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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

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

best ketch sailboat

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

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

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

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best ketch sailboat

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

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

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

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

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

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

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

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

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

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

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

best ketch sailboat

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

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

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

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

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

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

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

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Discovery 55

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Privilege Serie 5

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

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

Gunfleet 43

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

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Photo: David Harding

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

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

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .

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Wauquiez Centurion 57

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

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

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

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Photo: Voyage of Swell

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

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

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Photo: Peter Szamer

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

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Tartan 3700

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

Broker ’ s choice

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Discovery 55 Brizo

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

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Oyster 575 Ayesha

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

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Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

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

Best bluewater yachts for performance

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

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Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

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

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

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Photo: Graham Snook

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

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

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Outremer 51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sweden Yachts 45

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

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

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Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

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

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Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

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

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Seawind 1600

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

Best bluewater sailboats for families

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

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Photo: Nicholas Claris

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

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

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

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Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

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

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

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Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

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

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

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Nautitech Open 46

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

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

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

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Photo: Olivier Blanchet

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

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

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Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Beneteau-Oceanis-473-credit-David-Harding

Beneteau Oceanis 473

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Jeanneau-Sun-Odyssey-49

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

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

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Nautitech 441

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Atlantic-42

Atlantic 42

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

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Bestevaer-56-ST-Tranquilo

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Boreal-52-credit-Jean-Marie-Liot

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Garcia-Exploration-45-credit-morris-adant

Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

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

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

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

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Photo: svnaima.com

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Futuna-Explorer-54

Futuna Exploration 54

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

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

If you enjoyed this….

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Port Gardner Yachts

Ketch Sailboats: The Ultimate Guide

An introduction to ketch sailboats:.

Ketch sailboats are a unique and captivating type of sailboat that offers a distinctive sailing experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the design, purpose, key features, rigging options, appropriate buyers and considerations, top brands, and conclude with why ketch sailboats are a remarkable choice for sailing enthusiasts.

Ketch Sailboats: Design and Purpose:

Ketch sailboats are characterized by their two-masted configuration, with a taller mainmast located forward and a shorter mizzen mast positioned aft. This design allows for a versatile sail plan, with various combinations of sails that provide excellent balance and handling. The purpose of ketch sailboats is to offer enhanced control, stability, and ease of handling, making them suitable for both coastal cruising and long-distance passages.

Hans Christian created incredible ketch sailboats, this one is sailing along the coast.

Ketch Key Features:

Enhanced maneuverability:.

The two-masted rig of a ketch sailboat allows for flexible sail combinations, including the option to sail with a mizzen alone. This versatility provides exceptional maneuverability, allowing sailors to adapt to different wind conditions and optimize performance.

Balanced Sailing:

The placement of the mizzen mast aft of the mainmast helps to balance the sail plan. This configuration reduces weather helm, making it easier to maintain a steady course and reducing the strain on the helm. The balanced sail plan also contributes to a comfortable and stable sailing experience.

Hans Christian Sailboat ketch interior view

Comfortable Accommodations:

Ketch sailboats often feature spacious interiors with well-appointed cabins, saloons, and galleys. The additional deck space between the mainmast and mizzen mast provides ample room for lounging and outdoor activities. These features make ketch sailboats ideal for extended stays on the water, offering comfort and livability for onboard living.

Flexible Sail Plan:

Ketch sailboats offer a range of sail combinations, including a mainsail, mizzen sail, jib, genoa, and staysail. This flexibility allows sailors to adjust the sail area to suit prevailing wind conditions, ensuring optimal performance and control.

Rigging on Ketch Sailboats:

Ketch sailboats typically feature a variety of rigging options, including:

  • Traditional Ketch: This rig configuration consists of a tall mainmast and a shorter mizzen mast, with a variety of sail combinations available.
  • Staysail Ketch: In a staysail ketch, an additional staysail is set between the mainmast and mizzen mast. This rig enhances sailing performance and allows for finer sail adjustments.

Stern view of a ketch sailboat at the dock

Appropriate Buyers and Considerations for Ketch Sailboats:

Ketch sailboats appeal to a range of sailors who value versatility, comfort, and balanced sailing. Consider the following factors when contemplating a ketch sailboat:

  • Experienced Sailors: Ketch sailboats require some experience and knowledge to optimize their sail plans and handling characteristics effectively. They are often favored by sailors with a desire for greater control and the ability to fine-tune the rigging for various wind conditions.
  • Cruising Enthusiasts: Ketch sailboats are well-suited for cruisers who plan to spend extended periods onboard. The spacious accommodations and comfortable living areas make them ideal for those seeking a comfortable and enjoyable cruising experience.
  • Long-Distance Voyages: With their stable and balanced sailing characteristics, ketch sailboats are a popular choice for long-distance passages. Their ability to handle various weather conditions and provide a smooth ride makes them reliable companions on offshore adventures.

Top Brands:

When considering a ketch sailboat, it is crucial to explore reputable brands known for their quality craftsmanship and sailing performance. Here are three top brands worth considering:

Cheoy Lee has established itself as a respected sailboat brand, and their ketch sailboats are highly regarded for their quality and performance. While Cheoy Lee ketch sailboats can primarily be found on the used market, they continue to attract attention from sailors and enthusiasts seeking vessels with solid construction and timeless designs.

One of the standout features of Cheoy Lee ketch sailboats is their exceptional build quality. These boats are known for their sturdy construction and attention to detail, ensuring durability and reliability on the water. Cheoy Lee’s commitment to craftsmanship is evident in the meticulous construction techniques and high-quality materials used in their ketch sailboats.

Cheoy Lee 44 ketch sailboat with sails up heeling

In terms of design, Cheoy Lee ketches often showcase classic lines and graceful profiles that exude elegance and charm. These timeless designs have a lasting appeal and contribute to the overall allure of Cheoy Lee sailboats. The use of teak woodwork, traditional deck layouts, and fine finishes further enhance the classic aesthetic of their ketch sailboats.

Interiors & Seaworthiness

Comfortable interiors are another hallmark of Cheoy Lee ketch sailboats. The cabins and living spaces are designed to provide a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for extended stays on the water. The layout and arrangement of the interior spaces prioritize functionality and convenience, allowing for comfortable living and entertainment onboard.

Seaworthiness is a key aspect of Cheoy Lee ketch sailboats. These vessels are known for their ability to handle various sea conditions with confidence and stability. Whether cruising coastal waters or embarking on offshore passages, Cheoy Lee ketch sailboats offer a solid and dependable sailing experience.

Due to their reputation and enduring popularity, Cheoy Lee ketch sailboats on the used market are often sought after by sailors who appreciate the brand’s commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and classic design. Owning a Cheoy Lee ketch sailboat allows sailors to enjoy the combination of traditional elegance and reliable performance that the brand is known for.

Mason Yachts is a renowned name in the world of sailboats, particularly for their expertise in building high-quality ketch sailboats. These vessels are sought after by sailors who value offshore capabilities, timeless designs, and meticulous craftsmanship.

One of the defining features of Mason ketch sailboats is their exceptional seaworthiness. These boats are designed and built to handle offshore sailing with confidence and reliability. The hulls are carefully constructed to withstand challenging sea conditions, offering stability and a smooth ride. Mason ketch sailboats are known for their ability to handle heavy weather and long-distance passages, making them a popular choice among sailors with a taste for adventure .

Mason 63 ketch sailboat with all sails up on a sunny day

Timeless design is another hallmark of Mason ketch sailboats. These vessels feature classic lines and graceful profiles that evoke a sense of elegance and traditional beauty. Mason Yachts pays meticulous attention to the aesthetics of their sailboats, ensuring that each vessel embodies a timeless appeal that stands the test of time.

Detail & Excellence

Attention to detail is a key aspect of Mason ketch sailboats. From the fine woodwork to the exquisite finishes, every aspect of the boat’s construction is executed with precision and care. The interior spaces are designed to provide comfort and functionality, with well-appointed cabins, spacious saloons, and thoughtfully arranged living areas. The craftsmanship and attention to detail contribute to the overall quality and luxurious feel of Mason ketch sailboats.

Mason Yachts’ commitment to excellence extends to every aspect of their sailboats, from the selection of materials to the rigging and onboard systems. The company is dedicated to building reliable and well-equipped vessels that can withstand the demands of offshore sailing. The attention to detail and the use of high-quality components ensure that Mason ketch sailboats are not only beautiful but also dependable and capable in any sailing conditions.

Hans Christian:

Hans Christian Yachts has established a strong reputation in the sailing community, particularly for its beautifully crafted ketch sailboats. Although primarily found on the used market, Hans Christian ketches continue to captivate sailors with their timeless design, exceptional craftsmanship, and robust construction.

One of the standout features of Hans Christian ketch sailboats is their classic elegance. These vessels are meticulously designed with graceful lines, teak woodwork, and meticulous attention to detail. The combination of traditional design elements and high-quality materials creates a sense of timeless beauty that sets Hans Christian sailboats apart.

Hans Christian ketches are well-regarded for their seaworthiness, making them a popular choice for bluewater cruising and long-distance voyages. The sturdy construction and solid build of these sailboats instill confidence in sailors, allowing them to navigate challenging sea conditions with ease. Hans Christian sailboats are known for their ability to handle offshore passages and provide a smooth and stable ride.

