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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.

yacht with sail

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.

yacht with sail

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

yacht with sail

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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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

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

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

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

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

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

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

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

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

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

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

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

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

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

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

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

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Discovery 55

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Privilege Serie 5

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

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

Gunfleet 43

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

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Photo: David Harding

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

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

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .

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Wauquiez Centurion 57

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

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

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

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Photo: Voyage of Swell

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

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

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Photo: Peter Szamer

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

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Tartan 3700

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

Broker ’ s choice

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Discovery 55 Brizo

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

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Oyster 575 Ayesha

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

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Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

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

Best bluewater yachts for performance

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

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Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

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

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

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Photo: Graham Snook

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

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

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Outremer 51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sweden Yachts 45

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

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

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Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

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

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Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

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

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Seawind 1600

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

Best bluewater sailboats for families

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

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Photo: Nicholas Claris

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

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

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

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Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

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

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

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Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

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

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

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Nautitech Open 46

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

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

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

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Photo: Olivier Blanchet

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

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

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Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

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

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

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

Beneteau Oceanis 473

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

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

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-nautitech-441

Nautitech 441

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Atlantic-42

Atlantic 42

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

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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

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

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

Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

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

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

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

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

Photo: svnaima.com

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

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

Futuna Exploration 54

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

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

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StarTribune

The story of the st. croix river's distinctive sailboat.

There's no other boat quite like the Dar-Ja sailing the St. Croix River, gliding along the shoreline, its twin masts outfitted with white triangles of sail billowing across the bow like a New England schooner.

The sailboat that Jack Lown built in a back yard in Iowa was supposed to take him on an around-the-world voyage with three friends. That was before World War II broke out, and two of Lown's buddies died fighting overseas. What happened next became Lown's true sailing adventure, one that never left the Midwest, touched salt water or charted a course across an ocean.

Sailing into its eighth decade, the wooden sailboat first launched in 1951 has become an iconic St. Croix River vessel, still piloted by the same family that grew up on it and still drawing attention from sailors and non-boaters alike.

John Lown steers the Dar-Ja while adjusting a sail on the St. Croix River near Hudson, Wis.

"I remember Mom and Dad dancing on the deck," said Mary Ann Bergquist, one of the daughters of Jack and Darlene Lown. Her parents floated up the Mississippi River from Waterloo, Iowa, a few years after they married in 1948, back when the boat named for them had a motor but no masts or sails.

The Lowns had seven children, danced twice a week at Twin Cities-area ballrooms and spent the sailing season aboard Dar-Ja when Jack took a long break each summer from teaching high school industrial arts.

The boat that was to conquer the globe instead found a home in Stillwater for several years and then, after Lown got tired of waiting for the Stillwater Lift Bridge to open, Hudson, Wis., in 1954. Over more than 70 years, the boat has been launched countless times to sail north to Stillwater or as far south as Lake Pepin.

Jack died in 1987 and Darlene in 2012. Today their surviving children sail Dar-Ja, especially their son John Lown, who said he takes it out three to four times a week. The boat has sailed so many times, and with so many people, that John said it's not uncommon for him to be at a store somewhere and have someone approach him with their Dar-Ja story.

John said he was sailing one day when a Zodiac zipped up behind him. It was Stan Hubbard, the owner of KSTP, delivering pictures he had of Dar-Ja under sail.

Jack Lown is memorialized aboard the Dar-Ja.

Childhood dream

A young Jack Lown first imagined sailing around the world after reading "Around the World Single-Handed" by Harry Pidgeon. An uncle and his father had built dozens of boats, and by the time Jack Lown was 15, he had built his own motorized riverboat. It wasn't until his early 20s as he studied to become a teacher that he began work on the boat that would become the Dar-Ja.

He first had his plans checked by a naval architect in Chicago, then built a 4-foot model. The full-size version, of oak and spruce and fir, is 12 feet across and weighs some 28,000 pounds when fully loaded with fuel and water. Its middle deck section above the cabin makes a good dance floor.

After the boat was built, Lown got a permit to haul it the 90 miles to Dubuque, Iowa, and the Mississippi River, first launching it in 1951.

Jack Lown never officially chartered the boat as a business, but friends soon learned that he would go out most weekends with a full crew. Lown told a newspaper in the 1970s that he was taking some 2,000 people a year out on the St. Croix River. His family took several trips each summer to Lake Pepin; the boat can sleep 12 people and has a full kitchen and bathroom.

Son John said growing up with the Dar-Ja meant sailboat construction was ongoing. The wooden ship has seen its hull replaced and its main mast and engine. A second mast built in 1978 was partly completed at the former Frank B. Kellogg High School in Little Canada, where Jack was teaching industrial arts.

It was finished at the family home in northeast Minneapolis, then delivered by car and specialized trailer to the St. Croix River. To install the new mast, Jack's son Curtis Lown stood on the Interstate 94 bridge with a block and tackle to raise the mast up from the deck of the Dar-Ja, which was floating below.

"Can you imagine that now?" Curtis said.

