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

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: May 16, 2023

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


What are the best bluewater sailboats?

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

We heard a lot of strong opinions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where did we get our data?

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

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

What do we mean by “best”?

We know, that word is overused on the internet!

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

So, these boats are 100% good to go?

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

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

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

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

Choosing the right boat is very much an individual journey.

Where can I find these bluewater boats for sale?

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

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

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

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

Takeaways from our analysis

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

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

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

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

Cat got our tongue

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

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

Still got it!

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

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

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

The 10 best bluewater boats

best bluewater sailboats

1. Westsail 32

The Westsail 32 is an iconic bluewater sailboat

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

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

There were approximately 830 built between 1971 and 1980.

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

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

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

2. Lagoon 380

Lagoon 380

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

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

3. Lagoon 440

Lagoon 440 is a bluewater catamaran

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

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

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

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

4. Amel Super Maramu (incl. SM 2000)

Amel Super Maramu is a popular bluewater sailboat

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

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

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

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

5. Valiant 40

The Valiant 40 is an iconic bluewater cruiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. TAYANA 37

The Tayana 37 is a top bluewater boat

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

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

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

7. Lagoon 450

The Lagoon 450 is one of the best bluewater sailboats

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

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

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

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

8. Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46

Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46 Bluewater Sailboat

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

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

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

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

9. Catalina 42 (MKI, MKII)

Catalina 42 bluewater boat

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

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

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

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

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

10. Leopard 46

Leopard 46 bluewater sailboat

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

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

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

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

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


What the data is and isn’t.

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

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

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

Entries vs. completions

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

Boat make variations

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

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

Fiona McGlynn

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

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Sail Universe

Editor’s Choice: 18 Bluewater Sailboats We Love

Advantages of bluewater sailboats, factors to consider when buying a blue water sailboat, allures 51.9, contest 55cs, discovery revelation 480, grand soleil 42 lc, hallberg-rassy 48mk ii, island packet 349, j/boats j/45, najad 395 cc, outbound 56.

Bluewater sailboats

Looking to sail the open seas? Bluewater sailboats are your answer. With their sturdy construction and ability to handle rough conditions, these boats are designed for serious offshore sailing adventures. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of blue water sailboats and provide you with everything you need to know. From their unique features to their advantages and considerations, we will explore it all.

Bluewater sailboats are known for their strength and durability. Built to withstand the challenging conditions of ocean crossings, these boats offer stability and safety on long voyages. Whether you’re planning a solo trip or setting off with a crew, a blue water sailboat is an excellent option to explore the depths.

We will discuss the key characteristics that make blue water sailboats stand out, such as their hull design, rigging, and navigation systems. Additionally, we’ll explore the various types and sizes available to help you find the perfect fit for your sailing aspirations.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of embarking on a thrilling ocean adventure, join us as we navigate the world of bluewater sailboats and uncover everything you need to know.

Bluewater sailboats are designed to withstand the demanding conditions encountered during long ocean voyages. They possess several key characteristics that set them apart from other types of sailboats. 

bluewater sailboats

1. Sturdy Construction

Bluewater sailboats are built with robust materials and construction techniques to ensure their strength and durability. They feature reinforced hulls made of fiberglass, aluminum, or steel, which can withstand the impact of large waves and adverse weather conditions. These boats are designed to handle the constant stresses of offshore sailing without compromising their structural integrity.

2. Seaworthiness

One of the defining characteristics of bluewater sailboats is their seaworthiness. They are designed to handle rough seas and strong winds, providing a stable and comfortable ride even in challenging conditions. The shape of their hulls, with a deep V or modified full-keel design, allows them to cut through waves and maintain stability, minimizing the rolling motion commonly experienced on other types of sailboats.

3. Self-Sustainability

Bluewater sailboats are equipped with systems that enable self-sustainability during long voyages. They typically have large water and fuel tanks, allowing sailors to carry ample supplies for extended periods at sea. In addition, these boats often come equipped with renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines, reducing the reliance on external power sources.

Bluewater sailboats offer numerous advantages for sailors looking to embark on offshore adventures. Here are some of the key benefits of choosing a blue water sailboat for your next sailing journey.

1. Safety and Stability

When sailing across vast oceans, safety is paramount. Bluewater sailboats provide a high level of safety and stability, thanks to their sturdy construction and seaworthiness. These boats are designed to handle adverse weather conditions and rough seas, ensuring the safety of the crew and the vessel. The robust hulls and well-balanced designs make them less prone to capsizing or taking on water, providing peace of mind during long voyages.

2. Long-Distance Capability

Bluewater sailboats are specifically designed for long-distance sailing. They have the capacity to carry ample supplies, including food, water, and fuel, allowing sailors to embark on extended journeys without the need for frequent resupply stops. With their self-sustainability features and efficient hull designs, these boats can cover long distances efficiently and comfortably.

3. Comfort and Liveability

Living aboard a bluewater sailboat for an extended period requires comfort and practicality. These boats are designed with spacious interiors, allowing for comfortable living quarters during long voyages. They often feature multiple cabins, a well-equipped galley, and ample storage space for provisions and personal belongings. The layout and design of blue water sailboats prioritize functionality and convenience, ensuring a comfortable living experience even in the middle of the ocean.

And now… it’s time to discover together our selection of 18 Bluewater sailboats we love!

The Allures 51.9 innovates with its full-beam aft owner’s cabin. This model disrupts the codes of the yard also outside with its cockpit of 6 meters long with sunbath and swim platform for comfort; the navigation space can be protected by a hardtop to navigate in any security. The boat has a length of 51.9 feet (15.8 meters) and a beam (width) of 15.4 feet (4.7 meters). It is equipped with a fixed keel and a composite hull, which provides good stability and seaworthiness. The Allures 51.9 is available in a variety of configurations, including a three-cabin layout with a spacious owner’s cabin and two guest cabins, or a two-cabin layout with a larger owner’s cabin and a smaller guest cabin. It is also equipped with a well-equipped galley, a large saloon, and a navigation station.  Allures official website .

amel 60 Bluewater sailboats

In a dynamic evolution and complementary to their range,  Amel  launched a larger model, with a higher specification and built with attention to details. Riding on the success of the  Amel 50 , the Amel 60 is an enhanced version of the new Amel design . The brand’s fundamental characteristics are well represented in this large yacht, with an additional 10 feet increasing her volume as well as her interior and exterior living spaces, while still ensuring ease of use for a small crew. 

Signed Berret-Racoupeau, the generous volumes of this large yacht have been designed to allow owners and their guests to fully enjoy life on board, while preserving everyone’s privacy: a large living space in the saloon, an ultra-equipped high-end galley three cabins each with a bathroom, an even larger protected cockpit, opening onto sunbathing areas ideal for relaxation.

contest 55cs Bluewater sailboats

The  Dutch specialist  in semi-custom constructions Contest Yachts presented the brand new 17-metre Contest 55CS at Boot Dusseldorf 2020. Don’t call it “simply” a  bluewater  yacht. The stunning lines both above and below water from star designers Judel/Vrolijk shall ensure a real sporty character. A newly conceived interior styling now features an even bigger flowing corner radius to the exquisitely finished timber work. There are also now more optional hull windows in up to four stations along the yacht’s length.

discovery revelation 480

Discovery Yachts  presented the new Revelation 480 at  Boot Dusseldorf 2020 . This is the first model of the new Revelation line and differs from the Southerly line for the fixed keel and the lowered saloon. Yes, the Revelation 480 is a lowered saloon boat based on the well-known Southerly 480. The Revelation 480 combines bluewater capability with a low, sleek coachroof that contributes to an interesting aesthetic. Down below, the single level interior is extremely light and exquisitely furnished.

grand soleil 42 lc

The Grand Soleil 42 LC is  Cantiere del Pardo ’s latest entry model of the bluewater line. Comfort and sailing autonomy are the main features of this 12-meter, designed by Marco Lostuzzi together with Nauta Design and Cantiere del Pardo’s Technical Office.

The 42 LC is available in two versions; standard or sport. The former is equipped with aft benches, and a carbon arch over the cockpit, designed to keep this area free of the mainsheet traveller. The GS 42 LC’s hull guarantees great stability thanks to greater hull volume. The well-proportioned sail plan optimizes the high-performance sailing standards. As with the rest of the Long Cruise range, the Grand Soleil 42 LC is designed to provide greater and more luxurious comfort on board.

The interior layout is available with either two or three cabins, to meet the client’s needs. Both versions include two heads with a shower. In the saloon, a three-seater sofa is found on the starboard side, while the central seat can be transformed into a chart table.

Hallberg Rassy 48 Mkll Bluewater sailboats

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 MK II is a true bluewater cruiser that offers more natural light, more comfort and more elegance than ever before. With three double cabins and a vast saloon, she offers great space for modern comfort aids. Known far and wide for sturdy construction, superb craftsmanship and signature seaworthiness, Hallberg-Rassy boats are globally respected for their elegant lines and spirited performance.

Hylas H60

Hylas Yachts has collaborated with German Frers for over 40 years and built a reputation for yachts that combine ocean sailing capability, classic lines and exquisitely finished interiors.  Now the company is staking out new territory with the H60. Still ocean capable, still with an exquisite interior but also embracing some of the contemporary demands of today’s cruising sailors. 

Longtime Hylas fans will not be disappointed by her performance. Built using the most advanced construction technologies, the H60 has been designed to excel in all conditions with excellent seakeeping ability. A plumb bow and broad transom make the most of her waterline length underway, providing speed with optimal comfort.

The builder partnered with Milan-based firm  Hot Lab , known for their elegant designs in the superyacht world, to offer interiors that immediately set the new Hylas on a new level.

ice yachts ice 70

The project of the ICE 70 by  ICE Yachts  has been realized using the most advanced modeling and analysis software available today. “ Thanks to the new virtual reality ‘tools’ ,” explains  Felci Yacht Design , “ we have been able to make the owner and the shipyard participant of many geometric and stylistic choices. It is a yacht with high technological potential, starting from the design of the hull and the appendices “. With this sporty bluewater sailboat, the Italian yard wanted to create a technologically avant-garde boat with large, comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces, which is easy to sail and entirely safe at sea. Like all ICE Yachts models, the ICE 70 is a semi-custom product with which the owner has many possibilities for customization and equipment. ICE Yachts official website

island packet 349 Bluewater sailboats

With this model, iconic Island Packet has returned to the Solent-style rig as standard, featuring a mainsail with a working jib and an optional lightweight 170% reacher or asymmetrical that mounts on the integral bow platform and furled with Harken systems. The working jib is fitted with a Hoyt Boom that is self-tending and improves performance with its close sheeting and self-vanging feature, while the large optional reacher or asymmetrical boost performance in light air or when off the wind.

The fully battened mainsail is equipped with a low friction Battcar system and drops easily into a stack pack with an integral cover and lazy jack system.  This rigging offers ease of use and versatility in the varied wind or sea conditions and increased speed and maneuverability.

j/boats j/45

The J/Boats J/45, is a true  bluewater sailing yacht, designed and built for the sea by life-long sailors. The  J/Boats  and  J/Composites teams have collaborated to create a special design for discerning sailors seeking an exceptional sailing experience. The J/45 can be sailed solo, cruised by 2-3 couples or large family, and pleasure sailed or raced with room for the whole crew. This is an investment-grade sailboat that won’t require a professional crew to sail, handle or maintain. J/Boats official website

kraken 50 Bluewater sailboats

The Kraken 50 is designed to be the short-handed bluewater cruising yacht. Due to her steady motion and stability, her crew will be equally comfortable at sea or in the anchorage, and special consideration has been given in the K50 layouts above and below deck to allow for short-handed ocean passage making. The Kraken 50 features the renowned integral  Zero Keel  and fully skegged rudder.

najad 395 cc Bluewater sailboats

N395 CC (centre cockpit) is part of the all-new Najad 395 range, designed in a joint venture by Najad, Farr Yacht Design, and Ken Freivokh Design – superyacht stylist, architects, and interior designers. The N395 CC is characterized by a well-protected large cockpit located close to the center of gravity. It has a well-designed interior and a very comprehensive options list that includes all equipment necessary to tailor the yacht to any individual needs. This model is available in two or three cabin layouts with one or two large heads.

outbound 56 bluewater

Welcome aboard the newest addition to Outbound’s impressive line of offshore passage makers. The new Outbound 56, built from German Frers timeless and proven design continues to fulfill our single mission of building great offshore yachts.  Fast, accommodating and gorgeous, the 56 will take you anywhere your heart desires in style and comfort.

oyster 565 Bluewater sailboats

The entry level yacht for the ‘G6’ range of seven models up to the Flagship Oyster 118.  Using the latest generation of Oyster hull shapes, developed with Humphreys Yacht Design, the Oyster 565 is designed for family sailing without professional crew.

