Sail Universe

9 Small Sailboats Under 30 Ft We Love

Our editorial staff selected 9 small sailboats under 30′ from all over the world. Today small sailboats have electronics for navigation and entertainment, an engine for light wind and accomodations to sleep onboard. Which is your preferred one between these 9 small sailboats?

Albin Vega 27

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

The Albin Vega 27 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Albin Motor Boat Company in the 1970s. It is a small, versatile vessel that is popular with sailors due to its good performance and comfortable interior. The Albin Vega 27 has a length of 27 feet (8.2 meters) and a beam (width) of 8.1 feet (2.46 meters). It is designed to be sailed single-handed, but can accommodate up to six people.

  • 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
  • Displacement:  5,070lb / 2,300kg
  • Designer:  Per Brohall
  • Builder:  Albin Marine AB (Sweden)
  • Year First Built:  1965
  • Year Last Built:  1979
  • Number Built:  3,450

Alpin Ballad 

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

  • Hull Type:  Fin with skeg-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:  29′ 11″ / 9.12m
  • Waterline Length:  22′ 7″ / 6.88m
  • Beam:  9′ 8″ / 2.95m
  • Draft:  5′ 1″ / 1.55m
  • Rig Type:  Masthead Sloop
  • Displacement:  7,276lb / 3,300kg
  • Designer:  Rolf Magnusson
  • Builder:  Albin Marine (Sweden)
  • Year First Built:  1971
  • Year Last Built:  1982
  • Number Built:  1500

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

The Bristol 24 has a length of 24.6 feet (7.5 meters) and a beam (width) of 8 feet (2.4 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew, but can accommodate up to four people. The boat has a displacement of 4,920 lb (2,685 kilograms) and is equipped with a standard keel.

  • Hull Type:  Long Keel
  • Hull Material:  GRP (Fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:  24′ 6″ / 7.5m
  • Waterline Length:  18′ 1″ / 5.5m
  • Beam:  8′ 0″ / 2.4m
  • Draft:  3′ 5″ / 1.0m
  • Displacement:  5,920lb / 2,685kg
  • Designer:  Paul Coble
  • Builder:  Bristol Yachts inc (US)
  • Year First Built:  1969
  • Year Last Built:  1972
  • Number Built:  800

Contessa 28

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

The Contessa 24 is a fiberglass sailboat that was designed by David Sadler and produced by the Contessa Yachts company in the 1970s. The Contessa 24 has a length of 27.8 feet (8.43 meters) and a beam (width) of 9.5 feet (2.87 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew, but can accommodate up to four people. The boat has a displacement of 3,162 kilograms and is equipped with a fin keel, which provides stability and improves its performance in a range of wind and sea conditions.

  • Hull Type:  fin keel with spade rudder
  • Hull Material:  GRP (Fiberglass)
  • Length Overall:  27′ 8″ / 8.43m
  • Waterline Length:  22′ 0″ / 6.71m
  • Beam:  9′ 5″ / 2.87m
  • Draft:  4′ 10″ / 1.47m
  • Rig Type:  Masthead sloop
  • Displacement:  6,970lb / 3,162kg
  • Designer:  Doug Peterson
  • Builder:  Jeremy Rogers
  • Year First Built:  1977

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

The Dufour 29 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Dufour Yachts company in the 1970s. The Dufour 29 has a length of 29.4 feet (8.94 meters) and a beam (width) of 9.8 feet (2.95 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew but can accommodate up to six people. The boat has a displacement of 7,250 pounds (3,289 kilograms) and is equipped with a fin keel.

  • Length Overall:  29′ 4″ / 8.94m
  • Waterline Length:  25′ 1″ / 7.64m
  • Draft:  5′ 3″ / 1.60m
  • Displacement:  7,250lb / 3,289kg
  • Designer:  Michael Dufour
  • Builder:   Dufour (France)
  • Year First Built:  1975
  • Year Last Built:  1984

Great Dane 28

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

The Great Dane 28 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Great Dane Yachts company in the 1970s. The Great Dane 28 has a length of 28 feet (8.5 meters) and a beam (width) of 10.4 feet (3.2 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew, but can accommodate up to six people. The boat has a displacement of 8,500 pounds (3,856 kilograms) and is equipped with a fin keel.

  • Hull Type:  Long keel with transom-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:  28′ 0″ / 8.5m
  • Waterline Length:  21′ 4″ / 6.5m
  • Beam:  10′ 4″ / 3.2m
  • Draft:  4′ 6″ / 1.4m
  • Displacement:  8,500lb / 3,856kg
  • Designer:  Aage Utzon in conjunction with Klaus Baess
  • Builder:  Klauss Baess, Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Year Last Built:  1989
  • Number Built:  300

small sailboats 3

The Sabre 27 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Sabre Yachts company in the 1970s. The Sabre 27 has a length of 27 feet (8.2 meters) and a beam (width) of 9 feet (2.6 meters). The boat has a displacement of 6,800 pounds (3,084 kilograms) and is equipped with a fin keel.

  • Hull Type:  Fin and skeg-hung rudder
  • Hull Material:  GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:  27′ 0″ / 8.2m
  • Waterline Length:  22′ 2″ / 6.8m
  • Beam:  9′ 0″ / 2.7m
  • Displacement:  6,800lb / 3,084kg
  • Designer:  Alan Hill
  • Builder:  Marine Construction Ltd (UK)
  • Number Built:  400

small sailboats 2

  • Hull Type:  Long keel with transom-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:  28′ 3″ / 8.6m
  • Waterline Length:  21′ 6″ / 6.6m
  • Beam:  8′ 1″ / 2.5m
  • Draft:  5′ 0″ / 1.5m
  • Rig Type:  masthead sloop
  • Displacement:  9,968lb / 4,521kg
  • Designer:  Kim Holman
  • Builder:  Uphams (UK) and Tyler (UK)
  • Year First Built:  1964
  • Year Last Built:  1983
  • Number Built:  200

Westerly 22

small sailboats

The Westerly 22 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Westerly Yachts company in the 1970s. The Westerly 22 has a length of 22 feet (6.8 meters) and a beam (width) of 7.6 feet (2.3 meters).

  • Hull Type:~  Bilge keel and skeg-hung rudder
  • Hull Material:~  GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:~  22′ 3″ / 6.8m
  • Waterline Length:~  18′ 4″ / 5.6m
  • Beam:~  7′ 6″ / 2.3m
  • Draft:~  2′ 3″ / 0.7m
  • Rig Type:~  Masthead Sloop
  • Displacement:~  4,150lb / 1,429kg
  • Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: ~ 16.95
  • Displacement/Length Ratio: ~ 228
  • Designer:~  Denis Rayner
  • Builder:~  Westerly Marine Ltd (UK)
  • Year First Built:~  1963
  • Year Last Built:~  1967
  • Number Built:~  332

New 23.5-metre Explorer Sailing Yacht Amundsen Launched

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WTH?!? why there is no boat which started it all? Pearson Triton 1959 first GRP production boat? many circumnavigated I with mine singlehandedly crossed Atlantic few times.

And no Westsail 28? :O who made this list must do better homework! ! your list is garbage!

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14 Great Pocket Cruisers in 2023

  • By Victor Tan
  • Updated: July 20, 2023

Pocket cruisers and mini yachts are generally vessels under 50 feet in length overall, and can include express cruiser designs, flybridge yachts as well as either monohull or catamaran hull forms. They are cruising boats easily handled by a small, or even shorthanded, crew. Pocket cruisers generally have wave-taming hull designs and have the ability to take on sporty seas, offer comfortable accommodations belowdecks with one or two staterooms for extended voyages, “homelike amenities,” and the ability to cruise as slowly or as quickly as an owner desires with inboard- and outboard-power options. These pocket-cruising boats have the range for longer voyages , can pull up in skinny water at the sandbar thanks to shallow drafts, and head over the horizon where cruising adventure awaits. Pocket cruisers are true multitasking yachts. When it comes to family and couples cruising, it’s hard to beat a well-built and well-equipped and pocket cruiser.

Best Cruising Boats Under 50-Feet

The following 14 pocket cruisers and mini yachts are all vessels we’ve seen, been aboard, and tested. They are listed in no particular order.

  • Hood 35 LM: high-tech, family-friendly pocket cruiser
  • Galeon Yachts 375 GTO: mid-size boat with plenty of below-deck space
  • Aquila 42: sleek power catamaran ready to entertain
  • Azimut Verve 42 : small, yet mighty yacht ready for open water
  • Hinckley Yachts 35: luxury picnic cruiser with range
  • Beneteau Gran Turismo 45: sleek cruising yacht with all the amenities
  • Solaris Power 48 Open: eye-catching power yacht with 360-degree views
  • Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS: luxury cruiser yacht with powerful outboard options
  • Back Cove 34O: modern outboard power combined with classic Downeast styling
  • Picnic Boat 40: speedy and fuel-efficient vessel with great looks
  • Aquila 36: comfortably seat up to 20 guests for fun on the salt
  • Boston Whaler 350 Realm: multitasker built for fishing and entertaining
  • MJM 35z: sporty, aesthetically pleasing, cruising-conscious features and elegant lines
  • Greenline 39: sturdy-looking lines and environmentally-friendly power

When Android co-founder, Rich Miner, wanted a new family-friendly pocket cruiser , he turned to a custom-penned C.W. Hood design and a Lyman-Morse-built 35-footer, which has a timeless Down East profile matched to seriously modern technology under the hood.

This yacht looks like a traditional, cold-molded Down East dayboat, but actually, it has everything, from Hamilton HJX Series water-jet drives to a planned Sea Machines autonomous command-and-control system . Top speed: 40-plus knots.

Hood 35 LM

Quick Specifications

34’10”
11’6″
350 Gal.
60 Gal.
19,000 lbs.

Galeon Yachts 375 GTO

Even the remnants of Hurricane Ian, couldn’t dissuade the Galeon Yacht 375 GTO from its cruising mission. The small yacht’s wave-splitting hull form is paired to torque-filled 600 hp Mercury Verado outboards , giving this fun-in-the-sun boat a 47-knot top hop.

The 375 GTO is a speedster, to be sure, but it’s also so much more. Just about every aspect of the main deck seating is transformable and multifunction, from the aft seating to the alfresco dining abaft the helm, and beyond. It also has a family-size and eminently cruise-worthy belowdecks space for four guests, all while providing a foredeck entertaining lounge too.

The Galeon Yachts 375 GTO ticks all the boxes for an easy-to-handle and sporty cruiser.

Galeon Yachts 375 GTO

37’9″
12′
396.25 Gal.
53 Gal.
27,270 lbs.

Aquila 42 Yacht Power Catamaran

Following the success of its 44-, 54- and 70-foot power catamaran models, Aquila has launched the stable-as-a-table, owner-operator-ready Aquila 42 Yacht Power Catamaran .

The Aquila 42 is the entry point into the builder’s yacht line and is noteworthy for its ability to accommodate anywhere from a two- to four-stateroom layout, depending on the owner’s cruising requirements. There are alfresco spaces to manage the sunset cruise with friends and family, including a foredeck lounge area that can be accessed via centerline steps from the flybridge. The Aquila 42 is available with several Volvo Penta diesel-engine options .

Aquila 42

41’6″
21′
290 Gal.
132 Gal.
41,895 lbs.

Azimut Verve 42

Want to cruise from Florida to Bimini in about an hour? The Azimut Yachts Verve 42 can do that thanks, in part, to triple 450 hp Mercury Racing outboards and a hull designed to dice-and-slice a seaway. Top hop: 45 knots. The Verve 42 also has style for miles with a fine entry, raked hardtop, and a razorlike sheerline accented by sweeping hull glass from bow to stern. It’s striking.

With accommodation for a family of four, the Verve 42 is also solid under the hull tokeep everyone safe on those passages. The Verve 42’s hull is built of fiberglass and uses vinylester resins for blister protection. The yacht’s deck and hardtop are comprised of carbon fiber for strength without added weight. This all means that the Azimut Verve 42 is built to CE Classification Type A , making it suitable for sea voyages where winds can exceed 45 mph and seas to 13 feet.

Azimut Verve 42

42’4″
12’11”
462 Gal.
66 Gal.
30,865 lbs.

Hinckley Yachts 35

The Hinckley Yachts 35 takes everything that yachtsmen like about this pedigreed-brand’s classic profile and infuses today’s modern outboard power to create 40 knots of sheer fun wrapped in sheer luxury.

This 35-foot Hinckley is built on a Michael-Peters-penned hull form with a fine entry, wider-than-average chines and a moderate deadrise. While the boat is built to sprint when desired, it’s also a relatively economical cruiser. For instance, a comfortable 24-knot cruise the Hinckley Yachts 35 has a 276-nautical-mile range.

It also has a tech-build thanks to vacuum-infused carbon-fiber composites and epoxy resin. An integrated interior structure is infused with the hull adding rigidity. The hull is then post-cured in an 80-foot oven, further strengthening the structure.

Hinckley 35

38’8″
11′
250 Gal.
35 Gal.
13,174 lbs.

Beneteau Gran Turismo 45

The Beneteau Gran Turismo is the flagship of the builder’s four-model GT series, which also includes 32-, 36- and 41-foot models.

The Gran Turismo 45 ’s cruise-centric layout includes two staterooms and two heads belowdecks, as well as a galley down. There is also a dinette for meals and a settee for rainy-day lounging. Entertaining guests and enjoying the sun is the primary mission of the main deck.

Beneteau Gran Turismo 45

48’6″
13’9″
238 Gal.
106 Gal.
24,782 lbs.

Solaris Power 48 Open

The Solaris Power 48 Open was the first powerboat from this longtime builder known for its sailing yachts, ranging from 40 to 110 feet length overall. The Solaris Power 48 Open is notable for its wave-slicing plumb-bow design, high freeboard forward and 32-knot-plus speed. Power is twin 480 hp Volvo Penta IPS650 diesels.

The high freeboard keeps the deck dry and help creates sizable volume belowdecks with an average 6-foot-6-inch headroom. This enables real estate for either one or two staterooms. With the single-stateroom setup, there is a forepeak master stateroom while an L-shaped settee converts to sleeping accommodations for family or occasional guests. Interior wood options are oak or walnut.

Solaris 48 Open

48’8″
15’10”
396 Gal.
114 Gal.
37,037 lbs.

Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS

Outboard-power cruising aficionados will appreciate the triple-engine options for the Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS . The 42 GLS we got aboard had the triple 400 hp Mercury Verados , which produced a top hop of 45 knots, but triple 450 hp Verados are available. Triple 350 hp Mercury Verados are the standard engine option. No matter the power arrangement, this express cruiser can easily be used for wakeboarding and tube towing. The 42 GLS is designed to handle the rough stuff too, with a fine entry and 21-degree transom deadrise.

For cruising enthusiasts, the 42 GLS has a master stateroom with an athwartships and a nearly queen-size berth, and the lower salon’s U-shaped dinette converts to a queen-size berth for the kids.

Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS

42′
13′
403 Gal.
50 Gal.
27,000 lbs.

