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5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: April 19, 2023

sailing around the world

A small sailboat can take you big places

Small sailboats are the ticket to going cruising NOW — not when you retire, save up enough money, or find the “perfect” bluewater cruising boat. In fact, it’s the first principle in Lin and Larry Pardey’s cruising philosophy: “Go small, go simple, go now.”

Small yachts can be affordable, simple, and seaworthy . However, you won’t see many of them in today’s cruising grounds. In three years and 13,000 nautical miles of bluewater cruising, I could count the number of under 30-foot sailboats I’ve seen on one hand (all of them were skippered by people in their 20s and 30s).

Today’s anchorages are full of 40, 50, and 60-foot-plus ocean sailboats, but that’s not to say you can’t sail the world in a small sailboat. Just look at Alessandro di Benedetto who in 2010 broke the record for the smallest boat to sail around the world non-stop in his 21-foot Mini 6.5 .

So long as you don’t mind forgoing a few comforts, you can sail around the world on a small budget .

dinghy boat

What makes a good blue water sailboat

While you might not think a small sailboat is up to the task of going long distances, some of the best bluewater sailboats are under 40 feet.

However, if you’re thinking about buying a boat for offshore cruising, there are a few things to know about what makes a small boat offshore capable .

Smaller equals slower

Don’t expect to be sailing at high speeds in a pocket cruiser. Smaller displacement monohulls are always going to be slower than larger displacement monohulls (see the video below to learn why smaller boats are slower). Therefore a smaller cruiser is going to take longer on a given passage, making them more vulnerable to changes in weather.

A few feet can make a big difference over a week-long passage. On the last leg of our Pacific Ocean crossing, our 35-foot sailboat narrowly avoid a storm that our buddy boat, a 28-foot sailboat, couldn’t. Our friend was only a knot slower but it meant he had to heave to for a miserable three days.

pocket cruiser

Small but sturdy

If a pocket cruiser encounters bad weather, they will be less able to outrun or avoid it. For this reason, many of the blue water sailboats in this list are heavily built and designed to take a beating.

Yacht design has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Today, new boats are designed to be light and fast. The small sailboats in our list are 30-plus year-old designs and were built in a time when weather forecasts were less accurate and harder to come by.

Back in the day, boat were constructed with thicker fiberglass hulls than you see in modern builds. Rigs, keels, rudders, hulls and decks – everything about these small cruising sailboats was designed to stand up to strong winds and big waves. Some of the boats in this post have skeg-hung rudders and most of them are full keel boats.

The pros and cons of pocket cruiser sailboats

Pocket cruiser sailboats present certain advantages and disadvantages.

More affordable

Their smaller size makes them affordable bluewater sailboats. You can often find great deals on pocket cruisers and sometimes you can even get them for free.

You’ll also save money on retrofits and repairs because small cruising sailboats need smaller boat parts (which cost a lot less) . For example, you can get away with smaller sails, ground tackle, winches, and lighter lines than on a bigger boat.

Moorage, haul-outs, and marine services are often billed by foot of boat length . A small sailboat makes traveling the world , far more affordable!

When something major breaks (like an engine) it will be less costly to repair or replace than it would be on a bigger boat.

how to remove rusted screw

Less time consuming

Smaller boats tend to have simpler systems which means you’ll spend less time fixing and paying to maintain those systems. For example, most small yachts don’t have showers, watermakers , hot water, and electric anchor windlasses.

On the flip side, you’ll spend more time collecting water (the low-tech way) . On a small sailboat, this means bucket baths, catching fresh water in your sails, and hand-bombing your anchor. Though less convenient, this simplicity can save you years of preparation and saving to go sailing.

Oh, and did I mention that you’ll become a complete water meiser? Conserving water aboard becomes pretty important when you have to blue-jug every drop of it from town back to your boat.

Easier to sail

Lastly, smaller boats can be physically easier to sail , just think of the difference between raising a sail on a 25-foot boat versus a 50-foot boat! You can more easily single-hand or short-hand a small sailboat. For that reason, some of the best solo blue water sailboats are quite petite.

As mentioned above small boats are slow boats and will arrive in port, sometimes days (and even weeks) behind their faster counterparts on long offshore crossings.

Consider this scenario: two boats crossed the Atlantic on a 4,000 nautical mile route. The small boat averaged four miles an hour, while the big boat averaged seven miles an hour. If both started at the same time, the small boat will have completed the crossing two weeks after the larger sailboat!

Less spacious

Living on a boat can be challenging — living on a small sailboat, even more so! Small cruising boats don’t provide much in the way of living space and creature comforts.

Not only will you have to downsize when you move onto a boat  you’ll also have to get pretty creative when it comes to boat storage.

It also makes it more difficult to accommodate crew for long periods which means there are fewer people to share work and night shifts.

If you plan on sailing with your dog , it might put a small boat right out of the question (depending on the size of your four-legged crew member).

boat galley storage ideas

Less comfortable

It’s not just the living situation that is less comfortable, the sailing can be pretty uncomfortable too! Pocket cruisers tend to be a far less comfortable ride than larger boats as they are more easily tossed about in big ocean swell.

Here are our 5 favorite small blue water sailboats for sailing around the world

When we sailed across the Pacific these were some of the best small sailboats that we saw. Their owners loved them and we hope you will too!

The boats in this list are under 30 feet. If you’re looking for something slightly larger, you might want to check out our post on the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet .

Note: Price ranges are based on SailboatListings.com and YachtWorld.com listings for Aug. 2018

Albin Vega 27($7-22K USD)

small sailboats

The Albin Vega has earned a reputation as a bluewater cruiser through adventurous sailors like Matt Rutherford, who in 2012 completed a 309-day solo nonstop circumnavigation of the Americas via Cape Horn and the Northwest Passage (see his story in the documentary Red Dot on the Ocean ). 

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

Cape Dory 28 ($10-32K USD) 

small sailboat

This small cruising sailboat is cute and classic as she is rugged and roomy. With at least one known circumnavigation and plenty of shorter bluewater voyages, the Cape Dory 28 has proven herself offshore capable.

  • Hull Type: Full Keel
  • Length Overall:28′ 09″ / 8.56m
  • Waterline Length:22′ 50″ / 6.86m
  • Beam:8’ 11” / 2.72m
  • Draft:4’ 3” / 1.32m
  • Rig Type:Masthead Sloop
  • Displacement:9,300lb / 4,218kg
  • Sail Area/Displacement Ratio:52
  • Displacement/Length Ratio:49
  • Designer: Carl Alberg
  • Builder: Cape Dory Yachts (USA)
  • Year First Built:1974
  • Year Last Built:1988
  • Number Built: 388

Dufour 29 ($7-23K)

small sailboat

As small bluewater sailboats go, the Dufour 29 is a lot of boat for your buck. We know of at least one that sailed across the Pacific last year. Designed as a cruiser racer she’s both fun to sail and adventure-ready. Like many Dufour sailboats from this era, she comes equipped with fiberglass molded wine bottle holders. Leave it to the French to think of everything!

  • Hull Type: Fin with skeg-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:29′ 4″ / 8.94m
  • Waterline Length:25′ 1″ / 7.64m
  • Beam:9′ 8″ / 2.95m
  • Draft:5′ 3″ / 1.60m
  • Displacement:7,250lb / 3,289kg
  • Designer:Michael Dufour
  • Builder:Dufour (France)
  • Year First Built:1975
  • Year Last Built:1984

Vancouver 28 ($15-34K)

most seaworthy small boat

A sensible small boat with a “go-anywhere” attitude, this pocket cruiser was designed with ocean sailors in mind. One of the best cruising sailboats under 40 feet, the Vancouver 28 is great sailing in a small package.

  • Hull Type:Full keel with transom hung rudder
  • Length Overall: 28′ 0″ / 8.53m
  • Waterline Length:22’ 11” / 6.99m
  • Beam:8’ 8” / 2.64m
  • Draft:4’ 4” / 1.32m
  • Rig Type: Cutter rig
  • Displacement:8,960lb / 4,064 kg
  • Designer: Robert B Harris
  • Builder: Pheon Yachts Ltd. /Northshore Yachts Ltd.
  • Year First Built:1986
  • Last Year Built: 2007
  • Number Built: 67

Westsail 28 ($30-35K)

small sailboat

Described in the 1975 marketing as “a hearty little cruiser”, the Westsail 28 was designed for those who were ready to embrace the cruising life. Perfect for a solo sailor or a cozy cruising couple!

  • Hull Type: Full keel with transom hung rudder
  • Hull Material:GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:28′ 3” / 8.61m
  • Waterline Length:23’ 6” / 7.16m
  • Beam:9’ 7” / 2.92m
  • Displacement:13,500lb / 6,124kg
  • Designer: Herb David
  • Builder: Westsail Corp. (USA)
  • Number Built:78

Feeling inspired? Check out the “go small” philosophy of this 21-year-old who set sail in a CS 27.

Fiona McGlynn

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

Saturday 1st of September 2018

Very useful list, but incomplete - as it would necessarily be, considering the number of seaworthy smaller boats that are around.

In particular, you missed/omitted the Westerly "Centaur" and its follow-on model, the "Griffon". 26 feet LOA, bilge-keelers, weighing something over 6000 pounds, usually fitted with a diesel inboard.

OK, these are British designs, and not that common in the US, but still they do exist, they're built like tanks, and it's rumored that at least one Centaur has circumnavigated.

Friday 31st of August 2018

This is a helpful list, thank you. I don't think most people would consider a 28' boat a pocket cruiser, though!

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10 Best Small Sailboats (Under 20 Feet)

Best Small Sailboats Under 20 Feet | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Compact, easy to trailer, simple to rig, easy to maintain and manage, and affordable, the best small boats all have one thing in common: they offer loads of fun while out there on the water.

So whether you're on a budget or just looking for something that can offer ultimate daytime rides without compromising on safety, aesthetic sensibilities, alternate propulsion, and speed, the best small sailboats under 20 feet should be the only way to go.

Let's be brutally honest here; not everyone needs a 30-foot sailboat to go sailing. They come with lots of features such as electronics, entertainment, refrigeration, bunks, a galley, and even a head. But do you really need all these features to go sailing? We don't think so.

All you need to go sailing is a hull, a mast, rudder, and, of course, a sail. And whether you refer to them as daysailers, trailerable sailboats , a weekender sailboat, or pocket cruisers, there's no better way to enjoy the thrills of coastal sailing than on small sailboats.

There are a wide range of small boats measuring less than 20 feet available in the market. These are hot products in the market given that they offer immense thrills out on the sea without the commitment required to cruise on a 30-footer. A small sailboat will not only give you the feel of every breeze but will also give you the chance to instantly sense every change in trim.

In this article, we'll highlight 10 best small sailboats under 20 feet . Most models in this list are time-tested, easy to rig, simple to sail, extremely fun, and perfect either for solo sailing or for sailing with friends and family. So if you've been looking for a list of some of the best small sailboats , you've come to the right place.

