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10 Best Used Cruising Sailboats

  • By John Kretschmer
  • Updated: June 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Island Packet 35

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

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

Prout Snowgoose 37

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cabo Rico 38

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

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

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

Tayana Vancouver 42

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

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

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

Wauquiez Pretorien 35

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

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

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

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

Gulfstar 44

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pacific Seacraft 34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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best used coastal cruising sailboats

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9 Best Used Sailboats

They may take a ­little elbow grease and require a few new parts, but here’s a look at nine of the best cruising sailboats that can sail afar for less than $100,000.

The esteemed John Kretschmer writes for Cruising World :

I’ve compiled a list of interesting and affordable cruising sailboats for serious voyaging. A list of nine sailboats for any purpose, much less world cruising, is sure to evoke outrage from strong-minded sailors, who by nature tend to be a bit opinionated. Stand by before hurling insults my way, and let me explain. I have decided to stay away from the sailboats we know by heart, the iconic old boats that usually populate a list like this: the Westsail 32, Tayana 37, Shannon 38 and Valiant 40 (the last of which, with a bit of searching, can still be found at or just below $100,000). My list of some of the best liveaboard sailboats is eclectic and includes a mix of well-known and obscure manufacturers, but all the boats are linked in three ways: All are top-quality vessels capable of crossing oceans. They’re affordable, although in a few cases you have to look for older models in less-than-stellar condition to stay below $100,000. (Indeed, in some ways, this list is a function of age; most of the boats were priced at more than $100,000 when new but have dipped below our self-imposed threshold in middle age.) And finally, they’re all boats that I have encountered in the past few years in far-flung cruising outposts.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Island Packet 35

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Prout Snowgoose 37

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Cabo Rico 38

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Tayana Vancouver 42

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Pretorien 35

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Gulfstar 44

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Pacific Seacraft 34

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Best liveaboard boats: 4 of the best options for long-term cruising

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Our used boat expert Nick Burnham picks out four of the best liveaboard boats on the secondhand market right now.

One of the real joys of boating is the sheer diversity of it. Whatever you want to experience, whether it’s exhilaration, exploration, relaxation, escapism, social interaction or solitude, there’s a boating style and a boat type, specifically made for you.

And exactly the same is true for the ultimate boater’s fantasy – living aboard your floating home full time (it’s what we all dream of, right?).

So here to fulfil the fantasy are four great examples of vessels that could either take you and your family or friends around the world in a constant stream of adventures, or a more modest barge that would allow you to park up on a quiet stretch of the River Thames and enjoy a constant stream of G&Ts! Cheers!


Nordhavn 46

Built: 1997 Price: £350,000

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The Nordhavn 46 is Genesis for Nordhavn and set the tone for pretty much every model that followed. Pacific Asian Enterprises was formed by Jim Leishman and Dan Streech in 1974, originally importing and selling a line of boats from Taiwan called Transpac.

In 1978 Jeff Leishman, Jim’s younger brother, joined PAE as a part-time employee whilst still at school. Jeff completed his studies in 1987, and received his naval architecture diploma from the Yacht Design Institute.

As part of his graduation requirement, he was asked to design a vessel of his choosing. That actual design became the Nordhavn 46 and an entire new genre was born.


Saloon and galley are all on one level with stairs leading down to the owner’s cabin

Several layout options were tried in the early days, before settling down to the layout you see on this 1997 example, much of which echoes through to current models.

Designed for long-term living aboard, there’s a large saloon and galley on the main deck, with steps down to an owner’s cabin in the centre of the boat (reducing motion at sea to a minimum).

But another set of steps lead up to a proper separate wheelhouse , little-ship style. Steps forward from here drop you down to a separate guest cabin in the bow.

A wide side deck leads from the cockpit along the starboard side and up around the front of the wheelhouse in the form of a Portuguese bridge protected by a bulwark from the foredeck.

Follow it round and you’ll go back past the wheelhouse on the port side and up the stairs again to the boat deck above the saloon where the tender is stored.


The bridge deck is a few steps higher and further forward than the saloon


Nordhavns are all about range, which is why speeds are strictly limited to hull displacement speed rather than forcing more knots via a semi-displacement or planing hull.

Figure on about 8.5 knots flat out with 7.4 knots as the cruise speed, at which the 3,785 litre fuel tank should give about 2,500 miles of range.

There is a lot of boat under the water, with its full hull shape and long keel designed to help the boat plug on and on.

Nordhavn 46 specification

LOA: 45ft 9in (13.9m) Beam: 15ft 5in (4.7m) Draught: 5ft 0in (1.5m) Displacement: 20 tonnes Fuel capacity: 3,785 litres Engine: Lugger L668D 134Kw 180hp diesel engines Location: Hamble Contact: Nordhavn Europe


Aqualine Canterbury 62×10 Widebeam

Built: 2019 Price: £182,950

Widebeam narrowboat sounds like the ultimate oxymoron, but it’s a term used to denote canal barges that are, well, wider of beam. A typical narrowboat is 6ft 10in wide, and it’s constructed to this dimension in order to access virtually all of the British canal system.

In short, there are places a wide beam just can’t go. But there are plenty of places that it can. There are four main UK ‘cruising grounds’ for the widebeam owner: London and the South; East Anglia; the Severn waterways; and the Trent and North. Indeed, many owners simply use them as floating homes and never go anywhere at all.


The saloon looks more like an apartment than a boat, with proper domestic furniture…

So what’s the point of a wide beam narrowboat that can’t go everywhere? In a word, space. At 10ft wide, it’s not far short of double the beam, meaning you get almost twice the internal volume for a given length.

But it also gives you rooms that feel far more like those in a house and less like railway carriages. Given that very little of the interior is structural, it’s easy for the manufacturer to customise the layout. This particular boat has a large bedroom at the bow, a generous bathroom and a huge lounge/diner large enough for domestic furniture plus a kitchen.

Narrowboats tend to major on internal space so there is little more than vestigial side decks. There is a decent cockpit at the aft end with a large crescent of seating around a table, and a helm station with wheel steering rather than the tiller of more traditional designs. There is also a ‘well deck’ forward, which is basically a small cockpit in the bow accessed from the forward cabin.


…and the fully equipped galley could be the kitchen in a stylish new build house

Performance is probably not a word you associate with 62ft of 10mm steel plating powered by a Barrus Yanmar Shire 50hp, 4 cylinder 2,190cc diesel engine.

It will move you sedately around the inland waterways, but the fact the water tank is almost double the size of the fuel tank encapsulates the priorities of these vessels.

A misnomer – if you’re planning to put to sea, this is not the boat for you.

Aqualine Canterbury specification

LOA: 62ft 0in (18.9m) Beam: 10ft 0in (3.1m) Draught: 1ft 9in (0.6m) Displacement: 33 tonnes Fuel capacity : 430 litres Engine: Barrus Yanmar Shire 50hp diesel engine Location: Bray Contact: TBS Boats


Built: 2002 Price: £399,950

Built in 2002 by Zijlmans Jachtbouw, a family owned yacht builder in Drimmelen on the Amer River, North Brabant in Holland, this Triqual 65 has had a rather colourful history. It ended up in the Caribbean before being shipped back to Amsterdam in June 2011.

Following a tip-off from the French authorities, the HMRC intercepted the boat in Southampton. After seven days of very thorough searching, they found no drugs inside the boat. There was, however, the small matter of 1.2 tonnes of cocaine worth £300,000,000 hidden in a secret compartment located underneath the bathing platform!

The result was rather a lot of work needed when the current owner bought the boat from an HM Revenue & Customs auction in 2013. A total interior strip and rebuild to a high standard followed.

The owner wanted a boat for exploring the coastlines of Ireland and Scotland before heading over to Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea, so comfortable liveaboard boat was the name of the game and a full interior refit followed, creating a very contemporary and, above all, spacious displacement cruiser with three cabins (two doubles and a twin), a lower dinette and a large saloon area.


A total interior refit in 2013 means the saloon still feels fresh, bright and modern

A flybridge motor yacht, there is masses of space on the outside too. The large flybridge has been refitted with more seating, there’s an aft deck to enjoy and deeply bulwarked side decks encircle the boat.

A pair of Vetus Deutz DT67 231hp six cylinder diesel engines pushing over 40 tonnes of steel about (the hull is 6mm thick below the waterline, 5mm above) is never going to set any speed records, but a displacement maximum speed of 10 knots and an 8.5 knot cruise is not too shabby at all, nor is the fuel burn of 28 litres an hour, giving an impressive 1,000 nautical miles of range.


The flybridge is unusually large for a Dutch built steel displacement craft

That weight of the Triqual 65 is also going to do a pretty good job of flattening any chop offshore. Registered as an RCD Category B ‘Offshore’, it’s a boat designed for far more ambitious routes than just coastal cruising.

Triqual 65 specification

LOA: 63ft 3in (19.3m) Beam: 17ft 0in (5.2m) Draught: 5ft 7in (1.7m) Displacement: 40.6 tonnes Fuel capacity: 3,768 litres Engines: Twin Vetus Deutz DT67 231hp diesel engines Location: Lymington Contact: Berthon International


Built: 1991 Price: £385,000

Tony Fleming was the technical director of American Marine in Hong Kong, builder of the Grand Banks line of trawler yachts , before leaving to set up his own company under the Fleming brand name. He and business partner Anton Emmerton worked with an American naval architect, Larry Drake of San Diego, California, to develop an all-new range of pilothouse boats.

The Tung Hwa facility, located near Kaohsiung in Taiwan, was selected to build them. The very first model was a 50-footer, with this 53ft version following from hull number 9 onward.  Intriguingly, the boat was originally designed as a 55-footer but a dam was inserted in the aft end of the mould to shorten the hull to 50ft.

Soon after the dam was pushed back to create the Fleming 53, then in 1990 it was finally removed altogether and the Fleming 55 proper was launched as it had been envisaged all along.

Available in two or three-cabin layouts, this boat is the two-cabin version which creates a much larger owner’s stateroom with vanity desk, large guest port cabin and storage room all on the lower deck forward.

A raised wheelhouse gives great visibility but also direct access to the flybridge for easier movement between decks. Further aft, a large saloon with the galley forward on the same level makes this a great social area. It’s ideal for extended cruising as a couple with a pair of guests, which is exactly what this boat was designed for.


Spacious saloon and galley are ideally set up for liveaboards and long distance cruising

One of the most noticeable things about the decks of the Fleming 53 is just how low the side decks are. Open a door in the high bulwarks and you can step straight aboard – try that with a contemporary Sunseeker or Princess !

Back aft, the cockpit is kept completely clear for freestanding furniture and there’s another stairway up to the flybridge where you’ll find fixed seating, the tender, complete with crane for launching, and the liferaft.

The original owner of this boat specified twin Caterpillar 3208 NA diesel engines that produce 210hp each, giving a cruising speed of 9 knots and maximum speed of approximately 12 knots.


Separate wheelhouse is well suited to night passages and has access up to the flybridge

Those low side decks help keep the centre of gravity low, aiding its legendary seakeeping and minimising rock and roll (of the non-musical variety).