Back Cove 34O

Combining modern outboard power with classic Downeast styling, the Back Cove 34O touts award-winning standards with cruising in mind. The 34O is equipped with twin 300 hp Yamaha outboards, engines that allow the Newport International Boat Show’s 2018 Best Powerboat Under 35 Feet winner to travel up to 214 nautical miles at 24 knots on a 250-gallon fuel tank.

Belowdecks, the 34O has an island double berth and a split-head arrangement with the toilet to port and a separate shower stall to starboard. On the main deck, a U-shape dinette to port accommodates four or more guests on the Back Cove Yachts vessel. The 34O’s galley is equipped with a Cuisinart microwave, a two-burner Kenyon electric cooktop and a Vitrifrigo fridge and freezer.

back cove 340

38’11”
11’10”
242 Gal.
60 Gal.
17,000 lbs.

Picnic Boat 40

Hinckley Yachts unveiled its first Picnic Boat more than two decades ago. Now, after two previous, sub-40-foot models, the Maine-based boatbuilder has developed its largest and most advanced model to date: the Picnic Boat 40.

Twin 480 hp Cummins diesel engines paired to twin Hamilton 322 jet drives propel the yacht to a 30-knot cruising speed and 34 knots on the pins. With optional twin 550 hp Cummins diesels, cruise and top-end speeds jump to 35 and 38 knots, respectively.

There is an L-shaped settee with a table and a wet bar on the main deck to port. The helm station is forward and to starboard with a benchseat for two. There is also a companion seat across from the helm. Belowdecks, there is 6-foot-2-inch headroom, and the dinette table drops to form a California-king berth for overnights and weekending.

hinckley picnic boat 40

42′
12’10”
375 Gal.
80 Gal.
25,000 lbs.

Aquila Power Catamarans started its line with 44- and 48-footers, and now the builder’s Aquila 36 takes the line into the midsize market.

The 36 features a single, main-living area from bow to stern, helped in part by the vessel’s 14-foot, 7-inch beam. The boat can comfortably seat up to 20 guests for fun on the salt. Several Mercury Verado engine options are available for the Aquila 36, including twin 250-, 300- and 350-hp four-strokes. With the 350s, the Aquila has a top-end speed of 37 knots.

Other notable features include a fiberglass hardtop, a dinette, a cooktop, a fridge, a sink and a smokeless grill. Belowdecks, there are two staterooms with nearly queen-size berths, en suite heads and 6-foot-6-inch headroom in each.

aquila 36

36′
14’7″
330 Gal.
52 Gal.
21,572 lbs.

Boston Whaler 350 Realm

From fishing and entertaining guests to diving and overnight cruising, Boston Whaler ‘s 350 Realm is a multitasker. And it’s fast, too. It’s powered with either triple 300 hp or triple 350 hp Mercury Verados. The 350 Realm can reach a top speed of 46 knots.

At the helm, two Raymarine displays provide vital navigation data. The captain can take in the displays’ view from a doublewide helm seat. There’s a flip-down platform for standing when needed and a footrest when desired.

There is a V-shaped berth that converts into a double berth with a filler cushion. The separated head has a VacuFlush MSD and a hot-and-cold shower. Owners also have the option to add a microwave and a flat-screen TV.

Boston Whaler 350 Realm

35’6″
10’10”
385 Gal.
45 Gal.
18,830 lbs.

The MJM 35z can reach a top speed of 44 knots and a cruising speed of 33 knots on its optional 350 hp Mercury Verado outboards; twin 300 hp outboards are standard on this MJM Yachts vessel. Additionally, the 35z can travel up to 304 nautical miles on its 250-gallon fuel tank.

The 35z has a flush-deck layout and to port is space for an electric grill, a baitwell, a sink, an ice maker and a fridge. There are two Stidd helm seats—one for the helmsman and the other for a copilot—that rotate to face the rest of the seating aft. In the cabin is V-shaped seating forward that can be converted to a berth.

Owners also have the option of adding a Seakeeper 3 gyrostabilizer and a full-length Bimini top to shade the cockpit.

MJM 35z

38’3″
11′
250 Gal.
58 Gal.
13,279 lbs.

Greenline 39

Greenline Yachts ‘ vessels are aptly named for their environmentally friendly means of moving about; the Greenline 39 is no different. The Slovenian yacht manufacturer produces two types of this model: hybrid and solar.

If owners opt for the latter, the 39’s four solar panels atop the salon power all of the vessel’s systems for three hours. With the power of the sun, the 39 can achieve a max speed of 6.5 knots and a cruising speed of 4 knots. The hybrid type uses those same panels to help power a 220 hp Volvo Penta D3 with a Mahle electric-drive system. Owners have the option of replacing the standard engine with a 370 hp Yanmar 8LV diesel.

Belowdecks, scissor berths provide accommodations for long weekends.

Greenline 39

39’5″
12’4″
185 Gal.
105 Gal.
15,432 lbs.
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  • Cruising Yachts 35' to 40'

Popular Cruising Yachts from 35 to 40 Feet Long Overall Their Physical Properties & Key Performance Indicators

Welcome to this ever-growing gallery of some of the most popular cruising yachts between 35 and 40 feet (10.7m to 12.2m) long overall.

Cruising Yachts featured on this page...

















































































Medium sized cruising yachts like these are often the sailboat of choice for short-handed crews, and if properly equipped and maintained, will take long offshore voyages in their stride.

Sailboats at the top of this size range, those above 12m long overall, will find that they are charged considerably more in marinas than those that fall just under 12m LOA. Something worth bearing in mind perhaps?

Westerly Oceanranger 38

Westerly Oceanranger 38 'Petrel Blue' at anchor

Jeanneau Sun Fast 39

Hustler 35

Islander 37 MS

Islander 37

Beneteau First 35s5

Beneteau First 35s5

Amel Sharki

Amel Sharki

Dehler 38 (Van de Stadt)

A Dehler 38 sailboat (Van de Stadt)

Dehler 39 CWS

A Dehler 39 CWS sailboat

Finnsailor 35

A Finnsailor 35 sailboat

Bolero 35.5

Bolero 35.5 sailboat on a Tamar River Sailing Club mooring in Devon, England.

Dehler 37 CWS

A Dehler 37 CWS sailboat

Hunter 36 Legend

A Hunter 36 Legend sailboat moored fore and aft

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35

A Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35 sailboat moored fore-and-aft

Beneteau First 375

A Beneteau First 375 Sailboat

Challenger 35

A Challenger 35 sailboat moored on the River Tamar in the UK

Starlight 35

A Starlight 35 sailboat moored on the River Tamar in the UK

Starlight 39

A Starlight 39 sailboat motor-sailing, with a back-winded headsail

Cabo Rico 38

A Cabo Rico 38 cutter at anchor

Westerly Typhoon 37

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

Southerly 110

A Southerly 115 sailboat on a broad reach

Sweden Yachts 390

A Sweden Yachts 390 sailboat prepares to drop anchor

Pearson 365

'Evening Ebb', a Pearson 365 ketch on a mooring ball in Prickly Bay, Grenada in the West Indies

Jeanneau 'Sun Fast' 37

A Jeanneau 'Sun Fast' 37 sailboat at anchor

Hallberg-Rassy 37

A Hallberg-Rassy 37 sailboat at anchor

Gulfstar 36

A Gulfstar 36 sailboat at anchor

Beneteau Oceanis 381

A Beneteau Oceanis 381 at anchor

Catalina 36

A Catalina 36 cruising yacht

Undeniably, with her gentle sheer, clipper bow and 'moustache' nameplate, the Mariner 40 ketch is a very attractive cruising yacht. Her long keel and very heavy displacement suggest she'll be a steady, comfortable performer in a seaway but passage times will suffer as a result.

A Mariner 36 cruising yacht moored in Prickly Bay, Grenada

Cavalier 39

Many thanks to the owner of 'Kiwa' for this pic of his Cavalier 39 cruising yacht.

'Kiwa', a Cavalier 39 sailboat

Vancouver 36

'Chardonnay', a Northshore Vancouver 36 at anchor in Prickly Bay, Grenada.

Bayfield 40

<'Island Girl', a Bayfield 40 staysail ketch at anchor in St Anne, Martinique, French West Indies.

Island Packet Estero 36

An Island Packet Estero 36 sailboat

Beneteau 393

A Beneteau 393 sailboat beating to windward.

Tashiba 40 (aka Baba 40 and Panda 40)

A Tashiba 40 Heavy Displacement Canoe Sterned Cruising Yacht

Oyster Heritage 37

Many thanks to Andy Thomson for this pic of  'Spellbinder',  his Oyster Heritage 37 cruising yacht  ...

The Oyster Heritage 37 cruising yacht

Southerly 115 Mk1

A Southerly 115 Swing Keel Cruiser

Colvic Countess 37

'Tudor Rose', a Colvic Countess 37 at anchor in Five Islands Bay, Antigua, West Indies

Shearwater 39

'Sea Lion', a Shearwater 39 on a mooring ball in Jolly Harbour, Antigua, West Indies

Island Packet 38

'Blue Pearl', an Island Packet 38 at anchor in Five Islands Bay, Antigua, West Indies

Island Packet 380

'Harmonium Cays', an Island Packet 380 cutter sailing beautifully on passage from Guadeloupe to Antigua.

Pearson 39-2

Many thanks to Crystal and Rob Bleecher for this pic of their Pearson 39-2 cruising yacht.

A Pearson 39-2 sailboat

Many thanks to Barry Bateman for this great pic of 'New World' , his Valiant 40 cruising yacht. 

'New World', a Valiant 40 Bluewater Cruising Yacht reaching under full sail.

Westerly Conway 36

'Weohgi' , a ketch-rigged Westerly Conway 36 cruising yacht, winter-sailing off the south coast of England. Many thanks to owner Geoffrey Mills for the pic.

Westerly Conway 36 ketch-rigged sailboat

Reefed down, 'Transcendence' - a Cascade 36 sloop - is making good progress into a short chop. Many thanks to owner Michael McLaughlin for the pic.

A Cascade 36 sloop beating to windward under shortened sail.

Tradewind 35

'Barnstormer', a Tradewind 35 heavy displacement cruising yacht at anchor under Jennycliff in Plymouth Sound, UK

Thank you, Han van der Stap, for submitting this pic of your stunning yacht 'SysterSol' . As you say, she is "a beautiful Swedish boat, sure and fast, for long distance cruising."

The light, fast Wasa 30 sailboat

Allied Princess 36

Many thanks to David Humphreys for submitting this great pic of  'Gabriel', his ketch-rigged Allied Princess 36 Mk2. The Mk2 version was introduced in 1980, unlike its predecessor, sporting a bowsprit. Both versions were available as either ketch or cutter rigs.

David tells us that 'Gabriel'  (hull #130) has been well maintained and up-graded since her commissioning in 1980. She's based in Annapolis MD and spends her days sailing to local destinations with a few over-nighters.

<i>'Gabriel'</i>, an aft-cockpit ketch-rigged version of the Allied Princess 36 cruising yacht.

Pacific Seacraft 37

'Sea Glass', a Pacific Seacraft 37 Long-Distance Ocean Cruiser

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13 Popular Full Keel Sailboats Worth Considering

Full keel sailboats are very stable and durable - they are great for cruising long distances. But there are disadvantages too. Let's look at what models to consider, and why.

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

Here are 13 good full keel sailboats that are worth considering:

Nicholson 32

Island packet 380, folkboat 25, cape dory 36, vancouver 32, tradewind 33, endurance 50, westsail 32, hans christian 52.

First of all let's have a look at why you should even be preferring full keel sailboats to a more traditional, widespread classical fin keel design.

Full Keel Advantages

As with everything, there are plenty of pros and cons on each side. Full keels generally provide better handling if the weather gets tricky, they track better, provide more stability downwind, and generally stabilize the boat movements better.

Furthermore, they are way more robust, thus less prone to damage. Running ashore isn't as big of a deal as it is with a fin keel and your rudder and propeller will be more protected with the mass of the keel in front of them.

Full Keel Disadvantages

With more mass and drag comes less speed. Plus the large surface area underwater holding the direction will result in a wider turning radius, which might be annoying in smaller spaces.

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

Fin Keel vs Full Keel: Pros and Cons & When to Choose Which

Fin keel advantages.

The largest advantage of fin keels is their speed. They also provide better maneuvering and a better turning radius.

Fin Keel Disadvantages

It is inevitably more prone to damage though, wear and tear will be a way bigger issue than a full keel. They won't have your back when a gust comes since the water-resistance to the side will be smaller.

It seems then that for serious longer passages, liveaboards, and long-term sailing, full keels are better. As long as you don't care for speed as much, but are concerned about the boat having your back, this is the answer. So let's now look at the superstars of the full keel universe.

The very prototype of a long-distance tough cruiser. It has been with us since 1963 and happens to be among the first fiberglass boat models produced on a mass scale. Nicholson 32 went out of production in 1981 and it was a model approved for the 2018 Golden Globe Race, proving that even older Nicholsons are still standing strong due to their toughness and ease of repair.

They were supposedly as durable as if made out of steel. Though I'll leave up to you whether you want to see that as a marketing claim or reality, such a statement can not be made without some base.

Plus the newer models have a lot of interior space, are manageable for solo sailing, and provide a sturdy ride to take one around the world.

The story here is similar to the above Nicholson - meaning that we are looking at one long-lasting high-quality cruiser. Not just because of this specific model's build - Island Packet in general was always known for this. And it is among the very few companies that, in the modern era, keep making full keel boats.

In other words, you don't see many shipyards focusing on full keels these days, so if you want one and you would rather go with a new boat, Island Packet will be one of the stops you will very probably make when doing your research.

If you are looking for reliable cruisers, you will like this one, since cruising is what it was built for, even if it meant sacrificing some performance aspects. It has a wide beam, a lot of interior space, all of the amenities a comfy cruiser should have, such as a big refrigerator with a freezer, as well as a fully equipped kitchen. The long keel here serves as a comfort helper, since, as mentioned before, it adds to the stability and reduces motion.

Not to sound repetitive, but the word 'reliability' has to be mentioned again. It seems that boat builders who choose the full keel design have something in common.

But since this particular boat was born during the Second World War and has been going strong to this very day, what other words to describe it? It has the Nordic blood in its veins since it was thought into existence by the Scandinavian Yacht Racing Union and since it prefers just about everything over comfort.

The boat is very stable, not just because of its full keel, but also because of its insane 55% ballast ratio. For those who haven't come across this before, the ballast ratio is the ratio of the ballast weight relative to the boat weight. So for instance the nearly 9 tonne Bavaria 40 with its almost 3 tonne ballast has a ballast ratio around 30 percent.

Thus you can imagine that a boat that 'wastes' more than half of its weight on ballast is serious about rigidity. These are performance racer numbers. But of course, if you are designing a boat that has to withstand the Scandinavian storms, you don't have a choice than to go overboard with specs. So if this toughness is what you seek, look no further.

...although as far as I know, all Cape Dory boats have full keels, regardless of their length. Their 36-foot model is just their most popular one. Cape Dories are known for their sturdiness, ability to cross the oceans because of their stability, and relative ease of handling.

