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Small Sailboats: What Are They Called?

It doesn’t matter what the use is, there is absolutely no questioning the amazing capabilities of sailboats, no matter whether they are big or small.

If you didn’t know already, boats actually feature different types of classification depending on their size and what sort of sailing capabilities they have! 

So, the likelihood is that you’re reading this because you’re interested in what small sailboats are called, well keep reading on, as we have all the information you need to know about what small sailboats are called! 

What Are They Called? 

Typically, most sailboats that measure between eight to fifteen feet in length are classified as dinghies, although they can sometimes be a little larger than this.

Dinghies have a lot of different uses and can either be powered by a motor, make use of a removable mast and sails, or simply be steered and moved through the use of oars. 

Dinghies are mainly used as recreational sailboats, making use of a removable mast and sails in order to spend an easy and relaxing time on the ocean (see also ‘ 6 Differences Between Sailing On The Ocean Vs. A Lake ‘). 

Dinghies aren’t just used as small craft, however, as they can often be seen on or around larger vessels as a form of a lifeboat, in order to be used should the crew from the larger vessel need to leave. 

Interestingly enough though, no matter whether a dinghy has a motor or not, they are still considered to be sailing vessels as per the National Maritime College, which means that you are also able to categorize them further depending on whether or not they’re powered by a motor or not. 

Why Are They Called Dinghies? 

Whilst it’s easy to figure out which types of sailboats are called dinghies, you may be wondering exactly where the name dinghy originated from, as it’s quite an unusual name! 

Well, the name actually has origins in both Hindi and Bengali! As well as plenty of ties to the West Indies circa the 19th century. 

In the Hindi language, the word dinghy itself actually just means small boat.

Compared to other languages from across the world, such as Sanskrit, where the name dinghy actually means wooden trough, it’s clear that a combination of a lot of these went into making the word what we know it as today! 

In the 19th century, these sorts of boats were used in order to help transport small amounts of passengers as well as cargo and goods and were most commonly used in places like India. 

Nowadays, dinghies tend to be used purely for recreational purposes, however, in some cases they do occasionally get used to help larger vessels with small amounts of passengers or cargo, just as they used to be used in India! 

What’s It Like To Sail On A Dinghy? 

Dinghies are super easy to produce, which is mainly because of their smaller size. It’s also because dinghies are actually classified as monohull sailboats!

This means that unlike multihull sailboats, which tend to feature two to three different hulls that have been joined together, they only have one. 

As such, if you find yourself on the open sea in a dinghy, you’ll notice that it is actually quite a bit different from sailing on more traditional sailing ships or at least different to sailing on something a little bit larger. 

The biggest factor to consider when sailing on a dinghy is that you have to really utilize the wind to its full potential in order to help you guide and propel the boat, so it’s not all just plain sailing! 

Dinghies often vary in design depending on their intended use, for example, some dinghies are designed for speed, whilst others are manufactured with a calmer time on the water in mind.

These more relaxed dinghies will tend to be spotted closer to the shore, however, some particularly brave sailors take it upon themselves to sail them in rougher waters too! 

Regardless of the size, dinghies are a super light type of boat, and often don’t require a particularly big crew in order to sail them, which is why they make great boats for people to learn how to sail on.

For dinghies that reach 20 feet in length, then it may take up to 5 people in order to navigate and sail, but it all depends on the level of experience! 

What’s It Like To Sail On A Dinghy? 

It is worth noting that people do often get confused between keelboats and dinghies, which is understandable as they do have quite similar silhouettes, but the main difference is that dinghies don’t have a keel underneath them.

In addition to this, there is also a lack of ballast, which is there to help add weight in order to make turning easier. 

You also shouldn’t get sailing with a mast on a dinghy confused with some watersports, such as windsurfing, as there are actually a considerable number of differences.

The main one is that watersports such as windsurfing require you to stand up as well as move back and forth in order to help catch wind for you to propel yourself forward. 

In comparison, you don’t have to stand up at all whilst sailing on a dinghy, which means that you can relax fully and take in the beauty of being on the water, as well as being able to focus on sailing too. 

Is Dinghy Sailing Easy To Learn? 

Learning how to sail a dinghy isn’t especially difficult, but it is going to require two things: One, is a whole load of patience, and the other, is that you’ll get quite wet!

This is because in comparison to other sailboats, where you don’t tend to have water on the deck, dinghies are quite the opposite, and getting splashed is super common! 

The key to learning how to sail a dinghy is all done into perfecting the angle of the sails, and understanding the best way to direct the sails in order to help the dinghy propel itself forward. Otherwise, you’ll end up going nowhere at all. 

For those who are looking to embark on their first sailing adventure in a dinghy, we recommend trying to pick a day where the water is especially calm, but with some gentle wind to ensure that you can actually sail.

Try to avoid deep or rougher waters, or you won’t have a good time at all. 

If it is your first time, it is perhaps best that you take someone along with you who is experienced in dinghy sailing and even use their dinghy at first before purchasing one for yourself.

Alternatively, you could try and locate the nearest sailing school to you in order to have them teach you all you need to know about sailing a dinghy. 

If you do choose to find a sailing school, ensure that the dinghy that they will be teaching you on is similar to the one you’ll be using once you’ve been taught, as otherwise none of the skills you learned will translate, and you’ll struggle once you’re by yourself. 

With the help of a learning school, and if you’re a particularly attentive and quick learner, you should have nailed the basics of sailing a dinghy within the space of an afternoon!

A few sessions more, and you’ll be sailing just as well as all of the professionals. 

What To Wear When Sailing A Dinghy

As we previously mentioned, sailing a dinghy is a wet affair, which means that you’ll probably want to wear something like a wetsuit, or at least something that you don’t mind getting wet. 

In addition to this, you also want to prioritize your safety as well, which means that you should be wearing a life jacket or buoyancy aid of some form, as well as a helmet if you feel so inclined to.

Finally, since you’re going to be handling a lot of wet rope, you might opt to wear sailing gloves if you find that your hands suffer after a long day of sailing! 

Why Sail A Dinghy? 

Learning how to sail a dinghy is a great experience, and is easy enough to do that it doesn’t really matter what your age is or your previous sailing experience, which is why so many people love sailing on a dinghy. 

In addition to this, sailing a dinghy is actually quite the workout! Especially if you find yourself in slightly rougher conditions, which means that you will have to work the sails quite a bit. But in calmer conditions, you’ll be able to relax much more. 

You do have to focus though, as dinghies can be flipped easily, so you need to be able to concentrate too! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about everything you could possibly want to know about small sailboats, which you will now know are also known as dinghies! 

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  • Sailing Simplified: The Ultimate Guide to Small Sailboats

The appeal of sailing has never waned, but the recent surge in interest towards small sailboats has opened up a new avenue for enthusiasts and beginners alike. The charm of these compact vessels lies not just in their maneuverability and affordability, but in the very essence of sailing they encapsulate. Small sailboats offer a gateway to the vastness of the sea, with the promise of adventure, learning, and community. This article delves deep into the world of small sailboats, covering everything from choosing the right type to the joys of being part of a vibrant sailing community.

Understanding the Appeal of Small Sailboats

Small sailboats, with their ease of handling, offer an unparalleled opportunity for sailors to develop a deep, hands-on understanding of the fundamentals of sailing. The affordability of these boats also makes sailing an accessible hobby for a wider audience, breaking down the financial barriers that larger vessels uphold. Moreover, the versatility of small sailboats means there’s something for every sailor's taste. Whether it's the thrill of racing, the calm of a leisurely day out on the water, or the joy of exploring new coastlines, these boats have something to offer to everyone.

Types of Small Sailboats and Their Unique Features

The world of small sailboats is rich and varied, encompassing a range of designs each suited to different sailing needs. Dinghies, for instance, are the perfect starting point for those new to sailing. Their simplicity and small size make them ideal for learning basic sailing skills. For those looking for a bit more stability and space, catamarans, with their dual hulls, offer an excellent option. They provide a comfortable sailing experience without compromising the intimate connection with the sea that small sailboats offer. Daysailers, on the other hand, are designed for those looking for a balance between performance and convenience. Often equipped with a small cabin, they are perfect for short, enjoyable outings, offering a taste of adventure without the need for extensive preparation or commitment.

Selecting Your Perfect Small Sailboat

Choosing the right small sailboat involves considering several factors, including the purpose of the boat, your budget, and your skill level. It's important to reflect on what you want to achieve with your sailboat. Are you looking to race, or are you more interested in leisurely coastal explorations? Your budget also plays a crucial role, as it's not just the purchase price you need to consider but also the ongoing maintenance costs. Additionally, matching the boat to your skill level is vital. Opt for a vessel that challenges you enough to grow as a sailor but isn't too advanced to handle safely.

Read our top notch articles on topics such as sailing, sailing tips and destinations in our Magazine .

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Small white boat sailing on the lake

Maintenance, Upkeep, and Sailing Techniques

Owning a small sailboat is a commitment to its care. Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and safety of your vessel. This includes seasonal preparations like winterization and routine checks for wear and tear. Moreover, mastering sailing techniques specific to small boats is crucial. These vessels require a nuanced understanding of wind and water dynamics due to their size. Learning basic maneuvers and safety measures not only enhances the joy of sailing but also ensures that your time on the water is safe and fulfilling.

The Community and Future of Small Sailboats

One of the most rewarding aspects of small sailboat sailing is the community. Joining clubs and associations or engaging with online communities can enrich your sailing experience. These platforms offer a wealth of knowledge, support, and camaraderie. They also provide opportunities to participate in races, social sails, and educational workshops, further deepening your connection to the sailing world. Looking ahead, the future of small sailboats is bright, with innovations aimed at making sailing more accessible, safer, and even more enjoyable for everyone.

In conclusion, small sailboats offer a unique blend of adventure, simplicity, and community. Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of racing, the peace of exploration, or the challenge of mastering a new skill, the world of small sailboats is inviting and expansive. With the right knowledge and preparation, anyone can embark on this rewarding journey, navigating the joys of compact sailing.

So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our range of charter boats and head to some of our favourite  sailing destinations.

I am ready to help you with booking a boat for your dream vacation. Contact me.

Denisa Nguyenová

Denisa Nguyenová

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What Is a Small Sailboat? (A Comprehensive Guide)

small sailboat is called

Have you ever dreamed of owning and sailing your own sailboat? If so, a small sailboat could be the perfect option for you.

In this comprehensive guide, well discuss the different types of small sailboats, the benefits of owning one, and what to consider when shopping for one.

Well also provide step-by-step instructions on how to rig, launch, and sail a small sailboat, as well as how to maintain and care for it.

Finally, well provide some tips for beginners to help them get started.

So, if youre eager to get out on the open water in your own sailboat, read on!

Table of Contents

Short Answer

A small sailboat is a type of sailboat that is typically smaller than other sailboats and usually requires fewer crew members to operate.

It is typically used for leisure and recreational activities such as fishing, cruising, and racing.

Small sailboats are typically easier to maneuver and require less maintenance than larger sailboats.

Types of Small Sailboats

Small sailboats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the intended use. There are three main types of small sailboats to consider when selecting the right one for your needs: dinghies, keelboats, and catamarans. Dinghies are the most common type of small sailboat and are typically lightweight and easy to maneuver. They are usually 10-20 feet in length and powered by a single sail. Keelboats are larger than dinghies, typically between 20-30 feet in length, and have a keel to help them stay on course. They are powered by a variety of sail configurations, from a single sail to a complex rig with multiple sails. Lastly, catamarans are two-hulled vessels that are known for their stability and speed. They are typically between 20-30 feet in length and can be powered by a variety of sails, from a single sail to a complex rig with multiple sails. No matter what type of small sailboat you choose, they are all easy to maneuver and relatively inexpensive, making them a great choice for those looking to get out on the water and enjoy a relaxing day.

Benefits of Small Sailboats

small sailboat is called

Small sailboats offer a variety of benefits that make them a great option for those looking to enjoy a day out on the water.

These vessels are lightweight and easy to maneuver, making them the perfect choice for those looking to relax and enjoy the scenery.

They are also relatively inexpensive, so they can be an affordable option for those just starting out with sailing.

Additionally, these boats can be powered by a variety of sail configurations, from a single sail to a complex rig with multiple sails, giving sailors the ability to customize their boat to their individual needs.

In addition to the convenience and affordability of small sailboats, they also offer a unique experience that cant be matched by other types of boats.

With their lightweight hulls, they provide an exhilarating ride that is both exciting and relaxing at the same time.

This makes them a great option for those looking to explore different waterways without the worry of being overpowered by the wind or waves.

Additionally, the maneuverability of these boats allows them to explore areas that may be inaccessible to larger vessels.

Finally, small sailboats are ideal for those who want to learn the basics of sailing.

With their lightweight construction and ease of use, they make it easy for beginners to learn the ropes without becoming overwhelmed or frustrated.

As sailors become more comfortable in their boats, they can gradually add more sails and other features to customize their experience.

All in all, small sailboats are an excellent choice for those looking to explore the water and enjoy a day out on the open sea.

Considerations When Shopping for a Small Sailboat

When shopping for a small sailboat, it’s important to consider a few key factors.

First, you’ll want to think about the size of the sailboat you need.

Small sailboats typically range from 10 to 20 feet in length and come in a variety of designs and styles.

If you’re looking for a boat that’s easier to maneuver, you might want to look for one on the smaller side.

If you’re looking for something with more room and storage, you’ll want to look at larger boats.

Another important factor to consider when shopping for a small sailboat is the type of sail configuration you want.

Small sailboats typically use either a sloop or a cat rig configuration, with the sloop being the more common choice.

A sloop has one large sail that provides propulsion, while a cat rig has two or more sails that provide additional power and stability.

The type of sail configuration you choose will depend on your preferred sailing style and the type of sailing conditions you expect to encounter.

Finally, you’ll want to think about the type of materials used in the construction of the small sailboat you’re considering.

Small sailboats are typically made of either fiberglass or aluminum, both of which offer durability and strength.

Aluminum is more lightweight and less expensive, while fiberglass is more durable and more expensive.

You’ll want to choose the material that best fits your budget and sailing needs.

With these considerations in mind, you’ll be able to find the perfect small sailboat for your needs.

Whether you’re looking for a boat that’s easy to maneuver or one that can handle all types of sailing conditions, a small sailboat can be the perfect choice for your next outing.

How to Rig a Small Sailboat

small sailboat is called

Rigging a small sailboat is an important part of owning and sailing one.

A small sailboat’s rigging includes the sails, masts, booms, and other hardware and lines used to control the sails.

Setting up a boat’s rig properly can make a huge difference in its performance, safety, and comfort while sailing, so it’s important to understand how it works.

When rigging a small sailboat, the first step is to choose the right sails and mast.

Typically, most small sailboats use a sloop or cutter rig, which involves a single or double mast with one or two sails.

The size of the boat and the type of sailing you plan to do will determine which type of rig is best for your boat.

