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5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: April 19, 2023

sailing around the world

A small sailboat can take you big places

Small sailboats are the ticket to going cruising NOW — not when you retire, save up enough money, or find the “perfect” bluewater cruising boat. In fact, it’s the first principle in Lin and Larry Pardey’s cruising philosophy: “Go small, go simple, go now.”

Small yachts can be affordable, simple, and seaworthy . However, you won’t see many of them in today’s cruising grounds. In three years and 13,000 nautical miles of bluewater cruising, I could count the number of under 30-foot sailboats I’ve seen on one hand (all of them were skippered by people in their 20s and 30s).

Today’s anchorages are full of 40, 50, and 60-foot-plus ocean sailboats, but that’s not to say you can’t sail the world in a small sailboat. Just look at Alessandro di Benedetto who in 2010 broke the record for the smallest boat to sail around the world non-stop in his 21-foot Mini 6.5 .

So long as you don’t mind forgoing a few comforts, you can sail around the world on a small budget .

dinghy boat

What makes a good blue water sailboat

While you might not think a small sailboat is up to the task of going long distances, some of the best bluewater sailboats are under 40 feet.

However, if you’re thinking about buying a boat for offshore cruising, there are a few things to know about what makes a small boat offshore capable .

Smaller equals slower

Don’t expect to be sailing at high speeds in a pocket cruiser. Smaller displacement monohulls are always going to be slower than larger displacement monohulls (see the video below to learn why smaller boats are slower). Therefore a smaller cruiser is going to take longer on a given passage, making them more vulnerable to changes in weather.

A few feet can make a big difference over a week-long passage. On the last leg of our Pacific Ocean crossing, our 35-foot sailboat narrowly avoid a storm that our buddy boat, a 28-foot sailboat, couldn’t. Our friend was only a knot slower but it meant he had to heave to for a miserable three days.

pocket cruiser

Small but sturdy

If a pocket cruiser encounters bad weather, they will be less able to outrun or avoid it. For this reason, many of the blue water sailboats in this list are heavily built and designed to take a beating.

Yacht design has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Today, new boats are designed to be light and fast. The small sailboats in our list are 30-plus year-old designs and were built in a time when weather forecasts were less accurate and harder to come by.

Back in the day, boat were constructed with thicker fiberglass hulls than you see in modern builds. Rigs, keels, rudders, hulls and decks – everything about these small cruising sailboats was designed to stand up to strong winds and big waves. Some of the boats in this post have skeg-hung rudders and most of them are full keel boats.

The pros and cons of pocket cruiser sailboats

Pocket cruiser sailboats present certain advantages and disadvantages.

More affordable

Their smaller size makes them affordable bluewater sailboats. You can often find great deals on pocket cruisers and sometimes you can even get them for free.

You’ll also save money on retrofits and repairs because small cruising sailboats need smaller boat parts (which cost a lot less) . For example, you can get away with smaller sails, ground tackle, winches, and lighter lines than on a bigger boat.

Moorage, haul-outs, and marine services are often billed by foot of boat length . A small sailboat makes traveling the world , far more affordable!

When something major breaks (like an engine) it will be less costly to repair or replace than it would be on a bigger boat.

how to remove rusted screw

Less time consuming

Smaller boats tend to have simpler systems which means you’ll spend less time fixing and paying to maintain those systems. For example, most small yachts don’t have showers, watermakers , hot water, and electric anchor windlasses.

On the flip side, you’ll spend more time collecting water (the low-tech way) . On a small sailboat, this means bucket baths, catching fresh water in your sails, and hand-bombing your anchor. Though less convenient, this simplicity can save you years of preparation and saving to go sailing.

Oh, and did I mention that you’ll become a complete water meiser? Conserving water aboard becomes pretty important when you have to blue-jug every drop of it from town back to your boat.

Easier to sail

Lastly, smaller boats can be physically easier to sail , just think of the difference between raising a sail on a 25-foot boat versus a 50-foot boat! You can more easily single-hand or short-hand a small sailboat. For that reason, some of the best solo blue water sailboats are quite petite.

As mentioned above small boats are slow boats and will arrive in port, sometimes days (and even weeks) behind their faster counterparts on long offshore crossings.

Consider this scenario: two boats crossed the Atlantic on a 4,000 nautical mile route. The small boat averaged four miles an hour, while the big boat averaged seven miles an hour. If both started at the same time, the small boat will have completed the crossing two weeks after the larger sailboat!

Less spacious

Living on a boat can be challenging — living on a small sailboat, even more so! Small cruising boats don’t provide much in the way of living space and creature comforts.

Not only will you have to downsize when you move onto a boat  you’ll also have to get pretty creative when it comes to boat storage.

It also makes it more difficult to accommodate crew for long periods which means there are fewer people to share work and night shifts.

If you plan on sailing with your dog , it might put a small boat right out of the question (depending on the size of your four-legged crew member).

boat galley storage ideas

Less comfortable

It’s not just the living situation that is less comfortable, the sailing can be pretty uncomfortable too! Pocket cruisers tend to be a far less comfortable ride than larger boats as they are more easily tossed about in big ocean swell.

Here are our 5 favorite small blue water sailboats for sailing around the world

When we sailed across the Pacific these were some of the best small sailboats that we saw. Their owners loved them and we hope you will too!

The boats in this list are under 30 feet. If you’re looking for something slightly larger, you might want to check out our post on the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet .

Note: Price ranges are based on SailboatListings.com and YachtWorld.com listings for Aug. 2018

Albin Vega 27($7-22K USD)

small sailboats

The Albin Vega has earned a reputation as a bluewater cruiser through adventurous sailors like Matt Rutherford, who in 2012 completed a 309-day solo nonstop circumnavigation of the Americas via Cape Horn and the Northwest Passage (see his story in the documentary Red Dot on the Ocean ). 

  • Hull Type: Long fin keel
  • Hull Material: GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:27′ 1″ / 8.25m
  • Waterline Length:23′ 0″ / 7.01m
  • Beam:8′ 1″ / 2.46m
  • Draft:3′ 8″ / 1.12m
  • Rig Type: Masthead sloop rig
  • Displacement:5,070lb / 2,300kg
  • Designer:Per Brohall
  • Builder:Albin Marine AB (Swed.)
  • Year First Built:1965
  • Year Last Built:1979
  • Number Built:3,450

Cape Dory 28 ($10-32K USD) 

small sailboat

This small cruising sailboat is cute and classic as she is rugged and roomy. With at least one known circumnavigation and plenty of shorter bluewater voyages, the Cape Dory 28 has proven herself offshore capable.

  • Hull Type: Full Keel
  • Length Overall:28′ 09″ / 8.56m
  • Waterline Length:22′ 50″ / 6.86m
  • Beam:8’ 11” / 2.72m
  • Draft:4’ 3” / 1.32m
  • Rig Type:Masthead Sloop
  • Displacement:9,300lb / 4,218kg
  • Sail Area/Displacement Ratio:52
  • Displacement/Length Ratio:49
  • Designer: Carl Alberg
  • Builder: Cape Dory Yachts (USA)
  • Year First Built:1974
  • Year Last Built:1988
  • Number Built: 388

Dufour 29 ($7-23K)

small sailboat

As small bluewater sailboats go, the Dufour 29 is a lot of boat for your buck. We know of at least one that sailed across the Pacific last year. Designed as a cruiser racer she’s both fun to sail and adventure-ready. Like many Dufour sailboats from this era, she comes equipped with fiberglass molded wine bottle holders. Leave it to the French to think of everything!

  • Hull Type: Fin with skeg-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:29′ 4″ / 8.94m
  • Waterline Length:25′ 1″ / 7.64m
  • Beam:9′ 8″ / 2.95m
  • Draft:5′ 3″ / 1.60m
  • Displacement:7,250lb / 3,289kg
  • Designer:Michael Dufour
  • Builder:Dufour (France)
  • Year First Built:1975
  • Year Last Built:1984

Vancouver 28 ($15-34K)

most seaworthy small boat

A sensible small boat with a “go-anywhere” attitude, this pocket cruiser was designed with ocean sailors in mind. One of the best cruising sailboats under 40 feet, the Vancouver 28 is great sailing in a small package.

  • Hull Type:Full keel with transom hung rudder
  • Length Overall: 28′ 0″ / 8.53m
  • Waterline Length:22’ 11” / 6.99m
  • Beam:8’ 8” / 2.64m
  • Draft:4’ 4” / 1.32m
  • Rig Type: Cutter rig
  • Displacement:8,960lb / 4,064 kg
  • Designer: Robert B Harris
  • Builder: Pheon Yachts Ltd. /Northshore Yachts Ltd.
  • Year First Built:1986
  • Last Year Built: 2007
  • Number Built: 67

Westsail 28 ($30-35K)

small sailboat

Described in the 1975 marketing as “a hearty little cruiser”, the Westsail 28 was designed for those who were ready to embrace the cruising life. Perfect for a solo sailor or a cozy cruising couple!

  • Hull Type: Full keel with transom hung rudder
  • Hull Material:GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:28′ 3” / 8.61m
  • Waterline Length:23’ 6” / 7.16m
  • Beam:9’ 7” / 2.92m
  • Displacement:13,500lb / 6,124kg
  • Designer: Herb David
  • Builder: Westsail Corp. (USA)
  • Number Built:78

Feeling inspired? Check out the “go small” philosophy of this 21-year-old who set sail in a CS 27.

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.

Saturday 1st of September 2018

Very useful list, but incomplete - as it would necessarily be, considering the number of seaworthy smaller boats that are around.

In particular, you missed/omitted the Westerly "Centaur" and its follow-on model, the "Griffon". 26 feet LOA, bilge-keelers, weighing something over 6000 pounds, usually fitted with a diesel inboard.

OK, these are British designs, and not that common in the US, but still they do exist, they're built like tanks, and it's rumored that at least one Centaur has circumnavigated.

Friday 31st of August 2018

This is a helpful list, thank you. I don't think most people would consider a 28' boat a pocket cruiser, though!

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Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere

John Vigor turns the spotlight on twenty seaworthy sailboats that are at home on the ocean in all weather. These are old fiberglass boats, mostly of traditional design and strong construction. All are small, from 20 feet to 32 feet overall, but all have crossed oceans, and all are cheap.

Choosing the right boat to take you across an ocean or around the world can be confusing and exasperating, particularly with a tight budget. Vigor sets out to remedy that in this book. He compares the designs and handling characteristics of 20 different boats whose secondhand market prices start at about $3,000. Interviews with experienced owners (featuring valuable tips about handling each boat in heavy weather) are interspersed with line drawings of hulls, sail plans, and accommodations. Vigor has unearthed the known weaknesses of each boat and explains how to deal with them. He rates their comparative seaworthiness, their speed, and the number of people they can carry in comfort. If you have ever dreamed the dream this book can help you turn it into reality.

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The Ultimate Guide to Small Sailboats: From Dinghies to Ocean Cruisers

  • The Ultimate Guide to Small Sailboats: From Dinghies to Ocean Cruisers

Ahoy there, maritime enthusiasts! Are you tired of being a landlubber and ready to take on the open waters? Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about sailing into the sunset but thought that owning a sailboat was only for the wealthy or the experienced? The good news is that small sailboats are here to prove you wrong. Easy to maneuver, affordable, and incredibly fun, these little vessels offer a world of possibilities for novices and veterans alike. So, why not set sail on this journey and explore what small sailboats have to offer?

Types of Small Sailboats

Dinghies are like the hatchbacks of the sailing world—compact, practical, and surprisingly versatile. Usually measuring under 15 feet, they are the go-to boats for sailing newbies to cut their teeth on. Why? Because they're affordable and easy to manage. Think of a dinghy as your first bicycle—sure, you'll fall a few times, but the lessons learned are invaluable.

If a dinghy is a hatchback, then a daysailer would be your sporty coupe—ideal for a fun day out but not really for a week-long journey. These boats are a bit larger, typically ranging from 15 to 25 feet, and can comfortably accommodate 4 to 6 people. They're perfect for sailing close to shore, having a picnic on the water, or enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Looking for something a bit unique? The catboat could be your feline friend on the water. These boats are known for their single mast and mainsail, making them easier to handle. They’re the sort of boat that likes to lounge lazily in shallow waters but can also pick up the pace when needed.

Features to Consider When Buying

Hull material.

The hull is like the foundation of a house—if it's not strong, everything else fails. Generally, you'll find hulls made of fiberglass, wood, or even aluminum. Each material has its pros and cons. For instance, fiberglass is durable and low-maintenance but can be expensive. Wood offers a classic look but requires more upkeep.

Would you prefer manual or automatic transmission in a car? Similarly, the rig type of your sailboat affects your sailing experience. You might opt for a simple sloop with one mast and two sails or maybe a cutter with an additional headsail for better balance. The choice is yours.

Length and Beam

Here's where size really matters. The length and beam (width) of your boat will significantly impact its stability, storage capacity, and how it handles in different water conditions. It's not always that smaller is easier to handle; sometimes, a slightly larger boat offers better stability and amenities.

Advantages of Small Sailboats


Let's face it—owning a boat isn't cheap. But small sailboats make the dream more accessible. Not only are the upfront costs generally lower, but ongoing maintenance expenses like docking fees, cleaning, and repairs are also more manageable. It's the difference between owning a high-end sports car and a reliable sedan—both can be fun, but one is undoubtedly easier on the wallet.


Remember the first time you parallel parked a car? Now, imagine doing that with a 40-foot boat! Small sailboats shine when it comes to maneuverability. They're easier to steer, quicker to respond, and a breeze to dock, making them perfect for navigating through narrow channels or crowded marinas.

Low Maintenance

Less is more when it comes to boat maintenance. Smaller surface area means fewer places for dirt and grime to hide, making cleaning easier. Not to mention, smaller engines (if your boat has one) mean less complicated mechanical problems to solve. It's like owning a plant that only needs water once a week—low commitment, high reward.

Popular Small Sailboats

Remember the Volkswagen Beetle of yesteryears? Compact, easy to manage, and immensely popular—that's what Sunfish is to the world of small sailboats. Whether you want to race or just sail leisurely, this boat is a versatile choice that won't disappoint.

For those who crave a bit more adrenaline, the J/22 is like the sports bike of small sailboats. Known for its speed, agility, and performance, this boat is a favorite in racing circles. It's agile enough to make quick turns yet sturdy enough to handle a variety of sea conditions.

Catalina 22

If you're looking for the minivan of small sailboats—functional, family-friendly, and reliable—the Catalina 22 is for you. Ideal for weekend trips with the family, this boat offers a cabin for shelter, a cooking space, and even a small toilet. It's a floating home away from home.

Small Sailing Yachts for Sale

Where to buy.

Buying a boat can be like buying a car; there are various avenues available. You can go through dealerships, check out classified ads, or even explore online platforms like Boat Trader or YachtWorld. Just like you wouldn't buy a car without a test drive, make sure to do a sea trial before making a purchase.

Price Range

The cost of your new aquatic venture can vary widely depending on the size, brand, and features. You might find a used dinghy for as low as $1,000 or a top-of-the-line daysailer that costs over $20,000. Therefore, it's crucial to budget not just for the initial purchase but also for the ongoing costs like maintenance, insurance, and docking fees.

(To be continued...)

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small sailboat in the water small sailboat in the water next to the beach next to the beach in a summer sunset ready to sailing with the last breeze of the day

Small Bluewater Sailboats

Definition and features.

When it comes to small sailboats, not all are built for the big leagues, aka open-ocean sailing. However, some compact beauties are fully capable of taking on the mighty seas, and these are commonly referred to as "bluewater sailboats." These boats generally have reinforced hulls, deep keels for added stability, and more robust rigging systems. They also often come with advanced navigation and safety features like radar and autopilot systems.

If you're serious about open-ocean sailing but don't want a massive boat, brands like Nor'Sea and Pacific Seacraft have some excellent offerings. These boats might be small in size (often under 30 feet), but they are big on features and sturdiness, designed to withstand challenging sea conditions.

Boats for Cruising


A cruiser is like a comfortable sedan equipped for a cross-country road trip. Similarly, cruising boats are designed for longer journeys and typically feature amenities like sleeping cabins, cooking facilities, and even bathrooms. However, small cruising sailboats make these comforts available in a compact form, ensuring you don't have to compromise on luxury while also enjoying the benefits of a small boat.