Hans Christian Ketch Sailboat at the dock

Comfortable and spacious interiors are another highlight of Hans Christian ketch sailboats. The cabins are thoughtfully designed and well-appointed, offering a cozy and inviting atmosphere for extended stays onboard. The saloons provide a comfortable space for relaxation and socializing, while the functional galleys are equipped with the necessary amenities for onboard cooking. The interior layout of Hans Christian ketch prioritizes comfort and functionality, creating a home-like environment for sailors.

Craftsmanship and Capabilities

With their traditional ketch rig, Hans Christian sailboats deliver excellent sailing performance and stability. The two masts and multiple sails allow for versatile sail configurations, enabling sailors to adjust to various wind conditions. The balanced sail plan and well-balanced hull design contribute to the overall performance and maneuverability of these sailboats. Whether navigating calm coastal waters or tackling challenging offshore passages, Hans Christian ketch sailboats offer a reliable and enjoyable sailing experience.

The combination of craftsmanship, reliability, and offshore capabilities makes Hans Christian ketch sailboats highly sought after by sailing enthusiasts. The brand’s commitment to producing sailboats of exceptional quality and enduring appeal has earned them a dedicated following. Owning a Hans Christian ketch sailboat not only provides a means of exploration and adventure but also offers a connection to the rich heritage of traditional yacht design.

Ketch Sailboats Conclusion:

Ketch sailboats offer a unique sailing experience characterized by versatility, balance, and comfort. Their two-masted rigging provides enhanced control and maneuverability, making them suitable for both coastal cruising and long-distance passages. With flexible sail plans, comfortable accommodations, and reliable performance, ketch sailboats are an excellent choice for experienced sailors, cruising enthusiasts, and those embarking on long-distance voyages. 

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11 Best Single Handed Bluewater Sailboats

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We know that you’re serious about sailing when you finally think of venturing to the ocean. Who can resist dreaming of solo sailing through the Atlantic? This is an adventure to prove your advanced skills, strength, and experience. 

But before going off on your ocean adventure, you need to plan and prepare . We cannot stress enough the importance of good equipment. There is a lot of sailboat types and models in the market and we want to help you choose the best one for your needs.

Do you know what hull, rigging, and keel types you will need? What’s the best material and model for you to buy? 

We will guide you through important sailboat features needed for the cruise. Follow this review until the end and we will share the 11 best single-handed blue water sailboats for your solo ocean sailing!

What Size Sailboat Is Best for Single-Handed Sailing

What type of hull handles rough water the best, sailboat keel types for blue water sailing, keel or decked stepped mast, sloop or ketch, how many spreaders, cutter rig, self steering gear, furling sails, westsail 32, albin vega 27, pacific seacraft 34, canadian sailcraft 36 traditional, hallberg rassy 352, contessa 32, fast passage 39.

If you are planning to manage your boat single-handedly, then size is an important factor to consider. It can affect the size of your accommodation, and maybe the boat’s design for speed and power.

Being alone, you need to have a clear overview of what is happening on your boat. This is especially important when maneuvering or for docking operations. 

Experienced sailors can handle a 60-foot sailboat but novices would find it difficult with its steep learning curve . Check out the Vendee Globe if you don’t believe me. In general, a good sailboat size for single-handed sailing would range from 25 to 40 feet.

We recommend sailboats with sizes under 40 feet. These have good displacement and are great when against bad weather. They are solo-friendly and simply the most manageable.

But in the end, choosing a suitable size depends on your experience and preference. You need to consider your overall health, age, and physique. Make sure to have a complete understanding of your sailboat before going on your journey to prevent accidents.

The hull or the main body of your boat comes in varying shapes and sizes. Each different type of hull is designed for specific purposes. 

When venturing the blue waters, you need to have a hull design that could handle rough waters easily. The hull shape determines the performance of your sailboat and therefore, should align with your strengths and skills. 

Today, the most popular design would be the heavy displacement hull . This design is intended for ocean cruising and longer sailing travels. 

It has great stability and performs better the deeper the draft is. With this design, you would expect a slow and steady motion during your sea travels with minimal effort. 

V-type hulls, on the other hand, are designed to plane or ride on top of the water. You can usually see these types of hulls on powerboats. The V-type hull usually has a bigger engine and best when dealing with choppy waters while moving at high speed.

Narrow beams are also a great option for those who are looking for another ocean friendly feature . These are usually seen in traditional sailboats.

Canoe stern or the double are considered to be the best sterns for offshore sailing. They help cut through a following sea and really helps prevent the waves from pushing the stern over too much. It also has great buoyancy and balance that is perfect for bluewater cruising.

The best materials for hulls would be fiberglass, metal, and aluminum. These are durable and could last for decades if properly maintained.

Aluminum is lightweight and has resistance to corrosion and impervious to magnetism. Boats built with aluminum are fast, stable, and seaworthy.

Fiberglass hulls need less attention. Currently, boats are usually made of fiberglass as the material is easier for companies and also great for seakeeping and stability.

Metal like steel has high abrasion resistance. It helps retain the boat’s appearance but can be prone to rust and corrosion.

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A keel is a fin-like blade found at the bottom of a sailboat. It supports the ballast and helps to control and steer the boat. 

It is generally designed to stop the boat from getting blown sideways because of wind pressure. The full keel, modified full keel, fin skeg, and fin spade rudder are all suited for bluewater sailing.

A full keel runs along the full length of the boat – from the bow to the stern – which makes it the most stable in the water. It carries the vessel well and is the safest to use when grounding as it reduces the chances of damage. 

This is most ideal when cruising and the most comfortable out of the four keel types with its minimal heel. Although the slowest on the list, it has great directional stability and steering capability. 

An improved version is the modified full keel . It is a hybrid with improved windward performance and better heel reduction than the full keel. However, it made small concessions on its stability and comfort.

Meanwhile, the fin keel with skeg rudder has more strength and protection against damage and impact. It also has better mobility and steering capability. 

This type has a faster speed and windward performance compared to the modified and full keel types. It is also more balanced, which is ideal for cruiser-racer types of sailboats.

Lastly, we have the fin with a spade rudder. This is the fastest type on the list but also the most vulnerable as the spade rudder greatly relies on the rudder stock. But if you want speed and great windward performance, then this type is the right one for you.

Sailboat Rigging Types

Rigging is the whole system of ropes, chains, and cables. It supports the sailboat mast and controls the sails’ orientation and degree of reefing.

There are two main groups of sailboat rigs, Deck Stepped and Keel Stepped. The main difference lies in the location of its mast step. Both are fine choices and the better rig would depend on your preference.

Just as its names suggests, you can find the mast stand on top of the deck with Deck Stepped and on the hull’s bottom with Keel stepped. This means that to reach the keel, the mast would need to pierce through the cabin.

Deck Stepped rigs have masts that are more flexible because of their contact points, and are easily adjustable for optimal performance. Keel Stepped rig is rigid and strong and offers slow and steady cruising.

Now let’s move on and talk about Slope rigged and Ketch rigged. Which is better?

A sloop rig is simple. It is composed of a mast with a jib and a mainsail. Ketch, on the other hand, is more complex with its two masts with any foresail, main and mizzen mast combinations.

If you are choosing between Sloop and Ketch rigged sailboats for solo sailing, then we recommend Sloop. Although, Ketch is manageable and can be easily used with less strength and effort. This is perfect for cruising as it can work around multiple sailing conditions.

Screenshot 2020 11 26 at 11.53.30

In terms of spreaders, you can freely choose between a single or dual spreader. This deflects shrouds and supports the mast. We do recommend dual spreaders but single spreaders are also good. 

It’s just that double spreaders give the rig more strength and better sail control.

The cutter rig is sometime referred to as an inner forestay or baby stay. Simplest way of describing it is that you have two head sails instead of just one. Gives you more options on sail configurations.

Single Person Sailboat Equipment and Gear

Your sailboat would not be complete without gear and equipment. You might want to invest in autopilot or wind vane, furling headsails, electric windlass, life jackets, and AIS to make your voyage much easier.

Wind Vane is an autopilot steering that you can use without electricity. It is usually placed on the back to catch the wind and respond to various wind conditions.

It automatically adjusts the rudders in response to the wind to alter the boat’s course. This is helpful because it’s like having another crew member on board you don’t have to listen to and feed.

Headsail furling or roller reefing is necessary for easier management of your headsails. It is important to have a functioning and updated roller furling system in order to reef, dowse, or stow the headsail efficiently.

Another item we would recommend is an electric windlass . You can choose one that works vertically or horizontally, depending on your needs. This will help you move the anchor effortlessly with a single button. Using the two windlasses that god gave you makes anchoring more difficult then it needs to be.

Life jackets are a must in every sailboat. Just be sure it fits you and that you know how to use it. Also, be sure to buy a coast guard approved product with a harness that could support your weight. 

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) will help you avoid collisions . It is recommended to get a receiving and transmitting one when going solo sailing. 

This way, you and the other boats with AIS within the radar area are alerted to each other’s speed, course, and direction.

Really, you won’t know what you might encounter in the ocean so you must always be prepared. We hope that these items will help you achieve a safer and more secure sailing experience.

11 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

Now, here are 11 sailboats that are best for solo sailing. Any of these vessels are guaranteed to take you safely and comfortably anywhere around the world.