A generous sail locker and lazarette, headroom and bunk lengths to match the larger Oyster Superyachts, the 565 can be configured with many different cabin layouts – and for the first time in Oyster Yachts – can have the master cabin forward and a dinghy garage in the transom.

rm970 Bluewater sailboats

The Brittany based yard is well known not only among ocean sailors but also to those who love short-handed sailing and are looking for seaworthy and easily driven bluewater sailboats, both safe and comfortable. This last aspect is where Fora Marine has made great progress in the last few years, shedding some of the spartan image that characterized their products for many years.

What has not changed, and what is still the RM range’s defining characteristic, is the twin-chined hull, made of Okumé plywood impregnated with epoxy resin (the deck is in fiberglass sandwich). Below the hull, the yard offers two options, a single deep keel or double shoal draft keels. The RM are designed by Marc Lombard, probably one of the architects most able to transform the fashionable chine into an important element in cruising design. A chined hull, when properly drawn, gives both better hull shape and interior volumes. ( Read our test )

rustler 42

The Rustler 42 is a classic looking yacht which combines style that is traditional yet modern. Her cruising layout results in a live aboard yacht that has stability and elegance with the same unique sea-kindly characteristics as the Rustler 36. Below the waterline, she looks conservative with a deep canoe body, long fin keel and a big skeg hung rudder.

Below the decks, this yacht has a spacious open plan saloon. The large, finished saloon table can comfortably seat eight. The aft cabin has standing headroom, a full-width double berth and plenty of storage within lockers and a vanity unit with seat. The aft head incorporates a shower unit and a ‘wet lilies’ locker. At the forepeak the grand master cabin has a 6 ft 6 in double V berth.

swan 58

Signed by  German Frers , the Swan 58 needs to combine the spaces of bluewater sailboats with a fast cruiser performances. Key details include a deck featuring soft and rounded shapes, a new cockpit design, a redefined coach-roof style and large swimming platform. The concept is easy: to give the maximum comfort and liveability at rest, together with maximum efficiency for short handed sailing, without losing the capability to race with a full crew. 

The interiors of the new Swan 58 , which is fitted with European oak, have been conceived as a combination between luxury and comfortable living spaces, storage and volumes for systems and safety features; we find here a large saloon, a galley with a 360 degree layout and three heads. Various interior styling layouts are available varying woods and materials. 

tartan 395 Bluewater

Designed by Tartan naval architect Tim Jackett, the 395 comes out of the Tartan factory in Fairport Harbor and is the perfect example of bluewater sailboats. Her hull shape is an evolution of tried and true concepts proven to deliver great stability and high interior volume while maintaining comforting manners throughout a wide range of sailing conditions. On deck Tartan 395 sports hallmark Tartan design elements such as a traditional cabin house fitted with functional polished stainless steel rectangular portholes.

Like her smaller sister 345, 395’s handcrafted interior is built in maple as standard, with cherry a no-charge option. The lighter maple opens up her interior in ways the darker cherry simply cannot.

New 23.5-metre Explorer Sailing Yacht Amundsen Launched

Mishi 88, the bluewater composite carbon superyacht from turkey, ice yachts unveils the advanced and sleek ice62, the new crossover clubswan 43 has been launched, live your passion, subscribe to our mailing list.

The perfect bluewater sailboat

bluewater cruiser

By Elaine Bunting

What makes the ideal yacht for ocean adventures and long distance voyaging elaine bunting investigates..

If your dream is to sail across oceans or even around the world, what is the right yacht? What type and size should you look for? And what equipment is going to add most to your safety and enjoyment of life on board?

The answers to these questions will define your experience and are going to vary depending on your budget, how long you intend to be away, and with whom you’ll be sailing. There are however some common denominators you’ll need to think about to sail safely and comfortably.

First, the fundamentals of a true bluewater yacht: its design and sea-keeping attributes. A good bluewater sailboat is capable of making long passages in comfort and will look after you in whatever conditions you encounter.

Oyster Yachts are renowned for their adventuring credentials; the yachts are well-found, luxurious and solidly built. About 95 have already circumnavigated the world and with another 25 participating in the Oyster World Rally 2022-23 soon Oysters will have logged over 100 successful circumnavigations. Starting with the fundamentals, they have hulls with integrated keels, are certified for strength and safety, and have keel-stepped masts. They are designed with self-sufficiency in mind and have generous accommodation and tankage for long ranges. Equipment is over-specified, from rig and steering gear to winches and windlasses, and there is easy access to systems and machinery.

Discover the perfect yacht for ocean adventures, highlighting key design features and insights from experienced sailors. Learn how to embark on an incredible long-distance voyage.

  • Learn about the essential features and characteristics of a bluewater cruiser.
  • Explore the design elements that contribute to comfort and safety during extended passages.
  • Find out why Oyster Yachts are renowned for their adventuring credentials.
  • Understand the significance of size when choosing a yacht for long-term cruising.
  • Get insights into the equipment, systems, and communication tools crucial for a successful voyage.
  • Learn about the importance of after-sales support and preparation for long-distance cruising.
  • Uncover the wisdom and encouragement from experienced bluewater sailors to embrace the adventure of a lifetime.

The evolution of every design in the last 24 years is linked by a common thread: Humphreys Yacht Design. Renowned yacht designer Rob Humphreys is at the helm, working closely for the last 15 years with son Tom, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects.

The primary job of a bluewater yacht, says Humphreys, is to be capable of being sailed by a shorthanded crew. It has to be easily handled, comfortable at sea on long passages yet capable of a reliable turn of speed that will make the miles slip by without great effort.

“The motion of the boat is important. Performance is important, too, but less so – comfort is more telling,” Humphreys explains. He favours a hull shape with “shallower rocker forward and a deeper mid-section to distribute the volume, which creates that softer ride.”

Moderate displacement yachts such as Oysters are born passagemakers.  The hull form is not only capable of producing reliable daily mileages on passage in comfort, without stressing crew or yacht, but can accommodate generous fuel and water tanks and bluewater critical items such as generator, large battery bank, washing machine and air conditioning. It also provides excellent internal stowage for stores and spares and ample locker space externally in sail locker and lazarettes.

“Control and manageability and the steering qualities are also important so there is less burden on autopilot systems. And the other side of it is that a yacht should have good load carrying abilities for stores and spares.”

The latest generation hull shapes, with plumb stems and beam carried right aft, not only look purposeful, they create a larger interior and can sail faster and more efficiently. A long waterline and greater hull volume means more accommodation in the bow area, but most particularly aft. That wider shape also benefits a yacht in pure sailing terms.

“Increased power aft helps with free stability,” Humphreys explains. “Stability is generated through hull form and is not so much dependent on the mechanical stability of the lead [on the keel]. So, in that respect, these boats are a little bit more powerful, a benefit all round, but particularly when sailing upwind and close reaching.”

Wide hull shapes are also suited to twin rudders, which in turn, says Humphreys, “gives fingertip control and makes a boat easy to steer.”

These evolutions can be traced back to race yacht design, as can the plumb bow. “That is another aspect of hull form that has translated well,” says Humphreys. “More vertical bows give you more waterline length, and that is always working for you. It gives you a better chance of sustained daily mileages, of reliable speed rather than exceptional speed.”

These latest designs also have increased freeboard, which means it is possible for yachts to have a flush foredeck for aesthetic and practical reasons, yet also really good headroom below. For Oyster Yachts it has allowed large vertical ‘seascape’ windows that let in light and connect cabins with the world and the views outside.

Other features that distinguish the true bluewater cruiser are a safe, protected and well-sheltered cockpit and helm stations, with sail controls led back; a good galley that is easy to use and secure at sea; a practical and comfortable navigation area; and clear and uncluttered sidedecks and foredeck.

The centre cockpit design that is a hallmark of Oyster Yachts is comfortable for long-distance cruise and “provides protection while sailing and entertaining in port, and is great in terms of overall visibility,” affirms owner Stephen Gratton. Stephen and his wife, Debbie, sailed around the world in their Oyster 53, Amelie, then returned through the Panama Canal to Canada and Alaska, sailed back across the Pacific to French Polynesia and are currently in Seattle.

“We have been in some extreme conditions, but even when things go wrong we know that Amelie can look after us. The comfort is great. Even in a gale, when you go below it all goes quiet. You feel like you are on a well-made boat and we like the solidity of design and thoughtfulness.”

Oyster yacht sailing from above

Other attributes that mark out a capable, go-anywhere bluewater boat include a galley that is safe, secure and easy to work in. The linear galley that is a feature of Oyster yachts is designed to be a seamanlike and usable space at sea, with abundant fridge and freezer capacity, and plentiful space for food stowage.

Similarly, a secure navigation area and chart table that is comfortable, safe and inviting to use at sea is also essential, as is a powerful, reliable propulsion system, large battery banks and multiple means of power generation. 

Shade and ventilation are very important for sailing in the Tropics. Oyster Yachts is the only builder to offer front saloon windows that open out to allow cooling air to circulate through the boat, and one of the few builders that still fits dorade vents for forced ventilation.

Every element is solidly built and made to last for hundreds of thousands of miles of sailing in all conditions. Above all, it the solidity of the design and strength of build that owners point to when describing what they most cherish about their yachts. 

“One of the things that is very important is to be able to trust your boat under all circumstances and be well prepared for bad weather,” comments Leo Nagtegaal, another round-the-world skipper, and owner of Oyster 625 Bubbles. “Your boat is actually one of the safest places to be.

What size yacht is best?

While small yachts can, and do, cross oceans, a moderate displacement, higher volume yacht has all the advantages for long-term cruising. A sweet spot for ocean cruisers lies between 45ft and 65ft. Yachts in this range can accommodate the comforts, stores and spares a crew of family and friends needs whilst also making quick passage times.

Larger yachts, fitted with hydraulic furling and electric winches, can still be sailed by a short-handed family crew, though beyond 65ft loads increase with size, maintenance demands grow too and it may require the help of professional crew.

When Leo Nagtegaal sold his business, he and his wife, Karin, bought an Oyster 56, Duchess. In 2013 they set off to realise Leo’s lifelong dream of sailing around the world.

The Nagtegaals loved the sailing life and people so much that, in 2014, they traded up to an Oyster 625. “We thought that as we’d be pretty much living aboard nine months of the year for the next five, six or seven years, we’d like just a little more space,” says Leo.

In his opinion, 45ft is the minimum size for long-term ocean voyaging: “Size is very personal,” he admits. “I have friends who went around Cape Horn in a 33ft wooden boat and did well, so they will disagree when I say that a bluewater yacht should be at least 45ft. It really depends on how the boat is equipped.”

oyster 885 luch sailing

Paul and Trish Ducker also sailed on the Oyster World Rally 2013-14 as far as New Zealand. They have ordered a new Oyster 565 and hope to take part in the 2024-25 rally. Their cruising is mainly done double-handed. “We don’t want anyone else living on board; we like the privacy and freedom,” Paul explains.

“For us, at the time about 54ft is as large as we wanted to go. Up to 60ft would be fine, but as you get older you are not so fit and strong and it tends to affect things like taking down sails and jumping around the boat coming into a marina.” On their new Oyster, they will have a bow and stern thruster to make close quarters manoeuvring easier, and headsails they can pole out for stress-free downwind passages.

Stephen and Debbie Gratton have owned six different yachts. Before buying their Oyster 53 Amelie in 2008, they owned a Contessa 32, which Stephen raced across the Atlantic in the single-handed OSTAR race. To enjoy cruising as a way of life, however, they knew they needed to change from their pretty but cramped design to a much bigger, more solidly built, heavier displacement yacht.

“Originally we thought anything over 40ft was OK for ocean passages and we thought about having a boat built for sailing round the world,” says Stephen. “But it was not going to be able to provide many creature comforts for my wife and me and we started realising that you get more comfort when a boat is over 50ft,” says Stephen.

Gratton emphasises the benefits of a bigger yacht size beyond merely space inside. “You have better ability to take the waves — the hull shape and distance between waves can all make a difference. Hull design is so important.”

Stephen Haines took delivery of his new Oyster 565, Panthalassa, in 2019. He has been planning a circumnavigation “for many, many years”. Unusually, Panthalassa represents a downsizing for Haines. He previously owned a 40m Huisman which he sailed with his young family all over the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Bahamas and US east coast. On the Huisman, Haines had had professional crew, but for his round the world voyage he wants to skipper and run the boat himself. “Having crew on board changes the dynamics and it is not the same,” he says. “When you are employing people it takes quite a long time to make your boat a home as there a lot of people around. It can be hard work.”

Haines says the 565 is “the perfect size for me” and says: “I wouldn’t swap with a bigger boat. In terms of build quality an Oyster is right up there, strong with a good reputation. My Huisman was a one-off, but the more 565s they build, the happier I am. It is easier to get spares and it adds to the residual value.