The market offers various models to suit different cruising styles. If you prefer a classic, vintage look, the Bristol series offers some wonderful choices. Those who want a more modern flair might gravitate towards Hunter or Beneteau models. No matter your preference, there's likely a small cruising sailboat that fits the bill.

Very Small Sailing Boats

What makes them unique.

We're talking about boats usually under 10 feet, often even as small as 6 or 7 feet. These are the "motorbikes" of the sailing world—quick, nimble, and perfect for a joyride, albeit on water. What they lack in amenities, they make up for in sheer fun and the ability to go places bigger boats can't.

Very small sailing boats are perfect for specific types of water activities. You can use them for fishing, exploring secluded inlets, or just enjoying a peaceful day on the water. They are also excellent for teaching kids the basics of sailing due to their simplicity and ease of handling.

Small Ocean Sailboats

Ocean-capable small boats.

Yes, you read that right—there are small sailboats designed for ocean sailing. Unlike their cousins confined to more tranquil waters, these boats have features that make them seaworthy. However, don't assume that any small boat can be taken on an ocean voyage. Specific design features are essential for this kind of challenging adventure.

Essential Features

So what makes a small sailboat ocean-worthy? For starters, a strong hull designed to take on challenging sea conditions. You'd also want a deep keel for stability, a robust rigging system to withstand high winds, and multiple fail-safes like backup navigation systems.

Small Ocean Cruisers


Ocean cruisers in a small size offer the best of both worlds—they are versatile enough for both coastal cruising and open-ocean voyages. These boats are like your all-terrain vehicles, capable yet compact.

Pros and Cons

While adaptable, small ocean cruisers may lack some of the luxury or speed that larger yachts can offer. However, their versatility and ease of handling often make them a popular choice for those who like a variety of sailing experiences.

Small Cruising Sailboats

Ideal for beginners.

If you're a rookie in the world of sailing, a small cruising sailboat could be your best bet. These boats are typically easy to handle, straightforward to maintain, and offer enough amenities for short trips—making them an ideal starting point.

Popular Models

If you're new to cruising, a couple of models might catch your attention. The Compac 16, known for its easy handling and classic look, is often recommended for beginners. Another excellent option is the Catalina 18, which offers a bit more room without compromising ease of use.

Setting sail on a small sailboat opens up a world of opportunities—whether you're a seasoned sailor looking for a weekend thrill or a beginner aiming for a long-term commitment to the sea. Understanding the types, features, advantages, and options in the small sailboat market will help you make an educated choice. The sea is vast and welcoming, offering adventures and tranquility alike, and a small sailboat can be your perfect vessel for exploration.

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Faqs: more about small sailboats, what's the best small sailboat for beginners, can small sailboats be used for ocean sailing, how much does a small sailboat cost, what features should i consider when buying a small sailboat, do small sailboats have sleeping accommodations.

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11 Best Small Sailboat Brands: How to Choose Your Next Daysailer or Pocket Cruiser

12th oct 2023 by samantha wilson.

Rightboat logo

Sailing is a relaxing, invigorating pastime that allows you to harness wind and waves in a unique and historic way without requiring a 50-foot yacht to enjoy what’s special about the experience. In fact, small sailboats allow a delightful back-to-basics experience that often gets lost on larger, systems-heavy sailboats.

On a small sailboat you can connect with the sea, feeling the boat move beneath you. The boat is typically easy to rig, simple to sail, and can even be sailed solo. Small sailboats give you the freedom to trailer your or car-top your boat and go anywhere, and they’re perfect for learning the nuances of sailing. There are many excellent brands and models of small sailboat, each with their own appeal, and here we narrow down some of our favorite in the daysailer and pocket cruiser categories under 30 feet. 

Difference Between a Daysailer and a Pocket Cruiser

While there are many different types of sailboat on the market and there is no single definition of either a daysailer or a pocket cruiser, they are used in a particular way, as the names imply. The term daysailer covers a huge array of sailboats, smaller and sometimes larger, and is generally defined as any day boat used for local sailing, with a simple rig, and easy to get underway. A pocket cruiser typically offers a cabin and head, and adequate accommodations for an overnight stay and sometimes longer cruises. Having said that, there is a large overlap between the two in many instances, so the lines may become blurred. 

What Size is a Small Sailboat?

Small is a relative term of course, but in general—and for the purposes of this article—a small sailboat is one that could be sailed by a small crew, often with one or two people aboard. It will have a simple rig and be trailerable, and it might be either a daysailer or pocket-cruiser style vessel as above. Within those categories, there are many models and styles, but when it comes to length we consider a sailboat as small when it’s under 30 feet in overall length. 

The Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

Pocket cruiser: Beneteau First 27.  The Beneteau First 27 is a modern example of a pocket cruiser, earning Cruising World ’s Boat of the Year award in the Pocket Cruiser category in 2022. With space for up to six people accommodated in a separated bow-cabin and open saloon, it offers families the chance to go farther, explore more, and cruise in comfort. There is a galley with freshwater and a head, adding to the interior home comforts. The sailboat itself is modern, fast, and stable, designed by Sam Manuard, and has been designed to be incredibly safe and almost unsinkable thanks to its three watertight chambers. The handling is also refreshingly intuitive, with a well-designed cockpit, simple deck controls, and double winches allowing it to be sailed solo, by two people, or a small crew. 

Beneteau sailboats for sale

Beneteau First 27

Photo credit: Beneteau

Daysailer: Alerion 28.  You’ll certainly turn heads cruising along in an Alerion 28, a daysailer whose forerunner by the same name was designed by Nathanael Herreshoff in 1912 and then updated with a modern underbody for fiberglass production by Carl Schumacher in the late 1980s. This pretty daysailer manages to combine a traditional silhouette and classic feel, with very modern engineering creating an excellent package. Over 470 of these sailboats were built and sold in the past 30 years, making it one of the most popular modern daysailers on the water. With a small cabin and saloon, complete with miniature galley area, it offers respite from the sun or wind and the option for a night aboard. The cockpit offers a beautiful sailing experience, with plenty of space for the whole family. 

Alerion boats for sale


Photo credit: Alerion Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 25 Feet

Pocket cruiser: Cornish Crabber 24.  British manufacturer Cornish Crabber has been producing beautiful, traditional style small sailboats for decades, ensuring they honor their heritage both in the construction style and appearance of their boats. The Cornish Crabber 24 is the most iconic of their range and dates back to the 1980s. It offers a simple yet surprisingly spacious interior layout with cabin, galley, and head, and a good sized cockpit, as well as seating for up to six people. It’s the perfect family sailboat, with clever use of storage as well as just under 5000 pounds of displacement providing stability and easy tacking. Aesthetically the 24 is simply beautiful, with a traditional silhouette (combined with modern engineering), finished in hardwood trims. 

Cornish Crabber boats for sale

Cornish Crabber 24

Photo credit: Cornish Crabber

Daysailer: Catalina 22 Capri.  Catalina sailboats need little introduction, and are one of the world’s best-known, most-respected brands building small sailboats. The Catalina 22 Capri (also available in a sport model) is a great example of what Catalina does so well. While we’ve classified it as a daysailer, it could easily cross into the pocket cruiser category, as it offers excellent sailing performance in almost all conditions as well as having a small cabin, galley, and head. Loved for its safety, stability, ease of handling and simple maintenance, it makes for a good first family boat for getting out onto the bay or lake. 

Catalina boats for sale

Catalina 22 Capri

Photo credit: Catalina

The Best Sailboats Under 20 Feet

Pocket cruiser: CapeCutter 19.  This is another model that combines the beauty of the traditional silhouettes with modern-day advancements. The design originates from the classic gaff cutter work boats, but today offers excellent performance—in fact it’s one of the fastest small gaffers in the world. The interior is cleverly spacious, with four berths, two of which convert into a saloon, as well as a simple galley area. With quick rigging, it can be sailed solo, but is also able to accommodate small groups, making it a capable and hugely versatile pocket cruiser. 

CapeCutter boats for sale

CapeCutter 19

Photo credit: Cape Cutter 19

Daysailer: Swallow Yachts’ BayRaider 20.  Classic looks with modern performance are combined in Swallow Yachts’ beautiful BayRaider 20. This is one of the most capable and safest daysailers we’ve seen, but also incredibly versatile thanks to the choices of ballast. Keep the ballast tank empty and it’s light and fast. Fill the tank up and you’ve got a stable and safe boat perfect for beginners and families. While it’s got an eye-catching traditional style, the engineering is modern, with a strong carbon mast and construction. While this is a true daysailer, you can use the optional spray hood and camping accessories to create an overnight adventure. 

Swallow Yachts for sale

Swallow Yachts BayRaider 20

Photo credit: Swallow Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 15 Feet

Pocket Cruiser: NorseBoat 12.5.  Can we truly call the NorseBoat 12.5 a pocket cruiser? Yes we can! The sheer versatility of this excellent little sailboat has convinced us. These beautiful hand-crafted sailboats offer exceptional performance and are described by the manufacturer as ‘the Swiss Army Knives of sailboats’. The traditionally styled 12.5 can be sailed, rowed, and motored. It can be trailered, easily beached, and even used as a camp cruiser, allowing for overnight adventures. There is no end to the fun that can be had with this easy-to-sail and easy-to-handle boat, which makes it a dream to learn in. With positive flotation, lots of clever storage, and a full-size double berth for camp cruising, it really is the perfect mini pocket cruiser. 

NorseBoat for sale

NorseBoat 12.5

Photo credit: NorseBoats

Daysailer: Original Beetle Cat Boat 12: All across the bays of the US east coast cat boats have long been part of the ocean landscape. Able to access shallow rocky coves yet also withstand the strong coastal winds, these traditional New England fishing boats have an iconic shape and gaff-rigged mainsails. Beetle Cat have been producing elegant wooden cat boats for over 100 years – in fact they’ve made and sold over 4,000 boats to date. Their 12 foot Cat Boat 12 is one of their finest models, offering lovely daysailing opportunities. It has a wide beam and centerboard that lifts up, allowing it to access shallow waters, as well as a forward mast and single sail gaff rig in keeping with the traditional cat boats. To sail one of these is to be part of the heritage of New England and Cape Cod, and to honor the ancient art of hand-made boat building. 

Beetle Cat official website

Beetle Cat Boat 12

Photo credit: Beetle Cat

The Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

When it comes to learning to sail, it’s important to have a boat that is easy to handle. There’s no quicker way to put yourself or your family off sailing than to start off with a boat that is either too big or too complicated. When choosing your first boat we recommend the following characteristics:

  • Small: The benefits of starting off with a small boat are many, as we’ve seen above. They’re easier to control as well as to moor, and they react more quickly to steering and sails. They can be trailered and launched easily, and the loads generated are much lower than on bigger, heavier boats.
  • Easy to sail: You want a boat that is stable and forgiving of mistakes, doesn’t capsize easily, and isn’t too overpowered in a stronger breeze. Keep things simple and learn as you go.
  • Simple sail configuration: Choosing a boat that can be rigged by one person in a few minutes, and easily sailed solo, makes it easier to take along inexperienced crews. With regards to the rig, all you need are a halyard to hoist the mainsail and a sheet to control the mainsail.
  • Tiller steering: We recommend boats with tiller steering over wheel steering when starting out. The tiller allows you to get a real feel for the boat and how the rudder works as it moves through the water. 

For more information on choosing the best beginner sailboat check out our full guide. There are many popular brands of beginner boats including Sunfish, Laser, and Hunter Marlow. Some of our favorites include;

Hobie 16: The classic Hobie catamaran has been a well-loved beginner sailboat for years, and the Hobie 16 started life back in 1969. Since then they’ve made and sold over a staggering 100,000 of the 16s. It has twin fiberglass and foam hulls, a large trampoline, and a pull-up rudder so it can be sailed straight onto the beach. The basic package comes with an easy to handle main and jib with plenty of extras available too such as a spinnaker and trailer. The Hobie 16 promises a great learning experience and lots of fun in a very nifty and inexpensive package. 

Hobie boats for sale

Hobie 16

Photo credit: Hobie

Paine 14: You’ll immediately fall in love with sailing when you step into a beautiful Paine 14. Made from seamless epoxy cold-molded wood, the P-14 is simply beautiful and offers the classic sailing experience with the design and innovation of a more modern hull and rig. Two people will be able to enjoy getting out on the water together and learning the ropes. The Paine 14 has a lead ballast keel that accounts for nearly half her weight, giving her the feel of a much larger boat, but is still trailerable and easy to manage offering the best of both worlds. 

Chuck Paine boats for sale

Paine 14

Photo credit: Chuck Paine

High-Performance Small Sailboats

Small sailboats generally become high performers if they are light, have a lot of sail area, or they have more than one hull. More recently, some of have been designed with foiling surfaces, as well. For the purposes of this article, we’d like to close by pointing out one model that is super fast and has versatile pocket-cruising capabilities.

Corsair 880 trimaran : The Corsair 880 trimaran is the grandchild of the company’s F27, a model that launched the popularity of trailerable leisure trimarans about 40 years ago. The 880 has taken the model to new heights and exemplifies the incredible space benefits you can achieve in a 29-foot sailboat. We’re talking an aft cabin, room to sleep 5 people, an enclosed head, and standing headroom in the galley and main saloon. It brings many of the opportunities that a much larger yacht plus the ability to cruise in extremely shallow water. Whether you want to cruise to the Bahamas or enjoy a high-adrenaline race, the Corsair 880 offers incredible performance and unlimited adventures in a truly pocket size. 

Corsair boats for sale

Corsair 880

Photo credit: Corsair

Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.


More from: Samantha Wilson

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small sailboat ocean

Download this cheat sheet to sail faster, cheaper and smarter.

Ultimate Guide to the Best Small Sailboats [2023 Reviews]

When I first started looking into buying a small sailboat I found it all very confusing.

I had learned to sail in the San Francisco bay on fairly large keelboats. (J-22, J-105s, Beneteau tktks, etc.)

But I didn’t nessarilly have the money or time to justify the investment in a big yacht like that.

ANd when I started looking at the different classes of small boats out there, it took me some time to try to understand the different kinds.

So I put together this post to try to organize that information.

So if you’re in the market for a small sailboat keep reading and I promise you’ll get a better understanding of everything out there. Tk

Advantages of Buying a Small Sailboat

There’s nothing wrong with owning a large sailboat (if you have endless time, money, and patience.) But there are some advantages to going with a smaller boat. Here are a few of the big ones:

  • Cost to Buy – You can purchase a nice used dinghy for under a grand. Or you could get yourself a trailerable weekender for a lot less than you might think.
  • Cost to Own – Owning a larger boat can get expensive fast. Just add up the costs of financing, docking, maintenance, insurance, fuel, etc. A small sailboat may allow you to fulfill your dream of being a boat owner without going broke.
  • More Options Available – Another nice thing about small sailboats is that there are a ton of different options available. I list over 100 down below along with their size, and an estimate of the purchase cost. You’re sure to find something you like.
  • Easier to move – Getting a large keelboat in and out of the water is no easy task. Trailering it around on land is a huge pain and can get expensive. Most of the dinghies and day sailers listed below can be moved by just a couple of people and a good trailer. And you won’t need to go out an buy a dedicated vehicle just to hull the thing around.
  • Easier to Sail – Do you plan to race, cruise, or live on this boat? You may find that small sailboats are surprisingly better than larger options.

100+ Small Sailboats Compared

5 questions to answer before buying a small sailboat.

Before you run off and buy one of these boats, take a second to answer the following 5 questions. These aren’t difficult but this simple step will ensure you get the right sailboat for your needs

1. How many people will be using this boat? Small sailboats are obviously not designed to carry a ton of people. So you should buy the size that will best fit your needs. If you plan on being the only person to sail in your sailboat, then you can opt for a smaller sized personal dinghy. If your plan is for two, three, or four people to be on the sailboat at once, then you’re going to need a bigger boat

2. Where do you plan to sail? What kind of sailing do you want to do? The sailboat you buy will need to be appropriate for the environment you’ll be sailing in. Open ocean sailing is different from sailing on a small lake. The style of sailing you want to do matters as well. Do you want to race your sail boat or are you just looking to cruise around? These are things that you have to consider before you buy your small sailboat. If you’re planning to sleep overnight on the boat you will want to look at weekenders. If you get a boat that is not fit for the environment you are in, then you could wind up in a dangerous situation. Or at the very least, have a bad time on the water.