The boat has had close calls — Curtis remembers a time when he took it out for his birthday and the Dar-Ja was hit with a massive straight-line wind. The boat leaned over, the cockpit filled with water, and someone called the sheriff for help.

"It was just a freak deal," said Curtis.

On a night in 1958, a motorboat driver slammed into the ship's prow at full speed, killing the driver, a 58-year-old man from St. Paul.

John Lown steers the Dar-Ja with his foot.

River sailing

Sailing on the river means the Lowns know the bridges over the St. Croix and whether the Dar-Ja and its 56-foot-tall mast can pass underneath.

Even sailing under the Interstate 94 bridge can feel like sailboat limbo with river levels at moderate flood stage this past week.

The I-94 bridge is fixed, but others have a bridge operator to lift or swing open a section.

It was at the Prescott, Wis., bridge that Mary Ann used to jump off the boat as a child and run up to the bridge operator's house. "I knew where the bridge man lived," she said, "and I would run up to his house and say, 'You have to open the bridge!'"

Matt McKinney is a reporter on the Star Tribune's state team. In 15 years at the Star Tribune, he has covered business, agriculture and crime. 

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The west bank of the river at the Rapidan Dam near Mankato, photographed Tuesday, has seen major erosion from recent flooding.

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Sailing Yachts For Sale

While they may be far outnumbered by their motor yacht peers, sailing yachts are unique in terms of regatta capabilities and eco-friendly performance. Most buyers of a sailing yacht for sale wouldn’t swap their bluewater cruisers or regatta winners for anything. After all, there's nothing quite like sipping ice-cold mojitos to the soundtrack of a sail flapping gently overhead.

That's why we have invited a mix of some of the most elegant, traditional, modern and enjoyable sailing yachts for sale to be showcased on BOAT – to help those aspiring owners to find their perfect match. Owning a sailing yacht comes with numerous benefits, freedom and flexibility to set sail whenever and wherever. Plus, the eco-friendly credentials never go out-of-date.

Here, we take a look at some of the standout sailing yachts for sale with BOAT International, including sailing yachts from legendary names such as Royal Huisman , Perini Navi , Nautor's Swan and Jongert .

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Frugal Traveler

Affordable Island-Hopping in Croatia? What Could Go Wrong?

A 30-percent-off Black Friday sale on a cruise aboard a yacht meant off-season sailing and being prepared for the unexpected.

A view from a hill of a red-roofed town surrounding a harbor. In the foreground, the ruins of an ancient fortification wall follow the downward slope of a steep hill. And in the distance, beyond the harbor with its numerous small boats, is a string of small green islands.

By Elaine Glusac

Elaine Glusac is the Frugal Traveler columnist, focusing on budget-friendly tips and journeys.

As Croatians tell the story , the Greek hero Odysseus was shipwrecked and held captive on the Croatian island of Mljet. Visiting in May, I and six other sailors embraced the myth when the motor on our 54-foot yacht failed.

“Remember, Odysseus spent seven years on Mljet,” said Ivan Ljubovic, our captain. “We can do two nights.”

In the scheme of things, the clogged fuel filter that impeded our progress on a seven-night, island-hopping cruise from Split to Dubrovnik on a yacht — which the passengers helped sail — was minor. Though an engine, even on a sailboat, is vital for docking and sticking to schedules on becalmed days, most of my shipmates agreed that getting waylaid in a village with Roman ruins on a turquoise bay was an acceptable fate.

I had been resigned to what were, in my mind, worse inconveniences when I had signed up for the trip last November. Then, the tour operator G Adventures had put several trips on sale over the Black Friday weekend. Its best deals were in the off-season, which meant potentially chilly weather and closed restaurants and attractions. But leaving in late April for seven nights of island hopping at roughly $1,300 — after a 30 percent discount — was too tempting to pass up.

My cousin Kim agreed and we made plans to pack rain gear and meet in Split to test the budget waters.

‘Everything between is an adventure’

Little about the itinerary was published pre-departure and none of it was firm.

“Split and Dubrovnik are fixed,” said the captain, who would pilot the ship solo and double as our guide, on our first day. “Everything between is an adventure.”

It started with the Sauturnes, a handsome Kufner yacht with four snug guest cabins, four economical bathrooms where the retractable faucet doubled as a shower spigot, and a spacious galley. Our “crew,” a mix of Australians and Americans ranging from 18 to 75 — all of whom had also jumped on the promotional pricing — spent most of the time atop the boat, where foam mattresses invited sunbathing and a cockpit awning provided shade.

The weather, which turned out to be sunny and comfortably cool, was not our greatest concern. The G Adventures website had mentioned well-known islands, including beachy Brac and Vis , which played a convincing Greek idyll in the movie “Mamma Mia 2.” But since many places would be closed in the shoulder season, we would proceed, according to the captain, based on the dictates of the weather and conditions on shore.