“I bought the boat to go across oceans and for me it is about the motion of the boat. Panthalassa sits on the water like a much, much bigger boat and in a big sea I have been impressed with her seakeeping.”

what equipment do you need?

From sails to power management and electronics, a multitude of choices shape the ideal bluewater cruiser. The sail inventory, for example, is part of personalising your boat and will depend on how many crew you have and how you like to sail.

The majority of ocean crossings on a tradewinds circumnavigation are on reaching and running angles. A suitable downwind set up can be as simple as the mainsail and a poled-out genoa, or it could be twin headsails set to run day after day. Or you might want to add more power and speed with an asymmetric spinnaker on a furler, or a specialised spinnaker such as the Parasailor.

Ideally, you would have multiple off-wind sail options (including for regattas if you plan to race) and upwind sails that can easily be reefed. In-mast furling, automated systems and electric winches take all the hard work out of reducing sail.

The latest Oysters and other modern cruising designs feature bowsprits that allow an additional light wind Code Sail to be set on a furler so you can keep sailing instead of turning on the engine. But whatever you add to the inventory, the important thing is to have sails that you want to use and don’t find daunting.

Oyster 565 Panthalassa Sailing

High on the list of essentials is a robust windlass that can handle as large an anchor as possible, ground tackle of up to 100 or 120m for anchoring in deep bays, and a second kedge anchor. The CQR type is ever popular, though many Oyster owners opt for a Rocna or upgrade to the stainless steel Ultra anchor, says Durham.

Power management is one the biggest and most critical issues boat owners face. “Questions about power come up all the time. Power management is key, and trying to use as little as possible,” says Mark Durham. Most Oyster owners opt for a generator, but are increasingly looking at diversifying power sources with solar and hydro power also charging high capacity lithium ion batteries.

“It is about trying to use as many different methods of power generation as you can, for example wind generators, hydrogenerators or solar panels,” says Durham. Alternative energy sources not only reduce emissions and the consumption of fossil fuels, they also allow longer periods of silent running and extend generator service intervals.

“We are doing a fantastic project at the moment on Oyster 725 hull number 1, putting solar panels on the hard top so [the owner] will not have to use his generator as often,” says Mark Durham. “He has got 12 lithium-ion batteries giving 2400Ah. Previously he was using his generator in the morning and evening to charge batteries and make water, now all systems can be run off batteries that are charged by the solar panels, and the generator is run rarely.

Now, with 24v watermakers we can run them off the batteries, which can be charged by solar power.”

“This is a really interesting part of the planning and many owners are enjoying the process of using less diesel.”

Power upgrades are always a worthwhile element of a refit. Stephen Gratton says that fitting a new 5kW inverter and 400 A/h of lithium ion batteries to his Oyster 53 is “the biggest change we have made in the 13 years we have had our boat. I would say that the ability to have big gaps between charging and the silence when cooking is one of the best things.”

Leo Nagtegaal also upgraded the inverter on his Oyster 625, Bubbles, to a 5kW unit and has solar panels on his hard-top bimini. “That provides two-thirds of my power needs. I can run more equipment, for example the washing machine and other appliances, so that was a big improvement,” he says.

A watermaker is a prized item on bluewater cruisers of all sizes, giving crews independence from shore. A reliable, well-specc'ed autopilot that has a fast speed of response downwind, with back-up spares, is essential. Bow thrusters and even stern thrusters are increasingly popular, especially for couples who sail two-up frequently.

Communications is critical for almost all long-term cruisers. Satellite comms and on board Wi-Fi networks not only make it simple to keep in touch with home, friends and work but to get detailed real-time weather data and forecasts, and even repair advice and downloads. SSB radio, dated technology though it undoubtedly is, also remains popular with crews who live aboard for lengthy periods – this is still a good way to connect with the cruising community and the camaraderie and help it offers.

“We use Iridium for weather data and emergencies, but for us SSB is something we enjoy using,” says Stephen Gratton. “We came up from French Polynesia to the Pacific North West this year and were part of a [radio] net and we had our last discussion the night before we arrived in the Juan De Fuca Strait, 4,000 miles away. It really felt like people there were thinking about you.”

For getting ashore, and as a transport workhorse when at anchor, everyone needs a sturdy tender and reliable outboard that can easily be brought aboard and stowed away. Solid floor inflatables or small RIBs are the best choice, stored securely on davits, or mounted on the foredeck.


Making your yacht a home from home

On an extended voyage, your yacht is your home, a place to entertain guests and enjoy visits from friends and family. Comforts are important and, unsurprisingly, all the cruisers we spoke to advised having as many of them as possible.

Paul and Trish Ducker have lived aboard their Oyster 54, Babe, almost full-time since she was launched in 2011. For their new boat, an Oyster 565 currently in build, they are going for “all the mod cons”.

While accepting that high equipment levels may bring increased demands in terms of maintenance, Paul says: “It is our home, so we want everything, from air-con to a water maker to a washing machine."

“I would say,” he adds, “everything generally on Oysters is useful even if is not essential.” At the top of the Duckers’ priority list are a large capacity fridge and freezer; sufficient power to run a washing machine; air conditioning from time to time; an electric cooker; and entertainment equipment.

Stephen and Debbie Gratton also mention an electric hob and cooker. "It really works for us. Food is a very important part of our enjoyment at sea and entertainment with friends. The change to lithium batteries was a game changer for us as we can use any of these appliances with just the inverter.”

Andy Armshaw is one of Oyster Yacht’s most experienced project managers, helping owners make the right choices for comfortable cruising. “Good galley set-ups are important,” he agrees. “Most people now go for a Quooker boiling water tap so there is no need to put a kettle on or a pan on the stove. More people are definitely looking at fitting an induction hob and there is a move away from gas, not only from the safety point of view but getting a refill in different places.”

Owners want “really well-appointed heads, and generally want what they have at home, such as fixed head rain showers. They also expect their boat to be comfortable, and we offer a choice of soft furnishings, fabrics and timbers. Also sprung mattresses, because one of the most valuable things on board is rest.”

Good lee cloths are needed for sea berths and are worth fitting in the saloon as well as in cabins. “Sometimes people in forward cabins will migrate aft at sea,” observes Armshaw.

A bimini that can be kept up on passage will keep crew shaded from the sun. A canvas sunshade for covering the cockpit and perhaps also the foredeck will extend your outdoor living area in the Tropics. The biminis and sprayhoods fitted to Oyster yachts are also extremely solid and to be kept up permanently while sailing.

When he was spec’ing his new Oyster 565 Panthalassa, Stephen Haines thought: “If I am going to be living on it and sailing round the world, quite honestly give me everything. I want the icemaker, nice mattresses, a washing machine, a tumble dryer. I got almost everything you can get. It’s nice to have everything – why not?

Like everyone we spoke to, Haines admits that maintenance comes with the territory. What makes the biggest difference to an owner is having excellent after sales support and advice at the end of a phone line.

“I have learned more about that in the last two years than in the rest of my life and now I’m living on the boat it has become daily life. But you only have to get Oyster Yachts on the phone, and they can talk me through it. I reckon it took nearly a full season to really get to this stage and really know my boat inside out and back to front.

“Now, I am very comfortable. I know my boat can cope with any conditions. If she could speak, I think Panthalassa would say ‘There’s nothing to worry about’.”

centre cockpit on sailing yacht

Get ready to go

How long does it take to prepare to cast the lines off and go cruising? Typically, owners getting ready to go off for an Atlantic crossing or further, take a season or two to prepare, though I have met many people who have successfully done it much quicker. A longer runway, however, allows you to spec your boat, trial it thoroughly, and get your life organised for leaving.

Some owners advocate a year of home waters cruising before going further afield. For example, Leo Nagtegaal had his Oyster 56 Duchess shipped to Singapore, where he was working, and sailed from there for several years until taking full retirement and joining the Oyster World Rally 2013-14. A period of shorter-range cruising allows the whole crew to gain the knowledge, training and skills needed, including essential maintenance know-how and medical and sea survival training – and to understand your boat inside out.

But however, you plan to break free, what really helps is a deadline: a date that you are going to set off, with a scene you can visualise to keep you motivated as you work through the preparations and demands of shore life. Most preparations are really just logistics, and you’re probably already pretty good at that. The bigger obstacle is often mustering the courage to leave.

Preparing a bluewater yacht and all that is needed to set free and go is a complex project, but you’ll have plenty of good help and advice along the way. I have yet to talk to anyone who has regretted it. When I ask bluewater sailors for their best advice, it usually boils down to a simple prescription: just go. Life is too short to put off your dreams.

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Winner of European Yacht of the Year 2023. She sets a new 50 foot bluewater benchmark, offering a stunning combination of sailing performance, comfort, safety and luxurious living space.

Oyster 495 sailing yacht with man at helm

Heralding a new generation of Oysters, this 60 foot bluewater cruiser is a sailing yacht for all oceans. Practical and well-provisioned for long distance sailing or cruising in coastal waters.

Oyster 565 sailing yacht at sea in med

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Oyster 595 sailing yacht sailing at sea

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Oyster 745 sailing yacht at sea with mountains 1 v2

Oyster 885SII

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Bluewaterboats.org built an encyclopedia of offshore sailboats for the sailing community. It contains a thorough summary of the history, details of the design and construction, and sailing characteristics on 99 sailboats.

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Alajuela 33

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Catalina 27

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20 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats Under $100,000

January 5, 2021 by Travis Turgeon 2 Comments

thom milkovic p 0tDp9zAeI unsplash 1 - 20 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats Under $100,000

Choosing the right bluewater yacht for your needs requires a ton of research. With so many designs and features available, it can be overwhelming trying to narrow down your options. The process gets even more complicated when you begin to consider the personal opinions of other sailors. 

So how do you know where to start? Every person’s definition of comfortability will vary when it comes to onboard living. What suits a family of four won’t necessarily suit a couple or a single-handed sailor. Your budget, style, and needs are all unique to you and your situation, so it’s essential to know just what to look for when buying a new or used vessel . 

To start you off in the right direction, we put together a list of our top choices for bluewater cruising yachts under $100,000.

Allied Princess 36

Green Allied Princess 36 sailboat at a marina

Built as a long-keel ketch or cutter, the Allied Princess 36 was in production from 1972 to 1982. Around 140 vessels were manufactured in total, so you can occasionally find them on the used market. 

While these cruisers’ design and construction are considered sufficient, the excessive use of fiberglass makes the design a bit bland. Although they may not have the most appealing design, these bluewater yachts certainly tick a lot of boxes.

With the full-keel measuring just four-foot six inches, it’s a design that holds steady on its course without pointing as high as a fin-keel design. 

Overall, the Allied Princess 36 is a wonderful option for bluewater sailing.

Prices range between $30,000 and $60,000.

Cabo Rico 38

Cabo Rico sailboat with green sails

The Cabo Rico 38 is at the top of its class, constructed with a long-keel cutter rig design that gives it outstanding bluewater capabilities for its price point. The vessel was produced in two models – Pilothouse, and Trunk Cabin – although the Pilothouse design is less common.

Cabo Rico i s consistently successful with it s 38 models, and t hey remain one of the most prominent cruising boats on the water.

Internally, this boat has various features required for a bluewater cruiser: Large water and fuel tanks, a solid design with balsa wood cores for thermal and noise insulation, and an overall seaworthy design.

While this boat wasn’t m eant to win races, it is a fantastic choice for a crui sing vessel.

Prices range between $30,000 and $80,000.

Celestial 48

Bluewater Celestial 48 sailboat

The Celestial 48 is the largest boat on our list and is commonly sought after by the cruising fraternity. The problem is, these vessels are scarce on the used market. 

The Celestial 48 is a ketch rig with a shoal-draft, fin-keel design, and a center-cockpit configuration that is comfortable and ideal for bluewater sailing. One of our favorite features is the six-foot, two-inch headroom in the cabin, along with high-capacity water and fuel tanks.

The Celestial 48 was built in China by the Xiamen boatyard, although it’s no longer in production.

If you can find one, the Celestial 48 will make an excellent bluewater cruiser.

Prices start near our $100,000 mark.

Bluewater Corbin 39 sailboat

The Corbin 39 is manufactured in two designs, aft or center cockpit. Designed and built in Canada by Robert Dufour and Marius Corbin, the 39 is now (sadly) out of production. This cruiser remains a favorite of many and is still commonly searched for on the used market.

One thing to note is that most of the boats were sold as unfinished kits, leaving owners to complete the interiors themselves. For this reason, the standard of interior design finish will vary, so it’s worth checking and comparing with other vessels carefully.

When found, the Corbin 39’s present a very reasonable price tag, but a full survey is essential.

Prices range between $40,000 and $60,000.

Docked Freedom 36 sailboat at sunset

The Freedom 36 is one of the smaller yachts on our list, but it has an exciting design that attracts cruisers. The wide beam and long waterline design allow for a much larger interior than most other boats of similar length. As a cruiser, space is a top priority, so this cruiser should be on your list of considerations.

