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11 Best Single Handed Bluewater Sailboats

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

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

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

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

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

What Size Sailboat Is Best for Single-Handed Sailing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sailboat Rigging Types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2020 11 26 at 11.53.30

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

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

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

Single Person Sailboat Equipment and Gear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

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

Westsail 32 solo sailing sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albin Vega 27 single handed solo sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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

alberg 30

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

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

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

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

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

pacific seacraft 34 solo sailing

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

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

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

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

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

Tayana 37 solo sailboat sailing

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

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

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

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

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

canadian sailcraft 36 single handed sailing solo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallberg rassy 352 single handing sailboat

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

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

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

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

corbin 39 solo sailboat review

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

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

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

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

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

Valiant 40 solo sailing

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

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

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

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

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

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

contessa 32 solo sailing sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

fast passage 39 single handing sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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Sail Universe

9 Small Sailboats Under 30 Ft We Love

Our editorial staff selected 9 small sailboats under 30′ from all over the world. Today small sailboats have electronics for navigation and entertainment, an engine for light wind and accomodations to sleep onboard. Which is your preferred one between these 9 small sailboats?

Albin Vega 27

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

The Albin Vega 27 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Albin Motor Boat Company in the 1970s. It is a small, versatile vessel that is popular with sailors due to its good performance and comfortable interior. The Albin Vega 27 has a length of 27 feet (8.2 meters) and a beam (width) of 8.1 feet (2.46 meters). It is designed to be sailed single-handed, but can accommodate up to six people.

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

Alpin Ballad 

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

  • Hull Type:  Fin with skeg-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:  29′ 11″ / 9.12m
  • Waterline Length:  22′ 7″ / 6.88m
  • Beam:  9′ 8″ / 2.95m
  • Draft:  5′ 1″ / 1.55m
  • Rig Type:  Masthead Sloop
  • Displacement:  7,276lb / 3,300kg
  • Designer:  Rolf Magnusson
  • Builder:  Albin Marine (Sweden)
  • Year First Built:  1971
  • Year Last Built:  1982
  • Number Built:  1500

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

The Bristol 24 has a length of 24.6 feet (7.5 meters) and a beam (width) of 8 feet (2.4 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew, but can accommodate up to four people. The boat has a displacement of 4,920 lb (2,685 kilograms) and is equipped with a standard keel.

  • Hull Type:  Long Keel
  • Hull Material:  GRP (Fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:  24′ 6″ / 7.5m
  • Waterline Length:  18′ 1″ / 5.5m
  • Beam:  8′ 0″ / 2.4m
  • Draft:  3′ 5″ / 1.0m
  • Displacement:  5,920lb / 2,685kg
  • Designer:  Paul Coble
  • Builder:  Bristol Yachts inc (US)
  • Year First Built:  1969
  • Year Last Built:  1972
  • Number Built:  800

Contessa 28

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

The Contessa 24 is a fiberglass sailboat that was designed by David Sadler and produced by the Contessa Yachts company in the 1970s. The Contessa 24 has a length of 27.8 feet (8.43 meters) and a beam (width) of 9.5 feet (2.87 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew, but can accommodate up to four people. The boat has a displacement of 3,162 kilograms and is equipped with a fin keel, which provides stability and improves its performance in a range of wind and sea conditions.

  • Hull Type:  fin keel with spade rudder
  • Hull Material:  GRP (Fiberglass)
  • Length Overall:  27′ 8″ / 8.43m
  • Waterline Length:  22′ 0″ / 6.71m
  • Beam:  9′ 5″ / 2.87m
  • Draft:  4′ 10″ / 1.47m
  • Rig Type:  Masthead sloop
  • Displacement:  6,970lb / 3,162kg
  • Designer:  Doug Peterson
  • Builder:  Jeremy Rogers
  • Year First Built:  1977

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

The Dufour 29 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Dufour Yachts company in the 1970s. The Dufour 29 has a length of 29.4 feet (8.94 meters) and a beam (width) of 9.8 feet (2.95 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew but can accommodate up to six people. The boat has a displacement of 7,250 pounds (3,289 kilograms) and is equipped with a fin keel.

  • Length Overall:  29′ 4″ / 8.94m
  • Waterline Length:  25′ 1″ / 7.64m
  • Draft:  5′ 3″ / 1.60m
  • Displacement:  7,250lb / 3,289kg
  • Designer:  Michael Dufour
  • Builder:   Dufour (France)
  • Year First Built:  1975
  • Year Last Built:  1984

Great Dane 28

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

The Great Dane 28 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Great Dane Yachts company in the 1970s. The Great Dane 28 has a length of 28 feet (8.5 meters) and a beam (width) of 10.4 feet (3.2 meters). It is designed to be sailed by a small crew, but can accommodate up to six people. The boat has a displacement of 8,500 pounds (3,856 kilograms) and is equipped with a fin keel.

  • Hull Type:  Long keel with transom-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:  28′ 0″ / 8.5m
  • Waterline Length:  21′ 4″ / 6.5m
  • Beam:  10′ 4″ / 3.2m
  • Draft:  4′ 6″ / 1.4m
  • Displacement:  8,500lb / 3,856kg
  • Designer:  Aage Utzon in conjunction with Klaus Baess
  • Builder:  Klauss Baess, Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Year Last Built:  1989
  • Number Built:  300

small sailboats 3

The Sabre 27 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Sabre Yachts company in the 1970s. The Sabre 27 has a length of 27 feet (8.2 meters) and a beam (width) of 9 feet (2.6 meters). The boat has a displacement of 6,800 pounds (3,084 kilograms) and is equipped with a fin keel.

  • Hull Type:  Fin and skeg-hung rudder
  • Hull Material:  GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:  27′ 0″ / 8.2m
  • Waterline Length:  22′ 2″ / 6.8m
  • Beam:  9′ 0″ / 2.7m
  • Displacement:  6,800lb / 3,084kg
  • Designer:  Alan Hill
  • Builder:  Marine Construction Ltd (UK)
  • Number Built:  400

small sailboats 2

  • Hull Type:  Long keel with transom-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:  28′ 3″ / 8.6m
  • Waterline Length:  21′ 6″ / 6.6m
  • Beam:  8′ 1″ / 2.5m
  • Draft:  5′ 0″ / 1.5m
  • Rig Type:  masthead sloop
  • Displacement:  9,968lb / 4,521kg
  • Designer:  Kim Holman
  • Builder:  Uphams (UK) and Tyler (UK)
  • Year First Built:  1964
  • Year Last Built:  1983
  • Number Built:  200

Westerly 22

small sailboats

The Westerly 22 is a fiberglass sailboat that was produced by the Westerly Yachts company in the 1970s. The Westerly 22 has a length of 22 feet (6.8 meters) and a beam (width) of 7.6 feet (2.3 meters).

  • Hull Type:~  Bilge keel and skeg-hung rudder
  • Hull Material:~  GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:~  22′ 3″ / 6.8m
  • Waterline Length:~  18′ 4″ / 5.6m
  • Beam:~  7′ 6″ / 2.3m
  • Draft:~  2′ 3″ / 0.7m
  • Rig Type:~  Masthead Sloop
  • Displacement:~  4,150lb / 1,429kg
  • Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: ~ 16.95
  • Displacement/Length Ratio: ~ 228
  • Designer:~  Denis Rayner
  • Builder:~  Westerly Marine Ltd (UK)
  • Year First Built:~  1963
  • Year Last Built:~  1967
  • Number Built:~  332

American Magic’s First New AC75 Patriot Revealed

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WTH?!? why there is no boat which started it all? Pearson Triton 1959 first GRP production boat? many circumnavigated I with mine singlehandedly crossed Atlantic few times.

And no Westsail 28? :O who made this list must do better homework! ! your list is garbage!

  • Yachting World
  • Digital Edition

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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

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

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

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

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

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

Article continues below…

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

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

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

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

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

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

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

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

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

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

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

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

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

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

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

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

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

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

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


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

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

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

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

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


Discovery 55

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

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

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

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


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Privilege Serie 5

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

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

Gunfleet 43

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


Photo: David Harding

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

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

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .


Wauquiez Centurion 57

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

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


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


Photo: Voyage of Swell

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


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


Photo: Peter Szamer

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


Tartan 3700

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

Broker ’ s choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

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


Oyster 575 Ayesha

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


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

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

Best bluewater yachts for performance

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


Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

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

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


Photo: Graham Snook

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

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


Outremer 51

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Sweden Yachts 45

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


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


Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

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


Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

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


Seawind 1600

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

Best bluewater sailboats for families

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


Photo: Nicholas Claris

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

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

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


Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

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

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


Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / 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.


Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

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

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


Nautitech Open 46

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


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

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


Photo: Olivier Blanchet

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

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


Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

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

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


Beneteau Oceanis 473

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


Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

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


Nautitech 441

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


Atlantic 42

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

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

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


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

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


Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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

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


Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

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

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

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


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).


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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7 Legendary Solo Bluewater Sailboats Worth Considering

When setting out to explore the open seas solo, you'll have to choose the right bluewater sailboat from so very many available options. The perfect boat for sailing single-handed is one that's not only safe and seaworthy, but also easy to handle on your own. In this article, we've handpicked the top 7 legendary solo bluewater sailboats worth considering for their excellent track records.

