has a mix of fiberglass and carbon fiber in its hull structure, absorbing rigs and engine loads. There are 3 keels available: a standard 9’4” (2.84m), a deep 10’6” (3.2m), and a shallow 8’2” (2.49m).

The Xp55 has two owner’s cabin layouts and a choice of double or triple heads. The interior standard finish is a touch of holly floorboards with teak furniture. On the other hand, there is an option for another style of interior design – a touch of brushed oak wood on the furniture with walnut floorboards. Common to many sailboats is a large U-shaped sofa found in the saloon that can accommodate up to 8 people.

The Xp55’s LOA and LWL are 56’6” (17.23m) and 48’9” (14.87m), respectively, while its beam width is 15’8” (4.77m). The Xp55 is powered by a diesel engine with 110 hp (81 kW). It can also carry up to 123 US gallons (465 L) of fuel and 159 US gallons (600 L) of water.

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10. Lagoon 50

Number 10 on our list of best sailboats for sailing around the world is the Lagoon 50 , a catamaran sailboat. It has been named as the best multi-hull cruising boat in the 40 to 50 feet category. It features a sporty look, with an easy-to-handle rig and increased performance. This model does not compromise comfort while providing exceptional performance. It also features remarkable volume and comfort in the hulls.

The interiors, by Nauta Design, have a home-like atmosphere featuring innovative architecture. It has a retractable panoramic windscreen with a customizable wood finish, and lots of natural light entering the aft cabin, making it spacious and bright.

The Lagoon 50 has an overall length of 48’5” (14.75m) and a beamwidth of 26’7” (8.10m). It can carry up to 2×63 US gallons (2×240 L) of freshwater and 2×137 US gallons (2×520 L) of fuel. It is powered by the Yanmar 4JJH57 diesel engine with 57 HP.

Related reading:

How Hard Is It to Learn to Sail a Boat?

Average Boat Speeds: Sailboat, Pontoon, & Cruiser

Amel Sailboat Review [50, 60, Super Maramu, Kirk]

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Cruising World: 40 Best Sailboats

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Hinckley Bermuda 40-1

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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

How do you choose the right yacht for you? We highlight the very best bluewater sailboat designs for every type of cruising

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Which yacht is the best for bluewater boating? This question generates even more debate among sailors than questions about what’s the coolest yacht , or the best for racing. Whereas racing designs are measured against each other, cruising sailors get very limited opportunities to experience different yachts in real oceangoing conditions, so what is the best bluewater sailboat?

Here, we bring you our top choices from decades of designs and launches. Over the years, the Yachting World team has sailed these boats, tested them or judged them for European Yacht of the Year awards, and we have sifted through the many to curate a selection that we believe should be on your wishlist.

Making the right choice may come down to how you foresee your yacht being used after it has crossed an ocean or completed a passage: will you be living at anchor or cruising along the coast? If so, your guiding requirements will be space, cabin size, ease of launching a tender and anchoring closer to shore, and whether it can comfortably accommodate non-expert-sailor guests.

Article continues below…

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All of these considerations have generated the inexorable rise of the bluewater catamaran – monohulls can’t easily compete on these points. We have a full separate feature on the best bluewater multihulls of all time and here we mostly focus on monohulls. The only exceptions to that rule are two multihulls which made it into our best bluewater sailboats of 2022 list.

As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the venture in mind, we have separated out our edit into categories: best for comfort; for families; for performance; and for expedition or high latitudes sailing .

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

The new flagship Allures 51.9, for example, is a no-nonsense adventure cruising design built and finished to a high standard. It retains Allures’ niche of using aluminium hulls with glassfibre decks and superstructures, which, the yard maintains, gives the optimum combination of least maintenance and less weight higher up. Priorities for this design were a full beam aft cabin and a spacious, long cockpit. Both are excellent, with the latter, at 6m long, offering formidable social, sailing and aft deck zones.

It likes some breeze to come to life on the wheel, but I appreciate that it’s designed to take up to five tonnes payload. And I like the ease with which you can change gears using the furling headsails and the positioning of the powerful Andersen winches inboard. The arch is standard and comes with a textile sprayhood or hard bimini.

Below decks you’ll find abundant headroom and natural light, a deep U-shape galley and cavernous stowage. For those who like the layout of the Amel 50 but would prefer aluminium or shoal draught, look no further.

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a Category A ocean going yacht at this size with a lifting keel, hence the hull had to be very stable.

Enjoyable to helm, it has a practical, deep cockpit behind a large sprayhood, which can link to the bimini on the arch. Many of its most appealing features lie in the bright, light, contemporary, clever, voluminous interior, which has good stowage and tankage allocation. There’s also a practical navstation, a large workroom and a vast separate shower. I particularly like the convertible saloom, which can double as a large secure daybed or pilot berth.

Potentially the least expensive Category A lift keel boat available, the Ovni will get you dreaming of remote places again.

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

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There’s no shortage of spirit in the Windelo 50. We gave this a sustainability award after it’s founders spent two years researching environmentally-friendly composite materials, developing an eco-composite of basalt fibre and recycled PET foam so it could build boats that halve the environmental impact of standard glassfibre yachts.

The Windelo 50 is an intriguing package – from the styling, modular interior and novel layout to the solar field on the roof and the standard electric propulsion, it is completely fresh.

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

I would argue that this is the most successful new production yacht on the market. Well over 50 have already sold (an equipped model typically costs €1.6m) – and I can understand why. After all, were money no object, I had this design earmarked as the new yacht I would most likely choose for a world trip.

Indeed 55 number one Sanya, was fully equipped for a family’s world cruise, and left during our stay for the Grand Large Odyssey tour. Whereas we sailed Magic Kili, which was tricked up with performance options, including foam-cored deckheads and supports, carbon crossbeam and bulkheads, and synthetic rigging.

At rest, these are enticing space ships. Taking one out to sea is another matter though. These are speed machines with the size, scale and loads to be rightly weary of. Last month Nikki Henderson wrote a feature for us about how to manage a new breed of performance cruising cats just like this and how she coaches new owners. I could not think of wiser money spent for those who do not have ample multihull sailing experience.

Under sail, the most fun was obviously reserved for the reaching leg under asymmetric, where we clocked between 11-16 knots in 15-16 knots wind. But it was the stability and of those sustained low teen speeds which really hit home  – passagemaking where you really cover miles.

Key features include the swing helms, which give you views from outboard, over the coachroof or from a protected position in the cockpit through the coachroof windows, and the vast island in the galley, which is key to an open plan main living area. It helps provide cavernous stowage and acts as the heart of the entertaining space as it would in a modern home. As Danish judge Morten Brandt-Rasmussen comments: “Apart from being the TGV of ocean passages the boat offers the most spacious, open and best integration of the cockpit and salon areas in the market.”

Outremer has done a top job in packing in the creature comforts, stowage space and payload capacity, while keeping it light enough to eat miles. Although a lot to absorb and handle, the 55 offers a formidable blend of speed and luxury cruising.

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult following for the French yard. Nearly a decade old, the Amel 55 is the bridge between those world-girdling stalwarts and Amel’s more recent and totally re-imagined sloop designs, the Amel 50 and 60.

The 55 boasts all the serious features Amel aficionados loved and valued: a skeg-hung rudder, solidly built hull, watertight bulkheads, solid guardrails and rampart bulwarks. And, most noticeable, the solid doghouse in which the helmsman sits in perfect shelter at the wheel.

This is a design to live on comfortably for long periods and the list of standard features just goes on and on: passarelle; proper sea berths with lee cloths; electric furling main and genoa; and a multitude of practical items that go right down to a dishwasher and crockery.

There’s no getting around the fact these designs do look rather dated now, and through the development of easier sail handling systems the ketch rig has fallen out of fashion, but the Amel is nothing short of a phenomenon, and if you’ve never even peeked on board one, you really have missed a treat.


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

A centre cockpit cruiser with true longevity, the Contest 50CS was launched by Conyplex back in 2003 and is still being built by the family-owned Dutch company, now in updated and restyled form.

With a fully balanced rudder, large wheel and modern underwater sections, the Contest 50CS is a surprisingly good performer for a boat that has a dry weight of 17.5 tonnes. Many were fitted with in-mast furling, which clearly curtails that performance, but even without, this boat is set up for a small crew.

Electric winches and mainsheet traveller are all easy to reach from the helm. On our test of the Contest 50CS, we saw for ourselves how two people can gybe downwind under spinnaker without undue drama. Upwind, a 105% genoa is so easy to tack it flatters even the weediest crewmember.

Down below, the finish level of the joinery work is up there among the best and the interior is full of clever touches, again updated and modernised since the early models. Never the cheapest bluewater sailing yacht around, the Contest 50CS has remained in demand as a brokerage buy. She is a reassuringly sure-footed, easily handled, very well built yacht that for all those reasons has stood the test of time.

This is a yacht that would be well capable of helping you extend your cruising grounds, almost without realising it.

Read more about the Contest 50CS and the new Contest 49CS


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

For many, the Swedish Hallberg-Rassy yard makes the quintessential bluewater cruiser for couples. With their distinctive blue cove line, these designs are famous for their seakindly behaviour, solid-as-a-rock build and beautifully finished, traditional interiors.

To some eyes, Hallberg-Rassys aren’t quite cool enough, but it’s been company owner Magnus Rassy’s confidence in the formula and belief in incremental ‘step-by-step’ evolution that has been such an exceptional guarantor of reliable quality, reputation and resale value.

The centre cockpit Hallberg-Rassy 48 epitomises the concept of comfort at sea and, like all the Frers-designed Hallberg-Rassys since the 1990s, is surprisingly fleet upwind as well as steady downwind. The 48 is perfectly able to be handled by a couple (as we found a few years back in the Pacific), and could with no great effort crack out 200-mile days.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 was launched nearly a decade ago, but the Mk II from 2014 is our pick, updated with a more modern profile, larger windows and hull portlights that flood the saloon and aft cabin with light. With a large chart table, secure linear galley, heaps of stowage and space for bluewater extras such as machinery and gear, this yacht pretty much ticks all the boxes.


Discovery 55

First launched in 2000, the Discovery 55 has stood the test of time. Designed by Ron Holland, it hit a sweet spot in size that appealed to couples and families with world girdling plans.