They were engineered by Carl Alberg, who was inspired by the Scandinavian Folkboat, where reliability is worth more than comfort, or the interior space. This boat rocks a heavy rig for hardcore traveling, but its 1.5-meter draft makes it ideal for coastal cruising as well.

What's quite interesting about this particular model is that during its lifespan it went through very few changes. Boats usually evolve, sailors' feedback is taken into consideration for upgrades, but Cape Dory 36 remained relatively unchanged inside or out. This is a big compliment, since the brand started out in 1963, stopped production in 1991, and sold its blueprints so that they could be built further. Talk about longevity.

Let's progress in technology! Just because a long keel is an old-fashioned or more traditional approach, it doesn't mean it remains monolithic in its ideology. There were innovations in the concept, such as cutaways in the keel, to reduce the biggest drawback of this design, the drag.

So it only makes sense that Vancouver, a company that had distinctiveness and innovation in its mission and vision, would take part in this. Their 32-foot model that begun its lifespan in the early eighties, had a deeply cutaway forefoot, plus a rudder that was wider the deeper it was underwater, meaning its widest point was at its lowest point. This was to increase efficiency, and rudder response.

Technicalities aside, this boat was very well made, no corners cut, no expenses spared. This resulted in quite pricey vessels, out of reach of many, but much time has passed since, so today it can be yours for around 40 000 USD and up. And since the build quality was so high back then, you can still enjoy a proper boat, usually at a higher quality than boats equal its age.

The great thing about Australian sailboat makers is that they design their boats for long passages. How else would they get off of the continent? Freya 39 is a good example of this since it has not only circled the globe many times but also won the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race three times consecutively. And that's a famously hard race.

The boat is built like a tank, with thicker fiberglass walls than you would find in its rivals. Despite that, its owners claim to have crossed over two hundred miles per day on it, a figure that is well known when it comes to this model. Which sounds plausible with its 7.8 kts of hull speed.

Its construction makes her one stable boat since it has been noted that during races, it was able to carry a spinnaker longer than its competitors, well into the 30 knots of wind speed.

The only drawback here is that if you fancy it, since it is so highly valued, and in demand, it will be tricky to find one to buy. And once you do, prepare to pay around 60 000 - 90 000 USD for it.

This one comes with a story attached to it. Once upon a time, a naval engineer Nick attempted to sail around the world. Halfway through, his boat gave up, which meant a lot of trouble for Nick, but he exited this disaster with a pretty precise idea for what his next project would be. He set on to design a boat that would be so sturdy that his sailing misfortune would never repeat.

Out of this incident paired with a smart brain, Wylo 2 was born. To make sure his design stands, after putting this boat on the water, he proceeded to live on it, while circling the globe a few times.

Others, seeing this success, bought his designs and they became quite widespread. As you might have guessed, this boat has a lot of space for living, for storing equipment and provisions, so it is comfy to live on, not only for your body but because of its sturdiness, for your mind too. These designs have accomplished some astonishing feats in all corners of the world, so if you put your trust in this design, you won't be making a mistake.

If I said this boat is sturdy and ready for just about any destination, I'd really be repeating myself now. So while that's true, let's talk about what's special about Tradewinds 33.

It has a rather small cockpit, so on-deck dinners while watching the sunset with the whole crew might be a bit improvised, but the space saved is used for an impressively spacious interior as well as a nearly flat deck. So moving about is a pleasure.

For liveaboards, this is a good idea, since storage space will be plentiful. Plus it's an elegant looking boat, with a forestaysail as a default setup. So rock on.

Time for a larger boat. So that if you want something that won't lack anything you might wish for, including space, I have something for you too. All Endurances are full keels, so if you fancy a smaller model, there is a way.

Even though it is relatively new, (you will find models from around 1995) it will make you feel like a medieval pirate, with its old-school helm, wooden interior, and a spacious aft cabin that has large windows facing back!

It is a proper bluewater cruiser, built in South Africa based on a famous Peter Ibold's Endurance blueprint. It sleeps a whole family, so if a circumnavigation with a few friends is what you seek, this is one for you.

If you are up for some single-handed sailing, pause here for a bit. Small sailboats are usually nimble, on the top of it, this one is also quite sturdy and stable, as full keels are.

You won't find much space below the deck, so don't expect to have a party of more than around two people, but at least it's a good looking interior, with charming round windows and many of the usual amenities.

They say that Mason sailboats are premium quality for a non-premium price. I wonder whether them being built in Taiwan has something to do with it.

Here is a quote by an owner of a 1986 model that says it all: "I am absolutely captivated by the boat and am not objective at all in my feelings toward her. The general construction is of the highest standard. Like an Irish hunter, she is a workhorse and a lady-maybe not quite as fast around six furlongs as a racehorse, but for the long pull, through timber, brush, and over walls, she is really something."

Now although this owner admits subjectivity, this boat indeed was built with quality in mind. Sturdiness too - not only is its fiberglass hull properly solid, but it also features longitudinal stringers to add further rigidity.

There is a lot of brightwork, which might sound nice at first glance, but since it requires quite a lot of maintenance, some owners even said they could do with less wood if it meant less upkeep.

All in all though, when it comes to getting a lot of boat for not a lot of money, this is it.

Does it make sense to even praise how heavy and sturdy this boat is built? Probably not at this point. Just know it ticks all the boxes. It is made of 12 layered fiberglass for Pete's sake.

The design was based on ideas of the Norwegian engineer Colin Archer, who made his boats such that they could withstand the northern seas. Pair that with the fact that the interior here is surprisingly spacious with 6 ft 2 in of headroom and you've got yourself one comfortable circumnavigator.

The issue stemming from the heavy build and a full keel, which is a slower pace, applies here more than usual though. This boat is absolutely reliable, but don't expect winning speed races.

Sadly, Westsail 32 was in production only for some 9 years. Sales were booming, they made over 800 boats, but bad business practices and cash flow issues resulted in its demise.

Not the author, the boat. If beauty and elegance are what you are after, this one will catch your eye. Just as was the case with Mason, these boats were produced in Taiwan. But since the goal of the engineers was to create the 'ultimate cruising sailboat' and they spared no expense, expect to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for these boats, even though decades old.

The gorgeous classical design paired with the high build quality makes these exclusive pieces of work, plus quite a modern one since they ceased production in the 90s. So if you don't mind the higher price mark and are looking for something relatively new, that will, thanks to the build quality, last you for many years to come, this might be your choice.

Full keel sailboats are sturdy. Not only is that because of the full keel which itself provides a lot of structural integrity. But also because the choice of putting the full keel in means you are building something that prefers ruggedness and reliability over anything else. So it is logical that the rest of the boat will be built in the same fashion.

So if you don't mind sacrificing the few knots of extra speed, if you don't mind the smaller pool to choose from, if you want a boat that will have your back in pretty much any situation and place you will choose to go to, if you want to sail the Scandinavian design, go for it.

Arthur Rushlow

What a great page. Both my wife and I sailed Faulk Boats out of Canada prior to our moving to Florida. Once we arrived in Florida we had a Soveral 26 built we raced for three years prior to my returning to College and now 5 degrees later I am an Anglican Bishop with no boat.

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Best Inexpensive Bluewater Sailboats

Best Inexpensive Bluewater Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

December 28, 2023

Sailing is an exhilarating experience, but it can be expensive. If you are looking for the best inexpensive bluewater sailboats, then this article will help!

The best inexpensive bluewater sailboats are the ones that are small, fast, and sturdy. If you can find one that is easy to build as well, then you will have to pay much less for it. These sailboats are also seaworthy enough to handle the open ocean without being too big or complicated.

Sailing is a great way to spend your free time. It's an activity that has been enjoyed by people for centuries, and it can be done with just about anyone of any age or physical ability. The only problem many people have is the cost associated with purchasing a boat, which can really put a damper on things if you are on a tight budget. But don't worry! We have found some of the best inexpensive bluewater sailboats, so you won't have to break your bank account in order to enjoy sailing!

There are many options available, but not all of them are worth your money. That is why we have looked at some of the top boats on the market and picked out our favorites. Whether you're an experienced sailor or just getting started, these boats will get the job done right!

Table of contents

‍ 1. Cape Dory 30

{{boat-info="/boats/cape-dory-30"}}

If you're looking for a quality, affordable bluewater sailboat, the Cape Dory 30 is definitely worth a look. This boat has been cruising the world's oceans for over 30 years and has a well-deserved reputation for being sturdy, reliable and easy to sail.

The  Cape Dory 30  is a moderate displacement boat that's designed for coastal and offshore cruising. She features a full keel with a rudder, making her stable and seaworthy in rough seas. The hull is hand-laid fiberglass with balsa core construction, which makes her strong and durable. The deck is also fiberglass with molded-in non-skid surfaces for safety while sailing.

The layout of the Cape Dory 30 is simple yet functional. The cockpit is roomy, with plenty of space for lounging around but not so much that you can't work the sails if needed. The self-draining cockpit has two lockers underneath that are perfect for storing tools or other nautical gear that you need to keep dry.

This bluewater cruiser offers a moderate sail area, which makes it easy to handle even under windy conditions. Because of this, she requires some wind to get going -- in 10 knots of breeze, she can reach speeds up to 6 knots under power and 7 knots under sail. As far as storage space goes, there are lockers on both sides of the berth area plus shelves above the berth for items like books and clothing.

The Cape Dory 30 was initially outfitted with worm gear steering. This sort of gear is durable, simple to use, and does not require a cockpit steering pedestal. The wheel will also keep the rudder in place without the help of a brake. The biggest disadvantage is that there isn't much rudder feedback, making it difficult to know when the boat is properly balanced. Not to mention worm gear steering will not help you sail better.

The berthing area is good, with enough room for two people to sleep comfortably. There's also plenty of headroom at six feet. The Cape Dory 30 is a great boat for coastal cruising, ocean passages, and extended cruising. She has all the features that you need to make your journey comfortable while still being able to handle a variety of sailing conditions. The estimated price for the  Cape Dory 30  ranges from $12,000 to $32,000

  • Sturdy and reliable with a long history of ocean crossings
  • Good performance in windy conditions
  • Functional layout with plenty of storage space
  • Comfortable berthing area for two people
  • May require modifications for ocean passages
  • Not as fast as some other bluewater sailboats
  • A tad expensive for an entry-level cruiser

2. Sabre 28

{{boat-info="/boats/sabre-28"}}

The  Sabre 28  is another fine bluewater cruiser in this price range. Made by Sabre Yachts, these boats have a solid reputation for being reliable, seaworthy cruisers that will last you for many years to come.

When making their 28-foot bluewater sailboat, Sabre Yachts took every aspect into consideration when designing her. They made her strong with a full keel and fiberglass hull construction but light enough to allow for better sailing abilities under power or sail. She also has plenty of storage space with lockers on both sides of the berth plus shelves above the berth to give you ample room for all your belongings while cruising.

The Sabre 28 is built with a solid fiberglass hull and deck, making her strong and durable. She has a moderate displacement of 6,000 pounds and features a full keel with encapsulated ballast. This helps her handle well in various sailing conditions while still providing good performance.

While she may not be fast compared to other bluewater sailboats in her class, the Sabre 28 makes up for it with her great handling and seaworthiness. She can handle a wide variety of sailing conditions with ease, making her the perfect boat for coastal cruising, ocean passages and even extended cruising.

The Sabre 28 comes standard with wheel steering, which gives you better control over the boat in varying conditions. There is also plenty of cockpit space for lounging around or working the sails. And because of her moderate sail area, she's easy to handle even under windy conditions.

The berthing area is good, with enough room for two people to sleep comfortably. There's also plenty of headroom at six feet. The cabin is spacious and well-ventilated, making it a great place to relax after a long day of sailing.

The Sabre 28 is also outfitted for single or double hand sailing, making her the perfect choice for couples or small families who want to explore new waterways together. She's easy to sail and forgiving, making her the perfect boat for novice sailors. The  Sabre 28  will set you back anywhere from $7000 to $27000. If you're looking for a smaller cruising sailboat, the Sabre 28 should definitely be on your list!

  • Solid reputation for being a reliable and seaworthy cruiser
  • Handles a wide variety of sailing conditions well
  • Good performance under power or sail
  • Plenty of storage space for all your belongings
  • Not as fast as some other bluewater sailboats in her class
  • Designed primarily as a coastal cruiser so it may not perform well in open waters without modifications
  •  Can only accommodate two people comfortably underneath the V-berth (greater than that might be too crowded)

3. Island Packet 31

{{boat-info="/boats/island-packet-31"}}

The  Island Packet 31  is another great bluewater cruiser for people looking to explore new waterways. They are known as one of the best sailboats for bluewater cruising due to their strength and durability.

If you're looking for a bluewater sailboat with stability, speed and comfort, then the Island Packet 31 might be the boat for you! She has excellent performance under power or sail, can handle harsh conditions with ease, and is comfortable enough to spend long periods aboard.

Designed by Bob Johnson (a boat builder and naval architect), this 31-foot boat was made specifically for open ocean sailing. Her hull is strong yet thin, making her fast while still being able to handle a wide variety of conditions. The Island Packet 31 is built with a solid fiberglass hull and deck, making her strong and durable. She has a moderate displacement of 11,000 pounds and features a full keel with encapsulated ballast. This helps her handle well in various sailing conditions while still providing good performance.

The Island Packet 31 is also built with a full keel, giving her plenty of stability should the weather become rough while out at sea. She was designed to handle large amounts of wind and waves without losing her composure, making her perfect for bluewater cruising!

She's also easy to sail, even under intense winds and stormy conditions. She has very good stability with a wide beam and moderate displacement, making it nearly impossible to capsize while sailing in open water.

The  Island Packet 31  is easy to sail and forgiving, making her a great choice for novice sailors. With a top speed of 8 knots, she's not the fastest boat on the water, but she's certainly no slouch. She also has a shallow draft of just 2 feet, 6 inches, which makes her ideal for exploring coral reefs and other shallow waters.

Though she can be somewhat slow when traveling under power or sailing alone (due to the long keel), the Island Packet is able to reach speeds up to 8 knots when using both methods together. This is still quite impressive when compared to other sailboats in her class.

One downside to this boat's construction is the lack of plywood in the deck and cabin. This can cause some concern among people who are looking for a bluewater sailboat that can withstand harsh weather conditions. However, it should be noted that the Island Packet has numerous positive reviews from sailors - proving her strength and reliability.

The Island Packet 31 is a great choice for people who want a sturdy and reliable bluewater sailboat. She's perfect for small families or groups of friends who want to explore new waterways together. With her stability, speed and comfort, she's sure to make your next sailing trip an enjoyable one! Depending on the model, the price ranges from $35,000 to $50,000.

  • Excellent performance under power or sail
  • Great option for novice sailors
  • May require some modifications for offshore sailing (depending on your experience level)
  • Some are concerned about the lack of plywood in the deck and cabin construction.
  • A tad expensive

4. Caliber 40 Sailboat

{{boat-info="/boats/caliber-40"}}

Bluewater cruisers are on the lookout for a robust, durable boat that is simple to operate and can handle all of their belongings for a lengthy trip without breaking the bank. With features like that, the  Caliber 40  comes to mind, and it's distinctive in that it's a boat that (with modifications) has been developed over many decades and has demonstrated success.