3. How will you be transporting your new sailboat? You also need to think about how you are going to get your new boat to the water. You can haul a small dinghy in almost any trailer or truck. But for other boats you’re going to need to get a specialized trailer. You can look into private professional boat shipping companies. They will handle transport for you but will generally be more expensive.

4. Where will you store your boat? Now you need to think about where you will store the small sailboat. Will you be docking at a marina? Be sure to include docking fees in your budget below. Or do you have space to keep the boat in storage in your garage? Make sure your spouse is okay with this first!

5. How big is your budget? (time and money!) Your budget will also help you narrow down which size and model boat is right for you. New sailboats are more expensive than used. Bigger boats are generally more expensive than smaller boats. Don’t forget to factor in all the extra costs of owning a sailboat. Be sure to consider things like insurance, docking fees, repairs, and transportation. Finally, make sure you have enough time to make owning a boat worthwhile. Often it’s better to make friends with a boat owner, than to become one yourself!

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Mike Sellers

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20 Best Small Sailboats for the Weekender

  • By Mark Pillsbury
  • Updated: August 4, 2021

In order to go cruising, most of us require a sailboat with a head, a galley, and bunks. The boat, likely a 30-footer and more often a 40-footer, will have electronics for navigation and entertainment, refrigeration if the trip is longer than a coastal hop, an engine for light wind, and, depending on our appetites for food and fun, perhaps a genset to power our toys and appliances.

To go sailing , however, all we really need is a hull, mast, rudder, and sail. To experience the pure joy of sheeting in and scooting off across a lake, bay, or even the open ocean, there’s nothing better than a small sailboat – we’re talking sailboats under 25 feet. You can literally reach out and touch the water as it flows past. You instantly feel every puff of breeze and sense every change in trim.

Some of the boats in this list are new designs, others are time-tested models from small sailboat manufacturers, but every one is easy to rig, simple to sail, and looks like a whole lot of fun either for a solo outing on a breezy afternoon or to keep family and friends entertained throughout your entire sailing season. This list is made up of all types of sailboats , and if you’re looking for a list of some of the best small sailboats for beginners, you’ll find exactly that here.

Any one of these popular boats could be labeled as a trailerable sailboat, daysailer, or even a weekender sailboat. And while most would be labeled as a one or two person sailboat, some could comfortably fit three or even four people.

Marblehead 22 Daysailer

If you have an eye for elegant lines and your heart goes pitter-patter over just the right amount of overhang beneath a counter transom, the Marblehead 22 daysailer, designed by Doug Zurn and built by Samoset Boatworks in Boothbay, Maine, will definitely raise your pulse. Traditional-looking above the waterline and modern beneath, the cold-molded hull sports a deep bulb keel and a Hall Spars carbon-fiber mast with a wishbone rig and square-top main. The 11-foot-9-inch cockpit can seat a crowd, and a small cuddy forward will let you stow your friends’ gear for the day. samosetboatworks.com

Catalina 22 Sport

Many a harbor plays host to an active fleet of Catalina 22s, one of the most popular small sailboats over the years, given its basic amenities and retractable keel, which allows it to be easily trailered. Recently, the company introduced the Catalina 22 Sport, an updated design that can compete with the older 22s. The boat features a retractable lead keel; a cabin that can sleep four, with a forward hatch for ventilation; and a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib. Lifelines, a swim ladder, and an engine are options, as are cloth cushions; vinyl cushions are standard. The large cockpit will seat a crowd or let a mom-and-pop crew stretch out and enjoy their sail. It’s clear why the Catalina 22 is one of the best sailboats under 25 feet. catalinayachts.com

With its large, open-transom cockpit and sloop rig, the Hunter 22 makes a comfortable daysailer for family and friends. But with its cuddy cabin, twin bunks, optional electrical system, opening screened ports, and portable toilet, a parent and child or a couple could comfortably slip away for an overnight or weekend. Add in the optional performance package, which includes an asymmetric spinnaker, a pole, and a mainsheet traveler, and you could be off to the races. The boat features a laminated fiberglass hull and deck, molded-in nonskid, and a hydraulic lifting centerboard. Mount a small outboard on the stern bracket, and you’re set to go. marlow-hunter.com

Not sure whether you want to race, cruise or just go out for an afternoon sail? Since 1958, sailors have been having a ball aboard the Uffa Fox/George O’Day-designed Daysailer. Fox, who in the 1950s was on the cutting edge of planning-dinghy design, collaborated with Fall River, Massachusetts boatbuilder O’Day Corp. to build the 16-foot Daysailer, a boat that features a slippery hull and a small cuddy cabin that covers the boat roughly from the mast forward. Thousands of Daysailers were built by various builders, and they can be found used for quite affordable prices. There are active racing fleets around the US, and new Daysailers are still in production today, built by Cape Cod Ship Building. capecodshipbuilding.com

BayRaider from Swallow Boats

Easy to rig and trailer, the BayRaider from England’s Swallow Yachts is a relative newcomer to the small-boat market in the United States. Nearly all of its 19 feet 9 inches is open cockpit, though a spray hood can be added to keep the forward sections dry. The BayRaider is ketch-rigged with a gunter-style mainmast. The topmast and mizzen are both carbon-fiber, which is an option for the mainmast as well. The BayRaider can be sailed with a dry hull in lighter conditions or with 300 pounds of water ballast to increase its stability. With the centerboard and hinged rudder raised, the boat can maneuver in even the thinnest water.

$28,900, (904) 234-8779, swallowyachts.com

Big fun can come in small packages, especially if your vessel of choice happens to be the 12 ½-foot Beetle Cat. Designed by John Beetle and first built in 1921, the wooden shallow draft sailboat is still in production today in Wareham, Massachusetts at the Beetle Boat Shop. With a draft of just 2 feet, the boat is well-suited for shallow bays, but equally at home in open coastal waters. The single gaff-rigged sail provides plenty of power in light air and can be quickly reefed down to handle a blow. In a word, sailing a Beetle Cat is fun. beetlecat.com

West Wight Potter P 19

With berths for four and a workable galley featuring a cooler, a sink, and a stove, West Wight Potter has packed a lot into its 19-foot-long P 19. First launched in 1971, this is a line of boats that’s attracted a true following among trailer-sailors. The P 19′s fully retractable keel means that you can pull up just about anywhere and go exploring. Closed-cell foam fore and aft makes the boat unsinkable, and thanks to its hard chine, the boat is reportedly quite stable under way. westwightpotter.com

NorseBoat 17.5

Designed for rowing and sailing (a motor mount is optional), the Canadian-built NorseBoat 17.5—one of which was spotted by a CW editor making its way through the Northwest Passage with a two-man crew—features an open cockpit, a carbon-fiber mast, and a curved-gaff rig, with an optional furling headsail set on a sprit. The lapstrake hull is fiberglass; the interior is ply and epoxy. The boat comes standard with two rowing stations and one set of 9-foot oars. The boat is designed with positive flotation and offers good load-carrying capacity, which you could put to use if you added the available canvas work and camping tent. NorseBoats offers a smaller sibling, the 12.5, as well; both are available in kit form.

$19,000, (902) 659-2790, norseboat.com

Montgomery 17

Billed as a trailerable pocket cruiser, the Montgomery 17 is a stout-looking sloop designed by Lyle Hess and built out of fiberglass in Ontario, California, by Montgomery Boats. With a keel and centerboard, the boat draws just under 2 feet with the board up and can be easily beached when you’re gunkholing. In the cuddy cabin you’ll find sitting headroom, a pair of bunks, a portable toilet, optional shore and DC power, and an impressive amount of storage space. The deck-stepped mast can be easily raised using a four-part tackle. The builder reports taking his own boat on trips across the Golfo de California and on visits to California’s coastal islands. Montgomery makes 15-foot and 23-foot models, as well. If you’re in search of a small sailboat with a cabin, the Montgomery 17 has to be on your wish list.

With long overhangs and shiny brightwork, the CW Hood 32 is on the larger end of the daysailer spectrum. Designers Chris Hood and Ben Stoddard made a conscious decision to forego a cabin and head in favor of an open cockpit big enough to bring 4 or 5 friends or family out for an afternoon on the water. The CW Hood 32 is sleek and graceful through the water and quick enough to do some racing, but keeps things simple with a self-tacking jib and controls that can be lead back to a single-handed skipper. A top-furling asymmetrical, electric sail drive and Torqeedo outboard are all optional. The CW Hood 32 makes for a great small family sailboat.  cwhoodyachts.com

Sun Cat from Com-Pac

Shallow U.S. East Coast bays and rock-strewn coasts have long been graced by cat boats, whose large, gaff-rigged mainsails proved simple and powerful both on the wind and, better yet, when reaching and running. The 17-foot-4-inch Sun Cat, built by Com-Pac Yachts, updates the classic wooden cat with its fiberglass hull and deck and the easy-to-step Mastender Rigging System, which incorporates a hinged tabernacle to make stepping the mast a one-person job. If you want a personal sailboat ideal for solo sailing, the Sun Can is a great choice. Belowdecks, the twin 6-foot-5-inch berths and many other features and amenities make this cat a willing weekender.

$19,800, (727) 443-4408, com-pacyachts.com

Catalina 16.5

The Catalina 16.5 sits right in the middle of Catalina Yachts’ line of small sailboats, which range from the 12.5 to the 22 Capri and Sport, and it comes in both an easy-to-trailer centerboard model and a shoal-draft fixed-keel configuration. With the fiberglass board up, the 17-foot-2-inch boat draws just 5 inches of water; with the board down, the 4-foot-5-inch draft suggests good windward performance. Hull and deck are hand-laminated fiberglass. The roomy cockpit is self-bailing, and the bow harbors a good-sized storage area with a waterproof hatch. catalinayachts.com

No roundup of best small sailboats (trailerable and fun too) would be complete without a mention of the venerable Hobie 16, which made its debut in Southern California way back in 1969. The company has introduced many other multihulls since, but more than 100,000 of the 16s have been launched, a remarkable figure. The Hobie’s asymmetric fiberglass-and-foam hulls eliminate the need for daggerboards, and with its kick-up rudders, the 16 can be sailed right up to the beach. Its large trampoline offers lots of space to move about or a good place to plant one’s feet when hanging off the double trapezes with a hull flying. The boat comes with a main and a jib; a spinnaker, douse kit, trailer, and beach dolly are optional features. hobiecat.com

Novice sailors or old salts looking for simplicity could both enjoy sailing the Hunter 15. With a fiberglass hull and deck and foam flotation, the boat is sturdily built. The ample freeboard and wide beam provide stability under way, and the heavy-duty rubrail and kick-up rudder mean that you won’t have to worry when the dock looms or the going grows shallow. Both the 15 and its slightly larger 18-foot sibling come standard with roller-furling jibs.

$6,900/$9,500 (boat-show prices for the 15 and 18 includes trailers), (386) 462-3077, marlow-hunter.com

Super Snark

Under various owners, the Snark brand of sailboats, now built by Meyers Boat Co., has been around since the early 1970s. The Super Snark, at 11 feet, is a simple, easily car-topped daysailer that’s fit out with a lateen rig and sail. Billed as unsinkable, the five boats in the company’s line are built with E.P.S. foam, with the external hull and deck vacuum-formed to the core using an A.B.S. polymer. The Super Snark weighs in at 50 pounds, and with a payload capacity of 310 pounds, the boat can carry two.

$970, (800) 247-6275, meyersboat.com

Norseboat 21.5

Built in Canada, the NorseBoat 21.5 is a rugged looking craft that comes in a couple of configurations: one with an open cockpit and small doghouse, and another with a smaller cockpit and cabin that houses a double berth for two adults and optional quarter berths for the kids. Both carry NorseBoat’s distinctive looking carbon fiber gaff-rigged mast with main and jib (a sprit-set drifter is optional), and come with a ballasted stub keel and centerboard. Because of its lightweight design, the boat can be rowed and is easily trailered.

$36,000 (starting), 902-659-2790, norseboat.com

Flying Scot

Talk about time-tested, the 19-foot Flying Scot has been in production since 1957 and remains a popular design today. Sloop rigged, with a conventional spinnaker for downwind work, the boat is an easily sailed family boat as well as a competitive racer, with over 130 racing fleets across the U.S. Its roomy cockpit can seat six to eight, though the boat is often sailed by a pair or solo. Hull and deck are a fiberglass and balsa core sandwich. With the centerboard up, the boat draws only eight inches. Though intended to be a daysailer, owners have rigged boom tents and berths for overnight trips, and one adventurous Scot sailor cruised his along inland waterways from Philadelphia to New Orleans.

Known primarily for its line of racing dinghys, RS Sailing also builds the 16-foot, 4-inch Venture, which it describes as a cruising and training dinghy. The Venture features a large, self-draining cockpit that will accommodate a family or pack of kids. A furling jib and mainsail with slab reefing come standard with the boat; a gennaker and trapeze kit are options, as is an outboard motor mount and transom swim ladder. The deck and hull are laid up in a fiberglass and Coremat sandwich. The Venture’s designed to be both a good performer under sail, but also stable, making it a good boat for those learning the sport.

$14,900, 203-259-7808, rssailing.com

Topper makes a range of mono- and multihull rotomolded boats, but the model that caught one editor’s eye at Strictly Sail Chicago was the Topaz Taz. At 9 feet, 8 inches LOA and weighing in at 88 pounds, the Taz is not going to take the whole crowd out for the day. But, with the optional mainsail and jib package (main alone is for a single child), the Taz can carry two or three kids or an adult and one child, and would make a fun escape pod when tied behind the big boat and towed to some scenic harbor. The hull features Topper’s Trilam construction, a plastic and foam sandwich that creates a boat that’s stiff, light, and durable, and shouldn’t mind being dragged up on the beach when it’s time for a break.

$2,900 (includes main and jib), 410-286-1960, topazsailboats.com

WindRider WRTango

WRTango, a fast, sturdy, 10-foot trimaran that’s easy to sail, is the newest portable craft from WindRider International. It joins a line that includes the WR16 and WR17 trimarans. The Tango features forward-facing seating, foot-pedal steering, and a low center of gravity that mimics the sensation of sitting in a kayak. It weighs 125 pounds (including the outriggers and carbon-fiber mast), is extremely stable, and has single-sheet sail control. The six-inch draft and kick-up rudder make it great for beaching, while the hull and outriggers are made of rotomolded polyethylene, so it can withstand running into docks and being dragged over rocks.

$3,000, 612-338-2170, windrider.com

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The Best Beginner Sailboats for Ocean Cruising (under $25,000)

You have fallen in love with sailboats and can't resist the call any longer. I feel ya. The upfront cost is quite something, right? Both in money and skill level. Well, your dream isn't necessarily that far away. Let me show you a few of the best sailboats capable of crossing vast oceans, boats that are beginner-friendly and that won't cost over $25,000.

So what are the best beginner sailboats for ocean cruising?

Cape Dory 28

Let's have a closer look at these. You want to know more about these to pick the right one for you. Read on!

On this page:

Westsail 28, a beginner boat is easy to handle.

Please don't think that just because a boat is labeled here as a 'beginner-friendly' it means that it is lesser in terms of performance or capabilities. It just means that due to the layout, construction, or overall design it is easier to handle and more forgiving.

A good ballast ratio can be an example of that, making the boat stable. A user-friendly cockpit layout where all the lines are within reach from the helm is another example. These things don't decrease performance, they simply increase handling ease.

An affordable boat doesn't have to be cheap

Similarly, don't think a cheap boat is not seaworthy. Seaworthiness is again more about design rather than anything else.

It also doesn't mean you will get a low-quality boat. Sure it won't be new or large, but as far as build quality goes, no compromises have to be made.

An ocean cruiser is stable and comfortable

Stability is important. Waves get bigger out there, and some coastal cruisers may not be prepared for that.

Storage and long term comfort. An ocean cruiser needs to accommodate you for more than a week, as island hoppers do. That means enough storage and layout such that allows for a long term stay.

The matter of buoyancy calls for attention too - you want to be able to load the boat with all you need for a few weeks' stay and still have it perform well.

We made sure that all the boats mentioned below tick the right bluewater boxes.

Let's get into it, shall we?

small sailboat ocean

The name of the game here is good quality. Which is an incredibly important aspect for a beginner. They say long passages are often more about maintenance than about actual sailing skills. And you want to do as little maintenance as possible.