Next, you’ll need to attach the hardware to the boat.

This includes the mast step, cleats, sheaves, blocks, halyards, and other items that are necessary for sailing.

The hardware is typically bolted or riveted to the boat and must be installed correctly in order for the boat to sail safely and efficiently.

Once the hardware is installed, it’s time to attach the sails.

The sails can be attached to the mast using halyards and sheets, depending on the type of sails.

Small sailboats typically use a mainsail and a headsail, and the sails must be rigged correctly in order to provide the most efficient and safe sailing experience.

Finally, it’s important to make sure all the lines and hardware are properly tensioned and adjusted.

This will ensure that the boat is safe to sail and that the sails are able to provide the most power and control.

It’s a good idea to consult a professional rigger for advice and assistance in setting up the boat’s rig correctly.

Setting up a small sailboat’s rig correctly can be a complex process, but it’s essential for the safe and efficient operation of the boat.

By taking the time to research and install the correct hardware and sails, you can ensure that your boat is well-equipped for a safe and enjoyable sailing experience.

How to Launch and Sail a Small Sailboat

Launching and sailing a small sailboat may seem intimidating, but with proper instruction and practice, anyone can become a confident and successful sailor.

Before launching, it is essential to make sure that all safety equipment is on board and in good working condition.

This includes a life jacket, a bailer, flares, and a first aid kit.

Additionally, it is important to make sure the boat is equipped with the necessary rigging, including a mainsail, jib, and spinnaker, as well as the appropriate lines for controlling the sails.

Once the boat is ready to launch, it is important to pay attention to the current wind conditions.

These will dictate which side of the boat should be facing the wind for optimal sail performance.

Once the boat is in the water and the sails are up, the boat should be trimmed correctly for the most efficient and comfortable ride.

This involves adjusting the sails and the rudder to ensure that the boat is pointed in the direction you wish to travel.

In order to sail successfully, it is important to understand the principles of sailing, such as points of sail, heeling, and tacking.

Points of sail refer to the direction that the boat is moving relative to the wind direction.

Heeling is the term for when the boat leans to one side due to the force of the wind.

Tacking is the process of turning the boat in the opposite direction from the wind in order to sail in a different direction.

Finally, it is important to know when and how to reef the sails.

Reefing is the process of reducing the amount of sail area exposed to the wind in order to reduce the amount of heeling and increase the stability of the boat.

Knowing when and how to reef the sails will help to ensure a safe and comfortable sailing experience.

Now that you know the basics of launching and sailing a small sailboat, it’s time to get out on the water and enjoy the wind in your sails! With proper instruction and practice, anyone can become a confident and successful sailor and enjoy the freedom of the open waters.

Maintenance and Care of a Small Sailboat

small sailboat is called

Maintaining and caring for a small sailboat is essential to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

To keep your boat in top condition, it is important to regularly inspect and maintain the hull, sails, rigging, and other components.

This includes inspecting the hull for cracks or abnormalities, making sure the sails and rigging are in good condition, and ensuring that the boat is properly balanced and equipped with the necessary safety equipment.

Additionally, it is important to keep the boat clean and free of debris or fouling, as this can cause problems with the boats performance.

In addition to regular maintenance, it is also important to store the boat properly when not in use to ensure that it stays in good condition.

This includes covering the boat with a tarp or other suitable cover, keeping the rigging and other components indoors or in a cool, dry place, and making sure the boat is securely moored when not in use.

Taking the time to properly care for and maintain your small sailboat will ensure that it will provide years of enjoyable sailing experiences.

Tips for Beginners

For those just starting out with small sailboats, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

First, be sure to take a sailing course before attempting to take your boat out on the water.

This will ensure that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to safely handle the vessel.

Additionally, it is important to wear a lifejacket at all times while on the water, as this can save your life should anything go wrong.

Additionally, it is important to inspect your boat before every outing, checking for any damage or wear and tear that could affect its performance.

Additionally, be sure to check the forecast and be aware of any weather patterns that could affect your sailing experience.

Lastly, be sure to bring along plenty of food and water, as well as any necessary safety and navigation equipment.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to have a fun and safe sailing experience.

Final Thoughts

For those who want to get out on the water and enjoy a relaxing day of sailing, a small sailboat is the perfect choice.

With their lightweight, easy to maneuver design, these vessels offer a variety of sail configurations to suit a range of sailing abilities.

From considering the type of boat to learning how to rig, launch, and sail it, this comprehensive guide has covered all the basics of small sailboat ownership.

Now that you know the ins and outs of small sailboat ownership, it’s time to get out there and explore the open water!

James Frami

At the age of 15, he and four other friends from his neighborhood constructed their first boat. He has been sailing for almost 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge that he wants to share with others.

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  • Articles and Guides

11 Best Small Sailboat Brands: How to Choose Your Next Daysailer or Pocket Cruiser

12th oct 2023 by samantha wilson.

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Sailing is a relaxing, invigorating pastime that allows you to harness wind and waves in a unique and historic way without requiring a 50-foot yacht to enjoy what’s special about the experience. In fact, small sailboats allow a delightful back-to-basics experience that often gets lost on larger, systems-heavy sailboats.

On a small sailboat you can connect with the sea, feeling the boat move beneath you. The boat is typically easy to rig, simple to sail, and can even be sailed solo. Small sailboats give you the freedom to trailer your or car-top your boat and go anywhere, and they’re perfect for learning the nuances of sailing. There are many excellent brands and models of small sailboat, each with their own appeal, and here we narrow down some of our favorite in the daysailer and pocket cruiser categories under 30 feet. 

Difference Between a Daysailer and a Pocket Cruiser

While there are many different types of sailboat on the market and there is no single definition of either a daysailer or a pocket cruiser, they are used in a particular way, as the names imply. The term daysailer covers a huge array of sailboats, smaller and sometimes larger, and is generally defined as any day boat used for local sailing, with a simple rig, and easy to get underway. A pocket cruiser typically offers a cabin and head, and adequate accommodations for an overnight stay and sometimes longer cruises. Having said that, there is a large overlap between the two in many instances, so the lines may become blurred. 

What Size is a Small Sailboat?

Small is a relative term of course, but in general—and for the purposes of this article—a small sailboat is one that could be sailed by a small crew, often with one or two people aboard. It will have a simple rig and be trailerable, and it might be either a daysailer or pocket-cruiser style vessel as above. Within those categories, there are many models and styles, but when it comes to length we consider a sailboat as small when it’s under 30 feet in overall length. 

The Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

Pocket cruiser: Beneteau First 27.  The Beneteau First 27 is a modern example of a pocket cruiser, earning Cruising World ’s Boat of the Year award in the Pocket Cruiser category in 2022. With space for up to six people accommodated in a separated bow-cabin and open saloon, it offers families the chance to go farther, explore more, and cruise in comfort. There is a galley with freshwater and a head, adding to the interior home comforts. The sailboat itself is modern, fast, and stable, designed by Sam Manuard, and has been designed to be incredibly safe and almost unsinkable thanks to its three watertight chambers. The handling is also refreshingly intuitive, with a well-designed cockpit, simple deck controls, and double winches allowing it to be sailed solo, by two people, or a small crew. 

Beneteau First 27

Photo credit: Beneteau

Daysailer: Alerion 28.  You’ll certainly turn heads cruising along in an Alerion 28, a daysailer whose forerunner by the same name was designed by Nathanael Herreshoff in 1912 and then updated with a modern underbody for fiberglass production by Carl Schumacher in the late 1980s. This pretty daysailer manages to combine a traditional silhouette and classic feel, with very modern engineering creating an excellent package. Over 470 of these sailboats were built and sold in the past 30 years, making it one of the most popular modern daysailers on the water. With a small cabin and saloon, complete with miniature galley area, it offers respite from the sun or wind and the option for a night aboard. The cockpit offers a beautiful sailing experience, with plenty of space for the whole family. 

Alerion28

Photo credit: Alerion Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 25 Feet

Pocket cruiser: Cornish Crabber 24.  British manufacturer Cornish Crabber has been producing beautiful, traditional style small sailboats for decades, ensuring they honor their heritage both in the construction style and appearance of their boats. The Cornish Crabber 24 is the most iconic of their range and dates back to the 1980s. It offers a simple yet surprisingly spacious interior layout with cabin, galley, and head, and a good sized cockpit, as well as seating for up to six people. It’s the perfect family sailboat, with clever use of storage as well as just under 5000 pounds of displacement providing stability and easy tacking. Aesthetically the 24 is simply beautiful, with a traditional silhouette (combined with modern engineering), finished in hardwood trims. 

Cornish Crabber 24

Photo credit: Cornish Crabber

Daysailer: Catalina 22 Capri.  Catalina sailboats need little introduction, and are one of the world’s best-known, most-respected brands building small sailboats. The Catalina 22 Capri (also available in a sport model) is a great example of what Catalina does so well. While we’ve classified it as a daysailer, it could easily cross into the pocket cruiser category, as it offers excellent sailing performance in almost all conditions as well as having a small cabin, galley, and head. Loved for its safety, stability, ease of handling and simple maintenance, it makes for a good first family boat for getting out onto the bay or lake. 

Catalina 22 Capri

Photo credit: Catalina

The Best Sailboats Under 20 Feet

Pocket cruiser: CapeCutter 19.  This is another model that combines the beauty of the traditional silhouettes with modern-day advancements. The design originates from the classic gaff cutter work boats, but today offers excellent performance—in fact it’s one of the fastest small gaffers in the world. The interior is cleverly spacious, with four berths, two of which convert into a saloon, as well as a simple galley area. With quick rigging, it can be sailed solo, but is also able to accommodate small groups, making it a capable and hugely versatile pocket cruiser. 

CapeCutter 19

Photo credit: Cape Cutter 19

Daysailer: Swallow Yachts’ BayRaider 20.  Classic looks with modern performance are combined in Swallow Yachts’ beautiful BayRaider 20. This is one of the most capable and safest daysailers we’ve seen, but also incredibly versatile thanks to the choices of ballast. Keep the ballast tank empty and it’s light and fast. Fill the tank up and you’ve got a stable and safe boat perfect for beginners and families. While it’s got an eye-catching traditional style, the engineering is modern, with a strong carbon mast and construction. While this is a true daysailer, you can use the optional spray hood and camping accessories to create an overnight adventure. 

Swallow Yachts BayRaider 20

Photo credit: Swallow Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 15 Feet

Pocket Cruiser: NorseBoat 12.5.  Can we truly call the NorseBoat 12.5 a pocket cruiser? Yes we can! The sheer versatility of this excellent little sailboat has convinced us. These beautiful hand-crafted sailboats offer exceptional performance and are described by the manufacturer as ‘the Swiss Army Knives of sailboats’. The traditionally styled 12.5 can be sailed, rowed, and motored. It can be trailered, easily beached, and even used as a camp cruiser, allowing for overnight adventures. There is no end to the fun that can be had with this easy-to-sail and easy-to-handle boat, which makes it a dream to learn in. With positive flotation, lots of clever storage, and a full-size double berth for camp cruising, it really is the perfect mini pocket cruiser. 

NorseBoat 12.5

Photo credit: NorseBoats

Daysailer: Original Beetle Cat Boat 12: All across the bays of the US east coast cat boats have long been part of the ocean landscape. Able to access shallow rocky coves yet also withstand the strong coastal winds, these traditional New England fishing boats have an iconic shape and gaff-rigged mainsails. Beetle Cat have been producing elegant wooden cat boats for over 100 years – in fact they’ve made and sold over 4,000 boats to date. Their 12 foot Cat Boat 12 is one of their finest models, offering lovely daysailing opportunities. It has a wide beam and centerboard that lifts up, allowing it to access shallow waters, as well as a forward mast and single sail gaff rig in keeping with the traditional cat boats. To sail one of these is to be part of the heritage of New England and Cape Cod, and to honor the ancient art of hand-made boat building. 

Beetle Cat official website

Beetle Cat Boat 12

Photo credit: Beetle Cat

The Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

When it comes to learning to sail, it’s important to have a boat that is easy to handle. There’s no quicker way to put yourself or your family off sailing than to start off with a boat that is either too big or too complicated. When choosing your first boat we recommend the following characteristics:

  • Small: The benefits of starting off with a small boat are many, as we’ve seen above. They’re easier to control as well as to moor, and they react more quickly to steering and sails. They can be trailered and launched easily, and the loads generated are much lower than on bigger, heavier boats.
  • Easy to sail: You want a boat that is stable and forgiving of mistakes, doesn’t capsize easily, and isn’t too overpowered in a stronger breeze. Keep things simple and learn as you go.
  • Simple sail configuration: Choosing a boat that can be rigged by one person in a few minutes, and easily sailed solo, makes it easier to take along inexperienced crews. With regards to the rig, all you need are a halyard to hoist the mainsail and a sheet to control the mainsail.
  • Tiller steering: We recommend boats with tiller steering over wheel steering when starting out. The tiller allows you to get a real feel for the boat and how the rudder works as it moves through the water. 

For more information on choosing the best beginner sailboat check out our full guide. There are many popular brands of beginner boats including Sunfish, Laser, and Hunter Marlow. Some of our favorites include;

Hobie 16: The classic Hobie catamaran has been a well-loved beginner sailboat for years, and the Hobie 16 started life back in 1969. Since then they’ve made and sold over a staggering 100,000 of the 16s. It has twin fiberglass and foam hulls, a large trampoline, and a pull-up rudder so it can be sailed straight onto the beach. The basic package comes with an easy to handle main and jib with plenty of extras available too such as a spinnaker and trailer. The Hobie 16 promises a great learning experience and lots of fun in a very nifty and inexpensive package. 

Hobie 16

Photo credit: Hobie

Paine 14: You’ll immediately fall in love with sailing when you step into a beautiful Paine 14. Made from seamless epoxy cold-molded wood, the P-14 is simply beautiful and offers the classic sailing experience with the design and innovation of a more modern hull and rig. Two people will be able to enjoy getting out on the water together and learning the ropes. The Paine 14 has a lead ballast keel that accounts for nearly half her weight, giving her the feel of a much larger boat, but is still trailerable and easy to manage offering the best of both worlds.

Paine 14

Photo credit: Chuck Paine

High-Performance Small Sailboats

Small sailboats generally become high performers if they are light, have a lot of sail area, or they have more than one hull. More recently, some of have been designed with foiling surfaces, as well. For the purposes of this article, we’d like to close by pointing out one model that is super fast and has versatile pocket-cruising capabilities.

Corsair 880 trimaran : The Corsair 880 trimaran is the grandchild of the company’s F27, a model that launched the popularity of trailerable leisure trimarans about 40 years ago. The 880 has taken the model to new heights and exemplifies the incredible space benefits you can achieve in a 29-foot sailboat. We’re talking an aft cabin, room to sleep 5 people, an enclosed head, and standing headroom in the galley and main saloon. It brings many of the opportunities that a much larger yacht plus the ability to cruise in extremely shallow water. Whether you want to cruise to the Bahamas or enjoy a high-adrenaline race, the Corsair 880 offers incredible performance and unlimited adventures in a truly pocket size. 