Westsail 32 solo sailing sailboat

This is a long full keel fiberglass sailboat that was built from 1971 to 1981. Its design was based on a previous model, Kendall 32, and has an amazing interior size geared for comfortable cruising.

W32 is widely noted for its seaworthiness. It is built with a strong and durable design and materials to resist extreme sea conditions.

It was used on various voyages and circumnavigations. Its hull is a heavy displacement and double-ender type designed for long periods of sailing.

It is also a cutter-rigged sailboat equipped with a single mast, forestaysail, mainsail, and jib. Its overall length including the bowsprit and boomkin is roughly 40 feet, which is perfect for sailing single-handedly.

Most people would note that the speed and acceleration of W32 are quite slow. This is due to its larger wetted area and sometimes newbies’ mistake of carrying too much on board.

With the right keel, sails, and rig configurations you can improve on W32’s speed and weaknesses. As seen from David King’s documented modifications, W32 proved to be safe, steady, and fast when sailing on blue waters.

Albin Vega 27 single handed solo sailboat

Vega 27 is a modified full keel sailboat with a masthead sloop rig. It was designed around 1966 and became the most popular production sailboat in Scandinavia.

It has a unique look because of its reverse sheer commonly seen in smaller boats to increase the area of its interior. It is made with fiberglass, but has a narrower hull compared to similar sized boats in its class. 

Its shallow hull has a large cutaway as seen with modified full keel designs. This can make her quite stiff, heeling to about 15 degrees when its shoulders are buried.

Still, it is great for single-handed sailing because of its manageability and balance under different conditions. You cannot help but admire its light helm and great tracking capability.

Vega’s light air performance is okay but it shines when the wind blows at 15 knots or more. It could even maintain its dryness even with rough waves and weather conditions.

The most comforting feature would be its control and stability at all times unlike other more modern vessels with spade rudders. Overall, it is safe and ideal for longer cruises offshore.

alberg 30

This 30-foot traditional sailboat could take you anywhere. Alberg is notable for its narrow beams, long overhangs, and full cutaway keel with its directly attached rudder.

It is strong and durable. Its materials were mostly aluminum, hand-laid fiberglass, and polyester resin. More ballasts were produced in later productions as the early ballast was built with iron as opposed to the original lead design.

Alberg is greatly influenced by folk boats in Scandinavia. It is built with fiberglass and has an interior with comfortable full standing headroom and a well-vented galley.

This classic design from 1962 is ideal to cross oceans and is used for various circumnavigations. Alberg is a stable and seaworthy boat that could even be used in casual racing. Its best point of sail seems to be a beam reach and close reach.

It is praiseworthy when crossing oceans. Unlike modern designs that tend to be thrown around on rough seas, Alberg’s narrow beam design slices through big and rough waves and moves quickly. Under extreme weather conditions, it could perform heaving-to and lying-a-hull with no problems.

pacific seacraft 34 solo sailing

Pacific Seacraft 34 is a smaller heavy displacement semi-long keel sailboat based on the highly successful Crealock 37. It has the same graceful lines and appearance as the Crealock and is known as the Voyagemaker.

It is built with comfort and safety in mind with its large overhanging bow and beautiful sheer line ending with a traditional canoe stern. Constructed with the highest standard, it is a seaworthy sailboat that is ideal for bluewater voyages.

It is a cutter-rigged sailboat with skeg-hung rudders and control lines being fed back to its cockpit. The smaller cockpit may feel cramped but its design lowers the risk of flooding.

Still, it has a great interior suited for living aboard. It has a large headroom, comfortable galley, and up to five berths for comfortable cruising.

Although you may feel some hobby-horsing windward because of the overhangs, Seacraft 34 is overall a very balanced boat with great upwind performance. It has outstanding control capabilities and is able to sustain surfing speed with ease.

Tayana 37 solo sailboat sailing

This is a double-ended full keel cruiser designed by Bob Perry and built-in Taiwan in response to the rising popularity of Westsail 32. It was offered to the market as a semi-custom boat and built with high-quality materials.

You can modify the internal layout and can choose a ketch, cutter, or pilothouse version. There is an option to use wood or aluminum spars. The mast could also be keel-stepped or deck-stepped.

Before, only 20 were ketch sailboats due to the popularity of the cutter design at that time. Now, ketch has proven to be faster and more balanced between the two.

Tayana is relatively faster than any sailboat in its class. Its best point of sail is in its broad reach. It also tracks well windward, and is an ideal choice for the trades. It is also great how the cockpit is secured from any flooding even when traveling. 

Today, a lot of people are still actively sailing this. Tayana 37 has become well known for offshore and blue water sailing.

canadian sailcraft 36 single handed sailing solo

Canadian Seacraft is well known for its fiberglass racer and cruiser. CS 36 is a small traditional fin keel sailboat with a masthead sloop intended for recreational use. It is seaworthy and has good performance in different weather conditions.

It was designed by Raymond Wall and had a production run between 1978 to 1987. It remains to be popular in both north and south borders.

It is a beautiful sailboat with a graceful sheer line and balanced overhangs at both bow and stern. Its details and quality in design and production are clearly of a higher tier.

It is mostly built with fiberglass and balsa wood. It is equipped with an internally mounted spade transom hung rudder. All of its lines lead to the cockpit, which is ideal for single-handed sailing.

CS 36 Traditional also has a deep-depth draft and wide beams with great access to the cockpit and foredecks. It is wide and spacious, which is perfect for comfortable cruising.

The sailboat has great proportion and traditional aesthetics. It is simple and straightforward, which makes it ideal for bluewater sailing.

Hallberg rassy 352 single handing sailboat

This is a sturdy and high-quality sailboat built between 1978 to 1991. It features a progressive design, combining a walk through with the aft-cabin from the main saloon. It is made with a tall and standard rig each supported on double and single spreaders, respectively.

Hallberg Rassy 352 has a nicely balanced hull sporting a fin keel with rudder on skeg, a generous beam, and a 45 percent high ballast ratio. Its water and fuel tanks are placed low in the keel to improve sail carrying ability.

Its production spanning 14 years allowed for continuous improvements in its specifications. Newer sailboats have raised hulls for bigger headroom in the under the deck, aft cabins, and the walkthrough. Engines were also replaced by a Volvo and later a Penta Turbo or the bigger MD 22.

It is impressive how they balanced good interior and sailing performance. It has great seakeeping ability and smooth motion in heavy seas, easily an ideal sailboat for singlehanded sailing.

corbin 39 solo sailboat review

Corbin 39 was designed based on a Dufour design named Harmonie, increasing freeboard, and flushing the deck. Its style is influenced by the classic Scandinavian cruiser, Westsail 32.

It has a long fin keel, blunt bow, and a high freeboard. It was sold as kits, and various deck molds were produced. They have pilot, aft, and center cockpit variations.

It was made of sturdy and high-quality materials. The earlier version’s decks were of marine grade mahogany but it was later changed with Airex foam. Its lead ballast was encapsulated with fiberglass for added protection.

Earlier boats had a single spreader main or a turbocharged double spreader. Later, Corbin used 49 feet double spreader rigs instead, and all were deck-stepped.

Corbin 39 is truly a strong and seaworthy vessel. With its fin keel and skeg rudder, cutter rig, and reefed main combinations, it could take anyone safely and comfortably anywhere in the world.

Valiant 40 solo sailing

Valiant 40 took its looks from Scandinavian double-ender sailboats. It had a successful production run that spanned for 47 years. It proved to be one of the pioneers for modern blue water designs.

Its hull is made from thick hand-laid fiberglass, bolted and covered with teak. Its ballast is cast with lead bolted to the keel stub. Lastly, the skeg is constructed separately from hull molding and encased with fiberglass before being fastened to the hull.

It has a beautiful bow and sheer lines and a longer LWL for maximum speed. At the back are a non-spacious cockpit and a canoe stern ideal for bluewater sailing operations.

Under the waterline is a fin keel with its skeg hung rudder. It perfectly matches with the cruising hall above, minimizing wetted surface area 

Overall, Valiant 40 is a seaworthy vessel with great blue water performance. Extremely balanced and well-mannered, it can withstand extreme weather conditions with ease and minimal effort on your part.

It soon gained a reputation as a fast water passage-maker with high integrity. Now, it is regularly used for circumnavigations by solo sailors and voyagers.

contessa 32 solo sailing sailboat

If you like a sailboat with a proven track record, then Contessa 32 is for you. It is a seaworthy racer-cruiser with good all-around sailing capabilities released in 1971.

Like its younger sister, Contessa 26, it has great speed, integrity, and affordability . Contessa 32 is a definite combination of old and new with its traditional narrow beam, a full hull with a fin keel, and fiberglass rudder protected by a skeg found in more modern yachts.

It has marked overhangs and a narrow tuck-up stern. It has less headroom below in return for its lesser wind resistance.

This configuration delivers fast racing speed and great stability. It could definitely withstand extreme weather and rough waves. Contessa 32 is claimed to be able to right itself when rolled or capsized.

Contessa 32 is known for its forgiving nature. It has a responsive helm and excellent windward performance. With its astounding stability, it can carry full sail for up to 25 knots.

fast passage 39 single handing sailboat

Fast Passage 39 was designed by William Garden and is said to be a legendary cruiser with speed, ruggedness, and fame. It is a stout double-ender comparable to the Valiant 40.

