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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

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

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

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

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

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

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

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

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

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

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

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

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

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

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

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

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Discovery 55

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Privilege Serie 5

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

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

Gunfleet 43

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

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Photo: David Harding

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

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

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .

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Wauquiez Centurion 57

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

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

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

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Photo: Voyage of Swell

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

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

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Photo: Peter Szamer

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

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Tartan 3700

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

Broker ’ s choice

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Discovery 55 Brizo

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

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Oyster 575 Ayesha

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

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Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

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

Best bluewater yachts for performance

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

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Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

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

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

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Photo: Graham Snook

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

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

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Outremer 51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sweden Yachts 45

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

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

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Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

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

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Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

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

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Seawind 1600

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

Best bluewater sailboats for families

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

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Photo: Nicholas Claris

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

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

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

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Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

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

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

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Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

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

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

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Nautitech Open 46

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

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

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

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Photo: Olivier Blanchet

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

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

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Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

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

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

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

Beneteau Oceanis 473

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

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

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-nautitech-441

Nautitech 441

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Atlantic-42

Atlantic 42

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

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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

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

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

Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Ovni-43-credit-svnaimadotcom

Photo: svnaima.com

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

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

Futuna Exploration 54

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

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

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Choosing a Blue Water Yacht – Keel Type

Posted Monday 29th June 2015

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Over the coming weeks,  Grabau International  will take you through a variety of subjects which encompass choosing the right yacht for blue water adventures. The following guide is not written to dictate what to choose, or to supply a comprehensive encyclopedia of every option and variable, but simply a basic explanation of the main options and some guidance on what to look out for. Finding a yacht will always be a battle of your head over your heart, so the purpose of this guide is to give your head some questions to ask in the hope that an amicable compromise can be made with your heart. Part 3 of this guide looks a the question of keel type.

The type of keel fitted to a yacht is very much intertwined with the hull shape which was covered in part 2  of this guide. Keels use the forward motion of the boat to generate lift and to counteract the leeward force of the wind. In essence, the basic purpose of the keel is to convert the sideways motion of the wind into forward motion. In the case of a sailing yacht, this same keel must also act to provide ballast and righting moment.

Once again, due to the sheer diversity within the yachting spectrum, different keel types work for different purposes. Those looking to go racing will require a deep fin keel or perhaps even a canting keel, whilst blue water sailors may wish to choose from conventional fin keels, encapsulated keels, shoal-draft keels or even lifting keels. For the sailing looking to go creek crawling, lifting keels once again come to the fore along with bilge keels (although these are rarely seen on larger yachts).

keel type

Bolted fin keel

By far and away the most common type of keel. Easy to construct and offering loads of variations in profile and dimension. Attachment is usually via acid-resistant stainless steel bolts, although some use mild-steel bolts which are painted and sealed over (making maintenance and inspection extremely important). Mild steel is materially stronger than stainless, so there is no best or worst here, just make sure that they are tight and in good shape! With racier designs, a bolted keel can also be (relatively) easily removed for transport or shipping.

Examples: Beneteau, Jeanneau, Bavaria, Swan, Oyster, Hallberg Rassy, Sweden Yachts et al.

fin keel

Italia Yachts 13,98 with modern bolted fin keel and ‘T-bulb’

Encapsulated fin keel

This adds a little more security over the universal bolted-fin keel by laminating (or plating) in the ballast. An encapsulated keel can include anything from a glorified bolted keel which has been over laminated, to a complete keel structure filled with ballast. Encapsulated keels usually benefit from a deep keel sump which can be useful for tank location, storage and bilge-pump location. The keel profiles of encapsulated keels tend to be slightly deeper in length which in turn provides more directional stability (which your autopilot or helm will thank you for) at the detriment of close-quarter maneuvering and fast changes in direction.

Examples: Older Oysters, Camper & Nicholson, Trident Warrior 40, Rival Yachts etc.

encapsulated keel

  S&S Swan 36 with an encapsulated keel

Shoal / Scheel keel

A simple variation of the fin keel, is where the draft is reduced by profiling the bottom of the keel to add further ballast. For tradewind sailing, a deep draft is perhaps not as important as a shallower draft at either end, so many ‘bluewater’ yachts are often equipped with scheel (or shoal) draft. Many yachts are offered with this as an option and sometimes it is possible to swap keels over if the numbers stack up financially.

Examples: Bowman, Rival, Moody, Westerly, Swan (some versions), Pacific Seacraft etc.

Shoal draft keel

Rival 36 with Scheel (Shoal) Keel

Another way to reduce draft and potentially play about with ‘lift’ at the same time. Commonly adopted on larger productionyachts destined for shallower waters (Caribbean or Eastern Seaboard of the USA), but also on high quality cruising yachts in a slightly more paired down fashion (such as seen on Sweden Yachts which have ‘winglets’ rather than a full wing).

Examples: Contest, Sweden Yachts (some versions) etc

wing keel

 Sweden Yachts 38 wing keel

Lifting keel (centerboard or daggerboard)

Traditionally a niche concept, but now more readily accepted. There will always be the salty-seadog perched on the end of the yacht club bar ready to damn the concept on the basis of un-favourable STIX calculations, but the fact remains, more often than not, your ballast is in the boat rather than dangling on the end of the keel; and in the ‘perfect storm’, you can wind up the keel and slip down waves which would cause any traditionally-keeled vessel to trip over herself. The practicalities at point A and point B are also fairly obvious. In tidal areas you can dry out (if the keel retracts fully or aligns with twin rudders to create a ‘tripod’ support), or wind the keel up to get over a harbour sill at your convenience. In terms of downsides, anything involving moving parts adds complication and the potential for breakage or jamming. Common sense, regular maintenance and proper usage (most lifting keel yachts can only be used with the keel fully up or down) will go a long way to mitigate these shortcomings.

Examples: Southerly, Ovni, Feeling, Allures, Garcia, etc

lifting keel

Classic Southerly dried out with lifting keel

Extremely rare on any modern production yacht other than perhaps the Island Packet designs. Effectively, the keel becomes part of the hull, beginning at the bow and working its way to the stern. The advantages and disadvantages of the encapsulated fin keel are all here, but amplified by a factor of 10. Not a bad option if you want to spend your days crossing oceans, but not so hot if you like spinning in and out of marinas or thrashing around the cans.

Examples: Island Packet, Nauticat, Vancouver, Hans Christian etc

long keel

Nauticat 44 with a long keel configuration

Fairly uncommon on yachts destined for bluewater sailing with the exception perhaps of the extremely clever RM Yachts range. Ideal for drying outin muddy creaks where there is uncertainty about what lies beneath.

Examples: RM Yachts, Moody (some versions), Westerly (some versions) etc

bilge keel

RM 13.50 with bilge keels

Canting keel

A much more recent development. Found almost exclusively on racing yachts, such as those competing in the Volvo Ocean Race or Vendee Globe. Canting keels provide considerably more righting moment as the keel moves out to the windward-side of the boat while using less weight. The horizontal distance from the weight to the pivot is increased, which generates a larger righting moment.