So without further ado, let's roll on.

Table of contents


The Marlow-Hunter 15 is not only easy to own since it's one of the most affordable small sailboats but also lots of fun to sail. This is a safe and versatile sailboat for everyone. Whether you're sailing with your family or as a greenhorn, you'll love the Hunter 15 thanks to its raised boom, high freeboard, and sturdy FRP construction.

With high sides, a comfortable wide beam, a contoured self-bailing cockpit, and fiberglass construction, the Hunter 15 is certainly designed with the novice sailor in mind. This is why you can do a lot with this boat without falling out, breaking it, or capsizing. Its contoured self-baiting cockpit will enable you to find a fast exit while its wide beam will keep it steady and stable no matter what jibes or weight shifts happen along the way.

This is a small sailboat that can hold up to four people. It's designed to give you a confident feeling and peace of mind even when sailing with kids. It's easy to trailer, easy to rig, and easy to launch. With a price tag of about $10k, the Hunter 15 is a fun, affordable, and versatile boat that is perfect for both seasoned sailors and novices. It's a low-maintenance sailboat that can be great for teaching kids a thing or two about sailing.

Catalina 16.5


Catalina Yachts are synonymous with bigger boats but they have some great and smaller boats too such as Catalina 16.5. This is one of the best small sailboats that are ideal for family outings given that it has a big and roomy cockpit, as well as a large storage locker. Designed with a hand-laminated fiberglass sloop, the Catalina 16.5 is versatile and is available in two designs: the centerboard model and the keel model.

The centerboard model is designed with a powerful sailplane that remains balanced as a result of the fiberglass centerboard, the stable hull form, and the rudder. It also comes with a tiller extension, adjustable hiking straps, and adjustable overhaul. It's important to note that these are standard equipment in the two models.

As far as the keel model is concerned, this is designed with a high aspect keel as the cast lead and is attached with stainless steel keel bolts, which makes this model perfect for mooring or docking whenever it's not in use. In essence, the centerboard model is perfect if you'll store it in a trailer while the keel model can remain at the dock.

All in all, the Catalina 16.5 is one of the best small sailboats that you can get your hands on for as low as $10,000. This is certainly a great example of exactly what a daysailer should be.


There's no list of small, trailerable, and fun sailboats that can be complete without the inclusion of the classic Hobie 16. This is a durable design that has been around and diligently graced various waters across the globe since its debut way back in 1969 in Southern California. In addition to being durable, the Hobie 16 is trailerable, great for speed, weighs only 320 pounds, great for four people, and more importantly, offers absolute fun.

With a remarkable figure of over 100,000 launched since its debut, it's easy to see that the Hobie 16 is highly popular. Part of this popularity comes from its asymmetric fiberglass-and-foam sandwiched hulls that include kick-up rudders. This is a great feature that allows it to sail up to the beach.

For about $12,000, the Hobie 16 will provide you with endless fun throughout the summer. It's equipped with a spinnaker, trailer, and douse kit. This is a high-speed sailboat that has a large trampoline to offer lots of space not just for your feet but also to hand off the double trapezes.

Montgomery 17


Popularly known as the M-17, The Montgomery 17 was designed by Lyle C. Hess in conjunction with Jerry Montgomery in Ontario, California for Montgomery Boats. Designed either with keel or centerboard models, the M-17 is more stable than most boats of her size. This boat is small enough to be trailered but also capable of doing moderate offshore passages.

This small sailboat is designed with a masthead and toe rail that can fit most foresails. It also has enough space for two thanks to its cuddly cabin, which offers a sitting headroom, a portable toilet, a pair of bunks, a DC power, and optional shore, and a proper amount of storage. That's not all; you can easily raise the deck-stepped mast using a four-part tackle.

In terms of performance, the M-17 is one of the giant-killers out there. This is a small sailboat that will excel in the extremes and make its way past larger boats such as the Catalina 22. It glides along beautifully and is a dog in light air, though it won't sail against a 25-knot wind, which can be frustrating. Other than that, the Montgomery 17 is a great small sailboat that can be yours for about $14,000.

Norseboat 17.5


As a versatile daysailer, Norseboat 17.5 follows a simple concept of seaworthiness and high-performance. This small sailboat perfectly combines both contemporary construction and traditional aesthetics. Imagine a sailboat that calls itself the "Swiss Army Knife of Boats!" Well, this is a boat that can sail and row equally well.

Whether you're stepping down from a larger cruiser or stepping up from a sea kayak, the unique Norseboat 17.5 is balanced, attractive, and salty. It has curvaceous wishbone gaff, it is saucy, and has a stubby bow-sprit that makes it attractive to the eyes. In addition to her beauty, the Norseboat 17.5 offers an energy-pinching challenge, is self-sufficient, and offers more than what you're used to.

This is a small, lightweight, low-maintenance sailboat that offers a ticket to both sailing and rowing adventures all at the same time. At about 400 pounds, it's very portable and highly convenient. Its mainsails may look small but you'll be surprised at how the boat is responsive to it. With a $12,500 price tag, this is a good small sailboat that offers you the versatility to either row or sail.


If you've been looking for a pocket cruiser that inspires confidence, especially in shoal water, look no further than the Sage 17. Designed by Jerry Montgomery in 2009, the Sage 17 is stable and should heel to 10 degrees while stiffening up. And because you want to feel secure while sailing, stability is an integral feature of the Sage 17.

This is a sailboat that will remain solid and stable no matter which part of the boat you stand on. Its cabin roof and the balsa-cored carbon-fiber deck are so strong that the mast doesn't require any form of compression post. The self-draining cockpit is long enough and capable of sleeping at 6 feet 6 inches.

The Sage 17 may be expensive at $25k but is a true sea warrior that's worth look at. This is a boat that will not only serve you right but will also turn heads at the marina.    


Having been chosen as the overall boat of the year for 2008 by the Sailing World Magazine, the Laser SB3 is one of the coolest boats you'll ever encounter. When sailing upwind, this boat will lock into the groove while its absolute simplicity is legendary. In terms of downwind sailing, having this boat will be a dream come true while it remains incredibly stable even at extraordinary speed.

Since its debut in 2004, the Laser SB3 has surged in terms of popularity thanks to the fact that it's designed to put all the controls at your fingertips. In addition to a lightweight mast, its T- bulb keel can be hauled and launched painlessly. For about $18,000, the Laser SB3 ushers you into the world of sports sailing and what it feels to own and use a sports boat.


As a manufacturer, Fareast is a Chinese boat manufacturer that has been around for less than two decades. But even with that, the Fareast 18 remains a very capable cruiser-racer that will take your sailing to the next level. In addition to its good looks, this boat comes with a retractable keel with ballast bulb, a powerful rig, and an enclosed cabin.

Its narrow design with a closed stern may be rare in sailboats of this size, but that's not a problem for the Fareast 18. This design not only emphasizes speed but also makes it a lot easier to maintain this boat. Perfect for about 6 people, this boat punches above its weight. It's, however, designed to be rigged and launched by one person.

This is a relatively affordable boat. It's agile, safe, well-thought-out, well built, and very sporty.


If you're in the market looking for a small sailboat that offers contemporary performance with classic beauty, the Paine 14 should be your ideal option. Named after its famous designer, Chuck Paine, this boat is intentionally designed after the classic Herreshoff 12.5 both in terms of dimensions and features.

This is a lightweight design that brings forth modern fin keel and spade rudder, which makes it agile, stable, and faster. The Paine 14 is built using cold-molded wood or west epoxy. It has varnished gunnels and transoms to give it an old-time charm. To make it somehow modern, this boat is designed with a carbon mast and a modern way to attach sails so that it's ready to sail in minutes.

You can rest easy knowing that the Paine 14 will not only serve you well but will turn heads while out there.


Many sailors will attest that their first sailing outing was in a Lido 14. This is a classic sailboat that has been around for over four decades and still proves to be a perfect match to modern small boats, especially for those still learning the ropes of sailing.

With seating for six people, the Lido 14 can be perfect for solo sailing , single-handed sailing, or if you're planning for shorthanded sailing. While new Lido 14 boats are no longer available, go for a functional used Lido 14 and you'll never regret this decision. It will serve you well and your kids will probably fall in love with sailing if Lido 14 becomes their main vessel during weekends or long summer holidays.

Bottom Line

There you have it; these are some of the best small sailboats you can go for. While there are endless small sailboats in the market, the above-described sailboat will serve you right and make you enjoy the wind.

Choose the perfect sailboat, invest in it, and go out there and have some good fun!

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

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  • The Ultimate Guide to Small Sailboats: From Dinghies to Ocean Cruisers

Ahoy there, maritime enthusiasts! Are you tired of being a landlubber and ready to take on the open waters? Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about sailing into the sunset but thought that owning a sailboat was only for the wealthy or the experienced? The good news is that small sailboats are here to prove you wrong. Easy to maneuver, affordable, and incredibly fun, these little vessels offer a world of possibilities for novices and veterans alike. So, why not set sail on this journey and explore what small sailboats have to offer?

Types of Small Sailboats

Dinghies are like the hatchbacks of the sailing world—compact, practical, and surprisingly versatile. Usually measuring under 15 feet, they are the go-to boats for sailing newbies to cut their teeth on. Why? Because they're affordable and easy to manage. Think of a dinghy as your first bicycle—sure, you'll fall a few times, but the lessons learned are invaluable.

If a dinghy is a hatchback, then a daysailer would be your sporty coupe—ideal for a fun day out but not really for a week-long journey. These boats are a bit larger, typically ranging from 15 to 25 feet, and can comfortably accommodate 4 to 6 people. They're perfect for sailing close to shore, having a picnic on the water, or enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Looking for something a bit unique? The catboat could be your feline friend on the water. These boats are known for their single mast and mainsail, making them easier to handle. They’re the sort of boat that likes to lounge lazily in shallow waters but can also pick up the pace when needed.

Features to Consider When Buying

Hull material.

The hull is like the foundation of a house—if it's not strong, everything else fails. Generally, you'll find hulls made of fiberglass, wood, or even aluminum. Each material has its pros and cons. For instance, fiberglass is durable and low-maintenance but can be expensive. Wood offers a classic look but requires more upkeep.

Would you prefer manual or automatic transmission in a car? Similarly, the rig type of your sailboat affects your sailing experience. You might opt for a simple sloop with one mast and two sails or maybe a cutter with an additional headsail for better balance. The choice is yours.

Length and Beam

Here's where size really matters. The length and beam (width) of your boat will significantly impact its stability, storage capacity, and how it handles in different water conditions. It's not always that smaller is easier to handle; sometimes, a slightly larger boat offers better stability and amenities.

Advantages of Small Sailboats


Let's face it—owning a boat isn't cheap. But small sailboats make the dream more accessible. Not only are the upfront costs generally lower, but ongoing maintenance expenses like docking fees, cleaning, and repairs are also more manageable. It's the difference between owning a high-end sports car and a reliable sedan—both can be fun, but one is undoubtedly easier on the wallet.