Fleming 53 specification

LOA: 52ft 6in (16.0m) Beam: 16ft 0in (4.9m) Draught: 5ft 0in (1.5m) Displacement: 31 tonnes Fuel capacity: 3,880 litres Engines: Twin twin Caterpillar 3208 NA 210hp diesels Location: Chichester Contact: Ancasta

First published in the September 2021 issue of MBY.

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The Modern Classic Racer-Cruiser

40-year-old islander 36 proves to be a comfortable and fast ride..

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The Islander 36 was built from 1971 to 1985, making it one of the longest-lived 36-footers ever on the U.S. market. More than 750 of the Alan Gurney-designed racer-cruiser sloops were built, with production spanning almost the entire history of Islander Yachts.

Islander 36

When it was first introduced, the Islander 36 seemed conservatively modern in appearance, with a flattish but concave sheerline, a fin keel, and a skeg-mounted rudder. The boat was designed as a racer-cruiser under the then-new International Offshore Rule (IOR) , but you would be hard-pressed to say that the same rule could create both the I36 and a modern IOR design. The Islander 36 was launched during the infancy of the IOR, before boat designers took advantage of the rules loopholes. As a result, its hull shape is undistorted and bears more resemblance to a modern fast cruiser than to a contemporary IOR racer.

While custom boats were the biggest force in racing in 1971, it was still possible to be competitive in local regattas with a production racer-cruiser. That all changed very quickly. Boats like the Islander 36-which were out-designed under the IOR but were still reasonably fast and easy to sail-served as the foundation for the movement that became the Model A of handicap racing: the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF). And still today, I36s often take podium positions in PHRF races, particularly where I36 fleets are most popular, particularly in the San Francisco Bay area.

Even by todays standards, the hull proportions of the Islander 36 are nearly ideal for a modern racer-cruiser. The beam is moderate and carried well aft, offering fairly good hull volume aft, so that the boat does not squat excessively when cockpit lockers are loaded with cruising gear. Despite the age of the design, the I36 is not dated in appearance. You could even say that the boat is a modern classic.

The Islander 36 is predominantly a West Coast boat, but youll find them throughout the U.S. Most of the owners responding to our survey use the boat for daysailing, club racing, and coastal cruising.

Sailing Performance

Despite being designed as a racer-cruiser with an IOR Mk I rating of 27.9, the Islander 36 was not a particularly fast or successful IOR boat. However, under the PHRF rating system, a well-sailed Islander 36 is a reasonably competitive boat; many are still active in club racing, with the largest contingent in California, where conditions are a good match for the I36.

The Islander 36s rig is a simple, untapered aluminum spar stepped through the deck. It has two sets of spreaders and double lower shrouds. The shrouds are set well inboard, and genoa tracks are set just outboard of the cabin trunk to take advantage of the tight sheeting angles.

The Islander 36 is well-balanced under sail, although like many boats of its era with relatively small mainsails, you need a variety of headsails to keep the boat moving her best in all conditions. While this isn’t a problem on a crewed racing boat, todays fast cruisers tend to have slightly larger mainsails so that less-frequent headsail changes are required. The original I36 sailplan shows genoa overlaps as large as 180 percent; genoas that large are generally a nuisance to handle and tack.

Both deep and shoal draft keels were available on the Islander 36. Most boats have the deep keel, and this version of the boat is generally about six seconds per mile faster. The shoal-draft boat has an additional 150 pounds of ballast to compensate for the keels higher center of gravity.

The mainsheet traveler is positioned at the forward end of the companionway hatch. Late-model boats have a small molded breakwater aft of the traveler so that a companionway dodger can be installed. On boats without the breakwater, installing a dodger is trickier. Since the mainsheet is attached almost exactly to the middle of the boom, sheet loads are fairly high, and youll need a winch to trim the main in heavier air.

Original steering, mostly Edson brand, was the typical chain and sprocket with the steering cable led through sheaves to a quadrant clamped to the rudder post. The boat was designed with a tiller, but most owners have retrofitted wheel steering over the years. Since there are very few owner complaints about excessive weather helm, changing to wheel steering was more a matter of personal choice than necessity.

You will find slight differences in deck layouts, depending on whether the boat has been used predominantly for racing or cruising. On racing boats, the primary headsail-sheet winches are usually located on the forward portion of the cockpit coamings, with the secondaries aft. That position is often reversed on cruising boats. Likewise, racing boats may have most halyard and lift winches mounted at the base of the mast; cruisers use fewer winches, mounted on the mast itself. For shorthanded family cruising and daysailing-the type of sailing for which the boat is best suited-we would suggest larger-than-standard multi-speed self-tailing headsail sheet winches installed on the coaming, near the helmsman.

The I36s cockpit is very deep, which can make it challenging for some to see over the cabin when seated. Other cockpit features make it less than ideal for offshore work: cockpit drains are fairly small and there is no bridgedeck. To comply with the International Sailing Federations (ISAF) Offshore Special Regulations for offshore racing, the companionway dropboards would have to be fixed in place up to the level of the aft cockpit coaming, which would make it extremely difficult to get below.

Like most boats with a long production history, a variety of engines were used in the Islander 36-and most have been replaced over the years-making generalizations about performance under power difficult.

The I36 was first powered with an Atomic Four gasoline engine; that was followed by the undersized Palmer P-60 gas engine, the optional Perkins 4-108 diesel, and then the optional Westerbeke L-25 four-cylinder diesel. Islander even used a Volkswagen diesel engine, the Pathfinder 42 horsepower, in the 36 at one point, and by the end of the boats production run, a 30-horsepower Yanmar diesel was used. Most of these original auxillaries have since been replaced.

The most common replacement engines youll find in contemporary Islander 36s are Yanmars, usually in the 30- to 37-horsepower range. They are lighter, and with about a 2:1 reduction and a 13-inch three-blade, fixed prop, the I36 can approach 7 knots in flat water.

Given this wide variety of engines-some left-handed, some right-handed-and the mix of fixed, folding, and feathering props, Islanders will often pull from one side to another when backing up. With all but the smallest two-blade, folding props, skippers will need good seamanship skills for well-behaved backing into slips and docks. The knack is to get the boat moving astern with modest power, idle to keep speed under 2 knots, then use the large rudder and skeg to ease into a berth.

 fleet of Islander 36s

The Islander 36s interior finish is one of its best selling points. However, there are several interior-design shortcomings that are typical of boats of the early 1970s. Two of the biggest changes in boat interiors since then have been in navigation stations and galleys. The marine electronics boom had not begun in 1971. Loran C was new, and very expensive. Only hot race boats had wind instrumentation. Satnav was a far-off dream for recreational sailors, as were such things as personal computers and weather facsimile machines. For this reason, nav stations on cruising 36-footers in the early 1970s were rudimentary, when they existed at all.

Islander 36

The nav station of the Islander 36 is no exception. It is tucked away under the sidedeck, and the cabin sole in front of it slopes awkwardly upward. There are no drawers beneath the chart table, no good place for chart stowage. Theres no place to sit, and if you use the shelf above the table for electronics, theres no space for books. On late model I36s, there are drawers just forward of the chart table behind the port settee, but by modern standards, the boats nav station is nothing to brag about.

The shortfalls have given owners reason to use their sailorly ingenuity and a little creativity to come up with ways to add GPS, chartplotter, AIS, SSB, and radar instruments to the cozy nav station area. Youll find as many different solutions as there are I36s on the used boat market, and the I36 Owners Association website (www.islander36.org) offers some good examples.

The original I36 galley also is a relic from the days when a lot of people considered cruising in a sailboat just one step above camping out in a tent. The sloping cabin sole in the galley makes it difficult to work at the sink or reach the bottom of the icebox. There is relatively little counter space or storage space. There is no provision for galley ventilation except the main companionway, and without a dodger, the companionway cannot be left open in the rain because of the forward-sloping aft bulkhead.

A large number of Islanders were built with alcohol stoves, many of which have been replaced with propane or natural gas. Microwaves also have been added to current I36 galleys. Some I36s were produced with refrigeration systems, and many others have been added along the way. Pressure water systems are also common in todays Islander 36s, though not universal.

Aft of the nav station on the port side, there is a quarterberth tucked completely beneath the cockpit. The lack of ventilation in the quarterberth is a problem in warm climates, and its location is not one for the claustrophobic.

The main saloon itself is quite comfortable. The settees on either side are long enough to be comfortable berths. The starboard settee folds out into a double berth, but it is not the most convenient to set up or use. Above and behind each settee, there is a fair amount of storage space. Late model boats have lockers and drawers outboard of the port settee, while earlier boats have only a shelf. It would be fairly easy to build storage lockers in this area on an older boat, and many owners have.

Most boats of this size have fixed cabin tables, but the Islander 36s folds up against the bulkhead at the forward end of the main cabin. It is just possible to squeeze by the table along the starboard side when it is in use.

Ventilation is a weak point in the Islander 36, as it is with a lot of boats. Late model I36s have a ventilation hatch overhead in the middle of the main cabin; theres no reason you couldnt add one to an older boat. A hatch in the cabin trunk over the forward cabin provides fair-weather ventilation, but theres no provision for air?ow in bad weather. You can add cowl vents in dorade boxes, but the installation is tricky due to the vinyl headliner. The original foam and vinyl headliners had zippers to access the backs of fittings, but they tend to corrode shut. Many owners have opted to replace the headliners.

The head compartment is to port at the forward end of the main cabin, with lockers opposite on the starboard side. Headroom of over 6 feet is carried all the way forward. Drawers under the V-berth and a narrow hanging locker to starboard offer reasonable storage. A door at the aft end of the forward cabin can be secured in the open position to provide privacy for the forward cabin.


Unlike a lot of boats with long production histories, there are relatively few differences between the first and last Islander 36s. This means that youll likely be able to find a well-kept boat at a pretty good price. Most have seen systems upgrades and creative interior makeovers that make this modern classic a competitor for newer used production boats. The I36 also boasts a very active and large owners association, an invaluable resource for those buying-or thinking about buying-an older used boat. Since so many Islander 36s were built, theres a well-established used boat market, and you should not have trouble reselling one in the future, particularly if youre West Coast based.

Because of the cockpit design and relatively light construction, this is not the type of boat that we would choose for extended offshore voyaging, but there have been several I36s that have successfully raced from California to Hawaii, and a number have made circumnavigations. In our opinion, the I36 is best suited for coastal cruising, club racing, or even daysailing and weekend getaways.

As with any older boat, a careful survey is mandatory. Pay particular attention to the chainplates, gelcoat condition, rig, and the mast step. We would also look hard at the engine installation, fuel system, and the hull structure near the mast. Try working in the galley and at the chart table to see if you can live with them.

All in all, the Islander 36 is a well-mannered, fast-sailing boat, at its best in a breeze. With proper, modern sail-handling equipment, it can easily be handled by a couple for shorthanded cruising. With good sails and a smooth bottom, it is also can be a competitive PHRF club racer.