Examples: Open 60’s, Volvo 70, Marten 65

canting keel

  Volvo 70 canting keel

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Yacht Cruising Lifestyle

Yacht Cruising Lifestyle

Everything fun you can do from your yacht

20 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats Under $100,000

January 5, 2021 by Travis Turgeon 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

Allied Princess 36

Green Allied Princess 36 sailboat at a marina

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

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

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

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

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

Cabo Rico 38

Cabo Rico sailboat with green sails

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

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

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

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

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

Celestial 48

Bluewater Celestial 48 sailboat

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

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

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

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

Prices start near our $100,000 mark.

Bluewater Corbin 39 sailboat

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

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

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

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

Docked Freedom 36 sailboat at sunset

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

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

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

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

Gulfstar 44

Gulfstar 44 sailboat at sea

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

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

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

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

Prices start around $60,000.

Hans Christian 38

1989 Hans Christian 38 T sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

Hinckley Bermuda 40

Group of people on a Hinckley Bermuda 40 with blue sails

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

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

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

Island Packet 35

Island Packet 35 sailboat anchored at harbor

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

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

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

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

Prices start at around $65,000.

Niagara 35 yacht at a dock

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

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

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

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

White Nordic 40 sailboat with blue sails in a marina

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

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

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

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

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

Passport 40

Passport 40 sailboat anchored near shore

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

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

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

Peterson 44

Peterson 44 sailboat with a mountain backdrop

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

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

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

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

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

Prout Snowgoose 37

Prout Snowgoose 37 catamaran on a mooring line

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

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

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

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

Two people on the back of a Shannon 38 sailboat

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

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

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

Tartan 4100 Spark sailboat on a cloudy day

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

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

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

Tayana 37 bluewater sailboat with an American flag

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

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

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

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

Valiant 40 cruiser with white sails designed by Robert Perry

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

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

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

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

Wauquiez Pretorien 35

Wauquiez Pretorien 35 small sailboat

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

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

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

Prices start around $39,000.

Westsail 32

White Westsail 32 cruiser in a marina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment below, share it on social media, and subscribe to our email list.

For direct questions and comments, shoot me an email at [email protected]

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Reader Interactions

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November 15, 2021 at 6:30 pm

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

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February 18, 2022 at 1:37 pm

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

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CREATING AN ALUMINIUM SAILBOAT FOR BLUEWATER CRUISING

"I have always been fascinated about the idea of sailboat traveling on the ocean energy self-sufficient like the satellite rounding the earth. Producing its own energy by the power of wind, sea and sun.

The Li Yachts project started with my own desire of the boat that will be used in dive expeditions with aim to reach even the remotest locations – and I wanted to do that with freedom of fossil fuels."

In a black and white photograph a man is drawing a sketch of the 47 ft aluminium pilothouse sailboat to his notebook which is on his lap.

Voyage started from my hand drawn sketches. Here drawing the 47 ft centreboarder.

We have designed a 40 ft centreboard pilothouse sailboat made of aluminium and the 47 ft version is in initial sketch stage. My search for the perfect cruising boat lead me to start the design project and a company called Li Yachts in 2015 in Finland. The name was borrowed from my old aluminium yacht and now refers to low impact because of sustainability goals.

The basis for the project was a life-time passion for the sea. Contributing personal factors included my long sailing experience in Nordic waters and the technical and artisan education I had completed earlier. Also my desire to realise long research expeditions on the world’s oceans in the future was part of my personal background.

The strongest motivational factor was the fact that I was not satisfied with the properties of most modern yachts. Based on the above, the need for a totally new sailing boat concept crystallised

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Late autumn gale approaches, I'm dreaming of keeping watch from warmth of the pilothouse.

My goal in the Li Yachts project is to create a modern sailboat made of aluminium, the simple and strong tool for bluewater cruising. The main design elements will include safety, practicality and sustainability The new design concept covers production, use and maintenance. Zero pollution and high level of recycling of materials are some of the specific goals. Please read more about the background in The Blog  page.

At a very concrete level, I have understood what changes in design will be needed for the boat of the future when I have been owning, sailing and re-building an old aluminium sailboat called Li built in 1967 , since 2011.

During the years with my current aluminium yacht, I have kept notes on the observations as regards the design elements which could be improved. In many cases they would actually need to be drastically redefined in order to satisfy my dreams as to the perfect expedition sailboat. For more information of these details, kindly see  The Concept  page.

centerboard sailboats bluewater

Familiar snowy views while winter sailing at 60°N has given lessons on how well an aluminium sailboat intended for high latitude sailing should be insulated.

I believe I am not alone with my thoughts. I think most experienced sailors would share my ideas. I believe many of them have actually realised there is a need for some basic changes in the design as regards our future yachts.

As the resources of the world are becoming more and more scarce, we need to take this into consideration, in addition to considering the improvements needed in other operational details of a sailing boat.

Please contact me in case you need more information or want to share design or production ideas. At the moment we are working hard to be able to build the 40 ft prototype. The goal is to produce a small serie, which would give reasonable priced opportunities for the first interested sailors.  I hope that a new advanced and sustainable aluminium sailboat will soon sail the seas and oceans of the world.

Fair winds,

Signature of founder of Li Yachts

Simo Nyrönen

Founder of Li Yachts

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Be Bold. Be Antifragile.

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Alubat [al.u.bat] noun | Aluminium Bateau | Aluminum Boat

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Amazing 43-ft Aluminum Sailboat

Full-time cruisers Roberta and Duca stopped by to visit us during the La Rochelle Boat Show for a tour of the NEW Ovni 430.

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The ‘Small’ Huge Sailboat

Tour of the new Ovni 370 with Duca and Roberta on their YouTube channel Odd Life Crafting.

aluminum hull construction

Aluminum Sailboat Misconceptions

“I have a friend, who knows a guy, who has a cousin, that bought an aluminum boat, and after a week in the marina the bottom fell out of her”.

Luc Jurien

50 years of sailing excellence!

FIGARO nautisme | by François Tregouet

Half a century old and still thriving, Alubat, the Vendée-based shipyard, is not content with just being one of the world’s benchmarks in ocean cruising with its iconic Ovni yachts. Instead, with the enthusiasm of youth, it is preparing to launch three new monohulls over the next two years.

Link to read article [PDF]

STRENGTH ACROSS THE FULL RANGE OF ALUBAT SAILBOATS

The new generation OVNI 370 with an inverted bow for improved performance and expanded the interior volume.

The new generation OVNI 370 with an inverted bow for improved performance and expanded the interior volume.

The new generation OVNI 430 with an inverted bow for improved performance and expanded the interior volume.

The new generation OVNI 430 with an inverted bow for improved performance and expanded the interior volume.

The OVNI 450 stands out from the OVNI range and maintains a traditional cabin top styling.

The OVNI 450 stands out from the OVNI range and maintains a traditional cabin top styling.

The New OVNI 490 aluminum sailing yacht with twin engines and a pilot house

What sets the OVNI 490 apart are the protected pilot house and twin engines. 

Designing and building aluminum boats for blue water sailing. ​

The  Alubat shipyard  has been designing and building aluminum boats for blue water sailing since 1973. With more than 1,600 yachts built and with 50 years of expertise in metal work and carpentry, Alubat has unparalleled experience in the aluminum sailboat market.

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By having the ability to beach your boat, inspecting and servicing your yacht becomes less daunting than having to haul out.