Meals were not included, which meant finding open restaurants was critical. For shipboard breakfasts and lunches, we each chipped in 50 euros (about $54) for communal groceries, which we shopped for at local markets. At night, we would dine at restaurants; G Adventures advised budgeting $250 to $325 for the week, which was accurate, though we often splurged on Croatian wine (a carafe of house red averaged $15).

Small ports

After the frenzy of grocery shopping and moving into the bunk-bedded cabin Kim and I shared, we experienced the Zen of sailing as the ship set off on a sunny morning for 43-mile-long Hvar , the longest and purportedly sunniest island in Croatia.

Neighboring islands drifted past as the wind patterned the sea in shifting ripples and ruffles. A flock of shearwaters soared by at eye level.

Within a few hours, the ridgelines of steep Hvar appeared, revealing terraced lavender fields and olive orchards. Motoring down a long, narrow inlet, we arrived in Stari Grad , a village of stone homes with terra cotta roof tiles, as travelers had since 384 B.C., when Greek sailors from the island of Paros settled here.

Our mooring provided a front-row view of fishing boats and cafes animating the waterfront. Stari Grad’s attractions, including the Greek ruins of Faros and a 17th-century Venetian cathedral, had yet to open for the season, but we relished exploring the old quarter’s narrow lanes and deserted plazas.

From the waterfront, an aerobic 20-minute hike up a steep hill crowned by a giant white cross offered views over Stari Grad and the plains beyond, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of fourth-century agricultural fields, with stone walls circumscribing grapevines and olive orchards.

That evening, we visited them to reach Konoba Kokot , a farm restaurant that specializes in “peka,” a kind of barbecue in which meat cooks under an iron lid piled with hot coals. The family that runs it opened in the preseason, welcoming us with bracing shots of rakija, a local herbal liquor. At a long table under an arbor, we gorged on homemade goat cheese, wild boar pate and, from the hearth, roast lamb, veal and octopus with limitless jugs of red and white wine for 35 euros a person.

Starry nights

Small ships are unmatched at getting into small ports, but a yacht trip is also a little like camping, starting most mornings with D.I.Y. instant coffee. Marinas offered free bathhouses with showers.

Cool temperatures apparently deterred the celebrity-filled mega yachts, which are known to anchor in the town of Hvar on the south shore of Hvar island. Our captain declared it the “Mykonos of Croatia” as we motored by the port bustling with visitors carrying shopping bags and cones of gelato.

With clear weather in the forecast, we moored in an undeveloped cove east of town. The mooring belonged to the owners of Moli Onte restaurant, who ferried us to land on a motorized dingy, allowing us enough time before dinner to visit the fortress above Hvar and have an Ozujsko beer on St. Stephens Square, the largest in the region of Dalmatia.

Back on board, with no artificial light to wash out the night sky, we hit the upper deck for stargazing. As my shipmates peeled off to bed, I grabbed a blanket and beanie and bedded down under the stars for the evolving show, periodically waking to catch the drama of the moon rising, reflected in the still water.

Little Dubrovnik

Fingers of gray rock reached down to meet sloping vineyards along Hvar’s south coast as we departed for its neighbor, Korcula. On our longest day of sailing, five hours, I welcomed the chance to play first mate, manning the lines on the jib sail.

To break up the trip, Captain Ljubovic navigated to a quiet cove off the Peljesac Peninsula where the Caribbean-blue waters, cloudless sky and sandy bottom convinced us to jump in despite numbing sea temperatures.

Fifteenth-century walls ring the historic center of Korcula, earning it the nickname “Little Dubrovnik.” Past the stone gates carved with a winged lion representing the empire of Venice, which controlled much of the Adriatic after the 13th century, narrow alleys led to ornate churches and mansions. There was no better history trip than getting lost in the web of pedestrian lanes. Or so we told ourselves as we passed the purported home of Marco Polo, still closed preseason.

Along the seafront walls, restaurants served pizza and seafood under lights strung in the pines and we caught sunset from a former turret, now converted into Massimo Cocktail Bar , which requires patrons to climb a ladder to the rooftop, a caution against second rounds.

The most romantic port of the trip was also the rowdiest, at least in the marina, which was hosting a Polish sailing regatta. When I headed for the showers at 6 a.m. the next morning, I found a group still cheerfully dancing atop a yacht littered in empty booze bottles and crushed potato chips.

Marooned on Mljet

We left Korcula on strong 20-knot “jugo” or south winds and Captain Ljubovic unleashed the sails, saying “You paid for a sailing vacation, not a motorboat.”

As we tacked back and forth toward Mljet , the boat heeled at a queasy angle and we took face shots of ocean spray.

On Mljet, where the western end of the island is home to Mljet National Park , we rented bikes (10 euros) to ride a lung-busting route over the park’s mountain spine. On the other side, we cycled around a pair of inland lakes and took a boat trip to a 12th-century monastery built on an island in one of them (park admission, 15 euros).