It has the same LOA and LWL as Valiant and also has nearly identical ballast and displacement. The difference is its narrower frame and more evolved underwater shapes resulting in flatter forward and aft keel sections and less wetted area. It also has great directional stability as its rudder allows great control under wind vane and down steep waves.

It is a high performing sailboat but also difficult to find as only 41 were produced. A part of the group was offered as hull and deck kits intended to be finished by the sailboat owners.

Fast Passage 39 also has a proven track record and has won single-handed blue water races. It performs great under a wide range of conditions, especially in light winds.

By now you should have some idea what makes a vessel Bluewater friendly. There are hundreds of vessels that can make long distance voyage safe and enjoyable. These examples above are just a few examples of the Best Single Handed BlueWater Sailboats.

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

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

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: May 16, 2023

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

BEST BLUEWATER SAILBOATS

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 .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 .

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.

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.”

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 .

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 .

Methodology

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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Tales (not just) from the high seas

best ketch sailboat

Why A Ketch Is The Best Offshore Sailboat

In a cruising world dominated by catamarans and light-displacement boats the ketch rig seems almost antiquated among the YouTube generation. But if you’re serious about off-shore sailing, the ketch rig has proven its worth time and time again, even by today’s standards.

For balance, performance, handling and comfort, a ketch is difficult to beat.

Out here in the cruising world, ketches are a popular alternative to other rigs because those smaller sails are easier to manage. This makes it easier for couples, liveaboards and older sailors. For short-handed sailing across long distances while facing rough waters and heavier winds, the small sails on a ketch are easy to handle. Ketches are also a good set-up for families because you can sail a larger boat without having to handle considerably larger sails.

KETCH 101 A ketch has two masts: a traditional mainmast, just like a sloop, and a second mast at the rear of the boat, called a mizzen mast. For it to be a ketch, the mizzen is mounted forward of the rudder-post. If it’s mounted behind, it’s called a yawl.

SAILS The main sails used on a ketch are the headsail, the mainsail and the mizzen sail, so one more than a sloop. But of course any number of additional sails may be used. Esper has a stay sail, which makes her a cutter-rigged ketch. Light-wind sails may also be used.

  • Yankee Starting at the head, ketches are most likely to have a yankee. This is a high-cut headsail and is normally 100% (the clew only comes back as far as the mast). The two main advantages of this are that it may be used in heavier weather without reefing, thus keeping the sail shape, and the high foot allows the seas to break without it dragging through the water.
  • Staysail If the ketch is rigged with a staysail, this is mounted on the inner forestay and creates a slot between the headsail and the mainsail to provide extra lift. This is known as a cutter rig (both ketches and sloops can be cutter rigged).
  • Mainsail The main mast will be shorter than a traditional sloop but it’s normally stepped in the same location, which is why boat manufacturers can offer both sail plans from the same mold.
  • Mizzen The sail that makes the difference. A smaller version of the mainmast which provides a whole host of advantages (see below).
  • Mizzen Staysail A light-wind sail that is taken from the top of the mizzen and down to the centre of the boat, forward of the cockpit. Paired with a cruising chute or other light-wind sails at the front of the boat, it provides extra speed and stability in light airs.

NOT ALWAYS MORE SAIL AREA Having an extra sail doesn’t always mean you have a larger sail plan. The sail plan of the boat is designed around other factors like displacement and hull shape. In most cases the individual sails of a ketch will be smaller than that of a sloop, but made up for by the additional mizzen sail.

“A mono is good if you want to head into higher latitudes. A cat is good if you like having space. We live on the edge in Wellington NZ and it’s interesting to see how few cats come south. I have a sloop, but I’d love a ketch.” -Robin Marshall, YouTube Sailing Channels Facebook group .
  • Easy to manage The biggest advantage is the smaller sails, making them easier to manage especially in heavy weather.
  • Single-handed Contrary to popular belief, single-handed sailing is a lot easier, especially in heavy weather because of the smaller, easier to manage sails.
  • More versatile sail plans With up to four sails versus the two on a sloop, you have multiple options for managing different sailing conditions.
  • Better power balance It’s not unusual to be able to quickly balance the boat and set the sails to allow the boat to sail itself without auto-pilot. Once set, it’s easy to trim the mizzen from the cockpit. The mizzen is a great way to quickly steer the boat and offers an advantage should you lose steering. The mizzen helps distribute the power throughout the boat, rather than it being at the middle and forward of the mast
  • Better heavy weather performance Because the mizzen offers better control of the stern, the boat is more balanced, especially in heavy weather, and therefore a more comfortable ride.
  • Easier Reefing With smaller sails, reefing down is a lot easier and can be done in any order depending upon the wind. It’s often the first sail we get out and the last to put away.
  • Downwind performance The mizzen and the main work well together when running down wind. In our videos, you may have seen us pole out the yankee and mizzen only.
  • Reduction in stress Basic physics will tell you that the larger the rigging and mast, the more stress you’re introducing. Shorter masts equal less stress and therefore less wear. This can translate into less wear on your rigging.
  • Heaving to Heaving-to with the mizzen and staysail is easier to manage and provides great stability.
  • Spare sail The mizzen ultimately provides you with a spare sail. Should you lose your main you have a ready-made contingency.
  • Centre cockpit Ketches are almost always centre-cockpit, providing a smoother ride as well as added safety.
  • Stability whilst anchoring and at anchor We frequently keep the mizzen up when anchoring. Leaving the mizzen out as a riding sail can help keep the boat into wind. We don’t do this often, because it means putting additional wear and tear on the sail but it has been useful.
  • Crane You can use the mizzen boom as a crane. We used to keep our small dinghy on the back of the boat and the mizzen was perfect for craning out of the water. It can also be used to winch someone from the water.
“Four sails over two offer a great advantage in terms of sail plan.”

DISADVANTAGES

  • Sailing to windward On paper ketch rigs generally do not sail as fast or as close to the wind as a sloop sailboat. In practice we have never had a problem going to windward, in part due to the cutter staysail, and would argue this issue is only of concern to racing sailors.
  • Heavier An extra mast and rigging makes the boat heavier. Ketches will be slower than their sloop counterparts. However, you’ll be reefing later as the wind picks up so you can really ramp up a ketch rig.
  • Maintenance and cost A ketch has two masts so double the rigging maintenance and replacement costs.
  • Triatic If you have a triatic stay, like Esper does, this is potentially a disaster if one of the masts comes down – it’ll take the other with it.
  • Space on deck One of the biggest practical disadvantages is that the mizzen mast takes up space in the stern. We know sailors who have removed the mizzen mast in order to free up space. We would never recommend this. The sail plan has been designed specifically for your boat and removing the mizzen will upset the boat’s balance. You’ll also lose out on the many advantages mentioned above.
  • Older boats It’s quite rare to find new ketches under 50ft, which means affordable second-hand blue-water ketches are more likely to be older. This also makes them harder to find.
  • Wind vane On paper the mizzen sail can disturb any wind vane mounted on the back of the boat. But we used our Wind Pilot extensively with the mizzen out all the way from Turkey to Malaysia.
  • Shadows on Solar The mizzen boom can cast shadows on solar panels mounted at the back of the boat, reducing their efficiency.

best ketch sailboat

CONCLUSION The disadvantages are minimal for the average off-shore cruiser. For us comfort is more important than that extra 0.3kn when going up wind, but that doesn’t stop us from constantly sail trimming to get the most out of Esper’s performance.

As always, thanks for supporting us and allowing us to share our adventure with you.

Peace, fair winds and stay safe

Liz, Jamie and Millie xxx

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best ketch sailboat

9 thoughts on “Why A Ketch Is The Best Offshore Sailboat”

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How did you rig your Yankee and staysail? Are they roller furling and if so how did you rig them? Did you need to add a pendant?

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They are roller furling, Corey. We added a pendant to the bottom of the yankee because we were getting halyard wrap, which has solved the issue

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Thanks for that excellent analysis Liz and Jamie. How do you find the mast furling mainsail and Mizzen? Does it get caught? Presumably you don’t have battens. We’re thinking of moving up in size from a sloop to a ketch. Your information was timely and helpful! Cheers Ruth and Michael

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The boat came with in-mast furling, which was on Jamie’s ‘don’t want’ list (just as a ketch was)! Compromises, eh? 😉 We love the in-mast, it works and hasn’t stuck (so far) on either mast except once or twice when the halyard was set wrong in the early days. So pleased the video was of use, we stand by everything we say and if had all the money in the world would always choose a ketch. Peace and fair winds!

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Interesting! Thanks for sharing!

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I love the idea of the ketch for a couple to sail, especially the extra options with the mizzen. However you’re correct that around 40 ft you’re typically looking at older boats. There are 2 for sale in my neck of the woods and they’re both 40 years old. “I’m old, not obsolete”. Cheers Stuart

Too right – “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain Some of the oldest boats are double-masters, but it’s difficult to get one under 50′ these days, I agree. People are scared of them, I guess? We’ll have a word with Oyster!

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Yes – and No!

(1) For those of us that cannot afford a 50 foot + ketch intrusion into the aft cabin is a major issue – given that a centre cockpit is by far the best layout for cruising. (2) Several of the advantages you sight are related to the cutter rig – which are also relevant to a cutter rigged sloop. In particular when close hauled and downwind where a simple goosewing is easy to run with. I would never rig a mizzen for running where there are gusty conditions as it will tend to slew.