Caliber Yachts Inc. was founded in 1979 by George and Michael McCreary, along with Marshall Jones, as a backyard boatbuilding business. The brothers grew up sailing in the bay area and across Florida and the Caribbean, so they were no strangers to the sailing world.

The layout of the Caliber 40 is comfortable and accommodating for a cruising couple, with six feet, four inches of headroom and plenty of storage. There's also an optional in-mast furling system to make sail handling a breeze. The cockpit is roomy and perfect for lounging around or entertaining guests.

Because of her heavy displacement, she requires some assistance from the wind. However, sailing 5 knots in 9 knots of wind with a beam reach isn't bad and can last up to 140 miles in the trade winds, which is not too shabby. This sailboat sails well and has a surprisingly light helm. The boat heels to 15 degrees, but it doesn't have the signature hobbyhorse effect that heavy displacement boats typically have.

Her overall performance is respectable, with a top speed of 9 knots under power in 10 knots of wind. In ideal conditions, she can reach up to 14.5 knots under power, so this one's no slouch when it comes to getting around quickly or having fun on the water!

In terms of storage space, there are six lockers below for all your gear and a large anchor well for bigger stuff like a spare anchor and chain, as well as other nautical tools you may need during your trip. There's also plenty of headroom at six feet, four inches. As a storage unit, the Caliber 40 has a couple of hanging lockers and shelves that are perfect for keeping belongings organized and out of the way.

The berth is full-size with plenty of width to fit two people comfortably or three in an emergency situation. One drawback about the berth is that there's only room underneath to store suitcases, so you'll have to be creative if you plan to keep anything else under there.

This boat can be outfitted for single or double hand sailing, depending on your preference! It's easy to see why this popular cruising yacht has been around for decades -- it's roomy, strong, sturdy and built to last a lifetime.

The major downside to this boat is that it can be expensive. The Caliber 40 can range anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. However, it is possible to get a better deal on older models.

Overall, the  Caliber 40  is a great boat for coastal cruising, ocean passages, and extended cruising. It has all the creature comforts that you need to make your journey comfortable while still being able to handle a variety of sailing conditions. If you're in the market for, well-made cruiser and are willing to spill some cash, the Caliber 40 should definitely be on your list!

  • Roomy and comfortable for a cruising couple
  • Durable and long-lasting with a cored hull and deck
  • Respectable performance, with a top speed of 9 knots under power
  • Full-size berth that can comfortably fit two people or three in an emergency situation
  • Only room to store suitcases under the berth
  • May require modifications to be fully equipped for ocean passages
  • Newer models are very expensive

5. Endeavour 37

{{boat-info="/boats/endeavour-37"}}

The  Endeavour 37  is a great option for people who want a bluewater sailboat that can handle harsh weather conditions. She has excellent performance under power or sail and good stability and storage space.

If you're looking for a sailing boat that can withstand harsh conditions, the Endeavour 37 might be a perfect choice! She's known as one of the best bluewater cruising yachts due to her ability to handle large amounts of wind and waves without much trouble.

This classic yacht has a long list of positive reviews from sailors - proving she's reliable and durable enough to take you on countless adventures throughout the world. The majority of owner reviews give this boat high ratings, with most being four stars or better.

With a displacement of 21,000 pounds and a beam of 12 feet, the Endeavour 37 is not only durable but also quite spacious. She has more than enough room for any sailor - whether you're cruising with your significant other or taking your family out on an extended voyage!

Even though she's known to be strong and reliable, the Endeavour is also fast and comfortable under all conditions. She can reach speeds up to 7 knots with two powerful diesel engines while cruising in calm waters. Her top speed drops slightly when sailing in rougher weather or against stronger winds - down to 6 knots.

She's also very easy to maneuver with either power source at hand. Her Perkins 4-108 diesel engines make it simple to get her to where you want when you want.

The Endeavour 37 is equipped for cruising, with plenty of storage space for all your gear. There's a large V-berth that can comfortably fit two people, as well as an enclosed head with a marine toilet and sink. The cabin is spacious and well-ventilated, making it a great place to relax after a long day of sailing.

Though the Endeavour 37 is a high-quality boat, it's important to keep in mind that she does have some downsides - she can be costly to maintain. The Endeavour 37 can be expensive to maintain, making her a costly vessel to own and operate. If you decide to purchase this boat, make sure you have enough money saved up for regular upkeep!

Another downside is its poor up sail performance - especially in light winds. When sailing the Endeavour 37, you have to have a good sail plan and be careful not to use too much power under certain conditions.

Though the Endeavour has a few downsides, she does have a lot of benefits as well - such as her impressive speed and durability under all weather conditions. The  Endeavour 37  is estimated to be around $20,000 to $50,000. It's important to weigh both sides before making your final decision, but overall most people are very happy with their purchase!

  • Powerful wind and sea boat
  • Strong construction capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions
  • Plenty of storage space for any sailor or family
  • Good stability and handling abilities
  • Poor up sail performance
  • A bit expensive to maintain (depending on user experience)

6. Tartan 37

{{boat-info="/boats/sparkman-stephens-tartan-37"}}

The  Tartan 37  is a seaworthy, sturdy boat that's known for its strength and stability. She's very similar to the Endeavour 37 in terms of both construction and performance - with two significant exceptions: she doesn't have as much storage space, and her overall exterior design is less attractive.

With a displacement of 15,500 pounds and a beamwidth of 12 feet, the Tartan 37 can handle large amounts of wind or waves without any trouble. Like the Endeavour 37, she has two powerful diesel engines, making it simple to maneuver even in rougher conditions.

With an overall length of 37 feet 2 inches, you'll find that this sailboat offers quite a bit of room for its size. There's more than enough space for a few people to sleep comfortably, and you'll find that it's easy to move around even when at sea.

Though the Tartan 37 is very reliable and durable, she has some downsides, such as her high maintenance costs, small water tank, and inefficient interior design. If you're spending most of your time on the boat, then these will likely be little issues that don't take away from your overall experience.

If you do decide to purchase this boat, make sure you can afford all the necessary upkeep it requires! It's also important to note that owning a Tartan 37 comes with its fair share of risk as well - they haven't been manufactured for over 30 years, which means there isn't much help available should you run into some problems down the line.

The  Tartan 37  comes at around $34,000 to $70,000.

  • Sturdy boat with a strong design capable of handling large waves and winds
  • Easy to maneuver even in rougher weather conditions due to her powerful diesel engines
  • Plenty of space for both people out on the water and gear you need to store ashore
  • Not as many storage spaces as similar sailboats (such as the Tartan 37)
  • Higher maintenance costs than most other vessels on this list
  • Small water tank that can easily be tainted if not careful when cleaning or using it
  • Inefficient interior design that doesn't allow for too much privacy among family members or friends who may venture abroad from time to time

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Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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Affordable Cruising Sailboats

Practical sailor reviews nine used boats over 35 feet and under $75,000..

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

In a search for a budget cruiser, Practical Sailor examined a field of used sailboats costing less than $75K and built between 1978 and 1984. We narrowed the field to boats with sufficient accommodations for four people and a draft of less than 6 feet. One way to approach a used-boat search is to look for sailboats with informed, active owners associations and high resale values. Practical Sailor’s quest for recession-proof cruisers led us to the Allied Princess 36, Bristol 35.5C, Endeavour 37, S2 11.0, Freedom 36, ODay 37, Niagara 35, C&C Landfall 38, and the Tartan 37. The report takes a more in-depth look at the Tartan, C&C Landfall, and Niagara.

Let’s say you’re looking to buy a boat for summer cruising along the coastal U.S. or on the Great Lakes, one that, when the time is right, is also capable of taking you safely and efficiently to Baja or the Bahamas, and perhaps even island-hopping from Miami to the West Indies. Like most of us, your budget is limited, so a new boat is out of the question. Let’s set more specifics:

  • Passes a thorough survey by a respected surveyor and has been upgraded to meet current equipment and safety standards. (These are old boats, after all, prone to all sorts of potentially serious problems.)
  • Fun to sail inshore (which means not too heavy and not too big).
  • Sufficient accommodations and stowage to cruise four people for two weeks.
  • Popular model (active owners support group for help and camaraderie) with decent resale value
  • Under $75,000.
  • Monohull (multihulls violate the price cap, anyway).
  • Draft of less than 6 feet (for the islands, mon).

In the February 2008 issue, we examined 30-footers from the 1970s , which is just above the minimum length for the Big Three: standing headroom, enclosed head, and inboard engine. Too small, however, to satisfy our new criteria. So we need to jump up in size. As we culled through the possibilities, we found a fairly narrow range of boat lengths and vintages that satisfy the criteria. Of course, there always are exceptions, but basically it is this: 35- to 38-footers built between 1978 and 1984. Bigger or newer boats that meet our criteria cost more than $75,000.

Heres the list of nine models we came up with: Allied Princess 36, Bristol 35.5C, C&C Landfall 38, Endeavour 37, Freedom 36, Niagara 35, ODay 37, S2 11.0, and the Tartan 37. All were built by reputable companies in the U.S. or Canada, with underwater configurations ranging from full keels with attached rudders to fin keels and spade rudders. Displacements are mostly moderate.

Below we present notes on six of the finalists. Details of our 3 favorites are linked to the right of this page.

ALLIED PRINCESS 36

Allied Yachts developed an excellent line of cruising sailboats in the 1960s, including the first fiberglass boat to circumnavigate, the Seawind 30 ketch, which later was expanded to the 32-foot Seawind II. The handsome Luders 33 was the boat in which teenager Robin Lee Graham completed his historic circumnavigation. Arthur Edmunds designed the full-keel Princess 36 aft-cockpit ketch and the larger Mistress 39 center-cockpit ketch. None of these boats are fancily finished, but the fiberglass work is solid and well executed. They’re ocean-worthy, and affordable. The Princess 36 was in production from roughly 1972 to 1982. Wed look for a later model year; prices are under $50,000.

BRISTOL 35.5C

Bristol Yachts was founded by Clint Pearson, after he left Pearson Yachts in 1964. His early boats were Ford and Chevy quality, good but plainly finished, like the Allieds. Over the years this changed, so that by the late 1970s and early 1980s, his boats were between Buicks and Cadillacs in overall quality. This includes the Ted Hood-designed 35.5C. Its a centerboarder with a draft from 3 feet, 9 inches board up to 9 feet, 6 inches board down; a keel version also was available (named without the “C”).The solid fiberglass hull was laid up in two halves and then joined on centerline. It had an inward-turning flange on the hull, superior to the more common shoebox hull-to-deck joint. The 35.5C is very good in light air, but tender in a breeze. Pick one up for around $60,000.

ENDEAVOUR 37

The Endeavour Yacht Corp. was founded in 1974, and its first model was a 32-footer, built in molds given to it by Ted Irwin. Yup, the Endeavour 32 has the same hull as the Irwin 32. Its second model was the Endeavour 37, based on a smaller, little known Lee Creekmore hull that was cut in half and extended. Its not the prettiest boat in the world, and not very fast, but heavily built. Owners report no structural problems with the single-skin laminate hull. It has a long, shoal-draft keel and spade rudder. What helped popularize the Endeavour 37 was the choice of layouts: an aft cabin with a quarter berth, a V-berth and quarterberth, and a (rare) two aft-cabin model. Production ended after 1983. Prices are around $50,000.

After the Halsey Herreshoff-designed Freedom 40 that reintroduced the idea of unstayed spars, several other designers were commissioned to develop the model line-up. These included David Pedrick and Gary Mull; the latter drew the Freedom 36, in production from about 1986 to 1989. While the early and larger Freedoms were ketch rigged, models like the 36 were sloops, which were less costly to build and easier to handle. To improve upwind performance, a vestigial, self-tacking jib was added. Thats the main appeal of these boats: tacking is as easy as turning the wheel. The 36s hull is balsa-cored, as is the deck. Balsa adds tremendous stiffness, and reduces weight, which improves performance. The downside: Core rot near the partners on this boat could lead to a dismasting and costly hull damage. Interior finishing is above average. These boats sell right at our price break: low to mid-$70s.

This low-profile family sloop was second only to the ODay 40 in size of boats built by ODay under its various owners. Founded by Olympic gold-medalist George ODay to build one-designs and family daysailers, subsequent ownership expanded into trailer sailers and small- to medium-size coastal cruisers. Like the others, the 37 was designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates. The center-cockpit is a bit unusual but some prefer it. The cruising fin keel and skeg-mounted rudder are well suited to shallow-water cruising, and the generous beam provides good form stability. The hull is solid fiberglass, and the deck is cored with balsa. Owners report it is well balanced and forgiving. Early 1980s models are on the market for less than $40,000.

Built in Holland, Mich., the S2 sailboat line emerged in 1973 when owner Leon Slikkers sold his powerboat company, Slickcraft, to AMF and had to sign a no-compete agreement. The 11.0 was the largest model, introduced in 1977. The designer was Arthur Edmunds, who also drew the Allied Princess 36, though the two are very different. Edmunds resisted some of the bumps and bulges indicative of the International Offshore Rule (IOR), but still gave the 11.0 fine ends, and a large foretriangle. Two accommodation plans were offered: an aft cockpit with conventional layout of V-berth, saloon, and quarter berth and galley flanking the companionway; and an unusual center-cockpit layout with V-berth forward immediately followed by opposing settees, and then galley and head more or less under the cockpit. The master suite is in the aft cabin, of course. The hull is solid fiberglass and includes the molded keel cavity for internal ballast; the deck is balsa-cored. Overall construction quality is rated above average. Prices range from about $30,000 to $50,000.

NIAGARA 35: a handsome cruiser with Hinterhoeller quality.

Austria-born George Hinterhoeller emigrated to Canada in the 1950s and began doing what he did all his life: build boats, first out of wood, then fiberglass composites. He was one of four partners who formed C&C Yachts in 1969. He left in 1975 to again form his own company, Hinterhoeller Yachts. The company built two distinct model lines: the better known Nonsuch line of cruising boats with unstayed catboat rigs, and the Niagara line. About 300 Niagara 35s were built between 1978 and 1995.

Niagara 35 sailboat

Canadian naval architect Mark Ellis designed the Niagara 35 as well as all of the Nonsuch models. He gave the 35 a beautiful, classic sheer with generous freeboard in the bow, swooping aft to a low point roughly at the forward end of the cockpit, and then rising slightly to the stern. The classic influence also is seen in the relatively long overhangs; todays trend is to lengthen the waterline as much as possible, with near plumb bows, discounting the old belief that overhangs were necessary for reserve buoyancy. So the Niagara 35 has a somewhat shorter waterline than the others in our group of nine, but as the hull heels, the overhangs immerse and sailing length increases. The short waterline also accounts for the 35s moderately high displacement/length ratio of 329. There is a direct correlation between the D/L and volume in the hull, and for a cruising boat, there must be sufficient space for tanks and provisions. Unfortunately, tankage in the 35 isn’t that much: 80 gallons water, 30 gallons diesel fuel, and 25 gallons holding tank.