Docked in the still sleepy town of Polace, we heard tales of high season, when up to 100 yachts anchor in the bay and members of the band U2 were once seen biking in the park. After a brief shower, the town glimmered at sunset and the restaurant Stella Maris welcomed us with grilled sea bass (25 euros) and prawns (20 euros).

“I’m so glad I chose this time, because I don’t do crowds,” said my shipmate Nova Hey, 46, of Sydney, who was traveling with her 18-year-old daughter.

In the morning, I had the trail to the peak of Montokuc to myself. The roughly three-mile round-trip hike reached one of the highest points on the island, a rocky knob with stunning panoramas shared by a family of feral goats.

Not long thereafter, the Sauternes’ engine refused to turn over, stranding us in a national park on a remote island with no mechanics.

Teeming Dubrovnik

The next morning, Captain Ljubovic jimmied a fix but it didn’t last long and the engine died again, this time just opposite a cave on Mljet that we joked had to be the refuge of Odysseus.

After a morning of light sailing, a mechanic from the mainland arrived by speedboat and within an hour we were motoring toward the Franjo Tudman Bridge that spans the inlet to the Dubrovnik marina where hot showers awaited.

“Dubrovnik is the most expensive city in Croatia,” said Captain Ljubovic as we spent the last of our pooled money, 70 euros, hiring a taxi van to get us to and from the walled heart of the ancient city about 15 minutes away.

With two large cruise ships in port, Dubrovnik was teeming with visitors and the price to climb the stone walls that encircle the city was a sticker-shocking 35 euros. (In the ensuing two days Kim and I would spend post-cruise in the city, we bought the more comprehensive Dubrovnik Pass for 35 euros that included admission to the walls as well as several museums and public bus transportation.)

On our final evening, we measured the lack of crowds versus closed museums; perfect hiking weather versus swim-inviting water; ample dock space versus more restaurant choices — and felt we’d come out ahead sailing in the bargain season.

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 .

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Ljubljana, Slovenia:  Stroll along the river, explore a contemporary art scene and admire panoramic views in this scenic Central European capital .

Cities With Great Beaches:  Already been to Miami, Honolulu and Sydney? These five other coastal destinations  are vibrant on land and on the water.

Southern France:  The Canal du Midi traverses the Occitanie region and gives cyclists of all skill levels  access to parts of France that are rich in lore .

Port Antonio, Jamaica:  The D.J. and music producer Diplo recommends spots in a city he loves  on Jamaica’s northeast coast. A dance party makes the cut.

New Mexico:  Visiting the vast and remote Gila Wilderness, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, is both inspiring and demanding .

Is Below Deck Sailing Yacht Better Left on the Ocean Floor?

By Amy DeVore

Is it time to give up on a Below Deck Sailing Yacht return?

Gary King has placed Below Deck Sailing Yacht’s future in jeopardy. Joining this cast in Season 2, Gary has given us three seasons of very clear patterns. Simply put, Gary loves the ladies. In fact, his storylines every single season have always involved at least one love triangle, and/or a drunken one-night stand.

But then, the sexual assault situations on Below Deck Down Under Season 2 arose. The ramifications from this quickly began trickling down towards every other series on Bravo. In a good way, the department heads and the production teams dove into action, protecting the innocent parties onboard. This was rightfully celebrated, but in this, many of the viewers also began verbalizing their thoughts on Gary, stating that he is quickly becoming a problem-in-waiting for this network.

Clearly, the safety of everyone on set is a serious matter. So serious in fact, that the latest allegations made against Gary are seemingly giving this network a major pause on how to move forward with this series. I get this, as some shipwrecks are hard to salvage, but, is this the case for BDSY? Or, can this sailing yacht still rise up from the dank floors of the ocean, salvaged for many more seasons to come?

A recap of the latest allegations against Gary

Production members accuse "Below Deck" of covering up Gary King's alleged sexual misconduct: "It was insane. There were multiple incidents of sexual harassment in front of multiple producers after this person had been given verbal warnings multiple times" https://t.co/aodB8Jho8n — Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) August 25, 2023

Last year, after filming for BDSY Season 5 had already wrapped, with Gary’s likeness attached, an explosive Rolling Stone article was released. In this, a production member named Samantha Suarez claimed that Gary had attempted to force himself on her during filming for Season 4. Several crew members also stated that they’ve witnessed Gary “constantly” making women uncomfortable with his aggressive pursuits. One anonymous source went even further, alleging that they saw Gary grab a cast member’s butt, touching her despite her spoken “No.”

Shortly after this exposé dropped, the calls for canceling Gary began. Bravo went first, uninviting Gary’s bun from BravoCon. Then, Gary took zero accountability online, likely sealing his fate with this network forever. But, as his new season has already been filmed, how on earth can this network now move forward with their material?

What an edited Season 5 could look like

Again, BDSY Season 5 has already filmed, so recasting Gary’s role is out of the equation. However, we’ve already seen a Season 5 edit go down, via Peter Hunziker over on Below Deck Mediterranean Season 5. Like Gary, Peter also filmed an entire season, but when racist posts of his appeared online, his firing followed. Since his season had already wrapped, the post-production teams had the grueling job of editing Peter’s likeness out of every single scene.