Corsair 880

Photo credit: Corsair

Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

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Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

sailboats for beginners

There are a number of classic trainers used by yacht club youth programs as well as techie new designs. Without mentioning specific models and brands, it’s difficult to outline which small boats are best but here are things to look for in good teaching boats.

Some of the best small sailboats for beginners include:

  • Boats with tillers steering
  • Boats with no winches
  • Sailing dinghies
  • Small sloops
  • Small catamarans
  • Rotomolded boats
  • Trailerable sailboats

Explore All Sailboat Types

Boats with Tiller Steering

Steering by tiller (rather than a wheel) can make a difference when learning. Tillers are directly connected to the rudder that manages the boat’s direction. Tillers provide quick feedback about the strength and direction of the wind as well as the boat’s turning agility at various speeds.

Boats with No Winches

Boats that require no winches to manage the sheets and halyards are best for youngsters and new sailors. These boats usually don’t experience the same forces on the sails and rigging as larger boats, which can be a handful when the wind starts to blow. Winches are usually replaced with cam or jam cleats, which are easy to use.

Sailing Dinghies

Sailing dinghies are usually rigged with one mast and one sail and offer kids and new sailors simplicity so it’s easy to learn the ropes. Less overwhelming than boats with two sails, dinghies are light and responsive. They also have a shallow draft due to side or centerboards so they can be sailed just about anywhere. In some cases (whether from a wind gust or sudden crew weight shift) sailing dinghies can capsize so students should wear lifejackets and know how to swim. Sailing dinghies are usually sailed by one or two people.

Small Sloops

Small sloops with a mast that carries head and mainsails are the next step so students learn how sails work together. Headsails can be hanked on or attached to a small roller furler. These boats may have some or no winches, which also makes them easier to maintain. These boats can usually be sailed with one to four people.

Some sloops can scale up, providing a more challenging experience for sailors as they develop skills. Certain models can carry spinnakers and larger headsails to teach sail combinations and new sail trim techniques. Others offer the ability to hike out (shift crew weight well outboard to balance the boat against the wind pressure in the sails). This kind of sailing is more advanced.

Small Catamarans

Small catamarans provide extra stability for those who may be nervous about capsizing or aren’t fond of heeling (tipping while sailing). With two hulls providing a wide and stable base, catamarans area ideal for beginners, which may be why they’re often used by resorts as their beach sailing tourist boats. Rigged with one or two sails, small cats are tiller steered and usually have a trampoline that the students sit on and sail.

Rotomolded Boats

Small rotomolded boats are very forgiving due to their durable construction. Unlike fiberglass or wooden boats, rotomolded (a type of plastic construction technique) trainers can bounce off docks or other boats and cause or sustain little damage. Dinghies and catamarans can both be made via rotomolding.

Trailerable Sailboats

Finally, small sailboats that can be trailered to different locations add variety and that makes learning fun. Students can learn to sail in different wind and water conditions and enjoy their boats differently on vacation or with new friends.

Learning to sail involves all the senses and requires a level head and lots of practice and although it can be learned in many ways, the best way is to start with a boat that’s small, simple, safe and durable.

Read Next: Small Boats: What Are My Options?

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20 Best Small Sailboats for the Weekender

  • By Mark Pillsbury
  • Updated: May 24, 2024

In order to go cruising, most of us require a sailboat with a head, a galley, and bunks. The boat, likely a 30-footer and more often a 40-footer, will have electronics for navigation and entertainment, refrigeration if the trip is longer than a coastal hop, an engine for light wind, and, depending on our appetites for food and fun, perhaps a genset to power our toys and appliances.

To go sailing , however, all we really need is a hull, mast, rudder, and sail. To experience the pure joy of sheeting in and scooting off across a lake, bay, or even the open ocean, there’s nothing better than a small sailboat – we’re talking sailboats under 25 feet. You can literally reach out and touch the water as it flows past. You instantly feel every puff of breeze and sense every change in trim.

Some of the boats in this list are new designs, others are time-tested models from small sailboat manufacturers, but every one is easy to rig, simple to sail, and looks like a whole lot of fun either for a solo outing on a breezy afternoon or to keep family and friends entertained throughout your entire sailing season. This list is made up of all types of sailboats , and if you’re looking for a list of some of the best small sailboats for beginners, you’ll find exactly that here.

Any one of these popular boats could be labeled as a trailerable sailboat, daysailer, or even a weekender sailboat. And while most would be labeled as a one or two person sailboat, some could comfortably fit three or even four people.

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

Marblehead 22 Daysailer

Marblehead 22 Daysailer

If you have an eye for elegant lines and your heart goes pitter-patter over just the right amount of overhang beneath a counter transom, the Marblehead 22 daysailer, designed by Doug Zurn and built by Samoset Boatworks in Boothbay, Maine, will definitely raise your pulse. Traditional-looking above the waterline and modern beneath, the cold-molded hull sports a deep bulb keel and a Hall Spars carbon-fiber mast with a wishbone rig and square-top main. The 11-foot-9-inch cockpit can seat a crowd, and a small cuddy forward will let you stow your friends’ gear for the day. samosetboatworks.com

Catalina 22 Sport

Catalina 22 Sport

Many a harbor plays host to an active fleet of Catalina 22s, one of the most popular small sailboats over the years, given its basic amenities and retractable keel, which allows it to be easily trailered. Recently, the company introduced the Catalina 22 Sport, an updated design that can compete with the older 22s. The boat features a retractable lead keel; a cabin that can sleep four, with a forward hatch for ventilation; and a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib. Lifelines, a swim ladder, and an engine are options, as are cloth cushions; vinyl cushions are standard. The large cockpit will seat a crowd or let a mom-and-pop crew stretch out and enjoy their sail. It’s clear why the Catalina 22 is one of the best sailboats under 25 feet. catalinayachts.com

Hunter 22

With its large, open-transom cockpit and sloop rig, the Hunter 22 makes a comfortable daysailer for family and friends. But with its cuddy cabin, twin bunks, optional electrical system, opening screened ports, and portable toilet, a parent and child or a couple could comfortably slip away for an overnight or weekend. Add in the optional performance package, which includes an asymmetric spinnaker, a pole, and a mainsheet traveler, and you could be off to the races. The boat features a laminated fiberglass hull and deck, molded-in nonskid, and a hydraulic lifting centerboard. Mount a small outboard on the stern bracket, and you’re set to go. marlow-hunter.com

the Daysailer

Not sure whether you want to race, cruise or just go out for an afternoon sail? Since 1958, sailors have been having a ball aboard the Uffa Fox/George O’Day-designed Daysailer. Fox, who in the 1950s was on the cutting edge of planning-dinghy design, collaborated with Fall River, Massachusetts boatbuilder O’Day Corp. to build the 16-foot Daysailer, a boat that features a slippery hull and a small cuddy cabin that covers the boat roughly from the mast forward. Thousands of Daysailers were built by various builders, and they can be found used for quite affordable prices. There are active racing fleets around the US, and new Daysailers are still in production today, built by Cape Cod Ship Building. capecodshipbuilding.com

BayRaider from Swallow Boats

BayRaider from Swallow Boats

Easy to rig and trailer, the BayRaider from England’s Swallow Yachts is a relative newcomer to the small-boat market in the United States. Nearly all of its 19 feet 9 inches is open cockpit, though a spray hood can be added to keep the forward sections dry. The BayRaider is ketch-rigged with a gunter-style mainmast. The topmast and mizzen are both carbon-fiber, which is an option for the mainmast as well. The BayRaider can be sailed with a dry hull in lighter conditions or with 300 pounds of water ballast to increase its stability. With the centerboard and hinged rudder raised, the boat can maneuver in even the thinnest water.

$28,900, (904) 234-8779, swallowyachts.com

12 1/2 foot Beetle Cat

Big fun can come in small packages, especially if your vessel of choice happens to be the 12 ½-foot Beetle Cat. Designed by John Beetle and first built in 1921, the wooden shallow draft sailboat is still in production today in Wareham, Massachusetts at the Beetle Boat Shop. With a draft of just 2 feet, the boat is well-suited for shallow bays, but equally at home in open coastal waters. The single gaff-rigged sail provides plenty of power in light air and can be quickly reefed down to handle a blow. In a word, sailing a Beetle Cat is fun. beetlecat.com

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

West Wight Potter P 19

West Wight Potter P 19

With berths for four and a workable galley featuring a cooler, a sink, and a stove, West Wight Potter has packed a lot into its 19-foot-long P 19. First launched in 1971, this is a line of boats that’s attracted a true following among trailer-sailors. The P 19′s fully retractable keel means that you can pull up just about anywhere and go exploring. Closed-cell foam fore and aft makes the boat unsinkable, and thanks to its hard chine, the boat is reportedly quite stable under way. westwightpotter.com

NorseBoat 17.5

NorseBoat 17.5

Designed for rowing and sailing (a motor mount is optional), the Canadian-built NorseBoat 17.5—one of which was spotted by a CW editor making its way through the Northwest Passage with a two-man crew—features an open cockpit, a carbon-fiber mast, and a curved-gaff rig, with an optional furling headsail set on a sprit. The lapstrake hull is fiberglass; the interior is ply and epoxy. The boat comes standard with two rowing stations and one set of 9-foot oars. The boat is designed with positive flotation and offers good load-carrying capacity, which you could put to use if you added the available canvas work and camping tent. NorseBoats offers a smaller sibling, the 12.5, as well; both are available in kit form.

$19,000, (902) 659-2790, norseboat.com

Montgomery 17

Montgomery 17

Billed as a trailerable pocket cruiser, the Montgomery 17 is a stout-looking sloop designed by Lyle Hess and built out of fiberglass in Ontario, California, by Montgomery Boats. With a keel and centerboard, the boat draws just under 2 feet with the board up and can be easily beached when you’re gunkholing. In the cuddy cabin you’ll find sitting headroom, a pair of bunks, a portable toilet, optional shore and DC power, and an impressive amount of storage space. The deck-stepped mast can be easily raised using a four-part tackle. The builder reports taking his own boat on trips across the Golfo de California and on visits to California’s coastal islands. Montgomery makes 15-foot and 23-foot models, as well. If you’re in search of a small sailboat with a cabin, the Montgomery 17 has to be on your wish list.

CW Hood 32 Daysailer small sailboat

With long overhangs and shiny brightwork, the CW Hood 32 is on the larger end of the daysailer spectrum. Designers Chris Hood and Ben Stoddard made a conscious decision to forego a cabin and head in favor of an open cockpit big enough to bring 4 or 5 friends or family out for an afternoon on the water. The CW Hood 32 is sleek and graceful through the water and quick enough to do some racing, but keeps things simple with a self-tacking jib and controls that can be lead back to a single-handed skipper. A top-furling asymmetrical, electric sail drive and Torqeedo outboard are all optional. The CW Hood 32 makes for a great small family sailboat.  cwhoodyachts.com

Sun Cat from Com-Pac

Sun Cat from Com-Pac

Shallow U.S. East Coast bays and rock-strewn coasts have long been graced by cat boats, whose large, gaff-rigged mainsails proved simple and powerful both on the wind and, better yet, when reaching and running. The 17-foot-4-inch Sun Cat, built by Com-Pac Yachts, updates the classic wooden cat with its fiberglass hull and deck and the easy-to-step Mastender Rigging System, which incorporates a hinged tabernacle to make stepping the mast a one-person job. If you want a personal sailboat ideal for solo sailing, the Sun Can is a great choice. Belowdecks, the twin 6-foot-5-inch berths and many other features and amenities make this cat a willing weekender.

$19,800, (727) 443-4408, com-pacyachts.com

Catalina 16.5

Catalina 16.5

The Catalina 16.5 sits right in the middle of Catalina Yachts’ line of small sailboats, which range from the 12.5 to the 22 Capri and Sport, and it comes in both an easy-to-trailer centerboard model and a shoal-draft fixed-keel configuration. With the fiberglass board up, the 17-foot-2-inch boat draws just 5 inches of water; with the board down, the 4-foot-5-inch draft suggests good windward performance. Hull and deck are hand-laminated fiberglass. The roomy cockpit is self-bailing, and the bow harbors a good-sized storage area with a waterproof hatch. catalinayachts.com

Hobie 16

No roundup of best small sailboats (trailerable and fun too) would be complete without a mention of the venerable Hobie 16, which made its debut in Southern California way back in 1969. The company has introduced many other multihulls since, but more than 100,000 of the 16s have been launched, a remarkable figure. The Hobie’s asymmetric fiberglass-and-foam hulls eliminate the need for daggerboards, and with its kick-up rudders, the 16 can be sailed right up to the beach. Its large trampoline offers lots of space to move about or a good place to plant one’s feet when hanging off the double trapezes with a hull flying. The boat comes with a main and a jib; a spinnaker, douse kit, trailer, and beach dolly are optional features. hobiecat.com

Hunter 15

Novice sailors or old salts looking for simplicity could both enjoy sailing the Hunter 15. With a fiberglass hull and deck and foam flotation, the boat is sturdily built. The ample freeboard and wide beam provide stability under way, and the heavy-duty rubrail and kick-up rudder mean that you won’t have to worry when the dock looms or the going grows shallow. Both the 15 and its slightly larger 18-foot sibling come standard with roller-furling jibs.

$6,900/$9,500 (boat-show prices for the 15 and 18 includes trailers), (386) 462-3077, marlow-hunter.com

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

Super Snark

Super Snark

Under various owners, the Snark brand of sailboats, now built by Meyers Boat Co., has been around since the early 1970s. The Super Snark, at 11 feet, is a simple, easily car-topped daysailer that’s fit out with a lateen rig and sail. Billed as unsinkable, the five boats in the company’s line are built with E.P.S. foam, with the external hull and deck vacuum-formed to the core using an A.B.S. polymer. The Super Snark weighs in at 50 pounds, and with a payload capacity of 310 pounds, the boat can carry two.

$970, (800) 247-6275, meyersboat.com

Norseboat 21.5

Norseboat 21.5

Built in Canada, the NorseBoat 21.5 is a rugged looking craft that comes in a couple of configurations: one with an open cockpit and small doghouse, and another with a smaller cockpit and cabin that houses a double berth for two adults and optional quarter berths for the kids. Both carry NorseBoat’s distinctive looking carbon fiber gaff-rigged mast with main and jib (a sprit-set drifter is optional), and come with a ballasted stub keel and centerboard. Because of its lightweight design, the boat can be rowed and is easily trailered.