As far as construction ethics of production boats go, Sabre 28 is hard to beat. All the elements that need to hold something, like cleats, are backed by a solid steel plate here, bolted through, there is no exposed fiberglass, everything is gel coated… it isn't an exaggeration to claim you will not find many production boats of this build quality.

Below the deck, you will find solid six feet of headroom, closed off V berth in the front cabin, and space for (theoretically) four more of your mates.

small sailboat ocean

Now let's see some negatives. Even despite the generous sailing area of this boat, performance is its possible downside. You won't break speed records. This means that your longer passages will require better planning and more supplies. Not a problem per se, but something to keep in mind.

Also, this boat was designed as a coastal cruiser and it shows. Not that it couldn't undertake a proper ocean passage, but purely practically speaking, for instance, its tanks are rather small, as the designers expected frequent refills.

On that note - pleasure cruisers often favor the cockpit space, decreasing the under the dock space. They also don't necessarily try to use the space with the utmost efficiency in mind. And since long crossings will require long stays, you will feel this isn't a huge boat.

But all in all, expect a boat solid on all sides, and jaw-droppingly well built. It will set you back as little as $3,000 and as much as $30,000 on the other side of the spectrum. With a below $25,000 budget, you will have absolutely no issues finding one.

And if you start comparing with similar models and can't help but feel it is a bit pricier per foot, know that this is due to the extraordinary build quality. You will get a lot for your money.

We will talk about the 28 model but if you go two feet up in size to the Cape Dory 30, you will be able to get it for about the same price.

Just as the Sabre above, Cape Dory is solidly built. It is simple, robust, no cut corners, no little luxuries, straight to the point. Which is what you want from a reliable boat, if you don't have much experience.

Another mark up goes for sturdiness stemming from its full keel. As is the case with full keels, they make the boat robust, if you run aground, it isn't such a big deal as you are less likely going to damage the boat, and the propeller is better protected.

Similarly, if the weather gets tricky, full keels are more stable, they track better and thus handle easier, all of which is a big plus for someone who is just learning the ropes.

Below the deck, you will find a V berth, heads, sink, plenty of storage space, and generally as much space as you would expect from a boat this size. It's a looker, genuinely nice place to be at, both outside and inside.

A word of warning that keeps popping up - owners of the older models say the fuel tanks don't age well on this boat. They tend to rust, so be sure to check that out and be ready for a replacement.

There were quite a lot of these models built during its production lifespan, which means there is no shortage of used Dories - something that drives the price down and makes this boat start at around $10 000 on average. The most expensive ones are generally around $30 000, so if you spend the $25 000 on it, you will not be far away from the top of the line.

Long story short, this is a cute little boat that will most definitely have your back and is quite forgiving when under sail - partially to its full keel. It won't house many people, I wouldn't go on it with more than two, if the passage is long, but how big of a crew do you need anyway, right?

We are stretching the limit with this one since the prices start a bit above $20 000 and go easily to $50 000. So with our limit, you will not have an incredible array of options - but it will be enough to get you in the game, and what a game this is!

First of all, it's a full keel, so expect all the benefits listed in the Cape Dory above. Second of all, it's a nice looking boat that has a cozy feeling inside and outside. This is important since it isn't the fastest one. Especially in lower winds, it has been described by some owners as a 'wet snail'.

So go for this one if you are a person in no rush, but one for whom the journey is the destination, as the cliché goes. And as mentioned before, pay attention to the higher amount of supplies you will inevitably need for longer passages.

Once you are on it, prepared to take it slow and comfy, it will warm your heart. The interior is lined with hardwood, pretty little round windows with cast bronze rims, wide hull that has space and comfort in mind, rather than racing.

In other words, it's a pleasure cruiser, but not a coastal one, rather one sturdy enough to circumnavigate the world.

It was born from a genuine market need since it's larger and older sister, Westsail 32, was quite successful but too expensive for many. The manufacturers listened and thought the 28 into existence, describing it as a “hearty little offshore cruiser”.

After this boat was rolled out, about a tonne was added to the ballast, the rudder was enlarged, and to make up for the extra weight, nearly a hundred square feet of sails were added. This happened after about seven models were released, so you can see that it was a work in progress to the last moments.

What this tells you is that it is no engineering miracle, but a boat that listened to people and was made for them. Which resulted in something that won't win races, but will win hearts. I should sell that as a slogan.

This boat has fiberglass molded wine bottles. That tells you all you need to know about this french boat. And it can be yours for as little as $7,000.

Dufour 29 stood at the forefront of European racer-cruisers, it contributed to paving the way for this particular class. It's a beamy boat, so you will get more space than you would expect. And it has a front cabin only, which allows for quite a lot of space back - the cockpit lockers are immense.

The storage space is one of its largest strengths, which helps with longer passages. Since it probably won't be more than two or so people, you can bring as much as your heart desires.

The downside is that although this boat is built to last and the quality shows, it usually features Volvo engines, which means pricey parts. So although the upfront cost isn't necessarily large, the engine will inevitably break with usage and need significant investment.

A nice thing is that although we are talking about a French brand, most of these specific models were exported to the US, so if you live out there, you won't be hard-pressed to find one. And you will stand out from all the Catalinas.

And last but absolutely not least, here is this little hero. We have mentioned it in our article 'The Cheapest, Smallest Boat to Sail Around the World' and the title alone should tell you why it deserves to be here.

You can get it for as little as $3,000 and I'm not talking about a worn-down one that needs months of work before being sailable - I mean a fully functioning one. The most expensive one I saw was for $7,000 and it was so polished and kept up it was a joy just to look at it.

Aside from the price, it's benefit is in the way it's built. It knows it is a small boat and it is on a mission to squeeze as much from the space as possible. It doesn't waste space on being a weekend cruiser but intends to serve as a liveaboard, or at least a boat capable of housing its sailor for weeks on end.

This means you will get a toilet, proper dining table, space for two people (comfort) or four (if you really like each other), and storage space for a circumnavigation.

As is the case usually, it doesn't come without its drawbacks, be it an engine that has a habit of choking itself or mast fitting that tends to give up on life if stressed. But trust me that if you invest in a top of the line model and spend a couple of thousand on refitting and tinkering with everything you can think of, you will end up with a boat cheaper than most of the above and in a bulletproof condition.

So you see it isn't out of reach for the average Joe to get into sailing. Both when it comes to price or skills. So if the idea has been dormant in your head, wake it up. You'll thank yourself.

Jon Stivers

Re: The Cape Dory 28. Yes, full-keel boats track better when going forward, but are more difficult to control in reverse than fin-keel boats. Docking is very challenging for beginners, no matter how well the boat handles. When you test drive a boat, make sure you include going forward and reverse under power.

Thanks for the article, cheers.

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12 Perfect Small Sailboats

Jonathan Holmes 5.0 Rated 5.0 out of 5 5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 40 reviews)

Last Updated on December 31, 2023 by Jonathan Holmes

Thank you for reading this post, please rate this article at the end.

Easy to rig, simple to toe, compact, manageable, maintainable, and affordable, all the perfect small sailboats have one thing in common: they always provide an adventurous tour in the sea.

So, either you are looking for something light on the pocket or just an adventure enthusiast wanting some safe daytime ride, the perfect small sailboats are the sole good means to fulfill your call.

After all, honestly, everybody does not need large 30 ft sailboats for cruising. However, large boats offer a lot of features like bunks, refrigeration , entertainment, and electronics. But are these features necessary for just boating? Well, I guess not.

When cruising, you only require a boat, a sail, a rudder, and a mast. Thus, nothing can offer you the ultimate adventures of coastal cruising better than small sailboats. Small sailboats not only provide you a breezy feel in the water but also offer you the opportunity to sense every change in trim instantaneously.

Table of Contents

12Best Small Sailboats

The market has a wide variety of small sailboats that measure less than 20 ft in size. Moreover, they are quite hit products as they offer great fun in the water.

With this guide, you may equip yourself with all the necessary information about the top 12 small sailboats. My top picks are just perfect as they’re simple to sail, easy to rig, and time-tested. Thus, if you were looking for a listing of the perfect small sailboats, you’re certainly on the right post.

Keep scrolling to read on for the best small sailboat picks.

Hunter 22 is a clever boat for a very fair price. It retains the hull of its predecessor- Hunter 216, featuring an open transom and a large cockpit. However, it is made of fiberglass with balsa-cored topsides and a solid bottom section.

Furthermore, the deck is a bit changed, having a 40 sq. ft. larger rig. Similar to Hunter 216, it, too, features a hydraulic ballast keel. The Hunter 22 is primarily designed to offer a thin line between “go-fast mini-sport boat” and “fun family daysailer and weekender”.

You can select between either half of them according to your requirements.

The cruising package features a simple electrical system, a portable toilet, and a V-berth in the small cuddy cabin. Whereas, the performance package offers an asymmetric spinnaker, a retractable bowsprit, mid-cockpit traveler, hiking grips, and straps in the cockpit.

  • Hunter 22 is a daysailer.
  • It offers a portable toilet.
  • The manufacturers offer an optional electrical system with Hunter 22.
  • The boat features a large cockpit and open transom.
  • It offers a cuddy cabin and twin bunks.
  • It features a hydraulic lifting centerboard and laminated fiberglass deck and hull.
  • Comfortable
  • Fair priced
  • Easy for trailing
  • Faster than most of the other boats available in the market
  • Versatile and family-friendly
  • Might need some replacement parts

Catalina 22 Sport

The retractable keel and basic amenities allow the Catalina 22 Sport to be trailered easily. Basically, the Catalina 22 Sport is an updated design of its predecessor Catalina 22.

The large cockpit is enough to seat a crowd. It offers a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib, a cabin that provides bedding for four with a forward hatch for ventilation, and a retractable lead keel.

In essence, the Catalina 22 Sport is more of a family-friendly racer. Also, it offers an alternative to choosing an older boat.

Besides, the Catalina 22 Sport offers the value and quality Catalina has come to expect since 1970. It is simple to rig and an excellent sail to step up from dinghy sailing to budget cruising.

  • Catalina 22 Sport is a daysailer.
  • It offers an adjustable outboard motor bracket.
  • The boat features a comfortable cockpit with contoured coamings.
  • It has an anodized aluminum mast and boom.
  • It offers low stretch halyards and internal halyards.
  • Catalina 22 offers a complete standing and running rigging.
  • Many interior features, including Fiberglass Hull Liner, molded Headliner, and Low Glare Texture.
  • Easy for trailing with its swing keel
  • Family-friendly
  • Simple to rig without a complicated setup
  • Fast in speed
  • Stability and reliability
  • Features spacious cabin
  • If you choose some old models, you will need some replacement parts.
  • Not much trendy considering the interior and upholstery

Hobie Cat 16

The legendary Hobie Cat 16 has revolutionized boating . Firstly, it belongs to a proud watersports lineage, which within a few years of the foundation was loved by thousands.

Secondly, The Hobie Cat 16 is either used as a daysailer or a racer. The double banana-shaped hulls easily cut through the water, and the boat gets going fast even in light winds, as the aluminum alloy frame and two sails catch wind considerably.

Thirdly, there would certainly be no complete roundup of fun, trailerable, and small sailboats without any mention of the venerable Hobie Cat 16. The large trampoline provides a spacious platform to move about. Moreover, it offers many optional features, including a beach dolly, trailer, douse kit, a spinnaker, and a main and a jib.

In essence, it is a classic boat; enthusiasts and collectors covet it alike. Undoubtedly, it has the pedigree to prove that it is the red Ferrari in the world of cruising.

  • The mast is 26 ft 6 inches tall and weighs about 320 pounds.
  • The boat is 16 ft 7 inches in length and 7 ft 11 inches in width.
  • Two color options are available.
  • The dual-trapeze rig offers you harness its sheer power.
  • The asymmetrical fiberglass hulls offer lift
  • Low maintenance sailboat
  • Reasonably priced
  • Perfect for a Small Crew
  • Easy to trailer
  • Simple to rig
  • Sailing may be hard when you’re alone.

Norseboat 21.5

In essence, the Norseboat 21.5 offers everything an expensive trailer-sailer does. It features a sensible centerboard arrangement, contemporary, good fit and finish, high-quality construction, and sea-kindly underbody.

The value of Norseboat 21.5 lies in its charm. You will easily fall under its spell if you are into the idea of a solid and easy-to-sail boat. The price tag looks much higher for a small 21 ft boat. However, the hype of Norseboat 21.5 tells you that it’s worth it.

Moreover, the NorseBoat 21.5 offers several configurations: one with a small cockpit and cabin that has a double berth for two adults and an optional berth for children, and another with an open cockpit and smaller doghouse.

Each of them comes with a ballasted stub keel and centerboard and carries the brand’s exclusive carbon fiber gaff-rigged mast. Also, the lightweight design of the Norseboat 21.5 offers easy rowing and a simple trailer.

  • Norseboat 21.5 offers a lightweight design.
  • It offers two different configuration options.
  • Norseboat 21.5 has rowing stations.
  • It features an electric outboard.
  • The hull and deck are of fiberglass with a wood core.
  • Comfortable and versatile
  • Expensive compared to the other sailboats on the list

Barney Lehman and W.D. Schock designed the Lido 14. It is an American sailing dinghy that was built in 1958 for the very first time.

In essence, the Lido 14 is a classic sailboat that proves to be a perfect pick to suit small boats, especially for the owners who are still learning the ropes of boating.

The Lido 14 is just perfect for shorthanded racing, single-handed sailing, and solo sailing. It offers seating arrangements for about six people at most.

In the first year of its launch, two hundred Lido 14 boats were ordered. And, around 6300 Lido 14s had been built for 40 years. Today, a new Lido 14 boat is not available in the market; however, you will not regret ever getting a functional used boat.

Thus, the Lido 14 makes your investment worth it and serves you well throughout the journey.

  • It offers a retractable centerboard raised with stainless steel straps.
  • The hull features a near-vertical transom, a spooned plumb stem, and a transom-hung rudder controlled by a tiller.
  • It has a fractional sloop rig with a loose-footed mainsail and anodized aluminum spars.
  • Non-intimidating
  • Has the car top capability
  • Easy in handling
  • New models not available

RS Sailing is primarily known for its line of racing dinghies. It built the 16-ft, 4-in sized Venture, which is such a perfect training and cruising dinghy.

The Venture offers a large, self-draining cockpit that can accommodate a group of friends or a family. Whether you are just messing about with your family or friends, club sailing, or just up for casual racing, RS Venture delivers the best with all its features. It is among the most versatile and nimble dinghies for sailing the masses.

In addition, the RS Venture can carry up to eight people in its self-draining cockpit. The excellent performance makes it adventurous; the multiple equipment options allow several boat configurations.

Moreover, the RS Venture is the winner of multiple awards. The excellent stability makes the boat ideal on coastal water, offering an advantage to those learning the sport.

More importantly, The RS Venture has the potential to carry more people in it than its dinghy rivals.

  • The RS Venture offers a spacious platform.
  • It features a rear back storage.
  • The boat also offers reverse transmission.
  • It has an open cockpit with high buoyancy.
  • The exterior is composed of plastic and dual carbide.
  • Can be car toped
  • Versatile and stable
  • Simple to handle
  • Good looking
  • A bit expensive

Super Snark

The Super Snark is a simple, lightweight, lateen-rigged daysailer, marketed as the “Super Sea Snark.” It is fun sailing, easy to learn, unsinkable, and simple to set up, and transport. Most of the people who get it find it satisfying to their sailing requirements.

Moreover, Super Snark is highly portable and storable. It can easily load onto your vehicle due to its construction and light-weight. In addition, the roof racks with slide-out loading bars make moving much easier.

Termed as unsinkable, the Super Snark is built with EPS foam, with the external hull and deck, which is vacuum-formed to the deep with ABS. polymers. The Super Snark weighs approximately 50 lbs having a capacity load of 310 lbs. It can carry two people at once.

  • It has the capacity for two people.
  • The internal hull leaves no void as it is filled with EPS foam, making the boat unsinkable.
  • Mast, spar, and boom are of aluminum.
  • It is made of recycled plastic.
  • It weighs approximately 50 lbs
  • Lightweight
  • Car top-able
  • Recyclable construction material
  • Easy to learn
  • Simple to setup
  • Not family-friendly

The Laser is one of the most popular single-handed racing sailboats available in the market. With its simple rigging and simple design, Laser started single-handed racing 50 years ago when it came out. Interestingly, with over two lacs made, it is the most popular race boat in the world.