That said, Peter was brand new to this franchise. Therefore, as a viewer, I wasn’t tuned into Peter’s faded presence at all. In contrast, Gary has starred on BDSY for three long seasons. We all know Gary, and in almost every single scene that’s aired, Gary’s present, and for the most part, his antics are the main storylines.

This means that editing out Gary will likely leave BDSY Season 5 with some pretty major plot holes. Unless the other cast members brought it, that is. So, if it’s between editing Gary out for this one season, or leaving this one season alone to just die slowly down on the ocean’s floor, it’s probably better to just scrap this whole season.

But, if they do this, and Season 5 (re)films sans Gary, can BDSY puke and rally as a series?

Can a reboot better save Below Deck Sailing Yacht?

As humans, we tend to gravitate towards the familiar. This recipe has worked well with BDSY for three seasons. Colin MacRae , Daisy Kelliher , and Gary all entered during Season 2, becoming the staples for this Below Deck spin-off. Working underneath Captain Glenn Shephard , these four brought this series into the fold, making it one of the greatest BD series ever, for a short time at least.

With these new allegations against Gary though, it’s very clear that Bravo might have to remove him from their lineups. Thankfully, Colin and Daisy are back to being friends. They fixed their fallout from Season 4, which I love. This leaves Colin far more likely to return to filming.

You see, unlike Gary, Colin actually sat Season 5’s filming out. But, if this entire season now gets a reboot, Colin can hopefully return. This would bring this series back up to 3 familiar faces, instead of just the 2 found in Daisy and Captain Glenn. This would royally suck for the newbies of Season 5 though, as all of their efforts will get left on the cutting room floor.

Unless Bravo brings them all back to film underneath Colin, instead of Gary. But would this series still be watchable at this point? Do we need Gary? Or neh, let’s reboot and resail BDSY ?

So, do we vote to save Below Deck Sailing Yacht, or do we just let it sink?

missed them ? #BelowDeckSailing pic.twitter.com/YHdRtKgMkq — Below Deck Sailing Yacht (@BelowDeckSailng) April 11, 2023

And now, our one main ask remains; what do we do with the future of this one particular series? Are Colin, Daisy, and Captain Glenn likable enough to help keep Below Deck Sailing Yacht afloat? Or, has this series run its course, becoming far too tarnished by Gary’s antics, and a lack of oversight onboard as to his problematic ways, to fully survive?

If it were up to me, I’d sink the footage that has already taped. Editing out Gary will be tough AF, because he’s everywhere, always. After that, I’d bring back Colin and keep Daisy, but I’d also try and get as many of their costars from Season 4 to return as possible because these drama-free yachties during a messy main character season gave me life. But also Bravo, if you’re listening, if anyone great filmed for your first take of Season 5, then maybe let’s get them back into the fray as well, eh?

Stream Below Deck Sailing Yacht on Peacock.

TELL US – IS BDSY SAVEABLE? OR, DO WE JUST LET THIS SERIES SINK DOWN TO THE OCEAN’S FLOOR, NEVER TO BE HEARD FROM AGAIN? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN?

Amy DeVore

Amy is a former teacher who used reality television as a form of escapism during her decade spent in the classroom. In addition to education, she also studied improvisation and sketch writing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in NYC. Being able to combine reality tv and writing is chefs kiss. Therefore, you can find her here often, writing on all things Bravo.

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Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright celebrate their anniversary despite separation.

'Ghost ship' belongs to Texas man whose world sailing dreams might be dashed

A “ghost ship” that recently washed up on a Florida Panhandle beach was traced to a Texas man who’ll likely lose much of his life savings after purchasing the vessel he had hoped to sail around the world.

Francine Farrar couldn’t believe her eyes early on the evening of June 18 when a 45-foot sailboat with no one aboard eerily floated toward her family’s beach rental in Pensacola.

“I saw this tattered sailboat, it looked ghostly, just kind of coming in,” Farrar, a 46-year-old Meridian, Mississippi, homemaker, told NBC News last week.

A ship washed ashore

The craft washed ashore and the strange sight of a sailboat on the sand quickly became a source of neighborhood fascination, said 35-year-old Pensacola resident Allie Garrett.

“We called it the ‘ghost ship.’ It quickly became known as the ‘ghost ship’ across Pensacola beach,” said Garrett, a meteorologist and storm chaser who took multiple photos and drone footage of the prone vessel.

Wayward boats are common during Florida hurricane season as vessels succumb to high winds and get taken off their moorings.

“We just thought this sailboat broke loose from the marina, that someone didn’t tie it down well enough,” Farrar said.

But this beached ship turned out to have a far more complicated journey to where it now sits in Pensacola.

Shortly after locals posted images of the craft on social media, those pictures gained the attention of 39-year-old Michael Barlow, whose life was saved weeks earlier during a harrowing Coast Guard rescue in the Gulf of Mexico.