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Go places where other sailboats can't.

Centerboard advantages, navigate shallow water.

From the turquoise waters of the Bahamas to the Alaskan ice fields, a lifting keel gives you the peace of mind to navigate in shallow water. 

The centerboard doesn’t sacrifice performance or safety, in fact, it can enhance performance when it comes to downwind sailing. 

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Another advantage of a centerboard is the expanded possibilities to find docking in marinas that would otherwise be too shallow for a fixed keel sailboat.

Without the limitations of fixed keel boats, your cruising opportunities can take you through the maze of Europe’s ancient canals and the historic North American waterways.

The centerboard can be lifted manually or by using a hydraulic system.

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

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

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: August 17, 2023

What are the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet

1. the westsail 32.

Westsail 32 sailboat

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

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

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

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

2. Tayana 37

Tayana 37 sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

3. Hans Christian 38T

Black and white photo of Hans Christian 38T Sailboat

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

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

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

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

4. Island Packet 380

Drawing of Island Packet 380 sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Ingrid 38

Drawing of Ingrid 38 sailboat

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

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

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

Description

Fiona McGlynn

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

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Allied Seabreeze 35

Allied Seabreeze 35 is a 34 ′ 6 ″ / 10.5 m monohull sailboat designed by MacLear & Harris and built by Allied Boat Company Inc. between 1963 and 1973.

Drawing of Allied Seabreeze 35

  • 2 / 6 Sag Harbor, NY, US Allied Seabreeze 35 $19,000 USD View
  • 3 / 6 Sag Harbor, NY, US Allied Seabreeze 35 $19,000 USD View
  • 4 / 6 Sag Harbor, NY, US Allied Seabreeze 35 $19,000 USD View
  • 5 / 6 Sag Harbor, NY, US Allied Seabreeze 35 $19,000 USD View
  • 6 / 6 Sag Harbor, NY, US Allied Seabreeze 35 $19,000 USD View

Rig and Sails

Auxilary power, accomodations, calculations.

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.

Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio .311 Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.

SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64) 2/3

  • SA : Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D : Displacement in pounds.

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.

Ballast / Displacement * 100

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.

D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.

Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam 1.33 )

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.

CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

The SEABREEZE 35 was the second yacht built by Allied Boat Co.. It was available as a sloop or yawl. Boats before 1967 have a bronze centerboard. After that, aluminum was used. (Disp. and ballast numbers vary significantly.) The SEABREEZE CITATION was introduced in 1970 that featured a longer coach roof, dinette, two door head compartment, and a slightly longer cockpit. The rudder profile was also changed slightly. YAWL RIG: I: 40.00’ J: 13.00’ P: 34.90’ E: 14.00’ PY: 17.00’ EY: 7.25’ Tot. SA: 566 sq.ft.

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Allied Seabreeze 35, 1964 cover photo

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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

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I see a lot of people discussing centerboarders which I have always been very sttracted to due to their capability to go gunkholing but still be able to drop the board down and really increase stability and windward ability. But I have no experience with these boats. I have never owned one or sailed on one. Here are my questions 1) How are the centerboards raised and lowered? Is it hard to do? Do they all swing down on a pivot or do some slide down (like a daggerboard)? 2) Are there different designs? What is there to look out for ? What is the maintanence? Will they last the life of the boat? Are they troublesome? 3) Can I sail with the centerboard partially down if I want? 4) What are the best designed Centerboard boats out there? Which ones are the boats that are to be avoided? Why don''t we see more boats manufactured with swing centerboards?...It seems like the ideal configuration for cruisers that like "thin water" anchorages. 5) Any other comments?...Pro''s Con''s  

Jeff_H

To answer your questions: 1) How are the centerboards raised and lowered? Is it hard to do? Do they all swing down on a pivot or do some slide down (like a daggerboard)? Most centerboards either have a small winch that tensions a cable that raises the centerboard. These winches vary from trailer type cable winches (electric and manual) to normal sheet winches in which case there is often a block and tackle on the end of the centerboard penant. The centerboard cable either acts through a tube that is sealed at the bottom and or deck or through a variety of pull rod designs that pass through a packing gland. Centerboards are usually not too hard to operate but drop keels because of their weight take a fair amount of cranking to pull up and down. Most cruising centerboard boats have pivoting centerboards (just weighted enough to cause them to be heavier than water) or Swing Keels (which pivot and are weighted significantly enought to help act as part of the boat''s ballast.) There are daggerboard boats out there but those are mostly small boats. There is a current trend in small race boats to have a dagger board with a bulb on the end. These are very efficient sailing wise but are much more difficult to raise and lower and really cannot be partially raised lowered under sail. 2) Are there different designs? What is there to look out for ? What is the maintanence? Will they last the life of the boat? Are they troublesome? They vary very widely in design, quality and execution from crudely cast iron swing keels, or a rough cut steel plate, to nicely fabricated lead keels, to nicely fabricated fiberglass foils, to crudely fabricated glass over plywood. In my mind, The best cruising boat set up is a keel/centerboard where these is a small shoal draft keel that the centerboard emerges from the bottom of. When fully retracted the centerboard is wholely cased in the trunk and is not exposed below the bottom of the short keel. This design gives up a little performance but offers the most protection for the centerboard and represents a good compromise in performance. If performance is your thing than a daggerboard with a bulb is a better option. (I am thinking of building a small daysailor overnighter to putter about with and will probably do that kind of a CB.) There is more maintenance. The centerboard penants, winches and packing glands need maintenance. The pivot bushings and penant attachment points need regular maintenance and at some point replacement. There are often flaps across the centerboard slot that need periodic replacement. Centerboard often have minor damage to their fairing materials and barrier coats as the seem to be used as a depth sounder more often and there is some wear of centerboard against the side of the trunk. Even painting the Centerboard is a little harder because the boat needs to be high enough to let the whole board down. Whether they last the life of the boat depends on maintenance and how the original board was constructed. 3) Can I sail with the centerboard partially down if I want? Most boats can be sailed with the board partially down. One nice thing about a centerboard is that it can be partially raised or lowered, i.e. shifted in position to balance the helm in heavy air or even raised some to allow more leeway in heavy air reducing heeling. For most keel centerboarders the best performance is with the keel down for beating and close to beam reaching, partially raised when broad reaching and all the way up on a run. 4) What are the best designed Centerboard boats out there? Which ones are the boats that are to be avoided? Why don''t we see more boats manufactured with swing centerboards?...It seems like the ideal configuration for cruisers that like "thin water" anchorages. I don''t have time to do a good and bad list this morning but keel/centerboard boats are more expenive to build than their fixed keel sisters, expecially in sizes over about 25 feet.They require more ballast and more hardware to work well. Most people seem to be willing to accept a wing or bulb keel. 5) Any other comments?...Pro''s Con''s Keel centerboards give up a fair amount of performance over a well designed fin keel but if well designed generally offer better performance than other forms of shoal draft keels including wing and bulbs. They are harder to build properly and harder to maintain, but offer a lot of advantages to a cruiser. Jeff  