Everyone enjoys the Laser, from club racers to Olympians. It is a simple vessel to own and rig, which rewards practice and good sailing techniques. The Laser is built with updated foils and sail controls.

Moreover, a three rigs system allows the sailors to enjoy boating. It offers a seating capacity for two people. This boat is a fiberglass lightweight model easy for capsize and recovery.

  • It has the capacity for two people seating.
  • Includes the upgraded Vang, Cunningham, and Outhaul controls
  • The boat features heavy fiberglass hull construction with aluminum spars.
  • It has a small rudder with a lower boom.
  • Worldwide popular and recognized racer
  • Car top capability
  • Stable and easy to handle
  • A bit hard to sail

If you are looking for a good looking sailboat with excellent performance, the Paine 14 is here for you. It features a contemporary fin keel and spade rudder, which makes it more agile and faster.

In essence, Paine 14 is an old-time appeal with its varnished gunnels and transoms. However, it offers all the modern features every updated boat has. You can rig this boat with a gaff or a Marconi rig and can trailer it behind a vehicle.

In fact, Paine 14 can sail under mainsail alone due to the large flotation compartments fore and aft. The rig is simple, with an unstayed carbon-fiber mast and a mainsail bent onto its spars.

Overall, the Paine 14 feels like a favorite classic daysailer when you sit in it. The bronze hardware, the slatted-wood cockpit sole, and the varnished trim; all of these are elegantly designed. The cockpit ergonomics are seamless, and the sail controls fall perfectly to hand.

  • It features a modern fin keel and spade rudder.
  • The boat is built in seamless epoxy cold-molded wood construction.
  • It has parallelly fitted fiberglass battens to the luff, which extend from the leech to the foot of the sail.
  • Easy for trailing with its fin keel
  • Good prevention of slippage
  • Features spacious platform
  • Not much trendy in looks


The FarEast 18 is a low maintenance 19-ft vessel that offers high speed cruising in the sea.

Equipped with an open deck, the Far East 18 offers excellent performance. It offers great safety and stability due to its design. The hull has a beautiful shape that can be easily handled.

The lifting keel and the removable rig makes it easy to transport by a trailer. It takes a square-top fixed mainsail and an asymmetrical spinnaker, which is a driving force for buoy racing. The Far East 18 can compete with six crew but also offers bedding for three people when you are staying out overnight.

Moreover, this vessel features an updated bulb keel with carbon structure, vacuum-infused foils, and fiberglass hull. Best of all, a single person can easily rig and launch FarEast 18. Moreover, you can trailer this boat easily with a displacement below 1500 pounds.

All in all, Far East 18 is an excellent little sailboat available in the market.

  • Small cabin instead of a reduced deck
  • It features an updated bulb keel.
  • The boat features a spacious cockpit.
  • It has a lightweight structure.
  • It is constructed with a vacuum infused polyester sandwich.
  • Not too brutal on the pocket
  • Comfortable and low maintenance
  • Modest Price
  • Does not perform well in strong wind

The Sage 17 was designed in 2009 by Jerry Montgomery. It is a small, stable, go-anywhere vessel, featuring a transom with a balsa core, a carbon fiber deck, and a cabin roof.

The Sage 17 is a 1300 pound vessel. It comes with a loose-footed main and a working jib that sheets inside the lifelines. There is a kick-up rudder, a 120-lb centerboard, and a 400-pound lead keel that will not strand while cruising through shallow water.

In addition, this boat is simple enough for beginners and sophisticated enough for experienced sailors. It is manufactured to handle your adventures with safety. It comes with a non-skid covering on the horizontal surfaces, a bow pulpit, transom-mounted boarding ladder, and a self-draining cockpit.

Moreover, this model is hand-built with vinyl ester resin, fiberglass, and carbon fiber in a lapstrake style to offer you enhanced strength. The cabin and deck are made of a balsa core and carbon fiber.

The Sage 17 sails fast in light air and provides unruffled travel as the wind blows more strongly. You will definitely enjoy hindrance free comfort in the airy open cabin. And, you can get customized cabin cushions that are available in different colors.

  • Jib downhaul lead for the cockpit
  • Cabin-top mounted winches and jib tracks
  • Internal halyards
  • Single reef main and working jib, with running rigging
  • Complete mast and stainless-steel standing rigging
  • Fiberglass and vinyl ester lapstrake hull with a carbon fiber
  • Carbon fiber and vinyl ester deck with a balsa core
  • A variety of options available to choose from
  • Simple enough for beginners
  • Safe and durable
  • Quite reasonably priced, considering all the features
  • Might require some replacement gears

Montgomery 17

The Montgomery 17 was designed for Montgomery Boats by Jerry Montgomery in conjunction with Lyle C. Hess. It was manufactured with centerboard and keel models.

The Montgomery 17 offers more stability than most of its rivals. And, when it comes to comfortability, the Montgomery 17 again stands above the rest.

This boat has the capability of going about moderate offshore passages. You can easily trailer it as it is small enough in size.

Moreover, it is designed with a masthead and toe rail that fits most of the foresails. It has a proper amount of storage area, a DC power, an optional shore, and seating arrangements for two people offering a headroom, a pair of bunks, and a portable toilet.

Overall, the Montgomery 17 is among the giant-killers of the market when it comes to performance. Though small in size, it makes its way past its larger rivals and excels in the extremes.

That is not just it; using a four-part gear, you can easily uplift the deck-stepped mast.

  • The hull type is swing keel.
  • A flush deck version is also available.
  • Some versions feature a fixed keel.
  • There are three types of keel configurations available; retractable keel, shallow draft fixed keel, and a shallow draft fixed keel in conjunction with a centerboard.
  • Comfortability
  • Quite faster than its rivals
  • Outstanding racing record
  • Favorable handicap
  • Not suitable for deep sea

The Wrap Up

Hitting the water with the right sailboat can be an overwhelming task for many. To ease this process, the list above has narrowed down the 12 perfect small sailboats.

While there are infinite sailboats available in the market, the sailboats, as mentioned above, will serve you right and make you enjoy the ride.

However, in my opinion, the best of all is none other than the Catalina 22 Sport as it is the most moderate pick of all. You don’t have to compromise on either the quality or affordability.

In my opinion, you must not spend too little or much for too low or too high quality. A moderate model will serve as the perfect pick for you. Thus, Catalina 22 Sport being moderately robust and not-so-expensive wins my heart.

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13 Best Small Catamarans For Cruising 2024

The best small catamarans for cruising are affordable and comfortable, making great sailboats for a number of different purposes. If you’re looking for the best small catamarans to start your cruising life then look no further!

When searching for a catamaran for our adventures we scoured the internet for any and all information we could find on just about every size, shape, and model!

Although in the end, we opted for a bigger catamaran, in the hopes of having more family and friends on board, we did heavily research the best small catamarans as an option.

One of the best small catamarans for cruising out at anchor.

Each small catamaran has different pros and cons. As with every sailboat, there will be compromises, but hopefully, this post will help you firm up what you’re really looking for in a multihull and find the right smaller catamaran for you!

Here are what we consider the best small cruising catamarans out there, costing anywhere from $40,000 to $300,000. You can also read up on the average costs of sailboats here.

Why choose a small catamaran for cruising?

The downsides to small multihulls for cruisers

The best small catamarans for ocean sailing

The best small catamarans for coastal cruising

Why Choose A Small Catamaran For Cruising?

a small multihull on an ocean passage, cutting through the water.

The main advantage to choosing a small catamaran for cruising has to be the cost. Not only are smaller sailboats cheaper to buy initially, but they are also cheaper to maintain and to dock in marinas or dry storage.

Why buy a small catamaran over a monohull? This isn’t the post to go into the pros and cons of multihulls vs monohulls, but a few of the main reasons you might prefer to buy a small cat over a bigger, cheaper monohull is the living space and the comfort underway and at anchor.

Living on a sailboat is very different from taking the boat out for a sporty sail every now and again. Having a catamaran over a monohull means you won’t be heeling or rolling at anchor half as much, you can leave out your coffee cup, and you have the space you need to spread out a little.

A small catamaran will enable the more comfortable lifestyle you’re seeking at a more reasonable price tag. So what’s not to love about small cruising multihulls?

The Downsides To Small Multihulls For Cruisers

a sailboat with its sails up, goosewinged.

Of course, just with everything in sailing, there are always compromises to be made when it comes to small multihulls.

One of the biggest downsides for cruisers is the weight issue smaller catamarans present. You won’t be able to carry half as much as you would on a larger catamaran or monohull, which might be a problem if you live onboard full time.

The other negative is that smaller boats usually aren’t quite as seaworthy as larger ones. You might find you’re limited to coastal cruising if you choose a small catamaran, so make sure you have your cruising intentions in mind before you buy.

the sails of a sailboat against the blue sky.

Another big thing to look out for when it comes to choosing the right small cat for you, is the bridge deck clearance. This is often worse on smaller catamarans, and can cause nasty slamming in any sort of sea, both when sailing and at anchor.

With these downsides in mind, we’ve split this post into the best small catamarans for ocean sailing and the best for coastal cruising. Obviously this is a little subjective, as many people have sailed around the world in much smaller and less seaworthy vessels!

The Best Small Catamarans For Ocean Cruising

#1 wharram tiki.

  • Suitable for: Bluewater sailing
  • Fixed Keels
  • Draft (max): 2.08′
  • Engines: Single outboard, though some versions have twin inboards
  • Price: Roughly $100,000

small catamarans sailing with the sunset behind

We have lusted after the Wharram catamarans since our adventures began and would have opted for one of these if we had found one for sale this side of the pond.

Designed by the legendary James Wharram, these small multihulls are pretty unique. They are based on the Polynesian catamaran design, and the plans enable you to self-build these boats if you have the time, money, and space for a project of this magnitude.

If you aren’t keen on taking on a project then you can commission a boat builder to complete the design for you, or buy one second-hand. The advantages of having one made yourself are that you can tweak things to your personal taste, and you can even contact the Wharrams themselves to see if they can adjust the designs for individual requests.

The Wharram catamarans have a lot of charm dues to their traditional design, and the old-fashioned appeal continues inside the boat too. You won’t find the same huge hull space as some of the modern design catamarans now have, but the outside entertainment space is perfect for entertaining.

One of the best small multihulls for ocean cruising

These small catamarans don’t have an inside space across the hulls, so all of your inside living space is below. If you’re used to monohulls then this won’t be a problem but if you like the idea of a galley-up then these boats aren’t for you.

Wharram catamarans, especially the Tiki 38, have great reputations as around the world, bluewater boats. They have fantastic bridge deck clearance so slamming is minimum and they sail well.

Most models have a double cabin and two singles, a galley, a head, and a small salon area below. They are smaller catamarans than many newer 38ft multihulls but this does make them more affordable.

small catamarans in the Caribbean with a beautiful white sand beach behind

A big appeal for us was the fact these boats are designed to be self-made. Although a secondhand model could potentially come with a lot of problems (get a decent survey before you buy!) it does mean that almost everything onboard can be self-fixed. This is a huge bonus if you plan on sailing your small catamaran around the world.

Another thing we loved about these smaller catamarans is the fact they have outboard engines, which we felt would be easier to maintain and replace if necessary. This is a personal choice though so consider this before you get your heart set on one!

One of the downsides to the Tiki 38 is that there aren’t many of them around. These are unique boats and they don’t come on the market frequently. When they do, they tend to be scattered all over the world so you’ll have to be prepared to travel to find one!

#2 Prout Snowgoose 37 : Small Catamaran For Ocean Cruising

a sail on a cruising catamaran and the ocean in the background.

Prout catamarans are a popular choice for cruisers, and you’ll find many owners who have circumnavigated in them. The Snowgoose is no exception. Prout no longer exists as a company, as it was bought by Broadblue in the 90s.

Broadblue still makes catamarans today, and they have very similar features to the original Prouts, though obviously they are far fancier and have all the benefits of a more modern design!

The Snowgoose is a great small multihull to go for as you get quite a lot of space inside and out. We weren’t sure about the berth in the salon area, but it might make a great space for a baby or small child while underway!

The compromise in the Prout Snowgoose is the bridge deck clearance and this was something that put us off these smaller cruising catamarans. A low bridge deck clearance makes the boat slam in waves, both at anchor and underway.

#8 PDQ 36 : A Small Catamaran Without Too Much Slamming

  • Suitable for: Bluewater
  • Draft (max): 2.82′
  • Engines: Twin inboard or outboard
  • Price: Over $100,000

small sailboat ocean

These small catamarans have an excellent reputation among cruisers because of their solid build and use of decent materials. They come with either outboard engines for coastal cruising or inboard engines designed to withstand offshore use.

If you like the sound of the PDQ 32 but need a little more room then you’ve got that here! It’s also a boat that people have crossed oceans in, though you might want to consider something more tried and tested like the Prout Snowgoose or the Wharram if you’re planning longer ocean sails.

The boat has three cabins, a galley, salon and head, but there’s a more spacious feel compared to the smaller model. Again, the bridge deck clearance is good so you shouldn’t experience too much slamming.

#9 Lagoon 380 : One Of The Most Popular Small Multihulls

small sailboat ocean

  • Fixed keels
  • Engines:  twin diesel engines
  • Price:  from $100,000, used

The Lagoon 380 is one of the most popular catamarans out there, and you’ve probably already spotted a lot of them in your search! This is a great option if modern cats appeal to you, as it’s pretty ‘with the times’ as far as smaller catamarans go!

There are lots of different layouts of this boat available all over the world. Some were built for charter with numerous berths and others were commissioned for couples or families with differing cabin and head options.

This is a proven catamaran from a reputable company, but obviously with so many of these boats out there, they come in a range of conditions. Make sure you get a thorough survey done before purchase!

Lagoon 37 TPI

  • Draft (max): 4′
  • Engines: Twin inboard diesels 
  • Price: Over $100,000 USD 

This is the smallest catamaran built by Lagoon, and unfortunately there aren’t many of them out there. These boats were built mainly for the charter market, and have a smaller rig than some similar sized catamarans.

There are two big queen-size forward doubles port and starboard and a smaller double in the starboard hull aft. The galley and salon are designed to be simple and timeless, with none of the fancy trims you’ll find in the newer Lagoons.

As this boat was intended for charter it probably wouldn’t make a great ocean-going vessel. For starters, it isn’t designed to carry too much in the way of provisions. That’s not to say it won’t be a suitable bluewater boat with a few tweaks. Sailors who have circumnavigated in them have increased sail area and added folding props to get more speed from the vessel.

#11 Catalac 9M/30

small sailboat ocean

  • Draft (max): 2.5′
  • Engines:  two outboard engines or one diesel engine
  • Price:  from $50,000

The Catalac 9M is a little different to a lot of the catamarans on this list, as it was built for sailing in the North Sea! This is a great small catamaran for anyone wanting a boat built to be safe!

The bridge deck clearance is reasonable but the boat is light, which can make it more prone to slamming. The unique feature of this small sailboat is the hard dodger, designed as somewhere safe and dry to stand in bad weather.

It sails well, though like a lot of catamarans there is technique involved in getting it to tack smoothly. Once you’ve got the hang of though, this boat will make good speeds for its size.

The Best Small Catamarans For Coastal Cruising

  • Suitable for: Coastal
  • Draft (max): 3.62′
  • Engines: Twin inboard
  • Price: Up to $300,000 for a newer model

The Mahe 36 is the smallest of the Fountaine Pajot range, and these small catamarans can go for a heafty budget if you find a newer model!

This tiny multihull packs a lot into a small space, and because of its modern features, you’ll feel like you’re in a much bigger boat when you step aboard.

This boat is a fast mover, with an ok bridge clearance and some attractive upgrades compared to their last small catamaran design. Most notably the full-length hard top bimini which has the reviewers raving!

If you have the money to splash out on a newer, more expensive small catamaran then this should definitely be on your list to consider! Although they come with a large price tag, these small catamarans are considerably cheaper new than some of the bigger models.

