Duckwater Ocean 21'

Duckwater Ocean 21' 2012

This setup was over $40k new

Full popup blind for those windy days and for extra concealment.

Check out Duckwater Boats for more info if needed.

The boat alone new was over $25k with hydraulic steering,storage locker, camo seats. The outboard was over $12k and trailer is included as well which was around $3k.

2012 Duckwater Ocean Boat 21

Serial # FQA10341G212

2010 Venture Boat Trailer

VIN # 47GAK222R8B0000010

Mercury 150 Outboard

Is this boat still for sale?

Hey very interested in the boat if its still for sale. And what size motor is on the boat?

Is the Ocean 21 still available?

I'm VERY INTERESTED in the duckwater boat if it's still available. Please let me know. Thank you, Danny

Is the Duck Water still avail? Thank you in advance.

Is this boat still for sale? Thanks.

is this boat still for sale an if so when is the best time to contact you I am from NY

Good Morning, Is the boat available still. If so any chance you have additional photos?

Is the boat available still. If so any chance you have additional photo

Now I'm curious as well - serious inquiry - is this still for sale? If so, please email me at the listed address.

Thanks in advance.

im sure I'm a little but seeing as the listing is still up I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask if this boat is still available. Thank you Carl

Is this boat sold?

Is the Duck Water 21' boat for sale at $25K and how do I contact the person responsible for a transaction?

Is the boat still available

Is boat still avail, and if so is console center or side

Hello, I was wondering if the boat is still available and what brand and size motor is on it.

Has this boat been sold?

Is this available

Is this boat still available?

love the boat is it still available?

Hi, Is this boat still on the market ?

Is the boat still for sale?

Just taking a chance and wondering if the boat is still for sale? If so, please get ahold of me. Thank you

Still for sale

Still for sale? I’m interested in coming to look at it

If this boat is still for sale? I'll take it.

Just checking to see if it was still available? If so, please get ahold of me so we can talk on how to get you paid.

still have boat

Looks like you still had it in April 2021. My number is ***

Let me know if it’s still avaiable

Is this still available? I have cash in hand and would love to come look at it.

Is this available still

Is the boat still for sale

Still available?

Add new question to the seller

    Beam:  15.25'    Draft:  8'
    Beam:  15'    Draft:  8'
    Beam:  15'    Draft:  8'
    Beam:  15.5'    Draft:  8'
    Beam:  15'    Draft:  8'
    Beam:  16.45'    Draft:  6.8'
    Beam:  13.9'    Draft:  5.8'
    Beam:  13'    Draft:  5'9'
    Beam:  13'    Draft:  5'
    Beam:  12'6'    Draft:  7'
    Beam:  13'    Draft:  5.7'
    Beam:  12'    Draft:  6'
    Beam:  12'    Draft:  6.5'
    Beam:  12.5'    Draft:  4.5'
    Beam:  10'2'    Draft:  5'4'
    Beam:  16.3'    Draft:  3.3'
    Beam:  10.16'    Draft:  4.92'
    Beam:  6'    Draft:  2'

ocean 21 sailboat

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Best Bluewater Sailboats Under 24 Feet

Best Bluewater Sailboats Under 24 Feet | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

December 28, 2023

Looking for a sailboat but don't want to bear the high costs? The best bluewater sailboats under 24 feet are trailerable and require low maintenance.

Many sailing enthusiasts cannot afford a large boat due to the docking fee and maintenance costs. Fortunately, bluewater sailboats under 24 feet, also known as pocket sailboats, are affordable small yachts that are trailerable to your choice of destination, so you don't have to bear the unnecessary docking fee.

The best bluewater sailboats under 24 feet are the Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, Norseboat 21.5, Catalina 22 Sport, Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, and West Wight Potter 19. These sailboats have ample space for a couple and even a moderately-sized family along with all the amenities you may need.

A roomy cabin, galley, and settees are necessary to go cruising in the bluewater. However, sailboats are a cheaper and more convenient way to enjoy the shallow waters as all you require for sailing is a hull, rudder, mast, and sail. The sailboats on this list make your sailing experience even better with accommodations such as bedding.

We are a bunch of sailing enthusiasts and spend most of our weekends trailing our pocket sailboats, traveling to various offshore destinations. With years of knowledge, we have drafted a list of the best bluewater sailboats under 24 feet and discussed them in detail, so you can make an informed decision before buying your sailboat.

Table of contents

‍ Our Top Picks

West wight potter 19.


The West Wight Potter 19 is one of the most popular sailboats and has been at the top for over three decades. This sailboat is manufactured in California by International Marine, known for making reliable and robust sailboats.

Over the years, the West Wight 19 has seen significant changes in its design, making the boat easy to sail and increasing the storage space while keeping the design compact and available.

The 19-footer is the smallest sailboat on this list, but it doesn’t keep the boat from offering accommodations to make your experience comfortable.

Small sailboats are more about sailing instead of cruising with luxury. However, the Potter 19 offers several luxurious amenities.