A unique feature of this Freedom yacht is the stayless carbon fiber mast. It looks a little odd for most, with no forestay or backstay and a mast that flexes alarmingly in the wind. It’s a proven design, though, and gives clean lines just like an aircraft wing.

The Freedom 36 is certainly an exciting cruiser to keep an eye on.

Prices range between $40,000 and $80,000.

Gulfstar 44

Gulfstar 44 sailboat at sea

Known as a capable cruiser or live-aboard boat, the Gulfstar 44 is a spacious yacht that can take you around the world.

Designed with a fin-keel and skeg-rudder, the Gulfstar is comfortable and well built.

Internally, you’ll find a large galley, king-size aft cabin, and spacious fore cabin, with ample room in the saloon. Earlier Gulfstar vessels suffered from inconsistent build quality, but from around 1976 onwards, the company made huge improvements.

For a spacious bluewater sailboat with excellent heavy-weather handling characteristics, the Gulfstar 44 is a great choice.

Prices start around $60,000.

Hans Christian 38

1989 Hans Christian 38 T sailboat

If you’re considering cruising the world in a bluewater yacht, then the Hans Christian 38-T should be added to your shortlist of candidates. 

With a full-length keel design and laden with solid teak, this boat weighs in at 12.5 tons, making it a heavy displacement vessel that you can rely on to take you through some of the harshest conditions.

Manufactured in Taiwan, these cruisers can be a chore to acquire. One of the most common downfalls of the Hans 38-T is electrical problems, so be sure to get the wiring checked out by a professional. 

Outside of electrical issues, this boat is a proven winner in the cruising world. 

Prices start around $70,000 but expect to pay well over $100,000 for the more admirable models.

Hinckley Bermuda 40

Group of people on a Hinckley Bermuda 40 with blue sails

The Hinckley Bermuda 40 was in production for over 30 years, from 1959 until 1991, but only 203 boats were manufactured in total. Many Bermuda 40s were used as racing vessels throughout their production, winning the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy in 1964. 

The design also gained many admirers in the cruising world thanks to the long keel and centerboard, which allows the boat to maneuver through shallow waters. The Hinckley Bermuda 40 is hard to beat for versatility, combining classic looks with the shallow draught and generous interior space.

Early models from the 60s and 70s start around $80,000, but later models land well above our $100,000 threshold.

Island Packet 35

Island Packet 35 sailboat anchored at harbor

Although only in production for six years, 178 Island Packet 35s made their way onto the market. These vessels have become justifiably popular with coastal cruisers and bluewater sailors alike.

These cruisers are available in two designs; long-keel or long-keel with centerboard – both of which come with cutter rigging. 

The design is conservative and built for comfort rather than speed. Inside space is very generous, with a 12-foot beam, a v-berth cabin in the forepeak, and a double cabin on the aft port side.

Island Packet 35’s appear on the used market regularly, so locating one shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Prices start at around $65,000.

Niagara 35 yacht at a dock

The Niagara 35 is a popular cruiser available in two exciting models, each one coming with a fantastic interior design. 

The original model features a center galley and marine toilet that separates the fore and aft areas. The saloon is completely closed off, making it useful during extended passage journeys.

The later model has a double-berth forward, separated from the saloon by the head and shower. Both models include a spacious cockpit design. Through its 12 years of production, 260 Niagara 35’s went on the market – so you can regularly find them for sale.

Early models start around $30,000, with later models coming in closer to $70,000.

White Nordic 40 sailboat with blue sails in a marina

Only 32 of the Robert Perry-designed Nordic 40s went through production, making them exclusive and difficult to find. If you do manage to get your hands on one, however, you won’t be disappointed.

The fin-keel and skeg-mounted rudder design allow for up to six people to stay comfortably, including extra storage space for luggage and provisions. 

The Perry design is recognized for the quality of its fittings, including rod-rigging and full hull insulation on early models. After 1987, they cut back on a few design features, but it’s still a quality boat. 

If you can manage to find a Nordic 40, it will make an excellent investment.

While it may be rare to find one below our $100,000 mark, it is possible.

Passport 40

Passport 40 sailboat anchored near shore

Built in Taiwan, the Passport 40 is another excellent design by Robert Perry. Sporting a fin-keel and a skeg-mounted rudder, the design is known for its well-balanced performance. 

Originally supplied with a sloop-rig, the majority have an inner stay, fitted to allow a double headsail. This cutter-style rig makes the Passport 40 even more suitable for ocean crossings.

The interiors are well designed – as you’d expect from a Robert Perry – and make for comfortable living during long passages.

Peterson 44

Peterson 44 sailboat with a mountain backdrop

The Peterson 44 was designed and built as a performance cruiser, combining sufficient speed and sea-kindly handling. 

A low center-cockpit, 10,000 pounds of lead ballast, and a long fin keel allow this vessel to take turbulent conditions in stride without sacrificing the crew’s comfort. 

Internally, there is plenty of space in the well-designed cabin. For long passages, there’s a 132-gallon water tank and a 117-gallon fuel tank.

Finding a Peterson 44 may be your only problem. They manufactured about 200 boats, but owners rarely like to part with them – adding to their intrigue and value.

Prices for these yachts vary widely. Expect to pick up an older model between $50,000 and $75,000.

Prout Snowgoose 37

Prout Snowgoose 37 catamaran on a mooring line

As the only catamaran on our list, the Prout Snowgoose 37 is a proven boat for circumnavigation on the bluewater trail. 

A standout feature of the early Snowgoose models is its narrow beam, which allows them to navigate canals easily. These boats are popular in Europe and are common on the journey between Spain and France on the Mediterranian. Additionally, the Prout Snowgoose 37 can fit into a single-hull marina, reducing berthing costs when compared to most other catamarans. 

If you have never considered a catamaran in the past, the Prout Snowgoose 37 may change your mind.

Prices start near $45,000, with later models reaching over $100,000.

Two people on the back of a Shannon 38 sailboat

The Shannon 38 comes in two styles, with either an aft cockpit or pilothouse. Shannon Yachts are known for their build quality and attention to detail, and the 38 is no exception. The boat is available as either a ketch or cutter rig, but it’s renowned for its performance at sea in both forms.

Only 100 were built, with the final boat launched in 1988. If you can find one on the used market, it will make a competent bluewater cruiser.

Prices start at $40,000 for older models, with newer models inching closer to our $100,000 mark.

Tartan 4100 Spark sailboat on a cloudy day

Only 80 of the Tartan 41s were manufactured, although they produced a similar Tartan 43 with the same molds. It is a fin keel design, with a skeg-mounted rudder and sloop-rigging. In its day, it was considered a fast cruiser, but now they’re mostly made for comfort.

If you’re looking at a Tartan 41, check out the keel dimensions. The keel was undersized on earlier models, which caused heavy-weather steering issues. The boatyard redesigned the later models, and some retrofitting has been done on the originals.

Prices start around $45,000 and reach upwards of $70,000.

Tayana 37 bluewater sailboat with an American flag

No list of bluewater sailboats would be complete without the Tayana 37. It’s a beautiful boat designed by Robert Perry that comes in three variants; cutter, ketch, and pilothouse. 

Built to compete against the popular Westsail 32, the 37 became a good seller – with almost 600 launched to date. Today, they are manufactured in limited numbers, as the traditional teak-heavy design is now less popular.

If you can find a good Tayana 37, cruising the oceans will be a pleasure in this sturdy and robust vessel.

Early models cost around $45,000, with newer or retrofitted models topping $75,000.

Valiant 40 cruiser with white sails designed by Robert Perry

Another boat designed by Robert Perry, the Valiant 40 is one of the most sought-after bluewater cruisers on the used market. By the end of production, two manufacturers were able to put out around 200 boats, so it’s certainly possible to get your hands on one.

With a fin keel, reasonably heavy displacement, and solid build, open ocean cruising is made comfortable in the Valiant 40.

The Valiant’s trademark is the canoe stern, something Perry has carried over into many of his designs. The boat’s performance sets it apart from the more traditional heavy-cruisers, and it still has many admirers.

Expect to pay upwards of $45,000 for an early Valiant, but well-maintained vessels will command much higher prices.

Wauquiez Pretorien 35

Wauquiez Pretorien 35 small sailboat

When the weather gets rough, most people prefer bigger, heavier cruisers. Small boats generally don’t perform as well in harsh conditions, but the Pretorien 35 is an exception.

Built to IOR specifications, it’s a short, wide-beam design, with a ballast in the keel that makes up half of the displacement. It may be disappointing in light winds, but as the breeze picks up, the Pretorien comes alive.

Wauquiez built boats are known for their quality finish, so you shouldn’t hold any doubts when buying a used Pretorien.

Prices start around $39,000.

Westsail 32

White Westsail 32 cruiser in a marina

At just 32 feet, the Westsail might be a surprising inclusion on our list. However, the design has proven itself many times over and remains popular with many cruisers.

With a long keel, transom-mounted rudder, and heavy displacement, these are seaworthy yachts.

The flipside to this is that the performance can be underwhelming. The Westsails are known for being slow, safe boats that will get you wherever you need to go – making them perfect for leisurely cruising. 

Over 800 vessels entered the market between 1971 and 1981, so there should be plenty available if you look hard enough. The other point to remember is that they sold them as owner-completion kits, so the internal fitments, in particular, will vary in quality.

With so many available, the prices remain reasonable – with an early Westsail 32 fetching around $29,000 and well-maintained older models coming in closer to $50,000.

Remember: When buying a bluewater cruising yacht for less than $100,000, compromise is inevitable. 

If you’re looking for a seaworthy, heavy-displacement design, you’ll have to compromise on the boat’s age. Choosing a modern, light design will allow you more for your money.

The best advice for buying a boat is to be truly honest with yourself by defining your needs and separating them from your desires. 

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November 15, 2021 at 6:30 pm

You guys didn’t mention Cape dory or pacific seacraft. How long have you been sailing?

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February 18, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Very nicely done. There will always be people who disagree with your list but they reserve the right to comment without creating any value which is what you provided. Thanks for putting this together.

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13 World-Famous Bluewater Sailboats Under 40 Feet

Bluewater sailboats are designed to handle long-distance cruising in open water, so they need to be tough, reliable, and seaworthy. If you want to set sail on a bluewater adventure but don't want a massive yacht, here are 13 of the world's most famous bluewater sailboats under 40 feet that can handle the open sea with ease.

The 13 world-famous bluewater sailboats are:

  • Contessa 32
  • Cape Dory 36
  • Island Packet 35
  • Westsail 32
  • Bristol Channel Cutter 28
  • Albin Vega 27
  • Southern Cross 31

A bluewater sailboat should be self-righting or extremely seaworthy, like a large catamaran. Let's look at what other key features you should look for in a bluewater sailboat to ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment during long-term open-sea cruising.

  • The Contessa 32 has a moderate sail area that makes it easy to handle even in challenging sea conditions.
  • The Cape Dory 36 is generally known as a fast bluewater sailboat that can easily reach speeds of up to 7 knots under sail.
  • The Island Packet 35 is equipped with a Yanmar diesel engine, which provides plenty of power to navigate through rough seas.
  • An ideal length for a bluewater sailboat is at least 30–35 feet in length, but boats such as the Dana 24 and Flicka 20 provide the same excellent stability as others despite being smaller.
  • One common feature of the best bluewater sailboats is having a protected helm and accommodation that is well-protected from the elements.

sailing blue water yacht

Top 13 Bluewater Sailboats Under 40 Feet

Here are 13 world-famous bluewater sailboats under 40 feet that you should consider to take you on long-distance voyages:

David Sadler 32 feet Long keel, narrow beam, moderate displacement, stable and seaworthy
W.I.B. Crealock 27 feet Full keel, hand-laid fiberglass hull, versatile and sturdy, excellent sailing performance
Carl Alberg 36 feet Classic design, seaworthy and reliable, fast and responsive, full keel
Sparkman & Stephens 37 feet Sleek, low profile, narrow beam, deep keel, fast and comfortable, powerful sail plan
Bob Johnson 35 feet Spacious and well-designed, full keel, cutter rig
William Crealock 32 feet Legendary bluewater cruiser, full keel, heavy displacement, seaworthy and stable
Chuck Paine 26 feet Beautiful and capable, classic, full-keeled, cutter-rigged sailboat, seaworthy and stable
Lyle Hess 28 feet Traditional design, full keel, heavy displacement hull, high-quality materials
Per Brohall 27 feet Compact and affordable bluewater cruiser, full keel, moderate displacement hull, capable and seaworthy
Robert Perry 30 feet Classic and well-respected sailboat, full keel, inspired by traditional Japanese fishing boats, well-balanced helm
Thomas Gillmer 31 feet Sturdy and comfortable cruiser, full keel, moderate displacement hull, solid fiberglass construction
Bruce Bingham 20 feet Small but mighty bluewater sailboat, full keel, sturdy construction, timeless design, easy to handle
Lyle Hess 27 feet Compact and seaworthy vessel, full keel, cutter rig, easily trailerable

1. The Contessa 32 is a classic bluewater cruiser

History and design of the contessa 32.