$36,000 (starting), 902-659-2790, norseboat.com

Flying Scot

Flying Scot

Talk about time-tested, the 19-foot Flying Scot has been in production since 1957 and remains a popular design today. Sloop rigged, with a conventional spinnaker for downwind work, the boat is an easily sailed family boat as well as a competitive racer, with over 130 racing fleets across the U.S. Its roomy cockpit can seat six to eight, though the boat is often sailed by a pair or solo. Hull and deck are a fiberglass and balsa core sandwich. With the centerboard up, the boat draws only eight inches. Though intended to be a daysailer, owners have rigged boom tents and berths for overnight trips, and one adventurous Scot sailor cruised his along inland waterways from Philadelphia to New Orleans.

RS Venture

Known primarily for its line of racing dinghys, RS Sailing also builds the 16-foot, 4-inch Venture, which it describes as a cruising and training dinghy. The Venture features a large, self-draining cockpit that will accommodate a family or pack of kids. A furling jib and mainsail with slab reefing come standard with the boat; a gennaker and trapeze kit are options, as is an outboard motor mount and transom swim ladder. The deck and hull are laid up in a fiberglass and Coremat sandwich. The Venture’s designed to be both a good performer under sail, but also stable, making it a good boat for those learning the sport.

$14,900, 203-259-7808, rssailing.com

Topaz Taz

Topper makes a range of mono- and multihull rotomolded boats, but the model that caught one editor’s eye at Strictly Sail Chicago was the Topaz Taz. At 9 feet, 8 inches LOA and weighing in at 88 pounds, the Taz is not going to take the whole crowd out for the day. But, with the optional mainsail and jib package (main alone is for a single child), the Taz can carry two or three kids or an adult and one child, and would make a fun escape pod when tied behind the big boat and towed to some scenic harbor. The hull features Topper’s Trilam construction, a plastic and foam sandwich that creates a boat that’s stiff, light, and durable, and shouldn’t mind being dragged up on the beach when it’s time for a break.

$2,900 (includes main and jib), 410-286-1960, topazsailboats.com

WindRider WRTango

WindRider WRTango

WRTango, a fast, sturdy, 10-foot trimaran that’s easy to sail, is the newest portable craft from WindRider International. It joins a line that includes the WR16 and WR17 trimarans. The Tango features forward-facing seating, foot-pedal steering, and a low center of gravity that mimics the sensation of sitting in a kayak. It weighs 125 pounds (including the outriggers and carbon-fiber mast), is extremely stable, and has single-sheet sail control. The six-inch draft and kick-up rudder make it great for beaching, while the hull and outriggers are made of rotomolded polyethylene, so it can withstand running into docks and being dragged over rocks.

$3,000, 612-338-2170, windrider.com

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What is a small sailboat called?

Sailing is a popular sport that people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy. But, have you ever wondered what small sailboats are called? Well, in this article, we will delve into the world of small sailboats and what they are commonly referred to as.

A small sailboat is typically considered any boat that is under 26 feet in length. These boats can range in size from dinghies and catamarans to daysailers and pocket cruisers. They are generally designed for ease of handling, low maintenance, and affordability.

The most common term used to describe a small sailboat is a dinghy. A dinghy is a type of small boat that is often used as a tender to a larger vessel or for recreational purposes. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and their design can range from simple rowboats to highly optimized racing boats.

Another common term for a small sailboat is a daysailer. A daysailer is a type of sailboat that is designed for day trips and recreational sailing. They are typically smaller than cruising sailboats but are still large enough to accommodate a small crew. Daysailers are often equipped with comfortable seating and other amenities to make the experience more enjoyable for the crew.

A pocket cruiser is another type of small sailboat that is designed for overnighting or weekend trips. They are typically larger and more heavily built than daysailers but still small enough to be easily handled by a single person. Pocket cruisers often include basic amenities such as sleeping quarters, a small galley, and a head.

Multihull boats, such as catamarans, are another type of small sailboat. These boats are characterized by having two hulls instead of one, providing a stable platform that is less likely to heel over. Multihulls are often used for day sailing or for extended cruising, and they offer more space and comfort than traditional monohull boats.

There is no one specific term used to describe small sailboats, as they can go by several different names depending on their intended use and design. Some common names include dinghy, daysailer, pocket cruiser, and catamaran. Regardless of the term used, small sailboats provide a fun and affordable way to experience the joy of sailing.

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The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

What's that sail for? Generally, I don't know. So I've come up with a system. I'll explain you everything there is to know about sails and rigs in this article.

What are the different types of sails? Most sailboats have one mainsail and one headsail. Typically, the mainsail is a fore-and-aft bermuda rig (triangular shaped). A jib or genoa is used for the headsail. Most sailors use additional sails for different conditions: the spinnaker (a common downwind sail), gennaker, code zero (for upwind use), and stormsail.

Each sail has its own use. Want to go downwind fast? Use a spinnaker. But you can't just raise any sail and go for it. It's important to understand when (and how) to use each sail. Your rigging also impacts what sails you can use.

Cruising yacht with mainsail, headsail, and gennaker

On this page:

Different sail types, the sail plan of a bermuda sloop, mainsail designs, headsail options, specialty sails, complete overview of sail uses, mast configurations and rig types.

This article is part 1 of my series on sails and rig types. Part 2 is all about the different types of rigging. If you want to learn to identify every boat you see quickly, make sure to read it. It really explains the different sail plans and types of rigging clearly.

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Guide to Understanding Sail Rig Types (with Pictures)

First I'll give you a quick and dirty overview of sails in this list below. Then, I'll walk you through the details of each sail type, and the sail plan, which is the godfather of sail type selection so to speak.

Click here if you just want to scroll through a bunch of pictures .

Here's a list of different models of sails: (Don't worry if you don't yet understand some of the words, I'll explain all of them in a bit)

  • Jib - triangular staysail
  • Genoa - large jib that overlaps the mainsail
  • Spinnaker - large balloon-shaped downwind sail for light airs
  • Gennaker - crossover between a Genoa and Spinnaker
  • Code Zero or Screecher - upwind spinnaker
  • Drifter or reacher - a large, powerful, hanked on genoa, but made from lightweight fabric
  • Windseeker - tall, narrow, high-clewed, and lightweight jib
  • Trysail - smaller front-and-aft mainsail for heavy weather
  • Storm jib - small jib for heavy weather
I have a big table below that explains the sail types and uses in detail .

I know, I know ... this list is kind of messy, so to understand each sail, let's place them in a system.

The first important distinction between sail types is the placement . The mainsail is placed aft of the mast, which simply means behind. The headsail is in front of the mast.

Generally, we have three sorts of sails on our boat:

  • Mainsail: The large sail behind the mast which is attached to the mast and boom
  • Headsail: The small sail in front of the mast, attached to the mast and forestay (ie. jib or genoa)
  • Specialty sails: Any special utility sails, like spinnakers - large, balloon-shaped sails for downwind use

The second important distinction we need to make is the functionality . Specialty sails (just a name I came up with) each have different functionalities and are used for very specific conditions. So they're not always up, but most sailors carry one or more of these sails.

They are mostly attached in front of the headsail, or used as a headsail replacement.

The specialty sails can be divided into three different categories:

  • downwind sails - like a spinnaker
  • light air or reacher sails - like a code zero
  • storm sails

Cruising yacht with mainsail, headsail, and gennaker

The parts of any sail

Whether large or small, each sail consists roughly of the same elements. For clarity's sake I've took an image of a sail from the world wide webs and added the different part names to it:

Diagram explaining sail parts: head, luff, tack, foot, clew, and leech

  • Head: Top of the sail
  • Tack: Lower front corner of the sail
  • Foot: Bottom of the sail
  • Luff: Forward edge of the sail
  • Leech: Back edge of the sail
  • Clew: Bottom back corner of the sail

So now we speak the same language, let's dive into the real nitty gritty.

Basic sail shapes

Roughly speaking, there are actually just two sail shapes, so that's easy enough. You get to choose from:

  • square rigged sails
  • fore-and-aft rigged sails

I would definitely recommend fore-and-aft rigged sails. Square shaped sails are pretty outdated. The fore-and-aft rig offers unbeatable maneuverability, so that's what most sailing yachts use nowadays.

Green tall ship with green square rigged sails against urban background

Square sails were used on Viking longships and are good at sailing downwind. They run from side to side. However, they're pretty useless upwind.

A fore-and-aft sail runs from the front of the mast to the stern. Fore-and-aft literally means 'in front and behind'. Boats with fore-and-aft rigged sails are better at sailing upwind and maneuvering in general. This type of sail was first used on Arabic boats.

As a beginner sailor I confuse the type of sail with rigging all the time. But I should cut myself some slack, because the rigging and sails on a boat are very closely related. They are all part of the sail plan .

A sail plan is made up of:

  • Mast configuration - refers to the number of masts and where they are placed
  • Sail type - refers to the sail shape and functionality
  • Rig type - refers to the way these sails are set up on your boat

There are dozens of sails and hundreds of possible configurations (or sail plans).

For example, depending on your mast configuration, you can have extra headsails (which then are called staysails).

The shape of the sails depends on the rigging, so they overlap a bit. To keep it simple I'll first go over the different sail types based on the most common rig. I'll go over the other rig types later in the article.

Bermuda Sloop: the most common rig

Most modern small and mid-sized sailboats have a Bermuda sloop configuration . The sloop is one-masted and has two sails, which are front-and-aft rigged. This type of rig is also called a Marconi Rig. The Bermuda rig uses a triangular sail, with just one side of the sail attached to the mast.

The mainsail is in use most of the time. It can be reefed down, making it smaller depending on the wind conditions. It can be reefed down completely, which is more common in heavy weather. (If you didn't know already: reefing is skipper terms for rolling or folding down a sail.)

In very strong winds (above 30 knots), most sailors only use the headsail or switch to a trysail.

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The headsail powers your bow, the mainsail powers your stern (rear). By having two sails, you can steer by using only your sails (in theory - it requires experience). In any case, two sails gives you better handling than one, but is still easy to operate.

Let's get to the actual sails. The mainsail is attached behind the mast and to the boom, running to the stern. There are multiple designs, but they actually don't differ that much. So the following list is a bit boring. Feel free to skip it or quickly glance over it.

  • Square Top racing mainsail - has a high performance profile thanks to the square top, optional reef points
  • Racing mainsail - made for speed, optional reef points
  • Cruising mainsail - low-maintenance, easy to use, made to last. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • Full-Batten Cruising mainsail - cruising mainsail with better shape control. Eliminates flogging. Full-length battens means the sail is reinforced over the entire length. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • High Roach mainsail - crossover between square top racing and cruising mainsail, used mostly on cats and multihulls. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • Mast Furling mainsail - sails specially made to roll up inside the mast - very convenient but less control; of sail shape. Have no reef points
  • Boom Furling mainsail - sails specially made to roll up inside the boom. Have no reef points.

The headsail is the front sail in a front-and-aft rig. The sail is fixed on a stay (rope, wire or rod) which runs forward to the deck or bowsprit. It's almost always triangular (Dutch fishermen are known to use rectangular headsail). A triangular headsail is also called a jib .

Headsails can be attached in two ways:

  • using roller furlings - the sail rolls around the headstay
  • hank on - fixed attachment

Types of jibs:

Typically a sloop carries a regular jib as its headsail. It can also use a genoa.

  • A jib is a triangular staysail set in front of the mast. It's the same size as the fore-triangle.
  • A genoa is a large jib that overlaps the mainsail.

What's the purpose of a jib sail? A jib is used to improve handling and to increase sail area on a sailboat. This helps to increase speed. The jib gives control over the bow (front) of the ship, making it easier to maneuver the ship. The mainsail gives control over the stern of the ship. The jib is the headsail (frontsail) on a front-and-aft rig.

The size of the jib is generally indicated by a number - J1, 2, 3, and so on. The number tells us the attachment point. The order of attachment points may differ per sailmaker, so sometimes J1 is the largest jib (on the longest stay) and sometimes it's the smallest (on the shortest stay). Typically the J1 jib is the largest - and the J3 jib the smallest.

Most jibs are roller furling jibs: this means they are attached to a stay and can be reefed down single-handedly. If you have a roller furling you can reef down the jib to all three positions and don't need to carry different sizes.

Sailing yacht using a small jib

Originally called the 'overlapping jib', the leech of the genoa extends aft of the mast. This increases speed in light and moderate winds. A genoa is larger than the total size of the fore-triangle. How large exactly is indicated by a percentage.

  • A number 1 genoa is typically 155% (it used to be 180%)
  • A number 2 genoa is typically 125-140%

Genoas are typically made from 1.5US/oz polyester spinnaker cloth, or very light laminate.

A small sloop using an overlapping genoa

This is where it gets pretty interesting. You can use all kinds of sails to increase speed, handling, and performance for different weather conditions.

Some rules of thumb:

  • Large sails are typically good for downwind use, small sails are good for upwind use.
  • Large sails are good for weak winds (light air), small sails are good for strong winds (storms).

Downwind sails

Thanks to the front-and-aft rig sailboats are easier to maneuver, but they catch less wind as well. Downwind sails are used to offset this by using a large sail surface, pulling a sailboat downwind. They can be hanked on when needed and are typically balloon shaped.

Here are the most common downwind sails:

  • Big gennaker
  • Small gennaker

A free-flying sail that fills up with air, giving it a balloon shape. Spinnakers are generally colorful, which is why they look like kites. This downwind sail has the largest sail area, and it's capable of moving a boat with very light wind. They are amazing to use on trade wind routes, where they can help you make quick progress.

Spinnakers require special rigging. You need a special pole and track on your mast. You attach the sail at three points: in the mast head using a halyard, on a pole, and on a sheet.

The spinnaker is symmetrical, meaning the luff is as long as its leech. It's designed for broad reaching.

Large sailing yacht sailing coastal water using a true spinnaker

Gennaker or cruising spinnaker

The Gennaker is a cross between the genoa and the spinnaker. It has less downwind performance than the spinnaker. It is a bit smaller, making it slower, but also easier to handle - while it remains very capable. The cruising spinnaker is designed for broad reaching.

The gennaker is a smaller, asymmetric spinnaker that's doesn't require a pole or track on the mast. Like the spinnaker, and unlike the genoa, the gennaker is set flying. Asymmetric means its luff is longer than its leech.

You can get big and small gennakers (roughly 75% and 50% the size of a true spinnaker).

Also called ...

  • the cruising spinnaker
  • cruising chute
  • pole-less spinnaker
  • SpinDrifter

... it's all the same sail.

Small sloops using colorful gennakers in grey water

Light air sails

There's a bit of overlap between the downwind sails and light air sails. Downwind sails can be used as light air sails, but not all light air sails can be used downwind.

Here are the most common light air sails:

  • Spinnaker and gennaker

Drifter reacher

Code zero reacher.

A drifter (also called a reacher) is a lightweight, larger genoa for use in light winds. It's roughly 150-170% the size of a genoa. It's made from very lightweight laminated spinnaker fabric (1.5US/oz).

Thanks to the extra sail area the sail offers better downwind performance than a genoa. It's generally made from lightweight nylon. Thanks to it's genoa characteristics the sail is easier to use than a cruising spinnaker.