The most legendary solo bluewater sailboats are the Contessa 32, Westsail 32, Hallberg-Rassy 42F, Pacific Seacraft 37, Island Packet 38, Tayana 42, and Amel 54. These boats have it all: from robust designs to a world-renowned reputation for performance and reliability. They are known for their seaworthiness, durability, and comfort.

We understand the importance of balancing comfort and performance when spending prolonged periods at sea. Each of these sailboats has been proven to provide a harmonious blend of these attributes. Let's get to know them more below.

  • Solo bluewater sailboats are designed to be sailed by a single person, making them ideal for solo circumnavigation or long-distance cruising.
  • You can get the Contessa 32 and Westsail 32 for as little as $30,000.
  • The maintenance and repair costs of the seven boats range from $5,000 to $50,000 per year.
  • Marina fees and insurance can range from $5,000 to $20,000 per year.
  • Factor in upgrades and equipment costs that can reach up to $100,000.

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

On this page:

The best solo bluewater sailboats, what makes a good solo bluewater sailboat, cost considerations when choosing a sailboat, maintaining your bluewater sailboat, contessa 32 is a classic, compact, and seaworthy sailboat.

Contessa 32's sturdy construction and excellent sailing performance have earned it a legendary reputation among sailors. With a well-designed interior layout, it has space for living aboard during your solo adventures. The Contessa 32 is a classic bluewater sailboat designed by David Sadler in the 1970s. It is known for its excellent balance, seaworthiness, and speed. It has a full keel, moderate displacement, and a classic design that has stood the test of time.

Westsail 32 is known for its rugged construction

The Westsail 32 gained fame as an affordable, rugged, and capable long-distance cruiser. Its full keel and sturdy hull ensure a comfortable ride in rough seas. The practical, function-driven interior makes it easy for solo sailors to maintain and navigate the vessel while providing essential amenities for an extended voyage.

Westsail 32 is another classic bluewater sailboat that was designed by William Crealock in the 1970s. It is known for its rugged construction, spacious interior, and excellent performance in heavy weather. The Westsail 32 has a full keel, heavy displacement, and a classic double-ender design.

Hallberg-Rassy 42F is known for its top-notch craftsmanship

The Hallberg-Rassy 42F is another superb choice for single-handed bluewater sailing. This Swedish-built yacht is well-renowned for its top-notch craftsmanship, stability, and comfort. It offers a spacious, well-lit interior, ensuring you'll enjoy your time below deck while cruising the open seas.

Hallberg-Rassy 42F is a modern bluewater sailboat designed by German Frers in the 1990s. It is known for its luxurious interior, excellent performance, and high-quality construction. The Hallberg-Rassy 42F has a fin keel, a spade rudder, and a modern design that combines comfort and performance.

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Pacific Seacraft 37 is designed for serious cruising

Pacific Seacraft 37 is a sturdy and reliable boat for solo sailors. Its moderate displacement and full keel provide excellent stability, while the well-thought-out interior layout includes abundant storage and comfortable living quarters. Its reputation as a proven bluewater cruiser makes it a top choice for solo sailors. The Pacific Seacraft 37 is another classic bluewater sailboat designed by Bill Crealock in the 1970s. It is known for its excellent balance, seaworthiness, and comfort.

Island Packet 38 is known for its spacious interior

Island Packet 38 is a popular choice among solo cruisers, thanks to its stable full keel design and living space. Its build quality, comfort, and performance make it well-suited for long-distance sailing. The spacious interior and practical layout ensure you have everything needed for a successful solo journey. Island Packet 38 is a modern bluewater sailboat designed by Bob Johnson in the 1990s. It 38 has a full keel, moderate displacement, and a modern design that combines comfort and performance.

Aside from bluewater sailing , there are other types of sailing discussed in this article.

Tayana 42 is known for its excellent balance, seaworthiness, and comfort

Tayana 42 is a comfortable, sea-kindly sailboat, ideal for single-handed offshore cruising. Its balanced performance, easy handling, and well-equipped interior ensure a safe and comfortable journey. It is well-regarded among sailors for its proven bluewater capabilities and timeless styling. The Tayana 42 is another classic bluewater sailboat designed by Bob Perry in the 1970s. It has a full keel, heavy displacement, and a classic design that has stood the test of time.

The Amel 54 is known for its luxury and exceptional build quality

This French-built vessel offers a spacious and comfortable interior with top-of-the-line amenities, making it an excellent option for solo sailors seeking a bluewater cruiser to explore the world in style and comfort. Its easy-to-handle design with advanced sailing systems allows you to sail solo with confidence and ease. The system includes electric winches, furling sails, and a self-tacking jib, which make it easy to handle the boat in all conditions.

To learn more about bluewater sailing , here's our comprehensive article on it.

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

These factors will ensure not only your safety but also your comfort and ease during your sailing adventure.

Size and stability of a solo sailboat

A boat with a wide beam and short waterline provides more stability, making it easier for you to handle the vessel on your own. Some popular sailboat models known for their size and stability include the Westsail 32 and the Hunter Channel 31.

A good solo bluewater sailboat should be large enough to provide adequate storage space for supplies and equipment, while also being stable enough to handle rough seas and high winds. It should also have a well-designed hull shape that provides good stability and balance, and a keel that provides good tracking and prevents the boat from capsizing.

Ease of use and maneuverability of any solo sailboat

Features like roller furling and an electric windlass can make handling the sails and anchor much more straightforward. Also, hydraulic bow/stern thrusters with remotes can help you maneuver your boat easily and safely. Make sure to look for these features when choosing your bluewater sailboat.

A good solo bluewater sailboat should be easy to handle and operate by a single person. It should have a sail plan that is easy to adjust and control, and a steering system that is responsive and easy to use. It should also have a well-designed cockpit that provides good visibility and protection from the elements.

Durability and seaworthiness for long-term safety

A well-built sailboat with a history of proven offshore performance should be at the top of your list. Some of the best and most famous bluewater sailboats include the Alberg 30 and Hanse 371.

A good solo bluewater sailboat should be built to withstand the rigors of extended ocean voyages. It should have a strong, well-built hull that is capable of withstanding heavy seas and high winds. It should also have a well-designed rigging system that is strong and durable, and a keel that is designed to provide good stability and balance.

To learn more about the best keel design for bluewater sailing , here's our article on it.

Comfort and livability of a solo sailboat

Consider the layout and features of the boat, ensuring that it has a comfortable sleeping area, a well-equipped galley, and ample storage space. A good example is the Valiant 40, known for its excellent layout and seaworthiness.

A good solo bluewater sailboat should be comfortable and livable for extended periods of time. It should have a well-designed interior that provides adequate storage space, comfortable sleeping quarters, and a functional galley and head. It should also have good ventilation and lighting, and be well-insulated to provide protection from the elements.

Affordability and availability determine the sailboat's practicality

Set a budget and research suitable sailboats within that price range. Some budget-friendly options include the J/109 and Westsail 32. A good solo bluewater sailboat should be reasonably priced and readily available. It should be affordable for most sailors who are interested in long-distance cruising, and should be available for purchase or charter in most parts of the world.

If you're looking for bluewater sailboats under 40 feet , here's our article where we picked the top 13 most famous ones.

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

You'll be faced with a range of solo bluewater sailboat options, from budget-friendly to luxury models. Let's explore some factors you should keep in mind to make the best decision for your needs and budget.

Initial purchase price : This is often the first thing people think of when it comes to the cost of a sailboat. There's a wide range in prices, depending on factors like age, size, and brand. For example, a used Alberg 30 might cost between $10,000 and $15,000, while a new Amel 54 could be in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's important to find a balance between quality and affordability that suits your needs and financial capabilities.

Maintenance and repairs : Owning a sailboat comes with ongoing expenses to keep it in good sailing condition. Regular maintenance tasks like painting, replacing worn rigging, and inspecting safety equipment can add up over time. Be prepared to allocate a portion of your budget for these essential tasks, as neglecting them could lead to more expensive repairs down the line.

Marina fees and insurance : Depending on where you plan to keep your boat, you may incur costs for marina or dockage fees. Additionally, securing insurance coverage for your sailboat is a must to protect your investment. Both of these costs can vary widely, so make sure you factor them into your overall budget.

Upgrades and equipment : To ensure your sailboat is well-suited for solo bluewater sailing, you might need to invest in upgrades to improve its safety and performance. For instance, you may want to add a roller furling system, wind vane, or more advanced navigation equipment. These enhancements can amount to a significant investment, so it's wise to plan financially for any desired upgrades.

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Here are some essential tips to keep your boat in top shape, and ensure its long life and performance during solo journeys:

Regular inspections : Make it a habit to perform a thorough inspection of your sailboat periodically. Examine the rigging, sails, hull, and all mechanical components. Routine inspections allow you to detect any signs of wear, damage or potential problems before they escalate.

Cleaning : Keep your sailboat clean by washing it regularly with freshwater and appropriate cleaning solutions. This simple practice prevents the buildup of dirt, salt, and other debris, which can cause corrosion and damage to your vessel over time.