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The cruising fin keel is long enough for the boat to dry out on its own bottom should the need arise, like drying out against a seawall in Bali to paint the bottom. (Sorry-just dreaming!) The spade rudder seems a little unusual for a cruiser. When asked about it, Ellis said that it provides superior control to a skeg-mounted rudder, and that skegs, which are supposed to protect the rudder, often aren’t built strong enough to do the job. Circumnavigator and designer/builder/developer Steve Dashew agrees that offshore, in nasty conditions, spade rudders are the way to go.

Construction

George Hinterhoeller and his associates at C&C Yachts were early advocates of balsa-cored hull construction, because it reduces weight, increases panel stiffness, and lowers costs. The worry, of course, is delamination of the core to the inner and outer skins should water penetrate through to the core. This is why quality builders remove balsa coring wherever through-hulls or bolts pass through the hull or deck, and fill the area with a mix of resin and reinforcements. Hinterhoeller was such a builder, but core integrity still deserves close inspection during a pre-purchase survey.

All bulkheads are tabbed to the hull and deck with strips of fiberglass, and this is an important detail for an offshore boat. Many mass-produced boats have molded fiberglass headliners that prevent tabbing bulkheads to the deck; rather, the bulkheads simply fit into molded channels in the headliner, which do not prevent them from moving slightly as the boat flexes in waves.

Hardware quality is good. One owner described the chocks and cleats on his Niagara as “massive.” Hatches are Atkins & Hoyle cast aluminum, which are about as good as you can buy. And the original rigging was Navtec rod. Owners report no structural problems.

Performance

With its moderately heavy displacement, conservative sailplan, and relatively large keel, the Niagara 35 is not a speed demon, and does not point as high as a boat with a deep, narrow fin keel. But thats not what were after here. The 35s specs are just about what we want for a versatile cruising boat. Owners say performance picks up quickly as the breeze fills in. If the sailplan were larger, for improved light-air performance, youd have to reef sooner, and reefing is work.

The long keel has another advantage, and that is improved directional stability over shorter keels, which means less effort at the helm. We tend to think that a powerful below-deck autopilot can steer any boat, but autopilots struggle, too. A boat thats easy for the crew to hand steer also is easy for the autopilot to maintain course.

A lot of Niagara 35s were equipped with Volvo saildrives rather than conventional inboard diesel engines. Advantages of the saildrive: improved handling in reverse and lower cost. Disadvantages: potential corrosion of aluminum housing and not as much power. Various inboard diesels were fitted: Westerbeke 27-, 33-, and 40-horsepower models, and a Universal M35D, all with V-drives. Owners rate access somewhat difficult.

Accommodations

Two interior layouts were offered: the Classic, in which the forepeak has a workbench, shelves, seat, and stowage instead of the usual V-berth; and the Encore, which has an offset double berth forward, and quarter berth and U-shaped galley aft. The saloon in the Classic, with settees and dining table, is farther forward than usual; the head and owners stateroom, with single and double berths, is aft. Both plans have their fans.

Headroom is 6 feet, 4 inches in the main cabin and 6 feet, 2 inches in the aft cabin. Berths are 6 feet, 7 inches long; a few owners say berth widths are a bit tight. A couple of thoughts on the double berths offered in these two plans: V-berths are subject to a lot of motion underway and so do not make great sea berths, but at anchor, ventilation via the forward hatch makes them far more comfortable than a stuffy aft cabin, where its much more difficult to introduce air flow. Offset double berths do not waste outboard space like V-berths do, but the person sleeping outboard must crawl over his/her partner to get out of bed.

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Thirty-year-old boats should be surveyed thoroughly. Nothing lasts forever, but boats well maintained last a lot longer. Pay particular attention to the balsa-cored hull and deck. If either has large areas of delamination, give the boat a pass, because the cost to repair could exceed the value of the boat.

A few owners expressed concern about the boats handling off the wind, which surprises us somewhat. A test sail in lively conditions should answer that question.

We much prefer the inboard. If you prefer the saildrive, look for signs of corrosion and get a repair estimate.

Niagara 35 Conclusion

The Niagara 35 is a handsome, classically proportioned cruising sloop from one of the best builders of production boats in North America. It is not considered big enough these days to be a circumnavigator, but certainly large enough for a couple to leisurely cruise the Bahamas, Caribbean Sea, and South Pacific. We found asking prices ranging from around $54,000 to $89,000, with most in the $60,000 range.

C&C LANDFALL 38

As noted, George Hinterhoeller was one of four partners who formed C&C Yachts in 1969, at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The others were Belleville Marine, Bruckmann Manufacturing, and the design firm of George Cuthbertson and George Cassian. From the beginning, the emphasis was on performance. Indeed, the 40-foot Red Jacket won the 1968 Southern Ocean Racing Circuit (SORC).

C&C 38 sailboat

In 1973, Cuthbertson retired to his Ontario farm, citing burn-out. Eight months later, he was back as president of C&C Yachts, telling staff that they ought to pursue more multi-purpose racer/cruiser models. C&C became the dominant boatbuilder in North America, with models ranging from the C&C 24 to the C&C 46, with models just about every 2 feet in between. The Landfall cruiser series was introduced in 1977, with the Landfall 42. It was followed by the Landfall 35, 38, and 48. Production of the 38 ran from 1977 to 1985, with about 180 built.

The C&C Landfall 38 is directly related to the earlier C&C 38. We wrote in our original 1983 review that the older hull design was “…modified with slightly fuller sections forward, a slightly raked transom rather than an IOR reversed transom, a longer, shoaler keel, and a longer deckhouse for increased interior volume.” The spade rudder is not everyones first choice on a serious cruising boat, but it does provide superior control. And the Landfalls have a higher degree of finish inside, along with layouts more suited to family cruising.

The Landfalls perform very well, thanks to lightweight construction and speedy hull forms. The Landfall 38s displacement/length ratio of 272 is the lowest of the three compared in this review.

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Notable drawbacks: a V-berth that becomes quite narrow forward, and as noted in the 1983 review, “a hull that rises so quickly aft that C&Cs normal gas bottle stowage at the end of the cockpit is eliminated.” This on a cruising boat no less, where a hot meal is often the highlight.

Like nearly all the C&C designs, the Landfall 38 is attractively proportioned with sleek lines and a modern look, even several decades later. It appears most dated in the raked bow, but this better suits the anchoring duties on a cruising boat anyway.

Materials and building processes used in C&C Yachts are very similar to those of the Niagara 35, namely because of Hinterhoeller. Practices he established at C&C continued after he left, at least for the short-term. So what we said about the Niagara 35s balsa-core construction also applies to the Landfall 38, where it is found in the hull, deck, and cabintop.

The hull-deck joint is through-bolted on 6-inch centers, through the teak toerail, which gaves the Landfall series a more traditional look than the distinctive L-shaped anodized aluminum toerail Cuthbertson designed and employed on the rest of the C&C models. The joint is bedded with a butyl tape, which does a good job of keeping out water, but doesn’t have the adhesive properties of, say, 3M 5200. On the other hand, if you ever had to remove the deck-heaven forbid!-it would be a lot easier.

Deck hardware is through-bolted with backing plates or large washers, although some of the fasteners come through on the underside, where the core transitions into the core-less flange. We also saw this on our old 1975 C&C 33 test boat. It means two things: water migrating down the fastener after the bedding fails can contact a little bit of balsa, and uneven stresses are placed on the fastener, which above deck can cause gelcoat cracks.

Proper bronze seacocks protect the through-hulls, and hoses are double-clamped for added security. The mast butt is not deep in the bilge where it can corrode in bilge water, but rests on two floor timbers in the sump, above any water that would typically collect.

The external lead-ballast keel is bolted through the keel sump in the hull. Its run is flat, and the boat can sit on its keel, allowing it be careened against a seawall for bottom painting, prop repairs, or other work in locales where boatyards are rare.

In our earlier review, we noted that the engine compartment has no sound insulation, despite its proximity to the owners berth, but gluing in some lead-lined foam is within the capability of most owners.

Despite being 2,000 pounds heavier than the C&C 38, the Landfall 38 is still a quick boat. Its old PHRF rating of 120 is just a little higher than the Cal 39 at 114, and less than the Tartan 37 we’ll look at next.

The mast is a little shorter than that of the C&C 38, but as with most boats of the IOR era, the Landfall 38 has a large foretriangle of 385 square feet. A 150-percent genoa measures 580 square feet, which is a handful for older crew. Roller furling with maybe a 135 percent genoa would be a logical way to minimize the effort required to tack this boat.

Strangely, the Landfall 38 did not come standard with self-tailing winches; a highly recommended upgrade. The main halyard, Cunningham, and reefing lines are led aft to the cockpit, while the headsail halyards run to winches on deck near the mast.

The boat is stiff and well balanced. Owners like the way it handles and appreciate its speed.

The standard engine was a 30-hp Yanmar diesel. The early Yanmar Q series had a reputation for being noisy and vibrating a lot. At some point, C&C began installing the Yanmar 3HM which replaced the 3QM. Power is adequate. The standard prop was a solid two-blade. Engine access leaves a lot to be desired.

The interior is pushed well into the ends of the boat to achieve a legitimate three-cabin accommodation plan. The standard layout was a V-berth forward with cedar-lined hanging locker. The berth narrows quickly forward so that tall people might not find enough foot room. Moving aft, there is a dinette and settees in the saloon, U-shaped galley and large head with shower amidships, and a double berth in the port quarter, opposite a navigation station. In rainy or wild weather, youll want to close the companionway hatch and keep weather boards in place so that water doesn’t spill into the nav station. Installing Plexiglas screens on either side of the ladder will help.

Oddly, there is no place to install fixed-mount instruments outboard of the nav table; that space is given to a hanging locker, but could be modified. Other than this, about the only other shortcoming is that the toilet is positioned so far under the side deck that persons of average size cannot sit upright. And, the head door is louvered, which compromises privacy.

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There is not a lot to complain about with the Landfall 38 that we havent already said: the V-berth forward is tight, theres no sitting upright on the toilet, theres no place to install electronics at the nav station, and the nav station and aft berth invite a good soaking through the companionway.

Construction is above average, but have a surveyor sound the hull and decks for signs that the fiberglass skins have delaminated from the balsa core. Small areas can be repaired, but our advice is not to buy a boat with widespread delamination.

Landfall 38 Conclusion

The Landfall 38 is an excellent family boat and coastal cruiser. Its popularity in the Great Lakes region is not surprising. Island hopping to the Caribbean is also within reach, but any longer cruises will likely require more tank capacity and stowage. Standard tankage is 104 gallons water and 32 gallons of fuel. Prices range from around $55,000 to $65,000.

TARTAN 37: shoal draft and S&S styling.

In the early years of fiberglass boat construction, the major builders-Columbia, Cal, Morgan, Tartan, and others-commissioned well-known naval architects to design their models. Today, this work is more often done by a no-name in-house team over which the company has more control. Tartan Yachts of Grand River, Ohio, relied almost exclusively on the prestigious New York firm of Sparkman & Stephens; they’d drawn the Tartan 27 for the company’s antecedent, Douglass & McLeod, and were called on again to design the Tartan 37, which had a very successful production run from 1976 to 1988.

Higher Porpoise sailboat

The Tartan 37 has the modern, clean, strong lines that typified S&S designs. The bow is raked, and the angle of the reverse transom is in line with the backstay-an easily missed detail that nevertheless affects the viewers impression of the boat. Freeboard is moderate and the sheer is gentle. In an early review, we wrote: “Underwater, the boat has a fairly long, low-aspect ratio fin keel, and a high-aspect ratio rudder faired into the hull with a substantial skeg.” In addition to the deep fin keel, a keel/centerboard also was offered. A distinctive feature is how the cockpit coamings fair into the cabin trunk. Its displacement/length ratio of 299 and sail area/displacement ratio of 16.1 rank it in the middle of the 9-model group (see table, page 9), so while it looks racy, its not going to smoke the other nine.

From its beginning, Tartan Yachts set out to build boats of above average quality, and this can be seen in both the finish and fiberglass work. Some unidirectional rovings were incorporated in the hull laminate to better carry loads; like the vast majority of boats of this era, the resin was polyester. Vinylester skin coats, which better prevent osmotic blistering, had yet to appear. Some printthrough is noticeable, more on dark-color hulls. The hull and deck are cored with end-grain balsa, which brings with it our usual warnings about possible delamination. The hull-deck joint is bolted through the toerail and bedded in butyl and polysulfide. Taping of bulkheads to the hull is neatly executed with no raw fiberglass edges visible anywhere in the interior. Seacocks have proper bronze ball valves. One owner advises checking the complex stainless-steel chainplate/tie rod assembly, especially if its a saltwater boat.

Shortcomings: Pulpit fasteners lack backing plates. Scuppers and bilge pump outlets have no shutoffs.

Affordable Cruising Sailboats

Under sail, the Tartan 37 balances and tracks well. As noted earlier, its not a fireburner, but not a slug either. Its no longer widely raced, but the few participating in PHRF races around the country have handicaps ranging from 135-177 seconds per mile. The Niagara 35 now rates 150-165, and the C&C 38 126-138.

The deep fin-keel version points a little higher than the keel/centerboard because it has more lift, however, the deep draft of 6 feet, 7 inches is a liability for coastal cruising.

Because of the large foretriangle and relatively small mainsail, tacking a genoa requires larger winches and more muscle than if the relative areas of the two were reversed. For relaxed sailing, jiffy reefing of the main and a roller-furling headsail take the pain out of sail handling.

The 41-horsepower Westerbeke 50 diesel provides ample power. Standard prop was a 16-inch two blade. A folding or feathering propeller reduces drag, thereby improving speed. Access to the front of the engine, behind the companionway ladder, is good. Unfortunately, the oil dipstick is aft, requiring one to climb into the starboard cockpit locker-after you’ve removed all the gear stowed there.

The layout below is straightforward with few innovations: large V-berth forward with hanging locker and drawers; head with sink and shower; saloon with drop-down table, settee, and pilot berth; U-shaped galley to starboard; and to port, a quarterberth that can be set up as a double. To work at the navigation station one sits on the end of the quarterberth. This plan will sleep more crew than most owners will want on board, but its nice to have the option. Pilot berths make good sea berths but often fill with gear that can’t easily be stowed elsewhere.

The fold-down table, like most of its ilk, is flimsy. Underway, tables should be strong enough to grab and hold on to without fear of damaging it or falling-thats not the case here. And the cabin sole is easily marred trying to get the pins in the legs to fit into holes in the sole.

Finish work in teak is excellent, though this traditional choice of wood makes for a somewhat dark interior. Today, builders have worked up the nerve to select lighter species such as ash and maple.

Eight opening portlights, four ventilators, and three hatches provide very good ventilation.