The code zero reacher is officially a type of spinnaker, but it looks a lot like a large genoa. And that's exactly what it is: a hybrid cross between the genoa and the asymmetrical spinnaker (gennaker). The code zero however is designed for close reaching, making it much flatter than the spinnaker. It's about twice the size of a non-overlapping jib.

Volvo Ocean race ships using code zero and jib J1

A windseeker is a small, free-flying staysail for super light air. It's tall and thin. It's freestanding, so it's not attached to the headstay. The tack attaches to a deck pad-eye. Use your spinnakers' halyard to raise it and tension the luff.

It's made from nylon or polyester spinnaker cloth (0.75 to 1.5US/oz).

It's designed to guide light air onto the lee side of the main sail, ensuring a more even, smooth flow of air.

Stormsails are stronger than regular sails, and are designed to handle winds of over 45 knots. You carry them to spare the mainsail. Sails

A storm jib is a small triangular staysail for use in heavy weather. If you participate in offshore racing you need a mandatory orange storm jib. It's part of ISAF's requirements.

A trysail is a storm replacement for the mainsail. It's small, triangular, and it uses a permanently attached pennant. This allows it to be set above the gooseneck. It's recommended to have a separate track on your mast for it - you don't want to fiddle around when you actually really need it to be raised ... now.

US naval acadamy sloop in marina with bright orange storm trysail and stormjob

Sail Type Shape Wind speed Size Wind angle
Bermuda mainsail triangular, high sail < 30 kts
Jib headsail small triangular foresail < 45 kts 100% of foretriangle
Genoa headsail jib that overlaps mainsail < 30 kts 125-155% of foretriangle
Spinnaker downwind free-flying, balloon shape 1-15 kts 200% or more of mainsail 90°–180°
Gennaker downwind free-flying, balloon shape 1-20 kts 85% of spinnaker 75°-165°
Code Zero or screecher light air & upwind tight luffed, upwind spinnaker 1-16 kts 70-75% of spinnaker
Storm Trysail mainsail small triangular mainsail replacement > 45 kts 17.5% of mainsail
Drifter reacher light air large, light-weight genoa 1-15 kts 150-170% of genoa 30°-90°
Windseeker light air free-flying staysail 0-6 kts 85-100% of foretriangle
Storm jib strong wind headsail low triangular staysail > 45 kts < 65% height foretriangle

Why Use Different Sails At All?

You could just get the largest furling genoa and use it on all positions. So why would you actually use different types of sails?

The main answer to that is efficiency . Some situations require other characteristics.

Having a deeply reefed genoa isn't as efficient as having a small J3. The reef creates too much draft in the sail, which increases heeling. A reefed down mainsail in strong winds also increases heeling. So having dedicated (storm) sails is probably a good thing, especially if you're planning more demanding passages or crossings.

But it's not just strong winds, but also light winds that can cause problems. Heavy sails will just flap around like laundry in very light air. So you need more lightweight fabrics to get you moving.

What Are Sails Made Of?

The most used materials for sails nowadays are:

  • Dacron - woven polyester
  • woven nylon
  • laminated fabrics - increasingly popular

Sails used to be made of linen. As you can imagine, this is terrible material on open seas. Sails were rotting due to UV and saltwater. In the 19th century linen was replaced by cotton.

It was only in the 20th century that sails were made from synthetic fibers, which were much stronger and durable. Up until the 1980s most sails were made from Dacron. Nowadays, laminates using yellow aramids, Black Technora, carbon fiber and Spectra yarns are more and more used.

Laminates are as strong as Dacron, but a lot lighter - which matters with sails weighing up to 100 kg (220 pounds).

By the way: we think that Viking sails were made from wool and leather, which is quite impressive if you ask me.

In this section of the article I give you a quick and dirty summary of different sail plans or rig types which will help you to identify boats quickly. But if you want to really understand it clearly, I really recommend you read part 2 of this series, which is all about different rig types.

You can't simply count the number of masts to identify rig type But you can identify any rig type if you know what to look for. We've created an entire system for recognizing rig types. Let us walk you through it. Read all about sail rig types

As I've said earlier, there are two major rig types: square rigged and fore-and-aft. We can divide the fore-and-aft rigs into three groups:

  • Bermuda rig (we have talked about this one the whole time) - has a three-sided mainsail
  • Gaff rig - has a four-sided mainsail, the head of the mainsail is guided by a gaff
  • Lateen rig - has a three-sided mainsail on a long yard

Diagram of lateen-rigged mast with head yard, gaff-rigged mast with head beam, and bermuda-rigged mast with triangular sail

There are roughly four types of boats:

  • one masted boats - sloop, cutter
  • two masted boats - ketch, schooner, brig
  • three masted - barque
  • fully rigged or ship rigged - tall ship

Everything with four masts is called a (tall) ship. I think it's outside the scope of this article, but I have written a comprehensive guide to rigging. I'll leave the three and four-masted rigs for now. If you want to know more, I encourage you to read part 2 of this series.

One-masted rigs

Boats with one mast can have either one sail, two sails, or three or more sails.

The 3 most common one-masted rigs are:

  • Cat - one mast, one sail
  • Sloop - one mast, two sails
  • Cutter - one mast, three or more sails

1. Gaff Cat

White cat boat with gaff rig on lake and three people in it

2. Gaff Sloop

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Two-masted rigs

Two-masted boats can have an extra mast in front or behind the main mast. Behind (aft of) the main mast is called a mizzen mast . In front of the main mast is called a foremast .

The 5 most common two-masted rigs are:

  • Lugger - two masts (mizzen), with lugsail (cross between gaff rig and lateen rig) on both masts
  • Yawl - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast much taller than mizzen. Mizzen without mainsail.
  • Ketch - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast with only slightly smaller mizzen. Mizzen has mainsail.
  • Schooner - two masts (foremast), generally gaff rig on both masts. Main mast with only slightly smaller foremast. Sometimes build with three masts, up to seven in the age of sail.
  • Brig - two masts (foremast), partially square-rigged. Main mast carries small lateen rigged sail.

Lugger sails behind berth with rocks and small sloops in the foreground

4. Schooner

White schooner with white sails and light wooden masts

5. Brigantine

Replica of brigatine on lake with lots of rigging and brown, green, red, and gold paint

This article is part 1 of a series about sails and rig types If you want to read on and learn to identify any sail plans and rig type, we've found a series of questions that will help you do that quickly. Read all about recognizing rig types

Related Questions

What is the difference between a gennaker & spinnaker? Typically, a gennaker is smaller than a spinnaker. Unlike a spinnaker, a gennaker isn't symmetric. It's asymmetric like a genoa. It is however rigged like a spinnaker; it's not attached to the forestay (like a jib or a genoa). It's a downwind sail, and a cross between the genoa and the spinnaker (hence the name).

What is a Yankee sail? A Yankee sail is a jib with a high-cut clew of about 3' above the boom. A higher-clewed jib is good for reaching and is better in high waves, preventing the waves crash into the jibs foot. Yankee jibs are mostly used on traditional sailboats.

How much does a sail weigh? Sails weigh anywhere between 4.5-155 lbs (2-70 kg). The reason is that weight goes up exponentially with size. Small boats carry smaller sails (100 sq. ft.) made from thinner cloth (3.5 oz). Large racing yachts can carry sails of up to 400 sq. ft., made from heavy fabric (14 oz), totaling at 155 lbs (70 kg).

What's the difference between a headsail and a staysail? The headsail is the most forward of the staysails. A boat can only have one headsail, but it can have multiple staysails. Every staysail is attached to a forward running stay. However, not every staysail is located at the bow. A stay can run from the mizzen mast to the main mast as well.

What is a mizzenmast? A mizzenmast is the mast aft of the main mast (behind; at the stern) in a two or three-masted sailing rig. The mizzenmast is shorter than the main mast. It may carry a mainsail, for example with a ketch or lugger. It sometimes doesn't carry a mainsail, for example with a yawl, allowing it to be much shorter.

Special thanks to the following people for letting me use their quality photos: Bill Abbott - True Spinnaker with pole - CC BY-SA 2.0 lotsemann - Volvo Ocean Race Alvimedica and the Code Zero versus SCA and the J1 - CC BY-SA 2.0 Lisa Bat - US Naval Academy Trysail and Storm Jib dry fit - CC BY-SA 2.0 Mike Powell - White gaff cat - CC BY-SA 2.0 Anne Burgess - Lugger The Reaper at Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

Hi, I stumbled upon your page and couldn’t help but notice some mistakes in your description of spinnakers and gennakers. First of all, in the main photo on top of this page the small yacht is sailing a spinnaker, not a gennaker. If you look closely you can see the spinnaker pole standing on the mast, visible between the main and headsail. Further down, the discription of the picture with the two German dinghies is incorrect. They are sailing spinnakers, on a spinnaker pole. In the farthest boat, you can see a small piece of the pole. If needed I can give you the details on the difference between gennakers and spinnakers correctly?

Hi Shawn, I am living in Utrecht I have an old gulf 32 and I am sailing in merkmeer I find your articles very helpful Thanks

Thank you for helping me under stand all the sails there names and what there functions were and how to use them. I am planning to build a trimaran 30’ what would be the best sails to have I plan to be coastal sailing with it. Thank you

Hey Comrade!

Well done with your master piece blogging. Just a small feedback. “The jib gives control over the bow of the ship, making it easier to maneuver the ship. The mainsail gives control over the stern of the ship.” Can you please first tell the different part of a sail boat earlier and then talk about bow and stern later in the paragraph. A reader has no clue on the newly introduced terms. It helps to keep laser focused and not forget main concepts.

Shawn, I am currently reading How to sail around the World” by Hal Roth. Yes, I want to sail around the world. His book is truly grounded in real world experience but like a lot of very knowledgable people discussing their area of expertise, Hal uses a lot of terms that I probably should have known but didn’t, until now. I am now off to read your second article. Thank You for this very enlightening article on Sail types and their uses.

Shawn Buckles

HI CVB, that’s a cool plan. Thanks, I really love to hear that. I’m happy that it was helpful to you and I hope you are of to a great start for your new adventure!

Hi GOWTHAM, thanks for the tip, I sometimes forget I haven’t specified the new term. I’ve added it to the article.

Nice article and video; however, you’re mixing up the spinnaker and the gennaker.

A started out with a question. What distinguishes a brig from a schooner? Which in turn led to follow-up questions: I know there are Bermuda rigs and Latin rig, are there more? Which in turn led to further questions, and further, and further… This site answers them all. Wonderful work. Thank you.

Great post and video! One thing was I was surprised how little you mentioned the Ketch here and not at all in the video or chart, and your sample image is a large ship with many sails. Some may think Ketch’s are uncommon, old fashioned or only for large boats. Actually Ketch’s are quite common for cruisers and live-aboards, especially since they often result in a center cockpit layout which makes for a very nice aft stateroom inside. These are almost exclusively the boats we are looking at, so I was surprised you glossed over them.

Love the article and am finding it quite informative.

While I know it may seem obvious to 99% of your readers, I wish you had defined the terms “upwind” and “downwind.” I’m in the 1% that isn’t sure which one means “with the wind” (or in the direction the wind is blowing) and which one means “against the wind” (or opposite to the way the wind is blowing.)

paul adriaan kleimeer

like in all fields of syntax and terminology the terms are colouual meaning local and then spead as the technology spread so an history lesson gives a floral bouque its colour and in the case of notical terms span culture and history adds an detail that bring reverence to the study simply more memorable.

Hi, I have a small yacht sail which was left in my lock-up over 30 years ago I basically know nothing about sails and wondered if you could spread any light as to the make and use of said sail. Someone said it was probably originally from a Wayfayer wooden yacht but wasn’t sure. Any info would be must appreciated and indeed if would be of any use to your followers? I can provide pics but don’t see how to include them at present

kind regards

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You may also like, 17 sailboat types explained: how to recognize them.

Ever wondered what type of sailboat you're looking at? Identifying sailboats isn't hard, you just have to know what to look for. In this article, I'll help you.

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14 Types of Small Boats (Photos, Features & Sizes!)

Explore the world of small boats with our guide on 14 types, featuring essential details on sizes, features, and vivid photos for travelers.

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Boat lovers all over the world first found their fondness while fishing aboard a small canoe, riding down rapids on a kayak, or on some other small boat. Those looking to recapture that initial feeling, hoping to share it with others, or wanting to own a small boat for any other reason, will find a multitude of options.

There are a huge assortment of small boats on the market, all with various uses and in different sizes. From dinghies to Jon boats, to skiffs, and beyond, small boats can be a valuable asset for any boater. These specialized boats can help solve problems larger boats can’t handle and offer an additional way to enjoy the water.

However, with so many options, finding the right one for your specific needs can be a challenge. This is especially true if you aren’t familiar with the terminology or names of the many different types of small boats.

Below is a list of many of the most common small boats on the market, and an explanation about each one’s use. So, whether you’re looking for a fishing boat for the weekends, a small boat as a companion to a larger one, or something else, you’ll know what to look for.

What Are the Different Types of Small Boats?

Now that it’s understood that there is a wide array of options to choose from, let’s dive into the specifics of the most popular options out there. After this article, you’ll feel confident that you know what you’re looking for to meet your specific needs.

Pontoon boats

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Pontoon boats are a great option for those looking for a casual boat option either for fishing or cruising short distances. These boats offer a lot of room on board for seating and are distinguished by the Catamaran style hull keeping it afloat.

Most pontoon boats are between 15 and 30 feet long. They have a flat profile with aluminum tubes spread around the boat for added support. 

The flat profile allows for plenty of passengers and equipment to be stored on board, however pontoons are not suited for long distances. This is a casual cruiser or fishing boat, not an intracoastal voyager.

Inflatable boats

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There are two main types of inflatable boats, the RIB kind and the SIB kind. RIB stands for rigid inflatable boats. These types of boats have a rigid flooring or hull with an inflatable component. SIB stands for soft inflatable boat. These types of boats are soft all the way through.

Both the RIB and SIB have their advantages and disadvantages. The RIB offers added structural integrity, but due to its rigid hull, cannot be easily stored. The SIB lacks the structural integrity of the RIB, but its completely soft body allows it to be easily stored anywhere.

Inflatable boats typically range in size from 6 feet to 22 feet and have a variety of uses. They work great as lifeboats aboard a larger vessel, but can also be great for recreational use.

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Those looking for a simple but reliable boat for recreational use, cruising, or fishing, will find exactly what they’re looking for with a jon boat. This kind of boat is characterized by its flat bottom, affordable price, bench seats, and motor.

Jon boats are most commonly used as cruisers and fishing boats. Their relatively small and simple construction makes them easy to transport, making them perfect for a quick weekend trip. 

Additionally, the light and simple construction of the Jon boat makes it perfect for fishing in shallow waters, where other boats might have trouble. The simple construction also means that they require very little maintenance, meaning you can spend more time on the water.