Owners Comments

The boat is easy to sail single-handed, especially with an autopilot. It has great speed and points well into the wind. It offers plenty of space for a single person or a couple for full-time cruising. I upgraded the galleywitha three-burner stove and oven, and replaced the holding tanks. Im still working with the original Pathfinder 42-horsepower diesel engine. It has plenty of power, butit isn’t always easy to find parts or someone to work on it. – Len Diegel; Katana, 1980 Islander 36; Lake Grapevine, Texas

The I36 is a fun and fast boat in most wind conditions, and it does respectable in its class in local races. Improvements that would make the I36 even better would be the addition of well-placed cabin handholds to aid in moving about the cabin in bad weather, and a better-designed navigation station, which is too small and offers no place to sit. – Jack and Anneke Wolf; Trillium, 1976 I36; Muskegon, Mich.

We purchased our I36 in 2012, from the second owner who had maintained it in like new condition. This boat must represent the very best value in a coastal cruising boat for the San Francisco Bay area. Having been a racer for 40 years, my wife didnt appreciate sailing with me until we bought this boat and settled into pleasure sailing. Comfortable, stable, quick, and roomy all describe our experiences. It has put the pleasure into sailing for us. – Gene Novak; Fantasy, 1980 Islander 36, hull #581; San Francisco, Calif.

We have sailed the boat in 80-mile-per-hour winds with no problem. The Islander 36 is the perfect daysailer-coastal cruiser. My only criticism is with the galley, which is poorly designed and not very functional. – 1972 model, Texas

This is an excellent boat for cruising. It can be singlehanded with the help of self-tailing winches. Our aluminum holding tank failed. – l977 model, California

We bought the boat for its appearance, reputation, and size. Its a great boat for San Francisco Bay and the Pacific coast. Weve sailed it south to the Channel Islands and north to Canada. – l978 model, California

Very fast for a comfortable cruising boat. The boat seems to be a good compromise between being light enough to sail well and heavy enough to be safe and solid. Gelcoat has crazed in spots. – 1979 model, Michigan

The intermediate and lower shroud chainplate is pulling out of the bulkhead. – l980 model, California

The only real problem with the boat is lack of ventilation. It is an excellent blend of sailing performance for the cruising couple or club racer. I suggest looking for an older model since they are often exceptional buys and are essentially the same boat that was produced until 1984. – 1973 model, Florida

The cockpit sole is flush with the companionway sill, which is not a seaworthy setup for going offshore. The aft bulkhead is too slanted to leave the companionway dropboards out when its raining unless you have a dodger. – l980 model, Maryland

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Meridian 341 Sedan

Tiara 3500 Express


At a Glance: Yet another Tiara success story — a mix of conservative styling, quality construction, and beautiful teak interior. With a super-wide 13'9" beam, this is a big 35-footer with impressive cabin space, a huge cockpit, and tons of storage. The Tiara’s single-stateroom interior was available in two configurations: Plan A (sleeps six) has a portside dinette and head, while Plan B (sleeps four) trades the dinette in favor of an enlarged galley, head with stall shower, and a bigger stateroom with island berth and private access to the head. In both layouts, the salon L-lounge converts to a double berth with it’s own privacy curtain. Huge cockpit seats 8–10 people.  Extended swim platform can carry a PWC. A state-of-the-art boat in her day. Standard 385hp gas engines cruise at 16–18 knots. Cummins 370hp diesels cruise at 24–26 knots.

Best Feature: Traditional teak interior

Price Range: From the high $60s to low $100s.

At a Glance: This is an updated version of the original Meridian 341 Sedan (2003–04) with greater beam, better styling, and a spacious two stateroom interior. Built on a low-deadrise hull with a solid fiberglass bottom, the 341’s tiered cabin windows create the impression of great space in the salon. The galley is forward, on the same level as the salon, and the well-appointed decor is an attractive blend of leather seating, vinyl wall coverings, and cherry joinery. A head with a stall shower is to starboard, accessed from either the master stateroom or the passageway. If the interior of the 341 Sedan seems spacious for a 34-footer, the cockpit is small and the side decks are practically nonexistent. A molded staircase leads up to the extended flybridge with its wet bar and guest seating aft of the helm. A lower helm was optional. Twin 320hp gas inboards cruiseat 18–20 knots.

Best Feature: Sporty styling.

Price Range: From the low $100s to low $200s.

At a Glance: An enlarged version of the super popular Mainship 30 Pilot. Where the 30 Pilot was a day boat, the 34's larger interior provides the volume required for extended cruising. The first 34 Pilots were express models; in 2001 the Sedan version with an extended hardtop offered owners the added security of a semi-enclosed pilothouse. The well-appointed accommodations consist of a roomy main salon with full-service galley and convertible dinette, enclosed head with shower, and a single stateroom forward with bi-fold privacy door. A TV on a swivel platform is mounted forward in the cabin. In the cockpit, facing bench seats behind the helm and companion seats can double as extra berths. A centerline hatch in the cockpit sole provides access to the engine. A single 350hp Yanmar diesel will cruise at 14 knots (16–18 top). Twin 240hp Yanmar diesels cruise at 18 knots.

Best Feature: Affordable price.

Price Range: From mid $80s to mid $100s .

At a Glance: An innovative design from a company known for building a quality product.  As the name implied, a “window” is integrated into the forward cabin overhead. The result was (and is) a flood of natural lighting throughout the cabin. With an offset queen berth forward, convertible dinette to starboard, and twin berths aft, the 3360 sleeps six in a cabin that seems usually spacious for a boat this size. The midcabin area is a seamless extension of the main salon providing additional seating for entertaining. Note the handy floor locker in the galley area. Privacy curtains separate the fore and aft berths from the salon. A wet bar is to starboard in the cockpit, opposite an L-shaped (or C-shaped) lounge. The rear seat folds into the transom when not in use. Twin Volvo 320hp I/Os cruise at 24–26 knots (mid 30s top).

Best Feature: Bright and open interior.

Price Range: From the mid $60s to about $100K.


Carver 350/36 Mariner

Formula 34 PC

Mainship 34 Pilot

Regal 3360 Windows Express



At a Glance: Mega-popular entertainment platform with enormous single-level interior dwarfs anything her size on the water. Full-beam salon is made possible by elevating the side decks above the cabin windows — instead of leading aft to the cockpit, these walkways reach up to the bridge. The Mariner’s original layout features a U-shaped dinette to port in the salon, settee opposite, inside bridge access ladder, and an offset double berth in the forward stateroom. In 2004, the floorplan was modified to include a booth-style dinette in the salon, no interior ladder, and a centerline queen berth in the stateroom. Both configurations boast a large head with separate stall shower. The engine compartment is a tight fit. MerCruiser 300hp V-drive gas engines cruise at 14–16 knots.

Best Feature: Huge party-time interior

Price Range: From the m id $40s to the mid $90s.

At a Glance: Premium midcabin cruiser combines legendary Formula quality with timeless styling and impressive owner satisfaction. The elegant interior is notable for its beautiful cherry cabinetry, posh leather upholstery, and rich designer fabrics. A long crescent-shaped sofa dominates the salon which is wide open from the walkaround island berth forward to the U-shaped seating in the step-down midcabin aft. Draw curtains separate both sleeping areas from the main cabin for nighttime privacy, and the full-service galley features a concealed stove, generous storage, and Corian counters. Cockpit seating includes a double helm seat with flip-up bolsters, U-shaped lounge seating aft, and a companion seat opposite the helm. The 34’s extended swim platform makes boarding easy and safe. MerCruiser 375hp V-drive I/Os cruise at 26–28 knots.

Best Feature: Exceptional workmanship.

Price Range: $80K to $250K-plus.

At a Glance:   The first of two 310 Signature models from Chaparral in recent years. Built on a modified V hull with cored hullsides and a solid fiberglass bottom, the 310’s open-plan interior sleeps six in a layout a little different from most 30-foot cruisers. An offset double berth is forward in the salon, and the 310’s full-service galley includes a built-in microwave, Corian counters, and generous storage. Cherry cabinetry, designer fabrics, and upscale furnishings highlight her entire cabin and her galley is notable for its generous storage. As many as six can be seated comfortably in the cockpit where a full wet bar, transom shower, and portable cooler are standard. Additional features include a transom storage locker, extended swim platform, power engine hatch, walk-through windshield, double helm seat, and foredeck sun pad. Volvo 280hp I/Os cruise the in the mid 20s.

Best Feature: Surprisingly roomy interior.

Price Range: From $60K to the mid $90s .


At a Glance: This popular flybridge sedan (called the Camano 28 until 1997) combines salty lines with super-efficient operation. Built on a flat bottom hull with wide prop-protecting keel. The Camano’s no-nonsense interior is well finished and her trolly-style front windows are almost unique in the boating world. With the galley down, the salon is big for a boat this size. Visibility from the lower helm is excellent thanks to large front and side windows. The cockpit is on the small side and the bridge ladder is steep. Topside, there are three pedestal seats on the flybridge. Updates in 2003 included a standard bow thruster as well as a fuel increase to 133 gallons. Cruise at 12–14 knots with a single 200hp Volvo diesel. A sistership, the Camano 28 Gnome (1990–95) is the same boat without a flybridge.

Best Feature: Very distinctive character.

Price Range: From the low $75s to low $100s.


At a Glance: Another Sea Ray success story — this best-selling family cruiser combines the sleek styling and top-shelf amenities common to all recent Sundancer models. The Sundancer’s open-plan interior is notable for its oversized galley with cherrywood cabinets and more counter (and storage) space than many larger boats. There are berths for six including a comfortable kidney-shaped sofa opposite the galley that converts to a double bed. The sunken midcabin area aft serves as a secondary conversation area during the day and a guest stateroom at night. The cockpit sole lifts at the push of a button for access to the engines. Tiered dash with burlwood insets has space for electronic add-ons.The side decks are narrow. Offered with V-drive inboard or sterndrive power, MerCruiser 5.7L 300hp inboards cruise at 24–26 knots (low 30s top).  

Best Feature: Teriffic styling.

Price Range: From the high $50 to the low $100s.

Chaparral 310 Signature

Camano 28/31

Sea Ray 320 Sundancer

Sea Ray-320-Sundancer

April, 2016 (Updated February, 2018)

The $100,000 threshold is the entry point for many buyers today, and that’s especially true when it comes to the market for family cruisers. With hundreds of models to choose from, here are ten that stand out for their popularity, resale values and proven market success. Presented in no particular order, these ten models can usually be counted upon to deliver years of boating enjoyment together with good resale values.

Sea Ray 340 Sundancer

At a Glance: The top selling 34-foot express ever, Sea Ray found the sweet spot with this popular model. Considered a "big" express cruiser when she was introduced in 1999. Luxurious accents like high-gloss cherry cabinets, faux leather upholstery, and quality hardware and appliances set the 340 apart from most of the competition. Roomy open-plan interior with large galley, sunken mid-cabin area sleeps six. Note pull-out TV above the galley. Built on a solid fiberglass hull with an integrated swim platform and moderate 11'5" beam. Cockpit features include a removable rear bench seat, wet bar with sink, built-in ice chest, cocktail table, and companion seat with storage under. Power engine compartment hatch is a nice touch. On the downside, the side decks are narrow. MerCruiser 370hp V-drive inboards cruise in the mid-to-high 20s.