I own a 28ft Soverel(1965), it has a long shoal draft keel in which a centerboard swings out.It uses a gear to crank it up and down. This is a straight shot to the centerboard trunk through a stainless tube (this mounts from cb trunk to below cockpit floor above waterline).It is not super easy or fast to raise. The cable should be checked or replaced every few years I would guess. My centerboard is lead incased in fiberglass. I know this because the cb was left all the way down at dock(it should never be that far down)and the boat sat on it at low very low tide and bent it in half, the repair was not easy! Anyway I love my boat I can steer the boat with cb adjustments, all but down wind. It is nice to singlehand I can make sail changes or go below without having to hand steer. These are the good point of this boat I have no clue about others boats. Paul B  

I think the keel/centerboard designed, as mentioned above, is the best CB configuration. This design is used by Hinckley, Bristol, Little Harbor, Cheoy Lee (Pedrick 41) and Alden to name just a few builders. Many K/CB boats can be sailed equally as well with the board up as down, on almost all points of sail. Downwind there is the advantage of having the boat up, upwind, having the board down can be a significant advantage. I would say (since I just got one) that the most beautiful and well designed K/CB boat of all time is the Hood 38 built by Wauquiez. Sisterships were built by Bristol (38.8) and Little Harbor (Ted Hood''s company). She is a delight to sail, very well thought out, well built and nicely finished. I could not be happier. Thus, I will recommend to you Ted Hood''s K/CB designs. Perhaps one of the most significant advantages, aside from the obvious ability to sail into skinny water, is the wonderful tracking ability of these boats. This is not to be taken lightly if you plan to do some distance cruising. I can take my hands off the helm for long periods of time, not even bother to lock it in, and have the boat track on any point of sail. To me, with a K/CB, you have all the advantages of a full keel boat and a fin keel boat with none of the disadvantages of either. Maintenance is really very minimal and does not occur on even an annual basis. Just keep inspecting the cable when the boat is pulled. As to the placement of the winch for the cable, there are several different designs. Some use lines to the cockpit, some have a winch with cable in or just out of the cockpit. I hope this helps.  

Regarding the stability question in the original post, as Jeff says most boards are only slightly heavier than water, and so do not significantly lower the center of gravity when in the lowered position. There is a school of thought which says that a centerboarder is more stable with the board raised in heavy weather; as Jeff mentioned this allows more leeway. In theory this reduces the chance of the boat "tripping" over her keel. I personally am a great fan of centerboarders. Partially raising a front pivoted board moves the center of lateral resistance aft, thereby reducing weather helm, and is very useful in balancing a boat.  

Regarding the question on the weight of the CB. I believe the CB on the Hood 38 is 800 lbs. A friend with a Cheoy Lee Pedrick 41 told me his CB was also very heavy. Hope this helps  

I''ve had a C&C 40 for 21 years. She is now for sale and is a keel centerboard. The board weighs about 700# and is pulled with a winch and a five part tackle connected to a cable, which pulls the board. We seldom use the board, unless we are trying to make a point and avoid two tacks. With the board down, she will really put her nose into the wind. With the board down she draws 8''6" and up 4''8", so she goes where the seven foot keels can''t. Are you interested in a boat?  

Doublee44, Well I''m not in the market to purchase a boat right now, but I am doing "Mental Research" on what Features/Types of boats I would be looking to get as my "next boat". If I was to get a next boat I would be looking for one to cruise extensively down to the "Islands" (carribean, Central/South America et.al.) And I am known to be a crusing type sailor that loves to gunkhole. I have a newer Catalina 36MKII with a wing keel that I love dearly. I think it is an awesome boat for extensive coastal cruising with periodic juants offshore. No boat is perfect for all situations and though it would be a fine boat for what I described above, I feel there are a few features that I would like to have that would make it even "more ideal" (everything is relative.....and so are the costs). I am slightly enamored on a keel/centerboard design as it give the best compromise in what I like to do. I am not "super" concerned on the extra bit of maintenance needed for the centerboard, just as long as the design was a "decent" one. Thus the questions on how some are raised and lowered....(Though, I''m still not sure which is the "best" design). So on my "next boat" I might be looking for a keel/Centerboard configuration if it was well designed and less likely to keep me hanging (Pun intended). And I am starting to become interested in possibly a fractional rig as per some of the reasons Dave_H has mentioned (if done properly easier to depower main and smaller headsail to deal with.....yes I am listening Dave) But I am still not overlooking Masthead Rigs for their sturdiness and simplicity and if done correctly (Right sized sails, lines to cockpit, etc, etc) they can be able to be singlehanded well by a competent skipper...... I think the C&C is a nice boat. Is it listed somewhere on the net?, just for a quick look...;-)  

Ahoy Jeff_H, To your point of "small race boats with daggerboards with bulb attached", do you know how this type fares in a grounding? Art (I''m assuming a boat such as a Melges 24, Ultimate 20,etc.)  

Properly designed and all other things being equal a daggerboard with a bulb should do as well or better than fin keeler. The only example that I know of was a Melges 24 that took to the ground at speeds thought to be in excess of 8 knots. The description that I heard was that she hit hard and with the large chute up, spun and took a hard down which carried her over the hump. Damage was described as cosmetic. I don''t think that is a representative fair sampling of the concept. I suspect that depending on the design of the boat and the nature of the grounding there could easily be more extensive damage to the drop keel or its scabboard. Modern daggerboards with bulbs are next to non-existent in larger production boats but they are a concept that I would love to see more often. It is comparatively easy to design a structure that could absorb the engery of a major impact. It might include a large rubber impact block that could take buffer most of the force of impact rather than deliver the loads into a rigid structure. Longer than usual leverage into the boat perhaps with SS tubes sliding an a SS scabboard could also reduce the loads felt by the boat. I had designed a quick release lock down system that would permit the keel to be released under pressure allowing it to be retracted when aground but which would automatically engage if the boat took a knockdown, locking the keel so that it can''t retract due to gravity. If I were wealthy enough to build a custom boat (which is not likely in this lifetime) a lifting dagger board with a bulb would be high on my list. Jeff  

fallard

Jeff_H said: Properly designed and all other things being equal a daggerboard with a bulb should do as well or better than fin keeler. The only example that I know of was a Melges 24 that took to the ground at speeds thought to be in excess of 8 knots. The description that I heard was that she hit hard and with the large chute up, spun and took a hard down which carried her over the hump. Damage was described as cosmetic. I don''t think that is a representative fair sampling of the concept. I suspect that depending on the design of the boat and the nature of the grounding there could easily be more extensive damage to the drop keel or its scabboard. Modern daggerboards with bulbs are next to non-existent in larger production boats but they are a concept that I would love to see more often. It is comparatively easy to design a structure that could absorb the engery of a major impact. It might include a large rubber impact block that could take buffer most of the force of impact rather than deliver the loads into a rigid structure. Longer than usual leverage into the boat perhaps with SS tubes sliding an a SS scabboard could also reduce the loads felt by the boat. I had designed a quick release lock down system that would permit the keel to be released under pressure allowing it to be retracted when aground but which would automatically engage if the boat took a knockdown, locking the keel so that it can''t retract due to gravity. If I were wealthy enough to build a custom boat (which is not likely in this lifetime) a lifting dagger board with a bulb would be high on my list. Jeff Click to expand...