The Contessa 32 has been around since the early 1970s and was designed by David Sadler and built by Jeremy Rogers Ltd in Lymington, England. The boat was originally designed for racing, but it quickly gained popularity as a cruising sailboat due to its seaworthiness and comfort.

This boat has a long keel, a narrow beam, and a moderate displacement. It has a length overall of 32 feet, a beam of 9 feet, and a draft of 5 feet 6 inches. It is typically rigged as a masthead sloop, with a mainsail and a genoa.

Performance and handling of the Contessa 32

The Contessa 32 is known for its ability to handle rough seas and heavy winds. It has a moderate sail area, which makes it easy to handle even in challenging conditions.

sailing blue water yacht

Features and amenities of the Contessa 32

This bluewater sailboat has a comfortable and well-designed interior that can accommodate up to four people. It has a v-berth in the bow, a saloon with a settee on each side, a galley, and a head. The interior is finished in teak, which gives it a warm and classic look.

It also has a large cockpit with high coamings, which provides good protection from the elements. It has a deep and secure cockpit, which makes it easy to move around on deck even in rough seas. The boat also has a good-sized fuel and water tank, which allows for extended cruising.

2. Dana 24 is a versatile and sturdy bluewater sailboat

History and design of the dana 24.

The Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 is a versatile and sturdy sailboat designed by W.I.B. Crealock and built by Pacific Seacraft. It has a length overall of 27 feet, 4 inches, a beam of 8 feet, 7 inches, and a draft of 3 feet, 10 inches. The boat is typically rigged as a cutter, with a mainsail, jib, and staysail.

The boat has a full keel , which provides stability and tracking ability. The hull is hand-laid fiberglass, which is known for being durable and long-lasting. The boat also has a solid teak cabin top, which adds to its classic look and provides good protection from the elements.

Sailing performance of the Dana 24

The Dana 24 has a high aspect ratio sail plan, which makes it easy to handle and gives it good speed. The cutter rig allows for a variety of sail configurations, which makes it versatile in a range of conditions. The boat also has a relatively low displacement, which contributes to its speed and agility.

Features and amenities of the Dana 24

Some of the key features of the Dana 24 include:

  • A spacious cockpit with comfortable seating for up to six people
  • A well-designed interior with a V-berth, a galley, a head, and a salon area
  • Ample storage space throughout the boat, including lockers and shelves
  • A reliable and efficient Yanmar diesel engine
  • A sturdy and seaworthy hull that can handle a variety of weather conditions
  • A sail plan that is easy to handle and can be adjusted for different wind conditions
  • A variety of optional upgrades and accessories, including a dodger, a bimini, and a swim ladder.

3. Cape Dory 36 is a timeless beauty with exceptional performance

History and design of the cape dory 36.

The Cape Dory 36 is a classic sailboat that was designed by Carl Alberg , who was known for his expertise in designing seaworthy boats that could handle rough waters with ease. It was first introduced in 1978 and was produced until 1990.

During this time, it gained a reputation as a reliable and seaworthy vessel that was perfect for cruising and offshore sailing. It is made of fiberglass and has a full keel that provides excellent stability and performance in rough seas. The boat's displacement is 19,500 pounds, and it has a waterline length of 27 feet.

Sailing performance of the Cape Dory 36

The Cape Dory 36 is known as a fast boat that can easily reach speeds of up to 7 knots under sail. It is also very stable in rough seas and can handle heavy winds with ease. The boat's full keel provides excellent tracking and stability.

Features and amenities of the Cape Dory 36

The Cape Dory 36 has a classic design that is both beautiful and functional. It was designed to be a comfortable and spacious boat that could accommodate a small family or a group of friends. It has a traditional layout with a center cockpit, a spacious cabin, and a large aft cabin.

It has a raised cabin top that provides excellent headroom in the cabin and a large cockpit that is perfect for entertaining guests. The boat has a traditional rig with a full-batten mainsail and a roller furling jib, a self-tailing winch , and a boom vang, which makes it easy to handle even in heavy winds. It also comes with a head with a shower, to stay clean and comfortable even on extended trips.

4. Tartan 37 is a fast and comfortable bluewater cruiser

History and design of the tartan 37.

The Tartan 37 is a classic bluewater cruiser that was first introduced in 1976 and was designed by Sparkman & Stephens, a renowned naval architecture firm. The Tartan 37 was built by Tartan Yachts, a company known for its high-quality sailboats.

The design of the Tartan 37 is based on the classic lines of traditional cruising yachts. It has a long waterline and a moderate displacement.

The boat has a sleek, low profile, and a narrow beam, which helps it to cut through the water with ease. The Tartan 37 has a deep keel that provides excellent stability and helps it to track well in heavy seas.

Sailing performance of the Tartan 37

One of the standout features of the Tartan 37 is that it can handle a wide range of wind conditions. It is easy to sail and can be handled by a small crew.

It also has a powerful sail plan that includes a large mainsail and a genoa. The boat has a high aspect ratio, which means that it has a large sail area relative to its size, which helps it generate a lot of power and speed.

sailing blue water yacht

Features and amenities of the Tartan 37

The Tartan 37 is known to have a spacious and well-appointed interior that can accommodate up to six people. It has a large salon with a U-shaped settee and a dining table.

The boat also has a well-equipped galley with a stove, oven, and refrigerator. It has two private cabins, including a large aft cabin with a queen-sized berth. It also has a head with a shower and plenty of storage space.

5. Island Packet 35 is a spacious and well-designed boat

History and design of the island packet 35.

The Island Packet 35 was first introduced in 1988 by Island Packet Yachts, a company that specializes in the production of quality cruising sailboats. The boat was designed by Bob Johnson, the founder of Island Packet Yachts, and was built to be a spacious and comfortable vessel for long-range cruising.

The Island Packet 35 has a classic design that features a full keel, a cutter rig , and a spacious cockpit that is perfect for entertaining guests or relaxing in the sun.

Sailing performance of the Island Packet 35

The Island Packet 35 has a displacement of around 17,500 - 18,500 lbs and a sail area of 556 sq. ft. for the standard rig, which gives it a good balance of speed and stability. The boat is also equipped with a Yanmar diesel engine, which provides plenty of power for maneuvering in tight spaces or navigating through rough seas.

Features and amenities of the Island Packet 35

One of the standout features of the Island Packet 35 is its spacious interior. The boat has a large salon with plenty of seating and a dining table that can accommodate up to six people.

The galley has a stove, oven, refrigerator, and plenty of storage space. There are also two private cabins, one forward and one aft, each with its own head and shower.

Other amenities on the Island Packet 35 include a spacious cockpit with plenty of seating, a swim platform with a ladder, and plenty of storage space throughout the boat. It also has a number of safety features, including a sturdy lifeline system, a radar reflector, and a GPS chartplotter.

6. Westsail 32 is a proven and reliable bluewater cruiser

History and design of the westsail 32.

The Westsail 32 is a legendary bluewater cruiser designed by William Crealock in the 1970s and was built by Westsail Corporation in California.

It is a full-keeled, heavy displacement boat that has a displacement of 19,500 pounds and a ballast of 7,000 pounds. The boat has a long waterline and a narrow beam, which makes it a good performer in heavy seas.

sailing blue water yacht

Sailing performance of the Westsail 32

This boat has a simple and traditional design with a cutter rig , which makes it easy to handle and provides a good balance of speed and stability. It has a sail area of 558 square feet, which is sufficient for most conditions and is equipped with a diesel engine, which provides reliable power when the wind is not favorable.

Features and amenities of the Westsail 32

The Westsail 32 has a spacious interior that is designed for comfort and convenience. The boat has a large salon with a U-shaped settee and a table, which can be converted into a double berth.

It also has a galley with a stove, oven, and sink, as well as a head with a shower. It is also equipped with a sturdy stainless steel bow pulpit and stern rail, which provide safety and security when working on deck. The boat also has a large cockpit with high coamings, which provides good protection from the elements.

7. Frances 26 is a beautiful and capable sailboat

History and design of the frances 26.

Frances 26 is a beautiful and capable sailboat that was designed by Chuck Paine, a renowned naval architect, and was first introduced in 1975. This boat is a classic, full-keeled, cutter-rigged sailboat that was designed to be a small, seaworthy cruiser that can handle heavy weather.

It has a displacement of 6,500 pounds and a length overall of 26 feet. The boat has a beam of 8 feet and a draft of 4 feet. The hull is made of solid fiberglass, and the deck is constructed of marine plywood and fiberglass.

Sailing performance of the Frances 26

Frances 26 is responsive and quick and can handle a variety of conditions with ease. The cutter rig is well-balanced, and the boat can be easily sailed by a single person. The full keel provides excellent stability and ensures that the boat tracks well, even in heavy seas.

Features and amenities of the Frances 26

The Frances 26 is also well-equipped with features and amenities, such as a spacious cockpit that can comfortably seat four people with the interior all well-laid out and functional.

The boat has a V-berth forward, a head, and a galley with a two-burner stove and a sink. There is also ample storage space throughout the boat, including a large lazaretto in the cockpit.

8. The Bristol Channel Cutter 28 is a traditional and strongly built boat

History and design of the bristol channel cutter 28.

The Bristol Channel Cutter 28 is a classic and robust sailboat designed by Lyle Hess, a renowned naval architect, and was first introduced in the 1960s. The design of the Bristol Channel Cutter 28 is based on the traditional working boats that were used in the Bristol Channel area of England.

The boat is built to be strong and sturdy, with a full keel and a heavy displacement hull . It is designed to handle rough seas and strong winds.

The boat is constructed using high-quality materials, including teak and mahogany woodwork, bronze fittings, and stainless steel hardware. The boat's design is simple and elegant, with a classic look that has stood the test of time.

Sailing performance of the Bristol Channel Cutter 28

sailing blue water yacht

Bristol Channel Cutter 28 is designed to be sailed comfortably in all weather conditions, and its full keel provides excellent directional stability. The boat is also responsive and easy to handle, making it a great choice for solo sailing or for a small crew.

Features and amenities of the Bristol Channel Cutter 28

The boat's features and amenities are designed to be functional and practical. The cockpit is spacious and comfortable, with ample room for seating and storage.

The cabin is cozy and well-appointed, with a galley, a head, and sleeping accommodations for up to four people. The boat also has a large sail plan, with a cutter rig that allows for easy sail handling and flexibility in different wind conditions.

9. Albin Vega 27 is a compact and affordable bluewater cruiser

History and design of the albin vega 27.

The Albin Vega 27 is a popular and well-known compact bluewater cruiser that was first introduced in 1966 and designed by Swedish naval architect Per Brohall. It has a classic design that features a full keel and a moderate displacement hull.

It has a length overall of 8.2 meters (27 feet) and a beam of 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). The boat has a draft of 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) and a displacement of 2,900 kg (6,393 lbs).

Sailing performance of the Albin Vega 27

In terms of performance and handling, the Vega 27 has a moderate sail plan that includes a mainsail, genoa, and spinnaker. The boat has a relatively low freeboard, which can make it a bit wet in heavy seas, but it also gives it a stable and comfortable ride.

Features and amenities of the Albin Vega 27

The Vega 27 has a spacious cockpit that can accommodate a small crew, and the interior of the boat is designed to maximize space and storage. The boat has a small galley with a sink and a two-burner stove, as well as a compact head with a marine toilet.

10. Baba 30 is a classic and well-respected sailboat

History and design of the baba 30.

Baba 30 was first introduced in the 1970s, designed by Robert Perry, a renowned naval architect. It has a classic full-keel design that was inspired by traditional Japanese fishing boats. The boat has a classic look with a clipper bow and a long, sweeping sheer line.

Sailing performance of the Baba 30

The Baba 30 is a relatively small sailboat, but it is known for its excellent performance and handling. It is designed to be easy to handle in a wide range of conditions, and it is known for its stability and ease of handling.

Features and amenities of the Baba 30

This boat has a spacious cockpit that is perfect for relaxing and entertaining. It has a comfortable interior that is designed for extended cruising as it has a full galley, a head, and a comfortable sleeping area.

sailing blue water yacht

11. Southern Cross 31 is a sturdy and comfortable cruiser

History and design of the southern cross 31.

The Southern Cross 31 is a popular cruising sailboat designed by Thomas Gillmer and built by the C.E. Ryder Corporation in Bristol, Rhode Island in 1975.

The design of the Southern Cross 31 was based on the traditional double-ended cruising boats that were popular in the early 20th century. The boat has a full keel and a moderate displacement, and the hull is constructed of solid fiberglass, which is known for its durability and resistance to osmotic blistering .