The four berths allow you to camp in for a couple of days instead of spending only a day out on the water. Each berth is around six and a half feet long, with two settees and a v-berth.

The storage space under each berth and the ample walking space in between provide enough room for a small family to spend quality time. A small sink, stove, and mobile head increase the boat's functionality and ease the voyage.

The West Wight Potter 19 is far from disappointing when it comes to its sailing chops. Due to its lightweight build, you don't need a powerful truck to trail this sailboat to your preferred destination.

The hull and deck are fiberglass, which keeps the boat steady against rough water. A high freeboard keeps the cockpit and the deck dry.

The West White Potter 19's design is ideal for lake, river, and coastal sailing. However, this boat is up for the challenges as an individual has sailed from California to Hawaii, making history for the Potter 19.

You can buy West White Potter 19 from  Sailboat Listings  for $6,900.


  • Hull Type: Lifting keel
  • LOA: 18.9 ft.
  • LWL: 16.9 ft.
  • Beam: 7.5 ft.
  • Displacement: 1225 lbs.
  • Ballast: 370 lbs.
  • Sail Area: 115 sq. ft.
  • First built: 1979
  • Developer: International Marine (USA)
  • Designer: Herb Stewart

Catalina 22 Sport


The Catalina 22 Sport has quickly become a hot cake sailboat since the Sport version of the 22 feet hull was recently released. A retractable lead keel in the upgraded version makes it easier to haul the boat.

Other than that, the vinyl seating, a chrome fence, and a more dynamic frame give the boat a sporty yet exclusive look, putting it above its close competitors. That is why the Catalina 22 Sport has become a common sight at harbors across the state.

The update maintains the superior quality of the original Catalina yacht with a robust built, easy and comfortable sailing, and several accommodation features. The hull is made from hand-laid fiberglass bonded with a hull liner.

Beautiful single-piece fiberglass makes the deck a sight for sore eyes. It is treated with non-slippery material to keep the passengers safe from injuries.

A complete standing rig with an upgraded stern rail with controls keeps the boat sailing steadily. But the absolute joy of sailing this beautiful sailboat lies in an exclusive cockpit design. Raised contoured coamings keep the cockpit high and dry.

This boat is not just all about the looks and easy sailing. As mentioned earlier, it also has a roomy cabin with accommodations that can allow you to spend a couple of days on the boat. Two full-length berths measuring over six and a half feet are comfortable for full-grown people to sleep peacefully.

The V berth makes a bed for two where children can rest. Even though the Catalina 22 sport has enough space for a family of four to walk around without stepping on each other's toes, it is ideal for a couple to get away for a refreshing couple of days.

The best thing about Catalina releasing a newer model is that it boasts a 12 Volt electrical panel. You can keep electrical appliances working for a comfortable sailing experience.

Besides that, Catalina offers several optional features to enhance your experience on the 22-footer. These include a mast carrier at the front and rear, fabric cushion upgrade, headsail furling gear, and more.

Since the Catalina 22 Sport is made on order, you can contact dealers from  YachtWorld  to get the price of this boat.

  • Hull Type: Fin w/spade rudder
  • LOA: 23.62 ft.
  • LWL: 19.32 ft.
  • Beam: 8.67 ft.
  • Displacement: 2,380 lbs.
  • Ballast: 550 lbs.
  • Sail Area: 110 sq. ft.
  • First built: 2004
  • Last built: -
  • Developer: Catalina Yachts
  • Designer: Gary Douglas

Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20


The Pacific Seacraft Flicka is the most convenient and trailerable sailboat on our list, with an overall length of 20 feet. If you like a minimalist lifestyle and want the same in your bluewater pocket sailboat, this one's for you.

A functional galley with a sink and a counter and a small sink, toilet, and shower provides you with the basic amenities you and a couple of your friends and family need for a few days offshore.

There's more to the accommodation you can expect from this 20-footer sailboat. This boat has four berths, including a v-berth, so sleeping comfortably or stretching your legs occasionally is not an issue. A pop-up dining table and a chart table within the cabin make eating and other activities doable.

Nevertheless, most people underestimate the Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20’s ability to handle offshore rigidity, and they are often surprised at what this boat has to offer. A full-ballast keel, hull shape, manageable rig, and a self-draining cockpit ensure satisfactory offshore performance by the littlest contender.

Moreover, we find its outstanding standing headspace one of the boat's best features. Unlike other pocket sailboats, the Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 has a six ft. headspace. You don't have to duck every time to save your head from banging against the roof.

The Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20's size and its minimalistic yet fulfilling features are why this boat is in high demand. With only 400 of them ever made, you will have to dig deeper and longer to find one worth buying. Due to this, the price of this boat is also slightly higher.

You can buy the Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 from  YachtWorld  for $29,900.