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Skiffs are one of the more ambiguous boat types in this list. Skiffs are characterized by their small, simple, and open design, but can be used to categorize many other kinds of boats. Skiffs are made up of a simple hull, an outboard engine, and some seats.

Skiffs are ideal for recreational use, fishing, and cruising short distances. The simplicity of a skiff is one of its main draws. With a skiff you won’t have to worry about maintenance or have to worry about mastering many moving parts.

Their compact size also makes them easy to transport and easy to maneuver in the water. However, their small size also means that less people can be aboard at a time. Additionally, they have no natural protection from the elements, so you will have to find a safe space for storage.

If you’re looking for a simple boat ideal for recreational use at a moderate price, then a skiff might be for you. 

Personal Watercrafts

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Sometimes referred to as water bikes, water scooters, “boatercycles,” or jet skis, personal watercrafts, or PWC’s, offer a lot of fun. These small “motorcycles” of the water are great for the adventurous looking for a thrilling time on the water.

Jet skis are recreational watercrafts suited for cruising and some light fishing. They can range in horsepower from 60 to 300, so you can get some serious speed if you want it. PWC’s can only hold one or two people, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to get more people on the water.

Personal watercrafts come in sit down and stand up versions, so make sure you know which one you’re getting when you buy. 

small sailboat is called

If you’re looking to go fast but want something larger than a personal watercraft, then a jet boat is for you. These boats use a high powered nozzle to propel you quickly through the water. These boats are great recreational boats for cruising and water sports.

Jet boats typically vary in size from 14 to 24 feet in length. They can’t fit as many people as some other boat options, but you will still find space to bring along a few passengers. The main draw for a jet boat however, is the speed and maneuverability.

Jet boats are great for speeding along the water even in shallow areas and participating in water sports. While you could also fish from a jet boat, you would probably be better off with a different option, as these are built for speed. 

small sailboat is called

Dinghies are another type of boat that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and forms. Dinghies can be sailed, rowed, or motored, but a common aspect is they are small and often used alongside a larger boat.

Some dinghies will be inflatable while others may be fiberglass, aluminum, or wood. They are typically between 8 and 10 feet long, making them one of the smallest options in this list. They also have varied amounts of seating, depending on the specific kind you get.

Dinghies are best used as companions to larger boats to reach areas that the larger vessel can’t reach. Their compact size makes them perfect for towing along with a larger boat. They can also be used as small fishing boats or for relaxing on the water.

Aluminum Fishing Boats

small sailboat is called

Aluminum fishing boats are one of the most reliable and utilitarian options on the market for fishing. Their relatively small size, between 8 and 24 feet in length, make them easy to transport to your favorite fishing spot for the weekend.

Aluminum fishing boats are great for navigating even the most shallow of waters, and their simple construction makes them durable. You won’t often find yourself worrying about maintenance with this type of boat.

Some fishing boats must be rowed,  but most will be motored. They often have plenty of floor space for sitting, walking, and storing equipment. 

small sailboat is called

Canoes are one of the most popular options of boat on the market for their simple construction, low maintenance, and ease of use. Canoes are propelled by rowing and are great for a fishing trip, or for coasting along a river.

These types of boats are moderately priced and easy to transport, making them perfect for recreational use. They offer plenty of seating for passengers, given their small size, which you’ll be thankful for when rowing.

Canoes are simple and offer plenty of fun for everyone involved. They come in a variety of shapes as well, some prioritizing speed, others prioritizing coasting, and more. 

small sailboat is called

Kayaks are very similar to canoes in their simple construction, but vary in a few key ways. While canoes offer an open interior to store things and sit, Kayaks seal off your legs and are used primarily for traversing a body of water. 

Kayaks typically only sit one or two people and are propelled by rowing. They use a double bladed paddle as opposed to two separate oars. 

Kayaks are also more suited for maneuverability, and will often be seen as the boat of choice on rapids. These types of boats are ideal for coasting along a body of water or racing down rapids.

If you’re looking for a boat with speed but want a more comfortable seating area than a jet boat has, then the deck boat is for you. This type of boat varies in length from 25 to 35 feet, and offers plenty of seating and comfort for all your passengers.

small sailboat is called

The wide deck is what gives the deck boat its name. Its large deck space makes it ideal for just about any water activity. Its high powered engine makes it great for watersports, while its wide deck makes it suitable for parties. 

Deck boats can be used for fishing, some longer distance travel, and much more. These are the ideal boat for someone hoping to take a lot of people out on the water. 

small sailboat is called

Runabout boats are another catch-all term used to describe a variety of boats. Runabouts include bowriders, deck boats, jet boats, and more. The two primary factors that distinguish a runabout boat are that they are powerboats, and that they are relatively small.

Bowrider Boat

small sailboat is called

Bowriders are another great option for those hoping to take several people out onto the water. They typically range in size from 16 to 28 feet in length and are characterized by their v-shaped hull. 

Bowriders are great for just about any water activity from fishing to cruising, to watersports, and beyond. They are known for their versatility.

What's the Smallest Boat?

small sailboat is called

The smallest boat on the market is the jet ski, the largest being only around 11 feet long. While there are some dinghies, kayaks, and other boats of similar size, jet skis at their smallest take the title. The stand-up models are even smaller than the sit-down style.

What Is a One-Person Boat Called?

There is no one singular name for a single-person boat, as there are numerous kinds of boats that are built for individuals. 

Some of these types of boats include kayaks, rafts, sculls, and dinghies. However, there are many more, and some of these have models that fit more than one person.

What Is a Small Pleasure Boat? 

Small pleasure boats can refer to a variety of boats on the list above. While there is no official designation for what makes a “small” boat, most people agree that smaller than the upper 20s in feet is the cut-off. 

Some small pleasure boats may include bowriders, runabouts, jet boats, and car toppers among many more. What distinguishes a small pleasure boat is that it fits within the loose definition of “small boat” and can be used as a personal water vehicle.

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small sailboat is called

What Are Boats With Sails Called? (15 Names To Know)

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While the general term for boats with sails is sailing boats, did you know that sailing boats come in all different shapes and sizes specific to the job they need to perform?

There are different classes and subclasses in each category, from cutters to yawls and sailing dinghies to catamarans. The one thing they all have in common is that they use the wind to move.

Let’s take a look at the different types of sailboats and their uses, but first, let us define what a sailboat is:

What Is A Sailboat?

A sailboat or sailing boat is a small boat that uses the power of the wind to move. A sailboat can have from 1 to 5 sails and 1 or 2 masts. The difference between a sailboat and a yacht is usually down to size. Big sailing boats with 2 or more masts are called sailing ships.

Table of Contents

small sailboat is called

Types Of Sailing Boats Based On Hull Design:

The part of a sailing boat that sits in the water is called a hull, and there are 3 main types of hull:

  • the monohull (single hull)
  • the catamaran (2 hulls)
  • a trimaran (3 hulls)

1. The Monohull:

Monohulls are single-hull sailing boats that come in many shapes and forms.

They are generally very seaworthy, tack or change direction very easily, and are much more maneuverable and responsive than their multi-hull counterparts.

  • Monohulls are easy to manœuvre and quicker to respond when steering;
  • They are extremely seaworthy;
  • Cheaper to buy and to dock in a marina;
  • Fun to sail.
  • Monohulls ‘heel’ or sail at an angle which not everyone is comfortable with;
  • They have less space than multihulls;
  • If you’re not on deck or in the cockpit, all main living spaces are below the deck and/or the waterline.

2. Catamarans:

Catamarans, also known as ‘cats,’ are double-hulled boats attached by a ‘bridge deck’ or a trampoline.

Small catamarans used for daysailing or racing will comprise 2 hulls attached with a frame and a trampoline.

In contrast, larger causing catamarans will have a ‘bridge deck’ which houses the helm or steering position and common living spaces like the saloon and the galley (or kitchen).

  • The 2 hulls provide excellent stability in so far as your cup of coffee (or beer) will not slide off the table unless you are in extreme weather;
  • Cruising catamarans offer great space and more cabins which is why they have become popular with the charter market;
  • The added stability means less chance of seasickness, makes it easier to move around, and more importantly, makes the cooks’ job a lot easier when at anchor or under-way.
  • Because of the wide bridge deck that attaches the 2 hulls, there can be quite a lot of slamming caused by waves pounding underneath. The noise can be quite disconcerting and takes a bit of getting used to.
  • You don’t get the same ‘feel’ from the boat as you do on a monohull, which means you must be extra vigilant about when to reduce sail if the wind picks up.
  • Catamarans are much more expensive to buy, and as they take up 2 mooring spaces in a marina, they often cost double to dock.

3. Trimarans:

Trimarans, as the name suggests, come with 3 hulls which consist of the main hull plus 2 side hulls which are used for stability.

Trimarans make fast boats and have gained popularity for both racing and recreational use.

  • Trimarans are very stable and fast to sail;
  • They are a bridge between a monohull and a catamaran as they offer the performance of a monohull, combined with the deck space and stability of a catamaran.
  • Trimarans are more complex to sail;
  • Dues to the complex engineering to build a trimaran are more expensive than their monohull or catamaran equivalent.

Types Of Sailing Boats Based On Their Different Rigs:

When we talk about the ‘rig’ of a sailing boat, we talk about the parts that hold up the sails – the mast, the boom, and the shrouds or stays, which hold up the mast.

A sailboat rig can have many different configurations from which you can identify the type of sailboat.

These configurations include the following:

4. Sloop Rig:

A sloop rig consists of 1 mast with 1 mainsail and 1 headsail. This is the most commonly used sailboat rig for both racing and cruising.

The common sloop rig used for cruising means the headsail is attached to the top of the mast.

In racing, it is common to see a fractional sloop rig where the headsail is attached lower than the top of the mast to enable more efficient use of the sails.

5. Cutter Rig:

A cutter rig also has 1 mast and 1 mainsail but has 2 or more headsails which allow for easy sail changes during variable wind conditions when sailing long distances.

6. Ketch Rig:

A ketch rig consists of 2 masts instead of 1.

The main mast will still hold a mainsail and a headsail configuration, either a sloop or a cutter set-up.

The smaller aft or mizzen mast supports a smaller-sized main or mizzen sail.

The main advantage is that this setup allows for smaller sails than a sloop or cutter rig, which are easier to manage by a smaller crew.

7. Yawl Rig:

Yawl rigs supply a similar set-up to a ketch rig.

The difference is that the mizzen mast in a yawl is usually smaller than that of a ketch.

Plus, there is a difference to where the mizzen mast is situated – behind the rudder post in a yawl and a ketch, the mizzen mast is more forward.

8. Cat Rig:

A Cat Rig consists of 1 mast and 1 mainsail.

This is a straightforward setup that is more commonly found in racing dinghies.

A cat rig gives a single-handed sailor the advantage of being simple to handle, making a dinghy very easy to maneuver when racing.​

9. Schooners:

Like a ketch or a yawl, a schooner has 2 or even more masts.

The main difference is that the forward mast is the shortest.

While schooners are beautiful to look at, they are much more complicated and not so efficient as the more modern sloop rig.

Hence this type of rig is not often found in more modern boats.

What Are The Classifications Of Sailboats?

While we can distinguish different types of sailboats by their hull and rig types, modern sailboats are also defined by their different classifications or class.

The following is a list of the most common:

10. Dinghys:

Dinghys have the smallest, simplest, and most popular class of sailing boats.

They have many different hull shapes and rig set-ups.

Dinghies are used for racing, recreational use and are commonly used for teaching.

Popular models include Optimists, Lasers, 420’s for single-handed sailing, and 470’s for twin or double-handed sailing.

11. Day or Beach Catamarans:

These are simple day-sailing catamarans that can be used for racing or family fun.

While multihulls have been available for a long time, the small beach sailor was made popular and affordable in the late 1960s and has become part of popular beach culture.

Well-known models include the Hobie 16, Topaz 14CX, and the Aqua Cat 12.5.

12. Cruising Catamarans:

Cruising Catamarans come in sizes ranging from 30 feet to lengths over 50 feet boats.

They are commonly equipped for long-term cruising and offer luxury, spacious accommodation.

Well-known brands of cruising catamarans include Bali, Catana, Leopard, Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot, plus many more.

13. Cruising Monohulls:

Cruising Monohulls generally start from 30 feet in length and can be anything above this size.

These boats have cabins down below and are equipped for extended cruising.

There are too many popular brands to list here, but many more well-known models have large fleets that offer supported ocean crossings for group and family cruising.

14. Racing Monohulls:

Racing monohulls themselves have many different subclassifications, depending on the size of the boat, the sail plan, and how many crew members are competing.

Some boats used for racing can be the same as a cruising monohull but stripped down to the basics to make them lighter and faster and to have more space down below to store the many different sails used.

15. Motorsailers:

While essentially a sailboat, motorsailers are equipped with large engines and bigger fuel tanks to assist the sails in light winds.

They are normally bigger boats, +35 feet, quite spacious but heavier and slower than their sailing monohull relatives due to the bigger engine and fuel tanks.

Final Thoughts

So as you can see that while a generic term of a sailboat can call a boat with sails, there are many different types of sailing boats out there.

Hopefully, this article has given you information for you to go out and recognize the more common types. Let us know your thoughts below.

The Various Types of Sailboats and Rigs

Types of Sailboats – A Comprehensive Classification

Types of Sailboats and Their Uses

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Types of Sailboats: A Complete Guide

Types of Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Learning the different types of sailboats can help you identify vessels and choose the right boat.

In this article, we'll cover the most common kinds of sailboats, their origins, and what they're used for. We'll also go over the strengths and weaknesses of each design, along with when they're most useful.

The most common kind of sailboat is the sloop, as it's simple to operate and versatile. Other common sailboat types include the schooner, cutter, cat, ketch, schooner, catamaran, and trimaran. Other sailboat variations include pocket cruisers, motorsailers, displacement, and shoal-draft vessels.

The information found in this article is sourced from boat reference guides, including A Field Guide to Sailboats of North America by Richard M. Sherwood and trusted sources in the sailing community.

Table of contents

Distinguishing Types of Sailboats

In this article, we'll distinguish sailboats by traits such as their hull type, rig, and general configuration. Some sailboats share multiple characteristics with other boats but fall into a completely different category. For example, a sailboat with a Bermuda rig, a large engine, and a pilothouse could technically be called a sloop, but it's more likely a motorsailer.

When discerning sailboat type, the first most obvious place to look is the hull. If it has only one hull, you can immediately eliminate the trimaran and the catamaran. If it has two or more hulls, it's certainly not a typical monohull vessel.

The next trait to consider is the rig. You can tell a lot about a sailboat based on its rig, including what it's designed to be used for. For example, a long and slender sailboat with a tall triangular rig is likely designed for speed or racing, whereas a wide vessel with a complex gaff rig is probably built for offshore cruising.

Other factors that determine boat type include hull shape, overall length, cabin size, sail plan, and displacement. Hull material also plays a role, but every major type of sailboat has been built in both wood and fiberglass at some point.