Best Feature: Impressive accommodations.

Price Range: From the low $40 to the low $100s.

Sea Ray-340-Sundancer


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My Cruiser Life Magazine

7 Best Trailerable Sailboats for Cruising

Many sailors balk at the idea of leaving their boat in the water at a marina. Slip fees are expensive, and maintenance bills get bigger the longer you leave a boat in the water. However, if you want a boat under 30 feet long, there are trailerable sailboats that will fit the bill.

Like any boat purchase, you’ll need to analyze precisely what kind of trailer sailer you want. Will a simple weekend sailboat suffice, or do you really need the best trailerable cruising sailboat you can find? 

Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of the best trailerable sailboat. Plus, we’ll look at how to compare them for your purposes.

trailerable sailboat

Table of Contents

Best trailerable sailboats, easy to launch trailerable sailboats, quick setup time, towing weight, catalina 22/25 “pop-top”, com-pac horizon cat for classic coastal cruising, marshall sanderling — small, portable, classy, west wight potter 19 — the tiny go-anywhere sailboat, seaward 26rk with retractable lead keel, corsair f-24 trimaran – sporty sailing, macgregor 26m — maximum speed meets maximum living space, long-range cruising boats, 7 best trailerable boats – a recap, what’s the best trailerable sailboat for a cruise, trailerable sailboats faqs.

  • Catalina 22/25
  • Com-Pac Horizon Cat
  • Marshall Sanderling
  • West Wight Potter 19
  • Seaward 26RK
  • Corsair F-24 Trimaran
  • MacGregor 26M

We’ll get into more detail about each brand in my post today, so hang tight!

What Is a Trailerable Sailboat, Exactly?

For this article, the priorities for a trailerable sailboat are:

  • Easy to launch
  • Require minimum setup to launch and store
  • Lightweight enough to be towed by the average vehicle

Before you can really classify a sailboat as trailerable, you need to evaluate and narrow your search criteria. Truthfully, 50-plus-foot ocean-going sailboats are regularly put on trailers. But that’s done commercially, on a big rig, with special permits for oversized loads, and even led cars.  

That probably isn’t what most people mean when they think of a trailerable sailboat. But what is the priority here, the trailerable part or the sailboat part? Compromises are going to have to be made somewhere. 

If you’re looking at the 20-foot-and-under sailboat crowd, finding a trailerable example should not be hard. Most sailboats this size are designed for trailers anyway since they aren’t the sort of boats people want to pay to leave in a slip year-round.

Things get more interesting when you look at the 20 to 30-foot boats. In this class, there are stout ocean-going cruisers with deep keels and lightweight centerboard trailer sailboats designed from the get-go to be trailered by the average car or SUV. The differences between these boats are night and day.

Sailboats often have a hard time at boat ramps. First, deep keels mean that the trailer must extend farther into the water than the average boat ramp allows. This means the ramp needs to go back far enough, and the trailer tongue needs to be long enough not to swamp the car. 

If you have a boat like this, you’ll need to find the right boat ramps. Unfortunately, not all ramps are created equally. If your boat draws more than two or three feet on the trailer, you’re going to be limited to steep, paved, and high-quality boat ramps. Unfortunately, those aren’t standard features, so your cruising grounds are going to be limited.

Usually, ramps aren’t built steeply because they are often slippery. Your tow vehicle will need excellent traction and torque to pull your fully loaded boat out of a steep ramp. The steeper the ramp, the more trouble you’ll have. 

The alternative to finding steep ramps is to use a trailer tongue extender. This lets you get the trailer into deeper water without swamping the tow vehicle. But it also means that the ramp needs to extend deep enough. Many ramps end abruptly. Allowing your trailer to sink off the edge is an excellent way to get stuck or pop a tire.

Pick a boat as easy to launch and retrieve as a similarly sized powerboat to remove all of these boat ramp problems. The soft chines of most sailboats will always require a little more water, but a swing keel and the hinged rudder raised mean that the boat can sit low on the trailer bunks. That way, you only need one or two feet of water to launch, an easy feat at nearly every boat ramp you can find.

The next consideration for a sailboat to be portable enough to call it “trailerable” is the amount of time it takes to step the mast and get it ready to cruise. 

To accomplish this, you need a mast that can be stepped by a two-person team–maximum. Ideally, it will have some tabernacle hardware to enable one person to do the task for solo sailing.

There is an entire family of pocket cruisers that could ideally fit on trailers. But you won’t find the Fickas or the Falmouth cutters on my list, simply because they aren’t easy to launch or easy to rig. But, of course, they’re also too heavy for most vehicles to tow, which leads us to the final point of excluding them this trailable pocket cruiser’s list.

One of the most significant financial burdens the trailer sailer faces is their tow vehicle. You are all set if you already drive a two-ton dually diesel pickup truck. But if your daily driver is an SUV or light pickup, you need to think long and hard about the math of the towing equation. 

Whatever boat you buy cannot exceed the towing rating limits of your tow vehicle. If you don’t have a tow vehicle, you’ll need to buy one. This will double or triple the cost of getting a trailer sailer in most cases. For the same money, you may want to look at a boat that stays in the water at a traditional boat slip. For the cost of a trailer sailer and a tow vehicle, you can probably step into a nice boat that is larger and more comfortable than any towable.

If you have a tow vehicle, you need a light enough vessel for it to tow. Most modern SUVs tow less than 2,500 pounds. Anything more than 5,000 will require a full-size pickup. Remember that the tow weight isn’t just the boat’s displacement—it’s the empty hull weight, plus the weight of the trailer and any extra gear you need to pack into the boat. 

Finding a vessel that fits these limitations on weight isn’t easy. If the manufacturer’s goal is to make it towable, immediate limits are placed on the materials they can use. This means less seaworthiness since boats are built light and thin. As far as stability goes, lead keels are generally out, and water ballast systems or centerboards might be used instead. It doesn’t mean these boats aren’t safe and fun, but they aren’t designed for rough conditions, crossing oceans, or living on in the water full-time .

Trailerable sailboats are usually limited to the best paved ramps

7 Best Trailerable Cruising Sailboats

There are more trailerable sailboats out there than you might imagine. Here’s a look at seven popular options of all shapes and sizes to give you a taste of what you might want to take to sea.

The boats here are selected for their storage and living space. With these boats and a little outfitting, you can spend weeks gunk-holing in the Chesapeake Bay or island hopping the Bahamas. If you broaden your scope to include daysailers with no cabin space, there are countless more options.

One of the worst parts of a small trailerable sailboat or pocket cruiser is the lack of stand-up headroom. One clever solution that you’ll find on some weekend sailboat types is the pop-top. 

The pop-top is simply an area around the companionway hatch that extends upward on struts. So when you’re at the dock or anchor, you get standing headroom down below—at least right inside the pop-top.

You can build a canvas enclosure for your pop-top to use it in all weather. A pop-top makes your boat feel much larger than it is and allows you to move freely to cook or get changed down below or even do a nice boat bed area. 

Later models of the Catalina Sport 22 and Capri 22s lacked this cool pop-top feature, so if you want it, you’ll need to seek out an older model on the used market.

Com-Pac has been building small sailboats since the early 1970s. They currently sell two lines, each with various-sized boats. All are well built, and a majority of their boats are trailerable. 

Most interesting at the Com-Pac traditional catboats . The rigging is more straightforward than modern sloops, with only one large mainsail. Com-Pac boats come with a unique quick-rig system to make getting on the water fast and simple.

The Horizon Cat Coastal Cruising has a displacement of 2,500 pounds with a 2’2″ draft when the board is up. She has a separate head forward and space to lounge either topside or down below. The smaller Sun Cat has slightly few amenities but shaves off a few feet and pounds, making it easier to tow and it is one of these amazing small sailboats. Com-Pacs features stub keels, so their centerboard and hinged rudder do not take up space in the cabin.

On the sloop rig side, the Com-Pac 23 comes in a 3,000-pound traditional sailboat or a very interesting pilothouse. Both are incredibly livable for their size , with shallow two-foot-long fixed keels and high-quality construction.

Another option if you like catboats is the Marshall Sanderling. This salty 18-footer oozes traditional charm , all while being easy to sail and easier to tow. And while she has wooden boat lines, she has a modern laminated fiberglass hull.

The Sanderling has a 2,200-pound displacement, so tow weights will be around 3,000 pounds. At only 18-feet, she’s on the small side for cruising. The cuddy cabin has no galley, and the portable toilet is not enclosed. But that small size means a simple boat that’s easy to maintain and take anywhere. 

An electric motor package is an exciting option on this weekend sailboat!

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You can’t mention tiny trailer sailers without touching on the famous West Wight Potter . These 15 and 19-foot pocket cruisers have earned a worldwide reputation as the ultimate go-anywhere coastal cruiser.

The West Wight Potter 19 offers the most living space for staying aboard and cruising. So even though its dimensions are diminutive, this little boat packs a lot in. There’s a single burner hotplate and sink and a porta-potty tucked under a cushion. Yes, it’s tight—but the company claims the little boat can sleep five people. Any more than two will feel pretty crowded, however.

The boat comes standard with a mast-raising system that a single person can manage alone. It has a daggerboard for a shallow draft of a half-foot when the board is up. The total towing weight is around 1,500 pounds, which means nearly any car can tow a West Wight Potter.

This little-known trailer sailer is produced at the same Florida factory that makes Island Packet Yachts. That should give you a little bit of an idea of what sort of boat it is—trailerable, yes, but also high-quality, beautiful, and built for cruising. In other words, it’s one of the nicest all round pocket cruisers and it feels like a much larger boat.

The Seaward is easily the saltiest boat on this list . It’s beefy and seaworthy. Instead of a lightweight centerboard, Seaward fits the RK with a bulb-shaped retracting keel. Other big-boat items include a Yanmar diesel inboard motor and an enclosed head. The spacious cabin of the boat features a double berth and is ready for salt water cruising.

According to sailboatdata.com , the tow weight of the 26RK is 6,000 pounds. With the keel up, the draft is 1.25 feet.

Multihull sailors need not feel left out from the trailer sailer club and the pocket cruiser. Beyond the ubiquitous beach Hobie Cat, there are not many options for catamarans. But trimarans are uniquely suited to be towed.

Why? For one thing, performance oriented boats like trimarans are based on it being built light. There is no ballast—a trimaran’s stability comes from its two outer hulls. Additionally, the living space is entirely housed in the central hull–the outer floats are small and sometimes foldable. Finally, there are no keels on tris, so they are extremely shallow draft and perfect for trailering.