Elegantly styled and well balanced, the 55 is also a practical design, with a deep and secure cockpit, comfortable seating, a self-tacking jib, dedicated stowage for the liferaft , a decent sugar scoop transom that’s useful for swimming or dinghy access, and very comfortable accommodation below. In short, it is a design that has been well thought out by those who’ve been there, got the bruises, stubbed their toes and vowed to change things in the future if they ever got the chance.

Throughout the accommodation there are plenty of examples of good detailing, from the proliferation of handholds and grabrails, to deep sinks in the galley offering immediate stowage when under way and the stand up/sit down showers. Stowage is good, too, with plenty of sensibly sized lockers in easily accessible positions.

The Discovery 55 has practical ideas and nifty details aplenty. She’s not, and never was, a breakthrough in modern luxury cruising but she is pretty, comfortable to sail and live on, and well mannered.


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

You can’t get much more Cornish than a Rustler. The hulls of this Stephen Jones design are hand-moulded and fitted out in Falmouth – and few are more ruggedly built than this traditional, up-for-anything offshore cruiser.

She boasts an encapsulated lead keel, eliminating keel bolts and creating a sump for generous fuel and water tankage, while a chunky skeg protects the rudder. She is designed for good directional stability and load carrying ability. These are all features that lend this yacht confidence as it shoulders aside the rough stuff.

Most of those built have had a cutter rig, a flexible arrangement that makes sense for long passages in all sea and weather conditions. Down below, the galley and saloon berths are comfortable and sensible for living in port and at sea, with joinery that Rustler’s builders are rightly proud of.

As modern yachts have got wider, higher and fatter, the Rustler 42 is an exception. This is an exceptionally well-mannered seagoing yacht in the traditional vein, with elegant lines and pleasing overhangs, yet also surprisingly powerful. And although now over 20 years old, timeless looks and qualities mean this design makes her look ever more like a perennial, a modern classic.

The definitive crossover size, the point at which a yacht can be handled by a couple but is just large enough to have a professional skipper and be chartered, sits at around the 60ft mark. At 58ft 8in, the Oyster 575 fitted perfectly into this growing market when launched in 2010. It went on to be one of the most popular models from the yard, and is only now being superseded by the newer Rob Humphreys-designed Oyster 565 (just launched this spring).

Built in various configurations with either a deep keel, shoal draught keel or centreboard with twin rudders, owners could trade off better performance against easy access to shallower coves and anchorages. The deep-bodied hull, also by Rob Humphreys, is known for its easy motion at sea.

Some of the Oyster 575’s best features include its hallmark coachroof windows style and centre cockpit – almost everyone will know at first glance this is an Oyster – and superb interior finish. If she has a flaw, it is arguably the high cockpit, but the flip side is the galley headroom and passageway berth to the large aft stateroom.

This design also has a host of practical features for long-distance cruising, such as high guardrails, dedicated liferaft stowage, a vast lazarette for swallowing sails, tender, fenders etc, and a penthouse engine room.


Privilege Serie 5

A true luxury catamaran which, fully fitted out, will top €1m, this deserves to be seen alongside the likes of the Oyster 575, Gunfleet 58 and Hallberg-Rassy 55. It boasts a large cockpit and living area, and a light and spacious saloon with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, masses of refrigeration and a big galley.

Standout features are finish quality and solid build in a yacht designed to take a high payload, a secure walkaround deck and all-round views from the helm station. The new Privilege 510 that will replace this launches in February 2020.

Gunfleet 43

It was with this Tony Castro design that Richard Matthews, founder of Oyster Yachts, launched a brand new rival brand in 2012, the smallest of a range stretching to the flagship Gunfleet 74. The combination of short overhangs and centre cockpit at this size do make the Gunfleet 43 look modern if a little boxy, but time and subsequent design trends have been kind to her lines, and the build quality is excellent. The saloon, galley and aft cabin space is exceptional on a yacht of this size.


Photo: David Harding

Conceived as a belt-and-braces cruiser, the Kraken 50 launched last year. Its unique points lie underwater in the guise of a full skeg-hung rudder and so-called ‘Zero Keel’, an encapsulated long keel with lead ballast.

Kraken Yachts is the brainchild of British businessman and highly experienced cruiser Dick Beaumont, who is adamant that safety should be foremost in cruising yacht design and build. “There is no such thing as ‘one yacht for all purposes’… You cannot have the best of all worlds, whatever the salesman tells you,” he says.

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .


Wauquiez Centurion 57

Few yachts can claim to be both an exciting Med-style design and a serious and practical northern European offshore cruiser, but the Wauquiez Centurion 57 tries to blend both. She slightly misses if you judge solely by either criterion, but is pretty and practical enough to suit her purpose.

A very pleasant, well-considered yacht, she is impressively built and finished with a warm and comfortable interior. More versatile than radical, she could be used for sailing across the Atlantic in comfort and raced with equal enjoyment at Antigua Sailing Week .


A modern classic if ever there was one. A medium to heavy displacement yacht, stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Pretty, traditional lines and layout below.


Photo: Voyage of Swell

Well-proven US legacy design dating back to the mid-1960s that once conquered the Transpac Race . Still admired as pretty, with slight spoon bow and overhanging transom.


Capable medium displacement cruiser, ideal size and good accommodation for couples or family cruising, and much less costly than similar luxury brands.


Photo: Peter Szamer

Swedish-built aft cockpit cruiser, smaller than many here, but a well-built and finished, super-durable pocket ocean cruiser.


Tartan 3700

Designed as a performance cruiser there are nimbler alternatives now, but this is still an extremely pretty yacht.

Broker ’ s choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

This yacht has already circumnavigated the globe and is ‘prepared for her next adventure,’ says broker Berthon. Price: £535,000 + VAT


Oyster 575 Ayesha

‘Stunning, and perfectly equipped for bluewater cruising,’ says broker Ancasta International. Price: £845,000 (tax not paid)


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

Nearly new and with a high spec, this Oyster Brokerage yacht features American white oak joinery and white leather upholstery and has a shoal draught keel. Price: $1.49m

Best bluewater yachts for performance

The Frers-designed Swan 54 may not be the newest hull shape but heralded Swan’s latest generation of displacement bluewater cruisers when launched four years ago. With raked stem, deep V hull form, lower freeboard and slight curve to the topsides she has a more timeless aesthetic than many modern slab-sided high volume yachts, and with that a seakindly motion in waves. If you plan to cover many miles to weather, this is probably the yacht you want to be on.


Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Besides Swan’s superlative build quality, the 54 brings many true bluewater features, including a dedicated sail locker. There’s also a cockpit locker that functions as a utility cabin, with potential to hold your generator and washing machine, or be a workshop space.

The sloping transom opens out to reveal a 2.5m bathing platform, and although the cabins are not huge there is copious stowage space. Down below the top-notch oak joinery is well thought through with deep fiddles, and there is a substantial nav station. But the Swan 54 wins for handling above all, with well laid-out sail controls that can be easily managed between a couple, while offering real sailing enjoyment to the helmsman.


Photo: Graham Snook

The Performance Cruiser winner at the 2019 European Yacht of the Year awards, the Arcona 435 is all about the sailing experience. She has genuine potential as a cruiser-racer, but her strengths are as an enjoyable cruiser rather than a full-blown liveaboard bluewater boat.

Build quality is excellent, there is the option of a carbon hull and deck, and elegant lines and a plumb bow give the Arcona 435 good looks as well as excellent performance in light airs. Besides slick sail handling systems, there are well thought-out features for cruising, such as ample built-in rope bins and an optional semi-closed stern with stowage and swim platform.


Outremer 51

If you want the space and stability of a cat but still prioritise sailing performance, Outremer has built a reputation on building catamarans with true bluewater characteristics that have cruised the planet for the past 30 years.

Lighter and slimmer-hulled than most cruising cats, the Outremer 51 is all about sailing at faster speeds, more easily. The lower volume hulls and higher bridgedeck make for a better motion in waves, while owners report that being able to maintain a decent pace even under reduced canvas makes for stress-free passages. Deep daggerboards also give good upwind performance.

With bucket seats and tiller steering options, the Outremer 51 rewards sailors who want to spend time steering, while they’re famously well set up for handling with one person on deck. The compromise comes with the interior space – even with a relatively minimalist style, there is less cabin space and stowage volume than on the bulkier cats, but the Outremer 51 still packs in plenty of practical features.


The Xc45 was the first cruising yacht X-Yachts ever built, and designed to give the same X-Yachts sailing experience for sailors who’d spent years racing 30/40-footer X- and IMX designs, but in a cruising package.

Launched over 10 years ago, the Xc45 has been revisited a few times to increase the stowage and modernise some of the styling, but the key features remain the same, including substantial tanks set low for a low centre of gravity, and X-Yachts’ trademark steel keel grid structure. She has fairly traditional styling and layout, matched with solid build quality.

A soft bilge and V-shaped hull gives a kindly motion in waves, and the cockpit is secure, if narrow by modern standards.


A three or four cabin catamaran that’s fleet of foot with high bridgedeck clearance for comfortable motion at sea. With tall daggerboards and carbon construction in some high load areas, Catana cats are light and quick to accelerate.


Sweden Yachts 45

An established bluewater design that also features in plenty of offshore races. Some examples are specced with carbon rig and retractable bowsprits. All have a self-tacking jib for ease. Expect sweeping areas of teak above decks and a traditionally wooded interior with hanging wet locker.


A vintage performer, first launched in 1981, the 51 was the first Frers-designed Swan and marked a new era of iconic cruiser-racers. Some 36 of the Swan 51 were built, many still actively racing and cruising nearly 40 years on. Classic lines and a split cockpit make this a boat for helming, not sunbathing.


Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

The JPK 45 comes from a French racing stable, combining race-winning design heritage with cruising amenities. What you see is what you get – there are no superfluous headliners or floorboards, but there are plenty of ocean sailing details, like inboard winches for safe trimming. The JPK 45 also has a brilliantly designed cockpit with an optional doghouse creating all-weather shelter, twin wheels and superb clutch and rope bin arrangement.


Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

For sailors who don’t mind exchanging a few creature comforts for downwind planing performance, the Pogo 50 offers double-digit surfing speeds for exhilarating tradewind sailing. There’s an open transom, tiller steering and no backstay or runners. The Pogo 50 also has a swing keel, to nose into shallow anchorages.