Checking the bilge : Ensure that your bilge pump is working efficiently and that there's no water accumulating in the bilge area. If there are any signs of water accumulation, investigate the source and address any leaks or issues promptly.

Servicing the winches : Winches play a crucial role in your sailboat’s performance, so it’s essential to inspect, clean, and grease them regularly. This practice will guarantee their smooth operation and prolong their lifespan.

Sail care : Inspect your sails frequently for any tears, wear, or damage. Repair or replace them as necessary. To protect your sails from the sun’s harmful UV rays, always use a sail cover when not in use.

Keeping records : Maintain a logbook to document all maintenance tasks, inspections, and repairs. Not only will this help you keep track of what has been done, but it will also provide valuable information if you decide to sell your sailboat in the future.

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Great post... Most of these boats are slow for their waterlines and, for me at least, speed is a factor in safe passagemaking due to the ability to avoid and dodge weather. I want the ability to easily make 7+ knots in all conditions. (I don't take this as a compromise to seakeeping.) One quirk of the HC33: The teak decks were fastened from the bottom up (e.g. through the deck) and the heads were then glassed over. (Not joking.) The tips of the screws pricking your feet is the first clue your decks need replacing. From my dock neighbors entire summer (3 full days per week) this is a truly massive problem to fix and delayed their cruising dream by a year.

timone - Great comments, thanks! I agree, there's a definate choice to make between speed and tank-like toughness. My personal preference for bluewater is a a heavy full keeler, though this may change with experience. Maybe I'm too wrapped up in the asthetics of these classic designs. Good tip on the HC33. I'm leary of teak decks on any boat due to maintenance issues and would prefer any of the above boats without teak decks.

You are on to something with these large dispacement boats. power or sail . they are the best

Semi-bunk. We sailed a Cal 40 all over the SoPac; not the ideal cruiser but certainly seaworthy. Most of our class of 2008 were fin keel, and some form of spade rudder. With the exception of the Valiant and the Tayana, most of these clunkers are better suited to the dock.

Our family sailed the East Coast and Caribbean for two years and I loved our Lord Nelson's teak decks. The teak is first to dry after the morning dew. A small leak disappeared as it swelled in the warm humid tropical weather.

To me to "dodge weather" when you are in the mid of an ocean has little meaning, unless you have a really fast boast like those racers who do the Volvo ocean race. If you are short handed a slow boat will give you a better chance to rest during a storm, which is paramount for safety, while the fast one will wear you out.

A massive...and very expensive problem to fix.

Even ocean racers get caught at sea in bad weather and more the a few have capsized and demasted. No sail boat can outrun the weather. Even motor yachts with huge Diesel engines that can motor at 20-30knots get caught at seas in bad weather. And many times sailing away from shore and weathering the storm at sea is safer then trying to enter a harbor once the blow is there. Many inlets are risky when the current and winds create breaking waves that can swamp a small craft or force it on to the rocky shore attempting to enter. There are times going further away from shore is safer then attempting entry into the harbor. Having a boat that will ride out a storm safely is worth losing a few knots on passage.

Great list! Not sure the HC33 meets your $50k criteria though. I have yet to see it under $75k in decent condition.

Hahn - True enough, finding a HC33t for $50k is a difficult proposition. But the boat is s so beautiful and so well made that I had to include it, even if finding a good one may mean spending $25k more.

Yes the Baba 30 would fit the Boat Porn listing ! I'll tell my wife that's what I'm doing as I sit with blurry vision @ 2am ! Looking at Porn !!

Agreed, the Baba 30 is really beauty. The canoe stern is perfectly in proportion with the rest of the boat and makes for a really sweet profile.

Our good friend has a HC33 and we have a W32. Its amazing how close they are in sailing ability. I think the W32 tracks a tad better and the HC33 is just a hint more nimble, but they are very close in our limited experience. We really love the HC33's pullman berth in the center of the boat but at the same time we don't enjoy the forward head nor do we like the table layout on the HC33 which requires a lot of people to get up if the person furthest in the booth needs to get out. Its a toss up between the HC33 and W32 about interior layout overall. We love the little quarter berth "room" in the HC33 but at the same time you sacrifice a lot of space in the engine room. The W32 gives you a lot better access to the motor. If push came to shove, I'd take the HC33's extra berth instead of the berth in the center of the W32 factory layout. The cockpits are very close in size (read:small). The HC33 has a rounded cabin top that makes sitting on the edges of it more of a pain, but the W32 requires drop boards or water will run into the cockpit. The W32 does win in price competition though. No comparison there. Just wanted to add some thoughts to your post.

Great comments, thanks for sharing Tate. It's always good to hear from someone who has hands-on, side-by-side comparison experience. I agree the forward head on the HC33 isn't ideal, but I do like that it has a stall shower. If price isn't an issue, maybe the real way to decide between the W32 and the HC33 is the size of the crew. The W32 might be the choice for 2, while the HC33 might be better for 3-4 based on having two private sleeping quarters.

Downeaster 32' is a clear contender here, and also wins as most beautiful ;-D and very stable. Also possibly the largest interior per length? Great head room.

Agreed, the Downeaster is a real looker and a lot of boat for 32 feet, particularly given their value pricing on the used market.

I owned a Downeast32. Roomy yes,slow?, yes! Very slow. Had 7 people on her for an overnighter. Storage everywhere. Lots of rear deck space.

I wouldn't say the Downeaster 32 is merely a contender, but possibly an outright winner in the category of "Affordable Bluewater Sailboats",.. ,much more so in fact than 10 boats mentioned in this article,.. at least from the prices I've seen. I honestly don't understand why something like HC33 even gets a mention,.. beautiful? definitely!!!,.. but affordable??!!,, hmm,. not so much.

Fair enough. I included the HC33 because it's one of my all time favorites and the definition of "affordable" is subjective. As I've defined it here, ~$50k. Yes, that's a stretch for the HC33, but I've seen a few approaching that price point. As for the DE32, she's a capable beauty too.

No mention of the Nor'Sea 27.... Should be on the list for sure. :)

I didn't include the Nor'Sea 27 here, but it is in my list of favorite pocket cruisers to take you anywhere .

Hello, I appropriate your reviews. Our family own CSY-33. Now a day, sailing is a completely new sport for me and I wasn't sure what to expect but I've definitely got the bug. thanks all, @Nadia Brightman :)

Glad to hear you're enjoying your CSY 33!

My wife is 5'9" and I 6'3". Which of these wonderful boats would have sufficient headroom and a nice sleeping double for a couple like us?

This is a great post. I just restored a little Hunter 25 and plan to sell it to get something bigger. It's nice to dream! I second the comment about the Downeaster. I love double enders and clipper bows. How about a Bayfield!

Thanks Dan. I like Bayfields (and other Ted Gozzard designs) too, but they're outside my top 10. Thanks for reading.

Bluewater Offshore Cruising Sailboat Bluewater Cruiser New French-built cruiser with a distinctly American look. Here’s an interesting design from Group Finot for Beneteau. I find interesting the fact that this design is not especially “Euro” in its styling. In fact, it’s sort of American looking and good looking too. So, let’s examine this profile in detail. The transom is traditionally raked as opposed to reversed. This eliminates the standard swim step we see so often. But Beneteau has countered this with a drop-down platform that extends about a foot beyond the transom. This platform is raised and lowered by block and tackle. A sliding flush-deck hatch covers the steps when they are not in use. This is an elaborate and very well thought out transom detail that will allow you to bring your dinghy up next to the boat without threatening the gelcoat on the transom edge. This traditionally raked transom really drives the look of this boat. It certainly affects the character of the sheer. I would have liked to see a bolder sweep to this sheer, but it’s fine as is. Note how the tip of the transom is at the waterline. This, combined with the short bow overhang, produces a long sailing length. I think the designers have done a good job of blending the deck structures with the hull. The D/L of this design is 183. L/B is 3.38, making this a moderately beamy boat on the lighter side of medium displacement if we choose 200 to be the middle of current D/Ls for cruising boats. The keel is a bulbed fin giving 5 feet, 11 inches of draft. Note the deep forefoot on this design and the straight line to the canoe body profile. All in all this is a handsome and moderate hull. The interior shows a two-head, two-stateroom layout with the galley in the passageway to the aft cabin. The galley is spread out fore and aft, but it looks to me like there is still plenty of working room. The aft cabin has a large double berth and symmetrically arranged lockers and settees. Why settees? Well, they look good and occupy volume that is not much good for anything else due to the shape of the hull. There is a head with shower stall adjoining the aft cabin. The saloon has a dinette, which to my eye looks on the minimal side. I suppose you could seat four for dinner if you had to, but it would be a tight squeeze. The forward stateroom has a double berth with the toe end cut away to make room for the forward head. I’m not sure how this berth would work for a couple. Obviously, the biggest advantage to center-cockpit boats is the separation of the sleeping accommodations. There is space below the cockpit for the engine room. Putting the cockpit in the middle of the boat allows the designer to place the mainsheet traveler at the end of the boom and place the traveler where it will not interfere with the cockpit layout. This rig is well forward and shows swept spreaders with forward lower shrouds. Unfortunately, the sailplan we have is not carefully drafted so it doesn’t do much for the look of the boat. The photos also show a staysail. This is a very nice looking boat. The windshield is fixed and, while obtrusive in the drawing, looks just fine in the photos. I’m not too keen on the wheel position. It is a bulkhead-mounted wheel offset to starboard, much like we see on cruising catamarans. This means you will sit in one position at the wheel without the benefit of being able to turn 90 degrees or change sides. This wheel arrangement does free up the rest of the cockpit and puts the helmsman securely under the dodger. A teak-capped bulwark adds a rich look to the deck. Beneteau’s boats always deserve a close look. The company obviously puts a lot of market research into its new models. In this case the company has given us a well-designed boat with some unusual features. This is one boat I’ll definitely board Beneteau Wave Rider 42CC at Annapolis.