Sailboat vs. Motorsailer

Most sailboats have motors, but most motorized sailboats are not motorsailers. A motorsailer is a specific kind of sailboat designed to run efficiently under sail and power, and sometimes both.

Most sailboats have an auxiliary engine, though these power plants are designed primarily for maneuvering. These vessels cannot achieve reasonable speed or fuel-efficiency. Motorsailers can operate like a powerboat.

Motorsailers provide great flexibility on short runs. They're great family boats, and they're popular in coastal communities with heavy boat traffic. However, these features come at a cost. Motorsailers aren't the fastest or most efficient powerboats, and they're also not the most agile sailboats. That said, they make an excellent general-purpose sailing craft.

Monohull vs. Multi-hull: Which is Better?

Multihull sailboats are increasingly popular, thanks to advances and lightweight materials, and sailboat design. But are they better than traditional sailboats? Monohulls are easier to maintain and less expensive, and they offer better interior layouts. Multihulls are more stable and comfortable, and they're significantly easier to control. Multihull sailboats also have a speed advantage.

Monohull Sailboats

A monohull sailboat is a traditionally-shaped vessel with a single hull. The vast majority of consumer sailboats are monohulls, as they're inexpensive to produce and easy to handle. Monohull sailboats are proven and easy to maintain, though they lack the initial stability and motion comfort of multi-hull vessels.

Monohull sailboats have a much greater rig variety than multi-hull sailboats. The vast majority of multihull sailboats have a single mast, whereas multi-masted vessels such as yawls and schooners are always monohulls. Some multi-hull sailboats have side-by-side masts, but these are the exception.

Catamaran Sailboats

The second most common sailboat configuration is the catamaran. A catamaran is a multihull sailboat that has two symmetrical hulls placed side-by-side and connected with a deck. This basic design has been used for hundreds of years, and it experienced a big resurgence in the fiberglass boat era.

Catamarans are fast, efficient, and comfortable. They don't heel very much, as this design has excellent initial stability. The primary drawback of the catamaran is below decks. The cabin of a catamaran is split between both hulls, which often leaves less space for the galley, head, and living areas.

Trimaran Sailboats

Trimarans are multi-hull sailboats similar to catamarans. Trimarans have three hulls arranged side-by-side. The profile of a trimaran is often indistinguishable from a catamaran.

Trimarans are increasingly popular, as they're faster than catamarans and monohulls and considerably easier to control. Trimarans suffer from the same spatial limitations as catamarans. The addition of an extra hull adds additional space, which is one reason why these multi-hull vessels are some of the best-selling sailboats on the market today.

Sailboat Rig Types

Rigging is another way to distinguish sailboat types. The rig of a sailboat refers to it's mast and sail configuration. Here are the most common types of sailboat rigs and what they're used for.

Sloops are the most common type of sailboat on the water today. A sloop is a simple single-mast rig that usually incorporates a tall triangular mainsail and headsail. The sloop rig is easy to control, fun to sail, and versatile. Sloops are common on racing sailboats as they can sail quite close to the wind. These maneuverable sailboats also have excellent windward performance.

The sloop rig is popular because it works well in almost any situation. That said, other more complex rigs offer finer control and superior performance for some hull types. Additionally, sloops spread their entire sail area over just to canvases, which is less flexible than multi-masted rigs. The sloop is ideal for general-purpose sailing, and it's proven itself inland and offshore.

Sloop Features:

  • Most popular sailboat rig
  • Single mast
  • One mainsail and headsail
  • Typically Bermuda-rigged
  • Easy to handle
  • Great windward performance
  • Less precise control
  • Easier to capsize
  • Requires a tall mast

Suitable Uses:

  • Offshore cruising
  • Coastal cruising

Cat (Catboat)

The cat (or catboat) is a single-masted sailboat with a large, single mainsail. Catboats have a thick forward mast, no headsail, and an exceptionally long boom. These vessels are typically gaff-rigged, as this four-edged rig offers greater sail area with a shorter mast. Catboats were popular workboats in New England around the turn of the century, and they have a large following today.

Catboats are typically short and wide, which provides excellent stability in rough coastal conditions. They're hardy and seaworthy vessels, but they're slow and not ideal for offshore use. Catboats are simple and easy to control, as they only have a single gaff sail. Catboats are easy to spot thanks to their forward-mounted mast and enormous mainsail.

Catboat Features:

  • Far forward-mounted single mast
  • Large four-sided gaff sail
  • Short and wide with a large cockpit
  • Usually between 20 and 30 feet in length
  • Excellent workboats
  • Tough and useful design
  • Great for fishing
  • Large cockpit and cabin
  • Not ideal for offshore sailing
  • Single sail offers less precise control
  • Slow compared to other rigs
  • Inland cruising

At first glance, a cutter is difficult to distinguish from a sloop. Both vessels have a single mast located in roughly the same position, but the sail plan is dramatically different. The cutter uses two headsails and often incorporates a large spar that extends from the bow (called a bowsprit).

The additional headsail is called a staysail. A sloop only carries one headsail, which is typically a jib. Cutter headsails have a lower center of gravity which provides superior performance in rough weather. It's more difficult to capsize a cutter, and they offer more precise control than a sloop. Cutters have more complex rigging, which is a disadvantage for some people.

Cutter Features:

  • Two headsails
  • Long bowsprit
  • Similar to sloop
  • Gaff or Bermuda-rigged
  • Fast and efficient
  • Offers precise control
  • Superior rough-weather performance
  • More complex than the sloop rig
  • Harder to handle than simpler rigs

Perhaps the most majestic type of sailboat rig, the schooner is a multi-masted vessel with plenty of history and rugged seaworthiness. The schooner is typically gaff-rigged with short masts and multiple sails. Schooners are fast and powerful vessels with a complex rig. These sailboats have excellent offshore handling characteristics.

Schooners have a minimum of two masts, but some have three or more. The aftermost large sail is the mainsail, and the nearly identical forward sail is called the foresail. Schooners can have one or more headsail, which includes a cutter-style staysail. Some schooners have an additional smaller sale aft of the mainsail called the mizzen.

Schooner Features:

  • At least two masts
  • Usually gaff-rigged
  • One or more headsails
  • Excellent offshore handling
  • Precise control
  • Numerous sail options (headsails, topsails, mizzen)
  • Fast and powerful
  • Complex and labor-intensive rig
  • Difficult to adjust rig single-handed
  • Offshore fishing

Picture a ketch as a sloop or a cutter with an extra mast behind the mainsail. These vessels are seaworthy, powerful, excellent for offshore cruising. A ketch is similar to a yawl, except its larger mizzen doesn't hang off the stern. The ketch is either gaff or Bermuda-rigged.

Ketch-rigged sailboats have smaller sails, and thus, shorter masts. This makes them more durable and controllable in rough weather. The mizzen can help the boat steer itself, which is advantageous on offshore voyages. A ketch is likely slower than a sloop or a cutter, which means you aren't likely to find one winning a race.

Ketch Features:

  • Headsail (or headsails), mainsail, and mizzen
  • Mizzen doesn't extend past the rudder post
  • Good offshore handling
  • Controllable and mild
  • Shorter and stronger masts
  • Easy self-steering
  • Slower than sloops and cutters
  • Less common on the used market

A dinghy is a general term for a small sailboat of fewer than 28 feet overall. Dinghys are often dual-power boats, which means they usually have oars or a small outboard in addition to a sail. These small boats are open-top and only suitable for cruising in protected waters. Many larger sailboats have a deployable dinghy on board to get to shore when at anchor.

Dinghy Features:

  • One or two people maximum capacity
  • Easy to sail
  • Works with oars, sails, or an outboard
  • Great auxiliary boat
  • Small and exposed
  • Not suitable for offshore use
  • Going from anchor to shore
  • Protected recreational sailing (lakes, rivers, and harbors)

Best Sailboat Type for Stability

Stability is a factor that varies widely between sailboat types. There are different types of stability, and some sailors prefer one over another. For initial stability, the trimaran wins with little contest. This is because these vessels have a very high beam-to-length ratio, which makes them much less prone to rolling. Next up is the catamaran, which enjoys the same benefit from a wide beam but lacks the additional support of a center hull section.

It's clear that in most conditions, multihull vessels have the greatest stability. But what about in rough weather? And what about capsizing? Multihull sailboats are impossible to right after a knockdown. This is where full-keel monohull sailboats excel.

Traditional vessels with deep displacement keels are the safest and most stable in rough weather. The shape, depth, and weight of their keels keep them from knocking over and rolling excessively. In many cases, these sailboats will suffer a dismasting long before a knockdown. The primary disadvantage of deep-keeled sailboats is their tendency to heel excessively. This characteristic isn't hazardous, though it can make novice sailors nervous and reduce cabin comfort while underway.

Best Sailboat Type for Offshore Cruising

The best sailboat type for offshore cruising is the schooner. These graceful aid robust vessels have proven themselves over centuries as durable and capable vessels. They typically use deep displacement keels, which makes them stable in rough weather and easy to keep on course.

That said, the full answer isn't quite so simple. Modern multihull designs are an attractive option, and they have also proven to be strong and safe designs. Multihull sailboats are an increasingly popular option for offshore sailors, and they offer comfort that was previously unknown in the sailing community.

Many sailors cross oceans in basic Bermuda-rigged monohulls and take full advantage of a fin-keel design speed. At the end of the day, the best offshore cruising sailboat is whatever you are comfortable handling and living aboard. There are physical limits to all sailboat designs, though almost any vessel can make it across an ocean if piloted by a competent skipper and crew.

Best Sailboat Type for Racing The modern lightweight Bermuda-rigged sailboat is the king of the regatta. When designed with the right kind of hull, these vessels are some of the fastest sailboats ever developed. Many boats constructed between the 1970s and today incorporate these design features due to their favorable coastal and inland handling characteristics. Even small sailboats, such as the Cal 20 and the Catalina 22, benefit from this design. These boats are renowned for their speed and handling characteristics.

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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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Learn How to Sail a Small Sailboat – 1. The Parts of the Boat

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Typical Small Sailboat

The Hunter 140 shown here is a typical centerboard sailboat used for learning how to sail and for sailing in protected waters. It can hold two adults or three children. It is easily rigged and sailed. We will use this boat throughout this Learn to Sail - Full Course.

Shown here is the boat as it is typically left on a dock or mooring, with sails and rudder removed.

If you know very little about sailing, you might want to learn some basic terms referring to the boat and sailing technique before starting this course.

The mast and boom are usually left in place on the boat. The forestay holds up the mast from the bow of the boat, and a single shroud on each side of the boat holds the mast side to side. The shrouds are mounted back of the mast, so they also keep the mast from falling forward. The stay and shrouds are made of flexible wire that can be disconnected to trailer or store the boat.

On most large sailboats, there are multiple shrouds to support the mast, along with a back stay support to the stern. Otherwise, this boat is representative of the basic standing rigging of a sloop, the most common type of modern sailboat.

The Mast Step

Here’s a close-up view of the bottom of the mast atop the boat. The stainless steel mounting piece affixed to the boat is called the mast step. In this boat model, a pin emerging from the mast on both sides simply fits into a slot in the mast step. The mast is lightweight and easily raised by hand.

Once the mast is stepped, it is held securely in place by the shrouds and forestay, as shown in the previous photo.

On most small sailboats, the rudder is mounted on the stern of the hull, as shown here. The rudder is a long, thin blade hanging vertically from a simple set of hinges (which varies somewhat among different boats). The rudder pivots on a vertical axis, swinging side to side, which turns the boat when it is moving through the water. (We’ll describe steering in Part 3 of this course.)

The rudder may be stored on the boat or removed, like the sails, after sailing. Here, the rudder is being reinstalled. On this model the rudder has a kick-up feature, which allows it to swing up if the boat strikes bottom.

The rudder is turned side to side by the tiller, the long metal arm seen here extending from the top of the rudder about 3 feet into the cockpit. On many boats the tiller is made of wood.

Note the black handle on top of the metal tiller arm. Called a tiller extension, this device mounts near the end of the tiller and can be moved far out to the side of the boat or forward. The extension is needed because when sailing close to the wind, sailors may need to move their body weight far out to the side (called “hiking out”) in order to keep the boat balanced. We’ll see this in Part 3 of this course.)

Most large sailboats use a wheel apparatus to turn the rudder, because the forces on the boat’s rudder can be so much larger that it would be difficult to steer with a tiller.

Boom Gooseneck

The boom attaches to the mast with a fitting called a gooseneck. The gooseneck allows the boom to swing far out to both sides as well as to pivot up and down.

This photo also shows the vertical slot in the mast used to hold the mainsail's front edge (the "luff") to the mast (as you’ll see in Part 2 of this course). The sail “slugs,” fittings on the sail's luff, slide up the mast in this slot.

A similar slot can be seen in the top of the boom, to hold the foot of the sail.

The L-shaped metal pin at the forward end of the boom holds the forward bottom corner of the mainsail, called the tack.

Note the two lines (never called “rope” on a boat!) running up the mast. These are the halyards, described in the next page.

The Halyards

Halyards are the lines that pull the sails up the mast. A typical small sloop like this sailboat has two sails, the mainsail and jib, and thus has two halyards – one to pull up the top corner ("head") of each sail. (We’ll see this is Part 2 of this course.)

At the end of a halyard is a fitting, called a shackle, that attaches the sail to the line. The line then runs up to a block (pulley) at the masthead, and comes back down alongside the mast as you see here. Pulling down on this end of the halyard hoists the sail up.

When the sail is up, the halyard is tied off tight to the mast cleat using a cleat hitch, as shown here.

Halyards are part of the boat’s running rigging. "Running rigging" refers to all the lines that control the sails or other rigging, which can be moved or adjusted while sailing - unlike the fixed rigging, the usually metal, fixed parts of the rig (mast, boom, stays, shrouds).

Mainsheet Block and Tackle

Another key part of a boat’s running rigging is the mainsheet. This line runs between the boom and a fixed point in the cockpit (as shown here) or cabin top. As the line is let out, the boom and mainsail can swing farther out from the boat’s centerline. As described in Part 3 of this course, moving the sails in or out, called trimming the sails, is necessary for sailing at different angles to the wind.

Even in a small sailboat the force of the wind in the mainsail can be considerable. The use of a block and tackle in the mainsheet provides a mechanical advantage so that the mainsail can be managed by one person, with one hand, while sailing.

On most larger sailboats, the mainsheet mounts from the boom to a traveler rather than to a fixed point. The traveler can move the attachment point side to side for better sail shape.

Finally, notice the cam cleat where the mainsheet exits the block and tackle. This cleat holds the mainsheet in place after being adjusted.

Jibsheet and Cleat

When the jib sail is put on the forestay (“bent on”), a sheet is run from its aft corner (the “clew”) on each side of the mast back to the cockpit. The jib sheets allow the sailor to trim the jib, as described in Part 3 of this course.