I own a Soverel 36R built in 1967. It has a full keel with the centerboard stowed in the keel. The board on these are solid brass. I read somwhere that it was thousands of pounds of brass and I don't doubt it as it's HUGE in all dimension. I don't believe there are going to be many boats built today like this. She sails like a dream. My draft with the brass up is 4.25' and down 9'. And 9 feet of thousands of pounds of brass hanging under my boat makes me feel real comfortable in rough weather. Sometimes it feels like she can sail straight into the wind with the brass down. Brass up she can take me into shallow water where many 26' boats have trouble. I will admit that I'd love to throw a power winch on her as that much weight obviously takes a serious arm to raise. And sorry, but the plan is for her never to be for sale again. If you look around for a Soverel, keep in mind that Bill Soverel ( the dad ) designed and built ocean cruisers through the late 60's. The son, Mark designed and built them from the 70's on as racers. Not that there's anything wrong with Mark's boats. He also built them well and from what I read his Soverel 33 owned the races for many years and sometimes still do.  

Must be Viva sailing Yachts (Sasanka) from Poland. Off course I`m owner of a VIVA 600. Very suitable for Swedish Lakes and Channels.  

Arcb

Very cool. Never heard of the Viva 600 before, so I looked it up. 19' boat with an enclosed head. Awesome.  

outbound

Currently my favorite centerboard design is Boreal. They start in the 40’s and go into the 60’s. As regards daggerboards AKA lifting keels the B50 is nice but the K&M besteavers in the mid 50s comes close to my idea of an ideal cruising boat. For older boats thought the Ted Hood centerboarders were cooler than dirt. Was surprised how well they pointed. Sailed a B40multiple times in the Marion Bermuda. Hated listening to the board slap in light air and she was wet in a seaway. More than once have seen debris get into the slot and jam it. On one occasion it was gravel and the boat needed to hauled to clear it. Hydraulics maybe better than a pendant/winch set up depending on design when dealing with bigger centerboards Changing out a pendant can be real hard. Just my thoughts. If you go with a lifting keel play attention to how it will handle a grounding. There are some very ingenious ways that have been thought out to handle this mishap.  

capta

We have a board on here. We draw 6 and change with it up and 10 and change with it down. I was told by the PO that he had added about 2500# to the board, but I have no way of confirming this until we pull it out. With 6' of draft, our board isn't so much about leeway as it is trim and comfort. It definitely stabilizes the boat (underway or at anchor, by the way) which helps the boat sail better. Alternating the depth of the board (visualize an upside down shark fin) moves the center of lateral resistance a bit forward or aft. Off the wind it is also a stabilizing factor and a deeper point around which to turn the boat. There are two major drawbacks to centerboards, IMO. One is that at a certain point down, they will begin to move about in the trunk and make noise. Maybe that's less of a problem on other boats, but this one slips through the water so silently that sometimes the noise from the board can be a little bit bothersome. Solution: pull it up a few cranks. The other much more serious problem that can develop with a board is the trunk leaking. I don't care if it is a day sailor or a 50' ocean going cruiser; this is a serious problem. In some cases it can be prohibitively expensive to repair and on those boats you will find the trunk sealed up and the board decommissioned.  

Think technique and potential troubles vary widely depending on if your talking about a Daggerboard ( no real ballast component) lifting keel (major ballast component commonly in a bulb) Keel centerboard ( no trunk intruding in to accommodations or even bilge to a significant degree) Centerboard Also impact on how the boat handles varies. Most of the daggerboards I’m familiar with have been on multis. Can anyone comment on daggerboards in ocean going vessels?  

My Clearwater 35 is a swing keel boat. It has lead enclosed within the leading edge of an elliptical fiberglass foil keel that weighs about 3000#. The keel retracts completely into the hull, allowing the hull to sit on the bottom (with the swing rudder up.). The boat was originally spec'd to draw 1' 10" with everything up, but it draws at least 2' when loaded for cruising. Draft is 6' with the keel down. The aft end of the keel is faired to fill the hull aperture when the keel is fully down. It is lowered by gravity and raised via a winch on the coachroof that hauls a pennant attached to a block and tackle arrangement with 6:1 purchase. I've been in caught in some rather high winds (39 - 45 kts) several times in the 21 years I've owned her, but never came close to a knockdown. The boat tends to head up in strong puffs and does not like to have the rail buried. The Clearwater 35 is not a tender boat and typically reaches close-hauled maximum speed with a max of 20° heel. Form stability is part of the design equation along with weight discipline by the designer, Craig Walters, who also designed similar Sequin boats of 40' and over. With inboard shrouds and a low aspect fin keel, the Clearwater 35 goes to weather better than most. It has a shorter WLL and displaces at 2000# more than a J-35, so it isn't a real race boat. However, the swing keel allows shortcuts and anchoring where most can't. And I can keep it at my shallow water (2.5' MLW) dock--no J-35's allowed! Maintenance has been minimal. I did replace the original SS keel pin, about 17 years ago when it appeared to be weeping at the seals. The new pin is 316 SS, whereas the original appeared to be 304 SS, and it hasn't leaked since. The 17 yr old seals are still going strong. The only other maintenance item is the pennant, which is 1/2" Dacron braid, and lasts over 10 years before it gets worn from winching. The keel trunk is the elephant in the main salon, extending all the way up to the coachroof, so it isn't for everyone--just those who need adjustable draft in a boat that sails very well.  

Telesail

There are several French boats with variable draft. Alubat Ovni, Allures, Garcia Expedition, Boreal...... They are typically ‘expedition’ boats rather than fast cruisers but they command a very loyal following and are great for high tidal ranges and going anywhere that ‘dries out’. Not sure what your objective is in looking for lifting centerboard or swing keel but worth taking a look anyhow.  

JimsCAL

Wow! An 18 year old thread that's been dead for over 10 years comes back to life!  

And unlike electronics, most of the old comments are still relevant!  

Tele from talks with owners of these boats another aspect that draws people to these boats is behavior in extreme weather. Apparently with board up even if sideways to a wave they will slide not broach and turn turtle. With a jsd out and companionway closed the storm tactic is totally passive. An excellent feature for a couple. Also trade wind sailing is downwind so the decrease in wetted surface with board up is helpful. Boreal had the centerboard but also two small daggerboards way aft. Downwind the configuration is centerboard up daggerboard(s) down. Given they are Al and coatings are expensive although marketing photos show them beached from what I understand beaching is avoided. Sand is very abrasive and if in surf the boat will settle some. However in places where anchoring stern to beach and bow in shallow water would have been very convenient. Going off the sugar scoop into waist deep water to wade to the beach would be slick.  

Outbound, you are right on all counts. I confess that I did not quite have the guts to pull the trigger on any of the boats listed and instead went with a fixed keel on an Aluminum boat. But I sailed a few before making the decision and was very nearly ready. In the end, I was prepared to sacrifice the Bahamas for simplicity (did not go for air-con, generator or any high maintenance systems other than an autopilot)  

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New J/95 Centerboard Sailboat is Fit for Shallow Water

J/boats new shoalsailer redraws the playing field for fast daysailers..

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Given the grief that poor centerboard designs from the 1970s have caused sailers over the years, we were surprised to learn that J/Boats-known for its measured approach to the boat business (don’t let that radical backslash fool you)-put a centerboard in its new J/95.