If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping sporty and fun sailing, it’s impossible to beat what a trimaran will offer. Let’s not beat around the bush—most of the trailer sailers on this list have hull speeds around five knots. The Corsair has no such limits, routinely sailing at 15 knots or more .

The new Corsair 880 trimaran has an unloaded weight of 3,659 pounds. It is trailerable behind a big SUV or small pickup and is probably the most fun sailing option that is trailerable at all.

An even more portable option is the older Corsair F-24. It has a light displacement of under 2,000 pounds—so nearly any SUV can tow it.

MacGregor owns the market on trailerable motor sailers since they more or less created the product to fit the bill. The MacGregor 26 is not like other boats. The design combines a planing powerboat with a centerboard sailboat. Imagine scooting along at 20 knots or more when the wind is down or enjoying a sporty sail on a breezy day–in the same boat.

The entire boat is built from the ground up for towing and long-range sailing. So if you want a big sailboat that you can tow behind pretty much any SUV, the MacGregor has to be on your list. 

Depending on the model, the 26-foot-long boats have incredibly light dry weights of between 1,650 and 2,350 pounds. Considering the massive volume of the roomy cabin, the ability to tow such a large vessel opens up an entire world of opportunities for owners. 

It’s not all good news, of course. MacGregor owners love their boats, but they are built light and are not ideally suited for offshore cruising or rough weather. But in bays and for coastal sailing on nice days, few boats can get as much use as a MacGregor. 

The motorboat capability of the 26M and 26X might not appeal to hardcore sailors, but for those looking to maximize their use of the boat depending on the weather, their mood, or location, it makes a lot of sense. 

MacGregor shut down in 2015, but the daughter and son-in-law of the original owners took over production and renamed the boat the Tattoo 26 . The company will soon release a smaller version, the Tattoo 22 .

If the 26 is a bit big to make your list of best trailerable small sailboats, consider the smaller Powersailer 19. It’s nearly identical to the 26, just smaller and lighter.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Dale Roddick (@droddick33)

What Do You Want Your Trailer Sailer To Do?

After you’ve settled on how you will tow and launch your trailer sailer, now it’s time to dream about what you want it to do. Where will it take you? 

The beauty of a towable boat is that you can travel anywhere. A boat in the water might take weeks or months to move a few hundred miles. But if you can attach it to your car and do 65 mph on the interstate, you could sail on the Pacific on Monday, the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, and the Atlantic on Friday.

We can divide our trailerable sailboats into three groups – daysailers, weekenders, and cruisers.

These are designed with open cockpits and no space to sleep. This is a majority of the sub-22-foot boats on the market. They are designed to be launched, play for the day, and return to the ramp or dock.

A weekender will have rudimentary sleeping facilities. Think of it as a floating tent—it’s not a five-star hotel, but you can sleep under the stars or get out of the rain. Conceivably you could stay aboard indefinitely, but it doesn’t have much room for gear. So most people are ready to get off after a day or two. 

A cruising boat has sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities built-in. These might be small and simple, but in any quantity, they mean you can disconnect from shore for a long time. Unfortunately, squeezing all of this into a tow-friendly package isn’t easy, and very few boats do it well. 

Trailer sailer adventures

The best trailer sailor for your adventures will depend on many factors. Like any boat, whatever you decide on will be a compromise – boats always are. But there are plenty of choices out there, no matter what size your tow vehicle is and no matter what sailing adventures you have in mind.

What size sailboat is trailerable?

Even large yachts are routinely transported by towing across land, so the question is more of how big a sailboat can you tow? Your tow vehicle will be the limiting factor. The upper limit for most large SUVs and trucks is usually a sailboat around 26 feet long.

Sailboats are generally very heavily built, with ballast and lead keels. Sailboats specifically made to be trailer sailers are lighter. They may use drainable water ballast tanks instead of fixed ballast and have fewer fixtures and amenities.

To find the best trailer sailer, you need to balance the total tow weight, the ease of rig setup at the boat ramp, and the boat’s draft. Shallow draft boats with centerboards are the easiest to launch and retrieve.

Is a Hunter 27 trailerable?

No. The Hunter 27 is a one of those fixed-keel larger boats built from 1974 to 1984. The boat’s displacement is 7,000 pounds, not including trailer and gear. That alone makes it too heavy to tow by all but the beefiest diesel trucks. 

Furthermore, the fixed keels had drafts between 3.25 and 5 feet, all of which are too much for most boat ramps. In short, the standard Hunter Marine 27 is too big to tow for most people.

On the other hand, Hunter has made several good trailer sailers over the years. For example, the Hunter 240 and 260 were explicitly designed for trailering. They have drainable water ballast and shallow keel/centerboard drafts less than two feet. 

Is a Catalina 22 trailerable?

Yes, the Catalina 22 is easily trailerable and makes a wonderful weekend sailboat. In fact, there were over 15,000 Catalina 22s made and sold over the years. 

The boat’s displacement is 2,250 pounds, which means your total tow weight with trailer and gear will be under 3,000 pounds. This is within the capabilities of most mid to full-size SUVs and light trucks. Be sure to check your vehicle’s towing capacity, of course.

The centerboard on the Catalina 22 is another factor in its easy towing. With the board up, the boat draws only two feet. This makes it easy to float off the trailer at nearly any boat ramp. You should avoid fixed keel versions of the 22 for towing unless you have access to extra deep ramps. 

best used coastal cruising sailboats

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

Can someone tell me why no other manufacturer makes pop tops? Those who have them, love them. Makes sense for head space with a trailerable boat too. Catalina stopped making them decades ago, yet people still swear by them. So, why isn’t there any newer models?

MacGregor put pop tops on many of its trailerables

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7 Best Sailboats Under $20,000

Best Sailboats Under $20,000 | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 27, 2023

You can buy a fully-equipped and serviceable sailboat for less than $20,000 on the used market. Most of these vessels are fiberglass sloops.

Used sailboats between 20 and 30 feet in length can be found for between $10,000 and $20,000 nationwide, especially on the coast. Catalina, O'Day, and Islander sailboats are common in this price range and lots of fun to sail.

Table of contents

What to Look for When Buying a Used Sailboat

When buying a used sailboat, it's essential to carefully inspect the vessel and look for flaws and structural issues. Sailboats in this price range are often ready to sail or just need minor improvements.

For the price, an older fiberglass 20 to 30-foot sailboat should be in good to excellent condition. Here's what to look for when buying a used sailboat and what to expect in the sub-$20,000 range.

Overall Condition

The overall condition of the boat is important, as it gives you an idea of how well the vessel was maintained. A sailboat with a clean, glossy hull, a solid deck, fresh varnish, and polished brass is an excellent sign of a responsible owner.

However, a sailboat with rust, corroded aluminum parts, a filthy hull, and a moldy interior was likely neglected in more ways than one. The first impressions of a sailboat can give you a pretty good idea of what lies below the surface.

Hull and Deck

Fiberglass boats are quite impervious to weather and corrosion, but problems occur when water penetrates the hull. Soft spots form around areas where the fiberglass cracks and water permeates.

Look for 'dented' areas of the deck where water pools up, as deformities can be a sign of something worse going on underneath. Check the bilge for excessive water but be mindful that some boats came with 'wet' bilges.

Does the vessel have all of its standing rigging tightened and maintained? What about sails, halyards, and sheets? If the rigging is present and neatly organized, it's a good sign that you're getting your money's worth.

If the vessel has an inboard motor, check the condition and fire it up. Inboards can be an expensive nightmare if they're neglected, which is often the case on used sailboats. See how it runs and make sure it responds to forward and reverse.

Sailboats are notorious for poor wiring and electrical issues. Much of the time, sailboats were shoddily wired from the factory, and sometimes the issue is related to improper maintenance or water damage.

Check the switchboard and make sure everything works. Try the radio, cabin lights, engine starter, hydraulic systems, and bilge pumps. A few broken lights or dead outlets are acceptable, but an electrically-neglected vessel can be a nightmare and a navigational hazard.

Best Affordable Used Sailboats Under 20k

Owning a used sailboat is a great way to explore local waterways and occupy the weekends. Sailboats made by well-known manufacturers were produced in huge numbers in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

These vessels are seaworthy and affordable, which makes them an excellent choice for budget-friendly sailing. Here are seven of the best used sailboats for under $20,000.

7. West Wight Potter 19


It's difficult to omit the West Wight Potter 19 from a list of the best affordable sailboats for under $20,000, as this vessel is exceptional by almost every metric. The West Wight Potter 19 is the ultimate small trailer sailboat.

The vessel is a V-bottom sloop with a fiberglass hull and a centerboard. It was introduced in 1971 and has since become very popular from the United States all the way to Australia. It's a hardy coastal and inland cruising vessel that's made occasional offshore trips, including one from San Francisco to Hawaii.

It measures just under 19 feet overall and has a width of 7 feet 6 inches. With the keel up, it has a draft of only 6 inches, making it a beachable and trailerable cruising boat.

For its size, the West Wight Potter 19 has spacious accommodations below. It features a center-mounted split galley with a stove and a sink, along with space for a head below the stove.

A V-berth upfront offers sleeping quarters for two, and two additional berths aft bring the comfortable capacity up to four. The centerboard trunk in the center of the cabin features rigging to raise, lower, and lock the centerboard.

The West Wight Potter 19 features a fast-rigging system that allows one person to raise and rig the mast in just a few minutes. It's easy to sail, safe, and plenty of fun. Plus, the hull features positive floatation foam, which makes it quite literally unsinkable.

6. Contessa 26


The Contessa 26 is a unique and capable mid-sized sailboat. It's a fast boat and a common sight at long-range regattas like the singlehanded TransPac race from San Francisco to Hawaii.

The Contessa 26 was produced starting in 1966, but the design dates much further back. The basic hull shape of the Contessa 26 was based on a Nordic Folkboat designed in the late 1930s for speed and agility at sea. As it turned out, the design also proved to be quite seaworthy.

The Contessa 26 was produced up until the end of the 1970s. She measures 25.5 feet overall, with a waterline length of 20 feet. The Contessa 26 has a reasonable beam of 7.5 feet, giving it good stability and seakeeping characteristics without sacrificing speed or handling.

The Contessa 26 is not a trailerable sailboat by most definitions, as it weighs 5,400 lbs and has a 4-foot draft. It has a full ballast keel, which makes it a stout offshore sailing platform. That said, its relatively small draft makes it safe to operate in shallow inland waters.

The accommodations of the Contessa 26 are excellent for its size, and it comfortably sleeps between one and five adults. It features standing headroom, a basic galley, a head with shower, and a standard V-berth upfront.

Space below leaves much to be desired, as vessels like the Catalina 30 outshine it significantly. But overall, the Contessa 26 is an excellent cruising sailboat with a classic design and sharp performance.

5. Catalina 30


The Catalina 30 is one of the best used sailboats available for coastal and offshore cruising. If spacious accommodations are important to you, then you can't go wrong with this 30-foot Catalina sloop.

The vessel features a tall and stout Bermuda rig with an aluminum mast and standard rigging. The Catalina 30 measures 29.92 feet overall, with a length of 25 feet at the waterline. With a beam of 10.83 feet, the Catalina 30 is a wide and stable vessel.