Remember the first time you parallel parked a car? Now, imagine doing that with a 40-foot boat! Small sailboats shine when it comes to maneuverability. They're easier to steer, quicker to respond, and a breeze to dock, making them perfect for navigating through narrow channels or crowded marinas.

Low Maintenance

Less is more when it comes to boat maintenance. Smaller surface area means fewer places for dirt and grime to hide, making cleaning easier. Not to mention, smaller engines (if your boat has one) mean less complicated mechanical problems to solve. It's like owning a plant that only needs water once a week—low commitment, high reward.

Popular Small Sailboats

Remember the Volkswagen Beetle of yesteryears? Compact, easy to manage, and immensely popular—that's what Sunfish is to the world of small sailboats. Whether you want to race or just sail leisurely, this boat is a versatile choice that won't disappoint.

For those who crave a bit more adrenaline, the J/22 is like the sports bike of small sailboats. Known for its speed, agility, and performance, this boat is a favorite in racing circles. It's agile enough to make quick turns yet sturdy enough to handle a variety of sea conditions.

Catalina 22

If you're looking for the minivan of small sailboats—functional, family-friendly, and reliable—the Catalina 22 is for you. Ideal for weekend trips with the family, this boat offers a cabin for shelter, a cooking space, and even a small toilet. It's a floating home away from home.

Small Sailing Yachts for Sale

Where to buy.

Buying a boat can be like buying a car; there are various avenues available. You can go through dealerships, check out classified ads, or even explore online platforms like Boat Trader or YachtWorld. Just like you wouldn't buy a car without a test drive, make sure to do a sea trial before making a purchase.

Price Range

The cost of your new aquatic venture can vary widely depending on the size, brand, and features. You might find a used dinghy for as low as $1,000 or a top-of-the-line daysailer that costs over $20,000. Therefore, it's crucial to budget not just for the initial purchase but also for the ongoing costs like maintenance, insurance, and docking fees.

(To be continued...)

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small sailboat in the water small sailboat in the water next to the beach next to the beach in a summer sunset ready to sailing with the last breeze of the day

Small Bluewater Sailboats

Definition and features.

When it comes to small sailboats, not all are built for the big leagues, aka open-ocean sailing. However, some compact beauties are fully capable of taking on the mighty seas, and these are commonly referred to as "bluewater sailboats." These boats generally have reinforced hulls, deep keels for added stability, and more robust rigging systems. They also often come with advanced navigation and safety features like radar and autopilot systems.

If you're serious about open-ocean sailing but don't want a massive boat, brands like Nor'Sea and Pacific Seacraft have some excellent offerings. These boats might be small in size (often under 30 feet), but they are big on features and sturdiness, designed to withstand challenging sea conditions.

Boats for Cruising


A cruiser is like a comfortable sedan equipped for a cross-country road trip. Similarly, cruising boats are designed for longer journeys and typically feature amenities like sleeping cabins, cooking facilities, and even bathrooms. However, small cruising sailboats make these comforts available in a compact form, ensuring you don't have to compromise on luxury while also enjoying the benefits of a small boat.

The market offers various models to suit different cruising styles. If you prefer a classic, vintage look, the Bristol series offers some wonderful choices. Those who want a more modern flair might gravitate towards Hunter or Beneteau models. No matter your preference, there's likely a small cruising sailboat that fits the bill.

Very Small Sailing Boats

What makes them unique.

We're talking about boats usually under 10 feet, often even as small as 6 or 7 feet. These are the "motorbikes" of the sailing world—quick, nimble, and perfect for a joyride, albeit on water. What they lack in amenities, they make up for in sheer fun and the ability to go places bigger boats can't.

Very small sailing boats are perfect for specific types of water activities. You can use them for fishing, exploring secluded inlets, or just enjoying a peaceful day on the water. They are also excellent for teaching kids the basics of sailing due to their simplicity and ease of handling.

Small Ocean Sailboats

Ocean-capable small boats.

Yes, you read that right—there are small sailboats designed for ocean sailing. Unlike their cousins confined to more tranquil waters, these boats have features that make them seaworthy. However, don't assume that any small boat can be taken on an ocean voyage. Specific design features are essential for this kind of challenging adventure.

Essential Features

So what makes a small sailboat ocean-worthy? For starters, a strong hull designed to take on challenging sea conditions. You'd also want a deep keel for stability, a robust rigging system to withstand high winds, and multiple fail-safes like backup navigation systems.

Small Ocean Cruisers


Ocean cruisers in a small size offer the best of both worlds—they are versatile enough for both coastal cruising and open-ocean voyages. These boats are like your all-terrain vehicles, capable yet compact.

Pros and Cons

While adaptable, small ocean cruisers may lack some of the luxury or speed that larger yachts can offer. However, their versatility and ease of handling often make them a popular choice for those who like a variety of sailing experiences.

Small Cruising Sailboats

Ideal for beginners.

If you're a rookie in the world of sailing, a small cruising sailboat could be your best bet. These boats are typically easy to handle, straightforward to maintain, and offer enough amenities for short trips—making them an ideal starting point.

Popular Models

If you're new to cruising, a couple of models might catch your attention. The Compac 16, known for its easy handling and classic look, is often recommended for beginners. Another excellent option is the Catalina 18, which offers a bit more room without compromising ease of use.

Setting sail on a small sailboat opens up a world of opportunities—whether you're a seasoned sailor looking for a weekend thrill or a beginner aiming for a long-term commitment to the sea. Understanding the types, features, advantages, and options in the small sailboat market will help you make an educated choice. The sea is vast and welcoming, offering adventures and tranquility alike, and a small sailboat can be your perfect vessel for exploration.

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

12th oct 2023 by samantha wilson.

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

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

Difference Between a Daysailer and a Pocket Cruiser

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

What Size is a Small Sailboat?

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

The Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

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

Beneteau First 27

Photo credit: Beneteau

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


Photo credit: Alerion Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 25 Feet

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

Cornish Crabber 24

Photo credit: Cornish Crabber

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

Catalina 22 Capri

Photo credit: Catalina

The Best Sailboats Under 20 Feet

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

CapeCutter 19

Photo credit: Cape Cutter 19

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

Swallow Yachts BayRaider 20

Photo credit: Swallow Yachts

The Best Sailboats Under 15 Feet

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

NorseBoat 12.5

Photo credit: NorseBoats

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

Beetle Cat official website

Beetle Cat Boat 12

Photo credit: Beetle Cat

The Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

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

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

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

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

Hobie 16

Photo credit: Hobie

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

Paine 14

Photo credit: Chuck Paine

High-Performance Small Sailboats

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

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

Corsair 880

Photo credit: Corsair

Written By: Samantha Wilson

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


More from: Samantha Wilson

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11 Best Pocket Cruiser Sailboats to Fit a Budget

  • By Cruising World Staff
  • Updated: May 24, 2024

Looking for a trailerable pocket cruiser that offers that liveaboard feeling? This list features 11 small sailboats with cabins that have the amenities often found on larger vessels. They may not be ocean crossing vessels, but they’re certainly capable of handling big bays and open waters.

What is a pocket cruiser? It’s a small trailerable sailboat, typically under 30 feet in length, that’s ideal for cruising big lakes, bays, coastal ocean waters, and occasionally bluewater cruising. Pocket cruisers are usually more affordable, compact, and offer a level of comfort that’s comparable to bigger liveaboards.

Small cruising sailboats are appealing for many reasons, but if you’re like most of us, you want to maintain a certain level of comfort while on the water. We took a poll and these are what we found to be the best cruising sailboats under 30 feet.

– DON’T LET CARBON MONOXIDE SNEAK UP ON YOU – Install detectors on your boat to sniff out any buildup of carbon monoxide gas. Avoid running engines or generators while anchored or stopped for extended periods. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Andrews 28

Open and airy below deck, the Andrews 28 doesn’t sacrifice comfort for speed. Designed by Alan Andrews, the Southern California naval architect renowned for his light, fast raceboats, this 28-footer will certainly appeal to the cruiser who also enjoys a little club racing. Sporting a total of 6 berths, a galley, head and nav area, you might forget you are on a boat small enough to be easily trailered. The retractable keel allows the Andrews 28 to be easily launched and hauled and ensures it’s as comfortable as a daysailer as it is a racer. Click here to read more about the Andrews28.

Beneteau First 20

First 20 at sunset

Small sailboat with a cabin? Check! Fun to sail? Modern design? Capable of flying a spinnaker? Check! Check! Check! The Finot-Conq-designed Beneteau First 20, which replaced the popular Beneteau first 211 nearly a decade ago now, is a sporty-but-stable pocket cruiser suitable for newcomers to the sport who are eager to learn their chops before moving up to a bigger boat or for old salts looking to downsize to a trailerable design. The boat features twin rudders, a lifting keel, and a surprisingly roomy interior with bunks for four. Click here to read more about the Beneteau First 20 .

Ranger 26

Conceived as a way to bridge the gap between a safe, comfortable, family cruiser and a competitive racer, Gary Mull’s Ranger 26 does exactly as it was designed to. Undeniably fast, (one won the 1970 IOR North American Half-Ton Cup) the boat sails as well as it looks. However speed isn’t the Ranger’s only strong-suit, with over 7 feet of cockpit there’s plenty of room for socializing after an evening of racing. The Ranger 26 sports a nice balance of freeboard and cabin height ensuring that a handsome profile wasn’t sacrificed for standing headroom. Click here to read more about the Ranger 26.

Nonsuch 30 left side

Catboats were once a common site in coastal waters, where they sailed the shallow bays as fishing or work boats. Their large single and often gaff-rigged sail provided plenty of power, and a centerboard made them well-suited for the thin waters they frequently encountered. In the late 1970s, Canadian builder Hinterhoeller introduced the Nonsuch 30, a fiberglass variation of the catboat design, with a modern Marconi sail flown on a stayless mast, and a keel instead of a centerboard. The boat’s wide beam made room below for a spacious interior, and the design caught on quickly with cruising sailors looking for a small bluewater sailboat. Click here to read more about the Nonsuch 30 .

– SHOW THEM HOW MUCH YOU CARE – Nothing says ‘I love you’ like making sure the kids’ life jackets are snugged up and properly buckled. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Newport 27

Debuted in 1971 in California, the Newport 27 was an instant success on the local racing scene. For a modest 27-footer, the Newport 27 has an unusually spacious interrior with over 6 feet of standing headroom. With 4 berths, a table, nav station, head and galley the Newport 27 has all the amenities you might find in a much bigger boat, all in a compact package. While quick in light air, the drawback of the tiller steering becomes apparent with increasing breeze and weather helm often leading to shortening sail early. Click here to read more about the Newport 27.