The standard stove was alcohol, which few people want anymore, owing to low BTU content (which means it takes longer to boil water), the difficulty in lighting, and almost invisible flame. Propane is a better choice, but there is no built-in stowage on deck for the tank, which must be in a locker sealed off from the interior and vented overboard. (You could mount the tank exposed on deck, but that would not complement the boats handsome lines.)

Affordable Cruising Sailboats

Theres not much to pick at here, but we’ll try. Centerboards come with their own peculiar set of problems: slapping in the trunk while at anchor, broken pendants and pivot pins, and fouling in the trunk that inhibits operation.

Often what sets apart higher-quality boats from the rest of the fleet is the cost of materials and labor in making up the wood interior. They look better than bare fiberglass, work better because they have more drawers and stowage options, and are warmer and quieter. The unnoticed flip side is that the joinerwork tends to hide problems, like the source of a leak. When all the fasteners are neatly bunged and varnished, it takes courage to start pulling apart the interior!

Checking engine oil is unnecessarily difficult, and to operate emergency steering gear (a tiller) the lazarette hatch must be held open, which could be dangerous. Lastly, the companionway sill is low for offshore sailing; stronger drop boards would help compensate.

Tartan 37 Conclusion

The enthusiasm for this boat is strong. In fact, theres a whole book written about it, put together with the help of the Tartan 37 Sailing Association (link below). You’ll pay in the mid- to high-$60s, which ranks it with the Niagara 35 and Freedom 36 as the most expensive of our nine. While Tartan 37s have made impressive voyages, and are as capable as the Niagara 35 and C&C Landfall 38, like them, its not really a blue-water design. We view it rather as a smart coastal cruiser and club racer. Good design and above-average construction give it extra long life on the used-boat market.

Classic Cruisers For Less Than $75,000

MODELLOALWLBEAMDRAFTBALLASTDISPLACEMENTSAIL AREAD/LSA/D
ALLIED PRINCESS36'0''27'6''11'0''4'6''5,000 lbs.14,400 lbs.604 sq. ft.30916.2
BRISTOL 35.5C35'6''27'6''10'10''3'9/9'6''7,000 lbs.15,000 lbs.589 sq. ft.32215.5
ENDEAVOUR 3737'5''30'0''11'7''4'6''8,000 lbs.21,000 lbs.580 sq. ft.34712.2
FREEDOM 3636'5''30'7''12'6''4'6'' or 6'0''6,500 lbs.14,370 lbs.685 sq. ft.22418.6
O'DAY 3737'0''30'4''11'2''4'9''5,370 lbs.14,000 lbs.594 sq. ft.22616.4
S2 11.036'0''28'3''11'11''5'6'' or 4'8''6,000 lbs.15,000 lbs.632 sq. ft.29717.2
C&C LANDFALL 3837'7''30'2''12'0''4'11''6,500 lbs.16,700 lbs.648 sq. ft.27215.9
NIAGARA 3535'1''26'8''11'5''5'2''5,500 lbs.14,000 lbs.598 sq. ft.32916.5
TARTAN 37 (CB)37'4''28'6''11'9''4'2''/7'9''7,500 lbs.15,500 lbs.625 sq. ft.29816.1

Niagara 35 Sailnet Forum

C&C Photo Album

Tartan Owners

Tartan 37 Sailing Association

RELATED ARTICLES MORE FROM AUTHOR

29 comments.

Great article, but why did you leave out your namesake build – Camper Nicholsons Nicholson 35. Very similar to the Niagara 35, except that it trades the (less than useful – my opinion) quarter berths for two GIGANTIC cockpit lockers. And I find the transverse head on the Nic a civilized alternative to telephone booth head/shower combinations.

While the Nic claims 6 berths, you’ll never find that many on ours. Cocktails for 6, dinner for 4, sleeps 2 is our mantra

This is great information and a good guideline to go by. Thanks for the heads up on theses vessels.

Every time Practical Sailor does a review of boats in the 35- to 38-footers built between 1978 and 1984, they always leave out the Perry designed Islander Freeport 36 and 38. Many people are still cruising in these great boats, and among Islander Yachts designs this one is a wonderful cruiser.

I was also sad to see that. We sail a ’79 I-36, and it is stiff, fast, forgiving, and a very comfortable cruising platform. While many of the 800+ built are ready for the wrecking ball, there are some excellent, well cared for boats available. They are lovely sailors.

Couldn’t agree more, with Islander Freeport 36 & 38 raised coachroof that opens up all sort of possibilities and transom based swim ladder, her utility is unmatched.

These are all nice boats. I have sailed most of them. I owned a Tartan 37 for 4 yrs. As A US Sailing Cruising instructor, I have sailed and cruised hundreds of boat. This is one of the best balanced and behaved boats that I have sailed. She will sail on jib alone with no lee helm and sail main alone with minimal weather helm. Few boats will do this. She tracks quite well in a seaway. There are only 2 instances that you need to put the centerboard down: clawing off a lee shore or racing upwind. Otherwise she is just fine with board up. I have not had problems with the board slapping in a rolley anchorage. I keep the board up tight all the way and no problem. And my boat a 1983 had a built in propane vented locker. Also my dipstick was forward port and easy to reach, but not so for the filter so I remote mounted it forward. S & S did a great job on this design. And a 4 foot draft is wonderful and special feature for a boat that sails so well.

Surprising that the author did not address the obvious question, “if you had to pick one of these for a bluewater cruise, which one would it be?”

I too would appreciate the author’s response to this question.

Every time I star liking one of these I see the word ‘balsa’

Why did you not look at the Catalina 36. They are sea kindly; easy to repair and get parts; there’s a lot of them; and newer ones are in the price range you are talking about.i.e. my 2002, well fitted, is $72500.

Good article, thanks.

Pearson 365 conspicuously missing from this list.

Excellent article with factors that almost all of us who own vintage older cruising sailboats have considered at one time or another. However, when making my choice and before putting my money down, I also included PHRF as a factor. Without degenerating into a large discussion of pros and cons of PHRF (or any other indexes of performance), I think that you should consider performance in the equation. While livability is important (and I am a comfort creature), the ability to run away from a storm or handle tough conditions, is also important, you don even mention it. Paraphrasing Bill Lee, “faster is fun”. After weighing all of the factors discussed above, and adding considerations for performance, I purchased a 1984 Doug Peterson designed Islander 40 for $65,000 and am still in love with the boat 15 yrs later. It still is a “better boat than I am a sailor” and is also very comfortable. The only drawback is that it draws 7’6″ which in SF Bay, is not a problem. On the “right coast” that might be a problem, but on the “correct coast” it has not been.

Hate to be picky but you left out of this old list a high quality design and blue water capable cruiser designed and made by quality Canadian company–Canadian Sailcraft, namely CS 36 T. A Sailboat 36.5 feet with all the necessary design and sailing numbers needed to be attractive , safe, and fast.

No one likes to see their favorite boat left off a list like this, but it must be done. But my Ericson 38 has almost none of the cons of the boats in this article, and most of the desireable pros. After 13 years of ownership, it hasn’t even hinted at breaking my heart. Great design pedigree, glassed hull/deck joint, ahead of its time structural grid, points high, extremely liveable interior, and the list goes on…so much so that I’m glad I didn’t buy ANY of the boats in the article instead.

Missing are the CSY 37 and 44. Ernest M Kraus sv Magic Kingdom CSY 44 walkover cutter

Very useful article. Thanks! I’d love to see the same framework for a selection of length 40′-50’ft coastal cruisers.

I know that it is hard to include all boats, but you missed a boat that fills all the requirements. I’m speaking about the Bob Perry designed and Mirage built 35. It has all the capabilities and handling characteristics that you would want in a capable cruiser and the speed of a steady over-performing racer-cruiser. It has 6’5″ headroom and all the standard features that are a must in a strong well built beauty with 5 foot draft, light but rigid and strong. Great for the Chesapeake bay or other depth challenging bodies of water.

Great publication through the year’s. Still miss my print version to read on rainy day. Owned a Cal 27 T-2 and Irwin Citation over the years. Sailed on the Chesapeake. The Irwin ended up in Canada. JA

We have a Swallow Craft Swift 33. The boat was made in Pusan Korea in 1980. For a 33′ boat it is cavernous. We live aboard 1/2 the year. I thought it might be a boat you would be interested in looking at. I call it a mini super cruiser.

How about the Pearson 367?

Surely this is a joke. I’ll put the Nonsuch 30 Ultra against anyone.

Good article, but another vote for the CS36T. No better value for an offshore capable, fast cruiser and built to last.

Great article

The list looks familiar to the list I was working with back around 2004. Back then the prices were even higher of course. To fit my budget, I got a great boat… Freedom 32. That is a Hoyt design from TCI. All I really gave up was some waterline. Below deck, the boat is as roomy as many 35-36 footers due to the beam. I find it to be a great boat for me. I do not see a move up to the sizes on this list to improve my lot. I could be tempted by a Freedom sloop over 44′ but that is retirement noise.

which edition of month/year of the PS Magazine is this covered in please, it would be great to know?

A great article, but what about the Young Sun 35 Cutter! a great offshore boat that I have sailed single handed from Canada to Hawaii and back, single handed, in rough conditions, but which was an incredible 30 days each way. Overall 40 ft. and 11 ft. beam. I believe also built by Bob Perry!

I was sorry to see you left out any offerings from Cape Dory, a Massachusetts-based company that offered sturdy cruising yachts up to 45 feet, many of them designed by Carl Alberg. We’ve enjoyed our Cape Dory 30 cutter on both coasts since the 1980s.

I would be very interested to know what this article would suggest today. For $75,000, should it be a smaller Catalina/Hunter/Beneteau less than 20 years old or would you still recommend an older and maybe larger boat?

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Home » Blog » Bluewater sailboats » The best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet (we analyzed 2,000 boats to find out)

The best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet (we analyzed 2,000 boats to find out)

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: August 17, 2023

What are the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet?

Last year we analyzed 2,000 offshore designs to bring you a list of the most popular bluewater sailboats .

However, most people are searching for a boat in a particular size class. So, we decided to do a double-click and look at the best sailboats under 40 feet for offshore sailing.

If you’re interested in an even smaller boat, there are plenty of great options under 30 feet in our list of the best small sailboats for sailing around the world .

The characteristics that make a sailboat a bluewater sailboat are a hotly debated topic, so we wanted to use real-world data and find out what cruisers are using to cross oceans and sail around the world.

We looked at 2,000 boats that entered the Pacific Puddle Jump  (PPJ) over the last 12 years. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the PPJ, it’s a rally that crosses the Pacific ocean.  We took part in 2017 and had a ball!

Also, if you’re looking to buy one of the bluewater boats on this list, you might want to check out our post on the best places to buy used boats and how to find free or cheap boats for sale .

Just be aware that a bluewater boat isn’t necessarily offshore-ready. Our top five picks are all older boats and will undoubtedly require work.

Every cruiser we know made substantial repairs and additions before going offshore: adding watermakers , life rafts, solar panels, and more.

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

So, without further preamble, here are the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet.

The best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet

1. the westsail 32.

Westsail 32 sailboat

The Westsail 32 is one of the most iconic bluewater cruisers. Built by the Westsail Corporation in the 1970s, this plucky, small sailboat has developed a cult following over the decades. Since 2009, 19 have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rallies.

The Westsail 32 is known for its sturdy construction, seaworthiness, and classic looks. In fact, it set the standard for what a real bluewater cruiser should look like. In 1973, the Westsail 32 was featured in Time magazine and inspired many Americans to go cruising.

Though popular, this boat has earned the unenviable nickname “ Wetsnail 32″, a reference to its poor ability to windward and sluggish performance. But Westsail 32 owners don’t care that they won’t be winning any races.

What the boat lacks in speed it makes up for in classic looks and excellent offshore cruising characteristics. Many owners have crossed oceans and circumnavigated the globe in their Westsail 32s.

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

2. Tayana 37

Tayana 37 sailboat

The Tayana 37 is a wildly popular Bob Perry design. It first rolled off the production line in 1976 and there are now several hundred of them sailing the world’s oceans.

Above the waterline, the Tayana 37 boasts beautiful traditional lines. However, Perry wanted to avoid the unenviable (read: sluggish) performance characteristics, associated with double-enders.

So, he designed the Tayana 37 with a cut-away long keel and moderate displacement, maintaining the classic look, while achieving reasonable performance.

The Tayana 37 has a devoted following of offshore enthusiasts. Since 2009, 12 Tayana 37s have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rallies.

Read more about the Tayana 37 in this Practical Sailor review .

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

3. Hans Christian 38T

Black and white photo of Hans Christian 38T Sailboat

The Hans Christian 38T is a full-keeled, heavy displacement bluewater boat with a long bowsprit and a clipper bow, giving it a distinctive appearance. It was first introduced in 1976 and was produced until the early 1990s.

If you hadn’t already guessed, the “T” in the name stands for “Traditional”. Like many boats on this list, it takes a cue from Crealock’s famous Westsail 32 which sparked a craze in the 1970s and 80s for Scandinavian-style doubled-enders.

It’s gained a reputation as a capable and seaworthy cruising yacht. Many owners have crossed oceans and completed circumnavigations in Hans Christian 38Ts.

By our count, eight Hans Christian 38Ts have participated in Pacific Puddle Jump rallies over the last 12 years.

LOA37.92 ft / 11.56 m
First built1976
BuilderAnderson Yachts Ltd. (TAIWAN)
DesignerHarwood Ives
Hull typeLong keel
Rig typeCutter
Displacement26,500 lb / 12,020 kg
 

4. Island Packet 380

Drawing of Island Packet 380 sailboat

I’ve always considered Island Packets the Rolls-Royce of the bluewater boat world. Their distinctive cream-colored topsides make them easy to spot and their robust bluewater construction makes them the envy of many far-flung anchorages.

Designed by Bob Johnson and built by Island Packet Yachts in Florida, the Island Packet 380 was first introduced in 1998. 169 were built before 2004, over which time it gained a reputation as a capable and comfortable offshore cruiser.

Having been built in the ’90s and early 2000s, this is a relatively newer boat. In many ways, it offers the best of both worlds, a classic-looking boat with all the modern cruising conveniences.

The Island Packet 380 design prioritizes safety and stability. It also has several offshore features including standard twin bow rollers, a divided anchor locker, and ample storage for cruising gear.

Life below deck is comfortable too. With a 13-foot (4 meter) beam there’s plenty of room for liveaboard amenities.

The Island Packet 380 is a popular choice for long-distance cruising and offshore passages. Since 2009, six Island Packet 380s have set out to cross the Pacific in PPJ rallies.

Read more about the Island Packet 380 in this review by Yachting Monthly .

LOA39.58 ft / 12.06 m
First built1998
BuilderIsland Packet Yachts (USA)
DesignerBob Johnson
Hull typeLong keel
Rig typeCutter
Displacement21,000 lb / 9,525 kg
 

5. Ingrid 38

Drawing of Ingrid 38 sailboat

The Ingrid 38 is a double-ended sailboat that was originally designed for wood construction in 1938.

In 1971, Bluewater Boat Co. began building a fiberglass version. The design proved hugely popular and more than 140 were built.