  • Hull Type: Long keel
  • LOA: 24 ft.
  • LWL: 18.75 ft.
  • Beam: 8 ft.
  • Displacement: 6,000 lbs.
  • Ballast: 1,750 lbs.
  • Sail Area: 261.89 sq. ft.
  • Fuel: 12 gallons
  • Fresh Water: 20 gallons
  • Engine: Yanmar
  • First built: 1974
  • Last built: 1994
  • Developer: Pacific Seacraft
  • Designer: Bruce Bingham

Pacific Seacraft Dana 24


The Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 is the best overall sailboat on our list. This one is the larger of the two Pacific Seacraft sailboats mentioned. It has an overall length of 24 feet but provides you with loads of amenities.

According to the features listed, the boat might seem insufficient for an overnight sail on the water. Once you are on the boat, it won't occur to you that you are on a sailboat that is just 24 feet long.

While only four feet longer than the Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, it adds enough space to make the cabin roomier and another berth for one more person. Not only that, the extra length provides more space to the galley.

You have increased movement and work it better. However, the length still keeps the sailboat maintaining the qualities of a smaller sailboat, allowing you easy maintenance and mobility.

Despite being larger, Pacific Seacraft Dana 20 is faster than the smaller one. As surprising as it may sound, this is because this boat's engine is more powerful and helps the hull sail faster. A high bow flare and freeboard ensure the deck remains dry unless high tides take charge.

It is ideal for a pair, especially couples who do not look for much except spending quality days offshore with the basic amenities on hand.

The Dana 24 were sold as kits and bare hulls. No one knows how many of these sailboats exist and how many of those are factory assembled. Due to this, you might also find slight differences in the build from unit to unit.

You can get the Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 from  YachtWorld  for $49,000.

  • LOA: 27.25 ft.
  • LWL: 21.42 ft.
  • Beam: 8.85 ft.
  • Displacement: 8,000 lbs.
  • Ballast: 3,200 lbs.
  • Sail Area: 361.22 sq. ft.
  • Fuel: 18 gallons
  • Fresh Water 40 gallons
  • First built: 1948
  • Last built: 2007
  • Designer: W.I.B Crealock

Norseboat 21.5


Do you prefer an open sailboat with a rugged design to keep your sailing experience raw? Get your hands on the Open Cockpit Norseboat 21.5. This boat has no cabin.

Simple sailboat design with settees on the side and enough storage room for a couple of passengers to enjoy a voyage across the lake or cruise near the coast.

But that's not all. The Norseboat 21.5 also comes in a cabin design that offers enhanced comfort. Whichever version you prefer, this boat offers a rugged design with carbon-fiber material instead of fiberglass, making it stronger than most sailboats.

However, you will have to compromise on the beauty part. Still, the boat provides a steady sailing experience with all the necessities you might require.

The Norseboat 21.5 sits lower near the water, and with a simple handling sloop rig and fully battened mainsail, it sails light and quick against the light wind. The boat is highly responsive to the tiller, requiring minimum effort from you to put it in the right direction.

Both versions of Norseboat 21.5 are lightweight, making them easy to haul and trail. You won't need a large truck to trail this boat to your favorite spot.

A mid-sized vehicle will do the job. On the other hand, their build maintains a strong presence uplifting their seaworthiness while a foil-shaped stub keel maintains stability.

You can buy the Norseboat 21.5 directly from  Norseboat .

  • LOA: 21.8 ft.
  • LWL: 19 ft.
  • Beam: 7.1 ft.
  • Displacement: 1,750 lbs.
  • Ballast: 275 lbs.
  • Sail Area: 197.2 sq. ft.
  • Developer: NorseBoat Limited (CAN)
  • Designer: Kevin Jeffrey/Mark Fitzgerald

Easy handling, low cost of maintenance, minimalistic designs, basic amenities, all while going offshore — these are the main selling points of pocket sailboats. All the boats mentioned above will serve you well if you are looking for the best bluewater pocket sailboats. Choose wisely!

Related Articles

Best Bluewater Pocket Sailboats

Best Bluewater Sailboats Under $100k

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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Oceanis 30.1

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ocean 21 sailboat

The  world reference  in cruising. Oceanis is our range of long-distance, blue water cruisers that for years has set the standard for sailboat design and construction, with a hull that is a marvel in hydrodynamics,  Oceanis delivers superior performance  while providing stability and safety while under sail. Despite her strong sea legs, she doesn’t sacrifice luxury and comfort. You can choose your layout based on different configurations below deck and also have  your choice  of interior finishes. Your Oceanis will be a joy to sail and be  your home away from home . The Oceanis range continues to  appeal to all sailors  around the world.

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Did you know?

Navigation programs, sailing made easy with beneteau's expertise.

Climb aboard, put to sea immediately and enjoy every minute to the fullest...