Given that the wind is always on the nose, in terms of performance, cost, ease of handling and solar efficiency, it’s a centre-cockpit cutter-rigged sloop every time!

Kindest regards from sunny (and virus-free) N Cyprus.

Yes, we’d never have any kind of boat without a cutter rig, it’s brilliant anywhere let alone for long passages. We love our cutter-rig ketch, the mizzen is the first sail out and the last to go away. We often use the mizzen without the main and to be honest, I can’t imagine sailing without one these days. I think a centre-cockpit, cutter-rigged sloop would be a close second. 😉

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Yacht Dreaming

Ketch Sailing Techniques: Mastering the Art of Sailing a Ketch Yacht

Bill Michaels

Understanding Ketch Sailing Basics

Sailing a ketch yacht is a unique experience that requires a high level of skill and expertise. A ketch is a type of sailboat that has two masts, with a smaller mast located at the stern. The smaller mast is known as the mizzenmast, and it is usually smaller than the main mast.

Ketch sailing is a popular activity among avid sailors, as it offers a range of benefits, including improved stability, increased speed, and excellent maneuverability. To master the art of ketch sailing, you need to understand some of the basics of ketch sailing. Here are some essential tips to get you started:

Tips for Sailing a Ketch Yacht

Understand the wind direction and adjust your sails accordingly. Ketch sailing involves adjusting your sails to the wind direction to maximize your speed and maneuverability. This requires a keen understanding of wind direction and the ability to make quick adjustments to your sails.

Keep an eye on the weather conditions. Sailing a ketch yacht requires you to be aware of the weather conditions at all times. If the weather is too rough, it can be dangerous to sail, so it’s essential to keep an eye on any changes in the weather and adjust your sails accordingly.

Practice your maneuvering skills. Maneuvering a ketch yacht can be challenging, so it’s essential to practice your skills regularly. This includes docking, anchoring, and navigating in tight spaces.

The Art of Ketch Sailing

Ketch sailing is both an art and a science. It requires a high level of skill, experience, and expertise. To sail a ketch yacht successfully, you need to understand the principles of sail trim, navigation, and weather forecasting.

Principles of Sail Trim

Sail trim is one of the most critical aspects of ketch sailing. It involves adjusting the sails to maximize your speed and performance. Proper sail trim is essential to maintain optimal boat balance, which helps to improve stability and speed.

Here are some tips to help you master the art of sail trim:

  • Adjust your sails based on the wind direction.
  • Use telltales to monitor your sail trim.
  • Use the traveler to adjust the position of the boom.

Navigation Techniques

Navigation is another crucial aspect of ketch sailing. It involves using charts, compasses, and other instruments to navigate safely through the water. To sail a ketch yacht successfully, you must understand the basics of navigation.

Here are some essential navigation techniques to help you get started:

  • Use charts and maps to plan your route.
  • Use a compass to navigate and maintain your heading.
  • Use your GPS to monitor your progress and location.

Weather Forecasting

Weather forecasting is an essential skill for any sailor, and it’s especially important for ketch sailors. Understanding the weather can help you avoid dangerous conditions and make the most of favorable winds.

Here are some tips for understanding weather forecasting:

  • Monitor the weather forecast regularly.
  • Look for signs of changing weather conditions.
  • Learn how to read cloud formations and barometric pressure.

Advanced Ketch Sailing Techniques

Once you master the basics of ketch sailing, you can begin to explore more advanced techniques. These techniques can help you improve your speed, performance, and maneuverability.

Advanced Sail Trim Techniques

Advanced sail trim techniques involve adjusting your sails to optimize your speed and performance. These techniques require a high level of skill and experience and can be challenging to master.

Some advanced sail trim techniques include:

  • Using the boom vang to control sail shape.
  • Adjusting the draft of your sails.
  • Using a spinnaker or gennaker to improve your downwind performance.

Advanced Navigation Techniques

Advanced navigation techniques can help you navigate more challenging conditions and explore new areas. These techniques require a deep understanding of navigation principles and a high level of skill.

Some advanced navigation techniques include:

  • Using electronic navigation systems.
  • Using radar to navigate in fog or low visibility.
  • Navigating in challenging conditions, such as heavy seas or strong currents.

Advanced Maneuvering Techniques

Advanced maneuvering techniques can help you navigate in tight spaces and improve your overall sailing skills. These techniques require a high level of skill and experience and can be challenging to master.

Some advanced maneuvering techniques include:

  • Using a bow thruster to improve your maneuverability.
  • Docking in challenging conditions, such as high winds or strong currents.
  • Anchoring in challenging conditions, such as deep water or rocky bottoms.

Sailing a ketch yacht can be a rewarding and challenging experience. It requires a high level of skill, experience, and expertise. To master the art of ketch sailing, you need to understand the basics of sail trim, navigation, and weather forecasting. As you gain more experience, you can begin to explore more advanced techniques, such as advanced sail trim, navigation, and maneuvering techniques.

Sailing a ketch yacht is an art that takes time and practice to perfect. But with dedication and hard work, you can become a skilled and accomplished ketch sailor. So, set sail, explore new waters, and enjoy the thrill of ketch sailing!

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  • Ketch Sailboat

Does A Ketch Sailboat Make A Good Cruising Boat?

A ketch sailboat most certainly does make a good cruising boat! With the total sail area split between 3 sails (or 4 in the staysail ketch version shown below), sail handling is easier for a shorthanded crew than it would be on a sloop of similar size.

A Bowman 57 staysail ketch

But could it be a Yawl?

It's easy to confuse a ketch sailboat with a yawl so perhaps we should clear that up before we go any further. Both are two-masted rigs with a mainmast foremost and a smaller mizzen mast aft.

Bowman 46 Yawl

It's generally accepted that the difference between the two types comes down to the location of the mast in relation to the rudder post. In a yawl the mizzen is aft of the rudder post and in the ketch, it's forward.

But the real difference is one of purpose. The mizzen on a yawl is intended to help trim the boat, in capable hands giving them the ability to follow a compass course despite minor wind shifts.

This was a very handy feature in the days when commercial fishing was done under sail, but these days efficient autopilots and navigation aids have made this less important and the yawl has generally fallen out of favour.

The Mizzen Sail on a Yawl or Ketch Sailboat

The mizzen sail of a ketch is larger than that of a yawl and is there to add drive. And so it does - off the wind.

On the wind though, the mizzen is likely to add nothing but drag, being back-winded most of the time by the mainsail.

In these conditions the mizzen sail may as well be dropped, at which point the ketch becomes in effect an under-canvassed sloop.

An Allied Princess ketch

The Mizzen Staysail

Off the wind a ketch is at its most efficient, particularly so if cutter rigged and with a mizzen staysail set. 

Westerly 33 sailboat on a broad reach

That's the sail set between the head of the mizzen mast and the foot of the main mast, as on the Westerly 33 shown here.

But all the additional hardware - mizzen mast, sails, winches, standing and running rigging - comes with a considerable cost burden.

But there are benefits to be had from a split rig of a ketch:~

  • First, they offer greater flexibility for sail reduction, allowing a jib and mizzen configuration in strong winds; 
  • secondly, at anchor where with the mizzen set as a steadying sail, the boat will lay comfortably head-to-wind.

The Triatic Backstay

An Amel 54 cutter rigged ketch

Although you'll see many ketch sailboats with a triatic backstay tensioned between the two mastheads, each mast should be stayed individually.

Whilst this stay is ideally placed to act as an insulated SSB radio aerial, in the event of the loss of one mast it's almost guaranteed to result in the loss of the other.

A staysail ketch like the Amel 54 shown above will carry the following suit of working sails:

  • mizzen staysail;

A cruising sloop of a similar size has only two sails to make up the same sail area, which would be considerably more difficult for a short-handed crew to handle.

So, in answer to the original question, although they're not the best choice for windward sailing, the ketch can make an ideal cruising sailboat.

Lastly, the mizzen mast on a ketch sailboat provides an ideal place to mount your radar scanner and wind generator. And as one old sea-dog once told me, a convenient thing to lean against when you're smoking your pipe.

A Few Examples of Ketch Rigged Cruising Boats

Gibsea 37 ketch

What are the Pros & Cons of a Ketch?

  • Spread of Sail: Ketches have their sail area distributed over a higher number of sails, which means the size of each sail is generally smaller when compared to a sloop. This is useful when conditions are rough, as it's easier and safer to handle smaller sails.
  • Rig Options: The ability to switch between sail configurations makes ketches versatile. You can use only the mizzen and jib in a strong wind, only the main in moderate wind, and all sails in a light wind.
  • Downwind Efficiency: Ketches tend to perform well when sailing downwind, as the mizzen sail helps to catch additional wind.
  • Balance: The mizzen sail aids in stabilizing the boat which is useful when minimizing roll at anchor and helps balance the boat under sail.
  • Emergency Steering: The mizzen sail can be used for emergency steering if the rudder or main steering system becomes damaged.
  • Cost: Ketches often cost more due to the additional rigging and hardware needed for the extra mast and extra sails.
  • Maintenance: More rigging and more sails also mean more maintenance. Ketches may require more effort and cost to uphold.
  • Windward Performance: Ketches are often outperformed by sloops or cutters when sailing upwind.
  • Maneuverability: The extra mast can complicate tacking and jibing maneuvers, particularly in heavier winds.
  • Space Occupancy: The mizzen mast in a ketch can limit the space available in the cockpit or aft areas.