Barlow immediately recognized the images and video to be The Lady Catherine III, which he purchased in Fort Pierce, Florida, in May.

“I knew it was her,” Barlow said.

The Catherine pushed off from Fort Pierce on May 21, Barlow said, with plans to dock in Rockport, Texas, where he was closing down an excavation business and selling off belongings to start a new wandering life.

“We were just going to explore the world,” Barlow said of his wife and 9-year-old son. “We’re normal people. We have normal finances, very, very basic. And this is the only way I could take my son and show him there’s a whole world out there, beyond what’s in America. It’s the only way to do this realistically until this happened.”

Barlow and a friend were headed back to Texas when high winds and massive waves that would eventually become Hurricane Alberto lashed the Catherine and rendered it inoperable.

“We went through storms one after another, after another, after another, and then that last storm just hit us and exploded my front headsails,” Barlow said in an interview from Honduras, where he’s temporarily living and teaching scuba. “We lost our headsail, we lost our motor, and we were getting turned. It was unforecast and it was devastating.”

He added: “The seas were the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve been on the water my entire life, worked on offshore fishing boats, and I’ve seen some gnarly seas. But this was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

A Garmin satellite communication device was one of the few electric or gas-powered tools not destroyed by crashing seawater, and Barlow was able to get word to authorities on shore that he was stuck in dangerous waters.

“We were fine right now, but we have no control of the boat and it’s getting worse,” Barlow said, recalling his message to the Coast Guard. “We starting to get turned sideways. The waves were rolling the boat. There was not much we could do.”

The Coast Guard in New Orleans said it was alerted to two boaters whose “vessel became disabled approximately 190 miles south of Panama City” on June 1.

A ship washed ashore

A Coast Guard helicopter and surveillance plane found Barlow and his friend on the Catherine, officials said, but a boat-to-boat rescue was out of the question in those unstable waters.

“‘We can come get you right now, but you have to leave the vessel,’” said Barlow, recalling the choice Coast Guard rescuers gave him. “‘You’re definitely rolling the dice on your life if you stay.’ It was just a bad situation, and it was getting progressively worse.”

Barlow picked a rescue over the boat he purchased for $80,000.

“The aircrews arrived on scene, the helicopter aircrew hoisted the two persons aboard and transported them to Panama City Airport in Panama City, Florida,” a Coast Guard statement said.

Barlow said he was reasonably confident the Catherine would show up again, and it did, 17 days later and nearly 200 miles away.

“We did our best to leave her in the best condition to make it through the storm,” Barlow said. “We lashed everything down and we hoped she could ride it out.”

Now, the sailor has nothing but bad choices ahead of him.

He could pay $20,000 to have the Catherine taken to dry dock for repairs that could very well total more than its pre-Alberto value.

Or he could shell out about $28,000 to simply have the vessel taken away and demolished, which would at least stop the financial hemorrhage .

“If we’re talking about business numbers, it’d make more sense to scrap the boat,” Barlow said. “That’s just the stone-cold truth.”

He’s now in talks with state and local officials in hopes of finding a solution in coming weeks.

As the owner of a “derelict vessel,” Barlow has to move it away or possibly face a third-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and even prison time, officials said.

“Yes, our officers have been in contact with Mr. Barlow,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Faith Fawn said in statement. “He has 30 days from the date the uniform boating citation was issued to bring his vessel into compliance.”

Barlow said he’s not giving up on his world-sailing dreams even if this Catherine misadventure costs him so much of his life savings.

“I said I can make another 80,000 bucks and we can carry on with life and try again or we can sit around here and try to be tough guys and really lose it all,” Barlow said of his final moments on the water aboard the Catherine.

“This definitely did not shake my resolve as far as sailing goes. I love the ocean. I respect the ocean. It’s relentless and beautiful at the same time.”

yacht with sail

David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

Payton May is an intern with NBC News' Social Newsgathering team.

yacht with sail

Rima Abdelkader is a senior reporter for Social Newsgathering at NBC News in New York.

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I'm convinced below deck sailing yacht season 5 will include gary king in the cast (was it filmed before the scandal).

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Married at first sight: the 10 worst couples from the franchise, 90 day fiancé: did jasmine pineda win the beauty pageant.

  • Gary King likely to appear in Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 despite troubling allegations.
  • Allegations of sexual misconduct against Gary surfaced between seasons, but he continued filming.
  • Season 5's release has been delayed, possibly due to editing Gary's presence in the show.

Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 is likely going to feature First Officer Gary King , despite the troubling allegations lodged against him during the show’s off-season. Throughout Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 4 , many were concerned about the increasingly troubling behavior of Gary, who’s been part of the show since season 2. While he’s always been somewhat of a playboy, Gary’s behavior with women got increasingly difficult to watch as he continued further along in his journey with the franchise. Confident in himself, Gary was open about what he was interested in, sometimes getting overly physical with women on deck.