Catalina 30 sailboats feature a long fin keel and a relatively deep 5.25-foot draft, which requires care when operating in shallow water. However, offshore the Catalina 30 has proven to be a seaworthy and well-handling vessel.

Overall, the Catalina 30 weighs just over 10,200 lbs. She's not exactly trailerable, but most marinas can haul out a Catalina 30 without too much trouble.

Interior accommodations on board are stellar. With sleeping room for seven adults, the Catalina 30 is a fantastic family boat. It features a full galley, a head and shower, a chart table, and a spacious dinette.

Over 6,000 Catalina 30 sailboats have been produced since 1972, making it one of the most popular sailboats ever built. A decent used Catalina 30 can be had for around $10,000 to $15,000 on the used market.

4. Islander 28


Another popular and classic 1970s fiberglass sloop is the Islander 28. Launched in 1975, the Islander 28 is an affordable and well-handling sailboat with a reputation for durability and seaworthiness.

The Islander 28 is a masthead sloop with a spade rudder and a fin keel. It displaces 7,000 lbs and has a relatively wide 9.83-foot beam. The Islander 28 measures 27.92 feet overall with a waterline length of 23.08 feet.

Islander sailboats are some of the most common vessels of the 1970s and 1980s. And though not as numerous as the Catalina 30, the Islander 28 is still a popular boat on the used market.

Islander 28 sailboats aren't exactly shoal draft, but their moderate 5-foot draft means they're safe to operate in most harbors. And while not technically trailerable, the Islander 28 is small and light enough to be hauled out and repaired in most boatyards.

The Islander 28 sleeps six adults comfortably and features full accommodations below. These include two seats, a galley, a table, a head with shower, and a V-berth forward.

An Islander 28 is a wise choice for coastal and offshore cruising. It's a stout, safe, and fun boat for the family, and it's easy for moderately experienced sailors to handle. A decent used fully-equipped Islander 28 can be found for less than $20,000 on the used market.

3. Compac 23


Compac is a well-known sailboat manufacturer with a long history of producing swift compact cruising boats. The Compac 23 is a large sailboat in a miniature package.

This vessel is ideal for those looking for a small and easy to handle sailboat with spacious accommodations. It features a fiberglass hull, an extensive cabin, and a shallow draft of just over 2 feet.

The Compac 23 has an overall length of just an inch shy of 24 feet, and a beam of 8 feet. Its dimensions make it stable and easy to handle, and it doesn't heel excessively. Overall, the Compac 23 displaces 3,000 lbs.

The interior accommodations of the Compac 23 set it apart from other vessels in its size category. The interior features a separated galley with a sink and a stove, seats, and a V-berth upfront. It also has plenty of well-thought-out storage space throughout the cabin.

The Compac 23 is also available with a pilothouse configuration, which features standing headroom and a clever table arrangement aft. The vessel features a skeg rudder and a long fixed fin keel, which removes the cumbersome centerboard trunk from the cabin.


The Cal 25 is a formidable cruiser for its size. While technically a fin- keel sailboat , the Cal 25 features a long ballast keel that offers superior stability and windward performance.

Some would consider the Cal 25 a "flush-deck" sailboat, as the top section of the cabin runs flush with the bow to the cockpit. This design increases cabin space and improves the lines of the boat.

The Cal 25 was produced between 1965 and 1976, making it one of the older fiberglass sloops on our list. That said, Cal Yachts build quality is excellent, and many serviceable examples of the 1,848 original Cal 25 sailboats still exist.

The vessel measures 25 feet overall, with a waterline length of 20 feet. She has a beam of exactly 8 feet and a relatively shallow draft of just 4 feet. The Cal 25 has a modest displacement of 4,000 lbs, making it a relatively practical trailer-sailer option.

The Cal 25 usually came with an outboard motor instead of an inboard to save space. The helm is controlled by a tiller, which maneuvers a skeg rudder located underneath the cockpit. With the mast collapsed, the Cal 25 is a great sailboat for winter storage and summer use.

The level of fit and finish varies between boats, as some were outfitted with finer wood and more premium features than others. The cockpit is spacious for its size, and the cabin headroom is excellent. The Compac 23 is an ideal used shoal-draft cruising sailboat in the sub-$20,000 category, and it's still produced today.

1. Catalina 22


The Catalina 22 was the first sailboat of countless families across the United States. This sleek 22-foot vessel was designed to be the perfect 'starter boat' for sailors who wanted to explore inland waterways and coastal areas.

The Catalina 22 was first introduced in 1969. It has an overall length of 21.5 feet and a beam of 7.67 feet. Catalina 22 sailboats are truly trailerable, as most come with a retractable swing keel. With the keel or centerboard down, the Catalina 22 has a draft of 5 feet.

The Catalina 22 is the most popular sailboat ever produced in its class. With over 15,000 built, this vessel is common on the used market, and parts are abundant. Overall, a standard Catalina 22 sloop weighs around 2,490 lbs, making it practical to tow behind most half-ton pickup trucks or V8 SUVs.

Fiberglass boats like the Catalina 22 are an excellent choice for first-time sailors looking for a fun and capable family boat with overnight accommodations. The Catalina 22 sleeps four adults comfortably, but five can fit if the crew are comfortable with a tighter arrangement.

The most unique feature of the Catalina 22 is its camper-like pop top. The top of the cabin, which normally provides sitting headroom, can be popped up several inches past the original height. This is an excellent feature for cooking at anchor, as it provides standing headroom over the galley and part of the settee.

Pre-owned Catalina 22 sailboats in ready-to-sail configuration run anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. Fiberglass sailboats like the Catalina 22 make excellent freshwater or saltwater daysailers, and some have completed lengthier offshore voyages.

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7 Best Sailboats Under $20,000

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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What's the Best Size of Sailboat for Coastal Cruising?

Size matters when it comes to sailboats, as with many other things. With sailboats, this will determine how comfortable your sailing experience will be or how many people you can bring along. If you're planning for coastal cruising and pondering what the best size sailboat is to make it a comfortable experience, this article can help you explore your options.

A sailboat between 30 and 40 feet is considered an ideal size for coastal cruising. Boats in this size range are large enough to offer comfortable accommodations for several people, yet small enough to be easily handled by a couple or a small crew. They are also more affordable than larger sailboats.

Monohulls and catamarans are the two most common types of sailboats used in coastal cruising, but there are many other types of sailboats you can choose from. Let's learn which other sailboats can be deemed suitable for this boating activity.

  • For solo cruising, the best sailboat size is around 24 to 30 feet. If you're with your family or friends, opt for sailboats with a 35 to 45-foot range.
  • The Sun Odyssey 349 is one of the most notable and multi-awarded cruisers due to its innovative design and exceptional performance. This 35-foot boat has a modern touch and can accommodate up to six people, making it an ideal choice for family vacations or weekend getaways with friends.
  • While the best size for a cruising sailboat is within 30 to 40 feet, it should be comfortable, accommodating, easy to handle and maneuver, stable, and, of course, safe to sail.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

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Choosing the right sailboat size for coastal cruising, types of sailboats for coastal cruising, specific sailboat models suitable for cruising, consider these when choosing the best sailboat size for cruising.

The size of your sailboat can determine how comfortable your sailing experience will be, how many people you can bring along, and whether or not you can sail alone. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right size of sailboat for your coastal cruising needs:

If you want to sail comfortably and have enough space to bring along some friends or family, a 30-foot sailboat might be the minimum size you should consider. This will give you enough room to move around and sleep comfortably, but you may have to sacrifice some amenities or storage space.

If you plan on sailing with your family, you may want to consider a sailboat in the 35-45 foot range. This will give you enough space to comfortably accommodate a family of four or five, with amenities like a galley, head, and storage space. However, keep in mind that larger sailboats can be more expensive to maintain and require more crew to operate.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

If you plan on sailing alone, you'll want to choose a sailboat that is easy to handle and has enough space to accommodate your needs. A 24-30 foot sailboat can be a good choice for a solo sailor, as it is small enough to handle alone but still has enough space to be comfortable. Keep in mind that smaller sailboats may not be as stable in rough waters and may require more skill to operate.

Coastal cruising is an exciting way to explore the world by sea. It takes you from port to port along the coast, allowing you to explore different destinations and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. Your cruise can be a short one or a longer one, depending on your preferences.

You can choose to explore a specific region or travel along the entire coast. This water activity is ideal for those who want to experience the joy of sailing while also enjoying the comforts of a cruise ship.

Below are several types of sailboats available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Monohulls and catamarans are the most popular for coastal cruising

Monohulls are traditional sailboats with a single hull, while catamarans have two hulls. Monohulls are known for their stability in heavy seas and their ability to sail upwind efficiently. On the other hand, catamarans are more stable at anchor and offer more living space.

Sloop is also ideal for coastal cruising

The sloop is the most common type of sailboat and is ideal for coastal cruising. It has a single mast, a mainsail, and a mainsail and jib. The sloop is easy to handle, making it a great choice for beginners. It is also versatile and can be used for day sailing or extended cruises.

Ketch offers more sail area which makes it good for coastal cruising

The ketch is a two-masted sailboat with a mainmast and a shorter mizzenmast. It is a popular choice for coastal cruising because it offers more sail area and better balance than a sloop. The ketch is also easier to handle than a schooner, making it a great option for solo sailors or small crews. If you plan to solo sail, you can find the best sailboats for solo sailing here .

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Schooner is ideal for coastal cruising but will require a larger crew

The schooner is a two or more-masted sailboat with fore-and-aft sails on both masts. It is a classic sailboat design that is ideal for coastal cruising. The schooner has a large sail area, which makes it fast and efficient. However, it can be more difficult to handle than other types of sailboats, and it requires a larger crew.

There are a variety of sailboat models to choose from if you are planning coastal cruising. Here are a few specific models to consider, as well as their sizes:

Catalina 30 is perfect for longer trips to the sea

With its spacious interior and comfortable cockpit, Catalina 30 is perfect for weekend getaways or longer trips. The Catalina 30 has a moderate draft, making it suitable for shallow waters, and its sturdy construction provides a smooth ride in rough seas. This sailboat is also easy to handle, even for beginners.

The Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 is perfect for sailing in open waters

The Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 is designed to be fast and agile, making it perfect for sailing in open waters. It has a spacious interior with plenty of storage space, and its modern design provides a comfortable living space. This sailboat is also easy to handle, even for single-handed sailing.

The Hunter 36 can easily navigate through shallow water

The Hunter 36 is a versatile sailboat that is perfect for coastal cruising. With its shallow draft, this sailboat can easily navigate in shallow waters, making it ideal for exploring coastal areas. This boat has a spacious interior with plenty of headroom, and its large windows provide plenty of natural light. It is also easy to handle, even for beginners.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 is a versatile cruiser equipped with advanced technology

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 is a popular sailboat model that has won numerous awards for its innovative design and exceptional performance. It is a versatile cruiser that can comfortably accommodate six or more people depending on the specific configuration and options chosen by the owner, making it an ideal choice for family vacations or weekend getaways with friends.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

The boat features a spacious cockpit, a modern interior, and a sleek hull design that provides excellent stability and speed. It is also equipped with advanced technology, including a GPS navigation system and a high-performance sail plan, which makes it easy to handle and maneuver in different wind conditions.