#4 Gemini 105Mc (34ft)

small sailboat ocean

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Centreboards Draft (max): 5′ Engines:  Single inboard Price:  from $80,000

The Gemini 105Mc is still in production in the US, which speaks to its popularity. Obviously if you buy new you’ll pay a much higher price! This is one of the smallest catamarans on the list, but it’s still a great option for coastal cruising (or some have even successfully completed ocean passages on them in relative comfort).

For a small multihull this boat sails pretty well and is fast for a coastal cruiser. The living space is decent with good headroom. It has two double cabins and a master bedroom, and the interior finishes are nice too.

A big negative to this boat is the bridge deck clearance which really isn’t amazing, but as we said at the start, there’s always a compromise! This is a sporty-looking little catamaran that’s a good contender for the top smallest catamarans out there!

#5 EndeavourCat 36

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Fixed keels Draft (max): 3′ Engines:  two inboard Price:  from $100

small sailboat ocean

Designed and built by Endeavour Catamaran, these American built boats are great cruising catamarans. A big advantage to this little multihull is that it will fit into most monohull slips, so if you anticipate using marinas a lot then this might be the small catamaran for you!

This isn’t a slow boat, and owners report speeds of 8-9 knots. Bear in mind though that the narrow beam does make it less suitable for any offshore passages. It has good interior space with 6′ standing headroom throughout, three double cabins, and a decent-sized galley below. The salon area can seat 6 people comfortably.

This cat is great for single-handed sailors, as all the lines lead to the cockpit and the main and jib are completely self-tacking.

#6 Prout Event 34

small sailboat ocean

Suitable for: Coastal/bluewater Fixed keels Draft (max): 2.72′ Engines:  Single inboard Price:  from $30,000

These multihulls are quite hard to find, but if you like the Snowgoose but are on a tighter budget then they might be just what you’re looking for. They share lots of features with the Snowgoose and look very similar, only smaller!

There are three cabins, one head, a salon, and a galley, only they are rather squeezed in compared to the larger model. Personally, we thought there was plenty of space for a smaller sailboat but it’s worth seeing them in person if you’re keen on this model.

They do have the same downsides as the Snowgoose though, with limited headroom and low bridge deck clearance. These boats are known for their slamming!

Coastal Engines:  twin outboards Price:  from $80,000, used

small sailboat ocean

The PDQ 32 is a great budget option catamaran and should be cheap(ish) to buy second hand and maintain. With two outboards that are easy to replace on a smaller budget, you’re looking at some of the usual pinch points on a boat becoming a lot more affordable!

This small catamaran only has two cabins, so sleeps less than a lot of the boats on this list, but it is roomier than you’d imagine inside with a decent galley and salon area. It has decent bridge deck clearance so shouldn’t slam too much in any waves.

This isn’t a boat for longer passages as it is a little small (and perhaps underpowered) to face serious weather. If you’re searching for something to potter around in then this is a fun boat to sail and live in!

#12 Dean 365

small sailboat ocean

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  • Suitable for: Coastal cruising
  • Draft (max): 3′
  • Engines:  one or two inboard
  • Price:  from $45,000, used

These South African catamarans are great little coastal cruising catamarans that are hard to come by anywhere other than South Africa!

They’re pretty tiny, but have enough space for a galley, 3 or 4 cabins, and 1 or 2 heads. Some of the designs even have a bathtub, which speaks of their liveaboard suitability rather than their sail performance!

These boats are some of the smallest multihulls on this list, so don’t expect much in terms of headroom or bridge deck clearance. That being said, if you’re looking for a tiny catamaran to live on and you are prepared to compromise on sailing ability then these are a solid choice.

We have heard that the build quality can vary somewhat with these multihulls, so make sure you do some solid research and get a good surveyor when buying one of these. If you get a good version then they can make really solid boats.

#13 EndeavourCat 30

the lines of small catamarans tied off to a cleat

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Fixed keels Draft (max): 2.1′ Engines:  single or twin outboard Price:  from $70,000

This is a boat built for comfort over all else, so if you’re looking for a budget catamaran to live in then take a look at the endeavourcat 30. Some people don’t like the boxy design, but we quite liked how it looked in the water. I guess it’s personal taste!

This sailboat has two double cabins, a decent sized galley and salon for the size of the boat, and a head. The bridge deck clearance is low so that’s something to bear in mind before you buy, but the headroom is good (another reason why this would make a good liveaboard catamaran).

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration when searching for small catamarans for cruising, and helped you to find your dream boat!

We’re passionate about helping people live this incredible cruising lifestyle, so if you’re planning your dream liveaboard life make sure you check out our guide on how to run away to sea, with everything you could possibly need to know before, during, and after starting this adventure of a lifetime!

small sailboat ocean

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Such small mention of probably the best catamaran for overall cruising, focusing on ease of helming, speed and livability. Simple rig, great ergonomic features, style and definitely a pedigree on the water. The FP Mahe duo! Sea proven. Most delivered on their own bottoms from France. Wide beams and light. Beautiful interior arrangements and easy to maintain. I’m confused about so little mention of probably the best entry level and beyond real cruiser out there.

You forgot the edelcat 35. Great boats, and have circumnavigated!

I wonder why Broadblue 346 is not on the list.

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  • Search Search Hi! We’re Emily, Adam and Tiny Cat, liveaboard sailors travelling the world on our 38ft sailboat and writing about it as we go. We hope we can inspire you to live the life you’ve always dreamed, whether that’s exploring the world or living a more simple way of life in a tiny home. Find out more. Patreon
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  • World's Best

The 3 Best Small-ship Ocean Cruise Lines in 2022

The best cruise lines for small ships, according to Travel + Leisure readers, are the ones that develop a sense of camaraderie onboard.

small sailboat ocean

Note: If you’re looking for our most recent recommendations, check out the 2023 list of our favorite small-ship ocean cruise lines.

Cruise lovers couldn't wait to get back out on the sea, and Travel + Leisure readers who prefer compact vessels have been delighted to find that the voyages have only gotten better. This year, T+L adjusted the World's Best Awards cruise categories to reflect the industry and traveler experience. The ships in the small-ship ocean cruise lines category are now those with 150 to 299 cabins, while smaller ships (with fewer than 150 cabins) are in an all-new intimate-ship category.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated individual cruise ships on their cabins and facilities, food, service, itineraries and destinations, excursions and activities, and value. Those assessments were combined to generate results for the cruise lines in six categories, including river cruising.

In the No. 2 spot is Windstar Cruises. The line's 148- to 342-passenger sailing ships and 312-passenger, all-suite motor yachts received praise from voters. "It was great to be on such a small ship with a high ratio of staff to guests," said a reader who sailed on the 312-passenger Star Legend .

Ultra-luxury line Seabourn is recognized in this category for its 225-suite Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Quest, and Seabourn Sojourn . Said one reader who sailed on the Odyssey : "This was my first Seabourn cruise and I really loved it — the size of the suites, the attentive service, the wonderful food, and the surprisingly terrific variety of entertainment."

But it was Paul Gauguin Cruises, now owned by French cruise company Ponant, that emerged as the reader favorite among the best cruise lines for small ships. Below, find out what sets it apart.

1. Paul Gauguin Cruises

On the Paul Gauguin, a sense of place permeates everything from the Polynesian-influenced décor and color palette to the local cuisine travelers sample onboard. Resident performers, known as Les Gauguines, share Polynesian culture through dance, music, and storytelling. In the spa, guests can indulge in a massage based on Tahitian techniques. Passengers explore island history and enjoy watersports such as snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding, including from the beaches of two private motu. "Everything about this cruise was excellent," said one T+L reader. "Ship staff was exceptional and always made you feel at home."

Score: 96.59

More information: pgcruises.com

2. Windstar Cruises

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 94.14

More information: windstarcruises.com

3. Seabourn

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 93.70

More information: seabourn.com

OceanWave Sail

Exploring the Joy of Sailing Small Sailboats

Published by oceanwave on july 7, 2023 july 7, 2023.

Small sailboats provide an incredible opportunity for sailing enthusiasts to experience the freedom and excitement of navigating through the water. These compact vessels offer a range of advantages, including portability, affordability, and enhanced maneuverability. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sailor, small sailboats can provide hours of joy and exploration on the open water.

Understanding Small Sailboats

Small sailboats are typically defined by their length, which can range from 8 to 20 feet. These vessels are designed to be easily operated by one or two people and offer a simple and efficient way to harness the power of the wind. They are often equipped with a single sail and rely on the wind’s force to propel them forward.

Popular types of small sailboats include the Sunfish, Laser, Optimist, and Hobie Cat. Each type has its unique characteristics, catering to different preferences and skill levels. Small sailboats consist of several key components, including the hull, mast, boom, sail, rudder, and centerboard. Understanding these components is essential for safe and enjoyable sailing.

Advantages of Small Sailboats

Portability and easy storage are major advantages of small sailboats. Their compact size allows for easy transportation on a trailer or even the roof of a car. They can also be stored in garages, backyards, or even small boat racks, eliminating the need for costly marina fees. This convenience makes small sailboats accessible to a broader range of sailing enthusiasts.

Affordability is another key advantage of small sailboats. Compared to larger sailboats, they are relatively inexpensive to purchase and maintain. This affordability makes sailing more accessible to individuals who may not have the resources for larger vessels. Small sailboats also require fewer resources, such as fuel or complex navigation systems, further reducing ongoing costs.

Small sailboats are often the perfect choice for beginners due to their simplicity and ease of operation. Novice sailors can quickly learn the basics of sailing, including steering, trimming the sail, and understanding wind patterns, without feeling overwhelmed. Small sailboats provide a gentle learning curve and build confidence before venturing into larger vessels or more challenging conditions.

Enhanced maneuverability is another advantage offered by small sailboats. Their compact size allows for greater agility and responsiveness, making it easier to navigate tight spaces and shallow waters. This maneuverability also enhances the sailing experience, allowing sailors to make precise adjustments and execute exciting maneuvers.

Versatility is a notable characteristic of small sailboats. While they excel in calm waters, they can also handle a range of conditions, from light breezes to stronger winds. This adaptability ensures that sailors can enjoy their vessels in various environments, making small sailboats a versatile choice for exploring different bodies of water.

Exploring Different Small Sailboat Designs

The Sunfish Sailing Boat is a classic and popular choice among small sailboat enthusiasts. Its simplicity and ease of use make it an excellent vessel for beginners. With its single sail and compact design, the Sunfish offers a balanced combination of stability and speed, providing a thrilling sailing experience.

Keel Boating is another popular design for small sailboats. Keelboats are equipped with a weighted keel, providing stability and better performance in challenging conditions. These vessels can accommodate a small cabin or cockpit, making them suitable for overnight trips or longer excursions.

Steering Wheel Boats have gained popularity in recent years, especially among sailors who prefer a more modern approach to sailing. Equipped with a steering wheel instead of a tiller, these boats offer a familiar and intuitive steering mechanism. Steering wheel boats provide a comfortable and efficient sailing experience, especially for those transitioning from powerboats to sailboats.

Sailor Ships, such as the classic wooden sloops, embrace tradition and evoke a sense of nostalgia. These elegant vessels often feature traditional rigging and craftsmanship, making them a delight for sailing enthusiasts who appreciate the artistry and beauty of traditional sailing.

Choosing the Right Small Sailboat

When selecting a small sailboat, beginners should prioritize stability, ease of use, and forgiving handling characteristics. The Sunfish, Optimist, and Laser are excellent choices for those new to sailing. These boats offer simplicity and stability while providing ample room for skill development.

Intermediate and advanced sailors may opt for small sailboats that offer higher performance and more technical features. Boats like the Hobie Cat or the RS Aero are designed for increased speed and competitive racing, providing exhilarating experiences for experienced sailors.

For those seeking the convenience of small sailboats with motors, options such as small sailboats with outboard motors or small motor sailers are available. These vessels combine the benefits of sailing with the added flexibility and power of a motor.

The Joy of Sailing Small

Sailing small boats brings a unique set of joys and experiences that larger vessels often can’t replicate. Here are some of the reasons why sailing small is so enjoyable:

Intimacy with the water: Small sailboats place sailors near the water, creating an intimate connection with their surroundings. The sensation of skimming across the water’s surface and feeling the wind in your hair is truly invigorating.

Exhilarating speed and agility: Small sailboats are known for their responsiveness and agility. These vessels can reach impressive speeds, especially in favorable wind conditions. The thrill of sailing at high speeds with the boat heeling over is an adrenaline rush like no other, providing an exhilarating experience for sailors.

Opportunities for solo sailing: Small sailboats are often designed to be easily operated by a single person. This opens up opportunities for solo sailing adventures, allowing sailors to enjoy peaceful and introspective moments on the water. Solo sailing can be a meditative and empowering experience, as it allows individuals to rely solely on their skills and intuition.

Enhanced connection with nature: Sailing small boats brings sailors closer to nature. The absence of a motor allows for a quieter and more environmentally friendly experience, minimizing disturbance to marine life. Sailing in smaller vessels also provides a better opportunity to observe marine creatures, such as dolphins or seabirds, as they gracefully glide through the water.

Safety Precautions and Basic Sailing Skills

While sailing small boats can be a thrilling experience, it is important to prioritize safety. Here are some key safety precautions and basic sailing skills to keep in mind:

Safety equipment for small sailboats: Every sailor should have essential safety equipment on board, including life jackets, a whistle or horn, a throwable flotation device, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher. It is also crucial to familiarize yourself with local boating regulations and ensure compliance with required safety equipment.

Essential sailing skills: Before embarking on a sailing adventure, it is essential to acquire basic sailing skills. These include understanding how to properly rig the boat, trimming the sail to adjust for wind conditions, tacking and jibing maneuvers, and understanding right-of-way rules. Taking sailing lessons or participating in sailing courses can provide valuable instruction and practice.

Understanding weather conditions: Weather awareness is crucial for safe sailing. Pay attention to weather forecasts and be mindful of changing conditions. Understand the effects of wind, tides, and currents on your sailing route, and make informed decisions based on the expected conditions.

Maintenance and Care for Small Sailboats

To keep your small sailboat in optimal condition and ensure its longevity, regular maintenance, and care are essential. Here are some key considerations:

Regular cleaning and maintenance routines: Regularly clean your sailboat, both inside and out, to prevent the accumulation of dirt, salt, or debris. Rinse the hull, deck, and sails with fresh water after each sail. Inspect the rigging, hardware, and sails for signs of wear or damage, and address any issues promptly. Regularly check and lubricate moving parts, such as the rudder and centerboard mechanisms.

Storage considerations: When not in use, it is important to store your small sailboat properly. If possible, store it in a covered area to protect it from the elements. Consider using a boat cover to shield the boat from UV rays and debris. If storing your boat outdoors, make sure it is secured and properly supported to prevent damage from wind or other environmental factors.

Protecting your investment: Small sailboats are valuable assets, and it is important to take steps to protect your investment. Consider investing in a good-quality boat cover, as well as security measures such as locks or GPS tracking systems. Regularly check your boat insurance coverage to ensure it adequately protects against theft, damage, or liability.

Joining the Small Sailboat Community

Sailing small boats can be a social and enriching experience. Joining the small sailboat community provides opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, learn from experienced sailors, and participate in events and races. Here are some ways to get involved:

Sailing clubs and associations: Joining a local sailing club or association is a great way to meet fellow sailors and access resources, such as sailing lessons, organized races, and social events. These clubs often have facilities and equipment for members to use, making sailing more accessible.

Small sailboat events and races: Participating in small sailboat events and races adds a competitive element to your sailing experience. These events bring together sailors of all skill levels and provide an opportunity to test your skills, learn from others, and form lasting friendships.

Online resources and forums: The internet is a valuable resource for small sailboat enthusiasts. Online forums and communities provide a platform to connect with sailors from around the world, exchange tips and advice, and share sailing stories. These platforms can also be a source of information on boat maintenance, sailing techniques, and upcoming events.

Join our community and start preparing for your upcoming sailing excursion right away with Ocean Wave Sail !

Small sailboats offer a world of adventure and excitement in a compact package. Their portability, affordability, and maneuverability make them an appealing choice for sailing enthusiasts of all skill levels. From classic Sunfish to modern steering wheel boats, there are various designs to suit different preferences.

Sailing small boats provides a unique and intimate connection with the water, allowing sailors to experience the joy of harnessing the wind’s power. Whether embarking on solo sailing adventures or joining the vibrant small sailboat community, these vessels offer endless opportunities for exploration and personal growth.