With a full keep and heavy displacement, the Ingrid 38 epitomizes the traditional bluewater cruiser. Yet, it remains a well-loved design today. Since 2009, six Ingrid 38s have set out to cross the Pacific in PPJ rallies.

LOA38.00 ft / 11.58 m
First built1938
BuilderBluewater Boat Company (USA)
DesignerWilliam Atkin
Hull typeLong Keel
Rig typeCutter
Displacement26,000 lb / 11,793 kg
 

Description

Fiona McGlynn

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

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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

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

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

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

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

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

Article continues below…

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht?

Choosing a boat for offshore cruising is not a decision to be taken lightly. I have researched this topic on…

luxury-cruisers-European-yacht-of-the-year-sunbeam-46-1-exterior-credit-bertel-kolthof

European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best luxury cruisers

Before the sea trials began, I would have put money on a Hallberg-Rassy or the Wauquiez winning an award. The…

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

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

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

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

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

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

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

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

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

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

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

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

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

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

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

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Contest-50CS-credit-Sander-van-der-Borch

Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

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

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

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

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

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Discovery 55

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Privilege Serie 5

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

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

Gunfleet 43

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

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Photo: David Harding

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

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

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .

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Wauquiez Centurion 57

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

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

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

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Photo: Voyage of Swell

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

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

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Photo: Peter Szamer

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

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Tartan 3700

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

Broker ’ s choice

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Discovery 55 Brizo

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

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Oyster 575 Ayesha

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

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Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

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

Best bluewater yachts for performance

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

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Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

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

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

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Photo: Graham Snook

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

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

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Outremer 51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sweden Yachts 45

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

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

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Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

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

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Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

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

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Seawind 1600

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

Best bluewater sailboats for families

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

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Photo: Nicholas Claris

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

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

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

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Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

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

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

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Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

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

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

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Nautitech Open 46

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

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

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

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Photo: Olivier Blanchet

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

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

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Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

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

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

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Beneteau Oceanis 473

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

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Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

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

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Nautitech 441

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

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Atlantic 42

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

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

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

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

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

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Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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

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

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Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

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

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

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

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Photo: svnaima.com

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

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Futuna Exploration 54

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

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

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10 Best Used Cruising Sailboats

  • By John Kretschmer
  • Updated: May 24, 2024

The appeal of offshore voyaging is difficult to explain to land people who can’t imagine life without basic human rights like copious quantities of hot water and unlimited data. It can even be challenging to explain to fellow sailors who think the notion of spending days or weeks at sea is a form of water­boarding, some kind of self-inflicted torture.

But for those of us who understand, who relish intimacy with the untamed wilderness that is the ocean and embrace self-­reliance and individual expression while accepting the ­dispassionate whims of Neptune, this is the good life.

There are two essential truths about this life: One, money does not matter. Cruising budgets and lifestyles reflect bank accounts with variously positioned commas; it’s the passages and landfalls that add up, not your investment portfolio. And two, a good bluewater sailboat — not necessarily an expensive boat, but a well-­designed, solidly built, imminently seaworthy boat that is only limited by your moxie and imagination — is the key to successful bluewater passagemaking.

– LEARN THE NAVIGATION RULES – Know the “Rules of the Road” that govern all boat traffic. Be courteous and never assume other boaters can see you. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

So, to that second point, I’ve compiled a list of interesting and affordable cruising sailboats for serious voyaging. A list of 10 sailboats for any purpose, much less world cruising, is sure to evoke outrage from strong-minded sailors, who by nature tend to be a bit opinionated. Stand by before hurling insults my way, and let me explain. I have decided to stay away from the sailboats we know by heart, the iconic old boats that usually populate a list like this: the Westsail 32, Tayana 37, Shannon 38 and Valiant 40 (the last of which, with a bit of searching, can still be found at or just below $100,000).

My list of some of the best liveaboard sailboats is eclectic and includes a mix of well-known and obscure manufacturers, but all the boats are linked in three ways: All are top-quality vessels capable of crossing oceans. They’re affordable, although in a few cases you have to look for older models in less-than-stellar condition to stay below $100,000. Indeed, in some ways, this list of used sailboats is a function of age; most of the boats were priced at more than $100,000 when new but have dipped below our self-imposed threshold in middle age. And finally, they’re all boats that I have encountered in the past few years in far-flung cruising destinations .

Island Packet 35

Packet 35

Love them or loathe them, Island Packets are everywhere. To some, the beamy, full-keel, high-freeboard hull designs seem quaint, to put it charitably. To others, the robust construction standards, roomy interiors and overall user-friendliness make them the ideal cruising boat. More than most, sailing vessels are compromises, and Bob Johnson and his crew at Island Packet were brilliant in prioritizing the needs of sailors. The IP 35 was introduced in 1988 and features a huge cockpit, an easy-to-handle cutter rig with a jib boom, and a clever, comfortable interior with the volume of many 40-footers. It might not be the fastest boat upwind, but the long waterline translates to good performance off the breeze, meaning the IP 35 finds its stride in the trade winds. In all, 188 boats were built before production stopped in 1994.

Don’t confuse the IP 35 with the IP 350, which was launched in 1997 and included a stern swim step. You won’t find a 350 for less than $100,000, but you will have a choice among 35s, especially those built before 1990. With two nice staterooms, the 35 is ideal for family cruising. I know of a couple of 35s that have completed the classic Atlantic Circle passage. It’s perfect for a sabbatical cruise because it holds its value and there’s a ready market when it comes time to sell.

Prout Snowgoose 37

Prout Snowgoose 37

There’s no room for discussion: Catamarans are crossing oceans, and many sailors are choosing cats for world cruising. My last visits to the Azores and Canary Islands, the classic Atlantic waypoints, proved the point. I’m not much of a statistician, but by my count, at least a quarter and maybe a third of the boats I saw were catamarans. There would be more on this list, but they are just too expensive. Finding a quality catamaran for less than $100,000 is tough. One boat to consider is the classic workhorse multihull, the Prout Snowgoose 37.

When the Snowgoose 37 was launched in 1983, English builder Prout & Sons had already been in business for nearly 50 years. The 37 was an updated version of the Snowgoose 35, one of the most successful cruising cats ever. In 1986, the 37 was updated again; the Snowgoose Elite model included more beam and interior upgrades. These models are challenging to find for under $100,000, but it’s possible. A quick glance at yachtworld.com shows several of both models available for less than $100,000. Again, the strong dollar makes European boats an excellent value.

The Snowgoose 37 is not sexy like go-fast cats, and not roomy like modern cruising cats. It is, however, seaworthy. Of the 500 built, many have circumnavigated. Older boats have solid fiberglass hulls, and more recent models are solid glass from the waterline down and cored above. The cockpit is rather compact by catamaran standards, and the bridgedeck is solid (no tramp). Many 37s and all Elites were rigged with staysails, a big plus in heavy weather. The masthead-­rigged Snowgoose 37 can be sailed like a monohull offshore, and it’s quite nice not having a huge, roachy mainsail to wrestle with in a storm. With a 15-foot-3-inch beam for the 37 and a 16-foot-3-inch beam for the Elite, it’s easy to find affordable dockage and yards for haulouts. Most boats have three double cabins, making the Snowgoose 37 an ideal family cruiser.

Corbin 39

The Corbin 39 is not as well known as it should be. It’s a capable bluewater sailboat cruiser with many impressive voyages logged. My Quetzal spent several weeks moored alongside a handsome 39 in Corfu that had sailed around the world, and I also spent a winter in Malta in the same boatyard as another 39 that had recently crossed the Atlantic. A canoe-stern, flush-deck pilothouse cutter, the 39 was offered with either an aft or center cockpit. Designed by Michael Dufour and constructed by Corbin les Bateaux in Canada, hull number one was launched in 1977. Built in various locations in Quebec, 129 boats were launched before a fire destroyed the deck tooling in 1982. A new deck with a larger cockpit was designed, and 70 more boats were laid up before production ceased in 1990.

The rub on the Corbin 39 is that the majority of boats were sold as kits with owner-­finished interiors. Kits varied from just hull-and-deck to “sailaway,” with everything fitted except the interior. Only 15 boats were finished at the factory. Not surprisingly, the interior quality is unpredictable, from rough-hewn lumberyard specials to beautifully handcrafted gems finished by marine professionals. The difference is reflected in the price. A nicely finished, well-equipped model from the mid-’80s typically sells for between $60,000 and $80,000.

The hull shape features a long fin keel and skeg-mounted rudder. The hulls are heavily laid up and include Airex coring. Early decks were plywood-cored, but most boats have Airex in the deck as well. Ballast is 9,000 pounds of internal lead, translating to a 40 percent ballast-to-displacement ratio. The wide flush deck is spacious, and the sleek pilothouse usually includes inside steering. Massive double anchor rollers are incorporated into the bowsprit in later models. Most boats include a double-­spreader spar, and almost all were set up as cutters. There’s plenty of freeboard, which becomes obvious below. While interior arrangements vary considerably, there’s a lot of room to work with. I prefer the post-1982 aft-cockpit 39s; they’re generally of a higher quality than earlier boats.

– CARRY A BEACON – Satellite beacons such as EPIRBs or PLBs allow boaters to transmit distress signals and their exact coordinates from anywhere on the planet, no cell service required. It may be the best $400 you ever spend. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Cabo Rico 38

Cabo Rico 38

“The Cabo Rico 38 hull shape is the one in which everything came together best,” wrote Bill Crealock in his design notes. He might have changed his mind later in life, considering that the Cabo Rico was introduced in 1977 and he designed many boats after that, but few will dispute that this 38-foot cutter, built in Costa Rica, is flat-out beautiful. From the clipper bow to the sweet sheer to the abundance of honey-colored teak, the Cabo Rico 38 is a boat to inspire the most practical among us to quit their job, buy this vessel, and head for the South Pacific.

Not surprisingly, many people have done just that. Cabo Rico built 200 full-keeled 38s, with most of the production occurring in the 1980s. There’s always a selection of boats for sale for less than $100,000. Cabo Rico was an outlier among manufacturers of the time, building serious cruising boats in Central America instead of Taiwan, but quality control was always excellent. The full keel is slightly cutaway, and the rudder is attached to the trailing edge. The prop is in an aperture and totally protected, but not well suited to backing into a slip. Full-keel boats may make some younger sailors cringe, but the CR 38 has a very soft ride in rough seas and heaves to effectively. It also has a solid fiberglass hull with a layer of balsa for insulation. Sometimes it’s noted that the hull is balsa-cored, but it’s not. After about hull number 40, lead was used instead of iron for internal ballast. The deck is balsa-cored, however, and there’s a substantial bulwark. Items to be wary of are the teak decks (most 38s have them) and the fittings supporting the bobstay.

A true cutter rig, the 38 has just under 1,000 square feet of working sail area and performs better than most people suspect. The staysail was originally set on a boom that cluttered the foredeck and limited sail shape. Many boats have been converted with furling staysails sans the boom — a nice upgrade. When the wind pipes up, the 38 tracks nicely with a reefed main and staysail. I encounter 38s all over the Caribbean. They’re easy to spot; they’re the beautiful boats in the anchorage.

Tayana Vancouver 42

Tayana Vancouver 42

Ta Yang, builder of Tayana sailboats, has been building capable cruising boats forever, it seems. The Robert Harris-designed Tayana Vancouver 42 has been a mainstay of the serious cruising fleet since the day it was launched in 1979, and is still in demand today. The company built 200 boats, mostly in the ’80s and early ’90s, although a few V42s were built into the 2000s. With a bit of digging and some haggling, you can find boats for less than $100,000, but they’re likely to be older models. As of this writing, yachtworld.com has eight V42s listed, with three asking less than $100,000.

I’ve encountered the V42 all over the world, and in my yacht-delivery days, I had the pleasure of delivering a couple of 42s up the East Coast and down to the Caribbean. The double-ended hull shape with a fin-skeg underbody is stiff and seaworthy, if not wickedly fast. Considering the rugged construction, with a solid fiberglass hull and balsa-cored deck, nobody has ever accused Ta Yang of going light on its boats. Ballast is internal iron, a massive single casting that weighs in at 11,800 pounds. Ta Yang has evolved as a builder, and later models included upgrades like vinylester resin and larger Yanmar diesels.

A true cutter, the V42 has a double-spreader rig and is heavily stayed. The seagoing deck is cambered to shed water. Teak decks, with all their virtues and vices, were common; I’d look for a boat that’s been de-teaked. Like the Corbin 39, the V42 came with either a center or aft cockpit, although most boats were aft-cockpit models. The aft cockpit is deep and secure, if a bit tight due to volume sacrificed by the canoe stern. The center cockpit is cramped but offers excellent visibility. The interior is lovely, with exquisite Taiwanese joinery. Although interior arrangements vary because Ta Yang encouraged owner input, across the board, this is a friendly boat for living aboard. The aft-cockpit model includes one head and a traditional layout with excellent light and ventilation. The center-­cockpit model features a large owner’s stateroom aft.

Wauquiez Pretorien 35

Wauquiez Pretorien 35

The Pretorien 35 does not pay homage to tradition. The Euro-style low-slung wedge deck and flattish lines were thoroughly modern when the Pretorien was launched in 1979. Sure, there are IOR influences in this well-proven Holman & Pye design, including a slightly pinched stern, cramped cockpit, and a high-aspect, short-boom mainsail that results in a large fore­triangle. But a small main is easy to handle offshore, especially in squally conditions, and a large poled-out furling genoa provides a low-stress way to cross oceans. The test of a design is revealed long after the launch, and the Pretorien has aged brilliantly. It’s often mistaken for a Swan or Baltic. Famed voyager and author Hal Roth chose a Pretorien for his last boat.

Below the water, which is what really matters at sea, the Pretorien pushes the right buttons for serious sailing. A fine entry provides enough of a forefoot to prevent pounding in lumpy conditions, and as on the Valiant 40, the fin keel incorporates a stub to which the external ballast is fastened. The rudder is mounted well aft for excellent steering control, especially on a deep reach, and is tucked behind a narrow but full-length skeg. The Pretorien displaces 13,000 pounds, of which 6,000 pounds is ballast, translating to a stiff, seakindly boat.

The construction is superb. The solid fiberglass hull includes longitudinal stringers that stiffen the panels and encapsulate the bulkheads. Tabbing and fiberglass work is first-rate throughout. Wauquiez was one of the first builders to use solid laminate beneath high-load deck fittings. The side decks are wide and, with the chainplates well inboard, easy to navigate. The interior arrangement is conventional, but ample beam amidships helps create a surprisingly spacious feel below.

There were 212 Pretoriens built during a seven-year production run, so there’s usually a good selection of boats on the used market. Today’s strong dollar makes European Pretoriens an excellent value.