Yes, swing-keel centerboards, those bronze, steel, or fiberglass foils that hinge from the keel like the blade on a Swiss army knife, are making a comeback. This is great news for shoalwater sailers who, for lack of other options, have tolerated decades-old centerboarders and the many ailments that plague them-corroded lifting cables, pulverized turning sheaves, and a thunk, thunk, thunk in the centerboard trunk. Fortunately for them, advances in materials and design have yielded a whole new breed of centerboarder. The J/95, it is safe to say, is not your fathers Irwin 38.

The last time centerboards were all the rage, through the 1950s and into the 1960s, it was because Northeast sailors didnt want to leave their good crystal at home when they raced off to Bermuda. In the Cruising Club of Americas (CCA) quest for a rating rule that favored velvet and walnut interiors, centerboarders gained a significant edge, and few boats took advantage of rule loopholes as well as the legendary Sparkman & Stephens-designed Finisterre. The boat achieved myth-like status in 1960, when owner and skipper Carleton Mitchell won the Newport to Bermuda race for an unprecedented third consecutive time.

When Mitchell died in 2007 at the age of 96, he was rightly hailed as a sailing legend. A one-time underwear salesman who married into a fortune, he served as a Navy combat photographer in World War II before pursuing in earnest a lifelong passion for sailing. In the decades after the war, he earned renown not only for his seamanship but also for his talent as a magazine writer, author, and photographer. The museum at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut holds his large collection of manuscripts and more than 20,000 of his photographs.

Today, Mitchell and Finisterre stand as icons from a golden era, doomed to an eternal afterlife in new boat marketing literature. But when J/Boats alluded to Carleton Mitchell and Finisterre in brochures for the J/95, we wanted a bottle of whatever theyre putting in the company watercooler. Except for a hinged keel and an inclination to float, the two boats are as alike as Neil Simons Felix and Oscar.

Introduced last year, the balsa-core J/95 is a lightweight, 30-foot daysailer with a plumb bow, twin-rudders, a sleek hull form, and a Spartan interior. Launched in 1954, 38-foot Finisterre is a double-planked heavy displacement racer-cruiser with a spoon bow, yawl rig, and almost swanky accommodations (the last three are all convenient CCA rule-beaters).

The reference to Finisterre is smart promotional shtick. The name offers J/Boats-and it is hardly the only company that has drafted on Finisterres fame-an instant connection to the sailors it seeks to entice with the J/95.

Like Morris, Sabre, Friendship, and the other makers of high-end trophy daysailers we reviewed in the January 2009 issue, the J/95 is aimed at recession-proof sailors who share Mitchells aesthetic tastes and passion for sailing. But unlike previous entries in this market, the J/95 sails in four feet of water and offers, in many ways, a saner approach to what dealers are calling “right-sizing.” (No salesman worth his salt would utter the more accurate word, “downsizing,” to a potential buyer of these boats.)

End of an era

The J/95 is the brainchild of Rod Johnstone, a man whose fairy-tale success is well known to longtime PS readers. Back in 1976, Johnstone built a fast little boat called Ragtime in his garage in Connecticut. It promptly trounced the local racers, who started asking Johnstone for their own.

At the time, Johnstone was an ad salesman for Soundings magazine and turned to his client Everett Pearson of TPI Inc. to produce the boat as the J/24. (The J is for Johnstone, the slash, were convinced, is meant to torment copy editors.) J/24s started rolling off the production line at TPI in February 1977. Bob Johnstone, the family marketing ace, left AMF Alcort (makers of the Sunfish) to join Rod as a partner, and crank up the boat sales to unprecedented numbers. Still in production, the J/24 remains one of the most popular sailboats in the world.

The mission for the J/95 is one of those hyphen-rich, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too quests. Rod Johnstone wanted a wind-in-your-hair, but easy-to-sail weekender that catered to the huge population of sailors who must contend with depths of four feet our less. Being competitive in club or Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF), and, of course, a fantastically popular one-design class were also part of the dream.

“We wanted to make this a boat people would want sail, sail right up the river or creek, right up to their dock, sail in light winds, sail in 20 knots,” says Johnstone. “In my view, if you want to turn on the engine, this boat is a failure.”

When held up against the current crop of J/Boats, the J/95 is probably closest to the J/105, a popular one-design class boat launched in 1992. Both boats have similar deck layouts, and both feature a low cabintop and gentle sheer that give them good-looking profiles.

Although the J/105s deeper fin keel gives it a performance edge, Johnstone says that in brisk conditions, the J/95, with 2,250 pounds of lead ballast, can stay with the J/105 in a heavy-weather beat. Johnstones explanation for this sheds some light on why many CCA-rule boats remain popular as cruisers.

While the long bulb keel that is the norm in todays racing boats offers superior lift, it can create a pendulum-like pitch and roll and in a seaway. The J/95, with the center of ballast closer to the flotation plane, resists this tendency, making for a more efficient-and more comfortable-ride.

Of course, any of the J/95s gains during a rough beat are soon relinquished to the J/105s longer waterline on a downwind leg, but the point is made.

Compared to contemporary production shoal-draft boats, the J/95 has a key design advantage: twin rudders angled outward at 15 degrees. This means at least one rudder is always immersed, giving the boat predictable tracking, even when heeled. As pointed out in our February 2009 report on hull design, trying to steer the beamy Open Class-inspired hulls with a single shallow rudder can be maddening. In the most extreme cases, a modest puff of 16 knots sends the boat rounding up sharply to windward.

The price for the J/95s shallower draft is ultimate stability. According to J/Boats, the boat has a limit of positive stability of 126, well within the minimum of 120 recommended for offshore racing and fine for daysailing. The 200-pound centerboard doesn’t lock down, but should the board kick up in a grounding or crash downward a 160-degree capsize, it will connect with the soft lead keel and cause no harm to the hull. J/Boats said such an event would not damage the hull. (With our insurance premiums being what the are, we did not test this feature.)

Deck Layout

J/Boats has had plenty of practice pondering deck layouts on race boats, and those same details translate well to any good daysailer. As Johnstone points out, the features that bring efficiency on the race course-broad sidedecks, ergonomic cockpit layout, plenty of mechanical advantage-are equally kind to a titanium knees and hips.

“It just makes me sad to see people I know-friends, no less!-going out and getting power boats because they feel that they can’t sail anymore,” Johnstone grumbles. “And then they realize, too late sometimes, that they have to put up with all that noise.”

New J/95 Centerboard Sailboat is Fit for Shallow Water

During the design phase, there was some discussion over tiller versus wheel. J/purists might clamor for a tiller, especially those bent on racing, but at what price? Cockpit space would suffer. Comfort and convenience, too.

The 44-inch Edson wheel fits nicely into the wide T-shaped aft section. Two angled chocks provide footing on a heel, and we found the windward rail to be a comfortable spot on a close reach. The transom is open, and the boat we sailed had an optional removable transom-seat locker. Even with the seat-locker in place, theres room behind the wheel.

The cockpit seats arent long enough for snoozing, and an extra inch of back support would be nice, but all in all, the cockpit caters well to crew comfort under way. The seats inside edges are angled upward slightly to anchor the tush, and the seat lockers offer ample space for sail and gear storage. The broad flat coaming is as comfortable a perch as the cockpit seats themselves. Owners can opt for either a full length toerail or one that ends forward of the cockpit. Teak is an option, but one of the appeals of the boat is its ease of maintenance.