It's important to note the pros and cons can vary based on the specific design of the ketch. Certain designs may mitigate some of the cons, and other pros may become more apparent in certain types of conditions.

What are the ideal sailing conditions and environments for a ketch sailboat?

Ketch sailboats are particularly suited for long-distance cruising and offshore sailing because of their stability, versatility in sail arrangements, and downwind performance. They perform best in moderate to heavy wind conditions where the additional mizzen sail can provide extra balance, power, and control.

These boats shine when sailing downwind or on reaches, where their additional sails can make full use of the wind. They also work well in heavy wind conditions where reducing sail area is necessary, as their multiple smaller sails can provide more manageable options.

In terms of environments, ketches tend to thrive in areas with consistent winds and open water, such as offshore or coastal cruising routes. Their stability and easy handling can be advantageous in rough sea states or when navigating rolling swells.

However, it's worth mentioning that the performance of a ketch can depend on the specific design of the boat, the skipper's sailing skills and the crew's ability to manage and adjust the sails on board.

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Buying a Sailboat: Sloop vs. Ketch

Consider many different questions when deciding what kind of sailboat is best for you. If you are looking for a cruising sailboat, depending on your preferred size range, you may be choosing between a sloop and a ketch. These are the two most common  types of cruising sailboats . Each offers certain advantages.

massmatt/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

A sloop is generally the most common type of sailboat rig. A sloop has a single mast and usually only two sails: the mainsail and a headsail, such as a jib or a genoa. A sloop may also use a racing or cruising spinnaker.

Sloops come in all sizes, from 8-foot dinghies to maxi boats over a hundred feet long. A sloop uses what is called a Bermuda or Marconi rig. This is the tall, thin, triangular mainsail that's commonly seen on the waters of popular boating areas.

The sloop rig generally is simpler to use and cheaper to build than a ketch rig. Because of the wind and sail dynamics involved, a sloop is almost always faster than other rigs in boats of comparable size, especially when sailing windward.

Jukka/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

A ketch is a common rig for cruising sailboats. It has two masts: a traditional mainmast as on a sloop, plus a smaller mast in the rear of the boat. This is called the mizzenmast. Technically, the mizzenmast must be mounted forward of the boat’s rudderpost to be a ketch. If the mizzen is mounted further aft, behind the rudder post, it is considered a yawl. The mizzenmast is typically smaller on a yawl than on a ketch, but otherwise, these rigs are similar.

A ketch, therefore, uses three primary sails: the mainsail and headsail, as on a sloop, plus the mizzen sail aft. A ketch may also use a spinnaker.

The three sails do not necessarily mean that the sail area on a ketch is larger than on a sloop of the same size, however. Sail area is usually planned by boat designers based on the boat's size, displacement (weight), hull shape and configuration, not on the number of masts or sails. This means that the mainsail and headsail of a ketch are generally smaller than on a sloop, but the mizzen sail roughly makes up the difference.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Sloops vs. Ketches

 Gellinger/Pixabay/CC0 Creative Commons

Sloops and ketches each have their own benefits, but also disadvantages. When deciding what type of boat to buy, consider these differences.

Advantages of a Sloop

  • A sloop is generally faster and sails closer to the wind.
  • Sloops have fewer sails than ketches to buy and maintain.
  • With a sloop, there is less standing and running rigging with one mast, which means there is less to manage and maintain overall.
  • As the most popular contemporary boat, sloops are available in a wide variety.

Disadvantages of a Sloop

  • Sloop sails are generally larger and heavier, requiring more strength for handling, hoisting, and trimming, particularly on a larger boat.
  • Sloops have fewer options to reduce sail area in stronger winds. Sloops offer only reefing or furling of the sails.

Advantages of a Ketch

  • Ketches have smaller sails. These sails are more easily managed and hoisted on a larger boat, which is why ketches are preferred by many older sailors.
  • Using only two sails at a time provides multiple options for managing different sailing conditions, such as strong winds.

Disadvantages of a Ketch

  • Ketch rigs generally do not sail as fast or as close to the wind as a sloop sailboat.
  • Ketches have more standing rigging (shrouds and stays) and running rigging (halyards and sheets) to manage and maintain.
  • The mizzenmast in ketches takes up space in the stern.
  • There are fewer ketches available on the market. Ketches are more popular as an older boat.

Most ketches are intended as cruising boats that are easy to handle and comfortable for cruising. Many sloops, even sketch sloops, are designed for greater speed and racing. Many ketches, therefore, are different from sloops in ways other than just the masts and sails. Designed as cruisers, many ketches are heavier, more stable in sea conditions, and more commodious down below. On the other hand, contemporary builders produce few ketches, so there are a greater variety of sloops available as new boats.

As in other decisions when shopping for a sailboat, the preferable rig depends mostly on your preferred uses of the boat. The same is true when comparing fixed keel and centerboard sailboats.

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The 5 Best Sailboats For Beginners

5-best-sailboats-for-beginners

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 27, 2023

Sailing is a fun activity for people of all experience levels. In fact, learning to sail a basic boat is relatively easy—in the right environment, you can start cruising with minimal experience.

However, the idea of a beginner commanding a 55-foot ketch in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is a bit ridiculous. Even though virtually everyone can sail, beginners should learn the basics in a controlled environment—and on the correct boat.

Boat size doesn’t necessarily affect its beginner-friendliness, because sailors need to take into account factors such as rig simplicity and handling characteristics. 

Many beginners make the mistake of picking the wrong boat to begin with, which can lead to frustration and turn them off of sailing forever.

To mitigate these issues, this article will cover the best sailboats for beginners —so you can get on the water and start sailing safely and comfortably.

Table of contents

‍ Best Rigs for Beginners 

There are many types of sailboat rigging , and some are more beginner-friendly than others. Unfortunately, some of the most aesthetically pleasing rigs are also the most complicated. 

Eventually, sailors can acquire enough skill to master complex rigs, but it’s best to start simple. 

Arguably, one of the simplest sailing rigs is the Lateen Rig. This rig consists of a mast, boom, and spar, along with a single halyard and mainsheet. With only two ropes in its simplest configuration, the Lateen Rig makes an excellent starter sailboat, and it will be featured on this list. 

For larger boats, the Bermuda Sloop rig is an excellent choice. This rig is quite common and includes a jib for a larger sail plan.

For those who desire a slightly more robust (but single sail) layout, the gaff-rigged catboat is also an excellent choice. This versatile craft (and rig) has a large and relatively simple single sail, which is easier to handle than multiple sails.

Top Five Sailboats for Beginners 

Now, we’ll go over the top five sailboats for beginners . These boats will descend in order from smallest to largest, but not by the level of experience needed.  

Remember, just because you’re new to sailing doesn’t mean you have to settle for a boat that’s too small. Beginners can handle larger boats with some training, and some are easier to handle than their smaller counterparts.  ‍

The following boats were chosen because of their handling characteristics, low cost-of-ownership, and simplicity, as all of these factors are important for choosing the best beginner sailboat.

5) Sailing Dinghy

The sailing dinghy is the quintessential starter sailboat. These tiny, lightweight, popular, and highly affordable little craft is easy to operate and relatively difficult to capsize. The popular Optimist Sailing Dinghy, while designed for children up to the age of about 15, can be used (sometimes hilariously) by adults as well. An Optimist-style dingy is a great option for beginners over the age of 15, as boats of this style can be found in a variety of sizes. The sailing dinghy is a very popular youth racing sailboat, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. While it’s not particularly fast, this little boat has wonderful handling characteristics and is relatively difficult to capsize. This open-cockpit boat uses a centerboard and detachable tiller and can be beached or carried atop a car without much hassle. The mast is removable, and all parts are easily stowed. Overall, the Optimist and its copycats are a remarkable little craft, equally useful as a tender for a larger boat or a standalone beginner sailboat.

Dinghy rigs vary between builders, but many use the simple Spirit Rig. The rig consists of a single sail and mainsheet, along with one mast, boom, and spar. The leech is stiffened by battens, and ties along the luff secure it all to the mast. Hoisting and securing the rig is easy, and lines are secured to the boat by a cleat. This simple rig has plenty of sail area for most places, and sailors can secure the mainsheet to a block or simply hold it in their hands.

The price of sailing dinghies can vary widely depending on multiple factors. Professionally-made sailing dinghies start around $3,500 new, and plywood kits are available for around $1,000 to $2,000. Used dinghies (including Optimist sailing dinghies) can be found on Craigslist for as low as a few hundred dollars. 

{{boat-info="/boats/vanguard-sunfish"}}

The Sunfish is a brilliant little sailboat, and a very fast boat indeed. This little racing dinghy, while only 13 feet in length, can be an enormous amount of fun for beginners and experienced sailors alike. The best way to describe the handling of a Sunfish is, ‘tender,’ though it’s not difficult to master this little boat. For its size, the Sunfish has a relatively large sail area and a very shallow draft. This boat has a small cockpit and can be controlled easily by a single person. The large sail plan of the Lateen-Rigged Sunfish makes for excellent performance in light winds and amazing speed on windy days. The Sunfish is a lightweight fiberglass boat with a simple rig and is a great step-up from a sailing dinghy. It’s possible to learn how to sail on this boat, but every sailor who’s spent time on a Sunfish will probably recommend bringing a towel. The boat is relatively easy to capsize for beginners and it heels aggressively, but these characteristics can teach sailors some important lessons. The heeling characteristics of the Sunfish can help beginners get accustomed to the feeling and help them understand the limits of a sailboat and how to avoid capsizing.