Balboa 26

First splashed in 1969, the Balboa 26 continues to enjoy a strong following among budget-minded cruisers. Built sturdy and heavy, all of the boat’s stress points are reinforced. The spacious cockpit comfortably seats 4 and is self bailing, ensuring that sailors stay dry. While only 26 feet, the Balboa still has room for a double berth, galley with stove and freshwater pump, and an optional marine head or V-berth. The Balboa has the ability to sleep five, though the most comfortable number is two or three. Under sail, the Balboa is fast and maneuverable, but may prove a handful in heavy breeze as weather helm increases. Click here to read more about the Balboa 26.

Cape Dory 28

Cape Dory 28

While the sleek lines and the teak accents of the Cape Dory 28 may grab the eye, it is the performance of the boat that make it unique. The Cape Dory comes with all amenities that you might need available, including a V-berth, 2 settees, and a head. Safe, sound and comfortable as a cruiser it is still capable of speed. Quick in light wind and sturdy and capable in heavy air, it is off the wind where the Cape Dory 28 shines with a balanced helm and the ability to cut through chop and still tack perfectly. Click here to read more about the Cape Dory 28.

Islander Bahama 28

Islander Bahama 28

On top of being a real eye-catcher, the Islander Bahama 28, with its 5-foot-6-inch draft and 3,300 pounds of ballast, sails beautifully, tracks well, and responds quickly to the helm. Inspired by the International Offshore Rule, it is unusually wide, offering stability in breeze without sacrificing the sheer and lines that make it so attractive. Below deck, the Islander Bahama 28 comes standard with plenty of berths and storage space and a galley complete with stove, icebox and sink. Click here to read more about the Islander Bahama 28.

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

S2 8.6

Much like its older sibling, the S2 8.6 still holds its contemporary style, despite its 1983 introduction. Like all other S2 Yachts, the 8.6 is recognized for the quality craftsmanship that allows the boat to hold up today.The S2 8.6 is a very comfortable and easily managed coastal cruiser and club racer. It’s relatively stiff, its helm feels balanced, and it tracks well. On most points of sail, it compares favorably with other boats of similar size and type. Click here to read more about the S2 8.6.

Contessa 26

Contessa 26

When the Contessa 26 was released in 1965, it immediately proved itself to be a strong, seaworthy vessel. The Contessa has continued to prove itself throughout its lifetime, being the boat of choice for two solo circumnavigations under the age of 21. While upwind performance leaves some wanting, the boat is sturdy and can carry full sail in up to 20 knots of breeze. Suited more for single-handing, the Contessa lacks standing headroom and the accommodations are sparse. Nonetheless, the Contessa 26 performs well as a daysailer with guests aboard. Click here to read more about the Contessa 26.

Hunter 27

The Hunter 27 perfectly encompasses the pocket cruiser ideal. Even if you don’t want a big boat, you can still have big boat amenities. With the generously spacious layout, wheel steering and a walkthrough transom the Hunter feels much larger than 27 feet. Step below deck and any doubts you had that the Hunter was secretly a big boat will be gone. The amenities below are endless; a full galley including stove, microwave and cooler, head with full shower, several berths and not to mention a saloon with seating for 6. The Hunter 27 has reset the benchmark for 27-footers. Click here to read more about the Hunter 27.

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With virtually all major yacht manufacturers concentrating on larger models these days, it has become ever harder to find small sailing yachts to buy new. The Small Yacht Company is changing all that. We have assembled the largest range of small sailing yachts available in the UK today. Please take a look at our range of boats available from Pointer Yachts, Astus Boats, Viko Yachts and Buckley Yacht Design. Contact us now for more details or advice based on your sailing requirements.

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There are plenty of boat manufacturers and yacht dealers offering a plethora of expensive superyachts in the UK. Yet, the supply of smaller, manageable and affordable yachts is becoming increasing overlooked. . Major European manufacturers like Jeanneau, Dufour, Hanse, Dehler, X-Yachts and Maxi have all but abandoned the market for anything under 30 feet. So, sailors seeking a smaller yacht have very little choice but to look for something pre-owned. This is why The Small Yacht Company have looked long and hard to bring together the UK’s best range of sailing yachts up to 30 feet long. All of the yachts we supply are currently in production and can therefore be ordered and customised to your specific needs. If you don’t yet know which type of small yacht would suit you, give us a call and we would be happy to advise you. Of course, if you wish to trial sail a yacht, we can arrange that too.

There are plenty of boat manufacturers and yacht dealers offering a plethora of expensive superyachts in the UK. Yet, the supply of smaller, manageable and affordable yachts is becoming increasing overlooked. .

All of the yachts we supply are currently in production and can therefore be ordered and customised to your specific needs. If you don’t yet know which type of small yacht would suit you, give us a call and we would be happy to advise you. Of course, if you wish to trial sail a yacht, we can arrange that too.

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Best family yacht: our pick of the best yachts for sailing with the family

  • Toby Hodges
  • March 7, 2024

Toby Hodges takes a look at all the nominees and the winner of the best family yacht category in the European Yacht of the Year Awards

There are many categories in the European Yacht of the Year awards, from the  best luxury yachts  to  performance yachts . But some of the most hotly-anticipated options come when it is time to choose the nominees and winner in the best family yacht category.

The European Yacht of the Year awards are selected by a broad panel of expert judges from across the globe. These are people who spend their professional lives sailing and comparing yachts, so you can be certain that the yachts which stand out in this field are truly the best of the best on the market for those looking to set out with the whole family in tow.

A crop of the latest 35-45ft mainstream production yachts, including the ultra spacious Dufour 41 and the smaller sister to the award-winning Hanse 460, plus a couple of less well known yachts, made for a dynamic grouping this year when it comes to picking the best family yachts 2024.

In this, the most competitive size bracket for volume production yachts, there was plenty to like, but two models stood out: the RM and the Bavaria. The former because it’s different and fills an interesting niche that crosses fast cruising with family sailing, from coastal and shoal draught to bluewater sailing ability; the Bavaria because it masters that mix of deck and interior space, performance and handling in a well finished package.

Winner of the best family yacht 2024 – Bavaria C46

The Bavaria and Cossutti Yacht Design relationship continues to flourish and produce standout results in its second generation. The C46’s modern, full shape brings vast deck and accommodation space yet manages to do so on a hull which really performs for its size, and rewards the helmsman with direct feedback.

During my trial we had a good mix of conditions and were able to push the boat, a voluminous hull which becomes reactive once the breeze threatens double figures. We were able to press it during a rain squall, hitting 12 knots in 18 under gennaker, and maintained lengthy double digit spells during some enjoyable sporty sailing. Bear in mind this is a single-rudder boat, yet it still didn’t overpower or lose its grip. It’s impressive, especially given the exceptionally low ballast ratio (20%), which shows the reliance on form stability.

“The chine is a bit higher than the C42 and we tried to make the wetted surface as small as possible,” Maurizio Cossutti told me during our trial. The keel is also comparatively lighter, slimmer and deeper for a sporty feel. It’s clear the German yard has really poured its engineering energy and might into this build – from design to engineering to finish quality, the perceived richness of the C46 stands out (although dressed with over €200,000 of options, this is still no mean feat in a mass production size and brand). So much so that other big yards may struggle to compete.

You could argue the Dufour 41 does that to some extent, but here the emphasis is slightly more skewed towards volume, while it doesn’t quite match the Bavaria for the overall engineering and finish quality. Felci somehow managed to swell the forward sections enough to allow the Dufour to be the first 40-footer to offer four cabins, including two doubles forward. We then learned in September that Dufour had signed a new contract to supply Sunsail charter yachts, which helps explain the draw of all this extra accommodation space.

The price for this is extra weight. Although equipped with a tall rig, the 41 only becomes reactive once the breeze is up to the mid teens, where it can lean onto a chine and employ its generous form stability. But for those after volume, max deck lounging space and a bright spacious interior for multiple guests, it’s a hard model to compete with at this size (full report in YW September 2023 and online).

On paper the Hanse 410 should perhaps have challenged the Bavaria more. It’s the latest in Hanse’s new collaboration with Berret-Racoupeau, follows on from the larger sister 460 which won this category in 2022, and shares that appealing modern hull shape. It showed respectable performance and figures, and proved easy to manage short-handed, thanks to the self-tacking jib and winches positioned to hand.

A halyard issue with the mainsail and a tangled sock for the kite curtailed my sail trials somewhat. We also found the cockpit quite busy, particularly the winch layout, although it is nice and deep for protecting its crew. It makes you query why you need two tables on a 40-footer – until you see them lowered to create sun beds, that is!

Stand out features from the interior were the number of stowage solutions, particularly on the two-cabin test boat. Offered as two or three cabins with one or two heads, the former provides a huge amount of stowage accessible from the cockpit or interior. There’s more in the galley and a multifunction space in the saloon, which can be a full length sofa berth, a proper chart table, or a standing desk with storage below.

Beneteau Oceanis 37.1

The Beneteau Oceanis 37.1 is also all about easy sailing and handling, and proved to be a fun, manageable sized cruiser, particularly the First Line option we tried, which increases sail area with a square-top main and flat deck furler. While certainly an accessible yacht, it perhaps comes across as a little basic. This is the last Oceanis in the new generation eight-boat range between 30ft and 60ft, so the focus is more on evolution than the revolution of its early predecessors. Hence the two- or three-cabin interior seemed a little unremarkable when viewed against the opposition.

The same could not be said for the RM 1380, particularly when you step down the companionway – which doesn’t really feel like going below decks on a conventional monohull as it’s so naturally bright in the raised saloon and helps you appreciate your surroundings. So much so it’s more like being on a multihull. The doorways are a little tight, but the double cabins are of good size thanks in part to the generous beam. The standard two-cabin layout has a practical utility space in place of the optional third cabin.

I’ve long appreciated the plywood epoxy technique RM uses for its hulls, together with the powerful form stability Lombard’s design brings. This comes with the choice of keels, including the shoal draught options of a lifting centreboard or efficient twin keels. We tried the latter and the result on the water is in keeping with the sporty looks: it’s an enjoyable mid-displacement cruiser to sail from the aft quarters. Then there’s the superb winch layout, which sees the primaries positioned inboard for use standing under the protection of the coachoof and sprayhood. For offshore sailing the open transom can be closed off with a platform. It’s not perfect, but the RM is intriguing and versatile.

Elan Impression 43

Another memorable interior is to be found on the Elan Impression 43. The rustic knotted oak finish is unique, the only option Elan offers and something the Slovenian yard wanted style gurus Pininfarina to maintain to identify it from the sportier ranges. Personally, I like the strong focus on timber as it helps showcase Elan’s heritage, but appreciate it won’t suit all tastes.