I wonder if the keel will stay attached

I've saled from the Med to Australia on my own Beneteau Oceanis 42cc and plan to continue the circumnavigation via cape Town to the Caribbean in April 2015. We love our Bene layout... Fun to sail . The center cockpit is Ideal. The aft deck spacious and the aft cabin just wonderful. A huge engine room accommodates all our gear.water maker. Genset. Tools....

Hey, I think a strong case could be made for Bayfield 32 cutters, beautiful boats and pretty bullet proof as well. speed is a bit of an issue! great post!

I single-handed a Bruce Roberts 31 (schooner-rigged) across the Atlantic and back . I was 70 yrs.old, the boat did the work. Also, list the Dreadnought 32 (Tahiti ketch in heavy fg).

I'm intrigued by many of the Roberts designs and metal boats in general, but I don't have any experience with either. The Dreadnought is another really cool and unique double-ender with a lot of character...often available for a bargain price. Thanks for sharing.

Yeah how about some feedback on the Alberg's. They seem worthy & affordable too. Please respond, thx. L

My first true-love in sailboats was the Pearson Triton 28, of course designed by Carl Alberg. As my experience and taste evolved, I began to prefer canoe sterns and slightly more modern designs. The biggest fault I can find with Alberg designs is that many seem to have very narrow beams, making them tight for family cruising. The narrow beams can also contribute to a tender boat. However, Alberg did a fine job of making his designs very sexy with swoopy sheerlines and long overhangs. The Triton, 35 and 37 are all capable and proven offshore boats.

The HC33 shown, Sabbatical. is for sale @ $95,000. Ouch.

Agreed, that's a steep price. I've seen 2 33t's that needed a little TLC sell near $50k. In general, the HC 33t probably has the highest average price of any in my list, but its' such a sweet ride!

You forgot the Allied Seawind 32 for $25,000

Good call! The Seawind II (32') is but one of several Gillmer designs worthy of any "best affordable bluewater cruisers" list. Others include the Southern Cross 28/31/35, Weatherly 32, Aries 32 and Roughwater 32. Perhaps it's time I write a sequel to this post to include the many good recommendations from the comments. Note - I did include the Southern Cross 28 in my post called "Bluewater on a Budget: 5 Budget Cruisers for Crossing Oceans."

there is one you may have over looked! tanzer 10.5 pilot house! not the fastest but with it's swing keel it is a fun wide nice sailing boat!! and great for the island's

I like the Tanzer 10.5, but is she bluewater capable? Definitely a unique look, in a good way. And Tanzer has a good reputation for affordable quality and decent sailing performance.

This is almost the identical boat to a Southerly 10.5 which has made many ocean crossings. Definitely bluewater capable. I own hull # 11 built in 1983 and she has sailed completely around the world spending a lot of time in the South Pacific. She has a righting angle of 140 degrees with the lifting keel up. The hull to deck joint is glassed over on the inside during production resulting in a absolutely solid boat with no joint leaks. The amount of storage is phenomenal for those long passages. I have had her out in 50 knots with no issues. The self tending jib makes single handing easy, and with the keel down to 6.5 feet she handles well.

Could an old Irwin 37 MK I be upgraded so she can be blue water capable? If so...HOW?

I suppose anything COULD be upgraded to bluewater capable, but at what cost? The I37 is known for it's roominess and affordability, but not necessarily offshore capability or robust construction. Irwin's can be fine boats (I owned one for 5 years), but they would not be my choice for bluewater. If you're simply considering passage from Florida to the Bahamas, or some island hopping in the Caribbean, then there are plenty of Irwin's with that under their belt, but an ocean crossing or a run to Bermuda in an I37 should be carefully considered. For more info and specifics about the I37, try Jack Horner's review here: http://www.boatus.com/boatreviews/sail/Irwin37.asp

What about the Irwin 42 Ketch? Is it what you would consider blue water worthy?

What, no mention of the Bill Garden designed Fast Passage 39?

Love the Fast Passage 39 and Garden's original s/v Bolero! Thanks for the addition.

Aah there I am trying hard to decide which one to choose........except I couldn't afford even a model version! So I content myself by saying that at nearly 60 and with no experience wòrth talking about I'm way to old to start now. Youtube and some of the wonderful sailing videos help a bit!

Tashiba 31 is heavy duty double ender good for ocean crossings don't you think? I like the cutaway forefoot.

One of Bob Perry's personal favorite designs, or at least he thinks highly of it. It's also one of his last full keel designs. “I think the Tashiba 31 and 36 mark the best boats I ever designed with modified full keels. The boats were fast, close-winded, stiff, and well balanced. I constantly got calls from owners telling me how they had “beat” a local contemporary design.” (from Yacht Design According to Perry).

Why no mention of the Cabo Rico 34?

James - The Cabo Rico 34 is certainly worthy of this list. In fact, so is the Tiburon 36, the first boat built by Cabo Rico and perhaps a bit more affordable than the 34. The Tiburon is a Crealock design and eventually became the CR 38. Thanks for the addition!

Another good boat is the Gulf 32. Solid build, good tankage, though at this age the 75 gal fuel tank needs serious inspection. William Garden feels it is one of his finest, safest designs!

A boat that is not so well known in European and N.American circles is the Oswald Berckemeyer designed Miura 32.Built strong to cope with South African waters it has been said (though I am not sure how true) that more circumnavigations have been carried out in Miura's than any other class of boat.I owned a Corrida which is the 36foot version of the boat (also designed by Berckemeyer) and I took this boat across the Atlantic without a worry. Strong and fast - I loved that boat.

Hi Mike. I am trying to find drawings, specs and photos of the Corrida 36. Very little available online. Can you point me to anything you are aware of? Thanks.

Did any one mention a DownEast 32? They may be fat and slow, but so is the WestSail 32. Any one agree / dissagree?

Hey I did a post at Urban Nomads about your excellent blog. Check it out here: http://urban-nomads.net/great-boat-living-websites. Thanks for the helpful tips!

The Southern Cross 31 / 35 / 39 really should be on this list. Excellent heavy displacement boats that will take you anywhere.

Agreed. I'm a fan of Southern Cross sailboats and Gilmer designs.

What is your position on an Island Packet 320?

I've never sailed a 320, but I do like IP's in general for their salty style, solid construction and seaworthiness. I particularly like the 320's rig - a cutter is nice for having headsail options and the Hoyt staysail boom keeps things simple. IP's tend to command an upper tier price and aren't known for speed, but if you can get beyond those two factors, the 320 looks to be a nice size and layout for a cruiser.

I love your list. Mine would be very similar, but might include the Endeavour 37. It's hard to beat the price!

I sailed our HC 33 from Alaska to New Zealand on a 5-year cruise. We loved how she handled in heavy weather. We are in the 50+knot "club" and our HC did great while other cruisers suffered dearly. While she isn't fast, she tracked well, and behaved at anchor or hove to. Yes, the teak deck is something to consider, but overall, not a deal breaker in the big picture of off-shore cruising. We sold our HC in New Zealand because I had to return to work. I miss her every day. I am plotting to get another bluewater boat. At this point my short list is another HC or perhaps an Island Packet or Pacific Seacraft. If I were rich, it would be a Najad. These choices are based on our years sailing with other cruisers. While boats are so incredibly expensive, the bottom line is safety at sea, getting parts in exotic locations, and the cost of repairs. The better you are equipped before leaving home port, the less likely you are to have life-threatening problems or serious repairs in expensive locations.

You missed Acapulco 40, so likely never read "One Wave at a Time" by Ed Atkin - regards, Matt

Thanks for the kind word for the Fugi 35. Here's one you can have for under $50k. Needs a little work but is a great boat. miami.craigslist.org/mdc/boa/d/classicblue-water-passage/6479457885.html

I don't see Corbin 39

Thank you for the article it has given me information on my up coming purchase I'm working towards living aboard my own sailboat as I travel the East Coast, Caribbean, South America and West Coast in my retirement years.

I understand this is US based but as a Brit I used to covet the Tradewind 35, a proper long keel, flush decked, cutter rig, blue water cruiser. If money was no object that is the boat for me.

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Best 30-36' boats for bluewater & liveaboard?