Sailing performance of the Southern Cross 31

Southern Cross 31 has a moderate sail plan that is easily handled by a small crew, and it is known for its ability to sail well in a variety of wind and sea conditions. The boat also has a well-balanced helm and a comfortable cockpit that makes it easy to handle in rough weather.

Features and amenities of the Southern Cross 31

The interior of Southern Cross 31 is spacious and well-lit, with plenty of headroom and ample storage space. The boat has a large galley with a propane stove and oven, a refrigerator, and a sink with hot and cold running water. There is also a comfortable salon with a dinette table that can be converted into a double berth.

Other features include a private aft cabin with a double berth, a head with a marine toilet and a shower, and a variety of storage lockers and compartments throughout the boat. The boat also has a variety of safety features, including a sturdy stainless steel bow pulpit, a stern rail, and a lifeline system that runs the length of the deck.

12. Flicka 20 is a small but mighty bluewater sailboat

History and design of flicka 20.

The Flicka 20 is a small but mighty bluewater sailboat that has been around for over 40 years. It was designed by Bruce Bingham in the early 1970s and was initially built by Pacific Seacraft.

The Flicka 20 has a full keel design with a displacement of around 4,000 pounds. Its hull is made of fiberglass, and it has a length of 20 feet and a beam of 8 feet. The boat's design is based on the traditional lines of classic sailing vessels, which gives it a timeless look that has aged well over the years.

Sailing performance of Flicka 20

Flicka 20 has a full keel design that provides excellent stability, and it is known for its ability to maintain a straight course even in choppy waters . The boat is also easy to handle, even for novice sailors, and it can be sailed single-handedly.

Features and amenities of Flicka 20

The Flicka 20 is equipped with a cozy cabin with a V-berth and a settee that can be converted into a berth. The boat also has a small galley with a sink and a two-burner stove, as well as a marine head. There is ample storage space throughout the cabin, including lockers and shelves.

Other features of the Flicka 20 include a self-tacking jib, a mainsail with reefing points, and a boom vang. The boat also has a cockpit that is well-protected from the elements and provides excellent visibility. The cockpit is equipped with a tiller steering system, which gives the boat a responsive and agile feel.

13. The Nor'sea 27 is a compact and seaworthy vessel

History and design of nor'sea 27.

The Nor'sea 27 was designed by Lyle Hess, a renowned naval architect who is known for his work on a number of iconic boats, including the Bristol Channel Cutter and the Falmouth Cutter. The Nor'sea 27 was designed to be a smaller, more affordable version of these boats, while still retaining the same level of quality and seaworthiness.

The boat is 27 feet long and has a beam of just under 8 feet. It has a full keel and a cutter rig, which makes it very stable and easy to handle in rough seas.

The boat is also designed to be easily trailerable , which makes it a popular choice for sailors who want to explore different parts of the world without having to worry about the logistics of transporting their boat.

Sailing performance of Nor'sea 27

The Nor'sea 27 is very stable and easy to handle, even in rough seas. The full keel and cutter rig makes it very forgiving, and the boat is able to maintain a steady course even in heavy winds.

The boat is also very responsive to the helm, which makes it easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

Features and amenities of Nor'sea 27

Despite its compact size, the Nor'sea 27 has a spacious cockpit that is perfect for relaxing and enjoying the scenery, with an interior that is well-appointed with a galley, a head, and a comfortable sleeping area. The boat also has ample storage space, which is important for long voyages.

Key Features To Look For In A Bluewater Sailboat

sailing blue water yacht

There are several key features to consider that will ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment while cruising on a bluewater sailboat:

Prefer the most stable size of at least 30-35 feet in length

A bluewater sailboat should be at least 30-35 feet in length to safely traverse common wavelengths in the open ocean. It should also be self-righting or extremely seaworthy like a large catamaran.

Opt for boats with a wide beam and a deep draft. Ideally, boats with full keels are also best for bluewater sailing.

If you're looking for the best size sailboat for coastal cruising, here's how you should know the perfect size that fits your needs.

Choose one with a protected helm and accommodation

A protected and enclosed helm helps ensure safety and comfort when sailing in inclement weather. Accommodations below should also be well-protected from the elements and provide ample storage for provisions and gear.

Pick one with sturdy and reliable rigging and sails

Try to look for a boat with a cutter or ketch rig for versatility in different wind conditions. A roller furling system for the headsail is also recommended for ease of use.

Look for one with reliable anchoring and mooring

Perhaps consider a boat with a windlass and a minimum of 45 fathoms of ⅜in chain, plus a modern anchor weighing in at a minimum of 55lb.

Opt for the most self-sufficient bluewater sailboat

Consider going for a boat with ample tankage for fuel and water, as well as a reliable means of generating power such as solar panels or a wind turbine. A watermaker is also a valuable addition for long-term cruising.

It must be seaworthy and reliable

Go for boats that are built to withstand the rigors of bluewater sailing . A strong and durable hull, high-quality materials, and a well-designed layout are all indicators of a seaworthy vessel.

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What Makes a Good Blue Water Cruising Sailboat

Before we get started, to analyze the features that make a good sailboat, I’d like to have you all take a seat please— and stop sharpening those knives! That includes you, sir, with the calloused hands and wood shavings in your beard! 

For some reason, boat talk can bring out the ogre in some people, which is too bad. One of the great things about sailing is the incredible diversity of sailboats to do it in: big sailboats, little sailboats, wide sailboats, skinny sailboats, monohulls, multihulls, wood sailboats, fiberglass sailboats, steel sailboats, aluminum sailboats—even sailboats made of cement! The number of sailboat types that continue to be built and sailed, even today, is truly incredible.

My own “breakthrough” in appreciating boat diversity came a few years ago on a bareboat charter cruise on Lake Erie with my wife. As I’ve intimated elsewhere, there was a time when I wanted nothing to do with any boat that wasn’t either a racer or an old classic with heartbreaking overhangs. Then along came this charter aboard a 34-footer of the type I had always dismissed as being the epitome of a soulless “plastic” cruiser.

In fact, I had barely set foot aboard that little trim vessel before I realized how wrong and even downright ignorant I’d been. The marina was as crowded as a shopping mall on the day after Thanksgiving, but we backed that handy little sloop out of her slip and turned toward the channel pretty as you please. A couple of hours later, a line of thunderheads rumbled in from the northwest, and we had to reef down for a bit of a squall, but again, there was no problem—despite some hail and about 35 knots of wind.

That night we relaxed in the comfortable cockpit, slowly working our way through a bottle of wine. Then we went below for a good night’s rest in the boat’s spacious aft stateroom. The next morning we awoke refreshed, had breakfast, and then headed back out onto the lake, ready and eager to do it all over again. In short, we had an absolutely fantastic time, and the boat performed splendidly in every way. It really was a revelation, both the quality of the boat and the realization of my own pig-headedness. 

This is not to say that all boats are good for all purposes. Deepwater cruisers need to meet certain criteria that make them markedly different from top-flight racers. The same goes for daysailers and coastal cruisers. The point is, each design has to be judged on its merits and in the context of the boat’s intended purpose. Assuming the builder has successfully executed the design, whether or not the boat is a good one ultimately depends on the sailor.

What Makes a Blue Water Sailboat

>>Also Read: Sailing Pre-Departure Checklist

What Makes a Good Blue Water Sailboat?

When it comes to crossing oceans with a sailboat, you obviously need a sturdy, reliable boat in the event you meet serious winds. The ideal bluewater cruiser, however, can’t be simply a waterborne tank—otherwise, it will take forever and a day to get anywhere, and you’ll be sitting duck for any storm heading your direction. In addition, the ideal cruising boat needs to take care of its crew on days when it isn’t blowing stink—days that far outnumber the stormy ones. It also needs to provide a comfortable place to rest and relax at the end of a day’s sail—not a trivial consideration, as even the most dedicated cruiser spends substantially more time at anchor or tied to the dock than out on the briny. Even an aggressive circumnavigation schedule will generally allow the crew two days in port for every day of sailing.

Finally, a bluewater cruiser needs to be both seaworthy and sea-kindly in its design and construction—that is, it must be able to both stand up to the rigors of heavy weather and spare the crew undue fatigue in the course of a typical passage. This is a boat that sails well but doesn’t require tremendous effort to keep it in trim. It’s a boat that tracks well—i.e., it’s steady on its helm—and has easy motion, so the crew doesn’t get banged up every time the weather starts kicking up some waves.

Here Is A Short List of Characteristics That Make a Good Offshore Sailboat

Structure and equipment installation.

To be truly seaworthy, a boat must be structurally sound and its equipment correctly installed. The hull-to-deck joint must be well made, and all bulkheads and other interior structural elements should be securely bonded to the underside of the deck and inside of the hull. Equally important, items like hatches, rudder bearings, and steering gear need to be robustly constructed and robustly installed, so they can withstand the force of a crashing sea.

On deck, a deepwater cruiser should have tall stanchions set in sturdy bases. It will often have bulwarks—or at the very least, toerails—to brace your feet against if you ever find yourself sliding down the deck when the boat is on its ear. There should be plenty of sturdy handrails along the cabintop so that you never have to make any kind of “leap of faith,” lunging from one handhold to the next when moving forward to the mast or foredeck. There should also be adequate side deck space between the cabin trunk and the bulwarks or toerail so that going forward isn’t a struggle. And, of course, the side decks and foredeck should be surfaced with aggressive nonskid. Beware of stylishly molded cabin trunks—their gracefully curved surfaces can be treacherous in rough weather.

What Makes a Good Offshore Sailboat

>>Also Read: Cruising Sailboats – Parts and Features

Hull Design

The hull of a good cruising sailboat should have relatively low freeboard (distance from the waterline to the upper edge of the deck) to minimize the impact of windage in extreme weather. It should also have a moderate beam, a bit of forefoot beneath the waterline, and a full keel or a moderately proportioned fin keel to help with heaving. The cockpit should be large enough to be comfortable in normal conditions but not overly large. If you’re ever pooped, a too-large cockpit will hold that much more water, the weight of which can depress your stern and make you vulnerable to being pooped again.

All deepwater boats should have a bridgedeck “step” of sorts between the front of the cockpit and the companionway leading below, so water from a flooded cockpit won’t slop into the cabin. The cockpit should also be equipped with large drains to allow water that comes aboard to leave as quickly as possible.

Finally, a blue water cruiser must have a safe limit of positive stability (LPS)—at least 120 degrees, although higher is better—to prevent it from capsizing in heavy seas. LPS is the heel angle at which the hull and keel stop resisting the capsizing forces of the wind and waves and actually abet them until the boat is completely inverted. In addition, the LPS dictates how stable a boat will be when it’s upside down—in other words, how easily the boat will re-right itself. As Calder explains, a sailboat with an LPS of 100 degrees will, in theory, remain inverted for about 5 minutes before it’s righted again by wave action.

A sailboat with an LPS of 120, on the other hand, should right itself in about 2 minutes. A sailboat with an LPS of 140 will theoretically pop right back up almost as soon as it goes over. Think about how long you can hold your breath—and about how long your hatches, hatchboards, vents, and portlights will hold when the boat is upside down in surging conditions. A couple of minutes could make all the difference in the world. For the record, many sailors believe that an LPS of 115 degrees is acceptable on an offshore boat.

What Makes a Good Cruising Sailboat - Cruising Sailboats Hull Type

>>Also Read: Full Vs Fin Keel On Sailboats

Comfort and Ease of Sailing

Many of the features that make for a seaworthy boat also make for a seakindly one. A sailboat with a moderate length-to-beam ratio, a bit of forefoot, and a full keel or moderately proportioned fi n, for example, not only heaves-to well but also tends to track better. Granted, the boat might not be the fastest thing on the water, but what cruising sailor wants to continually tweak and trim to eke out that last fraction of a knot of boat speed anyway? Likewise, a solid masthead rig with a moderate sail area will get you where you want to go without springing any nasty little surprises.

In Nigel Calder’s (sailing writer) words, “On a cruising boat, it is a fundamental mistake to gear the concept of fast passage making to maximizing the absolute speed potential of a boat at the expense of ease of handling, comfortable motion, stability, security, and other highly desirable attributes. Exhilarating performance can be fun in the short term but extremely fatiguing in the long term. Instead, the goal should be to achieve good sustained performance in all kinds of conditions in an environment that is as relaxing and as much fun as it can be.”

A deepwater boat should have V-shaped sections in the bow that will allow the hull to slice through the waves on a beat or close reach, instead of slapping and pounding. It should also be stiff enough to carry sail, but not so stiff that it has a “snappy” motion when coming off a swell—which calls for a moderate L/B to ensure adequate but not too much form stability. In this same vein, a boat with a moderate to heavy displacement-to-length ratio—unlike a featherweight speedster—tends to pass smoothly through the waves instead of bouncing over them or simply bobbing on top of them like an oversized cork.