This is the dream that the Oceanis cruiser makes possible for any sailor thanks to easy handling and a standard designed for easy sailing. With just two winches and a self-tacking jib at the bow, tacking is like child's play. Fitted with two rudders, the Oceanis cruising yachts are extremely safe giving you confidence and allowing you to enjoy the pleasure of sailing.

ocean 21 sailboat

Remarkably Comfortable

The Oceanis cruisers range from 30 to 51 feet long, and they all focus on comfort – sailing comfort, comfort at harbour or at anchor, and comfort for the whole crew. With their impressive cockpit and generous spaces inside, they have been designed to accommodate family and friends in the best possible conditions. On deck, the relaxation areas are simply ideal for making the most of the sun and the sea air, while the crew can move around the boat unhindered.  The hull and overall design of the Oceanis is extremely well balanced and all the boats in the line have great seakeeping, which contributes to the overall feeling of comfort aboard. 

ocean 21 sailboat

Numerous Configurations

The Oceanis comes in many different layouts , so that everyone can enjoy sailing the way they want to.  Layout plans tailored to each model provide the ideal configuration to enjoy the sea with family and friends . Versatility is also the name of the game on deck, with varying equipment and sail plans, including Performance versions  – you can choose which fits your sailing preference best.  

ocean 21 sailboat

The flared hull increases the space inside the boat, with no performance drawbacks under sail. These three features of balance, performance, and space make the Oceanis the ideal cruising yacht.

ocean 21 sailboat

The Oceanis cruisers are a great source of inspiration for your navigation program.

The epitome of cruising, the Oceanis sailing yacht is the perfect place to be for anyone who loves happy times at sea with family or friends.  Since the Oceanis is easy to handle and well-balanced to helm, you can explore the coast or enjoy cruising the ocean to far-off destinations. The structure and layout of the whole line is inherently comfortable, so you can breezily and effortlessly clock up the miles at sea. And at anchor, the large aft platform makes going for a swim effortless.

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Models of the range.

ocean 21 sailboat

Length Overall

9.53 m / 31’3’’

Beam overall

2.99 m / 9’10’’

ocean 21 sailboat

10.77 m / 35’4’’

3.57 m / 11’9’’

ocean 21 sailboat

11.93 m / 39’2’’

3.92 m / 12’10’’

ocean 21 sailboat

12.87 m / 42’3’’

4.18 m / 13’9’’

ocean 21 sailboat

14.6 m / 47’11’’

4.5 m / 14’9’’

ocean 21 sailboat

15.94 m / 52’4’’

4.8 m / 15’9’’

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Ocean Craft 21

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Let's Get to Know Each Other

Let's connect, why it's important to partner with a designer on your ocean craft 21 sail.

The design is the most critical part of your new sail. Ensuring the sail fits and performs its best is a must for our crew. The Precision Sails Design team are experts at their craft. Unlike other sail lofts all of our sailors work one-on-one with a designer to perfect their Ocean Craft 21 sail.

No Two Ocean Craft 21 Sails Are Alike

There are many factors that affect the performance and design of your sails. Location, sailing experience, and weather conditions all come into play when picking the perfect sail. Two mainsails made for two Ocean Craft 21’s in California and Florida will have different designs, sailcloth, and options based on what is best for the sailor.

Taking measurements is easy. All sailors work alongside our measurement team to measure and confirm their rig specs. This helps ensure your design is flawless and allows us to extend our Perfect Fit Guarantee to all of our sailors.

Discover the best cloth for your sailing needs, our sail details, or more about how Precision Sails is leading the sail-making industry with innovative new practices.


Proudly offering the largest selection of sailcloth in the industry, our team is always available to help you find your perfect sail. Whether you're a weekend sailor, coastal cruiser, or club racer our team is ready to walk you through the process.

Types of Sails

Precision Sail Loft specializes in producing headsails, mainsails, spinnakers, gennakers, and code zeros. So no matter the type of sail you’re looking for, we can help. Our sails are trusted by cruisers and racers alike from around the globe. Review the sail options and craftsmanship available to customize your dream sail.

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Every sail we craft is produced to the highest standards with the best hardware, craftsmanship, and skill-set in the industry. Pair that with Precision Sails' approach to communication and your sailboat will be ready to set sail before you know it.

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As experts in design, communication, and production our team is ready to take on the task of making sails for your boat. Give us a call to get started.

“ I just received my asymmetrical spinnaker, with sock and turtle bag, along with a new 135 Genoa. The entire process was simple and both sales and the design team were in regular contact if there were any questions. The customer portal was easy to use and lets you keep track of where in the process your sails are. Great sails, great service -Graham Edwards (Facebook)
“ The whole team at Precision Sails was fantastic from start to finish. We’ve had a laminate main and genoa made so far and have a spinnaker on the way. They listened carefully to our needs and recommended a great sail cloth. We couldn’t have gotten more bang for our buck! -Noah Regelous (Google)
“ We received our spinnaker and launched it yesterday and I just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with it. The service we received from your company was exceptional and the quality of your product is second to none. We will certainly be return customers in the next few months to replace our main and jib sails and will recommend your company to all our sailing buddies. Once again-thank you.” -Daniel Jackson (Google)
“ we had good communication during the planning stages and the knowledgeable people at precision sails really got me fixed up good! The sails look and work fabulous! my boat sails better than it ever had! couldn’t be more pleased with the product AND the service!” -Fred Jelich (Facebook)
“ Our new furling jib for a Corsair 27 Had to be specially designed due to the height of the furler, but this was accomplished quickly and in short order we had our sail which fits beautifully and has a great shape. It’s everything we could have wanted, high tech design, thoughtfully executed and affordable.” -Nancy Y. (Yelp)

Request a Ocean Craft 21 Quote

Looking to buy a new headsail or mainsail for your Ocean Craft 21? Request a free quote from Precision Sails for a new custom sail. Our team will work with you to design the perfect sail for you.