These mid size Impressions are the mainstay of Elan’s sailing range, the family and charter staples for the Med. This Humphreys-designed update has a modernised shape, but retains the older style and the hull rocker to keep a soft, smooth sailing experience. It’s rigged with a genoa or self tacker and two to four winches. Although somewhat unremarkable in terms of sailing performance, it fits its purpose, while the increased aft beam allows for larger aft cabins and a service tunnel between them.

best small sailing yachts uk

In an age where we need to focus on making things last, my preconceptions of the Maxus 35 revolved around questioning the need for a lower budget Polish build. Why not just buy a proven second-hand yacht? That said, the Northman shipyard has done a respectable job on this, the largest Maxus yet, in terms of the build and finish for the price. It feels solid throughout, the interior is light and inviting and it is worth consideration as an entry level yacht with reasonable accommodation.

I can also see some appeal of the centreboard design for lake sailing. However there was little to take home with regards to the design or sailing experience, so my conclusions mirror my first thoughts.Best family yacht 2023

Best family yacht 2023

Best family yacht winner – linjett 39.

This is quite possibly the best boat you haven’t heard of. The 39 offers easy, fast family cruising and occasional racing in luxurious comfort and proves that classic needn’t be old fashioned.

Linjett exudes Scandi heritage: a third generation 50-year-old brand, it’s run by three brothers and has built 900 yachts from its Rosättra yard in Sweden, which dates from to the 19th Century. Its business model is based on long production runs – think evergreen rather than trendy. Linjett not only designs, engineers and builds its own boats, but services and maintains them too, with 220 in winter storage. It also now produces the high performance Shogun Yachts in carbon epoxy, which hints at the skill levels of its infusion techniques.

A telling result at sea is how quiet the yacht is. Sturdy and stable, it instils instant confidence and proved a delight to sail. We had some very pleasant upwind beats, pointing high, and some lively reaching, hitting double figures a few times while pushing it under 150m2 gennaker in waves. The Linjett is set up to easily short-hand it too, with two winches and a bank of clutches each side positioned aft in reach of the helm.

The interior is offered with two or three cabins and the latter we saw had an excellent layout, including separate shower/wet hanging compartment aft. Joiner work is first class, with traditional mahogany used as standard, or the more contemporary European Oak on the test boat.

This is a premium yacht, but you get what you pay for. It will surprise most and ensure everyone steps ashore smiling. See our full review next month.

The Dufour 37 may be shorter than the old 360, but Dufour was reluctant to brand this 37 as smaller because its modern, broadened hull shape has resulted in an enlarged deck space, cockpit and owner’s cabin. Felci has designed a clever hull that sails well with good performance for its (34ft) size. The aft quarters behind the helms feel compact to maximise cockpit size, but proved comfortable enough to sail from. The primaries are in reach of the helm and we liked the lightweight, low friction jib sheet adjusters.

The 37 is offered in Easy (two winch), Ocean (cruising), or Performance versions and with a two- or three- cabin layout. The test boat was the most popular Ocean model, although it had €100,000 worth of optional extras including sails, engine and bow thruster, resulting in an expensive yacht for its length.

For those who recognise the Bente name, we previously featured it in detail in 2015 when it burst onto the scene with an innovative and affordable new 24-footer (around 150 of which have been built in Poland). We then tested its 39 in 2019, a year before the yard then filed for bankruptcy. But it’s now back under new ownership with this really impressive and more refined Bente 28, again by Judel/Vrolijk.

It’s a fun yacht to sail, easy to short-hand, with sprightly performance, especially when reaching. The coachroof is part of the deck structure and proves crucial in providing light, space and headroom below in an ergonomic interior that has been very well thought out.

All in all it’s a great compact, entry-level cruiser, with a practical, well protected cockpit.

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Best boats for beginners: 4 affordable options for your first boat

  • How to start boating: Everything you need to know to get afloat
  • Top stories

Our resident used boat expert Nick Burnham picks out four of the best boats for beginners from the likes of Fletcher, Regal, Axopar and Marex…

This morning was spent watching an old video of Smuggler’s Blues 2 (my boat) while finding reasons not to get on with my proper work. I’d filmed it over a weekend aboard with my partner Marianne after an exceptionally busy couple of weeks.

It was a Sunday morning, we’d only just got up, and over breakfast I was opining that boating can be whatever you want it to be: thrilling, adventurous, exciting, sociable, fun, restorative – you choose.

However, you do actually need to buy yourself a boat first. So for those still considering a first step afloat, here are four great examples, from an affordable 22ft cuddy to a fast 37ft weekender with a 31ft Scandi cruiser in between.

The one thing they all have in common is that they are simple, user-friendly beginners boats for first-time buyers to own, drive and maintain.

4 of the best boats for beginners


Fletcher 22 GTS

Built: 2002 Price: £19,950

There’s a lot to be said for starting small and working your way up. Not only does it keep the budget manageable, it keeps the boat manageable too.

At just 22ft, even a novice could soon be managing this little craft single-handed with a modicum of training – helpful if guests (or spouses) are not so enthusiastic about getting hands on.

However, it’s also big enough to extend the horizons beyond merely day boating , and the diesel engine keeps the running costs under control too.

Of course smaller boats come with smaller, well, everything – and it’s in the cabin that you feel the pinch most keenly on the Fletcher 22 GTS. It is basically a cuddy, so there’s not enough height to stand up and there’s not enough space for a separate toilet compartment.

But accept those limitations and it’s a perfectly useable cabin. There’s a nice little dinette where you can tuck yourself out of the weather, and if you drop the table and slot in the infill cushions, you’ve got a very decent double bed.

There is a chemical loo under one of the seats too, so compact though it is, all the important bases are pretty well covered.


The cuddy cabin has a convertible dinette and a portable loo

Outside is where the priority clearly lies in the layout of this boat. Again, it’s compact, but it’s easy for a family to enjoy. There’s a little swim platform with a ladder and the seating wraps sociably around the aft section of the cockpit, with a fridge and a sink to starboard.

It’s also quite high-sided, adding a sense of security that’s vital for those taking their first steps afloat. At the business end, there are two seats for helm and navigator and a walk-through windscreen to access the foredeck.


Lift the back seat and you’ll discover a Yamaha 370 STI engine. The big news about this is that it’s a diesel. That means it offers lower consumption and running costs, as well as much easier availability of fuel at the dockside.

Churning out about 160hp, it ought to be good to take this affordable family cuddy to a top end of around 30 knots.


As with all Fletcher sports boats, the ride and handling are conspicuous strong points

Norman Fletcher, founder of Fletcher International Sports Boats, was a powerboat racer who understood a good hull. That’s why all Fletcher boats punch well above their weight when out at sea.


LOA: 21ft 7in (6.6m) Beam: 8ft 6in (2.6m) Draft: 1ft 8in (0.5m) Displacement: 2 tonnes Fuel capacity: 280 litres Engine: Yamaha 370 STI 164hp diesel Location: Essex Contact: boats.co.uk

Article continues below…

Secondhand buyers guide: Best starter boats under £20,000

Saxdor 200 sport test drive: £25,000 boats don’t get any cooler than this.


Regal 28 Express

Built: 2014 Price: £79,995

If you need something that feels a little more like motor cruising and a little less like camping, then the 25ft mark is where it all starts.

Often referred to as ‘pocket cruisers’, this is the size where increased volume creates the space for the basic essentials of comfortable onboard living.

Features like standing headroom, a separate toilet and a dedicated (rather than convertible) bed make all the difference.

The layout on this type of boat is inevitably pretty ubiquitous, simply because it’s what works best. There’s a U-shaped forward seating section that converts to a double berth or creates a dinette for meals.

Further aft, where a rising roofline generates adequate headroom, there is a small galley opposite the toilet compartment. It features a single burner hob, a sink with pressurised hot and cold water and a fridge and microwave.

Move aft again and, beneath the forward end of the cockpit, there is sufficient space for a permanent double berth. That takes the sleeping capacity to four but, more importantly, it means that if you choose to cruise as a couple, you are not continually having to convert the seating before bedding down for the night.


It features a permanent mid cabin, a convertible dinette and a lower galley and heads

A canopy turns the cockpit into quite a versatile living area. Removable sides mean you can use it as a bimini top for shade too. Another neat feature is the twin aft benches, which face each other across the table. The backrest of the aft seat pivots forward, creating an aft sunpad and locking into various positions.

You can lock it up for dining, leave it half way for chaise-longue-style lounging or lie it flat and use it for sunbathing.

A Mercruiser 350MPI V8 petrol engine sits snugly beneath the aft deck. That 350 figure refers to the capacity in cubic inches (5.7 in litres). It puts out a smooth and potent 300hp, which is enough for 30 knots plus and a reasonably economical 25-knot cruise.


With convertible seating and multi-part canopies, the cockpit is pretty versatile

The high, narrow hull requires a little tab work to keep it on an even keel in a crosswind, but this is a decent performer for its size.

LOA: 28ft 8in (8.7m) Beam: 8ft 6in (2.6m) Draft: 3ft 3in (1.0m) Displacement: 3.5 tonnes Fuel capacity: 276 litres Engine: Mercruiser 350 Magnum 300hp petrol engine Location: Torquay Contact: One Marine

Axopar 37 Sun Top

Built: 2017 Price: £154,950

The joy of this (and indeed any) Axopar is its innate practicality. Low-sided and heavily fendered by a chunky grey rubbing strake, it’s surprisingly confidence-inspiring.

The aft end of the Axopar 37 is entirely customisable when ordered new. A raised sunpad is one option, bringing enough height for a small two-berth cabin beneath.

An alternative is the flat aft deck behind the rear cockpit seating, creating a wonderful watersports arena. Whichever option the buyer chooses, you get a forward cabin ahead of the helm.

Duck into here and you’ll discover a wide open-plan environment with a double berth in the bow, a single seat and a galley area. There’s also a proper plumbed-in sea toilet down here, nestling discreetly inside a small wooden cabinet.


The cabin is bright and comfortable for two but lacks a separate heads compartment

It’s clear then that this is not designed to be a dedicated family cruiser. The focus here is alfresco fun. In addition to that impressive aft deck, the long bow space provides a set of sunbathing cushions on the cabin top.

There’s also a central cockpit space with four forward-facing seats opposite another three helm seats that swivel 180 degrees to face aft across the table.

As the sun-top version, this boat features a large hardtop with a fabric opening sunroof but other notable deck options include a cabin version which closes the cockpit off for year-round recreation.

The Axopar 37 is built for twin outboard installations. The smallest option is a pair of 200hp motors for a top speed of around 40 knots.

However, we tested the Axopar 37 with the same option as this boat, a pair of Mercury’s super smooth Verado 350 motors. And in that form, you can expect a 47-knot top end and a very easy 40-knot cruise.


Even on a 2017 model, Axopar’s prowess in day boating practicality is clear

Speed is fun but only if kept firmly under control. That’s particularly true for first-time boaters where crew confidence is paramount, but you need have no worries here.

Our man in Mallorca described the hull as “so adept, so unflappable and so flattering that it’s easy to drive fast in a big sea and still feel utterly safe and in control”.