While Gary’s behavior hasn’t always been over the top, there were some serious sexual misconduct allegations lodged against the Below Deck Sailing Yacht star after the last season of the series. Even though Gary was known to be somewhat concerning with women , Bravo continued with another season of Below Deck Sailing Yacht . In between the last season ending and the next season filming, allegations were made against Gary by a makeup artist that was hired by the series, and the account of her interactions with the First Officer gave viewers pause about seeing him on another season of the show.

Reality TV is more popular than ever. With so many to choose from, here are some of the best reality TV shows to stream or watch right now.

Gary Has Always Had A Bad Reputation

Throughout his time on Below Deck Sailing Yacht , Gary has been one of the more difficult yachties to pin down. While he's been fun in some instances, the majority of Gary's time on the show has been spent showing off his womanizer tendencies. Whether it's flirting with the women aboard the sailing yacht as charter guests, being somewhat too touchy with his fellow crew, or bragging about things he's done outside of the scope of the superyacht, Gary's always been known for his scandalous relationships with women . As he's moved through the series, his behavior has become increasingly uncomfortable.

Though viewers were willing to accept Gary as a part of the crew early on in the series, as the show evolved, he became more of a problem for the people around him which in turn became more disturbing to watch. During Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 4 , Gary's behavior towards Mads Herrera was troubling for some viewers. Even before the allegations of sexual misconduct, Gary was a struggle for some viewers to get behind , and after the accusations became public, many called for his removal from the series.

Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5 Filmed Despite Allegations

While the allegations against Gary were serious, Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 had already begun filming when they became public. Though Gary's behavior throughout the series could've been enough of a red flag to remove him from the crew, he was kept on as First Officer on Parsifal III, which means his appearance in the next season of the series is inevitable. While many Below Deck viewers have taken issue with Gary's behavior in the past , it wasn't taken seriously in the years that the show has been on, but with serious allegations afoot, very little can be done.

Gary's appearance on Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 was confirmed early on in the filming process by the First Officer himself, who shared on Instagram that the show was filming another season. While Bravo distanced themselves from Gary after the allegations came out, they only seemed to care to do so after audiences called for Gary's removal from a BravoCon lineup, as well as the show itself. Though the network has taken action, some still feel like it's too little, too late considering Gary was a part of the already filmed Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 .

Gary Is Likely Too Baked Into The Season To Be Edited Out

Many have been curious as to what's taking so long for Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 to be released, as the show has been finished filming for nearly a year. While there has been enough time and space for the editing team to put together a normal season of Below Deck , there's likely a much bigger challenge when it comes to Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5. Knowing that Gary's featured in the season , many have speculated that the editors have been hopeful they'd be able to remove Gary from the show as much as possible to save face.

While Gary has been heavily featured in every other season of Below Deck Sailing Yacht , he'll likely be edited out of Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 as much as he can be. Even with the power of editing, though, Gary has been a major part of the series and was likely one of the major story points of the season. It doesn't seem likely to me that he'll be able to get removed from the show in most facets without the season being entirely re-filmed. Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 5 will be fascinating when it finally comes out.

Source: Gary King /Instagram

Below Deck Sailing Yacht

*Availability in US

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Below Deck Sailing Yacht is a spin-off of the Below Deck reality television series. Premiering on Bravo, the show follows the life of a Yacht crew as they attempt to navigate a busy Charter season in which many customers make use of a 177-foot sailing yacht. Over the first three seasons, the yacht has been to Greece, Croatia, and Spain.

Below Deck Sailing Yacht (2020)

Business Insider

The Houthis are getting smarter with their Red Sea attacks, and the ships sailing these waters are paying the price

  • Shipping lanes off Yemen have seen a spike in successful Houthi attacks lately.
  • They've hit several commercial ships in recent weeks and even sank one of them.
  • The Iran-backed rebels are also getting their drone boats out to sea more often. 

The Houthis have scored a string of successful hits in recent weeks on commercial vessels — even sinking one of them — and demonstrated their ability to effectively strike targets with drone boats, signaling that they're getting smarter with their attacks.

Experts say these highly destructive achievements show that the Houthis are learning from their many months of regular attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and continue to receive help from Iran, their main supplier of military and financial assistance.

"They're learning, and they're getting more support," Archer Macy, a retired US Navy admiral, told Business Insider.

'A useful disguise' for the Houthis

Between December and March, Houthi attacks damaged at least 19 commercial ships, according to a June 13 report published by the Defense Intelligence Agency. Nearly all of the vessels were targeted by missiles, though some were struck by one-way attack drones.

The Houthis then lost a critical mission asset. An Iranian cargo ship suspected of providing them with targeting information and intelligence sailed home. MV Behshad spent months lingering in waters near Yemen, but it left the area in mid-April as Tehran braced for Israel to retaliate over its unprecedented attack .

The following weeks saw a decrease in the pace of successful Houthi attacks. In April and May, a total of three commercial vessels reported being struck by anti-ship ballistic missiles launched by the rebels, according to a list of incidents compiled by Military Times.

June, however, has been another story.