Thanks for telling us a bit about yourself and your boat. Our team will send you a preliminary quote based on information we have gathered from sailors similar to you.

We will give you a call in order to narrow down the options on your quote and improve the accuracy. If you want us to call you at a specific time, feel free to schedule a time on our calendar!

Thanks for telling us a bit about yourself and your boat. Our team will reach out to offer some suggestions and get started on finding you the perfect sail!

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Preparing A Boat to Sail Solo

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Re-sealing the Seams on Waterproof Fabrics

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Chafe Protection for Dock Lines

Waxing and Polishing Your Boat

Waxing and Polishing Your Boat

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Reducing Engine Room Noise

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Tricks and Tips to Forming Do-it-yourself Rigging Terminals

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Marine Toilet Maintenance Tips

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The Best Sailboats for the High Seas?

ocean 21 sailboat

At the St. Petersburg Boat Show month last month, I had the pleasure of seeing delivery skipper and author John Kretschmers presentation on what he called sailboats for a serious ocean. I have reservations about any ideal boat list, but Kretschmer, who reviews boats for Sail Magazine and whose most recent book Sailing a Serious Ocean is available in our online bookstore , has the ideal background for this sort of work, and a list like this is undeniably helpful for wannabe cruisers who need a place to start their search.

I certainly wouldnt limit my search to boats on such a list, but by paying careful attention to the pros and cons of each, you can find something that suits your own aspirations.

Here are the boats Kretschmer suggests: Contessa 32, Pacific Seacraft 34, Pretorien 35, Cape Dory/Robinhood 36, Valiant/Esprit 37, Prout Snowgoose 37, Alajuela 38, Privelege 39, Freya 39, Passport 40, Caliber 40, Baba 40, Hallberg Rassy 42, Taswell 43, Hylas 44, Norseman 447, Beneteau 456, Outbound 44, Hylas 46, Kaufman 47, Tayana 48, Hylas 49, Amel Maramu 53, and the Sundeer 60/64. For a brief capsule summary of each, be sure to check out his website.

The list is hardly definitive. There are plenty of good boats that arent featured, and some of these would be ill-matched for the wrong sailor-Kretschmer clearly pointed this out during his talk. I like how the list presents a good cross-section of the various shapes and sizes for a boat in this category. For example, Kretschmer includes the Prout Snowgoose and Steve Dashews Sundeer 60, boats that, notwithstanding their successful record at sea, fill an outlying niche.

If I were going to expand the list, one of the heavier-displacement microcruisers like those I blogged about would be a nice addition. Although I would be wary of promoting even the most formidable of this breed as well-suited for a serious ocean, John Neale of Mahina Tiare Expeditions includes one of them, the Dana 24, on his own list of recommend cruising boats . Neales much broader list of boats is accompanied by a very helpful discussion of design elements to consider.

What got me thinking about formidable cruising boats was our series of reports o n sailboat construction , focusing specifically on structural details. Although there are plenty of excellent coastal cruisers on the market, once you start talking about offshore duty, scan’tlings (the dimensions for structural components) take on far more importance.

A few years ago we touched on this subject in our Mailport section, encouraging readers to suggest their own nominees for a list of what we called at the time, tough boats, vessels that were built to take a beating, requiring minimal care and upkeep.

Here are some of the boats that were suggested from our readers: Mariner 36, Cal 34, Morgan 43, Swan 43, Bermuda 40, Island Packet 26, Mariner 47, LeComte Northeast 38, Westsail 32, Dana 24, J/35, and the CSY 44.

Id be interested in hearing of other nominees for this list, or other good resources for sailors looking for a short list of good offshore boats.

For those who are frustrated to find that their own ideal boat isn’t on anybodys list, I wouldnt be too miffed. The best line Ive heard in a while on this topic came from Steve Callahan, the author of the survival classic Adrift , who gave a presentation at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show . When I asked Steve, who has sailed extensively on both multihulls and monohulls, what type of boat he preferred, he said, quite seriously. Well, at the end of the day, the best cruising boat is the one that you are on.


Interesting list. I am fond of Hylas of which you chose three models. However, I am suspect of their yard and construction techniques and do not have confidence that they are as strong as they are beautiful. Only one Hallberg-Rassy was selected, which is a far more robust and dry sailing boat than the Hylas. Passports make a good boat as does Cape Dory and several others on your list. Didn’t four sailors die on a Beneteau in 2018? Over all it is a decent list.

I believe this is the accident you’re talking about in which a Beneteau and it’s bolted on keel parted company.