LOA: 36ft 9in (11.2m) Beam: 10ft 10in (3.3m) Draft: 2ft 9in (0.9m) Displacement: 2.9 tonnes Fuel capacity: 770 litres Engines: Twin Mercury 350 Verado 350hp outboard engines Location: Poole Contact: Salterns Brokerage

Built: 2019 Price: £235,000

Almost a quarter of a million pounds might feel a little steep for a first boat, but it’s important to understand that people have all sorts of different budgets, and this boat works so well as a first boat that if you have the means, it’s actually a very sensible investment.

UK dealer Wessex Marine has confirmed that several have been supplied as first boats, including one to TV presenter James May .

On a Scandinavian designed and built boat, you expect plenty of cruising practicality and you get it.

In addition to a pair of very decent double cabins, plus a heads compartment and galley, the 310 features a really well protected cockpit. In all regards, it is a very safe and capable small cruiser.


Marex’s proven quick-rig canopy system makes the 310 ideal for year-round use

The cleverness of the cockpit arrangement starts with the canopy system. The open-backed hardtop has two manual sliding roofs extending fore and aft from a central bar.

You can open or close these in seconds by simply twisting the release catch and pulling. But the real pièce de résistance is the side canopy system. That hardtop extends almost to the transom, providing the perfect location for hanging the aft canopies.

Once unclipped, a split on the centreline means that both sides slide along what are effectively curtain tracks, disappearing into dedicated vertical lockers. ‘Voila!’ as they say in Norway.

The fact that these are so easy to deploy makes the large comfortable dinette aft of the helm seat particularly handy for year-round use.

A single Volvo Penta 4-cylinder D4-300 was the standard engine, but many buyers (this one included) upgraded to the larger and more powerful 6-cylinder D6-370.

We described it as a “fine match for the 310”, topping out at 35 knots and cruising at just under 30 knots.


As a premium Scandinavian cruiser, the helm is superb

The Scandinavians design their boats to be used pretty much every day and that’s why the helm position is ergonomically so good.

It’s also well protected by large windscreens, enabling the helmsman to fully enjoy “an engaging and lively driving experience”.

LOA: 31ft 0in (9.5m) Beam: 10ft 6in (3.2m) Draft: 3ft 2in (1.0m) Displacement: 4.5 tonnes Fuel capacity: 440 litres Engine: Volvo Penta D6-370 370hp diesel Location: Poole Contact: Wessex Marine

4 more beginners boats from the April 2022 issue

Bayliner 742.

Built: 2014 Price: £40,000

In the 1980s Bayliner sold on price – undercutting the competition and gaining a name for themselves as the cheapest way into a new boat. As is so often the case, however, you got what you paid for or, more accurately, didn’t get what you hadn’t paid for.

It’s fair to say that the reputation was broadly comparable to Skoda’s at the time. But just like Skoda, the company has gone through something of a renaissance, and whilst the prices are no longer bargain basement, neither is the quality – both manufacturers are turning out a pretty solid product these days.

Still the budget end of the market, it’s the frills that are reduced these days, not the quality. It’s why the cabin of this boat, first introduced to the UK at the London Boat Show in 2014, has plenty of smooth gelcoat on show rather than soft vinyl and polished wood.

But it serves its purpose just fine as a space to get out of the weather or enjoy an occasional overnight stay. There’s even a proper plumbed-in sea toilet here.


There’s a fair bit of GRP on show but it’s a perfectly decent cabin for overnighting

The same applies to the cockpit: it might be a little more functional than expensive competitors, but you can’t fault the layout or the facilities. There’s a canopy frame that folds and stows beneath the aft seat, and a cockpit wet bar behind the helm seat includes a proper fridge and a hob.

There are some neat details too, like a section of the sunpad aft that lifts to provide a backrest if required, or folds to create a walk-through from the swim platform. The passenger seat backrest also folds forward to extend the seating along the full length of the cockpit.

Bayliner offers a variety of engines from a two-litre diesel right through to a 6.2 litre V8 350 Magnum. This boat treads the middle ground with a punchy but relatively (it is a boat!) economical Mercruiser 4.3 litre V6 giving 220hp.


Functional cockpit is large, comfortable and equipped with a proper little wet bar

It’s a small, light boat, so don’t expect to be crossing the English Channel in a Force 5, but for coastal cruising in sensible conditions it’s perfectly sufficient.

Length: 24ft 6in (7.5m) Beam: 8ft 4in (2.5m) Draught: 3ft 4in (1.0m) Displacement: 1.9 tonnes Fuel capacity: 196 litres Engines: Mercruiser 4.3 litre V6 220hp Contact: Salterns Brokerage

Sealine S330

Built: 2017 Price: £209,950

Launched in 2014 and designed by Bill Dixon, the S330 was a very important boat for Sealine . When the original Kidderminster company went into administration in 2013, the brand was bought by the Hanse Group in Germany, and whilst the F380 was the first Sealine it launched, that boat was a design inherited from the British company.

The S330 was the first Sealine that Hanse developed from scratch. The boat proved to be a great success, so much so that it spawned a C330 Coupe version that remains in production today as the mildly upgraded Sealine C335 .

Sealine kept the layout traditional inside, with the usual cabin at each end separated by the saloon and galley set-up that has worked for the brand and countless others for years. There is a factory option to lose the forward bulkhead but most got the separate forward cabin.

It’s nicely done though, large hull windows offer both light and view (the former augmented by skylights), and headroom is great. This boat has the popular walnut finish to bulkheads, although oak and cherry were also offered.


The forward cabin is surprisingly light and spacious with good headroom too

The hardtop came as standard, so you won’t find a completely open version, but Sealine has been careful to retain the feeling of being outside. Not only does the roof slide almost all the way back, courtesy of having a fabric centre section, but the aft section slides forward to meet it. You can also remove the clear vinyl panels above the fixed glass sidescreens.

Three forward facing seats at the helm is a great feature, and there is plenty more seating around a table further aft.

Sealine launched this boat with a pair of Volvo Penta D3 220 220hp engines, which is exactly what this boat has got. A single Volvo Penta D6 was an alternative, and more recently Sealine launched a twin outboard engine version called the S335V. When we tested the boat at launch with the 220s, we achieved a credible 33 knots.


Few 33ft boats offer such a good balance of price, accommodation and style

Calm seas made it difficult to assess the seakeeping but we certainly enjoyed the handling, describing it as a ‘brilliant hull and powertrain’.

Length: 33ft 10in (10.3m) Beam: 11ft 6in (3.5m) Draught: 2ft 9in (0.9m) Displacement: 6.7 tonnes Fuel capacity: 570 litres Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D3 200 220hp diesel engines Contact: Boats.co.uk


Doral 250SE

Built: 2003 Price: £47,500

A rare beast in that, although the styling has distinctly American overtones, Doral boats were actually made in Canada. Prevalent in the Nineties and Noughties, Doral actually dates back to 1979 and built a range of craft from speedboats up to 50-footers.

The standout feature of this boat is the finish and the colour of the woodwork in the cabin, which looks both classy and inviting, and a huge step up from the very plain and austere looking interior of the boat we tested in 2000.

The layout is entirely conventional for a boat of this size and type, with a dinette forward, a small galley opposite the heads and a double berth running transversely beneath the cockpit.

There is standing headroom at the bottom of the steps, and although the shape of the boat means that you lose this further forward, the nature of the dinette is that you’d be sitting by this point anyway.


A smattering of wood lifts the look and feel of this Canadian built compact sportscruiser

Almost all mid-20ft sportscruisers are constrained to an 8ft 6in beam in order to maintain the ability to be towed on the road but Doral has been particularly clever in how it ekes out the maximum amount of space.

No side decks is an obvious win, access to the foredeck being granted via steps and an opening windscreen. More intriguingly, Doral has fitted a sliding section of cockpit seating, meaning that if you’re happy to lose a little bathing platform space, you can slide the aft portion out over it and drop in infill cushions. In fact, this example has the extended platform, reclaiming some lost ground.

We tested a 250SE with a 260hp Mercruiser V8 petrol engine and achieved a very sporting 37 knots! Subtract the extra weight of the diesel engine (and the extended bathing platform), add a little back for the extra 40hp of the Mercruiser 300hp diesel and you should still be the right side of 30 knots.


A full beam cockpit with a sliding aft bench makes the most of every inch

We found the handling of the 250SE to be ‘excellent’ apparently, with no heavy slamming. Like all tall narrow boats of this genre, it relies on the trim tabs to maintain an even keel in a crosswind.

Length: 28ft 8in (8.7m) Beam: 8ft 6in (2.6m) Draught: 3ft 5in (1.0m) Displacement: 3 tonnes Fuel capacity: 245 litres Engines: Mercruiser 300hp diesel engine Contact: One Marine


Fairline Targa 30

Built: 2001 Price: £69,950

The Targa 30 is the final evolution of a successful Fairline model that dates back to 1994, when it was introduced as the Targa 28. Two years later it morphed into the Targa 29 with little changing beyond a longer bathing platform.

But the Targa 30 variant introduced a new cockpit layout with a sunpad, and windows (rather than portholes) for the cabin, although bizarrely these were optional extras.

The layout echoes smaller sportscruisers with its U-shaped dinette forward, galley opposite the heads and a mid cabin aft. However, the extra length, and in particular the 10ft beam, make this a far more spacious area.

The galley is an L-shape, with room for a two-burner hob, an oven and a grill. Those hull windows are worth looking out for (although I’ve only ever seen one boat without them so they should be easy to find).


The mid-cabin is fairly tight but it’s a private escape from the open-plan saloon and dinette

A sunpad aft is the big news. Where the 28 and 29 had seating to the transom, the 30 shifts it forwards. However, Fairline cunningly claws space back via a neat swinging backrest to the passenger seating next to the helm, allowing it to be used as forward facing seating under way or join the cockpit dinette at rest. That sunpad also creates space for a very handy deck locker.

When new, you could specify your Targa 30 with a pair of 4.3-litre petrol engines (190hp or 205hp each) or a single 7.4-litre 310hp motor but the vast majority went out with twin diesels.

These 150hp AD31s gave the boat a perfectly respectable 30+ knots, but the KAD32 upgrade that this boat received doesn’t just give higher speed (past 35 knots when new), it gives far lustier acceleration due to superchargers bolstering low-end torque before the turbos spin up at higher revs.


The sunpad was a new feature introduced in the transition from a Targa 29 to a Targa 30

These boats handle brilliantly. Stable and fast, they don’t require excessive trim tab action, and spray management is great. For a 30 foot boat, it punches well above its size and weight.

Length: 31ft 2in (9.5m) Beam: 10ft 2in (3.1m) Draught: 3ft 2in (1.0m) Displacement: 4.1 tonnes Fuel capacity: 418 litres Engines: Twin Volvo Penta KAD 32/dp 170hp diesel engines Contact: boats.co.uk

First published in the April 2022 issue of MBY.