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Looking for that magic combination of a boat seaworthy for significant open ocean passages, but comfortable for a couple to live aboard in the marina for long stretches between adventures. Not being wealthy, it has got to be under $50K... and $25K is better. Boats I'm aware of seem to fall into two categories, for example Southern Cross 31 - sea worthy, but cramped for living on long term in port Islander 36 - comfortable to live aboard, but maybe not suited to long bluewater passages What boats would you check out in my shoes?  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

How old of a vessel are you looking at? There are countless "experienced" boats out there that may have more than a few miles beneath their keels. One that quickly comes to mind is the Allied Seawind II. She can be had for a song, capable of circumnavigations (the Allied Seawind was reportedly the first fiberglass to circumnavigate), can sail decently, and is comfortable for a 32' boat. Another one worth considering would be the Tartan 34 in good condition....ya gotta watch out for a "tired" one. This topic always comes up, just need to do a little digging.  

Have it all, make this guy an offer on his Allied Mistress 39, on the market for a few years: Eastern Yacht Sales - Hingham Brokerage  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Guess I should get back in teaching Allied boats are IMHO not picked up for a song.However I am poor.Get the mistress ,song $44,900,probably go for $44,00.marc  

For the amount you are thinking of you could look for a good condition Pearson 10M, say a late 70's, early 80's vintage (newer than hull number 150) and you will have a great boat for your self. We have one and are very happy. Solid boat, Bill Shaw design, point extremely well and is stiff, sleeps 6 comfortably. Good open layout.  

Shhhhhh....! Don't tell all the people that have done passages in an Islander 36 that they aren't capable boats. They'd be crushed.  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

how much work do you want to do? i was eyeing a 45' cheoy lee (1979 i believe) but dont think im gonna jump on it... i know the guy selling it, but it needs some work. another thing to consider is the cost to ship it to your location, that can add quite a bit to the cost depending on LOA  

actually, i think it is the same model as this... off on date and year. She is a real beaut. lotta lotta wood 1970 Cheoy Lee Clipper 42 sailboat for sale in Alabama  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Dear Kuk, Go to the brokerage sites in San Carlos, La Paz, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan and you'll find a selection that will meet your criteria that are already " proven" that are offered by folks who's circumstance or affection for the " Cruising Life" have changed. Prices are usually quite negotiable at the end of the season.  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

If I were looking for a roomy, comfortable bluewater boat for around $50k or less, I'd look at these: Westsail 28: Small-ish, but you'd be closer to $25k Westsail 32: Roomy, tough and closer to $50k (or above) Baba 30: Usually north of $50k, but there are some out there Pacific Seacraft 31 Mariah: See W32 above. Rafiki 36: Salty, teaky and a good value but tough to find Alajuela/Ingrid: Super tough hull (think bigger W32), many owner finished, prices all over the map Mariner 36: Tough to find, but well traveled Tiburon 36: Rare, watch for teak decks C&C 41: Pending your "bluewater" route, she could go C&C Landfall 38: See above Tartan 37: See above  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Our CS-36T has been cruised all over the planet and they can be occasionally found in the sub 50K range. You'd never know our boat has cruised the miles she has, they are built like tanks and have a decent turn of speed. You might add some of the CS boats to your list as they have decent dock side / at anchor space, decent speed and are quite well built.  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Pearson 365 ketch  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

For what your talking about, it sounds like you want a little more room than a boat like the Southern Cross (great boat, though!). It also depends how "blue" you want to go. I always think it's better to be prepared for the worst or harshest, because you just never know the situation you may find yourself in. I think 30-36 is a good range for a couple. There are some great forty footers out there like the Valiant 40 and the French steel Joshua hulls (all sisterships to Moitessier's boat "Joshua"), but these do mean higher maintainence costs. My picks for a good combination of BOTH: Cape George 36...(not sure what they run used), but very good boats. Ingrid 38 ketch ...a little bigger than 36ft but not by much. There's also the updated version, the Aleajuela 38 (help me on spelling!), but this newer version is quite a bit more pricey. Westsail 32....A strong boat, with quite a bit of room down below. Luders 33....another strong boat and sea-kindly, but not as much room below as the westsail. I believe Hans Christian made a full keeler, maybe it was the 33? But have to watch the hull/deck joints on these asian boats. In terms of room, seaworthiness and price-point, I would say the Westsail 32. If you don't mind closer quarters, I'd say Allied Seawind I or II, or the Southern Cross 31, or even a Triton 28, Luders 33. If you can come up with a little extra dough: I'd say Cape George 36.  

Thanks friends, you've mentioned a bunch of boats I'd missed before and now I am going to have to check them out. I see a lot of Islanders, Westsails, and Pearsons (more or less in my price range), but I am going to check these out a bit Cape George 36 Luders 33 Hans Christian 33 CS 36 Rafiki Mariner 36 Tiburon 36 Some interesting boats on that list. The Hans Christian 33 looks very different, egg shaped and maybe a lot of room below laid out a bit differently. Wonder how they sail. Thanks for the scoop all! (Any others to add?)  

About the wetsail 32 I found a link on it about that movie the perfect storm, tha andrea gail sank, the people on this yacht were evacuated by the coast guard but the yacht found itself beached a few days later in one peice!!! Sorry i lost the link becuase i was looking back for this post but there was a youtube video of it  

Ah, here's the story I think! Satori: SATORI and the Perfect Storm If you watch that video of the Westsail during the storm... it's pretty rough, but wouldn't you expect a good bluewater boat to be able to deal with that? Easy to say from shore rested and dry of course. It seems like the skipper of the Satori was confident.  

heres the link Rod Lawson - Oceans  

Ck the seawind ii site one went through it.marc  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

We love our HC 33. I personally think that it has more room on board than most 38s that I have been on. As far as I know, there has never been a problem with deck joints on an HC. After a while from building these, they did switch yards and you will find some differences in the older boats compared to the later hull numbers. Like ours has a solid glass deck versus a cored deck. If you are considering an HC, then start here: hanschristian.org :: Index  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

SoulVoyage, I looked at the Cape George for a couple of years, but ultimately came to the conclusion (for me) that they were just too heavy & too slow for my purposes. Apart from the speed & weight issue, I think they are awesome boats - in the same genre, but ahead of the BCC's.  

Hi All, What about a UFO 34?  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

That's a record response time post far as I ever remember seeing.  

Alberg 35 on eBay. 19k open. Looks to be in good shape. Bet with 15k into it it would be good as or better than new. Good old boat cover boat.  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Considering these are mostly 35 year old boats, I guess a 5 year old thread isn't unreasonable information. I love the Alberg 35 (because it looks like my boat, but bigger). However, for live-aboard, I would look for something with more beam, and less overhang, for increased volume.  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

A beat up Wauquiez Pretorien (35') might sell for that low.  

best 30 foot bluewater sailboat

Given that this post is 5 years old, I'm sure the OP has found a nice motor home by now and is tooling around somewhere in Arizona. Mike  

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5 Best Liveaboard Bluewater Sailboats

5 Best Liveaboard Bluewater Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Liveaboard bluewater sailboats are both comfortable to live on and capable of making long, offshore ocean voyages.

The best liveaboard bluewater sailboats must strike a balance between comfort and seakeeping abilities. These boats are generally heavy and stable and roomy enough to spend time in. They must also include the necessary hardware to make cooking, sleeping, and bathing possible in choppy conditions.

Table of contents

Bluewater Liveaboard Sailboat Design

What makes a good bluewater liveaboard sailboat , and how is it different from a coastal cruiser? There are a few aspects of purpose-built bluewater sailboats that make them different from most production vessels. The first and (possibly) most important is the hull design.

The classic bluewater sailboat hull shape features a long, deep, full keel. The keel acts as a hydroplane and keeps the boat stable on course in all sea conditions. Deep keel sailboats aren't the only kind of bluewater-capable vessels, but they're a tried and tested design.

Other vessels gain stability from having a wide beam. Beamy sailboats are far more comfortable in rolling seas, as they tend to buffett and pitch much less than leaner, narrow boats. Most ideal liveaboard bluewater sailboats balance length and beam carefully to make the most of the space and hull shape.

Space is another important quality to consider when choosing the best bluewater liveaboard sailboat. Interior space comes first, as living quarters are a key element of comfort.

Cockpit space should also be considered, especially if more than one person comes aboard. Most liveaboard bluewater sailboats sacrifice cockpit space for cabin space.

A comfortable liveaboard sailboat should include several amenities, including a head (toilet), a shower, two sinks, a galley with a stove, an icebox, a place to eat, and a place to sleep. Ideally, the dining area is separate from the primary sleeping area.

A separate chart table is ideal as well because it keeps food and clutter away from important navigational equipment. A chart table is less important on liveaboard sailboats that spend the majority of their time docked. That said, the chart table functions well as a spot for a microwave, toaster oven, or TV when you're not underway.

A separate forward V-berth, known as a master cabin, is a big plus on liveaboard boats. Separating the sleeping area from the rest of the cabin can increase comfort and coziness.

However, on a bluewater sailboat, a side berth near the hatch is essential as well. This is because you may need to quickly take control of the vessel after waking up, and it's best to sleep close to the helm.

Power and Water

Power and water shouldn't be overlooked when choosing a bluewater liveaboard. Many liveaboards spend most of their time docked and hooked up to shore power, water, and sewage. But bluewater liveaboards are designed for cruising, which means everything must be self-contained.