– SHOW THEM HOW MUCH YOU CARE – Nothing says ‘I love you’ like making sure the kids’ life jackets are snugged up and properly buckled. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Gulfstar 44

Gulfstar 44

Gulfstar had a terrible reputation in the early ’70s: It was infamous for producing wide-body motorsailers with tiny rigs and chintzy Formica interiors. Company founder Vince Lazzara was adept at reading market trends and upped his game in the late ’70s and ’80s. Lazzara, who also founded Columbia Yachts, was a veteran of the production-­sailboat wars and realized that buyers were demanding high-quality boats that sailed well. The Gulfstar 44 was launched in 1978, and 105 were sold before the company started producing the Hirsh 45 in 1985.

Some mistake the G44 for a Bristol, and it has a similar profile, right down to the teak toerail and raked cabin trunk. A sleek center-­cockpit design, the hull shape features a 5-foot-6-inch fin keel, a skeg-hung rudder and moderate proportions. I know the boat well, having delivered one from Bermuda to Annapolis and another from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. It has a nice ride in lumpy seas and powers up when the big genoa is drawing on a reach. The construction is typical of the time, with solid fiberglass hulls and cored decks. Gulfstars were known to blister, and it’s likely that any 44 you find will have had an epoxy bottom job along the way — and if it hasn’t, it will need one. The keel-stepped spar has an air draft of 55 feet. Some owners have modified the sloop rig with a staysail. The cockpit is roomy, especially for a center-cockpit design, although there’s not much of a bridgedeck. All sail controls are led aft. Lazzara was an early proponent of this feature, and the boat is user-friendly overall.

The interior sells the boat. It’s nicely finished in teak, and the layout is made for living aboard. The aft cabin includes an enormous double berth with an en suite head and stall shower. The main saloon is spacious and well ventilated, although beware of the plastic opening portlights. If you are looking for a comfortable, well-built center-cockpit cruiser but can’t find one that you can afford, track down a Gulfstar 44; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Nordic 40

Any list of bluewater cruising sailboats must include a Robert Perry design. I could have easily put together nine Perry boats for this list. The Nordic 40 may surprise some, especially because 40 feet is an iconic length, bringing to mind such boats as the Valiant 40, Hinckley Bermuda 40, Bristol 40, Pacific Seacraft 40, Passport 40 and others. The trick is finding a 40-footer for less than $100,000. Nonetheless, the Nordic 40 and its larger sister ship, the 44, are among my favorite boats.

Based in Bellingham, Washington, Nordic produced world-class yachts during its brief production run in the 1980s. Only 40 Nordic 40s were launched between 1982 and 1987, but they’re worth seeking out on the used-boat market. The 40 features the classic double-ended Perry hull shape, with a fine entry, a deep and powerful fin keel, a skeg-mounted rudder positioned well aft, and a reverse transom. Freeboard is moderate and the sheer line is subtle, but to my eye, with its double-spreader rig and gently sloping deck line, the boat is poetry in the water.

The hull is solid fiberglass and the deck is balsa-cored, with solid laminates below loaded-up deck fittings. Original boats came with Navtec rod rigging and a hydraulic backstay, but many have been upgraded by now. Sail-control lines are led aft to the compact but functional T-shaped cockpit. The traveler is forward of the companionway, allowing for a cockpit dodger. The Nordic 40 is nimble in light to moderate breeze but can also stand up in a blow and heave to decently.

The interior is well suited to a cruising couple. It’s really a two-person boat, with a V-berth forward and large C-shaped galley aft, with plenty of counter space and a huge fridge. It includes the normal deft Perry touches — excellent sea berths, a separate stall shower and generous tankage. If you do find a Nordic 40 on the used market, be sure to take a hard look at the Westerbeke diesel and the V-drive transmission.

Pacific Seacraft 34

Pacific Seacraft 34

A handsome, nimble and capable double-ender by legendary designer Bill Crealock, the Pacific Seacraft 34 is well proven, with scores of ocean crossings in its wake.

After the boat was first launched as the Crealock 34 in 1979, Pacific Seacraft introduced a fifth model years later, a scaled-down version of the popular PS 37. Though expensive at the time, the 34 was another success story for one of America’s premier builders, and hundreds of boats were built in the company’s yard in Santa Ana, California. There is always a good selection of used boats available for less than $100,000. Another nice perk for used-boat buyers is that the 34 is back in production at the reincarnated Pacific Seacraft yard in Washington, North Carolina, providing an outlet for parts and advice. The company is now owned and operated by marine archaeologist Stephen Brodie and his father, Reid.

The 34 blends traditional values above the waterline with what was then a more modern underbody, with a long fin keel and skeg-hung rudder. A bit hefty at 13,500 pounds of displacement, the design otherwise is a study in moderation, and drawn with a keen eye toward providing a soft ride in a seaway and staying on good terms with Neptune in a blow.

The hull is solid fiberglass, and early decks were plywood-­cored before Pacific switched to end-grain balsa. The hull-to-deck joint incorporates a molded bulwark that offers added security when you’re moving about on deck, and a vertical surface for mounting stanchions.

Most 34s are cutter-rigged for versatility but carry moderate-­size genoas instead of high-cut yankees for more horsepower off the wind. Down below, the layout is traditional, but the 6-foot-4-inch headroom is a pleasant surprise. The Pacific Seacraft 34 is perfect for a cruising couple.

John Kretschmer is a delivery captain, adventurer and writer, whose own boat Quetzal , a 1987 Kaufman 47, has seen a refit or two over the years. His latest book is Sailing a Serious Ocean: Sailboats, Storms, Stories and Lessons Learned from 30 Years at Sea , also available on his website .

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

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

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

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

Best Sailboats To Live On

Table of Contents

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

  • Find Your Type of Boat 

Set Your Boat Budget

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

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

What to Know First

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

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

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

How to Find the Best Boat to Live on Year Round

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

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

Find Your Type of Boat

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

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

The Coastal Cruiser

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

Related: Best Trailerable Sailboats

The Bluewater Sailboat

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

The Catamaran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The List — Best Sailboats to Live Aboard

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

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

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

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

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Coastal Cruiser Under 35 — Catalina 34/35

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

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

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

Catamaran Under 35 — Gemini 105MC

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

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

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

Runner Up: PDQ 32

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

best liveaboard sailboats under 40 feet

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

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

Coastal Cruiser Under 40 — Islander Freeport 36

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

Bluewater Sailor Under 40 — Passport 40

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

Catamaran Under 40 — Prout 38

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

Runner Up: Leopard 40 (2005-2009)

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

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

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

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

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Coastal Cruiser Under 45 — Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42DS

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

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

Bluewater Sailor Under 45 — Hylas 44

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

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

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

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

Related: Best Boat for Beginners

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Leopard 46 "Shanties" (@leopard46shanties)

Coastal Cruiser Under 50 — Beneteau Oceanis 473

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

Bluewater Sailor Under 50 — Hallberg Rassy 46/48

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

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

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

best liveaboard sailboats under 60 feet

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

Coastal Cruiser Under 60 — Irwin 54

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

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

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

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

Catamaran Under 60 — Privilege 585

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

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

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

What makes a great liveaboard sailboat?

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

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

What is the best size sailboat to live on?

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

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

What are the negatives of living on a sailboat?

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

Why are sailboats so expensive?

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

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

Is it a good idea to live on a sailboat?

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

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

Can you live comfortably on a sailboat?

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

best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

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

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best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

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  1. 10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

    best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

  2. 10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

    best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

  3. 10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

    best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

  4. 10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

    best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

  5. 10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

    best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

  6. 10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

    best cruising sailboats under 35 feet

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COMMENTS

  1. 10 New Cruising Sailboats Under 35 Feet

    Dufour Grand Large 360. Dufour Grand Large 360 Jon Whittle. Dufour Yachts introduced its new 360 Grand Large model to CW's Boat of the Year team in 2018 as a coastal cruiser intended for a couple or perhaps a small family. With that in mind, judge Alvah Simon found numerous clever elements to praise within the boat's 35-foot-2-inch hull—a ...

  2. Experts' Pick: 25 Sailboats Under 40'

    Catalina 275 Sport. Catalina 275 Sport Billy Black. "This is a complete package; it's a good sailing boat and well-thought-out. It's definitely ready for prime time," says Boat of the Year judge Ed Sherman. Click here to read why the Catalina 275 Sport won Best Pocket Cruiser in 2014.

  3. 5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

    Vancouver 28. Photo credit: YachtFathom.co.uk. 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.

  4. 9 Small Sailboats Under 30 Ft We Love

    The Sabre 27 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Sabre Yachts company in the 1970s. The Sabre 27 has a length of 27 feet (8.2 meters) and a beam (width) of 9 feet (2.6 meters). The boat has a displacement of 6,800 pounds (3,084 kilograms) and is equipped with a fin keel. Hull Type: Fin and skeg-hung rudder.

  5. Popular Cruising Yachts from 30 to 35 Feet Long Overall

    Westerly Seahawk 35; Westerly Kestrel 35; Westsail 32; Willard 30/8t; X-332; X-342; Medium sized cruising yachts like these are capable of serious offshore passage making, whilst being reasonably economic to maintain and operate. And for competitive types, 30-35 foot cruising yachts are a popular size for club racing under handicap rating rules.

  6. 14 Great Small Cruising Boats & Pocket Cruisers

    When it comes to family and couples cruising, it's hard to beat a well-built and well-equipped and pocket cruiser. Best Cruising Boats Under 50-Feet. The following 14 pocket cruisers and mini yachts are all vessels we've seen, been aboard, and tested. They are listed in no particular order. Hood 35 LM: high-tech, family-friendly pocket cruiser

  7. 13 Best Cruising Sailboats in 2023 & Why They're Better

    These boats have raised the bar and are set to provide memorable sailing experiences. The best cruising sailboats are: Amel 50. Oyster 565. Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490. X-Yachts X49. Dufour Grand Large 460. Hanse 458.

  8. 2022 Boat of the Year: Best Midsize Cruiser (Under 40')

    During and in the four days immediately following the US Sailboat show in Annapolis, Maryland, the Cruising World judges inspected and sailed on 27 boats vying for recognition.Learn more about the boats in our 2022 Boat of the Year » Once upon a time, midsize cruisers, 30 to 40 feet, dominated the market, and harbors across the US were filled with what were once considered to be "big ...

  9. 13 Best Liveaboard Sailboats (under 30 & 50 ft)

    There are plenty of options to pick from, which can make the choosing process a bit daunting. So to help you navigate those deep waters (no pun intended), here is an article summarizing the 13 best liveaboard sailboats under 30 and 50 feet. So what are the 13 best liveaboard sailboats? Catalina 30. Nor'Sea 27.

  10. Best family yacht: our pick of the best yachts for sailing with the family

    Dufour 37. The Dufour 37 may be shorter than the old 360, but Dufour was reluctant to brand this 37 as smaller because its modern, broadened hull shape has resulted in an enlarged deck space ...

  11. SAIL Top 10 Best Boats for 2023

    Restricting boats to categories and labels—such as Best Cruising Monohull 30-40 feet and Best Performance Monohull 40-50 feet—doesn't bring our readers the full picture. ... The optional Code 0 drives the boat up to about 70 degrees AWA. Under power, the 60-hp engines (upgraded) push the boat at 11 knots at 3,000 rpm so there's plenty ...

  12. What are the Best Small Bluewater Sailboats? Cruisers Top Picks

    The Pardeys are icons of small sailboat cruising. Having sailed over 200,000 nautical miles and circumnavigated both east and westbound on their home-built, engine-free, sub-30-feet cutters, they are among the most recognized sailors in the world. They're also known as "America's first couple of cruising.".

  13. Popular Cruising Yachts from 35 to 40 feet Length Overall

    Voyager 35; Warrior 40; Wasa 30; Westerly Conway 36; Westerly Typhoon 37; Westerly Oceanranger 38; Medium sized cruising yachts like these are often the sailboat of choice for short-handed crews, and if properly equipped and maintained, will take long offshore voyages in their stride. Sailboats at the top of this size range, those above 12m ...

  14. 5 Top Affordable Bluewater Cruising Sailboats

    With these considerations in mind, here are my picks—five top choices for affordable bluewater cruising sailboats (in alphabetical order). Caliber 40 LRC. The Caliber 40 design appeared in 1991 and through its evolution into the 40 LRC, remains a very attractive cutter. It has a fully encapsulated, elongated fin keel, and the ballast to ...

  15. 13 Popular Full Keel Sailboats Worth Considering

    Here are 13 good full keel sailboats that are worth considering: Nicholson 32. Island Packet 380. Folkboat 25. Cape Dory 36. Vancouver 32. Freya 39. Wylo 2. Tradewind 33.

  16. Best Inexpensive Bluewater Sailboats

    Table of contents. ‍ 1. Cape Dory 30. If you're looking for a quality, affordable bluewater sailboat, the Cape Dory 30 is definitely worth a look. This boat has been cruising the world's oceans for over 30 years and has a well-deserved reputation for being sturdy, reliable and easy to sail.

  17. Five Performance Cruisers for 2020

    A true, versatile cruiser/racer, the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1 was named the year's Best Performance Cruiser. Jon Whittle . Of the five boats in this ­collection, the 31-foot-3-inch Beneteau Oceanis 30.1 was the compact yacht best-equipped and spec'd out as a dedicated cruising boat, and not coincidentally, it was also awarded the title of Best Performance Cruiser for 2020.

  18. Affordable Cruising Sailboats

    Practical Sailor reviews nine used boats over 35 feet and under $75,000. By. Dan Spurr - Published: March 18, 2009. 29. Facebook. Twitter. Email. ... The Niagara 35 is a handsome, classically proportioned cruising sloop from one of the best builders of production boats in North America. It is not considered big enough these days to be a ...

  19. Best Family Cruisers: 7 Top Picks In 2023

    Beam: 10" Fuel Capacity: 300 gal. Propulsion: Twin 300 HP Yamaha F300 outboards Browse for old and new Cutwater C-32 CB boats for sale on YachtWorld.. 4. Bertram 35 Flybridge Bertram's are great all-rounder boats for fishing and family cruising and lauded by boat designer Michael Peters (who patented the V-step hull) has been collecting and renovating them for years.

  20. The best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet (we analyzed ...

    The best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet. 1. The Westsail 32. Westsail 32. Photo credit: sailboat data.com. The Westsail 32 is one of the most iconic bluewater cruisers. Built by the Westsail Corporation in the 1970s, this plucky, small sailboat has developed a cult following over the decades. Since 2009, 19 have set out to cross the Pacific ...

  21. 43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

    Allures 51.9 price: €766,000. The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a ...

  22. 10 Best Used Cruising Sailboats & Liveaboards

    Tayana Vancouver 42. Tayana Vancouver 42 Dave Backus. Ta Yang, builder of Tayana sailboats, has been building capable cruising boats forever, it seems. The Robert Harris-designed Tayana Vancouver 42 has been a mainstay of the serious cruising fleet since the day it was launched in 1979, and is still in demand today.

  23. 17 Best Sailboats to Live On + What You Should Know First

    Best Liveaboard Sailboats Under 40 Feet (35-40 Feet) ... The Hylass 44 is regularly picked as one of the best offshore cruising boats. It's a center cockpit boat designed by German Frers. It has a wonderful layout with tons of living space and a large, usable galley. The aft cabin has a large island berth with an en suite head.