Seawind 1600

Seawinds are relatively unknown in Europe, but these bluewater cats are very popular in Australia. As would be expected from a Reichel-Pugh design, this 52-footer combines striking good looks and high performance, with fine entry bows and comparatively low freeboard. Rudders are foam cored lifting designs in cassettes, which offer straightforward access in case of repairs, while daggerboards are housed under the deck.

Best bluewater sailboats for families

It’s unsurprising that, for many families, it’s a catamaran that meets their requirements best of increased space – both living space and separate cabins for privacy-seeking teenagers, additional crew or visiting family – as well as stable and predictable handling.


Photo: Nicholas Claris

Undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories has been the Lagoon 450, which, together with boats like the Fountaine Pajot 44, helped drive up the popularity of catamaran cruising by making it affordable and accessible. They have sold in huge numbers – over 1,000 Lagoon 450s have been built since its launch in 2010.

The VPLP-designed 450 was originally launched with a flybridge with a near central helming position and upper level lounging areas (450F). The later ‘sport top’ option (450S) offered a starboard helm station and lower boom (and hence lower centre of gravity for reduced pitching). The 450S also gained a hull chine to create additional volume above the waterline. The Lagoon features forward lounging and aft cockpit areas for additional outdoor living space.

Besides being a big hit among charter operators, Lagoons have proven themselves over thousands of bluewater miles – there were seven Lagoon 450s in last year’s ARC alone. In what remains a competitive sector of the market, Lagoon has recently launched a new 46, with a larger self-tacking jib and mast moved aft, and more lounging areas.


Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

The FP Helia 44 is lighter, lower volume, and has a lower freeboard than the Lagoon, weighing in at 10.8 tonnes unloaded (compared to 15 for the 450). The helm station is on a mezzanine level two steps up from the bridgedeck, with a bench seat behind. A later ‘Evolution’ version was designed for liveaboard cruisers, featuring beefed up dinghy davits and an improved saloon space.

Available in three or four cabin layouts, the Helia 44 was also popular with charter owners as well as families. The new 45 promises additional volume, and an optional hydraulically lowered ‘beach club’ swim platform.


Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

The French RM 1370 might be less well known than the big brand names, but offers something a little bit different for anyone who wants a relatively voluminous cruising yacht. Designed by Marc Lombard, and beautifully built from plywood/epoxy, the RM is stiff and responsive, and sails superbly.

The RM yachts have a more individual look – in part down to the painted finish, which encourages many owners to personalise their yachts, but also thanks to their distinctive lines with reverse sheer and dreadnought bow. The cockpit is well laid out with the primary winches inboard for a secure trimming position. The interior is light, airy and modern, although the open transom won’t appeal to everyone.

For those wanting a monohull, the Hanse 575 hits a similar sweet spot to the popular multis, maximising accommodation for a realistic price, yet with responsive performance.

The Hanse offers a vast amount of living space thanks to the ‘loft design’ concept of having all the living areas on a single level, which gives a real feeling of spaciousness with no raised saloon or steps to accommodation. The trade-off for such lofty head height is a substantial freeboard – it towers above the pontoon, while, below, a stepladder is provided to reach some hatches.

Galley options include drawer fridge-freezers, microwave and coffee machine, and the full size nav station can double up as an office or study space.

But while the Hanse 575 is a seriously large boat, its popularity is also down to the fact that it is genuinely able to be handled by a couple. It was innovative in its deck layout: with a self-tacking jib and mainsheet winches immediately to hand next to the helm, one person could both steer and trim.

Direct steering gives a feeling of control and some tangible sailing fun, while the waterline length makes for rapid passage times. In 2016 the German yard launched the newer Hanse 588 model, having already sold 175 of the 575s in just four years.


Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

Jeanneau leads the way among production builders for versatile all-rounder yachts that balance sail performance and handling, ergonomics, liveaboard functionality and good looks. The Jeanneau 54 , part of the range designed by Philippe Briand with interior by Andrew Winch, melds the best of the larger and smaller models and is available in a vast array of layout options from two cabins/two heads right up to five cabins and three heads.

We’ve tested the Jeanneau 54 in a gale and very light winds, and it acquitted itself handsomely in both extremes. The primary and mainsheet winches are to hand next to the wheel, and the cockpit is spacious, protected and child-friendly. An electric folding swim and sun deck makes for quick fun in the water.


Nautitech Open 46

This was the first Nautitech catamaran to be built under the ownership of Bavaria, designed with an open-plan bridgedeck and cockpit for free-flowing living space. But with good pace for eating up bluewater miles, and aft twin helms rather than a flybridge, the Nautitech Open 46 also appeals to monohull sailors who prefer a more direct sailing experience.


Made by Robertson and Caine, who produce catamarans under a dual identity as both Leopard and the Sunsail/Moorings charter cats, the Leopard 45 is set to be another big seller. Reflecting its charter DNA, the Leopard 45 is voluminous, with stepped hulls for reduced waterline, and a separate forward cockpit.

Built in South Africa, they are robustly tested off the Cape and constructed ruggedly enough to handle heavy weather sailing as well as the demands of chartering.


Photo: Olivier Blanchet

If space is king then three hulls might be even better than two. The Neel 51 is rare as a cruising trimaran with enough space for proper liveaboard sailing. The galley and saloon are in the large central hull, together with an owner’s cabin on one level for a unique sensation of living above the water. Guest or family cabins lie in the outer hulls for privacy and there is a cavernous full height engine room under the cabin sole.

Performance is notably higher than an equivalent cruising cat, particularly in light winds, with a single rudder giving a truly direct feel in the helm, although manoeuvring a 50ft trimaran may daunt many sailors.


Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

A brilliant new model from Beneteau, this Finot Conq design has a modern stepped hull, which offers exhilarating and confidence-inspiring handling in big breezes, and slippery performance in lighter winds.

The Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 was the standout performer at this year’s European Yacht of the Year awards, and, in replacing the popular Oceanis 45, looks set to be another bestseller. Interior space is well used with a double island berth in the forepeak. An additional inboard unit creates a secure galley area, but tank capacity is moderate for long periods aboard.


Beneteau Oceanis 473

A popular model that offers beam and height in a functional layout, although, as with many boats of this age (she was launched in 2002), the mainsheet is not within reach of the helmsman.


Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

The Philippe Briand-designed Sun Odyssey range has a solid reputation as family production cruisers. Like the 473, the Sun Odyssey 49 was popular for charter so there are plenty of four-cabin models on the market.


Nautitech 441

The hull design dates back to 1995, but was relaunched in 2012. Though the saloon interior has dated, the 441 has solid practical features, such as a rainwater run-off collection gutter around the coachroof.


Atlantic 42

Chris White-designed cats feature a pilothouse and forward waist-high working cockpit with helm position, as well as an inside wheel at the nav station. The Atlantic 42 offers limited accommodation by modern cat standards but a very different sailing experience.

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

All of the yachts in our ‘expedition’ category are aluminium-hulled designs suitable for high latitude sailing, and all are exceptional yachts. But the Bestevaer 56 is a spectacular amount of boat to take on a true adventure. Each Bestevaer is a near-custom build with plenty of bespoke options for owners to customise the layout and where they fall on the scale of rugged off-grid adventurer to 4×4-style luxury fit out.


The Bestevaer range began when renowned naval architect Gerard Dijkstra chose to design his own personal yacht for liveaboard adventure cruising, a 53-footer. The concept drew plenty of interest from bluewater sailors wanting to make longer expeditions and Bestevaers are now available in a range of sizes, with the 56-footer proving a popular mid-range length.

The well-known Bestevaer 56 Tranquilo  (pictured above) has a deep, secure cockpit, voluminous tanks (700lt water and over 1,100lt fuel) and a lifting keel plus water ballast, with classically styled teak clad decks and pilot house. Other owners have opted for functional bare aluminium hull and deck, some choose a doghouse and others a pilothouse.


Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

The Boreal 52 also offers Land Rover-esque practicality, with utilitarian bare aluminium hulls and a distinctive double-level doghouse/coachroof arrangement for added protection in all weathers. The cockpit is clean and uncluttered, thanks to the mainsheet position on top of the doghouse, although for visibility in close manoeuvring the helmsman will want to step up onto the aft deck.

Twin daggerboards, a lifting centreboard and long skeg on which she can settle make this a true go-anywhere expedition yacht. The metres of chain required for adventurous anchoring is stowed in a special locker by the mast to keep the weight central. Down below has been thought through with equally practical touches, including plenty of bracing points and lighting that switches on to red light first to protect your night vision.


Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

The Garcia Exploration 45 comes with real experience behind her – she was created in association with Jimmy Cornell, based on his many hundreds of thousands of miles of bluewater cruising, to go anywhere from high latitudes to the tropics.

Arguably less of a looker than the Bestevaer, the Garcia Exploration 45 features a rounded aluminium hull, centreboard with deep skeg and twin daggerboards. The considerable anchor chain weight has again been brought aft, this time via a special conduit to a watertight locker in front of the centreboard.

This is a yacht designed to be lived on for extended periods with ample storage, and panoramic portlights to give a near 360° view of whichever extraordinary landscape you are exploring. Safety features include a watertight companionway door to keep extreme weather out and through-hull fittings placed above the waterline. When former Vendée Globe skipper Pete Goss went cruising , this was the boat he chose to do it in.


Photo: svnaima.com

A truly well-proven expedition design, some 1,500 Ovnis have been built and many sailed to some of the most far-flung corners of the world. (Jimmy Cornell sailed his Aventura some 30,000 miles, including two Drake Passage crossings, one in 50 knots of wind).


Futuna Exploration 54

Another aluminium design with a swinging centreboard and a solid enclosed pilothouse with protected cockpit area. There’s a chunky bowsprit and substantial transom arch to house all manner of electronics and power generation.

Previous boats have been spec’d for North West Passage crossings with additional heating and engine power, although there’s a carbon rig option for those that want a touch of the black stuff. The tanks are capacious, with 1,000lt capability for both fresh water and fuel.

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Home » Blog » Bluewater sailboats » The best bluewater sailboats (we analyzed 2,000 boats to find out)

The best bluewater sailboats (we analyzed 2,000 boats to find out)

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: May 16, 2023

We analyzed two-thousand bluewater sailboats to bring you a list of proven offshore designs


What are the best bluewater sailboats?

This was a question we asked a lot of experienced cruisers when we decided to sail across the Pacific. We needed a boat after all, and we wanted to buy the best bluewater sailboat we could afford.