The best bluewater sailboats have sufficient freshwater storage tanks for several weeks on the water. Some have desalination (water maker) machines, which require electricity to run.

Solar panels are an excellent option for power generation, and they can be installed on almost any sailboat.

But all bluewater sailboats should have battery banks and a gasoline or diesel generator built into the system. On many vessels, the inboard engine also functions as a generator.

Safety is an essential factor to consider when choosing a cruising sailboat , especially if it doubles as your primary residence. Basic safety equipment such as bilge pumps and radios should be maintained and tested regularly. Backups and spare parts should also be kept aboard.

Other safety features, such as watertight hatches, can keep your cabin safe and dry during inclement weather. Self-draining cockpits are helpful when sailing offshore, as spray and waves drain from the exposed cockpit without the use of electric or mechanical pumps. If the drain ports are kept clean, no bailing is ever necessary.

Radar is another useful safety feature that, while not mandatory, can keep you in-the-know and alert you to the presence of nearby ships. Radar is especially useful at night, as the automatic alarms can wake you whenever a potential obstacle appears nearby.

Bluewater Sailboats for Living Aboard and Cruising

Living aboard a sailboat is one of the most interesting and rewarding lifestyles available today. It's even more alluring when you can sail your vessel across oceans, which is what bluewater sailboats are designed to do.

A liveaboard cruising sailboat combines comfort, seakeeping ability, and ease of handling in a compact and thoughtfully-designed package. Here are the best liveaboard sailboats for bluewater cruising.

1. Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20


The Flicka 20 is the smallest and most interesting sailboat on our list. At only 20 feet overall in length, the interior accommodations of this vessel are spartan at best and suitable for minimalist living.

What makes the Flicka 20 stand out is its exceptional bluewater performance. This sailboat is truly an ultracompact pocket cruiser. With a full ballast keel, self-draining cockpit, and wide beam, the Flicka 20 is more capable offshore than some boats almost twice its size.

This sailboat has the profile of a traditional keel cruiser. From a distance, it would be easy to mistake for a much larger vessel. Its hull shape, manageable Bermuda rig, and small size make it a perfect starter sailboat for single handed offshore cruising.

Inside, you have (almost) everything you need to live comfortably, albeit in a minimalist way. The cabin features standing headroom throughout, which is highly unusual for a 20-foot sailboat. On the port side, you're greeted with a small but functional galley. On the starboard side, there's a small head with a toilet and a shower.

The Flicka 20 displaces a hardy 5,500 lbs. Due to its large keel, there's no centerboard trunk to obstruct interior space. A V-berth upfront makes up the sleeping accommodations, and some models feature settees on both sides with a pop-up dining and chart table in between.

The Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 has achieved somewhat of a cult status amongst bluewater sailboat enthusiasts. Only about 400 were built, so purchasing a Flicka 20 is somewhat of a rare and expensive proposition. That said, the benefits of owning a 20-foot bluewater liveaboard sailboat are hard to beat.

Cheap slip fees, low maintenance costs, and simplicity are the major selling points of this vessel. It's trailerable behind most heavy-duty pickup trucks and technically small enough to store on the street or in a driveway.

2. Pacific Seacraft Allegra 24


If the Flicka 20 is too small for your taste, try the Pacific Seacraft Allegra 24. It follows the same design principles of the Flicka 20, but with four feet of additional space for cabin amenities and seaworthiness.

Four feet may not sound like a lot, but it makes a world of difference on a sailboat. The additional space on the Allegra 24 adds room to the head, extends the port and starboard settees, and increases the size of the galley.

If you like the idea of a small, semi-trailerable offshore sailboat with liveaboard amenities, you'll love the Allegra 24. This stout sailboat has almost miraculous handling and seakeeping qualities while retaining the benefits of small overall size.

With the Allegra 24, you'll be able to make virtually any offshore passage and save on slip fees, maintenance costs, and overall labor. This vessel is easy to sail single handed and large enough for a minimalistic couple to live, eat, and sleep comfortably.

The Pacific Seacraft Allegra 24 is not ideal for people who need space for pets, children, or guests, as the interior is quite small when compared to other sailboats. That said, there's enough room for an occasional passenger, and the cockpit is comfortable enough for four adults to sit and interact.

3. O'Day 28


The O'Day 28 is a popular sailboat that makes a great liveaboard cruising platform. This affordable vessel was produced between 1978 and 1986, and over 500 examples were produced over the years.

All in all, the O'Day 28 is a stout cruising sailboat that's suitable for offshore and coastal sailing. It features a raked stern and hidden rudder, and a helm that's similar to what you'd find on much larger boats.

The O'Day has a large fuel tank for its inboard engine and an even larger 25-gallon freshwater capacity, which is excellent for offshore cruising. Additional tanks can be added in storage spaces, making the O'Day 28 suitable for long voyages.

The cabin of the O'Day 28 is spacious and includes everything you'd need to live aboard comfortably, along with plenty of storage space throughout. The wide beam of the O'Day 28 gives it lots of space, so the cabin doesn't feel cramped for its size.

Two models of the O'Day 28 were built; one featured a swing keel, and the other had a fixed swing keel. The swing keel model is ideal for coastal cruising and shallow-water sailing, while the fixed keel O'Day 28 is more suited for bluewater cruising.

That said, both keel variants make fine offshore sailboats. The cabin of the O'Day 28 features a large galley with a stove and icebox, two large settee berths, a large center table ahead, and a V-berth forward. The head serves as a separator to the forward cabin, giving the V-berth an extra layer of privacy.

4. William Atkin "Eric" 32


"Eric," designed in the 1920s by famous marine architect William Atkin, is a radical departure from typical modern liveaboard sailboats. However, as a bluewater liveaboard sailboat, this vessel likely outshines all the others on this list in almost every conceivable way.

Eric is a 32-foot traditional wooden ketch. This planked full- keel sailboat displaces over 19,000 lbs and has a draft of about five feet. The basic design of the hull is based on early Norweigian fishing boats, which were known for their resilience in rough North Sea storms.

Eric is a traditional gaff-rigged vessel with two short masts and a long bowsprit. Though complex to rig, it sails beautifully in all weather conditions. One of the earliest examples built survived a hurricane offshore in the 1930s, and subsequent models have completed numerous long-range ocean voyages.

Eric is a purpose-built long-range ocean cruiser. Interior accommodations are spacious and designed for comfort and utility. Unlike most sailboats of the time, Eric features a full head with shower, a 'master cabin' style V-berth forward, a full galley with an icebox, and standing headroom throughout.

William Atkin's Eric is, by all definitions, an ocean-crossing sailboat designed to take between one and four adults just about as far as they want to go. It has all the qualities of an oceangoing sailboat in a compact package, along with excellent seakeeping characteristics.

The primary drawback of this 32-foot Atkin sailboat is maintenance. Most of these hulls were constructed using traditional oak planking, which lasts forever if taken care of but requires skilled maintenance. The planks are caulked using cotton wadding, and they'll need recaulking if the boat stays out of the water for too long and "dries up."

If you're looking for a beautiful and historic liveaboard sailboat with serious offshore cruising capabilities, consider an Atkin Eric 32. Although somewhat rare, examples of this design occasionally pop up for sale on the used market.

5. Pearson 35

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The Pearson 35 crosses the rubicon into the 'big boat' category, as it has everything you'd expect of a large oceangoing sailboat. The vessel also has a unique displacement keel with an additional swing keel at the base.

The Pearson 35 is a roomy sailboat with excellent seakeeping abilities and a large sail plan. It's a typical Bermuda-rigged sloop with a tall mast and the usual sheet and halyard arrangement. As a result, it's fun to sail and easy to handle. It's also a fast boat, making it ideal for longer voyages.

The swing keel certainly doesn't make the Pearson 35 a shoal-draft sailboat. It has a modified full keel which (with the swing keel retracted) draws 3 feet 9 inches. With the additional swing keel down, the draft of the Pearson 35 increases to over 7 feet.

The Pearson 35 is a heavy boat with good sea keeping abilities. It was introduced in 1968, and over 500 units were produced. That makes it one of the more popular sailboats in its class, and plenty of Pearson 35s are still sailing around the United States.

Down below in the cabin, the Pearson 35 is roomy and comfortable. It features a full galley, an enclosed head with a shower and sink, and several berthing areas, including a forward V-berth. Plenty of storage is available throughout the cabin, making the Pearson 35 an excellent choice for living aboard.

There's something empowering about piloting a 35-foot sailboat through rough weather. The size of the boat provides both safety and a sense of security, which can help you keep a clear head during stressful situations at sea. The vessel is beamy as well, making it less likely to heel aggressively and increasing roll comfort in dicey seas.

Overall, the Pearson 35 is an excellent choice for a liveaboard bluewater sailboat. It's a large boat in comparison to the others on this list, and it's known for easy handling and excellent windward performance. The Pearson 35 is a common sailboat that's widely available on the used market.

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

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Better Sailing

Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

Small sailboats are attractive for many reasons, one of them being is that they are not as expensive and out of your budget. They are also great for learning how to sail as they are easily maneuverable. However, sailboats around the 30 feet mark provide the best of both worlds as they are both great and easy for sailing but are also big enough for you to spend a few days onboard for a weekend sailing trip, for example. If you are looking to buy a sailboat that will fit this bill, this list of the best sailboats under 30 feet with the amenities available in a large vessel.