Almost all of the sailing clubs in San Diego rent Beneteaus out. They are a decent coastal sailboat. I have a couple friends who have even made the crossing to Maui in them..not me, not ever. I consider them a living room boat. Having said that, I am certainly no expert so its just my opinion. If I am crossing an ocean I want a capable kindly strong boat with redundancy built into critical systems.

Curious to think what people think about the early 70s Swan 43 as a cruising boat for a couple with occasional guests for a round the world trip? I have an S&S 30 which is too small but I do have some bias towards their designs. Add a watermaker and some power generation and off you go… Any thoughts?

Are Motor Sailors like the Nauticats or Fishers ocean worthy ( if their pilot house windows and sliding doors are lifeboatified ? )

Walt Schulz’s Shannon 43 is a beautiful, sea kindly, comfortable and sturdy bluewater boat. Walt had not only the ICW and Bahamas in mind when he designed and built 52 of them. He designed for ocean cruising. He believes his boats should outlive him and still sailing for generations. We sailed the Chesapeake, Bahamas, Caribbean and Pacific to Australia on a Shannon 43 ketch. She took great care of us and is still turning heads.

Great article! John Kretchmer is one of my fave modern day sailors. While there is only one Crealock design on John’s list, and the Dana is added on John Neale’s list, I was surprised not to see a Crealock/ Pacific Seacraft 37 mentioned. But there are so many great serious off shore boats, it’s hard to narrow it down to 10. Here’s a few to think about. Cape George Cutter 36. Biscay 36, tradewind 35, Rustler 36, Nicholson 31 (never talked about) and 32. Seldom seen on top 10 lists, but great boats. Thanks for the article.

Great comment and interesting to note that the first four of your additions are those currently entered in the 2022 Golden Globe Race – kind of the definition of a blue water boat.

Hey! I know this is somewhat off-topic however I needed to ask. Does operating a well-established blog like yours take a massive amount work? I am completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!|

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Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere

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

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

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International Folkboat

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Pacific Seacraft 25

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Albin Vega 27

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Cape Dory 25D

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Contessa 26

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Morris 26 Frances

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Catalina 27

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Pacific Seacraft Dana 24

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Contessa 32

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Best Ocean Boats: Types and Brands to Buy

15th nov 2023 by samantha wilson.

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What makes a good ocean boat ? It’s a valid question, commonly asked, but as with many boating questions, there is no one answer. In fact, there is no best ocean boat either. Only the best ocean-going boat for you and what you want it to do. Whether it’s offshore fishing, sailing around the world, coastal cruising, or extended voyages, there will be good boats for the task—and others, not so good. 

Of course there are many characteristics that ocean-going boats will need to have that are different from those designed to ply gentler inland waters where breaking seas, long distances, and inclement weather rarely if ever are a factor. Here we’ll take a look at the types of boats that are designed for the ocean and also look at some of the best ocean boat brands on the market today. 

What Characteristics Do the Best Ocean Boats Have?

Seaworthy in open water and stormy weather: A boat tackling ocean waters needs to be sturdy enough, large enough, and/or nimble enough to navigate the bigger seas and stronger winds that can arise. If you’re tackling oceans, you’ll typically want a boat that is 20 feet long or larger and built with strength. It’s important to know your boat’s limitations, to check the weather carefully before venturing out, and prepare accordingly. Knowing your boat’s range—is it a long-distance, bluewater voyager or a day-sailing coastal boat?—is also key to staying safe. 

Deep-V hulls and deep draft: Most ocean-going boats have deep-V hulls and adequate draft to provide extra stability in turbulent waters, high waves, and bad weather. An exception to that are multihulls, which can offer excellent stability thanks to their multiple hulls and wide shape. In addition to a deep V hull, ocean-going boats are often designed with strakes—molded lines running down the hull of motorboats that help them reach planing speed and reduce the slap from large waves. If you don’t plan to venture offshore or undertake long voyages, a shallow or modified V hull is often ideal for more coastal ocean cruising in shallower waters. 

Corrosion resistance : In contrast to fresh water, salt water is highly corrosive and damaging to boats, and they need to be designed for and maintained to cope with those damaging effects (see our guide to the differences between saltwater and freshwater boats for more advice). Boats designed for salt water will have marine-grade metals such as stainless steel, and must be built with corrosion-resistant hardware.  

Power and fuel capacity : If you’re going to cruise farther, it makes sense that your boat will need a fuel-efficient engine as well as a larger fuel tank to allow you to carry on longer without refueling. Fast boats such as those used for offshore fishing commonly have large powerful engines, allowing you to get to the offshore fishing grounds in less time. For those crossing oceans, sailboats have long been the boat of choice since wind-power is free, if occasionally finicky. 

Sleeping and storage capacity: If you’re cruising long distances, you’ll need to ensure that you have enough cabin space, living space, and storage space for supplies to accommodate all those on board. Bunks will typically be fitted with lee cloths to securely hold sleeping crew members in their berths. Ventilation is also critical, allowing fresh air below decks without bringing sea water along at the same time.