We heard a lot of strong opinions.

Some sailors thought it was reckless to go offshore in any boat that didn’t have a full keel.

Others prioritized performance, and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere in a slow boat like the Westsail 32 (a.k.a. a “Wet Snail 32”).

Opinions like these left us feeling confused like we had to choose between safety and performance.  

If we learned anything from these conversations, it’s that what makes a bluewater boat is a hotly debated topic!

However, there’s a way to cut through all the opinions and get to the bottom of it. The solution is….

We analyzed just under 2,000 boats embarking on ocean crossings (over a 12 year time period) and came up with a list of the ten best bluewater sailboats.

Where did we get our data?

The data for our best bluewater sailboats list comes from 12 years of entries in the Pacific Puddle Jump (PPJ), an annual cross-Pacific rally. We took part in 2017 and had a ball!

You can read about the methodology we used to analyze this data at the bottom of the post.

What do we mean by “best”?

We know, that word is overused on the internet!

Simply, based on our data set, these were the most common makes and models entered in the PPJ cross-Pacific rally. There were at least 10 PPJ rally entries for every make of boat on our top 10 list.

So, these boats are 100% good to go?

No! A bluewater boat isn’t necessarily a seaworthy boat. Almost every cruiser we know made substantial repairs and additions to get their offshore boat ready, adding watermakers , life rafts, solar panels, and more.

Also, you should always have a boat inspected by a professional and accredited marine surveyor before buying it or taking it offshore.

But my bluewater baby boat isn’t on this list!?

There are hundreds of excellent bluewater yachts that are not on this list. For instance, we sailed across the Pacific in a Dufour 35, which didn’t even come close to making our top 10 list.

Choosing the right boat is very much an individual journey.

Where can I find these bluewater boats for sale?

We recognize that a top 10 list won’t get you very far if you’re shopping for a bluewater boat (especially if you’re looking in the used market).

So, to help you find your perfect boat, we’re going to create a big list of bluewater boats that you can use to refine your search on Yachtworld, Craigslist, or any other places to buy a used boat .

Sign up for our newsletter to get our big list of bluewater boats list as soon as it comes out.

We’re also working on a series of posts by size class. For example, if you’re looking for a smaller boat, you can narrow it down to the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet .

Takeaways from our analysis

There were no big surprises on an individual boat level. All of these makes are considered good cruisers, some of them are even best-selling designs! However, there were a few things that caught our eye.

“Go simple, go small, go now” still holds water

We were thrilled to see the smallest boat in our roundup at the very top of the list! Westsail 32 owners can take pride in their small but mighty yachts (and ignore all those snail-sayers).

While undoubtedly there’s been a trend towards bigger bluewater cruisers in recent years, small cruising sailboats seem to be holding their own. 60% of the monohulls on this list were under 40 feet (if you count the Valiant 40 which sneaks just under at 39.92 feet).

Cat got our tongue

So, we knew catamarans were a thing, but we didn’t fully appreciate HOW popular they’d become!

50% of our top 10 bluewater boat list consists of catamarans—a good fact to toss out the next time you’re trying to garner a happy hour invite on the party boat next door (which will undoubtedly be a catamaran).

Still got it!

We’ve got good news for all you good old boat lovers! 60% of the boats on our list were first built before 2000.

While these older models are less performance-oriented than modern designs, cruisers value these boats for their ability to stand up to rough seas and heavy weather. It just goes to show that solid bones and classic looks never go out of style.

Alright, without further ado, let’s dive into our list of the 10 best bluewater boats!

The 10 best bluewater boats

best bluewater sailboats

1. Westsail 32

The Westsail 32 is an iconic bluewater sailboat

The Westsail 32 is one of the most iconic bluewater cruisers and 19 have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009.

In 1973, this small cruising sailboat garnered a 4-page spread in Time magazine. The article inspired many Americans to set sail and the Westsail 32, with its double-ender design, set the standard for what a real bluewater cruiser should look like.

There were approximately 830 built between 1971 and 1980.

This small boat has taken sailors on ocean crossings and circumnavigations. Though considered “slow” by some, the heavily-built Westsail 32 has developed a loyal following for her other excellent offshore cruising characteristics.

If you’re interested in small bluewater sailboats, check out our post on the best small sailboats for sailing around the world .

LOA32.00 ft / 9.75 m
First built1971
BuilderWestsail (USA)
DesignerW. Crealock / W. Atkin
Hull typeLong keel, trans. hung rudder
Rig typeCutter
Displacement19,500 lb / 8,845 kg

2. Lagoon 380

Lagoon 380

The Lagoon 380 is a reliable, solidly built catamaran and considered roomy for its size. We counted 18 of them in our data set. With over 800 boats built , it may be one of the best-selling catamarans in the world. Like the other boats on this list, the Lagoon 380 has proven itself on long passages and ocean crossings, winning it many loyal fans.

LOA37.89 ft / 11.55 m
First built2000
BuilderJeanneau (FRA)
DesignerV. Peteghem / L. Prévost
 typeCat. twin keel
Rig typeFractional sloop
Displacement16,005 lb / 7,260 kg
More specifications

3. Lagoon 440

Lagoon 440 is a bluewater catamaran

18 Lagoon 440s have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009.

Why leave the comforts of home, when you can take them with you? The Lagoon 440 is a luxurious long-range cruiser, offering beautiful wood joinery, spacious accommodations, and a deluxe galley. Oh, and you have the option of an electric boat motor !

SAIL and Sailing Magazine have both done in-depth reviews of the Lagoon 440 if you want to learn more.

LOA44.65 ft / 13.61 m
First built2004
BuilderLagoon (FRA)
DesignerV. Peteghem / L. Prévost
Hull typeCat. twin keel
Rig typeFractional sloop
Displacement26,786 lb / 12,150 kg

4. Amel Super Maramu (incl. SM 2000)

Amel Super Maramu is a popular bluewater sailboat

If you follow the adventures of SV Delos on YouTube, you probably know that the star of the show (SV Delos— in case the title didn’t give it away ) is an Amel Super Maramu. These classic bluewater sailboats can be found all over the world, proof they can go the distance.

We counted 16 Amel Super Maramus and Super Maramu 2000s in our list of PPJ entries.

Ready to join the cult of Amel? Read more about the iconic brand in Yachting World.

LOA52.49 ft / 16.00 m
First built1989
BuilderAmel (FRA)
DesignerH. Amel / J. Carteau
Hull typeWing keel
Rig typeMasthead ketch
Displacement35,274 lb / 16,000 kg

5. Valiant 40

The Valiant 40 is an iconic bluewater cruiser

When I interviewed legendary yacht designer, Bob Perry, for Good Old Boat in 2019, he told me that the Valiant 40 was one of the boats that most defined him and marked the real start of his career.

At the time, heavy displacement cruisers were considered sluggish and slow, especially in light winds.

Perry’s innovation with the Valiant 40 was to combine a classic double ender above the waterline, with an IOR racing hull shape below the waterline. The result was the first “performance cruiser”, a blockbuster hit, with over 200 boats built in the 1970s.

It’s no surprise we counted 16 Valiant 40s in our data set.

Cruising World magazine dubbed it “a fast, comfortable, and safe cruising yacht,” and there’s no doubt it’s covered some serious nautical miles.

It’s worth noting that there were blistering problems with hull numbers 120-249 (boats built between 1976 and 1981). Later models did not have this problem. Despite the blistering issues, the Valiant 40 remains one of the most highly thought of bluewater designs.

LOA39.92 ft / 12.17 m
First built1973
BuilderUniflite/Valiant (USA)
DesignerR. Perry
Hull typeFin keel, rudder on skeg
Rig typeCutter
Displacement23,520 lb / 10,668 kg

6. TAYANA 37

The Tayana 37 is a top bluewater boat

The Tayana 37 is another hugely popular Perry design. The first boat rolled off the production line in 1976 and since then, nearly 600 boats have been built. Beautiful classic lines and a proven track record have won the Tayana 37 a devoted following of offshore enthusiasts.

12 Tayana 37s have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009. Read more about the Tayana 37 in this Practical Sailor review .

LOA36.67 ft / 11.18 m
First built1976
BuilderTa Yang (TWN)
DesignerR. Perry
Hull typeLong keel
Rig typeCutter
Displacement22,500 lb / 10,206 kg

7. Lagoon 450

The Lagoon 450 is one of the best bluewater sailboats

If this list is starting to sound like a paid advertisement, I swear we’re not on Lagoon’s payroll! This is the third Lagoon on our list, but the data doesn’t lie. Lagoon is making some of the best cruising sailboats.

The 450 has been a hot seller for Lagoon, with over 800 built since its launch in 2014. While not a performance cat, the Lagoon 450 travels at a reasonable speed and is brimming with luxury amenities.

At least 12 owners in the PPJ rally chose the Lagoon 450 to take them across the Pacific. It’s no wonder SAIL had so many good things to say about it.

LOA45.80 ft / 13.96 m
First built2014
BuilderLagoon (FRA)
DesignerV. Peteghem / L. Prévost
Hull typeCat. twin keel
Rig typeFractional sloop
Displacement33,075 lb / 15,003 kg

8. Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46

Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46 Bluewater Sailboat

There were 11 Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46s in our data set.

Fountaine Pajot released the Bahia 46 in 1997, a sleek design for traveling long distances. Its generously-sized water and fuel tanks along with ample storage for cruising gear are a real plus for the self-sufficient sailor.

According to Cruising World , “Cruising-cat aficionados should put the Bahia 46 on their “must-see” list.”

LOA46.10 ft / 14.05 m
First built1997
BuilderFountaine Pajot (FRA)
Hull typeCat. twin keel
Rig typeFractional sloop
Displacement21,385 lb / 9,700 kg

9. Catalina 42 (MKI, MKII)

Catalina 42 bluewater boat

10 Catalina 42s (MKI and MKII) have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009.

The Catalina 42 was designed under the guidance of the legendary yacht designer and Catalina’s chief engineer, Gerry Douglas.

One of Catalina’s philosophies is to offer “as much boat for the money as possible,” and the Catalina 42 is no exception. According to Practical Sailor , Catalina aims to price its boats 15% to 20% below major production boats like Hunter and Beneteau.

Practical Sailor has a great in-depth review of the Catalina 42 .