So, if you’re ready to set sail and embark on your small sailboat adventure, make sure to prioritize safety, acquire the necessary skills, and maintain your boat with care. The world of small sailboats awaits, promising unforgettable moments on the open water and a lifelong love for the art of sailing.

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small sailboat ocean

The Best New Small-Ship Cruises to Book in 2024

A uthentic. It was Merriam Webster's top searched word for 2023 and one that has dominated the travel vernacular in recent years. And while many would not necessarily associate the word with ocean cruising , the growth in popularity of small-ship cruises-particularly sailings with 500 guests or fewer-indicates that in the cruising world, passengers are seeking a more intimate, less crowded, and yes, arguably more authentic sailing experience.

Take expedition cruising , for example. As the number of adventure-focused ships and yachts has exploded in recent years, these cruises are no longer just about extreme voyages in polar regions. They are also about offering a deeper look into the culture, food, history, and environmental fragility of remote wonders of the world.

Although there isn't a huge number of new small ships being introduced, there are a few notable vessels that have either recently launched or are launching this year with a focus on the idea that smaller is not just better, but more sustainable, too. These new small-ship cruises bring with them some exciting and more immersive new itineraries to destinations both warm and wintry that have us ready to pack our bags and sail away.

Sea Cloud Cruises' "Sea Cloud Spirit"

  • Suggested itinerary: Reset your mind and body on an eight-night sailing through Spain's Canary Islands and on to Morocco on a special cruise featuring experts in restorative health. Pricing starts at $4,895 per person.

What's more authentic-and sustainable-than setting sail on a tall ship where the sails are hoisted up each day by hand? Although not technically new (it was launched in 2021), the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit and its two sister ships, Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II , are upping their game in a push to introduce Sea Cloud Cruises' unique product to North American travelers. The German company has traditionally catered to German and British passengers. As part of its effort to expand its reach and appeal, Sea Cloud is adding wellness programs with daily onboard yoga and guest fitness gurus, in addition to special food- and wine-focused sailings with well-known chefs making appearances. Sea Cloud Spirit , the largest of the three-ship fleet with 69 cabins, was meticulously designed to pay homage to the original Sea Cloud , which was the world's largest private sailing yacht when Wall Street broker Edward Francis Hutton had it built in 1931 for his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The Sea Cloud Spirit combines the experience of decades of traditional seamanship with the modern-day luxuries of a private yacht. Cabins range from 172-square-foot single cabins to 300-square-foot balcony suites with soaking tubs. There's a large fitness center and spa, which has a steam room, sauna, and thermal area for two; indoor and outdoor lounges; and a main dining area, plus a more casual bistro. The action, however, is out on deck, where passengers can stargaze at night or simply gaze in awe at the impressive sails blowing in the wind.

Atlas Ocean Voyages' "World Navigator"

  • Suggested itinerary: Go searching for Arctic wildlife on a 12-night cruise from Reykjavík, which sails along the eastern coast of Greenland and to Longyearbyen in the Svalbard archipelago, one of the world's northernmost inhabited areas and home to polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, and other Nordic wildlife. Pricing starts at $6,499 per person.

World Navigator , which sailed its maiden voyage in Antarctica this past November, is the third vessel to join the fleet of one of the newest players in small-ship expedition cruising, Atlas Ocean Voyages. The company's 100-cabin expedition yachts are almost identical and provide a hybrid of sorts between traditional expedition and luxury cruising. Cabins are spacious, almost all with balconies, desks, and seating areas. The bathrooms have glass-mosaic tiled showers with rain showerheads, wall jets, and even benches.

Everything on the ship-including the sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows-is designed to provide maximum views. The ships also have spacious pool decks with two hot tubs, a fitness center overlooking the sea, a spa, and water toys like kayaks and paddleboards. There's even extreme camping gear for those willing to brave an overnight under the stars in Antarctica. During North American winters, all three of Atlas's expedition yachts sail in Antarctica. With the addition of World Navigator , the company is launching more Arctic Circle cruises during the North American summers while also adding a host of new epicurean and cultural expeditions in South America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and northern Europe this year.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's "Ilma"

  • Suggested itinerary: Spend a little extra time in port on a 10-day sailing from Barcelona to Lisbon, which has three overnight stays, in Palma de Mallorca and Malaga in Spain, and in Lisbon, Portugal, one of Europe's oldest cities. Pricing starts at $10,600 per person.

Another newcomer to luxury small-ship cruising is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which debuts its second ship, the Ilma , this year. With 224 suites, the ship is larger than the original Ritz-Carlton yacht, the 149-suite Evrima , which launched in October 2022. On the Ilma , all the suites will have private terraces, including a two-story suite with soaking tub; the coveted, 1,000-square-foot owner's suite has a private outdoor whirlpool. Even the smallest suites are not all that small, at 300 square feet, and come with a personal concierge and 24-hour room service. The yacht boasts what Ritz-Carlton says is the highest ratio of space per guest at sea.

And you can expect to find the same meticulous service standards that you would find at Ritz-Carlton resorts throughout the world as the line aims to impress hotel guests seeking a luxury hotel experience at sea. Onboard are five dining venues, including S.E.A., a European tasting experience designed by chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, Germany; Talaat Nam, featuring Southeast Asian cuisine and a sushi bar; and Mistral, a casual come-as-you-are alfresco grill with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Light bites are served at the marina at the aft of the ship, where you can also hop on a borrowed paddleboard. Oh, and did we mention there are two outdoor pools, too?

Book a terrace suite on the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's newest vessel, Ilma , launching in 2024.

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Sport Fishing

Small Boats for Offshore Fishing

  • By Sport Fishing Staff
  • Updated: March 28, 2024

Small boat fishing offshore

What is the minimum size boat for offshore fishing? The answer depends on who you ask. The challenge and your budget are the two biggest reasons for fishing from a small offshore boat. Many cite the unique satisfaction of taking on the ocean to fish it on their own terms, knowing they have the boat, the knowledge and the ability to get out there, catch some good fish and get back.

“There’s definitely the excitement of being out there in a small boat where you’re in control and doing your own thing,” said Angelo Cuanang, a West Coast offshore fishing writer and expert who regularly fishes off San Francisco Bay. He’s done so for many years — all in a 17-foot Boston Whaler Montauk. Being unsinkable, the Whaler is one of the best small boats for ocean fishing.

One school of thought from skilled mariners actually considers a smaller hull advantageous in large swells. Tom King, once a professional mate in Massachusetts, for years made the 20-plus-mile run to fish Stellwagen Bank aboard his 19-foot Midland (“a Nova Scotia-style hull,” he said, with a very high bow and very low freeboard). “We came home riding on top of the big seas like an eggshell, while much bigger sport-fishing boats were having a tough time rolling in the swells.”

For purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on saltwater fishing boats with a minimum size ranging from 17 to 22 feet in length overall (LOA). A boat this size has an element of responsiveness that much larger hulls lose. In addition to being a criterion for offshore fishing, this size range also offers the best small boats for rough seas. Of course, rough seas are relative, and distance from shore often dictates the decision to go or not go.

Offshore Boating Benefits of Small Fishing Boats

Besides the challenge, downsized boats are less expensive and easy to tow on the road than king-size boats. Small boats can also be easier to handle and dock in tight quarters, though features such as joystick controls on larger boats are making low-speed maneuvers easier for skippers of large boats.

Start comparing costs of purchase, insurance, moorage or storage, maintenance and so on for a 30-foot center-console with those of a 22-footer. Then of course there are fuel costs. At today’s prices, a day fishing a 30-footer with twin 300 hp outboards can cost you in the high hundreds of dollars, if not more than $1,000. But you can run offshore and troll all day in a boat such as the Robalo R222 (21 feet 6 inches LOA) or Sea Chaser 22 HFC (21 feet 9 inches LOA) with a single 200 or 250 hp outboard for a few hundred or less.

Lots of anglers trailer their boats 50 to 100 miles at the drop of a hat. Compare hauling a double- or triple-axle trailer behind a ¾- to 1-ton pickup versus a lighter, single- or double-axle trailer behind a half-ton pickup — and there’s even more economy.

Small-Boat Knowledge, Ability and Common Sense

There’s no federal regulation stating that “Thou shalt not take thy boat and go (offshore),” and in fact the Coast Guard only has authority in a few places to prevent boaters from going where they want, a Coast Guard spokesman said. To go or not to go is not the question. Rather, focus on knowing your small boat, recognizing when to go or not, and with what gear and preparation.

Accident reports often retell scenarios where anglers in small boats perished before the Coast Guard could reach them. Often these are cases where knowing the boat and having the right equipment could have saved lives. Experience often makes a major difference when it comes to safety. Anglers who know what the ocean can dish out and respect that power choose to err on the side of caution, and do not scrimp on safety gear .

Many who skipper such mighty mites far from land tend to be independent by nature. Still, many make it a point to travel offshore with another boat — known as “buddy boating”— when possible, small or large, which in effect offers a second engine.

Whether or not you have a buddy going with you, be sure to file a float plan before you leave. That can be as simple as making sure someone back on land knows when you plan to depart and return, and where — in general — you expect to fish.

The Right Boat: Moderate Vees and Hard Chines

What is the best small boat for offshore fishing? There are plenty of 17- to 22-footers for fishing bays, channels or flats. But if you plan to run offshore, you’ll need to investigate construction, quality and design.

That said, some bay boats such as the Pathfinder 2200 TE (22 feet 2 inches LOA) or Sea Born FX22 Bay Sport (21 foot 9 inches LOA) offer offshore fishing capability , as well as the ability to sneak into shallow inshore waters.

Still, there can be no doubt that with the specialized demands of offshore fishing, not all small hulls are created equal. When it comes to hull design, opinions vary — suggesting competent small hulls might come in more than one style.

A modified V rather than the deep V common on larger center consoles ranks as the top choice among experts looking for the optimal small planing hull for big water. While the steeper deadrise angle of up to 26 degrees at the transom offers the softest ride through waves, an angle in the 17- to 20-degree range proves more stable. That way you still get some damping effect from the V but also get some benefit of lateral stability.

Fuel capacity becomes a serious consideration for any small boat heading offshore. On the minus side: Many small boats have built-in tanks and some provide space only for portables. On the plus side: Light boats with small outboards can go all day on amazingly little fuel. Once you pick a boat, know its range and always allow for at least a 15 percent reserve.

A small but important point: marine battery placement. Batteries should ride forward, beneath the console, rather than at the transom, where they can get wet and add unnecessary weight.

One other essential element of small boat construction that becomes particularly important offshore is flotation. Positive flotation is required for certification by the National Marine Manufacturers Association in boats less than 20 feet, but the best hulls are fully filled with foam, and the reasons should be obvious. In an emergency, water can force air out of a hull or sides but not out of foam. A light hull gains little weight (always a factor) but considerable strength and rigidity from foam.

Water In, Water Out

A small boat easily takes on spray and, on rough days, some green water as well. That’s when scuppers become critical. (This assumes that no angler without a death wish would be offshore in a boat that’s not self-bailing.) The scuppers must be able to drain water as fast as it comes into the hull — if not, you’ll soon be playing submarine.

Transom height and design also play key roles in keeping water out of small boats. A small outboard-powered boat faces trouble fast once enough ocean water enters and runs to one side or the other in heavy seas. To help avoid that, look for small offshore boats with a full transom. A cut-out transom might work with a really good, generous motorwell. Worst case for offshore: a low, cut-out transom with no well. If that describes your boat, stick to the bay.

The Right Offshore Boating Equipment

No small boat, however seaworthy and stable, belongs offshore — ever — if it’s not properly equipped. The most major piece of equipment to consider is your outboard engine . A traditional preference among blue-water anglers has been twin or even triple outboards for safety. However, adding a second engine for the small boater might be either cost-, design- or weight-prohibitive. Fortunately, today’s outboard engines are more reliable than ever.

An EPIRB and PLB will keep a boater safe offshore

When feasible, a small auxiliary engine (aka kicker) is a great addition since it can get you home in a pinch — but, again, it may not be worth the additional weight on the stern of a 17- to 22-footer.

Additional key safety equipment to carry when fishing offshore includes the following:

Fixed-Mount VHF Radio — Fundamental and essential. Fixed-mount radios offer a range of 15 to 20 miles while handhelds only reach out 3 to 8 miles. All new VHFs, by law, come with Digital Selective Calling, which instantly sends a distress call to authorities anywhere in the world. Be sure that you set up your DSC calling feature before leaving port. Cell phones are popular everywhere, including offshore, and offer some backup. But these can’t substitute for a VHF in a pinch since users might not find coverage in all areas offshore, and a phone call does not immediately summon on-water help. Mate your VHF radio to a tall (8-foot) VHF antenna for the range necessary when fishing offshore.

GPS Plotter/Sounder — As critical for navigation as for fishing. Separate units are fine, but a single unit (capable of showing both chart plotter and sounder reading on screen simultaneously) maximizes limited space on small consoles.

Compass — With a good nautical chart, a compass will keep you headed in the right direction if your GPS fails. Amazingly, some small boaters venture far offshore with neither radio nor compass, according to the Coast Guard.

Extra Battery — Any boat fishing offshore should have a dual-battery system with a selector switch. This allows you to keep one battery in reserve in case one goes dead.

Emergency Beacons — An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon) and a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) are good ideas for any boat fishing offshore. Once activated, an encoded digital message is received by satellites, and is then transmitted back to ground-based search and rescue authorities. This signal provides information to assist in the search. Assuming you have properly registered the EPIRB or PLB, it tells rescuers who you are, your boat type and size, where you are, and other important data, including emergency contact information. An EPIRB is registered to the boat and is usually mounted on deck, while a PLB is registered to an individual and is carried by that person.

Life Jackets — Going offshore without them would not only be illegal but insane. Make sure your jackets are Coast Guard rated for offshore use (Type I). It is a good idea to wear a life jacket at all times, especially if fishing alone.

Emergency Kit — including flare gun and flares, cyalume sticks and waterproof strobe lights. (I also make sure my boat’s running lights are in good working order.) Don’t forget a good flashlight and extra sunscreen.

Emergency Food and Water — At least a half-gallon of water, some granola bars and beef jerky or canned meat can get you through a day or two.

Anchor and Lots of Line — Even if you don’t anchor to fish, you might find an anchor valuable, and plenty of heavy line is a must if you need to be towed.

Sea Anchor — Space might preclude stowing a small sea anchor, but make sure you have at least a bucket or, in a pinch, even a spare life jacket. Most boats tend to drift stern-to — the worst situation in a building sea. Your odds of staying afloat when broken down and adrift go up by a big chunk if you can keep the bow into the waves, and any sort of sea anchor will help accomplish this.

Pick the Right Fishing Weather

Given a seaworthy boat, properly equipped, everything else comes down to common sense. And nowhere can the small boater better demonstrate that than by reading the weather before and during a trip.

Starting out the morning in a 3-foot sea is a mere irritant to a 30-footer, but for the mini-boater who has his head screwed on right, it means a canceled trip. Many mornings I’ve arisen to find the weather service data revised from the previous evening’s 5- to 10-knot wind forecast to one of 10 to 20 knots. Anyone hoping to go offshore in a 17- to 22-footer has to realize his fishing days will be limited.

Look for periods between frontal systems, particularly in fall, winter and spring when dead-calm days sneak in between blows. During the summer, high pressure systems often bring many successive days of calm weather, particularly in the morning. The run home in many regions might mean a moderate but manageable chop, thanks to afternoon sea breezes.

Just be sure you know the marine forecast for the day, before you head out. When the forecast calls for light breezes all day and into the night, boating anglers with small boats can usually venture forth into offshore ocean waters with peace of mind. Otherwise, the best rule of thumb is a simple one: When in doubt, don’t go out.

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10 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing (One Person)

10 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 27, 2023

The idea of single-handed sailing or solo sailing appeals to racers and cruisers alike. But what are the best sailboats for solo sailing? Well, let's find out.

Whether you've been thinking of going for a day's sail without assistance or dreaming of a solo passage to Bermuda, the desire and the magic of venturing out alone at the sea is something that any sailor can experience. It doesn't matter if you're cruising or racing, solo sailing, of course, requires you to change your thinking as you'll be solely responsible for the entire operation of the boat. More importantly, choosing a well-founded boat is critical to solo sailing.