Offshore Cruising Sailboat Example

>>Also Read: Must-Have Boat Safety Equipment For Sailing


The list in this category is pretty exhaustive. An ocean is a big place, but for the crew of a sailboat on passage, it’s essentially no bigger than the boat’s LOA (Length Overall). Nonetheless, the shortlist includes adequate sea berths, a galley that can be safely used in a seaway, plenty of storage, and a cockpit that’s comfortable and safe for watchkeeping.

When it comes to sea berths, simpler is better. Each berth needs to be a little more than 6 feet long and located no farther forward than around amidships. The motion in a forepeak berth in any kind of seaway will make sleeping impossible. Berths should also be parallel with the boat’s centerline, not angled dramatically inward. Otherwise, either your head or feet will be higher whenever the boat heels while you’re trying to sleep. Finally, sea berths should be straight to avoid cramped shoulders or feet. This consideration may seem obvious, but many modern cruising boats are equipped with curved or angled settees—those seats in the saloon that double as sea berths underway— which look great at boat shows but can be absolutely miserable for sleeping.

In the galley, you need a cooking area that not only includes the necessary equipment for preparing meals—stove, microwave, oven, cutting board, and the like—but a layout that will make cooking safe and as easy as possible when the boat is sailing on its ear. The key is a wraparound layout, in which the counters form a U or G shape, so you can brace yourself against an opposing counter or in a corner and free your hands for cooking.

Sinks should be deep and as close to the centerline as possible, where the motion is less severe. Fiddles—the little walls or barriers surrounding the countertops to stop things from sliding off —need to be tall and perpendicular, not low and artistically rounded. The galley should be located as close to the companionway as possible for ventilation and ease of passing snacks or coffee to crewmembers on deck. A location near the companionway also puts the galley well aft, where hull motion is easier.

Bluewater Sailboat

>>Also Read: What To Wear When Sailing

You can never have too much storage. Extended cruising requires a tremendous amount of storage space—for everything from charts to food to spare engine parts and toothpaste—and unless your boat is 50 feet or longer, there’s barely enough room for everything. Not only that, storage space can be surprisingly scarce even in larger cruisers, as designers struggle to shoehorn in more and more accommodations per foot of LOA. The double-size quarter berths tucked under the cockpits of many newer boats may look great. Still, the only way to fit them in is to eliminate a voluminous amount of storage that is otherwise available under the cockpit seats.

Large staterooms in the bow take away hull volume that could otherwise house wet lockers for storing damp foul-weather gear, and “sugar scoop” transoms with those oh-so-convenient swim steps leave no room for lazarettes—those wonderfully spacious lockers located aft of the cockpit. Next time you’re at a boat show, do a quick inventory of that 45-foot beauty with the multiple heads and staterooms. See what’s behind some of those lovely cherry-finished doors, and tally up the total storage area—including those “cabinets” that are so tiny they’re essentially useless. You may be surprised that a “big” boat can actually have remarkably little room for putting things away.

The cockpit should be the right size to “enclose” the on-watch crew—usually one person unless the boat and crew are very large—so they don’t have to worry about being washed around in heavy weather conditions. A cockpit’s width and length are key; there are few things in this life more reassuring than tucking yourself in where the cockpit seat meets the cabin trunk and having your feet braced against the cockpit seat or seat back to leeward— an unrealized comfort if the cockpit is too wide. In addition, all the necessary control lines should be close at hand. The helmsman shouldn’t have to let go of the wheel or tiller when trimming either the main or the jib sheets. The cockpit should also have several strong points where you can secure a safety harness and easy access to jacklines without having to expose yourself to the waves.

What a Good Sailboat Cockpit Looks Like

What Makes a Good Offshore Blue Water Sailboat? – Summary

To reiterate, these are just a few features of a good cruising sailboat—albeit critical ones.  The real key that makes a good offshore sailboat is to find one that’s functional and moderate in the areas of sailing and accommodations; fast but not too fast; roomy but not too roomy; and in which everything has a purpose.  After all, crossing an ocean in a tiny sailboat is serious business—tremendously satisfying, but serious nonetheless.


Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Best Single-Handed Bluewater Sailboats

Best Single-Handed Bluewater Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Sailing alone in racing or time on the water is a great experience. Finding the best single-handed blue water sailboat for those needs can be a tough task.

Regardless if you have a cruiser or racing sailboat, a single-handed one can offer many opportunities versus larger boats. So what are some of the best ones on the market?

The Hunter Channel 31, J/109, and West Wight Potter 19 are great budget-friendly, single-handed sailboats. Moving up in price, you can look at Hanse 371, Jeanneau Sunfast 3200, and even a Dehler 29. Depending on the size and the amount of features it has will determine what they are worth.

While the budget will play a role in finding the right single-handed boat for you, there are plenty of other factors to consider. These range between comfort, stability, and useful features.

According to experts in sailing, most prefer comfort over price as long as it is justifiable with the amount you are paying. As long as it is not too far over your budget, you could consider a slightly higher-priced boat if it has a few more bells and whistles to make your life easier.

Table of contents

‍ 12 Single-Handed Sailboats to Consider

Whether you are planning to cruise around or going out for the day sailing, there are a handful of sailboats to consider. You want to choose one that is best operated alone and would not need additional hands to make it work.


For a fun day out at sea, it is hard to pass up on a quality dinghy . This one, in comparison to other dinghies, is fairly light and takes hardly any time to set up.

The RS Aero is one of the more technologically advanced dinghies for one individual to use. This one in particular has amassed a handful of awards for the best performance overall.

Due to its popularity and quality, these range between $10,000 to $15,000. If you find it any cheaper than that, it could be worth the investment.

2. Beneteau Oceanis 62


If you are feeling a bit adventurous or feel confident in your ability to handle a large boat by yourself, then try out the Beneteau Oceanis 62 . This boat is slightly over 60 feet, so it is recommended that you have all your ducks in a row before setting sail.

Thankfully, the boat was designed with ease of use in mind. So this could easily be operated by one person if they have some experience with it.

If you purchased this one for the family, then you can still have the added benefits of taking people with you. But if you decide you want to be by yourself, that is an option too.

This boat is valued around $600,000, so it is arguably one of the more expensive options for just a single handed sailboat. But if you are looking for a family boat, you are killing two birds with one stone.

3. Hunter Channel 31


This British made sailboat debuted in 2001 with a twin keel, making it a great choice for solo sailing. While it has a rich history in racing, the design has gone through slight adjustments over the years to make it a solid cruiser.

With its incredible handling and quick turns, this sailboat has excellent handling. The hull structure allows it to have a low center of gravity and provide it with increased stability compared to other racing boats.

The deck layout, in combination of the self-tacking jib and tiller steering, allow this boat to be one of the best on the market if you can find it.

You can usually sail these fractionally rigged and reef with ease from the cockpit. For around $35,000, you are getting a great deal on a boat that has everything you need.


If you are not quite ready to venture out alone or want the availability to take people out with you, then the J/109 is a great sailboat to look into. These were first built in 2004, so you should be able to still find them today.

If you decide that you want to take it out by yourself, you could look into going offshore and into areas where other boats have difficulty reaching. You might be able to get it to plane on open water, but it is a little heavy.

With its asymmetric spinnaker, you should be able to jib from the cockpit with light wind. Even in heavier winds, this boat offers great stability.

Due to its high standards of construction and long term stability, these boats are still valued around $60,000. If you can find one a little less for that, it could be a steal.

5. West Wight Potter 19


This boat design has been around since 1979, which prioritized safety and handling. Those factors alone make it a quality solo handling boat.

This sailboat has grown on many over the last three decades. People have probably overlooked it due to its name, but you should definitely check it out if you find one.

The slight design changes over the years have turned this into a tough little boat. It has a Bermuda rigged sloop and can handle various conditions.

With its lifting keel, it allows it to navigate shallow waters. This boat might be one of the more versatile options out there if you plan on sailing in shoal drafts.

For the price, it is hard to beat something less than $10,000. If you are wanting a newer version with upgraded features, you could be spending around $25,000.

6. Hanse 371


For a mid-sized cruiser, it will be hard to pass up a Hanse 371 if you come across it. This boat design is geared towards single handed sailing, with a perfect mix of older and newer technology.

It has a furlong and self-tacking jib, along with an autopilot feature making it easy to use for one person. For a boat that was built around 2000, it was well ahead of its time.

Even though the boat is a bit larger than some others for solo sailing, you will have plenty of space to move around. With the large galley and quite a bit of cabin room, you will feel like you are in a mansion.

The look and handle of this boat is favored by many, which is why it still holds its value. You can potentially find ones for sale around $60,000.

7. Jeanneau Sunfast 3200


From the first glance at this boat, you can see that it has a traditional look compared to other sailboats. Since it is smaller and lighter, it makes it easy to handle through many conditions.

The boat was originally designed to be a racer, so you have stability and strength in addition to speed. These were built around 2008, but still offer some of the best technology you will find today.

For space, you will have plenty of room just for yourself. There are two double cabins, galley, and a head compartment.

This fractional sloop, along with the keel, can provide easy sailing in either direction of the wind. You can comfortably have the mast around 60 percent to reach a comfortable speed.

This boat is still modern, so you will see these a little bit more often than some others. You will likely find them for about $160,000 but you get all of the latest technology and a boat that is built to last.

8. Tartan 3700


The Tartan 3700 is another quality boat that you can live on and comfortably cross the sea with. Thanks to the self-tacking jib, it allows the boat to be used easily by one person.

This boat was originally designed in the 1970’s, but still has value today. It has been proven to be a great boat to cover long distances and with multiple people on board.

Even though this one might be a little bit older in comparison to other single handed boats, the price still ranges close to $150,000. Rest assured, there is still quality and reliability with this sailboat.

9. Dehler 29

While this boat is not as popular in America, the Dehler 29 is a popular German sailboat. This boat is starting to become popular as more sailors look for single handed boats.

In 1998, this boat earned the honors for boat of the year and sailing boat of the year in the Cruising World Magazine. Since then, it still performs with quality since day one.

Since it is equipped with a tiller, you can steer this boat with ease. This offers one of the best opportunities to steer a boat without having to have an extra set of hands.

For the price, you can still find these on the market for slightly under $60,000. This is what you will pay for top quality German sailboats.

10. Rhodes 19


The Rhodes 19 is another classic style sailboat that many will gravitate to when they see it. Not only is it perfect for solo sailing, but you can have a few people on board if you enjoy family time.

The hull design is meant to be forgiving on the water, allowing it to easily handle heavier conditions. Since day one, this boat’s design has stood the test of time whether you are experienced or a newbie when it comes to sailing.

You can sprit rig this boat or simply use a Bermuda rig to help push you along with the wind. Since it has a low center of gravity, you do not have to worry about stability with this one.

Depending on your location, you can still find these for about $20,000. Assuming it is in good condition, you might find them slightly higher priced.

11. Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20


This boat has a strong history of solo sailing , simply because having more than one or two people would be uncomfortable. These were very common around the 1980’s and there were roughly 400 of these built. If you can find one that was built in the late 90’s, that would be your best bet.

The reason this boat deserves some attention is that you can potentially find it for a great price and live on it. This boat is also towable, making it easy to take with you no matter where you go. For just under $20,000, you can find plenty in good condition.


The Laser is a specific boat that you have probably seen in the Olympics. This small boat is simple and ready to go exploring for solo sailing.

This is arguably one of the most popular single handed boats out there. If you want the simplest option for sailing by yourself, look no further than a Laser.

This boat can use various rig types, so whichever method you prefer. Most use cat rigging since there is no headsail and just one mainsail. It also helps that this boat is easy to set up, making it desirable for solo handlers.

For the price point, you cannot beat $7,000 compared to other single handed boats. Due to its popularity and quality, you might have to pay a little more.

Why You Should Solo Sail

Solo sailing is an experience like no other and even replicates similar adrenaline rushes in other sports. If you are not seeking the thrill, there are boats drained to take it a little bit slower on the water.

Regardless of your skill level, you should consider the experience at least once in your life. The beautiful thing about this is, it does not have to be the perfect boat to get it done.

There are even plenty of sailors that have sailed on much larger boats or ones that were designed for more people. It all depends on the adventure you are trying to seek, but there is clearly not another like it when sailing on your own.

Features to Look for in Single-Handed Boats

When solo sailing, there are plenty of features that can separate one boat from another. These can make a big difference in how your adventure goes for the day.

The conditions at sea are often unavoidable and something that everyone has to deal with. Whether you are solo saling or with a crew, everyone has to be aware of tough conditions.

If you sail alone, you are required to do everything in order to make it back safely. Having something with an automation system will be huge for solo sailors.

If you have a quality boat, the next best thing would be automation systems on board to help your life sailing much easier. Some of these systems include autopilot, electric windlass, roller furling, and even a radar.