The Sunfish features a Lateen Rig, which has some shared characteristics with the simple Spirit Rig. The Lateen Rig has a single spar, mast, and boom, and is easy to set up and dismantle. The mast is removable as well, making stowing and transportation relatively easy. The large sail plan of the Sunfish makes it ideal for lakes and other areas where the wind is sporadic or very low, and the boat can be safely handled in many conditions. The boat is great for racing and learning and is also available in a Bermuda rig. The Sunfish is recognizable by the distinctive fish logo in the top corner of the sail, and the classic rainbow sails striping.

The Sunfish is still commercially manufactured. You can purchase one new from the factory for around $5,000 today, and options are available to make the boat your own. While the boat is designed to be sailed by a single person, two adults can purchase this boat and use it together comfortably. Used Sunfish prices vary, but a fully-outfitted boat in good condition can cost upwards of $1,000. They hold their value well, and they’re a great choice for beginners. 

{{boat-info="/boats/vanguard-laser"}}

The Laser is considered by many to be the Sunfish’s main competitor. The two boats are the same length (13 feet 9 inches) and share many of the same handling characteristics. However, the boats do have some notable differences. Many people consider the Laser to be a step-up from the Sunfish in difficulty, as the boat handles much more like a racer. The Laser has been used in the Olympics for racing. The laser is small and simple enough for beginners but requires skill to operate. Beginners can learn a lot from sailing a Laser and have an enormous amount of fun in the process. This fast little boat is simple and easy to set up but handles like a racecar.  If you’re a beginner on a laser, you’ll probably capsize at some point—which isn’t always a problem if you’re in a controlled environment, as the boat can be righted easily.

The laser is a Cat Rigged boat. This means it has only one mainsail and no headsails. The simple rig has a mast and a boom and is very easy to set up. The sail area of the laser is relatively large and designed for speed in high winds. The rig combined with the overall design of the sailboat makes it handle tenderly, which may be off-putting to some beginners. Regardless, it’s still a blast to sail for beginners with some experience.

New Laser sailboats start around $6,000 which is slightly more than the Sunfish. This simple centerboard cruiser is constructed as a race boat, which can explain some of the price increase. Used Laser sailboats are available on the market, though usually not as common as the Sunfish. Used Laser prices vary widely.

2) Gaff-Rigged Catboat

The gaff-rigged catboat isn’t a brand of boat—it’s a style of a sailboat that was once a popular workboat on the New England coast. This boat, which has only one mainsail and no headsails, is available in a wide range of designs. Catboats are famous for their handling and power and make a great sailboat for beginners. These vessels are available with centerboards, keels, cabins, and in open designs. Most catboats range from 15 to 19-feet long and can be built from wood or fiberglass. Catboats are easy to handle, and one who learns on a small catboat can easily transition to a larger one. Besides being one of the most easily recognizable sailboats, catboats are also some of the most versatile. A catboat can be just as suitable for lake cruising as it is for coastal waters.

The most common type of catboat rig is the Gaff Rig. This classic and robust rig is more complex than the simple Spirit and Lateen rig, but it’s more suitable for a ‘proper ship.’ The Gaff Rig can provide similar power as an equivalent Bermuda Rig, with much more elegance and a shorter mast. Many sailors prefer the classic Gaff Rig for its handling characteristics and durability.

It’s impossible to specify the price of catboats because they vary so much in design and size. New catboats (between 15 and 25-feet) can be purchased for less than $20,000, and used boats are numerous and varied. Cabin catboats tend to cost more, especially new—some run for more than $50,000 with a high level of amenities, including a head and galley. Numerous catboat plans are available online, and sailors report constructing them (usually of plywood) for just a few thousand dollars.

1) West Wight Potter 19

{{boat-info="/boats/west-wight-potter-19"}}

The West Wight Potter 19 is a fiberglass sailboat designed for safety, easy handling, and beginner-friendliness. This 19-foot trailer-sailor features a cabin with a vee-berth, a simple rig, and a retractable keel. The West Wight Potter 19 could potentially be the best cabin sailboat for beginners, and certainly one of the safest—the West Wight Potter 19, according to the manufacturer, is quite literally unsinkable. The hull is filled with buoyant materials, allowing the boat to be flooded and remain afloat. However, unsinkability isn’t the only characteristic of this boat that makes it ideal for beginners. The rig is simple and easy to set up, and the handling characteristics are excellent. The boat is not prone to aggressive heeling and handles confidently in a variety of conditions. While one generally wouldn’t consider it to be a blue-water cruiser, it’s still extremely capable—one sailor even sailed this vessel from California to Hawaii , which is over 2,000 nautical miles. The theoretical hull speed of this boat is around 5.4 knots, but it actually has a tendency to plane and achieve higher speeds. It’s a flat-bottomed cruiser, making it easy to beach and transport with its retractable keel and removable rudder. The West Wight Potter 19 is a great introduction to large sailboats and carries amenities normally reserved for boats at least 1/3 larger.

The West Wight Potter 19 is a Bermuda-Rigged sloop. The sail plan is sufficiently large to propel the boat in a variety of conditions, but not so large that it overpowers the boat. Sailors can single-hand the boat with ease, and set up and takedown are easy and require no special tools. The boat handles well in a variety of conditions and is well-known for its superior stability. The rig comes apart easily and can be stowed and trailered by one person.

The West Wight Potter 19 has been produced and sold commercially since the 1970s, and the used market has plenty of boats available, generally starting around $5,000. New West Wight Potter 19 sailboats are remarkably affordable compared to other boats with comparable characteristics. The West Wight Potter 19 is manufactured by International Marine in California. New sailboats start at just shy of $25,000. Owners can add an enormous range of extra features to their boats, including a hull-strengthening ‘blue water’ package, a stove, a head, electrical power, spare parts, and much more. The boats are highly customizable and can be outfitted for weekender sailing or long-term liveaboard cruising.

How to Pick a Sailboat

Picking a sailboat for beginners doesn’t have to be difficult.  Before deciding on a boat, consider your experience level and location.

If you only have access to rough ocean, it may not be the best idea to get an open dinghy.

If you live near a lake, a Sunfish could be a great way to start.

Also, consider your budget. If you’re looking for a $50 sailboat, you can probably find one, but it won’t be ideal.

If you have just a few thousand dollars to spend, you can set yourself up nicely with a little research .

Also, consider what you want to do with the sailboat. Recreation, fishing , cruising , and exploration are options, and require different kinds of boats.

Whichever you end up choosing, make sure you try it out and can sail it comfortably.

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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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Cruising World Logo

40 Best Sailboats

  • By Cruising World Editors
  • Updated: May 24, 2024

the 40 best sailboats

Sailors are certainly passionate about their boats, and if you doubt that bold statement, try posting an article dubbed “ 40 Best Sailboats ” and see what happens.

Barely had the list gone live, when one reader responded, “Where do I begin? So many glaring omissions!” Like scores of others, he listed a number of sailboats and brands that we were too stupid to think of, but unlike some, he did sign off on a somewhat upbeat note: “If it weren’t for the presence of the Bermuda 40 in Cruising World’s list, I wouldn’t even have bothered to vote.”

By vote, he means that he, like hundreds of other readers, took the time to click through to an accompanying page where we asked you to help us reshuffle our alphabetical listing of noteworthy production sailboats so that we could rank them instead by popularity. So we ask you to keep in mind that this list of the best sailboats was created by our readers.

The quest to building this list all began with such a simple question, one that’s probably been posed at one time or another in any bar where sailors meet to raise a glass or two: If you had to pick, what’re the best sailboats ever built?

In no time, a dozen or more from a variety of sailboat manufacturers were on the table and the debate was on. And so, having fun with it, we decided to put the same question to a handful of CW ‘s friends: writers and sailors and designers and builders whose opinions we value. Their favorites poured in and soon an inkling of a list began to take shape. To corral things a bit and avoid going all the way back to Joshua Slocum and his venerable Spray —Hell, to Noah and his infamous Ark —we decided to focus our concentration on production monohull sailboats, which literally opened up the sport to anyone who wanted to get out on the water. And since CW is on the verge or turning 40, we decided that would be a nice round number at which to draw the line and usher in our coming ruby anniversary.

If you enjoy scrolling through this list, which includes all types of sailboats, then perhaps you would also be interested in browsing our list of the Best Cruising Sailboats . Check it out and, of course, feel free to add your favorite boat, too. Here at Cruising World , we like nothing better than talking about boats, and it turns out, so do you.