LOA41.86 ft / 12.76 m
First built1989
BuilderCatalina (USA)
Hull typeFin keel, spade rudder
Rig typeMasthead sloop
Displacement20,500 lb / 9,299 kg

10. Leopard 46

Leopard 46 bluewater sailboat

Since 2009, 10 Leopard 46s have embarked on Pacific crossings in the PPJ rally.

Leopards have won legions of fans for their high build quality, robust engineering, and excellent performance.

The Leopard 46 also boasts something of a racing pedigree. It was built in South Africa by Robertson and Caine and designed by Gino Morelli and Pete Melvin, who came up with the record-breaking catamaran Playstation / Cheyenne 125 .

Read more about the Leopard 46 in this Cruising World review .

LOA46.32 ft / 14.12 m
First built2006
BuilderRobertson & Caine (RSA)
DesignerMorelli & Melvin
Hull typeCat. twin keel
Rig typeFractional sloop
Displacement24,206 lb / 10,980 kg


What the data is and isn’t.

The PPJ data was a real boon because it reflects a wide range of cruising boats: small, big, old, new, expensive, and affordable. We think this may be because the PPJ is a very financially accessible rally—the standard entry cost is $125 or $100 if you’re under 35 (age or boat length!).

We did look at data from other (pricier) rallies but found that the results skewed towards more expensive boats.

Needless to say, the data we used is just a sample of the bluewater boats that crossed the Pacific over the last 10+ years. Many cruisers cross oceans without participating in a rally!

Entries vs. completions

The data we used is a list of the PPJ entries, not necessarily the boats that completed the rally. In instances where we saw the same boat entered multiple years in a row, we assumed they’d postponed their crossing and deleted all but the latest entry to avoid double counting.

Boat make variations

The world of boat building and naming can get pretty complicated. Sometimes a manufacturer changes a boat’s name a year or two into production, other times the name remains the same but the boat undergoes a dramatic update.

For the most part, we’ve used SailboatData.com’s classification system (if they list the boats separately, then we have also), except where there are two separately listed models that have the same LOA, beam, and displacement.

Fiona McGlynn

Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.

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10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

  • By Cruising World Staff
  • Updated: November 3, 2020

It wasn’t so long ago that 30- to 35-foot cruising sailboats were likely to be the largest yachts found in many a harbor. And while 40-something and even 50-something footers are all the rage at boat shows today, there’s a lot to be said for setting sail on a boat big enough to carry family and friends, but still small enough to be easily maintained and handled alone from time to time. Small cruising sailboats are simple to dock or tie up to a mooring, and finding long-term marina space is easier as well.

Choosing a cruising sailboat, no matter the size, is a big decision. And it helps to have a trusted list of boats to get started. Here, then, is a look at 10 of the best daysailers , weekenders and coastal cruising sailboats under 35 feet that are all in production and can be purchased new.

Alerion Sport 30

top 10 sailboats

A quarter-century ago, Garry Hoyt launched what would come to be known as the daysailer genre with the introduction of the Alerion Express 28, a boat designed by the late Carl Schumacher that featured a minimal interior and a large cockpit where an owner and guests could enjoy the simple joy of sailing. Traditional and lovely looking—but with a quite modern underbody and a powerful sail plan—Hoyt, ever the marketer, proclaimed the boat to be “the prettiest girl at the dance.”

Since then, a number of siblings ranging from 20 to 41 feet have been added to the Alerion family, including the Alerion Sport 30, which retains the graceful sheer line, oval ports and stylish overhangs of the original Schumacher design. Yet with input from naval architect Langan Design Partners, it also embraces a solid measure of performance-oriented DNA.

Read more about the Alerion Sport 30 »

Bavaria Cruiser 34

top 10 sailboats

In every Boat of the Year contest, it seems, a boat rises up after sea trials to make a lasting impression on the judges. For 2018, that boat was the Bavaria Cruiser 34.

Says Boat of the Year Judge Tim Murphy, “The Bavaria was a lovely boat to sail. It has a single rudder, and she answered her helm just beautifully in the conditions we had today. We started off with around 10 knots of breeze that built to 13 to 15 knots. As a sailboat, it was just a pleasurable sailing experience, among the best we had during our judging. It was among the boats that felt like a really happy sailing experience.

Read more about the Bavaria Cruiser 34 »

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

Sailed as part of the 2020 Boat of the Year sea trials, the 31-foot-3-inch Beneteau Oceanis 30.1 was the compact yacht best-equipped and spec’d out as a dedicated cruising boat, and not coincidentally, it was also awarded the title of Best Performance Cruiser for 2020. But don’t let her cozy interior accommodations fool you; this is also one peppy little vessel.

Read more about the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1 »

Dehler 34

The 2017 Boat of the Year (BOTY) contest featured a stellar crop of crossover cruiser/racers; however, when all the testing was said and done, our independent panel of judges was sold on the Dehler 34, naming it the year’s Best Performance Cruiser. Designed by the highly regarded Judel/Vrolijk naval-architecture consortium, whose reputation was fostered by longtime success in international yacht-racing circles, the 34-footer combined contemporary good looks and a sweet turn of speed with better-than-average comfort and accommodations below. It didn’t hurt that the boat, nicely equipped at $215,000, was the least-expensive entry in the entire 2017 fleet. All in all, it proved to be a winning formula.

Read more about the Dehler 34 »

Dufour Grand Large 360

top 10 sailboats

Dufour Yachts introduced its new 360 Grand Large model to CW’s Boat of the Year team in 2018 as a coastal cruiser intended for a couple or perhaps a small family. With that in mind, judge Alvah Simon found numerous clever elements to praise within the boat’s 35-foot-2-inch hull—a relatively modest LOA compared to the many 40-, 50- and 60-footers on display at the U.S. Sailboat show in Annapolis, Maryland.

Read more about the Dufour Grand Large 360 »

top 10 sailboats

After a roughly 10-year hiatus from the U.S. marketplace, the Slovenian builder Elan is back in a big way. For the 2017 Boat of the Year contest, the company launched a pair of new boats in the States, including the Elan E4, a 34-foot-9-inch performance cruiser with an emphasis on performing, designed by renowned British naval architect Rob Humphreys. The brand has been in business for seven decades and lately is perhaps even better known in America for its skis. Not surprisingly, given its complementary product lines—lots of sailors are fine skiers—its boats are as sleek and sporty as its boards.

Read more about the Elan E4 »

Grand Soleil 34

Grand Soleil 34

Way back in the 1970s, when the well-known Italian boatyard Grand Soleil was just getting started, its first model was a Finot-designed 34-footer. With over 300 units sold, it was an instant success, and launched the company on an upward trajectory that spanned the intervening decades, mostly with an ongoing series of much larger, more complex racer/cruisers. For 2020, the builder decided to return to its roots with a completely revamped Grand Soleil 34, and it’s a terrific boat.

Read more about the Grand Soleil 34 »

top 10 sailboats

Value. How does one determine it? Price is most certainly a factor. In the case of new boats, and our Boat of the Year competition, it means something more. As sailors, we wish to recognize good boats that not only are affordable but offer other, tangible rewards. The ability to get couples and families out on the water, to have a weekend escape, to take them on coastal vacations and even maybe a sabbatical to the islands, all without breaking the bank. For 2019, the judging panel determined that one boat had the potential to do these things better than the rest, which is why they awarded the Best Value prize to the Hanse 348.

With a price tag under $200,000, during sea trials the Hanse 348 wowed the judging team from the get-go. “In only about 8 knots of breeze, we were seeing 5.7 knots upwind and pointing very nicely, and even registered 6.5 knots once we cracked off,” said Tim Murphy. “It’s a pretty sweet little boat.”

Read more about the Hanse 348 »

Italia 9.98

Italia 9.98

Of the performance cruisers that made their North American debut in 2020, in terms of sheer appearance, the futuristic 34-foot Italia 9.98 was easily the most distinctive. There are actually two versions of the boat: the 34 Club—which is the cruising alternative, the primary features of which are its twin wheels—and the 34 Fuoriserie—the racing model, and the one we tested, with its tiller steering being the identifying characteristic.

Read more about the Italia 9.98 »


Beginning with the popular little J/24 way back in 1977, J/Boats has become famous for its steady introduction of terrific racing and cruising boats, almost all of which shared one main characteristic: They sailed like a witch. More than four decades later, having built more than 50 separate, mind-boggling models, the Johnstone family that designs, markets and sells the brand shows no signs of slowing down. Their latest offering, for 2020, was another fast and fun racer/cruiser: the 32-foot-7-inch J/99.

Read more about the J/99 »

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sails for sale

Top 10 Sailboats For Sale Between 30 and 40 Feet

  • June 20, 2024

Sailboats offer a blend of adventure, relaxation, and the thrill of the sea, making them a beloved choice for both racing enthusiasts and families seeking weekend getaways. For those looking to invest in a sailboat between 30 and 40 feet in length, less than 20 years old, and priced between $50,000 and $150,000 in the used market, there are several exceptional options available. These sailboats combine performance on the water with comfort and practicality for cruising, making them versatile vessels suitable for a variety of sailing experiences.

The J/105 stands out as a highly regarded sailboat known for its exceptional performance in both racing circuits and weekend cruising. Designed by Rod Johnstone, the J/105 offers a sleek hull, responsive handling, and a comfortable interior layout suitable for short trips or overnight stays. Its competitive edge in racing makes it a favorite among sailing enthusiasts who enjoy participating in regattas while its spacious cockpit and cozy cabin provide ample space for family outings.

2. Beneteau First 36.7

For sailors looking to balance competitive racing with comfortable cruising, the Beneteau First 36.7 is an excellent choice. This model combines a fast hull design with a well-appointed interior featuring multiple berths, a galley, and a functional head. With its fractional rig and generous sail area, the Beneteau First 36.7 offers thrilling performance on the racecourse while ensuring stability and comfort for leisurely sails with family and friends.

3. Catalina 36 MkII

The Catalina 36 MkII is renowned for its spaciousness, solid construction, and versatility. Ideal for weekend family cruising, this model features a large cockpit, easy-to-handle sail plan, and a comfortable interior layout with amenities such as a full galley and ample storage. Its reputation for reliability and ease of maintenance makes it a popular choice among sailors seeking a balance between recreational cruising and occasional racing.

4. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349

Modern and stylish, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 offers a blend of performance and comfort suitable for both cruising and light racing. Designed with a focus on ergonomics and usability, this sailboat boasts a spacious cockpit, a well-lit interior with multiple layout options, and efficient sail handling systems. Whether exploring coastal waters or participating in casual races, the Sun Odyssey 349 delivers a satisfying sailing experience for families and solo sailors alike.

5. Tartan 3700

The Tartan 3700 is celebrated for its classic design, sturdy construction, and impressive sailing capabilities. Designed by Tim Jackett, this sailboat features a sleek hull profile optimized for speed and stability, making it a competitive option for racing enthusiasts. Below deck, the Tartan 3700 offers a luxurious interior with high-quality finishes, spacious accommodations, and ample storage, making it equally suited for extended cruising adventures with family and friends.

6. C&C 115

Combining the thrill of racing with the comfort of cruising, the C&C 115 is a performance-oriented sailboat designed to excel in both competitive regattas and leisurely sails. With its powerful sail plan, responsive helm, and lightweight construction, the C&C 115 delivers exhilarating performance on the water while providing a spacious and well-appointed interior for relaxation and overnight stays. Its versatility and seaworthiness make it a popular choice among sailors seeking a dynamic sailing experience.

7. Beneteau Oceanis 373

The Beneteau Oceanis 373 is admired for its blend of performance, comfort, and versatility, making it suitable for both weekend cruising and occasional racing. Featuring a spacious cockpit, a user-friendly sail plan, and a practical interior layout, this model offers comfortable accommodations for family outings or longer voyages. With its reputation for reliability and ease of handling, the Oceanis 373 appeals to sailors looking for a dependable and enjoyable sailing experience in varied conditions.

Designed by Rod Johnstone, the J/109 combines high-performance sailing with comfortable cruising amenities, making it a versatile choice for racing and family outings. Known for its sleek lines, responsive handling, and spacious cockpit, the J/109 offers a thrilling sailing experience on the racecourse while providing a comfortable interior with multiple berths, a galley, and a head for extended cruises. Its reputation for speed and stability makes it a favorite among competitive sailors and recreational cruisers alike.

9. Hunter 376

The Hunter 376 is recognized for its spacious interior, stable sailing performance, and ease of handling, making it an ideal choice for weekend family cruising and occasional racing. With its roomy cockpit, generous storage compartments, and comfortable accommodations, this sailboat offers ample space for onboard activities and overnight stays. Designed for comfort and convenience, the Hunter 376 provides a relaxing sailing experience while maintaining the capability to participate in local regattas or coastal cruising adventures.

10. Dufour 385

The Dufour 385 combines elegant French design with impressive sailing abilities, making it a popular choice for sailors seeking performance and comfort. Designed for ease of handling and optimized sail performance, this model features a spacious cockpit, a well-appointed interior with multiple layout options, and high-quality finishes throughout. Whether racing competitively or cruising leisurely, the Dufour 385 delivers a satisfying sailing experience for families and solo adventurers alike.

Choosing the right sailboat for sale between 30 and 40 feet in length, less than 20 years old, and priced between $50,000 and $150,000 used involves balancing performance, comfort, and practicality to suit your sailing preferences. The sailboats listed above represent some of the best options available in the market, each offering a unique combination of speed, stability, comfort, and versatility for both racing enthusiasts and weekend cruisers. Whether you prioritize competitive racing, leisurely family outings, or extended cruising adventures, these sailboats are designed to provide an enjoyable and memorable experience on the water.


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7 Best Pontoon Boats of 2024

They’re called floating living rooms for a reason. Pontoon boats are the perfect vessel for so many different types of boaters. They’re stable, reliable, and easy to handle, making them a natural choice for newcomers to the nautical life. Yet many pontoon boats are still fast enough for a little bit of fun and excitement. Pontoon boats are great for fishing, as they have wide, flat decks and can be outfitted with chairs designed specifically for casting and reeling.

They’re the perfect boat choice for those looking to relax and socialize out on the water, with comfortable seating and, often, amenities like cupholders, coolers, and tables. The Avalon Catalina Cruise Funship is our pick for the best pontoon boat overall because it’s fairly priced for features aplenty, including an upper deck with a fold-out bed and a slide.

Table of Contents

  • Best Pontoon Boats
  • Things To Consider When Buying
  • How We Chose

Avalon Catalina Cruise Funship  »

Avalon Catalina Cruise Funship

Double-decker design with queen-size lounge

Slide on upper-level

Stylish and comfortable seating

Large capacity for 14

Upper deck limits visibility, standing space

The Avalon Catalina Cruise Funship lives up to its name in myriad ways, but let’s start with the most fun: this pontoon boat has an elevated slide that sends riders flying off into the water. That slide comes off an upper deck outfitted with a queen-size lounger. On the main deck, there are fine details everywhere, from the stitching in the comfortable seating to the chrome elements to the textured floor. The Catalina Cruise Funship has three large benches, two up front and one at the rear, a deck with a ladder for easy access from the water, and plenty of storage. Not only can you casually float around the lake of your choosing, but with 250 horsepower, this boat is strong enough to pull a tube or even someone on water skis.

This is a rather pricey pontoon boat, well above the current median rate for these vessels, as we’ll discuss later, but it’s a luxury-grade boat with lots of fun details. Also, while most people will love the upper deck, it does mean a bit more ducking for taller folks, and it means you can’t have a wide-open boat exposed to the clear skies. But for extra lounge space and a slide, it’s worth those little issues.

List Price:



23.4 ft. length; 8.5 ft. width


3,300 lbs. (dry weight)

Boat Capacity:

14 people; 2,590 lbs.

Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL  »

Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL

Compact size

Dual bow fishing chairs


7-person max. capacity

The Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL puts pontoon boat ownership in range for people shopping on a budget. It comes in at just under $17K, which is a steal for this category of boats. And while this is a smaller boat than most other pontoon craft, for some people that might be a pro, not a con. At eight feet wide and 18.5 feet long, this pontoon boat can almost fit into a standard parking lot parking space. It will do just fine stored in your driveway, a large shed, or a garage, and it’s easy to navigate around in smaller bodies of water or in a busy harbor, too.

The Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL only has seating for seven, but that’s just fine for a family outing or a trip with some fishing buddies — and your fishing buddies will love the pair of fishing chairs in the bow of the boat. The 40-horsepower motor won’t have you creating any crazy wakes, but it can chug along at 12 or 14 miles per hour, so you’ll get where you’re going eventually, just not with any exciting waterskiing adventures along the way.

List Price:



18.5 ft. length; 8 ft. width


1,210 lbs. (dry weight)

Boat Capacity:

7 people; 1,550 lbs.

Princecraft BrioE 17  »

Princecraft BrioE 17

Saves on fuel costs

Clean and quiet operation

Lightweight and compact

Underpowered and slow

Small capacity

The Princecraft BrioE 17 is proof that you don’t need a gas-powered motor to fuel a lot of fun on the water. This electric pontoon boat glides along quietly and steadily, powered by clean electricity instead of fossil fuel. Granted, it cruises along at well under 10 miles per hour — in fact, some varieties of motor top out at close to five miles per hour — but if you’re more about cruising and relaxing than zipping over the waves, you won’t mind.

This is a compact and lightweight pontoon boat that’s ideal for people who need to regularly haul their vessel out of the water and move it from place to place, and it won’t take up too much storage space as it waits out the winter, either. You’ll save money on fuel costs in the long run thanks to the electric power, and you’ll be doing your part to help the environment, too.

List Price:

$39,000 (approx.)


17.7 ft. length; 8.1 ft. width


1,640 lbs.

Boat Capacity:

7 people

Sun Tracker Sportfish 24 XP3  »

Sun Tracker Sportfish 24 XP3

Copious storage space

Trolling motor mount pre-installed

Too large for some users

Only 8 dedicated seats

The Sun Tracker Sportfish 24 XP3 was built with the angler in mind. With features like a lockable rod box that can accommodate rods up to 7’6”, dual fishing chairs in the bow, and a pre-installed harness for a trolling motor, this boat is ready to go fishing. It also has plenty of storage space, so you can stash all your fishing gear (and your other stuff) with ease while you’re underway. It can zip along at around 30 miles per hour, or even more when lightly loaded, thanks to a 250 HP motor.

This boat is rated for up to 12 people at once, but that said, the seating space is limited, with dedicated space for only eight people, depending on how close together your party feels comfortable sitting. At more than 26 feet long, this boat is just too big for some use cases in terms of logistics. If you have the space (in the water and out of it) for it, though, the Sun Tracker Sportfish 24 XP33 is a great fishing pontoon boat.

List Price:



26.2 ft. length; 8.6 ft. width


2,960 lbs. (dry weight)

Boat Capacity:

12 people; 2,965 lbs

Regency 250 DL3  »

Regency 250 DL3

14-person capacity

Powerful 350 HP engine

Great sound system

Built-in changing room

If your idea of a good time is getting out on the water with a big group of friends, the Regency 250 DL3 is a very good pontoon boat to consider. It has the capacity to carry 14 people and plenty of food, drink, and other sundries, what with its 3,000-pound maximum combined person and gear weight limit. It has myriad features that will enhance the enjoyment on the water. These include things like an upgraded Wet Sound stereo speaker system, a built-in pop-up changing room, top of the line Omni2 digital Smart Screen Display, and a Lowrance fish finder .

The 250 DL3 is an expensive boat, and it’s also quite large and heavy, so towing it out of the water may be a challenge for some vehicles. But in the water, it’s a floating pleasure. It can move at a clip. This pontoon boat has a powerful 350 horsepower engine that can have the boat cruising at around 30 miles per hour, plenty fast to pull wakeboarders or waterskiers.

List Price:



27.5 ft. length; 8.5 ft. width


3,435 lbs. (dry weight)

Boat Capacity:

14 people; 3,000 lbs.

Regency 250 LE3 Sport  »

Regency 250 LE3 Sport

Impressive 350 horsepower

Top speeds of 40 mph

14 person capacity

Rearview camera

Very expensive

Large and heavy

The Regency 250 LE3 Sport will revolutionize the way you think about pontoon boats. No slow and steady cruiser is this one; this boat can fly across the water at more than 40 miles per hour, sending a mighty wake behind it. Three multi-chambered and internally braced pontoon logs provide superior buoyancy and stability at any speed, making this zippy boat a pleasure to drive. It has a capacity for up to 14 people, a wide rear swim deck, and plenty of storage.