When sailing with a crew, things may seem a little easy because you share the responsibilities among the crew and support each other in case of anything. But what happens when you decide to venture out alone or sail single-handedly? Whatever motivates you to go out sailing solo, you should choose a good boat that you can perfectly operate single-handedly.

In this article, we'll highlight 10 best sailboats for solo sailing, their prices, their best rigs, and everything else that you might need to sail them comfortably and safely.

Table of contents

General Features of Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

Here are the general features to look for when choosing the best sailboat for solo sailing.

The Availability of Automation Systems

The forces that you sometimes have to deal with when out sailing can be extreme, to say the least. It doesn't matter whether you're sailing solo or with a crew, it's always very important not to underestimate the power of the wind and tide. While you can do a lot on your own, having some automation systems in place is an important feature if you're planning to sail single-handedly. In other words, a good sailboat for solo sailing should have various automation systems to make your work a lot simpler.

So if you're planning to go solo sailing, it would be great to consider a boat with the following systems:

  • ‍ Autopilot for steering
  • Lines running aft (running to the cockpit)
  • Roller furling
  • Electric windlass
  • Hydraulic bow/stern thrusters with remote

Stability and Ease of Use

Again, the best sailboats for solo sailing are generally not known for their speeds. This is because they typically have wide beams and short waterlines, which are vital in providing stability thereby limiting their speeds. In short, the best sailboats for solo sailing usually sacrifice speed and additional performance for ease of use and stability.

Boat Features

When it comes to the structure of the boat itself, it's important to go for a boat that is close to the water, relatively small when compared to the wave height, and has lighter ballast, especially when compared to the displacement ratio. The idea here is that these features can combine to increase the boat's performance when you're sailing solo.

Additionally, a good solo sailing boat should be designed with a flat profiled aft bottom section. This is to ensure that the boat can come up on a plane when the wind conditions are breezy or marginal.

When it comes to the best sails for solo sailing, you can go for the unique sail design that combines both a Bermuda sail and a gaff sail. This can be essential in giving you a more sail area on a shorter mast than is possible when using either a gaff sail or a Bermuda sail. More importantly, the combination of a gaff sail and a Bermuda sail not only gives you a greater sail area on a shorter and easy to control mast but can also reduce the heeling force that's common in boats with taller and narrower sails.

Still on sails, it makes a lot of sense to choose easily operated sail controls. You certainly want a sail that one person can tuck a reef in quickly and be able to easily adjust the sheets. You should, therefore, prioritize the reefing and sail handling systems.

In terms of rigs, the gaff rig is arguably the best when solo sailing. Although the Bermuda rig is the most common, especially in modern sailboats, you can lose some windward abilities because of its lower aspects. As such, you can choose to use the gaff rig thanks to its ease of use and superior downwind performance.

10 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

There are numerous sailboats out there that can be easily and properly handled by a skilled and experienced sailor. To make it a lot easier for you, the following boats are great choices when solo sailing. Whether you're just looking to experience how it feels to solo sail or short-handed, they all offer easy, comfortable, and safe sailing.

Jeanneau Sunfast 3200


From the outset, it's easy to see that the Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 is designed with offshore short-handed sailing in mind. In addition to being a purist's sailing boat, this boat is a small and light boat that can be easily handled. Even better, it has the stability and strength to handle long passages and that's exactly why it was initially designed with the Trans-Atlantic race in mind.

With this boat, you can easily attain double figures in terms of speed even if you're sailing downwind. In essence, the Sunfast 3200 is designed with some of the latest technology to afford you the best strength-to-weight ratios. It has all the necessary features to allow you to easily adapt it to perform perfectly either as a cruising or racing sailboat. Some of its greatest features include the two double cabins, the chart table, a galley, and a head compartment.

This boat is particularly impressive when sailing off the wind and it's designed to ensure that it's functional and reliable even when solo sailing. This is perhaps because it's designed and set up for racing, so it can be great for you especially if you're looking for a coastal cruiser that can be easily handled.

Using the sloop Marconi can be the best way to go given that this vessel has a keel-stepped mast. Its maximum beam begins at 60% aft of the stem before extending to the transom, which can result in the sled hull being driven by a mainsail-heavy rig. This can then fly the masthead asymmetrical off a short sprit.

Given that the Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 is a very modern boat that's equipped with some of the latest boating technology; it comes with a base price of about $160,000. This is a vessel that's built by one of the world's premier builders and offers an intriguing blend of technology, reliability, functionality, practicality, and performance.

Having been the European Yacht of the Year for 2008, the Sunfast 3200 may just be the godsend boat for your solo sailing dreams.


If you're looking for a slippery cruiser-racer that's always ready to sail single-handedly, you might perhaps want to take a serious look at the Hanse 371. Introduced in 2003, the Hanse 371 is a mid-sized boat that was designed in a true blend of old and new boating technology. Thanks to its furling and self- tacking jib, the Hanse 371 becomes an instant single-handed sailing vessel that takes much of the strain out of your solo sailing adventures. That's not all; this boat is more popular as a result of its autopilot system. Press a few buttons and you'll be ready to go.

Although it's a little bigger and not one of the smallest boats out there, it can be a great option if you're planning to sail solo but on a vessel that offers a tremendous amount of space. Whether you love a boat with a shallow or deep center of gravity, the Hanse 371 has a commendable large galley and a spacious cabin layout.

Everything about rigging this boat is designed to be easy. Again, the jib on a roller furler is self-tacking. In essence, everything is standard and easy to use, which makes this boat a dream when sailing single-handed.

Already a classic that's known for its stylish interior, timeless look, and ultimate performance, the Hanse 371 is a coveted vessel that may cost you around $60,000.

Hunter Channel 31


Launched in 2001, the Hunter Channel 31 is structured with a hull and keel design that makes it easy to sail single-handed. This is a British-made vessel that has steadily moved from the racing scene to become a well-respected cruiser, especially among the solo sailing community. Thanks to its faultless handling and impressive turn of speed, the Hunter Channel 31 provides near uncomplicated sailing without losing its impeccable handling features.

Its well-balanced hull shape can either be structured with a low or deep center of gravity. It also has an efficient twin keel to give it more stability, which is perfect for solo sailing. This is, without a doubt, one of the main reasons why Hunter Channel 31 has proved popular among solo sailors trying to sail across narrow channels.

The Hunter Channel 31 is also designed with a great standard deck layout, as well as a non-compulsory self-tacking jib that comes with a single line mainsail reefing. That's not all; the tiller steering is also efficient if you're sailing single-handed as you can steer it with your legs while trimming sails.

It should, therefore, not come as a surprise that owners of the Hunter Channel 31 keep them for a long time, so finding them on the market will be a long shot. But if you're lucky enough to find one, you'll be getting a great vessel that will never let you down if you want to sail solo.

Like many Hunter designs, the Hunter 31 can be fractionally rigged given that it has a relatively large mainsail to give it a more sail area in light winds and a small headsail with a lower sheet load. In other words, you can efficiently and easily reef from the cockpit.

At about $35,000, the Hunter Channel 31 is quite affordable and is a great bargain in its category.


The J/109 is unquestionably one of the best single-handed or double-handed sailboats that money can buy. Whether you're looking for a coastal cruiser or a long-distance single-handed vessel, the J/109 will rarely disappoint. That's essentially why its single-handed offshore capabilities remain popular with sailors looking to make North Atlantic crossings.

Even though it is widely categorized as a planing sailboat, this vessel is too heavy for simple planing. Instead, this is a superb boat that offers an all-round performance. It doesn't matter whether you're solo sailing or sailing with a crew, its performance is always top-notch.

Thanks to its asymmetric spinnaker, you can easily jib it from the cockpit, especially in light wind. But when the wind is on the north of 20 knots, you can pole out the jib to give you a quick downwind speed. No matter which type of rig you choose to use, the J/109 offers a fair degree of control.

In terms of price, the J/109 is one of the relatively expensive sailboats out there, though this is compensated with the high standard equipment and outstanding quality of construction. For about $58,000, you can get a great boat that offers excellent solo sailing adventures.

West Wight Potter 19


Designed for safety and easy handling, the West Wight Potter 19 is a great sailboat for solo sailing. Although its name might not be one of the catchiest in the sailing scene, it's been around for over three decades and is steadily becoming a popular pocket cruiser. The original design draws inspiration from the U.K. but is currently built by the International Marine in California.

Over the years, this boat has seen several improvements even though its original look and features still attract a large and dedicated group of followers. This is not only a tough little boat but its hard-chine hull offers incredible stability. This makes it a very easy and ultimately forgiving sailboat. Whether you're looking to sail from California to Hawaii or across the Atlantic, the Potter 19 is outstanding for solo sailing.

This is a Bermuda-rigged sloop. Its sail plan is huge enough to propel the sailboat in various conditions. This makes it a perfect single-handed boat as you can easily set it up or take it down with no special equipment.

This is a remarkably affordable boat. At around $5,000 you can get a superb solo sailing sailboat. But if you want a new Potter 19 with additional features, you could pay about $25,000.

Beneteau 31


As a small cruiser keelboat, this French-designed boat is primarily built of fiberglass and is perfect if you want a vessel that's great for solo sailing while still offering maximum space for comfort. Its galley is equipped with superb stowage and counter space and even a sit-down navigation station with a small table.

Maneuvering this boat under power is quite easy and is well worth it for any solo sailor who is in the market for a coastal cruiser.

It has a fractional sloop rig, which makes in-mast furling a great option. This makes it easy to handle but also powerful in light winds. If you're sailing the boat off the wind, bow pulpit and an optional asymmetric cruising chute can keep things lively.

The new 31 can cost around $115,000, which is quite expensive but certainly worth it if you want to cruise the world in this French masterpiece.

Catalina 315


This is a nifty pocket cruiser that raises the quality bar for solo sailors with extreme comfort and performance. With just a 9.45 meter hull, the Catalina 315 has more internal room than most classics and remains superb for solo sailing.

Although it's a much bigger boat, it has little but significant features that make all the difference. For instance, the split backstays are great for balance and functionality. This is one of the main reasons why it won the Cruising World's 2013 Boat of the Year Best Inshore Cruiser award.

With a masthead sloop, rigging the Catalina 315 is a lot easier as it is equipped with both an in-mast roller furling mainsail and a roller furling genoa.

Even though the Catalina 315 will exceed your expectations when sailing solo, it's a high-end sailboat that will cost you north of $175,000. But if that seems expensive, you can look for a used model, which will cost you slightly lower.


A boat that has become a staple in the Olympics Games, the Laser may be simple and small but a real-go to boat if you want a vessel that will rarely let you down for your solo sailing escapades. As one of the world's most popular single-handed sailboats, its main feature is its sheer simplicity. This might not be the best boat for you if you love those fussy, big boats. But if you're looking for an amazing boat with a two-part free-standing mast and a sleeved sail, the Laser should be on top of your list.

The fact that it has a lightweight hull and is easy to rig makes it one of the most popular racing sailboats in the world with over 200,000 boats in over 140 countries. This is undoubtedly a perfect boat that's specifically designed for solo sailing.

This boat can be rigged using various rigs, so you should go with whatever works for you. We, however, prefer cat rigging the boat since it has no headsail and only has one mainsail. This is a boat that is designed for speed, particularly in high winds. It's also easy to set up, which makes it a marvelous option for solo sailing.

For around $7,000, this is probably one of the most affordable solo sailing sailboats you could ever get your hands on. You should, however, keep in mind that its price may widely vary depending on their availability in your area.


A real classically-styled sailboat, the Rhodes 19 is an ideal family daysailer that can be perfect for you if you're a spirited solo sailor. Whether you're planning to sail in heavy weather or fast, the Rhodes 19 is designed with a forgiving hull and is an accomplished heavy-weather performer. For over 5 decades, and with more than 3,500 boats built, this sailboat has proven time and time again that it has the characters for both beginners and experienced sailors.

With a low center of gravity, this boat remains a classic beauty that's very fast, easy to trailer, and will get many compliments whenever you're solo sailing. No wonder it is still actively raced throughout the United States.

A simple sprit rig can work greatly on this boat but you can also consider Bermuda-Rigged sloop, which is efficient in propelling the boat in various wind conditions.

Its price may vary depending on your location but something around $20,000 will get you a sailboat that's still in tip-top condition.


If like most Americans, you have a soft spot for finely engineered German automobiles, the Dehler 29 can be a great option for your solo sailing escapades. Even though the Dehler 29 hasn't attracted a huge following in the American shores, it remains an excellently-structured German sailboat, especially for sailors looking for a stable, agile, adaptable, and comfortable sailboat.

Whether you enjoy a smooth and solo cruise on a breezy afternoon or is energized by speed, the Dehler 29 is one of the most adaptable sailboats. This is certainly why it has received numerous accolades in the boating scene including the 1998 Cruising World Magazine Boat of the Year, as well as Sailing World Boat of the Year award.

Given that it's a single-handed sailboat, you can tiller steer it and cat rig it with ease to give you easy maneuverability, confidence, and absolute versatility.

With powerful dynamics and maximum safety, the Dehler 29 is one of the best German-produced sailboats that will set you back around $55,000.

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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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How to travel around the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore: A look at the traffic impact and alternate routes

By Rohan Mattu

Updated on: March 29, 2024 / 5:01 AM EDT / CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE -- The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday  led to a major traffic impact for the region and cut off a major artery into and out of the port city. 

A bridge column was hit by a large container ship around 1:30 a.m., sending bridge workers and vehicles into the Patapsco River. A water search for six missing workers turned to a recovery effort Tuesday night.

Drivers are told to prepare for extra commuting time until further notice.

Locator map showing the typical traffic routes of cargo vessels passing beneath the bridge and the trajectory Dali followed prior to the allision.

Alternate routes after Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse

Maryland transit authorities quickly put detours in place for those traveling through Dundalk or the Curtis Bay/Hawkins Point side of the bridge. The estimated 31,000 who travel the bridge every day will need to find a new route for the foreseeable future. 

The outer loop I-695 closure shifted to exit 1/Quarantine Road (past the Curtis Creek Drawbridge) to allow for enhanced local traffic access. 

The inner loop of I-695 remains closed at MD 157 (Peninsula Expressway). Additionally, the ramp from MD 157 to the inner loop of I-695 will be closed. 

Alternate routes are I-95 (Fort McHenry Tunnel) or I-895 (Baltimore Harbor Tunnel) for north/south routes. 

Commercial vehicles carrying materials that are prohibited in the tunnel crossings, including recreation vehicles carrying propane, should plan on using I-695 (Baltimore Beltway) between Essex and Glen Burnie. This will add significant driving time.   


Where is the Francis Scott Key Bridge? 

The Key Bridge crosses the Patapsco River, a key waterway that along with the Port of Baltimore serves as a hub for East Coast shipping. 

The bridge is the outermost of three toll crossings of Baltimore's Harbor and the final link in Interstate 695, known in the region as the Baltimore Beltway, which links Baltimore and Washington, D.C. 

The bridge was built after the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel reached capacity and experienced heavy congestion almost daily, according to the MDTA. 

Tractor-trailer inspections

Tractor-trailers that now have clearance to use the tunnels will need to be checked for hazardous materials, which are not permitted in tunnels, and that could further hold up traffic. 

The MDTA says vehicles carrying bottled propane gas over 10 pounds per container (maximum of 10 containers), bulk gasoline, explosives, significant amounts of radioactive materials, and other hazardous materials are prohibited from using the Fort McHenry Tunnel (I-95) or the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-895).  

Any vehicles transporting hazardous materials should use the western section of I-695 around the tunnels, officials said. 

Rohan Mattu is a digital producer at CBS News Baltimore. Rohan graduated from Towson University in 2020 with a degree in journalism and previously wrote for WDVM-TV in Hagerstown. He maintains WJZ's website and social media, which includes breaking news in everything from politics to sports.

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Reporting by Lisa Shumaker; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Josie Kao and Tom Hogue

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Lisa's journalism career spans two decades, and she currently serves as the Americas Day Editor for the Global News Desk. She played a pivotal role in tracking the COVID pandemic and leading initiatives in speed, headline writing and multimedia. She has worked closely with the finance and company news teams on major stories, such as the departures of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and significant developments at Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Tesla. Her dedication and hard work have been recognized with the 2010 Desk Editor of the Year award and a Journalist of the Year nomination in 2020. Lisa is passionate about visual and long-form storytelling. She holds a degree in both psychology and journalism from Penn State University.

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