Here are the best sailboats under 30 feet in no particular order.

The Hunter 27 is one of the most popular sailboats under 30 feet and has the numbers to prove it with over 2000 of these boats sold. The Hunter 27 is a series of sailboats, built by Marlow Hunter in Florida, USA, since 1974. Variations of the Hunter 27 are still being produced today. This sailboat is great under sail but is also powered by a 14 HP Yanmar engine. If you are looking for a small, affordable sailboat that can accommodate a couple or a small family for a few days out on the water, then look no further than a Hunter 27. Finally, you can find used Hunter 27 in good condition from the early ’80s for around 10k and newer models from the 2010s’ for up to 50k.

1990 Hunter 27

It is a comfortable and speedy sailboat with ample space below the deck. It is open and airy. Named after its designer, Alan Andrews, he is known for creating fast race boats and lights. This is a 28-footer sailboat that is definitely suited for club racing. It has a galley, 6 berths, head, and nav area. This boat is so spacious that you would forget that this is a sailboat under 30 feet. It has a retractable keel, which makes it easy to launch and haul. This ensures it to be a racer as well as a daysailer. Finally, a used Andrews 28 in good condition is going for around $25,000-40,000.

Andrews 28

This is a multi-aspect sailboat that tries to bridge a gap between a family, comfortable, safe, and competitive racer. It is done quite well in doing so. This sailboat was able to win the 1970 IOR North America Half-Ton Cup, which proves that it not only has the looks but speed too. Speed is not the only strength of the ranger 26 as it also has a spacious cockpit which is over 7 feet. It has a good balance of cabin height and freeboard, giving it a great profile that hasn’t been sacrificed for standing headroom. Also, the Ranger 26 is one of the largest trailable sailboats. Finally, a used Ranger 26 from the 70s’ in good condition is going for around $10,000-15,000.

Ranger 26

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 100k

This sailboat is one of the most innovative and unusual boats in the whole bunch. It has a contemporary profile topside and also an inviting floor plan below the deck; this boat is both comfortable and stylish. The Etap uses a double hull construction method that makes the ship almost unsinkable. This sailboat has 6 berths, a nav area, and a galley, but you will not feel crowded in the back. The back area is equipped with many hatches and ports that make extend the space. Finally, a used Etap 28s in good condition is going for around $20,000-60,000 depending on the age of the boat.

Etap 28s - Best Sailboat Under 30 Feet

>>Also Read: Etap 24i Review

This boat came started its production in the year 1971, and it was an instant success in the local racing scenes. As this is a modest 27-footer, the Newport 27 has a great spacious interior and has over 6 feet of standing headroom. It has 4 berths, nav station, galley, and head. It has all the amenities that you will find in a bigger boat but in a compact package. This boat is quick in light air; however, the tiller steering starts to get out of control once the breeze increases and the weather leads to end your sail early. Finally, a used Newport 27 from the 70s’ or 80s’ in good condition is going for around $6,000-11,000.

Newport 27 Sloop

Catalina 275 Sport

The Catalina is known for their large cruising boats, but they also have small boats too. The Catalina 275 offers both great performance and an enjoyable sailing experience packed on a 27’6 trailable sailboat. This boat has a hand-laminated fiberglass hull and is extremely versatile. Like most boats that are built by Catalina, this boat has a huge self-bailing cockpit. It also a nice saloon below deck, which transforms into a comfortable v berth. Also, it has a nice galley with a big cooler drawer to pack your essentials for your sailing trip. The standard equipment has a tiller extension and hiking straps. This boat will convince you that you do not need a sailboat over 300 feet to enjoy a nice weekend sailing adventure. A new Catalina 275 starts at around $75,000, and a recent-year used one for around $60,000.

Catalina 275

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats to Live On

Catalina 22 Capri and Catalina 22 Sport

The Catalina 22 is extremely comfortable, safe at sea, and easier to handle and maintain than any boat in its class. The beautiful deck profile is flat across the stern. It has wider cockpit curves for optimum sailing comfort during and after sailing. These are very popular trailer sailers that are widely used in both ocean sailing and lake sailing, and daysailors swear by both models. The Catalina 22 was first built in 1969, and it is still being produced in the US. The Catalina 22 is one of the most produced boats in its size range and has achieved huge commercial success. Finally, you can purchase a new Catalina 22 starts at around $25,000, but since this model has been around since the 60s’ you can still pick an early-year model up from the 70s’ for as low as $3,000.

Island Packet 27

This is an American-made sailboat first built in the 1980s’. The Island Packet 27   is a recreational keelboat made out of fiberglass, with beautiful teak trim and holly cabin sole plywood. It is a Cutter-rigged sloop, with a spooned raked stem, a vertical transom, a keel-mounted rudder, and a full keel. It has a displacement of 8,000 lb and carries 3,000 lb of ballast. Keep in mind that the Packet 27 is a cruiser and not suitable for racing. The broad beam gives an unusually spacious interior for a sailboat under 30 feet. This boat sails very well, it has a big boat feel to it, it is very solid, and you won’t get thrown around in it; what else do you need? Finally, a used Island Packet 27 in good condition is going for around $30,000-45,000 depending on the age of the boat.

Island Packet 27

>>Also Read: Best Pocket Cruisers Under 20 Feet

This boat was first introduced in the year 1969; the Balboa 26 continues to dominate in the budget-friendly cruisers. This boat is heavy and sturdy; the boat’s stress points are reinforced. The cockpit can take 4 adults at a time. It is self-bailing, making sure that the sailors remain dry. This beautiful sailboat is only 26 feet. Still, the balboa 26 still has room for a double berth, a freshwater pump, galley with a stove, and an optional V-berth or marine head. It can adjust five people for sleeping, but the ideal number would be two or three. When the Balboa is under sail, it is maneuverable and fast. It will also prove handy in the heavy breeze when the weather helm increases. Finally, a used Balboa 26 from the 70s’ is going for around $3,000-6,000.

Balboa 26 Sailboat Under 30 Feet

Cape Dory 28

The teak accents and sleek lines of the Cape Dory 28 is an eye-catcher; the performance of this boat is also remarkable. This boat comes with almost all the amenities a bigger boat is equipped with. It comes with 2 settees, V-berth, and ahead. This boat is sound, safe, and comfortable while being capable of speed. The Cape Dory 28 is quick in light wind and capable and sturdy in heavy air. This boat deserves its praise when it comes in off the wind. It has a balanced helm and also the ability to cut through chop and still be able to tack easily. Finally, a used Cape Dory 28 in good condition is going for around $20,000 depending on the age of the boat.

28 Foot Cape Dory

Islander Bahama 28

While this remains an eye-catcher, along with the 5-foot-6inch draft and with the 3,300 pounds of ballet, this boat sails swiftly and beautifully while responding quickly to the helm. This boat is inspired by the International Offshore Rule; this boat is unusually wide and offers stability in the breeze without sacrificing the lines and sheer, which makes it attractive. The Bahamas below its deck has plenty of berth and storage space with a galley complete with stove, sink, and icebox. Finally, a used Cape Dory 28 in good condition is going for around $9,000-15,000 depending on the age of the boat.

Islander Bahama 28

Contessa 26

This boat was released in the year 1965, and it then and there proved to be a strong, lightweight cruise boat. This boat has been proving itself since its first sail and a great choice for two people. Even though the boat is sturdy, the upwind came sometimes disturbs the direction. This boat does have much standing headroom, but it performs well as a daysailer. Finally, a used Contessa 26 in good condition is going for around $10,000 depending on the age of the boat.

Contessa 26 - Best Sailboat Under 30 Feet

Final Thoughts

Sailboats under 30 feet are great because they are affordable and provide the best of everything. Almost all of them handle great, they are easy to maintain and provide all the necessary amenities for trips up to a few days long. Sailboats under 30 feet are not ideal for passages but make if you are willing to increase your budget and go a little bigger then these are the best small sailboats for circumvention .

Remember, if you are looking for a small sailboat under 30 feet for your summer or weekend sailing expeditions, then any of the above mentioned will do the trick.


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

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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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25 Sailboats Under 40′

  • By Cruising World Staff
  • Updated: March 25, 2014

Catalina 275 Sport

catalina 275 sport

“This is a complete package; it’s a good sailing boat and well-thought-out. It’s definitely ready for prime time,” says Boat of the Year judge Ed Sherman. Click here to read why the Catalina 275 Sport won Best Pocket Cruiser in 2014.

Beneteau First 30

beneteau first 30

As they approached the First 30 to conduct their dockside evaluation during the boat show, the BOTY judges may have been just a little skeptical of this performance-oriented 30-footer’s cruisability. But that skepticism turned into appreciation as soon as they stepped below, and they were downright enamored with how the boat sailed. Click here to read why the Beneteau First 30 won Best Small Cruiser, 20 feet and Under in 2011.

presto 30

The Presto 30 is an innovative, well-built, good looking cruising boat that satisfied its stated design brief as well as any other boat the judges looked at, though it’s not what you might expect from an average cruising boat. Cruising World judges also noted that this easy-to-handle boat may attract new sailors to the sport so they can learn the ropes and then trade up to another model, an approach that’s important to the health of the entire industry. Click here to read how the Presto 30 won the Cruising Spirit Award in 2011.