The Best Types and Brands of Ocean Boats

Ocean sailboats.

Sailboats bring the romance to cruising the oceans, and are able to sail motor-less for thousands of miles, making them the top choice when it comes to long range ocean cruising. The choice of sailboat is endless, but it depends how far you want to travel as to how big a sailboat you’ll need. Coastal sailing can be done in most sizes and styles of sailboat, while you’ll ideally be looking for a strong and sturdy sailboat over 35 feet to travel long distances (see our guide to bluewater sailboats under 40 feet for some exciting small sailboat options and what to look for in an ocean sailboat). 

The best ocean sailboat brands

  • Hallberg-Rassy has been producing quality ocean-going cruising boats in Sweden for more than half a century. The company’s current lineup of comfortable, seaworthy, premium-priced yachts from 34 to 69 feet LOA.  Hallberg-Rassy boats for sale
  • Beneteau ’s impressive range of Oceanis cruisers ranges from 31 to 60 feet and offers spacious, versatile layouts and sound performance at a moderate price.  Beneteau boats for sale
  • Jeanneau has produced ocean-capable sailboats for more than 60 years and has a good reputation for building innovative boats that perform well. The company’s current range includes large yachts, small ocean racers, and 35- to 49-foot cruising models.  Jeanneau boats for sale

Hallberg Rassy

Hallberg Rassy 400. Hallberg Rassy photo.

Trawler Yachts

Known for their long-range capabilities and excellent fuel efficiency, trawlers are becoming increasingly popular as ocean-going liveaboards. Unlike the fishing vessels from which they draw their name, this new breed of power-cruising yacht typically offers extensive living space, home comforts, and even luxury living, which is highly regarded among many cruising great distances or spending extended periods of time living aboard.  

The best trawler yacht brands

  • Nordhavn is a long-standing, all-American brand producing some of the best trawler yachts on the market today. Ranging from 41 feet all the way into superyacht classification sizes, Nordhavn trawlers balance robustness with comfort.  Nordhavn yachts for sale
  • Selene is a Dutch brand, building up to 100 world class boats every year. Their impressive inventory includes boats from 40 feet to 128 feet, with their mid-sized models in particular offering excellent use of space and a classic styling.  Selene boats for sale
  • American Tugs is one of the best smaller shipyards, with 20 years’ experience producing high quality coastal cruisers under 45 feet.  American Tugs boats for sale


Nordhavn 475. Nordhavn photo.

Center Console Boats

  Center consoles boats are high-powered vessels, commonly used for offshore fishing due to their open deck layout allowing for 360 fishability. Fast, stable, roomy, and well-equipped, they are wonderfully versatile and are available from trailerable 17-foot models up to 45 feet and longer, with cabins and heads. They are typically able to handle big seas and weather, but don’t have the sleeping, living, and storage space of longer-range types of ocean boats. 

The best center console boat brands

  • Boston Whaler have been around since 1958 and have one of the best reputations in the center console industry for both their fishing and recreational boats.  Boston Whaler boats for sale
  • Everglades is a brand offering 23- to 45-foot center consoles with a clear focus on fishing offshore. It is known equally for premium quality finishings and strong hull construction using high-density foam core to offer a smooth ride in waves. Everglades boats for sale
  • For more check out our article on the best center console boat brands and the best center consoles over 40 feet . 

Boston Whaler

Boston Whaler 250 Dauntless. Boston Whaler photo. 

Sport Fishing Yachts

Powerful, robust, and equipped to take anglers on deep sea fishing adventures, sport fishing boats are more than capable when it comes to big ocean conditions. They’re capable of cruising up to 100 miles offshore where the big pelagic creatures such as bluefin tuna and marlin live, allowing anglers to fish for several days at a time in comfort. With all the equipment needed for fishing, storing, and living, sport fishing yachts aren’t inexpensive, but you can buy a seriously high-performance yacht for the money. 

The best sport fishing yacht brands

  • Viking Yachts has a huge range of world-class sport fishing yachts ranging from towable 38 footers all the way up to 90 feet, although the majority fall within the 45 to 70 feet range. Impeccable finish and extremely high performance is the norm throughout the fleet.  Viking Yachts for sale
  • Hatteras Yachts bring elegance and innovation to sportfishing with their four convertible sport fishing yachts from 45 to 70 feet. For more than 60 years, the firm has been creating high-performance sport fishing boats that ooze luxury.  Hatteras Yachts for sale
  • Bertram has a long history of building fishing yachts focused on seaworthiness, stability, and safety. The company offers serious blue water fishing machines, as well as smaller, capable boats ranging from 28 to 61 feet.  Bertram boats for sale

For more top fishing boat brands, see Best Offshore Fishing Boat Brands .

Viking Yachts

Viking 68C. Viking Yachts photo.

Cabin Cruisers

Cabin cruisers make up one of the most versatile and popular of ocean boats as they are multifunctional, seaworthy, and well-designed for coastal cruising. While not normally suited to prolonged periods at sea or long-range cruising, this style of boat features home comforts, modest galley areas, and cabins that can be used for extended trips.