Bavaria Cruiser 37 is a highly maneuverable sailboat suited for cruising

The Bavaria Cruiser 37 is a popular sailboat model that combines comfort, performance, and style. This boat has a spacious and modern interior with ample headroom, providing a comfortable living space for up to six people.

The boat's cockpit is also spacious and well-designed, with plenty of seating and easy access to the helm. It is also a highly maneuverable boat, with a responsive rudder and a powerful sail plan that allows for excellent speed and stability. It has advanced technology, including a GPS navigation system and a state-of-the-art engine, making it easy to handle and operate.

If you're looking for some of the best and cheapest beginner sailboats for ocean cruising, you can try reading this article .

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Several factors to keep in mind when picking the best sailboat size include the following:

Check if the cabin is comfortable and accommodating enough

The sailboat should have enough space to accommodate you, your family, and any guests. The cabin space should be comfortable and spacious enough for movement when coastal cruising.

An aft cabin can provide privacy and a comfortable place to sleep for guests. Try to consider also if there's sufficient living space for dining, lounging, and socializing. Private spaces on board are also necessary for privacy and alone time.

You can check this article for a long list of cruising essentials which you may want to consider while choosing a sailboat.

Check if the sailboat is easy to handle and maneuver

A sailboat that is easy to handle and sail means it should be small enough that you can handle the sails on your own. A sailboat with a fin keel and a spade rudder is a good choice , as it will respond quickly to your commands and be easy to steer. You could also check if there is a roller furling jib and a lazy jack system for the mainsail as these will make handling the sails a breeze.

Maneuvering in tight spaces can be challenging, so you may want to consider having a sailboat that is easy to handle in close quarters. A sailboat with a bow thruster or a stern thruster will make docking and maneuvering in tight spaces much easier.

Opt for a sailboat with a wide beam and a short waterline that will be stable and easy to control, even in choppy waters. Additionally, a sailboat with a self-tacking jib will make handling the sails even easier , as you won't need to worry about adjusting the jib sheet.

Inspect for safety and stability

A sailboat that is not stable or seaworthy enough can put you and your crew at risk, especially when dealing with rough seas or unexpected weather conditions. You will need to look for sailboats with a good reputation for seaworthiness and make sure to inspect the boat thoroughly before purchasing.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

While smaller sailboats may be more affordable and easier to handle, they may not be as stable as larger ones. On the other hand, larger sailboats may be more stable but can be more difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.

When it comes to hull type, a double-hulled sailboat (catamaran) is generally more stable than a single-hulled one . The wider the surface area, the more stable a boat will be.

Try to look for a sailboat with a heavier keel or more ballast as it tends to be more stable than one with a lighter keel or less ballast. However, the catch is that a heavier sailboat may not be as fast or as easy to handle as a lighter one.

Consider your crew and guests

When choosing the best sailboat size for coastal cruising, you may need to consider the number of crew and guests, sleeping arrangements, space on board, and experience level. The sleeping arrangements and space on board should be comfortable for everyone.

A sailboat between 25 and 35 feet is suitable for small crews or families, while a sailboat between 35 and 45 feet can accommodate more or less six people (depending on the layout and design of the boat) . If sailing with inexperienced crew or guests, a smaller sailboat is recommended, while a larger sailboat may be suitable for experienced sailors.

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Cruising the Moskva River: A short guide to boat trips in Russia’s capital

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There’s hardly a better way to absorb Moscow’s atmosphere than on a ship sailing up and down the Moskva River. While complicated ticketing, loud music and chilling winds might dampen the anticipated fun, this checklist will help you to enjoy the scenic views and not fall into common tourist traps.

How to find the right boat?

There are plenty of boats and selecting the right one might be challenging. The size of the boat should be your main criteria.

Plenty of small boats cruise the Moskva River, and the most vivid one is this yellow Lay’s-branded boat. Everyone who has ever visited Moscow probably has seen it.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

This option might leave a passenger disembarking partially deaf as the merciless Russian pop music blasts onboard. A free spirit, however, will find partying on such a vessel to be an unforgettable and authentic experience that’s almost a metaphor for life in modern Russia: too loud, and sometimes too welcoming. Tickets start at $13 (800 rubles) per person.

Bigger boats offer smoother sailing and tend to attract foreign visitors because of their distinct Soviet aura. Indeed, many of the older vessels must have seen better days. They are still afloat, however, and getting aboard is a unique ‘cultural’ experience. Sometimes the crew might offer lunch or dinner to passengers, but this option must be purchased with the ticket. Here is one such  option  offering dinner for $24 (1,490 rubles).

best used coastal cruising sailboats

If you want to travel in style, consider Flotilla Radisson. These large, modern vessels are quite posh, with a cozy restaurant and an attentive crew at your service. Even though the selection of wines and food is modest, these vessels are still much better than other boats.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Surprisingly, the luxurious boats are priced rather modestly, and a single ticket goes for $17-$32 (1,100-2,000 rubles); also expect a reasonable restaurant bill on top.

How to buy tickets?

Women holding photos of ships promise huge discounts to “the young and beautiful,” and give personal invitations for river tours. They sound and look nice, but there’s a small catch: their ticket prices are usually more than those purchased online.

“We bought tickets from street hawkers for 900 rubles each, only to later discover that the other passengers bought their tickets twice as cheap!”  wrote  (in Russian) a disappointed Rostislav on a travel company website.

Nevertheless, buying from street hawkers has one considerable advantage: they personally escort you to the vessel so that you don’t waste time looking for the boat on your own.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Prices start at $13 (800 rubles) for one ride, and for an additional $6.5 (400 rubles) you can purchase an unlimited number of tours on the same boat on any given day.

Flotilla Radisson has official ticket offices at Gorky Park and Hotel Ukraine, but they’re often sold out.

Buying online is an option that might save some cash. Websites such as  this   offer considerable discounts for tickets sold online. On a busy Friday night an online purchase might be the only chance to get a ticket on a Flotilla Radisson boat.

This  website  (in Russian) offers multiple options for short river cruises in and around the city center, including offbeat options such as ‘disco cruises’ and ‘children cruises.’ This other  website  sells tickets online, but doesn’t have an English version. The interface is intuitive, however.

Buying tickets online has its bad points, however. The most common is confusing which pier you should go to and missing your river tour.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

“I once bought tickets online to save with the discount that the website offered,” said Igor Shvarkin from Moscow. “The pier was initially marked as ‘Park Kultury,’ but when I arrived it wasn’t easy to find my boat because there were too many there. My guests had to walk a considerable distance before I finally found the vessel that accepted my tickets purchased online,” said the man.

There are two main boarding piers in the city center:  Hotel Ukraine  and  Park Kultury . Always take note of your particular berth when buying tickets online.

Where to sit onboard?

Even on a warm day, the headwind might be chilly for passengers on deck. Make sure you have warm clothes, or that the crew has blankets ready upon request.

The glass-encased hold makes the tour much more comfortable, but not at the expense of having an enjoyable experience.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Getting off the boat requires preparation as well. Ideally, you should be able to disembark on any pier along the way. In reality, passengers never know where the boat’s captain will make the next stop. Street hawkers often tell passengers in advance where they’ll be able to disembark. If you buy tickets online then you’ll have to research it yourself.

There’s a chance that the captain won’t make any stops at all and will take you back to where the tour began, which is the case with Flotilla Radisson. The safest option is to automatically expect that you’ll return to the pier where you started.

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Maps and video show site of Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore

By Paula Cohen , Kerry Breen

Updated on: March 27, 2024 / 6:14 PM EDT / CBS News

A major search and rescue operation has now transitioned to a recovery mission at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after it was struck by a cargo ship and collapsed early Tuesday , sending vehicles and people plunging into the water below. The U.S. Coast Guard said the ship had reported losing propulsion and control as it was leaving Baltimore harbor, before the collision occurred at around 1:30 a.m. ET. 

Two survivors were pulled from the water soon after the collapse, officials said — one unhurt and one with serious injuries, who was treated at a hospital and later released, CBS Baltimore reported . 

Six were missing and presumed dead. Officials said the bodies of two victims were recovered Wednesday.

Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said all six were construction workers who were filling potholes on the bridge at the time.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore declared a state of emergency, with city, state and federal teams converging at the scene. 

Map of the Key Bridge in Baltimore

The Key Bridge crosses the Patapsco River, a key waterway that along with the Port of Baltimore serves as a hub for East Coast shipping. CBS News Baltimore reports that the four-lane, 1.6-mile span was used by some 31,000 people a day.

The Maryland Transportation Authority  said  all lanes were closed in both directions on I-695, which crosses the Key Bridge. The agency said traffic was being detoured to I-95 and I-895. 

The portion of the bridge that collapsed was on a stretch connecting Hawkins Point, on the south side of the waterway, and Dundalk, on the north. 

Map showing location of Key Bridge in Baltimore

Video of the Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore

Video captured the moment the heavily loaded container ship struck a bridge support, sending sections of the overpass tumbling into the river below.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by CBS News (@cbsnews)

Officials said in a news conference that the ship had reported losing power and a mayday had been issued before the collision, which allowed officials to stop traffic onto the bridge. Officials did not clarify how many vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. 

Moore said he "can confirm that the crew notified authorities of a power issue," and he said that the decision to stop traffic onto the bridge "saved lives last night." 

Earlier Tuesday morning, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott called the collapse "an unthinkable tragedy."

"We have to first and foremost pray for all of those who are impacted, those families, pray for our first responders and thank them," he said. "We have to be thinking about the families and people impacted. We have to try to find them safe."

What was the ship's route?

The Singapore-flagged Dali, operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group, was chartered by and carrying cargo for Maersk. It had left the Port of Baltimore, just north and west of the bridge, before turning to head south and east along the Patapsco River. 

The ship had been in the port for two days, according to ship tracking website  VesselFinder , and was expected to spend nearly a month at sea before it reached Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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CBS News analyzed the path of every cargo ship taking this route over the past month and found Dali had veered more than 100 yards off the usual route when it struck the bridge support.

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

Timeline of the disaster

Click the arrow below to see an interactive timeline of how the collision occurred.

Before-and-after photos of the Francis Scott Key Bridge 

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge opened to traffic on March 23, 1977, and was a crucial thoroughfare for the region, carrying some 11.3 million vehicles per year. 

The photos below show how it looked following the collapse Tuesday morning, and how it looked intact just a few days earlier.

Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore

A witness who lives near the bridge  told CBS Baltimore  the collapse felt like an earthquake and sounded like "a big bash of thunder."

"The whole house vibrated, like my house was falling down," he said. "I've been in this neighborhood 57 years, I remembered when they built this bridge. Can't believe it's gone."