The Harken sail controls are geared for minimal effort. The mainsheet (5:1-ratio with a 10:1-ratio fine-tuning adjustment), rides in front of the steering binnacle on an easily-trimmed traveler (4:1-ratio). A Hall Spars Quick Vang (5:1 ratio) handles boom tension.

The jibsheets lead to two 40.2STA two-speed self-tailing winches. The helmsman can easily trim the mainsheet from the windward rail, while the jib sheet winches are placed so that the trimmer can comfortably face forward. Casually seated on the coaming just in front of the wheel, the single-hander can tweak both the main and jib sheets.

The standard working jib is a roller-furling 105 that tacks easily through the foretriangle and leads to a jib track inside the shrouds. We kept the leads pinned just aft of the shrouds during the test sail and saw no need to change them. For PHRF racing, a second track is installed to handle the 150 genoa. (The boats PHRF rating is about 109.)

A Harken 32.2 two-speed self-tailing winch and a gang of three Spinlock rope clutches on the port side of the companionway tame the halyards and the centerboard. We didnt need the winch (or anti-inflammatories) to raise the centerboard, as the 5:1-ratio block and tackle gave plenty of mechanical advantage.

Passage fore and aft is wide and clear of obstructions, with stainless-steel handrails on the coachroof adding security. Eight-inch stainless steel cleats and a modest anchor locker round out the very functional deck layout.

Interior and Systems

With the J/95s emphasis on nice lines and a functional deck layout, its no surprise that the accommodations get the short shrift. Though its billed as a weekender, we call it a daysailer.

For boat camping, the layout takes care of the bare essentials. Two settee berths in the main cabin offer room to recline, but headroom, even when sitting, is tight. A Raritan head (served by a 14-gallon holding tank) shares space with a V-berth forward. A forward hatch and two ports keep the cabin aired out.

There is no nav station or galley, not even a stove, although hull No. 1 was equipped with AC shorepower and a microwave oven. A 48-quart cooler or a portable 12-volt Waeco fridge ( PS , May 2007) tucks aft of the port settee. An optional Group 27 house battery will keep the fridge running for a long day without charging.

Optional water tankage is in a 20-gallon bladder that feeds a pressure pump in the head and a cockpit shower. Fuel is in a 15-gallon tank beneath the port cockpit locker. PS generally prefers aluminum tanks for this purpose, but for a tank this small, a baffled polyethylene tank is a tolerable substitute.

The two-cylinder 14-horsepower Yanmar with a saildrive and Flex-O-Fold prop sits beneath slide-out companionway steps. Access is good except for servicing the water and primary fuel filters, when you need to make an awkward reach through a bulkhead cutout. J/Boats says it has worked closely with Yanmar to insure that the saildrive is protected from any galvanic corrosion. Regardless, engine zincs bear watching.

Now for the downers: Like some other Open Class imitators (Beneteau First 10R comes to mind), J/Boats hasn’t yet sorted out how to drain the boats shallow bilge without a sponge. The narrowest electric pump doesn’t fit into the tight squeeze in the sump. It sits on a riser pad, which means the last three inches of water make for an inviting frog pond.

To complicate matters, the hose on our test boats manual pump wheezed at a leaky hose union, rendering the pump useless. A leaky union-or any union at all-in an emergency bilge hose is not the sort of thing wed expect from J/Boats. (The local J/Boat dealer assured us this problem would be fixed immediately.)

We also took issue with the bilges drainage system. A single limber hole less than 3/4-inch in diameter separates the back section of the hull from the main bilge sump. Should a cockpit locker open in a knockdown and seawater flood the aft compartment, most of the water wouldnt reach the pumps until it flowed through that thimble-sized limber hole. In our view, the boat should either have freer flowing limber holes or a pump to serve each large compartment.

Finally, J/Boats was asleep at the wheel when they addressed the emergency tiller on our test boat. There was no dedicated place to stow the tiller, and the deck key used to install it was found in the cabin below, instead of with the tiller. Installed, the rudder worked fine, much better than others weve ranted about.

Performance

We test sailed hull No. 10 in the Gulf of Mexico off of Naples, Fla. The boat was equipped with racing cut Doyle Technora sails: a partially battened mainsail and a roller-furling 105 genoa. A 680-square-foot asymmetrical spinnaker can fly from the retractable bowsprit, but with squalls to the east and just two people on board, this spinnaker stayed in the forepeak.

New J/95 Centerboard Sailboat is Fit for Shallow Water

True wind was from the east at 6-8 knots with gusts to about 17 knots when the rain came. Seas were 1-2 feet.

Under power at 2,800 RPM, the boat averaged 6 knots and at 3,250 RPM 7 knots. At wide open throttle in flat water, it held 7.4 knots. Handling under power with the twin rudders was excellent. With the centerboard up or down, the J/95 easily spun in its own length. Not only is this an advantage when docking, but should a crew member fall overboard, a well-drilled crew should be able to execute a near-perfect Quick Stop maneuver (see January 2010 issue).

On a close reach in about 8 knots of breeze, the boat averaged 5.3 knots and tacked through 92 degrees, including any leeway, with the board up. With the board down in about 12-14 knots of breeze, the boat averaged 6.3 knots and gained about 2 degrees to windward on each tack.

J/Boats advertises upwind speeds of 6.5 knots and tacking angles of less than 90 degrees with the board up, and angles better than 85 degrees with the board down. Based on the test boats performance, this is well within reach of a well-sailed, well-tuned boat. The fastest average speed under sail came when a squall brought about 15 knots of wind on the beam. With the true wind at 120 degrees, the boat marched off at 7.2 knots, taking the strongest gusts in stride.

In terms of handling and balance, the J/95 sailed exceptionally well, holding a groove better than many larger boats weve tested. Johnstone attributes the reliable helm control to the twin rudder design. Many good CCA-era boats, Johnston points out, ran into trouble when the wind piped up.

“On some of the old boats, and on many shoal-draft boats today, when the boat heels over, there just isn’t enough rudder in the water for it to do its job,” says Johnstone. “The twin rudders are key to making this design work.”

Board up or board down, the boat handled gusts extremely well, never once heeling excessively or fighting to round up. Close hauled and reaching, the boat balanced superbly, and even with the wind aft of the beam and the sails trimmed for speed, the helm delivered finger-tip control.

Although we could point the boat slightly higher with the 200-pound centerboard lowered, the most noticeable effect of lowering the board was a stiffer ride and a reduced angle of heel.

Given the anemic state of the new sailboat market, J/Boats initially expected to sell one J/95 a month until buyers hopped off the fence. Nine months into production, the company was on hull No. 18, and interest in the boat doesn’t show any sign of waning soon.

Its success can be partly attributed to the J/Boat name and the southward migration of aging Boomers, who are settling into retirement homes on the shallow estuaries of Florida and the Carolinas. No question, if you are a shallow-water sailor looking for a high-performance daysailer thats easy to sail right from your backyard dock, the J/95 has few peers. Whether the model takes off as a one-design fleet or the thin-water sailors preferred PHRF boat will depend on what the future holds.