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Best portable sailing dinghies for under £5k

  • Katy Stickland
  • July 29, 2020

We put six portable sailing dinghies under £5,000 to the test to see which one is the best all-rounder and really deserves a place on your boat

Testing inflatable sailing dinghies at Lymington

Six inflatable sailing dinghies were tested by the team

Lightweight fabrics and drop-stitch construction enabling rigid high pressure structures are a far cry from the ubiquitous inflatable rubber tender.

all it’s pack-down convenience, these old-school bulbous craft were never easy to row, and mostly can’t be sailed.

This led to a heavy reliance on outboards, and with it, the loss a peaceful means of exploring new harbours.

With a sail and reasonable rowing abilities, however, you can get around without a noisy engine, occupy family for hours on end, and sail up creeks that a yacht could never explore.

Sailing sailing dinghies in Lymington

We tested the boats which could double up as portable tenders and capable sailing dinghies

We wanted to try out portable sailing dinghies that offered the best of both worlds – genuinely portable tenders that also double up as capable sailing dinghies.

The Seal, a new product, most closely resembles the once popular Tinker Tramp.

The two Dinghy Go dinghies are the closest to conventional tenders, but with rigid inflatable floors, centreboard casings and stayless rigs.

The Seahopper will delight traditionalists and fans of hard tenders, while folding completely flat.

The two wildcards were the MiniCat Guppy and the Tiwal 2, both 
of which offer plenty of fun afloat and could double as tenders if needed.

How we tested the portable sailing dinghies

We judged the six dinghies against a few 
key factors.

First we measured the size of the bags in which the dinghies and 
all their kit were stowed, and weighed each bag.

This gave us a fair idea of how realistically portable each tender is and how much space it might take up on board.

We then assembled each boat and timed how long it took from packed to ready.

Weighing the bags the dinghies came in

The dinghies were weighed to discover how portable they really were

Whilst assembly will always get quicker with practice, some manufacturers sent representatives for the test, easing our learning process.

Once on the water, both Toby Heppell and Theo Stocker took the sailing dinghies out for 
a spin, sailing the boats upwind and downwind.

They also rowed and motored those that were equipped to 
do so (the MiniCat and the Tiwal 
were not equipped with rowlocks or an outboard bracket).

We measured 
rough speed via GPS to give us an idea 
of what speeds could be achieved in the sailing dinghies.

The weather during our test was a little variable with winds between 7-13 knots and minimal wave state.

  • 1. How we tested the portable sailing dinghies
  • 3. Seal (prototype)
  • 4. Seahopper Kondor
  • 5. MiniCat Guppy
  • 6. Dinghy Go Nomad3 & Dinghy Go Orca
  • 7. Also on the market

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Two teen girls killed after their jet ski smashes into a small boat on Illinois lake

Police said boaters were unable to avoid fatal collision with teenagers on lake marie, article bookmarked.

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Two teen girls died in Illinois when their WaveRunner collided with a passing boat on a popular lake, according to police.

Police told ABC7 the incident involved a 16-year-old from Lake Forest, California, driving a Yamaha WaveRunner with a 13-year-old passenger from Long Grove, Illinois, on the back, as the pair navigated the waters of Lake Marie.

The teens were traveling towards a channel that led to Grass Lake on Tuesday when they collided with a Sea Ray Cabin Cruiser boat operated by a 55-year-old man.

Witnesses described the WaveRunner speed directly at the boat.

"The operator, there was nothing they could do to stop the boat in time around the wave runner as it approached," Lake County Deputy Chief Sheriff Chris Covelli said after the incident.

Police respond to the scene of a boat crash on Lake Marie in Illinois, where two girls on a jet ski died after colliding with a boat on June 28, 2024

“The Lake County Sheriff’s Office extends its condolences to the families of the girls and others involved in this tragic boat crash,” his office said in a statement.

The girls, both of whom were wearing life vests, were knocked unconscious in the collision and thrown into the water.

The boaters pulled them out of the water, gave first aid, and called 911.

The teens were taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and pronounced dead on arrival. A male patient was transported from the scene to the hospital.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit and Illinois Conservation Police are investigating.

Officials are investigating whether the 16-year-old driving the WaveRunner had a boating safety certificate.

The local coroner’s office will perform autopsies on the bodies of the victims on Thursday, according to the Lake & McHenry County Scanner newspaper .

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Practical Boat Owner

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Best boats for sailing around the UK: sail & power

Duncan Kent

  • Duncan Kent
  • September 12, 2023

Duncan Kent chooses the best sail and motor boats under 40ft for circumnavigating the islands of Britain and Ireland

People on a boat which is sailing around the UK

120 of the Vancouver 34 Classics were built. These seaworthy boats are highly sought after due to their solid build and ability to stand up to heavy weather. Credit: Colin Work

Best sail and power boats for sailing around the UK

Right around the UK in a small boat is a long sail, close to 2,000 miles in fact if you include Ireland.

Along the way you’ll likely encounter almost every kind of weather and sea state, so having the right boat is paramount.

Over the past 100 years cruising boat design has changed beyond imagination, with the emphasis for modern yachts placed predominantly on brisk performance and spacious, bright and luxurious interiors.

The primary element nowadays, for both sail and motor yachts, is commonly speed and comfort, whereas 50 years ago it was more about its ability to handle adverse conditions.


Small boats are perfectly capable of sailing around the UK, as Timothy Long proved when he sailed his Impala 28, Alchemy, solo around the UK. Credit:  Peter Jeanneret/Hunter Association

A yacht had to look after its crew regardless of the weather and a keen performance was simply a bonus. Of course, there were plenty of racing yachts back then that were chiefly designed for agility and performance, but few would have been taken by a family for a week’s holiday or sailed across open oceans for pleasure.

Sat firmly in the northern hemisphere, the UK experiences a wide range of weather patterns, which in turn affect the sea state.

There’s also a noticeable difference between its southern and northern coastal waters and sea areas.

I don’t want to lay down rules about which boats can safely sail round Britain and which can’t, as a very large proportion of this will be down to the experience of the skipper and crew.

But the following suggestions might help you choose a suitable boat for the task or at least let you know what modifications you might want to make to your existing boat to make the cruise safer and more enjoyable.

Boat design

To circumnavigate the UK in a reasonable time frame requires a boat that is tough enough and comfortable enough to beat into wind and waves when necessary, without making life totally unbearable on board.

On a sailing yacht, this usually means a relatively full-bodied hull , longish keel , high bows, and manageable rig .

That’s not to say a well-found bilge-keeled yacht couldn’t do the job perfectly well, it just means it might take slightly longer due to the little extra leeway experienced during heavy weather beats.

Folk have made it around in windsurfers, dinghies and even a kayak !

A an sitting in a cockpit of a trailer sailer boat

An outboard-powered boat, like this Viko 21, will struggle in heavy seas off headlands, and is not suitable for sailing around the UK. Credit: David Harding

However, I personally wouldn’t want to attempt a circumnavigation in an outboard-powered boat , either motor or sail.

More often than not you’ll be needing to motor or motorsail through confused seas, especially off Cape Wrath and similar foreboding headlands .

So, unless the outboard is mounted in a deep well on the centreline, the prop is likely to keep lifting out of the water just when you don’t need it to.

With all older yachts with inboards, I’d be looking for a newer engine than the original for a trip like this, unless they have been professionally rebuilt and meticulously maintained.

Home comforts

It will be a great deal more pleasant in heavy weather if the boat offers a reasonable level of protection from the elements for the on-deck crew, such as a windscreen, sprayhood or wheelhouse.

Depending on your overall plan, you should expect to be anchoring often when you need to stop, so think ‘off-grid’.

solor panels on a boat

Solar panels will provide enough power to make life comfortable if you need to anchor in a remote spot. Semi-flexible panels can be mounted on deck and have a non-slip surface. Credit: Graham Snook

Solar panels are comparatively cheap these days and a lot quieter than a wind generator so consider adding at least 200W of solar and a new matching pair of deep-cycle house batteries .

This should ensure you have enough power to have a few comforts such as a fridge , as well as run the navigation instruments and lights.

Sailing yachts under 25ft LOA for sailing around the UK

The duration and number of stopovers you plan to include will favour some boats and not others.

Keeping the passages to 8-10 hours each during the summer months, with a few overnighters when the weather is favourable, means you could do the whole trip in a sub-25ft boat, although hull stability and cockpit protection would be high on my list, as well as a reliable inboard diesel.

For a sturdy motorsailer such as the long-keeled, shoal-draught Fisher 25, the trip should be a doddle in most conditions.

A small boat with red sails sailing around the UK

The Fisher 25 is the smallest in the range, but has a big boat feel due to its heavy displacement, making it more than capable of sailing around the UK. Credit: David Harding

Lighter, slightly cheaper, but equally seaworthy boats such as the Vivacity 24 or the Hunter Horizon 23/235 should also serve well, although the limited accommodation volume and restricted headroom can sometimes get a little wearing on a long trip, especially when the weather is poor.

I have a good friend who sailed his 1970s Hurley 24 for many thousands of miles, including down to the Mediterranean and around the UK and Ireland.

Apart from the usual breakages and lack of power against fast currents and headwinds, the H24 served him and his wife well.

They remain happily married today, although they now cruise a 37ft swing-keel Southerly out of their southern Brittany home port.

Motorboats under 25ft LOA for sailing around the UK

There are a few sub-25ft semi-displacement motorboats that would safely complete a long passage by port-hopping in fair weather and sea conditions.

The bluff-bowed Hardy Pilot 20 is the smallest I would consider, sporting a powerful 30hp inboard diesel and super-tough hull.

Although she’s pretty rudimentary below, she does have 2+2 berths plus a basic galley and heads.

A cockpit tent will add considerably to the living area in port.

Numerous other small boats could be considered too, if properly prepared with well-maintained inboard engines.

A motor boat with a blue hull at sea

The spacious pilothouse of the Seaward 25 will keep the crew cosy if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Credit: Peter Cumberlidge

For instance, the Channel Island 22, though primarily intended for coastal and estuary cruising, could be in the running for a frequent stop itinerary, thanks to her pokey twin Volvo diesels and comfy interior.

Owners of boats such as these might, however, prefer cutting through the Caledonian Canal to avoid the rougher waters off Scotland’s northern coastline.

The larger Seaward 25 is a cosy pilothouse cruiser with comfortable accommodation below for two, maybe even four on day passages.

Twin 100hp+ diesels give her all the power you’d need to battle against foul tides and her sea-kindly motion makes her suitable for long passages.

Her spacious and comfortable pilothouse will keep you warm and toasty whatever the weather, while her cockpit has ample room for entertaining at anchor.

Below, she sports a good-size double forepeak berth, a private heads , and a decent size galley with ample stowage.

Sailing yachts 26-30ft LOA for sailing around the UK

There are plenty of capable passage-making boats in this size range, from older budget buys to more recent yachts.

In the budget range, I’d look closely at a decently maintained Contest 28.