Other sailors might want lines that run to the aft, a wind vane, or a hydraulic system for the bow or stern. Basically anything that you can do with a click of a button to reduce manual labor.

While this is an obvious option, you do not want to forget about stability. No matter how fast the boat is or how many cool features it has, those will be useless if you have issues with handling.

You want a boat that has wide beams and shorter waterlines. While this limits some speed, that is a much better trade off than having nothing at all.

Easy to Use

When picking out your single handed sailboat, you want one that is easy to use. If there are too many features that are required to get it going, you either need more experience or that boat is not right for you.

Try finding one that only requires a few steps in comparison to other ones. You might have to pick one that is a bit smaller in order to get used to it all, which is all you really need since your are by yourself.

Many sailors will have their preferred sails when going out on the water. A unique sail design that you could look for is the Bermuda sail with a gaff sail.

This allows you to have more sail area on a shorter mast. It also allows you to have better control and less heeling force that is common for longer sails.

It does make sense to choose the one that is right for your boat and what is most comfortable to you. After you find the right boat for you, you should strongly consider the sails it has.

Rigging Type

When it comes to solo sailing, the gaff rig is one of the best rig types. Even though the Bermuda is the most common, you lose some windward capabilities since it is lower.

The gaff rig makes the most sense because it is easier to use and has the best downwind performance. Each sailor will have their preferred rig type, but in solo sailing, the gaff stands out the best.

Price Point Makes a Difference

You do not have to break the bank when deciding what boat is best for solo sailing. There are boats that can fit within any budget, and you just have to know what you are looking for.

Just because a boat is priced over $100,000, does not guarantee that it is the best on the market. Depending on the brand, how many features it has, and how big the boat is will determine the price.

Some of the best single handed sailboats are priced less than $20,000. It all depends on the type of adventure you are seeking and how much money you are willing to spend.

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

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Baltic Yachts has announced a new contract for a 37-metre high-performance blue water cruising sloop

Construction begins on Baltic Yachts' new 37m high-performance blue water cruising sloop

Baltic Yachts has announced a new contract for a 37-metre high-performance blue water cruising sloop. Construction has started in its Jakobstad facility with delivery in autumn 2026.

Malcolm McKeon is responsible for naval architecture and exterior styling, while interiors are the work of Adam Lay Studio . The design brief is for a blue water performance cruiser for extensive family cruising with emphasis on safe and reliable systems using well-proven technologies. 

“This design features an all-carbon structure, a telescopic keel, a fixed bimini and a generous sail plan, ensuring excellent all-round sailing performance,” said Malcolm McKeon. “The contemporary exterior styling maximises the use of glass in the superstructure, creating a light and open interior with 360-degree views from the all-glass deckhouse."

Adam Lay of the eponymous interiors studio said: “The interior will be a development of our studio’s modern, nature-inspired, textural approach with clean lines and muted wood tones. Contrasting textural fabrics will form part of the carefully balanced aesthetic with practicality and longevity kept in mind for relaxed family cruising.”

Henry Hawkins, executive VP at Baltic Yachts, added: “This commission plays to Baltic Yachts’ key strengths. We have delivered 12 yachts over 100ft [30 metres] LOA in the last 10 years, all within their contractual weight targets, within their original budget and on average within a week of their contractual delivery dates. A track record of which we are very proud.”

Baltic Yachts has recently launched a custom rose-coloured Baltic 80 Custom cruiser-racer and another launch is due to follow shortly. The shipyard also recently completed an eight-month transformational refit of the 53.9-metre Baltic 175 Ravenger , the world’s largest carbon composite sloop.

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X-Yachts XR first look: An AI approach to racing yacht design

Yachting World

  • June 25, 2024

X-Yacht's 12-strong in-house design and engineering team described using an AI method to create over 10,000 XR model variants.

Drawing of the XR

This model is intended as a serious return to X-Yachts’ racing DNA, following an unprecedented hiatus since the launch of the yard’s last pure race boat, the X-41 , back in 2007.

The 41ft XR is being developed by X-Yacht’s 12-strong in-house design and engineering team, with additional input from top professional racers, including Bouwe Bekking and Danish match racer Jesper Radich, plus further technical help from North Sails and Pure Design & Engineering.

They have taken what the yard describes as an AI approach to developing the hull shape, with 10,000 variants modelled. Several families were then selected for further investigation. That’s a huge change from the IMX-40 of 2000, for instance, where a total of only 20 hull variants were considered.

At the same time, a target was set to be the highest rated boat in ORCi class B at the 2025 world championships. This process led to an overall length in the 12.5m-12.8m (41ft-42ft) bracket and maximum beam of 4.10m-4.25m (13ft 5in-13ft 9in).

“This is where we are seeing the best boat speed vs rating values,” says director of design and engineering, Thomas Mielec.

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Racing aims for X-Yachts XR

The first two boats are scheduled to launch early next year and will be sailed with a professional crew, aiming for a podium position in the ORC World Championship in Estonia in August 2025.

Although this may sound like a rarified campaign with little cross-over for typical private owners, the two teams will train at a new race hub in X-Yachts own marina in southern Denmark, which will allow knowledge to be captured and passed on to other owners.

The XR design

X-Yachts set a target to be the highest rated boat in ORCi class B at the 2025 world championships.

Equally, the XR is intended as a multipurpose boat, with sporty cruising, and short-handed racing modes in addition to the main fully crewed focus.

Sales of around 80 boats are anticipated in the first couple of years of production – the first five had already been sold before the design’s overall length had even been determined and 10 are scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2025.

X-Yachts XR specifications:

Hull length: 12.74m 41ft 10in Base price approx.: €400,000 ex VAT Fully equipped race boat price approx.: €600,000 ex VAT Contact details: x-yachts.com

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The Alternative to Huge Cruises? 3 Masts, 28 Sails and Wind Power.

We checked out the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit on a Mediterranean cruise. In this era of gargantuan ships, its elegant clipper design, wooden decks and relatively small size stands out.

sailing blue water yacht

By Ceylan Yeğinsu

From the bridge of the three-masted windjammer, the Sea Cloud Spirit , the captain called out the words we’d all been waiting for.

“Let’s set the sails!” he cried, after turning off the engines, while maneuvering to maintain an optimum angle for his 18 deckhands to climb into the shrouds and unfurl the ship’s 44,132 square feet of sails by hand.

Like acrobats, the crew scurried up the masts to the upper topgallant sails that rose nearly 200 feet above us. The ship’s captain, Vukota Stojanovic, later insisted that none of it was for show. “Whenever there is an opportunity to sail, we sail,” he said.

sailing blue water yacht

For the next hour, the crew hauled the ropes until the 28 sails were billowing in the wind, propelling the 452-foot-long ship — the world’s largest passenger sailing vessel on which the sails are raised by hand — toward its first port of call, Portofino, Italy.

At a time when cruise lines are packing their ever-more-gargantuan ships with water parks and basketball courts, the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit, with its old-fashioned clipper design and wooden decks, stands out. It is the newest ship from the Hamburg-based Sea Cloud Cruises , and while it is the company’s biggest, Sea Cloud said it wanted to leave space for passengers to connect to the surrounding elements.

“Wherever you are on the ship, it feels like you are sitting on the water,” said Amelia Dominick, 71, a retired real estate agent from Cologne, Germany, who was on her third cruise onboard the Sea Cloud Spirit.

I had arrived for a four-night “taster sailing” from Nice, France, to the Ligurian region of Italy, designed to entice passengers to sign up for a longer cruise. Here’s what I found.

The ship and cabins

The Spirit has many comforts and luxuries, including a fitness center, library, hair salon and a spa with a Finnish sauna that overlooks the sea. The deck layouts are spacious, with nooks carved out for privacy and relaxation.

Sixty-nine spacious cabins have windows that open onto the sea. My room, a junior suite on the third deck, had two large arched windows, mahogany tables, a balcony and a comfortable couch and armchair. The marble bathroom was lavish, with a gold-plated sink and large jetted bathtub.

The elegant interior design is inspired by the original Sea Cloud, built in 1931 for Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American heiress of the General Foods Corporation, with glossy wooden panels and gold trimmings. The Sea Cloud was the largest private sailing yacht in the world before Post handed it over to the U.S. Navy for use as a weather-reporting vessel during World War II. The four-mast, 64-passenger ship has since been restored to its former glory and will sail across the Aegean and Adriatic this summer.

sailing blue water yacht

The experience felt authentic — even before the sails were set — with a detailed safety drill. On most cruises, the drill entails a safety video and signing in at an assembly point. But here, passengers put on their life jackets and walked through emergency scenarios that included rationing food supplies and fishing from the lifeboat.

Each day, the sails were set, even during heavy rain and wind speeds over 30 knots. Guests wanting to participate in the rigging are usually invited to do so, but the weather conditions made it too risky for this sailing.

“It was amazing to watch the work go into putting the sails up and down and to experience the wind power pulling the ship so fast without the engines,” said Malte Rahnenfuehrer, a 50-year-old psychologist from Zurich, who was traveling with his partner and two children.

A man with dark hair wears navy blue and white clothing as the captain of a large windjammer sailing vessel. He stands on deck, a walkie-talkie-like device in his hand, beneath the ropes and riggings of the vessel's sails.

The captain

It is rare for cruise passengers to see the ship’s captain after the initial welcome drinks or gala dinner. But Capt. Vukota Stojanovic was omnipresent throughout the cruise, from setting sails to lifeguarding to mingling with guests.

Originally from Montenegro, Captain Stojanovic piloted container ships for years. When he was asked to consider helming the original Sea Cloud nearly 10 years ago, he hesitated because he had no experience sailing. Even after he learned the ropes — and there are 340 ropes (known as running rigging) on the vessel — he was unsure. “I grew to love the sailings, the boats, the crew the lifestyle, but I still felt I belonged on container ships,” he said. “It would be a big adjustment, especially because I would have to shave every day,” he joked.

Eventually, he accepted the opportunity and worked tirelessly to learn how to sail and operate the ship. Today, he keeps an “open bridge” policy, allowing passengers to visit the control room, even when he is wrestling with the wind.

“The crew and the passengers are all part of the experience, and I like to meet people and receive their feedback,” Captain Stojanovic said.


Sea Cloud Cruises aspires to take a “gentle” approach, using wind power to drive its ships wherever possible, even if that means changing course for optimal weather conditions. When sailing is not possible, the Spirit has two diesel-electric engines that run on low-sulfur marine diesel fuel. The company is also working with ports that have shore power capabilities to plug into the local electric power.

Onboard, there is an emphasis on reusable bottles and paper straws, and crew members separate solid waste to be compacted and removed when in port.

Excursions and Activities

We made stops in Portofino, San Remo, Italy, and St.-Tropez, France, anchoring offshore and getting to land by tender — a contrast to the big cruise ships with their loud horns and thick plumes of exhaust spewing from their funnels.

For passengers wanting to take a dip (there is no pool), the crew marked an area in the water with floats and an inflatable slide. The water was frigid, but many passengers took the plunge from the swimming deck. Guests could also take “Zodiac Safaris” around the ship to get views of the vessel from the water.

sailing blue water yacht

Excursions ranged from food and wine tours to e-biking and beach trips. In Portofino, passengers were free to explore the sights independently, including the Castello Brown Fortress and the lighthouse on Punta del Capo rock. There was ample time to eat meals on shore as the ship did not depart until 11 p.m. Over the summer, the Sea Cloud Spirit will sail to Spain, Portugal, France and the Azores, among other destinations. On Nov. 11, she will depart for St. Maarten in the Caribbean for the winter.

Wherever the vessel goes, said Mirell Reyes, president of Sea Cloud Cruise for North America, the company tries to “stay away from the crowds and ports where big cruise ships spit out 6,000 passengers.”

Summer prices, which include food and beverages, range from $3,995 for a four-night sailing in a superior cabin to $9,420 for a veranda suite. Seven-night sailings cost between $6,995 and $16,495.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter for The Times who frequently writes about the cruise industry and Europe, where she is based. More about Ceylan Yeğinsu

Come Sail Away

Love them or hate them, cruises can provide a unique perspective on travel..

 Cruise Ship Surprises: Here are five unexpected features on ships , some of which you hopefully won’t discover on your own.

 Icon of the Seas: Our reporter joined thousands of passengers on the inaugural sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas . The most surprising thing she found? Some actual peace and quiet .

Th ree-Year Cruise, Unraveled:  The Life at Sea cruise was supposed to be the ultimate bucket-list experience : 382 port calls over 1,095 days. Here’s why  those who signed up are seeking fraud charges  instead.

TikTok’s Favorite New ‘Reality Show’:  People on social media have turned the unwitting passengers of a nine-month world cruise  into  “cast members”  overnight.

Dipping Their Toes: Younger generations of travelers are venturing onto ships for the first time . Many are saving money.

Cult Cruisers: These devoted cruise fanatics, most of them retirees, have one main goal: to almost never touch dry land .


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