Another resident reflected on being on the bridge just yesterday. "To see the bridge gone knowing I was on that bridge not even 10 hours ago — it's devastating."

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Paula Cohen is the senior managing editor of CBSNews.com, where she oversees coverage of breaking news and stories on a wide range of topics from across the U.S. and around the world.

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best used coastal cruising sailboats

VESSEL REVIEW | Sinichka – Electric commuter boats designed for Russia’s Moskva River

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A series of three new electric monohull commuter ferries have already begun operational sailings on the Moskva River in the Russian capital Moscow.

Built by Russian shipyard Emperium, sister vessels Sinichka , Filka , and Presnya – all named after rivers in Moscow – are being operated by the Moscow Department of Transport and Road Infrastructure Development (Moscow Deptrans). They are the first units of a planned fleet of 20 vessels that will serve the capital city and other nearby communities. The new ferry system will be the water transport system to be operated on the Moskva River in 16 years.

Each vessel has a welded aluminium hull, an LOA of 21 metres, a beam of 6.2 metres, a draught of only 1.4 metres, a displacement of 40 tonnes, and capacity for 80 passengers plus two crewmembers. Seating is available for 42 passengers on each ferry, and the main cabins are also fitted with USB charging ports, wifi connectivity, tables, toilets, and space for bicycles and scooters. The cabin layout can be rearranged to allow the operator to adjust the distances between the seats and to install armrests of varying widths.

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An open upper deck is also accessible to passengers and is the only area on each ferry where smoking is allowed.

The ferries are all of modular construction with each ferry’s wheelhouse, main cabin, and other structural elements being built as complete, separate components. This enables the ferries to be easily dismantled for transport to anywhere in Russia by rail and then quickly re-assembled within seven days.

The ferries are also ice-capable. Recently completed operational trials on the Moskva showed that the vessels can also easily navigate under mild winter conditions with broken surface ice, though year-round operations are planned for the entire fleet.

The ferries are each fitted with 500kWh lithium iron phosphate battery packs that supply power to two 134kW motors. This configuration can deliver a maximum speed of 11.8 knots, a cruising speed of just under 10 knots, and a range of 150 kilometres.

Emperium said the transfer of rotation of electric motors to the propeller is carried out by direct drive. As a propulsion installation, a pulling rotary propeller-steering column with double screws is used. The installation of double pulling screws, with similar power, allows an operator to increase the efficiency of the propulsion system to deliver a slightly higher speed or to reduce energy consumption. This arrangement also provides the ferries with enhanced manoeuvrability necessary for navigating in close quarters.

The batteries themselves have projected service lives of 10 to 12 years and are fitted with safety features such as built-in fire extinguishers and gas vents. Quick-disconnect features allow the batteries to be easily removed for replacement or maintenance.

Some of our readers have expressed disquiet at our publication of reviews and articles describing new vessels from Russia. We at Baird Maritime can understand and sympathise with those views. However, despite the behaviour of the country’s leaders, we believe that the maritime world needs to learn of the latest developments in vessel design and construction there.

Click here to read other news stories, features, opinion articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Related Posts

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Béria L. Rodríguez

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Baltimore Port: What impact will bridge collapse have on shipping?

U.S. President Joe Biden visits the Port of Baltimore


Current status of cargo ships inside port, cruise ships, london metal exchange warehouses, bunker fuel.

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Reporting by Josephine Mason, Nick Carey, Helen Reid, Jonathan Saul, Nigel Hunt, Marwa Rashad, Scott DiSavino, Shariq Khan and Eric Onstad; Compiled by Josephine Mason and Nina Chestney; Editing by Nick Macfie and Nick Zieminski

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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach

Former Taiwan president Ma leaves for China, likely to meet Xi

Former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou left on Monday for an 11-day trip to China where he is expected next week to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second time, amid simmering tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes the weekly cabinet meeting, in Tel Aviv

Six presumed dead after cargo ship crash levels Baltimore bridge

BALTIMORE — A major Baltimore bridge collapsed like a house of cards early Tuesday after it was struck by a container ship, sending six people to their deaths in the dark waters below, and closing one of the country’s busiest ports.

By nightfall, the desperate search for six people who were working on the bridge and vanished when it fell apart had become a grim search for bodies.

“We do not believe that we’re going to find any of these individuals still alive,” Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon N. Gilreath said.

Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, said earlier that one of his workers had survived. He did not release their names.

Up until then, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore had held out hope that the missing people might be found even as law enforcement warned that the frigid water and the fact that there had been no sign of them since 1:30 a.m. when the ship struck Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Moore expressed heartbreak after officials suspended the search for survivors.

"Our heart goes out to the families," he said. "I can’t imagine how painful today has been for these families, how painful these hours have been have been for these families."

It was a crushing blow to the loved ones of the missing men, who had waited for hours at a Royal Farms convenience store near the entrance of the bridge for word of their fate. 

Follow live updates on the Baltimore bridge collapse

The tragic chain of events began early Tuesday when the cargo ship Dali notified authorities that it had lost power and issued a mayday moments before the 984-foot vessel slammed into a bridge support at a speed of 8 knots, which is about 9 mph.

Moore declared a state of emergency while rescue crews using sonar detected at least five vehicles in the frigid 50-foot-deep water: three passenger cars, a cement truck and another vehicle of some kind. Authorities do not believe anyone was inside the vehicles.

Investigators quickly concluded that it was an accident and not an act of terrorism.

Ship was involved in another collision

Earlier, two people were rescued from the water, Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace said. One was in good condition and refused treatment, he said. The other was seriously injured and was being treated in a trauma center.

Moore said other drivers might have been in the water had it not been for those who, upon hearing the mayday, blocked off the bridge and kept other vehicles from crossing.

“These people are heroes,” Moore said. “They saved lives.”

Nearly eight years ago, the Dali was involved in an accident. In July 2016, it struck a quay at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in Belgium, damaging the quay.

The nautical commission investigated the accident, but the details of the inquiry were not immediately clear Tuesday.

The Dali is operated and managed by Synergy Group. In a statement, the company said that two port pilots were at the helm during Tuesday's crash and that all 22 crew members onboard were accounted for.

The Dali was chartered by the Danish shipping giant Maersk, which said it would have no choice but to send its ships to other nearby ports with the Port of Baltimore closed.

The bridge, which is about a mile and a half long and carries Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River southeast of Baltimore, was "fully up to code," Moore said.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said that her agency will lead the investigation and that a data recorder on the ship could provide more information.

"But right now we're focusing on the people, on the families," she said. "The rest can wait."

President Joe Biden vowed to rebuild the bridge and send federal funds.

"This is going to take some time," the president warned. "The people of Baltimore can count on us though to stick with them, at every step of the way, till the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt."

Speaking in Baltimore, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg echoed the president's promise.

"This is no ordinary bridge," he said. "This is one of the cathedrals of American infrastructure."

But Buttigieg warned that replacing the bridge and reopening the port will take time and money and that it could affect supply chains.

The Port of Baltimore, the 11th largest in the U.S., is the busiest port for car imports and exports, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023 alone, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration.

Image: Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship

Writer David Simon, a champion of Baltimore who set his TV crime drama "The Wire" on the streets of the city he once covered as a reporter, warned online that the people who will suffer the most are those whose livelihoods depend on the port.

"Thinking first of the people on the bridge," Simon posted on X . "But the mind wanders to a port city strangling. All the people who rely on ships in and out."

Timeline of crash

Dramatic video captured the moment at 1:28 a.m. Tuesday when the Dali struck a support and sent the bridge tumbling into the water. A livestream showed cars and trucks on the bridge just before the strike. The ship did not sink, and its lights remained on.

Investigators said in a timeline that the Dali's lights suddenly shut off four minutes earlier before they came back on and that then, at 1:25 a.m. dark black smoke began billowing from the ship's chimney.

A minute later, at 1:26 a.m., the ship appeared to turn. And in the minutes before it slammed into the support, the lights flickered again.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said the workers on the bridge were repairing concrete ducts when the ship crashed into the structure.

At least seven workers were pouring concrete to fix potholes on the roadway on the bridge directly above where the ship hit, said James Krutzfeldt, a foreman.

Earlier, the Coast Guard said it had received a report that a “motor vessel made impact with the bridge” and confirmed it was the Dali, a containership sailing under a Singaporean flag that was heading for Sri Lanka.

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship

Bobby Haines, who lives in Dundalk in Baltimore County, said he felt the impact of the bridge collapse from his house nearby.

"I woke up at 1:30 this morning and my house shook, and I was freaking out," he said. "I thought it was an earthquake, and to find out it was a bridge is really, really scary."

Families of bridge workers wait for updates

Earlier in the day, relatives of the construction crew waited for updates on their loved ones.

Marian Del Carmen Castellon told Telemundo her husband, Miguel Luna, 49, was working on the bridge.

“They only tell us that we have to wait and that they can’t give us information,” she said.

Castellon said she was "devastated, devastated because our heart is broken, because we don’t know how they have been rescued yet. We are just waiting for the news."

Luna's co-worker Jesús Campos said he felt crushed, too.

“It hurts my heart to see what is happening. We are human beings, and they are my folks,” he said.

Campos told The Baltimore Banner that the missing men are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

Active search and rescue ends

The Coast Guard said it was suspending the active search-and-rescue effort at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"Coast Guard’s not going away, none of our partners are going away, but we’re just going to transition into a different phase," Gilreath said at a news conference.

Maryland State Police Superintendent Roland L. Butler, Jr., said it was moving to a recovery operation. Changing conditions have made it dangerous for divers, he said. 

Butler pledged to "do our very best to recover those six missing people," but the conditions are difficult.

"If we look at how challenging it is at a simple motor vehicle crash to extract an individual, I'm sure we can all imagine how much harder it is to do it in inclement weather, when it's cold, under the water, with very limited to no visibility," he said.

"There's a tremendous amount of debris in the water," which can include sharp metal and other hazards, and that could take time, Butler said.

'A long road in front of us'

Built in 1977 and referred to locally as the Key Bridge, the structure was later named after the author of the American national anthem.

The bridge is more than 8,500 feet long, or 1.6 miles. Its main section spans 1,200 feet, and it was one of the longest continuous truss bridges in the world upon its completion, according to the National Steel Bridge Alliance .

About 31,000 vehicles a day use the bridge, which equals 11.3 million vehicles per year, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

The river and the Port of Baltimore are both key to the shipping industry on the East Coast, generating more than $3.3 billion a year and directly employing more than 15,000 people.

Asked what people in Baltimore can expect going forward, the state's transportation secretary said it is too early to tell.

"Obviously we reached out to a number of engineering companies, so obviously we have a long road in front of us," Wiedefeld said.

Julia Jester reported from Baltimore, Patrick Smith from London, Corky Siemaszko from New York and Phil Helsel from Los Angeles.

Julia Jester is a producer for NBC News based in Washington, D.C.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.

best used coastal cruising sailboats

Corky Siemaszko is a senior reporter for NBC News Digital.

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