All that space and power come with a price, of course: this pontoon boat costs $92,995, so it’s priced like a luxury car. But you will get some pretty cool features along with the speed of it all, like the Omni digital dashboard that offers a built-in rear-facing camera, complete control over a complete sound system, and insight into motor functions all at the touch of a button and from the comfort of one of the overstuffed captain’s chairs that both swivel and recline. There is even a showerhead for rinsing off after a swim.

List Price:



27 ft. length; 8.6 ft. width


3,395 lbs.

Boat Capacity:

14 people; 3,000 lbs

Starcraft LX 16 R  »

Starcraft LX 16 R

Easy to use

Good price point

Swim deck with ladder

Small max. capacity

It’s relatively small, it’s relatively slow, and it’s overall pretty basic, but we say those things about the Starcraft LX 16 R in the best possible way. For lovers of a calm day on the water who are sick of the hassle of renting a boat, this is an entry-level pontoon that's an absolute dream for first-time boat owners.

At 17 feet long and just 1,275 pounds (that’s the dry weight), it’s easy to transport the Starcraft LX 16 R, and while hardly fast, its smaller size makes it nimble in the water, so you can work your way around in smaller lakes, on rivers, or close to the docks. There is plenty of seating for the stated six-person maximum capacity of this vessel, and there is a broad swim deck with a ladder that allows for easy re-entry from the water.

List Price:



17 ft. length; 8 ft. width


1,275 lbs. (dry weight)

Boat Capacity:

6 people; 840 lbs.

The Bottom Line

Pontoon boats are a relatively affordable and readily enjoyable way to get out on the water, requiring less experience than other types of powered boats for a fun, safe time spent out on the waves. The Avalon Catalina Cruise Funship is our pick for the best overall pontoon boat because of its unique double-decker design with a slide right off the back, not to mention the comfortable seating, potent engine, and stylish looks, but there’s a lot to consider when it comes time to shop for a pontoon boat.

Things to Consider When Buying Pontoon Boats

Boat Size and Capacity: The average pontoon boat length is 22 or 23 feet but there are pontoon boats shorter than 20 feet in length and longer than 30 feet. Consider where you’ll be mooring and storing the boat, including when it’s out of the water. And then figure out how many people you are likely going to have aboard. Some pontoon boats can accommodate groups as large as 16, but are you ever really going out with that many people? Be realistic in your headcount, as it will directly impact your pricing if you opt for a larger boat.

Engine Performance: Some smaller, shorter pontoon boats might be outfitted with engines rated at just 40 or 50 horsepower, while many are in the 200 HP range. But indeed these boats can pack much more potent engines, explains Mike Werling, former senior editor of Boating World. “Outboard [motor] manufacturers are happy to oblige with engines of 300 and 400 HP,” Werling says. “And some pontoons can be equipped with more than one outboard, so it’s the buyer’s choice.”

Deck Layout and Seating: The layout and seating types of a pontoon boat should be chosen based on your primary use case. If you are getting a pontoon boat for fishing, you want seats that rotate and plenty of open deck space for stand-up casting and reeling. If you’re getting a pleasure boat for parties and cruising, prioritize lounge chairs and tables. And if you have kids, look for fun features like easy on-off decks.

Storage Space Features: Most pontoon boats have lots of storage built-in, with cabinets, under benches, and even under the floors. Consider how long each of your outings is likely to be and what you’ll need to bring, then think through the storage capacity. At minimum, you’ll likely need space to store life preservers, anchors, ropes, and a few fun things like pool toys / pool floats , or fishing equipment.

Price and Overall Value for Money: On average, pontoon boats cost around $46,000. That means you can find a lot of boats that cost a lot less than that, but it also means many pontoon boats are quite pricey. Make sure you get a pontoon boat that will suit your needs and your budget, not overbuying in either capacity. Keep in mind that the value of your boat will also affect how much you’ll need to budget for boat insurance .

How We Chose the Best Pontoon Boats

Even the most affordable pontoon boats on the water still cost many thousands of dollars when new, so we made sure to do extensive research before recommending any boats at all. We factored in the basics like deck length, capacity, and engine power, but we also looked into things like customization and configuration options, various use case scenarios, and creature comfort features.

Also, we enlisted the help of some bona fide boating experts. In preparing this article, we spoke to Mike Werling , the current managing editor of Trader Interactive and the managing editor of Boating World for 10-plus years. Werling offered extensive advice on everything from pontoon boat budgets to deck length considerations to special features to consider, such as stowable tow pylons and fishing decks.


U.S. News & World Report contributor Steven John has been testing and reviewing products for more than a dozen years and has honed his research, interviewing, and product testing skills over that time. He brought his experience as a journalist — as well as someone who spends many hours on the water every summer, albeit usually in a kayak or canoe — to this article, and he turned to verified boating experts for extensive input, as well. In addition to his writing with U.S. News & World Report, John also writes for Insider, Dad Gear Review, Architectural Digest, Forbes, The Daily Beast, and other outlets.

Isabel Roy , who edited this piece, is an outdoors editor at 360 Reviews. She is also an outdoors enthusiast who frequently hits the rivers and lakes near her home in the Rocky Mountains. She has worked reviewing and recommending products since 2019, researching and testing a wide array of items to help consumers make smart purchasing decisions.

“In terms of price, buyers have a wide range of options,” says Werling. “Some base models with minimum power are attainable for less than $30,000. They’re going to be 18 to 20 feet and have plenty of seating space but probably not much else. You’ll have to pick and choose your options — Bimini top, more powerful engine, upgraded helm — based on your budget. Tricked out luxury models — many are rated for 600 hp and a few for 900 hp — from some builders can approach $200,000.”

The average pontoon boat length is 23 feet. Pontoon boats vary in weight based on their size and features, of course, but the average dry weight of a pontoon boat is a metric ton or 2,200 pounds. Granted, the fuel, passengers, and cargo add lots more weight.

Faster than you might think! The fastest pontoon boats can reach speeds of 50-plus miles per hour, though an average top speed of 30 MPH is more common for pontoon boats. Lower-cost and smaller pontoon boats usually cruise at around 20 miles per hour.

Few pontoon boats have bathrooms, though some can be upgraded with what are essentially porta-potties. Many boaters will also bring along camp toilets or composting toilets or else will simply try to relieve themselves before and after the outing.

Yes, and if you live in a region with cold, snowy winters, you really should winterize your pontoon boat. Clean it well, remove the battery, fill the fuel tank, add a stabilizer, change the oil, and then securely wrap the boat to prevent incursion of fluid or critters.

“Pontoon boats’ popularity isn’t an accident,” says Werling. “Their deck space, versatility, and ease of operation make them appealing to a wide variety of boat owners, from people who like to fish and cruise to those who like to swim and soak up some sun. Equipped with a powerful enough engine, a pontoon can even facilitate water sports such as low-key skiing and tubing. A few features of pontoon boats extend across brands and models. Durable walls surround the interior of a pontoon at the edges of the deck and keep passengers safely inside. Parents love this feature.”

About Our Team

Steven John

Steven John


Isabel Roy

Staff Writer

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

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US Coast Guard suspends search for 2 people missing after boat capsizes at Columbia River Bar

top 10 sailboats

ASTORIA, Ore. — Two people remain missing after their boat capsized at the Columbia River Bar Saturday morning. 

On Saturday at around 9:03 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest  took to socials to announce the search for the two missing people has been suspended pending any further developments. 

Officials confirmed to KGW that a 26-foot pleasure craft capsized at 10:30 a.m. with five people on board. Three were recovered by the Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment and transferred to emergency medical services. According to the Coast Guard, two of the people recovered were responsive; the third was not. 

Station Cape Disappointment boat crews and Air Station Astoria air crews are searching  for the two missing people. They have at least one aircraft working as of Saturday afternoon and will continue to search through the day. 

There is no information yet as to the circumstances of the capsizing or the current condition of the three rescued people. 

This is a breaking news story; check back for updates. 

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See a typo in this article? Email  [email protected]  for corrections.


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10 Best Small Sailboats (Under 20 Feet)

Best Small Sailboats Under 20 Feet | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Compact, easy to trailer, simple to rig, easy to maintain and manage, and affordable, the best small boats all have one thing in common: they offer loads of fun while out there on the water.

So whether you're on a budget or just looking for something that can offer ultimate daytime rides without compromising on safety, aesthetic sensibilities, alternate propulsion, and speed, the best small sailboats under 20 feet should be the only way to go.

Let's be brutally honest here; not everyone needs a 30-foot sailboat to go sailing. They come with lots of features such as electronics, entertainment, refrigeration, bunks, a galley, and even a head. But do you really need all these features to go sailing? We don't think so.

All you need to go sailing is a hull, a mast, rudder, and, of course, a sail. And whether you refer to them as daysailers, trailerable sailboats , a weekender sailboat, or pocket cruisers, there's no better way to enjoy the thrills of coastal sailing than on small sailboats.

There are a wide range of small boats measuring less than 20 feet available in the market. These are hot products in the market given that they offer immense thrills out on the sea without the commitment required to cruise on a 30-footer. A small sailboat will not only give you the feel of every breeze but will also give you the chance to instantly sense every change in trim.

In this article, we'll highlight 10 best small sailboats under 20 feet . Most models in this list are time-tested, easy to rig, simple to sail, extremely fun, and perfect either for solo sailing or for sailing with friends and family. So if you've been looking for a list of some of the best small sailboats , you've come to the right place.

So without further ado, let's roll on.

Table of contents


The Marlow-Hunter 15 is not only easy to own since it's one of the most affordable small sailboats but also lots of fun to sail. This is a safe and versatile sailboat for everyone. Whether you're sailing with your family or as a greenhorn, you'll love the Hunter 15 thanks to its raised boom, high freeboard, and sturdy FRP construction.

With high sides, a comfortable wide beam, a contoured self-bailing cockpit, and fiberglass construction, the Hunter 15 is certainly designed with the novice sailor in mind. This is why you can do a lot with this boat without falling out, breaking it, or capsizing. Its contoured self-baiting cockpit will enable you to find a fast exit while its wide beam will keep it steady and stable no matter what jibes or weight shifts happen along the way.