Each jib sheet is led back through a cam cleat, as shown here, which holds the line in place. The jaws of the cam cleat allow the line to be pulled back but not slip forward. To release the jib sheet, the sailor jerks the line up and out of the jaws (into the open space below the top red piece shown).

The Centerboard

The final part we’ll look at in this boat introduction is the centerboard. You can’t actually see most of the centerboard, however, because it is in the water below the boat. This photo shows only its top edge protruding from the centerboard trunk down the middle of the cockpit.

The centerboard is a long, thin blade mounted at one end on a pivot point. When its control line is let out, the centerboard swings down into the water – usually about 3 feet down on a boat of this size. The thin board slices cleanly through the water as the boat moves forward, but its large flat side provides resistance to prevent the wind from blowing the boat sideways. In Part 3 of this course we’ll discuss how the centerboard is used while sailing.

Note the centerboard control line running back on the right side of the centerboard trunk. The cleat that holds the line and keeps it from moving forward is called a clam cleat because of its shape. With no moving parts, this cleat holds a line squeezed into it. It is not as secure as the cam cleat for the mainsheet and jibsheets, but the force on the centerboard line is much less.

This completes our introduction of the basic parts of a small sailboat.

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  • Using a Sailboat Boom Vang in Sailing
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  • Choosing a Centerboard or Fixed Keel Sailboat
  • How to Tow a Dinghy Behind a Sailboat
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The Alternative to Huge Cruises? 3 Masts, 28 Sails and Wind Power.

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

small sailboat is called

By Ceylan Yeğinsu

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

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

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

small sailboat is called

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

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

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

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

The ship and cabins

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

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

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

small sailboat is called

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

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

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

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

The captain

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

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

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

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

Environment

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

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

Excursions and Activities

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

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

small sailboat is called

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

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

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

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

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

Come Sail Away

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

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

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

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Man who called for help recounts witnessing deadly boat crash on Matanzas River

Crash thursday night left 1 dead, 1 hospitalized.

Chris Will , News4JAX Reporter , Jacksonville

Francine Frazier , Senior digital producer

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A man who was on the Matanzas River in St. Augustine Thursday night and witnessed what proved to be a deadly boat crash shared his harrowing account with News4JAX.

Jorge Carbato said he called for help around 9:30 p.m. after hearing a boat slam into a piling between the Bridge of Lions and the 312 Bridge. The crash sent two people overboard.

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Carbato said at first, he thought what he heard was a car crash on the Bridge of Lions.

“I heard a motor, and then I realized I didn’t hear the sound anymore. Within a few seconds, I started hearing someone calling for help. I called 911 immediately,” Carbato said.

RELATED: Body found in search for missing boater after St. Augustine boat crash, sources say

Carbato said he got on his boat and turned his spotlight on the crash scene. He saw wreckage among a couple of pilings in the water as the damaged boat’s lights sank below the surface.

After he spotted one of the boaters from the crash, Carbato said he kept his light on him until help arrived.

“I heard the guy yelling the whole time. I didn’t know there was another person on board,” Carbato said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said one of the boaters was rescued from the water, but the other was found dead after a multi-agency search.

Carbato said he visits Fish Island Marina in St. Augustine to go out on his boat almost every day. He said he knows how dangerous the water can be, and Thursday’s crash proved it.

“My condolences to the family and those involved,” Carbato said. “This is a very dark waterway. There’s a lot of curves or some congestion there. There’s a lot of traffic through here.”

The exact cause of the crash is still unknow, but the FWC says the investigation is still active.

The boater rescued from the water was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.

About the Authors

Chris Will has joined the News4JAX team as a weekend morning reporter, after graduating from the University of Florida in spring 2024. During his time in Gainesville, he covered a wide range of stories across the Sunshine State. His coverage of Hurricane Ian in southwest Florida earned a National Edward R. Murrow Award.

Francine Frazier

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.

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small sailboat is called

Mourners gather in Italy after at least 60 people dead after migrant sailboat capsized

On the coastline of southern Italy, a small group gathered at the water's edge.

They could not go any further into the Ionian Sea although they clearly wished they could.

"Is Europe worth all this trouble, I swear to God it's not," says a man called Setar.

"Why put your wife and children through this?"

The shock is real, the feelings raw after the deaths of 60 or more migrants in the central Mediterranean in this incident alone.

The Italian coastguard says 20 bodies have been recovered off the coast of Calabria after a sailboat packed with migrants capsized and sank.

Some 76 people were believed to be on board, and only 11 survived. The rest are missing and feared dead.

Passengers clung to the remains of the semi-submerged craft some 120 miles from the Italian coast but assistance - in the form of the coastguard - took four days to arrive.

Only 11 managed to survive the ordeal .

Smugglers organised the journey from a place near Bodrum in Turkey, using a well-used migration seaway through the Mediterranean.

More than 70 paid for a spot in the vessel, with the majority formed by Kurds from Iran and Iraq.

Some passengers told their relatives that they would travelling "like VIPs", but that was just a lie spun by the smugglers.

There were few provisions on board.

We found a woman called Mitra Ghasem Karimi, sitting under the hull of an old boat in the Italian port of Roccella Ionica.

It was clear that Ms Karimi had been crying.

Originally from Iran, she now lives in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. She told me that her brother Pourya, 41, and sister Somma, 36, had boarded that craft.

She said: "There was no water, there was no food in the boat - but to the families and the people who got in that damn boat, (the smugglers) said yes, there is water, food.

"My brother and sister had life jackets, but they would not let them take them with them. Why?"

Mitra and her husband said they wanted to hire a helicopter so they could fly over the remains of the vessel. I asked them what they were expecting to see.

She replied: "Maybe some bodies, maybe I can find the body of my own brother and sister, to find the bodies and take them to my mum, so my mum can mourn."

Mitra had stowed her brother and sister's Iranian passports securely in her bag, and she burst into tears as she took them out to show me.

"They just wanted a better life, the people who got into that boat. Why can't they have that life in their country, their damn country?" she said.

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It took the best part of a day to hire a helicopter - along with 6,000 Euros in cash - but Mitra did not find the bodies of her brother and sister.

Her siblings remain lost at sea.

But she has recordings of their voices stored on phone and she has hovered above the waters where they lost their lives.

It may have brought her a small measure of peace.

Two men mourn at the water's edge after the tragedy

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Historic tall ship to bring touch of Italy to foreign shores

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COMMENTS

  1. What Are Small Sailboats Called?

    A small sailboat is called a dinghy and is usually between 8 to 15 feet in length, with some being slightly larger. These sailboats vary in how they are used, but can either be powered by a motor, sailed with the use of a removable mast, or moved with oars. In addition, you might see some of these boats being used with larger vessels as a lifeboat.

  2. Small Sailboat Sizes: A Complete Guide

    Small sailboats are generally under 20 feet in length, come in a variety of designs, and have different hulls. These include monohulls, catamarans, and trimarans. As long as they have a mast, rudder, sail, and are under 20 feet, it is considered a small sailboat. According to experienced sailors that use a smaller boat, it is best to have one ...

  3. 17 Sailboat Types Explained: How To Recognize Them

    one mast. triangular mainsail (called a Bermuda sail) a foresail (also called the jib) fore-and-aft rigged. medium-sized (12 - 50 ft) Fore-and-aft rigged just means "from front to back". This type of rigging helps to sail upwind. Any sailboat with one mast and two sails could still be a sloop.

  4. Sailing Terms: Sailboat Types, Rigs, Uses, and Definitions

    June 17, 2024. Sailboats are powered by sails using the force of the wind. They are also referred to as sailing dinghies, boats, and yachts, depending on their size. Sailboats range in size, from lightweight dinghies like the Optimist dinghy (7'9") all the way up to mega yachts over 200 feet long. The length is often abbreviated as LOA (length ...

  5. 10 Best Small Sailboats (Under 20 Feet)

    Catalina 16.5. jlodrummer. Catalina Yachts are synonymous with bigger boats but they have some great and smaller boats too such as Catalina 16.5. This is one of the best small sailboats that are ideal for family outings given that it has a big and roomy cockpit, as well as a large storage locker.

  6. Small Sailboats: What Are They Called?

    Small sailboats, called dinghies, are small and very manoeuvrable. Sailboats are constructed with a mast or a keel, and a sail or a motor.

  7. Small Sailboat Types: Choose the Perfect One For You

    Good for day trips and overnight trips. 20-30 feet in length. Catalina 22, Hunter 22, J/22, San Juan 21. Small catamaran. Fast and fun sailboats that can accommodate small groups and are good for day trips and weekend outings. 14-20 feet in length. Hobie 16, Nacra 15, Prindle 16, Dart 16.

  8. The Ultimate Guide to Small Sailboats

    Maintenance, Upkeep, and Sailing Techniques. Owning a small sailboat is a commitment to its care. Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and safety of your vessel. This includes seasonal preparations like winterization and routine checks for wear and tear. Moreover, mastering sailing techniques specific to small boats is crucial.

  9. What Is a Small Sailboat? (A Comprehensive Guide)

    A small sailboat is a type of sailboat that is typically smaller than other sailboats and usually requires fewer crew members to operate. It is typically used for leisure and recreational activities such as fishing, cruising, and racing. Small sailboats are typically easier to maneuver and require less maintenance than larger sailboats.

  10. An Easy Guide to the 8 Best (And Funnest) Small Sailboats

    Its enduring popularity, strong class association, and supportive community make it a beloved classic in the world of small sailboats, embodying a perfect blend of performance, comfort, and inclusivity for sailors of all levels. 8. Hobie Cat. Start a fun hobby with the Hobbie Cat. Length: 16.7ft / 5.04 m.

  11. Small Sailboat Types: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Vessel

    Montgomery 17 - This small sloop has a length of roughly 17 feet and a retractable centerboard keel that can make the boat draft just 2 feet. Super Snark - The Super Snark is 11 feet long and weighs just 50 pounds with a payload capacity of about 310 pounds. Flying Scot - At just under 20 feet in length, the Flying Scot is one of the larger ...

  12. 11 Best Small Sailboat Brands: How to Choose Your Next Daysailer or

    The Best Sailboats Under 25 Feet. Pocket cruiser: Cornish Crabber 24. British manufacturer Cornish Crabber has been producing beautiful, traditional style small sailboats for decades, ensuring they honor their heritage both in the construction style and appearance of their boats. The Cornish Crabber 24 is the most iconic of their range and ...

  13. Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

    You can learn to sail on any sailboat but small boats are better teachers because they react quickly to crew weight shifts, wind shifts and every command on the tiller or wheel. This immediate feedback is a valuable tool for student sailors and it's usually easy to spot sailors who started out on smaller tiller-driven boats rather than on large steering wheel boats because they're more ...

  14. Best Small Sailboats, Beginner and Trailerable Sailboats

    If you want a personal sailboat ideal for solo sailing, the Sun Can is a great choice. Belowdecks, the twin 6-foot-5-inch berths and many other features and amenities make this cat a willing weekender. $19,800, (727) 443-4408, com-pacyachts.com.

  15. List of sailing boat types

    The following is a partial list of sailboat types and sailing classes, including keelboats, dinghies and multihull (catamarans and trimarans). Olympic classes Laser. Name ... Small Craft Ltd Porter Brothers Moores Of Wroxham Hartley Boats: Widgeon 12: 1964: Robert H. Baker: O'Day Corp: Windmill: 1953: Clark Mills: Johannsen Boat Works

  16. What is a small sailboat called?

    A small sailboat is typically considered any boat that is under 26 feet in length. These boats can range in size from dinghies and catamarans to daysailers and pocket cruisers. They are generally designed for ease of handling, low maintenance, and affordability. The most common term used to describe a small sailboat is a dinghy.

  17. The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

    In front of the main mast is called a foremast. The 5 most common two-masted rigs are: Lugger - two masts (mizzen), with lugsail (cross between gaff rig and lateen rig) on both masts. Yawl - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast much taller than mizzen.

  18. 14 Types of Small Boats (Photos, Features & Sizes!)

    Pontoon boats. Pontoon boats are a great option for those looking for a casual boat option either for fishing or cruising short distances. These boats offer a lot of room on board for seating and are distinguished by the Catamaran style hull keeping it afloat. Most pontoon boats are between 15 and 30 feet long.

  19. List of boat types

    This is a list of boat types. For sailing ships , see: List of sailing boat types This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness.

  20. What Are Boats With Sails Called? (15 Names To Know)

    What Is A Sailboat? A sailboat or sailing boat is a small boat that uses the power of the wind to move. A sailboat can have from 1 to 5 sails and 1 or 2 masts. The difference between a sailboat and a yacht is usually down to size. Big sailing boats with 2 or more masts are called sailing ships.

  21. Types of Sailboats: A Complete Guide

    Some sailboats share multiple characteristics with other boats but fall into a completely different category. For example, a sailboat with a Bermuda rig, a large engine, and a pilothouse could technically be called a sloop, but it's more likely a motorsailer. When discerning sailboat type, the first most obvious place to look is the hull.

  22. Learn How to Sail a Small Sailboat

    A typical small sloop like this sailboat has two sails, the mainsail and jib, and thus has two halyards - one to pull up the top corner ("head") of each sail. (We'll see this is Part 2 of this course.) At the end of a halyard is a fitting, called a shackle, that attaches the sail to the line.

  23. Sailing the Mediterranean on a 136-Passenger Windjammer

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

  24. Two teen girls killed after their jet ski smashes into a small boat on

    Two teen girls died in Illinois when their WaveRunner collided with a passing boat on a popular lake, according to police. Police told ABC7 the incident involved a 16-year-old from Lake Forest ...

  25. Man who called for help recounts witnessing deadly boat ...

    Jorge Carbato said he called for help around 9:30 p.m. after hearing a boat slam into a piling between the Bridge of Lions and the 312 Bridge. The crash sent two people overboard. Recommended Videos

  26. Salvage firm confirms sinking of Greek-owned Tutor struck by Houthis

    Sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group assist distressed mariners rescued from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier M/V Tutor that was attacked by Houthis, in the Red ...

  27. Workington RNLI called to help fishing boat in distress

    The 24ft fishing boat, with two people on board, had engine failure. Conditions were deemed unsafe to transfer the people on board on to the lifeboat so the vessel was taken under tow to the nearest available port, Maryport Harbour. Key facts about the RNLI The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its ...

  28. Mourners gather in Italy after at least 60 people dead after ...

    The Italian coastguard says 20 bodies have been recovered off the coast of Calabria after a sailboat packed with migrants capsized and sank. Some 76 people were believed to be on board, and only ...

  29. US regulators reject Citi's 'living will' resolution plan, FT reports

    U.S. banking regulators rejected Citigroup's so-called "living will", which is a detailed plan to wind itself down in the event of catastrophic failure, The Financial Times reported on Thursday.

  30. Argentina's Milei irritates Spain again with plans for visit

    Spain's Foreign Ministry expressed strong disapproval on Thursday at what it called Argentine President Javier Milei's "deviation from expected diplomatic norms" in deciding to shun top government ...