The Houthis started the month vowing to escalate their attacks in the wake of American and British strikes in Yemen. The rebels have since struck at least five commercial vessels, finding a level of success in their targeting similar to that of the opening months of their campaign.

Some of the incidents have also revealed dangerous new tactics. Most notably, on June 12, the Houthis struck a commercial vessel in the Red Sea with an explosive-laden drone boat for the first time since they began attacking merchant shipping in November.

Unlike the sophisticated naval drones that have taken center stage in the Ukraine war, devastating the Russian Black Sea Fleet, this crude-looking weapon was little more than a small, slow-moving craft staffed by two dummies that appeared to resemble a common fishing vessel. As such, the vessel managed to travel over 65 nautical miles across shipping lanes without being stopped.

"There's so many small boats in that stretch of water, and that's why, actually, it's so hard to stop the smuggling of missiles and drones to the Houthis as well," Brian Carter, the Salafi-Jihadism team lead and an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats Project, told BI.

"You can't stop every small boat. So I do think it's a useful disguise for them," he said.

The initial drone boat attack on the commercial bulk carrier MV Tutor caused flooding and damage to the engine room. Hours later, a Houthi missile hit the ship. The double-tap strike forced the crew to abandon the vessel , and it eventually sank, becoming the second ship to do so since attacks began last fall.

The same week, the Houthis fired two anti-ship missiles, hitting the MV Verbena in the Gulf of Aden. Not even 24 hours later, the bulk cargo carrier was struck by another missile , marking the week's second double-tap strike. The ship's crew eventually abandoned the vessel due to the damage sustained by the attacks.

British security firm Ambrey said the attacks on the Tutor and Verbena, in addition to successful strikes on two other vessels in the days prior, were indicative of a "significant increase in effectiveness" of Houthi operations.

"Every single Houthi attack, the Houthis are probably learning something about what works and what doesn't," Carter said. "If you think about how a military organization operates, they're definitely taking away lessons from the different strike packages that they're using."

Double taps and drone boats

Beyond the recent double-tap strikes, the Houthis' ability to learn from past attacks is visible in their drone boat operations.

During the first few months of this year, US forces destroyed Houthi drone boats in Yemen nearly every time the rebels tried to launch them into shipping lanes. In June, though, the rebels managed to get well over a dozen drone boats into the water — far more than they had in any previous month.

And their ability to do so is what ultimately led to the catastrophic attack on the Tutor.

Experts say the uptick in drone boat attacks points to the Houthis' ability to react to US strikes in Yemen and adjust their operations accordingly.

That could mean better hiding them or picking more efficient launch sites. It also suggests that the rebels could now have a larger supply of such weapons, awarding them more opportunities to launch and thus leading to a greater chance that they'll eventually hit something.

"I think it's more likely they've got more of them, so they're more willing to use them," said Macy, now a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Missile Defense Project. "They're not such precious objects, and they've probably just gotten better at it."

It's unclear what all the Houthi drone boats look like, but the small fishing craft that struck the Tutor is an inexpensive, readily available vessel that can be modified into a weapon.

It is difficult to not only prevent the rebels from obtaining their "low-tech, low-cost" means of attack and to deter them from launching attacks, Alex Stark, an associate policy researcher who covers Middle East security at the RAND Corporation, told BI.

These attacks are an "ongoing problem without an obvious or useful solution at hand," she added.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby acknowledged this week that the Houthis have been more successful in their recent targeting, though he pointed out that a majority of their attacks have still failed.

US and coalition naval forces are routinely tasked with destroying Houthi missiles and drones — both before and after launch — and many of these threats have landed in the water.

"They miss a whole hell of a lot more than they hit," Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.

He said the US will continue to "degrade their capabilities" — which American forces are said to be doing through the consistent strikes in Yemen — but cautioned that the Houthis are still getting supplied and resourced by Iran, which has been the case for years.

"The Houthis, who have no greater or lesser desire than they did six months ago, have been given more capability and are getting more support in doing so," Macy said.

Recent Houthi successes come amid changes in the American naval presence in the region. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which spent more than seven months battling the rebels, recently left the Red Sea, but it will soon be replaced by the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group.

US officials have warned that the conflict has no signs of slowing down , and the growing financial toll has raised questions about the long-term sustainability of the counter-Houthi mission.

Experts say that despite the material effects of the Houthi campaign, which has caused disruptions to a key global shipping route, the rebels are still eager to use their attacks to boost their messaging and legitimacy. The Houthis characterize their campaign as a response to the Israel-Hamas war, but they are also attempting to position themselves as a big player in Iran's proxy network.

"I think they have discovered that this tactic is quite successful for them and very difficult to deter," Stark said.

Broader regional de-escalation might be the only way to sustainably address the problem, but that may not permanently solve it, she said. "I don't think the Houthis would be willing to cease these kinds of attacks forever."

If you enjoyed this story, be sure to follow Business Insider on Microsoft Start.

The Houthis are getting smarter with their Red Sea attacks, and the ships sailing these waters are paying the price

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