Catalina 309

catalina 309

“I think that for the purpose it was put on the water, to be able to walk down, jump aboard, and simply go enjoy it on a weekend, the boat not only hit the price in terms of value but also hit the mark in terms of use,” remarked judge Alvah Simon, a world voyager. Click to read why the Catalina 309 won Domestic Boat of the Year for 2007 .

j/95 boat

The J/95’s retractable centerboard and dual rudders make it possible to sail in just 3 feet of water. During our dockside visit, designer Rod Johnstone told us that he wanted to build a comfortable coastal cruiser that could keep people sailing by providing “high performance in shallow water,” and the J/95 did exactly what Rod said it would. Click here to read how it won Best Weekender and Domestic Boat of the Year for 2010.

Catalina 315

catalina 315

This nifty pocket cruiser raises the Catalina quality bar with more comfort and better performance. It’s the little things that make this boat special, including the tall rig, the wide cockpit, the large anchor locker, the sprit for the asymmetric kite, and the clever use of space below. Click here to read how the Catalina 315 won Best Inshore Cruiser for 2013.

delphia 33

The Delphia 33 is a boat that’s maximized every inch of available space, and the overall fit and finish, from the joiner work to the systems installation to the structural integrity of the boat, is well done. Click here to read why the Delphia 33 won Import Boat of the Year in 2008.

hunter e33

“With this introductory cruiser, Hunter is trying to bring people up through its ranks and into cruising from trailer-sailers and smaller boats,” said Alvah Simon. “And the company has done that with a 33-footer that has quality and affordability but is still manageable and unintimidating.” Click here to read why the Hunter e33 won Best Compact Cruiser for 2012.

C&C 101

cc 101 yacht

The 33-foot C&C 101 boasts thoroughly modern lines and a nice turn of speed but also features a fine layout belowdecks, with cherry furniture and a teak cabin sole. Click here to read why the C&C 101 won Domestic Boat of the Year and Best Performance Cruiser in 2013.

x34 yacht

This dual-purpose cruiser is both easy to handle and zippy on the racecourse. Click here to read why the X-34 won Best Racer-Cruiser for 2009.

Beneteau 34

beneteau 34 yacht

This affordable performance cruiser is a blast to sail, with details often lacking on more expensive boats. Click here to read a boat review of the Beneteau 34. Click here to read why the Beneteau 34 won the award for Best Value in 2009.

Tartan 3400

tartan 3400 yacht

The Tartan 3400, with double cabins fore and aft, was still sufficiently nimble and distinctive to cop the 2006 Boat of the Year award for Best Production Cruiser from 31 to 36 Feet. Click here to read more.

najad 355 yacht

The BOTY judges found lots on which to agree as they proclaimed the Najad 355 to be the Best Small Cruiser of 2008: great sails, solid motion through the water, practical interior, well-laid-out deck. Click here to read more.

Catalina 355

catalina 355 yacht

Two themes—consideration and principles—epitomize the Catalina 355. Click here to read why it won Domestic Boat of the Year in 2011.

Sabre Spirit

sabre spirit yacht

Andrew Burton found the 36-foot Sabre Spirit boat not only easily handled and fast but also a sheer delight to sail; no wonder it won the Judges’ Choice Award in Cruising World’s 2008 Boat of the Year contest. Click here to read more .

Island Packet Estero

island packet estero yacht

Comfortable surroundings are easily driven by a fully self-tending and roller-furling rig on the 36-foot Island Packet Estero. Click here to read why it won Best Midsize Cruiser Under 40 feet in 2010.

Hallberg-Rassy 37

hallberg-rassy 37 yacht

Like the Swedes who manufacture it, the Hallberg-Rassy 37 is a hardy sailer. The boat’s seakindly performance gives the assurance that it can take you anywhere, and once you get aboard, that’s exactly where you’ll want to go. Click here to read why it won Import Boat of the Year in 2006.

Malö 37 Classic

malo 37 classic

This purpose-built craft is a dream to steer and a delight to the eyes. Click here to read how it won Import Boat of the Year for 2009. Click here to read a full boat review.

Catalina 375

catalina 375

Solid construction and thoughtful amenities make life onboard this boat more comfortable. Click here to read why the Catalina 375 won Best All-Purpose Cruiser, 30 to 40 Feet in 2009.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379

jeanneau sun odyssey 379 yacht

This midsize offering from Jeanneau has a modern look and is ready for sea. Click here to read why it won Domestic Boat of the Year and Best Midsize Cruiser for 2012.

dehler 38

“This very responsive sailboat scoots along quite nicely, I think as well as anything we sailed in this fleet,” says Boat of the Year judge Mark Schrader. Click here to read why the Dehler 38 won Best Cruising Sailboat Under 38 Feet in 2014.

hunter 38

Better-than-expected performance, good design ideas, and follow-through in their execution led to the Hunter 38 winning Best Production Cruiser Under 40 feet for 2005. Click here to read more.

leopard 38

Who says a cruising cat under 40 feet isn’t big enough for comfortable accommodations? The 38’s hulls are narrow where they meet the water for performance purposes but flare out to create ample interior space. Click here to read why the Leopard 38 won Import Boat of the Year in 2010.

Seawind 1160

seawind 1160

This 38-foot cat will appeal to cruisers who want a well-built boat that can sail away in a hurry. Click here to read why the Seawind 1160 won Best Multihull Cruiser and Most Innovative Boat for 2007.

sabre 386

“The company is mixing traditional aesthetics with modern gear–from the carbon rudder to tweakers on the jib tracks, and it works really well,” said Boat of the Year judge Steve Callahan of the Sabre 386. Click here to read why it was named Domestic Boat of the Year for 2005.

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

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    With these considerations in mind, here are my picks—five top choices for affordable bluewater cruising sailboats (in alphabetical order). Caliber 40 LRC. The Caliber 40 design appeared in 1991 and through its evolution into the 40 LRC, remains a very attractive cutter. It has a fully encapsulated, elongated fin keel, and the ballast to ...

  12. Best Single-Handed Bluewater Sailboats

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

  13. 7 Legendary Solo Bluewater Sailboats Worth Considering

    Solo bluewater sailboats are designed to be sailed by a single person, making them ideal for solo circumnavigation or long-distance cruising. You can get the Contessa 32 and Westsail 32 for as little as $30,000. The maintenance and repair costs of the seven boats range from $5,000 to $50,000 per year. Marina fees and insurance can range from ...

  14. Best Small Sailboat, 30 feet and Under: Beneteau First 30

    Beneteau First 30 BOTY winner "This 30-footer combines good sailing performance and excellent cruising accommodations." Ed Sherman Billy Black. As they approached the First 30 to conduct their dockside evaluation during the boat show, the BOTY judges may have been just a little skeptical of this performance-oriented 30-footer's cruisability.

  15. Top 10 Favorite Affordable Bluewater Sailboats

    Top Ten Affordable Bluewater Cruisers (according to SailFarLiveFree.com) 10. CSY 33: With a production run of only 57 boats, it's not surprising that many people aren't familiar with CSY's smallest sailboat. Her swoopy sheerline and sharp bow beckon me.

  16. Best 30-36' boats for bluewater & liveaboard?

    Baba 30: Usually north of $50k, but there are some out there. Pacific Seacraft 31 Mariah: See W32 above. Rafiki 36: Salty, teaky and a good value but tough to find. Alajuela/Ingrid: Super tough hull (think bigger W32), many owner finished, prices all over the map. Mariner 36: Tough to find, but well traveled.

  17. 5 Best Liveaboard Bluewater Sailboats

    Here are the best liveaboard sailboats for bluewater cruising. 1. Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20. cdmech. The Flicka 20 is the smallest and most interesting sailboat on our list. At only 20 feet overall in length, the interior accommodations of this vessel are spartan at best and suitable for minimalist living.

  18. Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

    The Hunter 27 is one of the most popular sailboats under 30 feet and has the numbers to prove it with over 2000 of these boats sold. The Hunter 27 is a series of sailboats, built by Marlow Hunter in Florida, USA, since 1974. Variations of the Hunter 27 are still being produced today. This sailboat is great under sail but is also powered by a 14 ...

  19. 20 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats Under $100,000

    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.

  20. Experts' Pick: 25 Sailboats Under 40'

    Catalina 275 Sport. Catalina 275 Sport Billy Black. "This is a complete package; it's a good sailing boat and well-thought-out. It's definitely ready for prime time," says Boat of the Year judge Ed Sherman. Click here to read why the Catalina 275 Sport won Best Pocket Cruiser in 2014.

  21. SAIL Top 10 Best Boats for 2023

    For almost 20 years, we've called this awards program SAIL Best Boats, but this year, we're refining and renaming this program to better and more fairly represent the boats we've selected. Restricting boats to categories and labels—such as Best Cruising Monohull 30-40 feet and Best Performance Monohull 40-50 feet—doesn't bring our readers the full picture.