One question mark is price. True, a bronze centerboard adds significant construction costs (about $15,000 according to Rod Johnstone), but a $180,000 day boat with camp-style amenities is a not our idea of a contender in the one-design realm. And if we were going to pay big money to pursue our passion, wed expect to see a little more attention to detail from the builder.

A second potential hurdle is the allure of a multihull. The Corsair Dash, reviewed in the May 2010 issue, is also well-adapted to shallow water, and goes for less than half the price of the J/95. The two are very different animals, but if a brisk high-performance ride in shallow water is your goal, multihulls have a strong appeal.

Over the long haul, the boat should hold its value well. J/Boats remains one of the most recognized names in performance sailing, and even some race scarred veterans hold their own on the used boat market. No, the J/95 is not Finisterre , but given our own experiences in the Gulf of Mexico, its an exciting option for a wide range of shallow-water sailors-not just the greybeards inspired by Carleton Mitchells exploits.

Bottom line: We like the J/95 concept, and its performance, even with the centerboard raised, is remarkable. Fitting out details could be improved, but we imagine the company will quickly address most of our gripes, which are not expensive fixes.

The J/Boats marketing allusion to Finisterre is just silly, but we suspect that if Mitchell were alive today, he would like the J/95s mission. As he confronted the inconvenient truths of old age, Carleton Mitchell, one of the most passionate and eloquent champions of sailing, spent his last years on the shoalwaters of Biscayne Bay, Florida … reluctantly driving a powerboat.

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Are C&C Sailboats Bluewater?

Are C&C Sailboats Bluewater? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

‍ When searching for the best bluewater sailboats, there are many options available. C&C sailboats for example have great value, but are C&C sailboats bluewater?

The size and price are not the only factors to consider when comparing C&C sailboats. There are many characteristics that separate some sailboats, but it would be appealing if C&C sailboats could be used for bluewater due to their class, style, and price point.

C&C sailboats have potential for bluewater sailing, but lack in some areas. The companionways are tight, have little cockpit protection, proper storage for a life raft, and need provisions for improved handling with less people. No boat is perfect, but some C&C boats are capable on bluewater.

C&C sailboats have typically served as a dual-purpose boat, with a few options of trends among consumers over the years. The brand has a few boats that are bluewater worthy under the C&C Landfall category of boats, but a few exceptions can be made if you are up for the challenge.

According to sailboat data, these boats are slightly heavier than the typical racing C&C line of sailboats. This means their Landfall line of sailboats are geared towards serious use, rather than just a cruiser. In addition, you are going to find that you might need to make some compromises in order to find the best C&C sailboat for bluewater.

Table of contents

‍ Price a Huge Factor

Before checking out the condition of a 1980’s C&C Landfall boat, the price is something to consider. Some have been listed around $20,000, while others are hovering around $90,000.

Depending on the condition of the boat, it could be worth the extra price. If the boat has upgrades to the companionways and a dodger implemented around the cockpit, this could add value. These are simple upgrades you could do yourself to save money, but are convenient when someone else has put the time in for you.

The average price of the Landfall 38 has consistently been around $70,000. This is not a great price for a boat that needs some upgrades for bluewater sailing, as this reflects comparisons to other cruisers. If you can find one that is cheaper with only a handful of upgrades to consider, this could potentially be a great option.

Fortunately, not many of these boats were made and used for serious sailing. You can still find good quality Landfalls for a great price to use for a bluewater sailboat.

Key Characteristics

The C&C Landfall 38 is a great example for the brand creating a bluewater sailboat. The boat is slightly heavier than other boats around the same time, but not so much that it affects the performance negatively.

This particular boat was the mid-size option out of the three models they built, with a 35 and 42 footer. The 38 offered the most success in terms of casual sailing due to its size and comfort amongst a smaller group of people.

These boats were built as a performance cruiser, with some capacity to handle bluewater sailing in moderate conditions depending on your experience. The Landfall 38 is a fast boat that also offers a longer keel and longer deckhouse, so you get the best of both worlds when it comes to sailing fast but with a little extra room of comfort.

These series of boats use a masthead sloop, which allows an advantage with flying a bigger headsail. In upwind, you can gain a lot of speed without having to fully rely on your engine. This is a great bonus since the boat has a smaller fuel tank.

When sailing, the boat typically performs well aerodynamically with good upwind performance. It is possible to be cruised by a couple, assuming you use a good roller-furling headsail system .

If you and someone else can handle the boat efficiently this way, it allows the best room for comfort and navigation. Having three to six people on board also helps with extra hands, but could be a tight fit for days at a time.

Drawbacks to Using C&C Boats for Bluewater

While some positive characteristics are going to set apart one sailboat to another, there are some features that need to be addressed if serious sailing is your goal. Typical C&C boats were manufactured with racing and casual sailing in mind, so bluewater capabilities are limited in that regard to most of their lineup.

Since racing was the brand's bread and butter during that time, it makes sense that they would incorporate a performance cruiser with some minor racing accents. There were only 180 of these boats built since the market at the time did not value them. Finding a C&C Landfall might also prove to be difficult depending on the location, but potentially worth it if you want to spend time on it.

Depending on how far you plan to travel for a bluewater trip, you might want to consider how much fuel you are going to be using. The Landfall 38 holds 30 gallons of diesel, which does not allow much use for multiple days out at sea and limits it to roughty a day.

You would either have to fully utilize the wind and cruise rather slowly to get to your destination. In addition, you would have to consider bringing extra fuel with you, which would take up space and potentially be hazardous for the environment if you cannot safely secure it on board.

Potable Water

In comparison to the fuel tanks, the gray tanks are somewhat overkill. These boats typically hold 103 gallons of water.

Since it was made back in the 1980’s, the difference between fuel and gray tanks is massive. It is possible to handle roughly 45 gallons for a few days of travel, so completely topping off the water tank for a day trip might not be useful.

Tight Companionways and Water

The companionways can appear tight to navigate if you are sailing with several people. Even though this boat is possible to handle with just two, you might want extra people at first until you get the hang of it.

With the bulkhead having a slope forward, you will need to leave the drop board in place when it rains. In addition, the companionways do not have a lip on them, which allows water to enter the cabin under the drop board.

Attractive Boat for Its Time

The design of a C&C Landfall 38 has stood the test of time when it comes to design features. As for a bluewater sailboat, it meets the criteria for getting the job done in comfort.

Great Space

Below the deck offers plenty of storage and space for multiple people. Depending on how an individual will use it, this could be optimized in either direction.

The galley typically has plenty of space to move around, which is great when you plan on cooking each day. Without compromising space or comfort, this makes it easy to spend days at a time on board.

Tough and Reliable

With these boats being equipped with a long keel, some may want to add a skeg. However, the spade rudder is sufficient enough to help protect the prop.

With those two components in mind, it allows the boat to track well and hold up during tough conditions just fine. In combination with the 12 foot beam, it offers a stiff boat that can handle rough conditions or whatever the weather throws at you.

Since the boat only drafts right around five feet, it does leave a little to be desired in comparison to today's cruisers or sailboats that draft another foot or two deeper. This would be up to the individual who is sailing, but some milder conditions on the bluewater would be perfect for this boat.

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

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