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

moore 24 sailboat

40. Moore 24

pearson vanguard sailboat

39. Pearson Vanguard

dufour arpege 30 sailboat

38. Dufour Arpege 30

Alerion Express 28

37. Alerion Express 28

Mason 43/44 sailboat

36. Mason 43/44

jeanneau sun odyssey 43ds sailboat

35. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 43DS

nor'sea 27 sailboat

34. Nor’Sea 27

freedom 40 sailboat

33. Freedom 40

beneteau sense 50 sailboat

32. Beneteau Sense 50

nonsuch 30 sailboat

31. Nonsuch 30

swan 44 sailboat

30. Swan 44

C&C landfall 38 sailboat

29. C&C Landfall 38

gulfstar 50 sailboat

28. Gulfstar 50

sabre 36 sailboat

27. Sabre 36

pearson triton sailboat

26. Pearson Triton

– CHECK THE FIT – Follow these guidelines to make sure your life jacket looks good, stays comfortable and works when you need it. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

islander 36 sailboat

25. Islander 36

gozzard 36 sailboat

24. Gozzard 36

bristol 40 sailboat

23. Bristol 40

tartan 34 sailboat

22. Tartan 34

morgan out island 41 sailboat

21. Morgan Out Island 41

hylas 49 sailboat

20. Hylas 49

contessa 26 sailboat

19. Contessa 26

Whitby 42 sailboat

18. Whitby 42

Columbia 50 sailboat

17. Columbia 50

morris 36 sailboat

16. Morris 36

hunter 356 sailboat

15. Hunter 356

cal 40 sailboat

13. Beneteau 423

westsail 32 sailboat

12. Westsail 32

CSY 44 sailboat

– CHECK THE WEATHER – The weather changes all the time. Always check the forecast and prepare for the worst case. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Alberg 30 sailboat

10. Alberg 30

island packet 38 sailboat

9. Island Packet 38

passport 40 sailboat

8. Passport 40

tayana 37 sailboat

7. Tayana 37

peterson 44 sailboat

6. Peterson 44

pacific seacraft 37 sailboat

5. Pacific Seacraft 37

hallberg-rassy 42 sailboat

4. Hallberg-Rassy 42

catalina 30 sailboat

3. Catalina 30

hinckley bermuda 40 sailboat

2. Hinckley Bermuda 40

valiant 40 sailboat

1. Valiant 40

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Yacht Cruising Lifestyle

Yacht Cruising Lifestyle

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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. 

Want to join the community at #BoatLife? Get a conversation started on our new forum by leaving a question or comment!

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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 Popular Full Keel Sailboats Worth Considering

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

best ketch sailboat

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

Nicholson 32

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

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

Full Keel Advantages

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

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

Full Keel Disadvantages

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

best ketch sailboat

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

Fin keel advantages.

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

Fin Keel Disadvantages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arthur Rushlow

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

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The Best Sailboats for the High Seas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://metro.co.uk/2018/04/25/last-pictures-doomed-yacht-cheeki-rafiki-sank-killing-four-british-sailors-7497805/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  1. 43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

    Best bluewater sailboats for comfort Amel 55 This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult ...

  2. Ketch boats for sale

    Ketch sailing vessels for sale on YachtWorld are offered at a variety of prices from $19,215 on the relatively lower-priced, classic models all the way up to $12,264,099 for the more lavish boat models. Find Ketch boats for sale in your area & across the world on YachtWorld. Offering the best selection of boats to choose from.

  3. Five best ketches and yawls

    Swan 65. This is perhaps the most famed ketch rigged yacht of all time, a Sparkmans and Stephens design from an era when a state-of-the-art racing boat would also make a superbly comfortable cruising yacht. The model shot to fame in the first Whitbread Round the World Race (now the Volvo Ocean Race) in 1973/4.

  4. Ketch Sailboats: The Ultimate Guide

    Ketch sailboats are a unique and captivating type of sailboat that offers a distinctive sailing experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the design, purpose, key features, rigging options, appropriate buyers and considerations, top brands, and conclude with why ketch sailboats are a remarkable choice for sailing enthusiasts.

  5. 11 Best Single Handed Bluewater Sailboats

    Before, only 20 were ketch sailboats due to the popularity of the cutter design at that time. Now, ketch has proven to be faster and more balanced between the two. Tayana is relatively faster than any sailboat in its class. Its best point of sail is in its broad reach. It also tracks well windward, and is an ideal choice for the trades.

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

    The 10 best bluewater boats. 1. Westsail 32. Photo credit: SailboatData.com. 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.

  7. Best bluewater cruising boat is a ketch

    A ketch has two masts: a traditional mainmast, just like a sloop, and a second mast at the rear of the boat, called a mizzen mast. For it to be a ketch, the mizzen is mounted forward of the rudder-post. If it's mounted behind, it's called a yawl. SAILS. The main sails used on a ketch are the headsail, the mainsail and the mizzen sail, so ...

  8. A One-sided Defense of the Cruising Ketch

    Impress your sloop-sailing friends with fancy ketch tricks. Sail backward through the mooring field (spin circles if you have a sharpie), nose casually up to anchor, hove-to with jig and jigger. Barrel westward on a reach. Turbo-charge off-wind sailing by setting a mizzen staysail. Don't fear a dismasting.

  9. Twelve Top Bluewater Cruising Boats

    This 53-footer is idiosyncratically French, and it's also a superbly focused bluewater cruiser. Designed to be handled by a couple, its ketch rig is docile yet effective, with sails set on electric furling gears and some ingenious sail handling systems. Nearly 500 of these boats were built before Amel replaced it with the 54.

  10. Herreshoff Cat Ketch 31

    Halsey Herreshoff is unclear about dates or specifics, but he confirms what printed sail plans show, that the total working sail area of his H-31 grew from an original 403 sq. ft. to a subsequent 466 sq. ft. At the same time, the displacement shrunk from 8,640 pounds to 7,560 pounds.

  11. 15 Surprising Benefits of a Ketch Rig (and 7 Cons)

    The ketch rig is an especially effective rig for larger boats (40ft and up). Just a quick recap: the ketch is a two-masted sailboat that has a mainmast (front) and shorter mizzenmast (aft or back). Both masts carry a mainsail. The sail on the mizzenmast is also called the jigger. Your mizzensail provides all kinds of benefits.

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

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

  13. What Is a Ketch Sailboat?

    A ketch is a two-masted sailboat with a tall mizzenmast mast aft of the mainmast. A key characteristic of Ketch sailboats is that their mizzenmast is shorter than the mainmast. The mainmast itself is typical and resembles a sloop mast. A ketch has a mainsail and one or more headsails on the mainmast, along with a single mizzen on the mizzenmast.

  14. Ketch Sailing Techniques: Mastering the Art of Sailing a Ketch Yacht

    A ketch is a type of sailboat that has two masts, with a smaller mast located at the stern. The smaller mast is known as the mizzenmast, and it is usually smaller than the main mast. Ketch sailing is a popular activity among avid sailors, as it offers a range of benefits, including improved stability, increased speed, and excellent maneuverability.

  15. Is The Ketch Sailboat the Best Type of Sailboat for Offshore Cruising?

    So, in answer to the original question, although they're not the best choice for windward sailing, the ketch can make an ideal cruising sailboat. Lastly, the mizzen mast on a ketch sailboat provides an ideal place to mount your radar scanner and wind generator. And as one old sea-dog once told me, a convenient thing to lean against when you're ...

  16. 5 Best Liveaboard Bluewater Sailboats

    The best liveaboard bluewater sailboats must strike a balance between comfort and seakeeping abilities. These boats are generally heavy and stable and roomy enough to spend time in. ... Eric is a 32-foot traditional wooden ketch. This planked full-keel sailboat displaces over 19,000 lbs and has a draft of about five feet. The basic design of ...

  17. Choosing a Sloop or Ketch Sailboat

    Advantages of a Sloop. A sloop is generally faster and sails closer to the wind. Sloops have fewer sails than ketches to buy and maintain. With a sloop, there is less standing and running rigging with one mast, which means there is less to manage and maintain overall. As the most popular contemporary boat, sloops are available in a wide variety.

  18. Ketch Sailboats for sale

    What are the best ketch sailing vessels? Some of the most widely-known, masterful builders of ketch sailing vessels at present include: Gulfstar, Allied, Morgan, Pearson and Formosa. ... Formosa, Herreshoff, Morgan and Pearson. With 70 ketch sailboats currently listed for sale, as well as 10 added in the past 30 days, Boat Trader is confident ...

  19. The 5 Best Sailboats For Beginners

    The West Wight Potter 19 could potentially be the best cabin sailboat for beginners, and certainly one of the safest—the West Wight Potter 19, according to the manufacturer, is quite literally unsinkable. The hull is filled with buoyant materials, allowing the boat to be flooded and remain afloat.

  20. 40 Best Sailboats, Types of Sailboats & Manufacturers

    Start with this list for the best sailboats that hold value. All summer readers cast votes for their favorites on CW's 40 greatest production monohulls of all time list, now you can see how the fleet stacks up. ... the ketch-rigged Whitby 42 has been a fixture in far-flung anchorages since it was first launched in 1942. Originally built in ...

  21. 20 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats Under $100,000

    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 best advice for buying a boat is to be truly honest with ...

  22. 13 Popular Full Keel Sailboats Worth Considering

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

  23. The Best Sailboats for the High Seas?

    Here are some of the boats that were suggested from our readers: Mariner 36, Cal 34, Morgan 43, Swan 43, Bermuda 40, Island Packet 26, Mariner 47, LeComte Northeast 38, Westsail 32, Dana 24, J/35, and the CSY 44. Id be interested in hearing of other nominees for this list, or other good resources for sailors looking for a short list of good ...