The best ocean cabin cruisers

  • Sea Ray are masters in producing small, luxurious cabin cruisers that offer weekends at sea, plenty of home comforts, and reassuring seaworthiness. Their Sundancer range is from 26 feet to 37 feet, and the SLX series goes up to 40 feet.  Sea Ray boats for sale
  • Chris-Craft has been producing elegant, traditionally styled cabin cruisers (as well as center consoles) for decades, and their range of boats certainly turn heads. Offering pocket-sized luxury and packed with amenities, they remain one of the best brands in the industry.  Chris-Craft boats for sale
  • Grand Banks Yachts is a brand that has shifted over the years from producing what was the iconic ocean-going trawler yacht to a higher-performance luxury motoryacht that fits better in the cabin cruiser category. Design and construction attend to hull shapes, weights, and materials to produce a capable, quiet boat in rough conditions.  Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks 54

Grand Banks 54. Grand Banks photo.

Cruising Catamarans

Cruising catamarans are fast gaining popularity for their long-range capabilities as well as their stability and huge amounts of extra living and storage space compared to monohulls of the same size. With salons and cockpits that stand well above the water line you get wrap around sea views, as well as huge cabin and galley space. They’re extremely capable blue water cruisers, but also perfect for coastal adventures with larger groups than you could comfortably get on a monohull. They don’t keel over in the same way as sailboats, offering impressive stability and speed, and are fast becoming a popular choice for around the world cruisers and charter companies. 

The best cruising catamarans

  • Fountaine Pajot is one of the biggest names in the cruising catamaran world and are instrumental in shaping this new industry of long range, high performance blue water multihulls.  Fountaine Pajot Catamarans for sale
  • Lagoon Catamarans have a huge inventory of cruising catamaran models throughout the size ranges, and are one of the top choices for charter companies.  Lagoon Catamarans for sale
  • Leopard Catamarans offer a huge range of top-of-the-range sailing and motor cruising catamarans through boat builders Robertson and Caine. In their 50 years of business they’ve delivered an impressive 2,500 vessels, making them one of the most popular cruising catamaran brands out there.  Leopard Catamarans for sale


Leopard 40 Powercat. Leopard Catamarans photo.

Written By: Samantha Wilson

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


More from: Samantha Wilson

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

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

So what are the best beginner sailboats for ocean cruising?

Cape Dory 28

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

On this page:

Westsail 28, a beginner boat is easy to handle.

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

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

An affordable boat doesn't have to be cheap

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

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

An ocean cruiser is stable and comfortable

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

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

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

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

Let's get into it, shall we?

ocean 21 sailboat

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

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

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

ocean 21 sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Stivers

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

Thanks for the article, cheers.

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Home » Blog » Buy a boat » 5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: April 19, 2023

sailing around the world

A small sailboat can take you big places

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

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

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

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

dinghy boat

What makes a good blue water sailboat

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

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

Smaller equals slower

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

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

pocket cruiser

Small but sturdy

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

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

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

The pros and cons of pocket cruiser sailboats

Pocket cruiser sailboats present certain advantages and disadvantages.

More affordable

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

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

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

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

how to remove rusted screw

Less time consuming

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

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

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

Easier to sail

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

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

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

Less spacious

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

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

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

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

boat galley storage ideas

Less comfortable

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

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

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

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

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

Albin Vega 27($7-22K USD)

small sailboats

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

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

Cape Dory 28 ($10-32K USD) 

small sailboat

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

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

Dufour 29 ($7-23K)

small sailboat

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

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

Vancouver 28 ($15-34K)

most seaworthy small boat

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

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

Westsail 28 ($30-35K)

small sailboat

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

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

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

Fiona McGlynn

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

Saturday 1st of September 2018

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

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

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

Friday 31st of August 2018

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

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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

ocean 21 sailboat

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…

ocean 21 sailboat

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…


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

ocean 21 sailboat

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

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

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

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

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

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

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


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

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

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

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

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


Discovery 55

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

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

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

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


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Privilege Serie 5

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

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

Gunfleet 43

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


Photo: David Harding

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

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

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .


Wauquiez Centurion 57

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

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


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


Photo: Voyage of Swell

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


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


Photo: Peter Szamer

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


Tartan 3700

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

Broker ’ s choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

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


Oyster 575 Ayesha

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


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

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

Best bluewater yachts for performance

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


Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

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

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


Photo: Graham Snook

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

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


Outremer 51

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Sweden Yachts 45

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


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


Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

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


Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

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


Seawind 1600

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

Best bluewater sailboats for families

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


Photo: Nicholas Claris

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

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

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


Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

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

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


Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer /

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

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

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


Nautitech Open 46

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


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

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


Photo: Olivier Blanchet

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

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


Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

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

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


Beneteau Oceanis 473

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


Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

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


Nautitech 441

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


Atlantic 42

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

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

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


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

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


Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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

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


Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

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

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

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



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


Futuna Exploration 54

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

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

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