This is a small sailboat that can hold up to four people. It's designed to give you a confident feeling and peace of mind even when sailing with kids. It's easy to trailer, easy to rig, and easy to launch. With a price tag of about $10k, the Hunter 15 is a fun, affordable, and versatile boat that is perfect for both seasoned sailors and novices. It's a low-maintenance sailboat that can be great for teaching kids a thing or two about sailing.

Catalina 16.5


Catalina Yachts are synonymous with bigger boats but they have some great and smaller boats too such as Catalina 16.5. This is one of the best small sailboats that are ideal for family outings given that it has a big and roomy cockpit, as well as a large storage locker. Designed with a hand-laminated fiberglass sloop, the Catalina 16.5 is versatile and is available in two designs: the centerboard model and the keel model.

The centerboard model is designed with a powerful sailplane that remains balanced as a result of the fiberglass centerboard, the stable hull form, and the rudder. It also comes with a tiller extension, adjustable hiking straps, and adjustable overhaul. It's important to note that these are standard equipment in the two models.

As far as the keel model is concerned, this is designed with a high aspect keel as the cast lead and is attached with stainless steel keel bolts, which makes this model perfect for mooring or docking whenever it's not in use. In essence, the centerboard model is perfect if you'll store it in a trailer while the keel model can remain at the dock.

All in all, the Catalina 16.5 is one of the best small sailboats that you can get your hands on for as low as $10,000. This is certainly a great example of exactly what a daysailer should be.


There's no list of small, trailerable, and fun sailboats that can be complete without the inclusion of the classic Hobie 16. This is a durable design that has been around and diligently graced various waters across the globe since its debut way back in 1969 in Southern California. In addition to being durable, the Hobie 16 is trailerable, great for speed, weighs only 320 pounds, great for four people, and more importantly, offers absolute fun.

With a remarkable figure of over 100,000 launched since its debut, it's easy to see that the Hobie 16 is highly popular. Part of this popularity comes from its asymmetric fiberglass-and-foam sandwiched hulls that include kick-up rudders. This is a great feature that allows it to sail up to the beach.

For about $12,000, the Hobie 16 will provide you with endless fun throughout the summer. It's equipped with a spinnaker, trailer, and douse kit. This is a high-speed sailboat that has a large trampoline to offer lots of space not just for your feet but also to hand off the double trapezes.

Montgomery 17


Popularly known as the M-17, The Montgomery 17 was designed by Lyle C. Hess in conjunction with Jerry Montgomery in Ontario, California for Montgomery Boats. Designed either with keel or centerboard models, the M-17 is more stable than most boats of her size. This boat is small enough to be trailered but also capable of doing moderate offshore passages.

This small sailboat is designed with a masthead and toe rail that can fit most foresails. It also has enough space for two thanks to its cuddly cabin, which offers a sitting headroom, a portable toilet, a pair of bunks, a DC power, and optional shore, and a proper amount of storage. That's not all; you can easily raise the deck-stepped mast using a four-part tackle.

In terms of performance, the M-17 is one of the giant-killers out there. This is a small sailboat that will excel in the extremes and make its way past larger boats such as the Catalina 22. It glides along beautifully and is a dog in light air, though it won't sail against a 25-knot wind, which can be frustrating. Other than that, the Montgomery 17 is a great small sailboat that can be yours for about $14,000.

Norseboat 17.5


As a versatile daysailer, Norseboat 17.5 follows a simple concept of seaworthiness and high-performance. This small sailboat perfectly combines both contemporary construction and traditional aesthetics. Imagine a sailboat that calls itself the "Swiss Army Knife of Boats!" Well, this is a boat that can sail and row equally well.

Whether you're stepping down from a larger cruiser or stepping up from a sea kayak, the unique Norseboat 17.5 is balanced, attractive, and salty. It has curvaceous wishbone gaff, it is saucy, and has a stubby bow-sprit that makes it attractive to the eyes. In addition to her beauty, the Norseboat 17.5 offers an energy-pinching challenge, is self-sufficient, and offers more than what you're used to.

This is a small, lightweight, low-maintenance sailboat that offers a ticket to both sailing and rowing adventures all at the same time. At about 400 pounds, it's very portable and highly convenient. Its mainsails may look small but you'll be surprised at how the boat is responsive to it. With a $12,500 price tag, this is a good small sailboat that offers you the versatility to either row or sail.


If you've been looking for a pocket cruiser that inspires confidence, especially in shoal water, look no further than the Sage 17. Designed by Jerry Montgomery in 2009, the Sage 17 is stable and should heel to 10 degrees while stiffening up. And because you want to feel secure while sailing, stability is an integral feature of the Sage 17.

This is a sailboat that will remain solid and stable no matter which part of the boat you stand on. Its cabin roof and the balsa-cored carbon-fiber deck are so strong that the mast doesn't require any form of compression post. The self-draining cockpit is long enough and capable of sleeping at 6 feet 6 inches.

The Sage 17 may be expensive at $25k but is a true sea warrior that's worth look at. This is a boat that will not only serve you right but will also turn heads at the marina.    


Having been chosen as the overall boat of the year for 2008 by the Sailing World Magazine, the Laser SB3 is one of the coolest boats you'll ever encounter. When sailing upwind, this boat will lock into the groove while its absolute simplicity is legendary. In terms of downwind sailing, having this boat will be a dream come true while it remains incredibly stable even at extraordinary speed.

Since its debut in 2004, the Laser SB3 has surged in terms of popularity thanks to the fact that it's designed to put all the controls at your fingertips. In addition to a lightweight mast, its T- bulb keel can be hauled and launched painlessly. For about $18,000, the Laser SB3 ushers you into the world of sports sailing and what it feels to own and use a sports boat.


As a manufacturer, Fareast is a Chinese boat manufacturer that has been around for less than two decades. But even with that, the Fareast 18 remains a very capable cruiser-racer that will take your sailing to the next level. In addition to its good looks, this boat comes with a retractable keel with ballast bulb, a powerful rig, and an enclosed cabin.

Its narrow design with a closed stern may be rare in sailboats of this size, but that's not a problem for the Fareast 18. This design not only emphasizes speed but also makes it a lot easier to maintain this boat. Perfect for about 6 people, this boat punches above its weight. It's, however, designed to be rigged and launched by one person.

This is a relatively affordable boat. It's agile, safe, well-thought-out, well built, and very sporty.


If you're in the market looking for a small sailboat that offers contemporary performance with classic beauty, the Paine 14 should be your ideal option. Named after its famous designer, Chuck Paine, this boat is intentionally designed after the classic Herreshoff 12.5 both in terms of dimensions and features.

This is a lightweight design that brings forth modern fin keel and spade rudder, which makes it agile, stable, and faster. The Paine 14 is built using cold-molded wood or west epoxy. It has varnished gunnels and transoms to give it an old-time charm. To make it somehow modern, this boat is designed with a carbon mast and a modern way to attach sails so that it's ready to sail in minutes.

You can rest easy knowing that the Paine 14 will not only serve you well but will turn heads while out there.


Many sailors will attest that their first sailing outing was in a Lido 14. This is a classic sailboat that has been around for over four decades and still proves to be a perfect match to modern small boats, especially for those still learning the ropes of sailing.

With seating for six people, the Lido 14 can be perfect for solo sailing , single-handed sailing, or if you're planning for shorthanded sailing. While new Lido 14 boats are no longer available, go for a functional used Lido 14 and you'll never regret this decision. It will serve you well and your kids will probably fall in love with sailing if Lido 14 becomes their main vessel during weekends or long summer holidays.

Bottom Line

There you have it; these are some of the best small sailboats you can go for. While there are endless small sailboats in the market, the above-described sailboat will serve you right and make you enjoy the wind.

Choose the perfect sailboat, invest in it, and go out there and have some good fun!

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Border Force holds suspected asylum seeker group for over two weeks before sending back to Indonesia, authorities say

A group of 44 men attempting to reach Australia by boat in June were intercepted by Australian Border Force officials after three days at sea, according to Indonesian officials. 

The men say they were held for 18 days before being sent back to the southern Indonesian island of Rote. 

What's next? 

The Department of Home Affairs is yet to respond to the claims reported by Indonesian authorities to the ABC.

A group of 44 men attempting to reach Australia from Java in June were intercepted by an Australian Border Force (ABF) vessel and sent back on two boats after being held onboard for up to 18 days, according to Indonesian authorities.

The men are mostly from Bangladesh, but also include eight ethnic Rohingyas. They were discovered on Indonesia's southernmost island of Rote by local police on Monday.

Rote's Police Chief Mardiono told the ABC the group flew to Jakarta from Malaysia in mid-June before boarding wooden fishing boats with Indonesian crew and departing from Java's southern coast.

They spent three days at sea attempting to reach Australian waters, after which they were intercepted by and held on the ABF vessel, according to police.

The men claim ABF officers then provided them with two aluminium boats equipped with supplies and sent them back to Indonesia near Rote island.

The ABC has not been able to independently verify the claims.

Second interception in one week

The group of men are now being processed by Indonesian immigration authorities.

In a video shared by police, one of the men, Muhammad Rohman, said the group was initially moved from their wooden boats to a large ABF vessel.

Mr Rohman told police he was part of a larger group of more than 70 people who paid up to $15,000 to agents who flew them from Malaysia to Jakarta in mid-June, and then organised wooden fishing boats crewed by Indonesians to take them to Australian waters.

A group of men sitting around outside underneath a small veranda.

"They gave us food and held us onboard for 19 days," the video shows him telling police.

"Then they woke us up and loaded us on to a small boat. Initially two men among us were called and taught how to operate the boat, and after 10 to 15 minutes of practising, the rest of us were called to board.

"The Australian government does not want us."

Their arrival in Rote island comes just over a week after another group of 28 suspected asylum seekers were found stranded on a boat in West Java.

A boat onshore tilted slightly to the side with some people on board and in front of it

According to Indonesia's Maritime Coordination Centre, the 23 Bangladeshis, four Chinese and one Indian citizen claim they were intercepted by an ABF crew near Christmas Island and detained onboard for 11 days before being provided with a speedboat to return to Indonesian waters.

 A group of men standing in two lines, with one line of men wearing police uniforms.

Indonesian authorities have detained at least five separate groups of people this year seeking to go through the country to get to Australia by boat.

Another four boats have made it to Australia, including one in May that arrived on Christmas Island, two that arrived on the Western Australian coast and another in the Torres Strait.

A spokesperson for the Australian Border Force told ABC it did not confirm or comment on operational matters.

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