Produced between 1976-1981 she is an IOR design but wasn’t taken to extremes and as such is a very stiff, stable boat with a 50% ballast ratio and high topsides.

Her accommodation is somewhat rudimentary but it has all the requirements for offshore cruising, including a comfy quarterberth and long, straight saloon settees.

A yacht with white sails and a blue hull at sea

In 1980 the Trapper 500 was slightly redesigned to become the 501, with an extended galley and a modified keel and rudder.

For slightly more money, boats such as the Twister 28, Trapper 500/1, Moody 27 and Westerly Merlin and Hunter Channel 27 all come to the fore.

The first is a rugged, narrow-beamed long-keeler renowned for her seaworthy performance in heavy weather.

Though somewhat ‘cosy’ below, for a relatively hardy couple she possesses all the basic attributes of a liveaboard boat.

Early boats were wooden, but the later all-GRP models are still valued as wallet-friendly offshore cruisers.


The UK-built Trapper 500/1 was based on the steadfast Canadian C&C27 .

She’s a heavily built, all-round offshore cruiser with a fair turn of speed under sail and a sea-kindly motion under way.

The T500 experienced noticeable weather helm in rough conditions, though, which was alleviated by a rudder redesign in the T501.

Trapper interiors are traditional, with the 501 having a quarterberth at the cost of one of the T500’s two deep cockpit lockers.

Westerly’s 28ft Merlin replaced the popular Konsort and featured a much-improved interior and deck layout.

A boat with two people on board sailing around the UK

The Westerly Merlin was designed by Ed Dubois, and came with a fractional rig. It was Westerly’s first model with a three-cabin layout. Credit: David Harding

Early boats had a transom hung rudder , before being upgraded to the 29 with its sugar scoop stern and semi-balanced spade rudder.

New to Westerly then was the Merlin’s inner floor moulding to which the furniture was bonded, providing further stiffness to the hull.

The Moody 27 is a more modern-looking yacht with a wider beam providing extra volume below and shallower underwater lines improving performance under sail.

She’s pretty stiff in a blow and has excellent agility in the gusts, although her transom rudder becomes overloaded if pushed too hard.

A remodel in 1985 formed the Moody 28 with a more modern, stepped transom and semi-balanced spade rudder.

A development of the Ranger 265, only with a higher coachroof and a marginally bigger rig, the Hunter Channel 27 is easily capable of a UK circumnavigation.

With her twin, foiled keels she sails upwind like a fin-keeler and can take full canvas up to a Force 5 thanks to her high-aspect, self-tacking jib , which is ideal for beating against the elements.

All sail control lines are within reach of the tiller, plus she’s nicely balanced and light on the helm.

Though her side decks are quite narrow, sturdy handrails help going forward.

Her cockpit is comfortable and sports a deep locker that accepts most long-term cruising gear.

Below, she offers 1.88m (6ft 2in) headroom, a light and airy saloon and up to six berths including the two saloon settees.

The galley is well equipped with ample stowage and the nav station opposite has a large table and stowage for charts and books.

two people sitting in the cockpit of a yacht at sea

With a high transom and coamings, the Hallberg-Rassy 29 will be able to cope with the rougher waters off Scotland’s northern coastline. Credit: Colin Work

A moulded GRP heads provides a shower and a wet locker. Another alternative would be the popular Hallberg-Rassy 29.

Launched in 1982 as a ‘go anywhere’ family cruiser, she is remarkably stable in heavy seas.

Her Lloyds-certified, solid GRP hull was reinforced with stringers, while her foam sandwich deck and superstructure offered weight savings and good insulation.

Her longish, cast-iron fin keel is also encapsulated, so there are no keel bolts to worry about.

Although her hull is narrow by modern standards, she does boast a comfortable double vee-berth forward and two excellent saloon sea berths.

Boats with the removable chart table option also had a quarterberth.

Motorboats 26-30ft LOA for sailing around the UK

The Finnish-built, single-engined Aquador 28C is a stalwart motoryacht built with precision and care using top quality materials.

Her roomy wheelhouse opens right out aft to give an unhindered walkway through to the cockpit in fine weather.

She sports a 300hp Volvo diesel driving through a sterndrive transmission and is capable of over 30 knots flat out.

At a more sedate 24 knots she is quiet and economical. There’s good headroom throughout and a very comfortable forepeak berth/day cabin.

Continues below…

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Boat hull design: how it impacts performance

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Sail boat rigs: the pros and cons of each popular design

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Surprisingly for her size, she also has a full width midships cabin beneath the wheelhouse sole, along with heaps of smart cherry wood trim and Corian worktops.

The trusty ‘Nelsonesque’ Seaward 29 started life 30 years ago and is still built in the Isle of Wight today.

Early models are now quite reasonably priced and, being so ruggedly constructed, most are still in pretty good condition too.

Nicely balanced and steady in a choppy sea, her two pokey Yanmar diesels can power her up to nearly 30 knots or cruise quietly and economically in the low twenties.

Later models featured a smart Vessel Control System (VCS), capable of smoothing out the ride by automating the trim adjustment.

Accommodation on the S29 is roomy for a sub-30ft boat, with good size berths below and a well-equipped galley in the spacious wheelhouse.

Sailing yachts 31-35ft LOA for sailing around the UK

Traditional heavy displacement yachts like the Nicholson 32 or 35 never seem to age.

I’ve owned late models of both, so I might be a tad biased, but they really are workhorses of the sea.

The latest owner of my Nic32 recently completed a UK/Ireland circumnavigation without a hitch, albeit she had a new engine, rigging and running gear when I sold her.

The Nic35 was my overall favourite, however.

Being beamier than the 32, she had more space below, bigger water and fuel tank s, a large house battery bank and was generally a little more refined.

A boat with a blue hull and white full sails cruising and sailing around the UK

Most Nicholson 35s were fitted with a Whitworth wheel steering system. Usually light and responsive, the 35 can display slight weather-helm if over-canvassed. Credit: Colin Work

Another popular classic is the Contessa 32, often described as the definitive offshore cruising yacht.

Without a doubt, the Contessa 32 is a very seaworthy yacht with impressive stability specifications, which has allowed many owners to safely sail the world over with confidence.

The Westerly Fulmar 32/33 is also envied for her competent sailing performance in all weathers.

She’s weighty enough to carry her through an oncoming sea and stiff enough to stand up to full sail up to the top end of a Force 5.

Although not the quickest 32-footer around she handles beautifully on a beat thanks to her responsive helm, plus she tracks well off the wind.

Fulmars were available with either fin or bilge keels, the latter losing a little in leeway terms but gaining loads in convenience for those wishing to creek crawl.

A yacht with white sails sailing around the UK

The Westerly Fulmar 32 has a large cockpit for a boat of her size, which with the addition of a cockpit tent, means plenty of living accommodation for long voyages. Credit: Colin Work

In port or at anchor her hinge-up tiller increases available cockpit lounging area, while below her accommodation is warm, comfortable and practical, with a double forepeak berth, straight settees and a cosy quarterberth.

The Vancouver 34 Classic is a sturdy, long-keeled, shoal draft sailing yacht capable of modest speeds but with a powerful demeanour.

When challenged in a gale she’ll happily romp home while remaining stable enough for the crew to safely make and eat a hot meal.

On deck, her cockpit is narrow and deep, with high coamings to keep the water out.

Initially light and positive, her helm gets noticeably heavier if over-canvassed, but downwind her long keel enables her to hold her course as if on rails.

Many cruisers like the flexibility of the cutter rig and appreciate the ability to run under a staysail and triple-reefed mainsail in a gale.

Although tacking her can be somewhat slow, due to the need to haul the yankee around the inner forestay, her displacement enables her to keep way on through the tack and she quickly picks up speed on the new course.

Below, her interior is ideal for long term, open sea cruising. She can sleep up to six, and I like having all the ports openable for ventilation.

The galley is well appointed and the heads very spacious.

The ever-popular, ketch-rigged Fisher 34 motorsailer was purportedly designed to be as seaworthy as a North Sea fishing boat, but with the sailing abilities of a long-distance cruising yacht.

For this reason, she sports a canoe stern, long keel, deep-vee entry and pronounced sheer with high, flared bows and tall bulwarks.

Her rig is powerful enough to enable her to sail at motoring speeds, while remaining protected in her cosy wheelhouse thanks to a large, see-through, sliding hatch.

Renowned for their rugged build quality, below they are fitted out to a high standard, accommodating six crew in a double forecabin, a double aft quarter cabin and a convertible double saloon berth.

Motorboats 31-35ft LOA for sailing around the UK

Once you get over 30ft the ideal motorboat for a UK circumnavigation is a twin-engined, semi-displacement boat.

These offer all the grunt you need to plough through steep seas and adverse currents while being spacious enough to enjoy life on the hook once you arrive.

The Fairline Corniche 31 was praised for her stability when she was first launched back in the 1980s and has now become a sought-after shoestring motor cruiser.

That said, problems with her original twin Volvo diesels can be costly to fix, as can poorly maintained gear on the outdrive models.

The Humber 35 has seven berths, and twin Volvo TAMD40A diesel engines came as standard so cruising is comfortable

The Humber 35 has seven berths, and twin Volvo TAMD40A diesel engines came as standard so cruising is comfortable

The Nelson-derived Channel Islands 32 is a tough, twin-diesel, semi-displacement motoryacht that is ideally suited to long open sea passages, cruising economically at around 18-20 knots.

Despite her very roomy pilothouse, she has a decently sized and well sheltered cockpit too, while below she boasts a surprising amount of living space for her length, featuring four berths in two comfortable cabins, a well-appointed, seamanlike galley, and a roomy heads compartment.

Moving up in size and price, the Askham-designed Humber 35 (also from Nelson origins) features the same fine entry, long keel and round bilges, providing comfortable seagoing characteristics and pronounced form stability at speed.

Sailing yachts 36-40ft LOA for sailing around the UK

The Holman & Pye-designed Rustler 36 started life in 1980 as a development of the earlier Rustler 31, itself a derivative of the legendary Folkboat.

She’s a competent and seaworthy cruising yacht capable of any serious ocean passage.

Though her accommodation is nowhere near as voluminous as a modern yacht she has all the necessities for living aboard comfortably at sea.

Her full long keel, encapsulated ballast, high ballast ratio and relatively conservative cutter rig make her very stable and easy to handle in heavy weather.

The Rustler 36, previously called PRB and raced in the last Golden Globe by Philippe Péché

The Rustler 36 was a popular choice in the 2018 and 2022 Golden Globe Race

Intended for serious passage making in all weather and sea conditions, she was the choice of the majority of the 2022-23 Golden Globe Race entrants.

Angus Primrose’s robust 1980s cruiser, the Moody 36, was a frequent visitor to various far-flung parts of the world.

She was heavily built, in days when the thickness of GRP was what counted, therefore not the quickest boat around.

However, her centre cockpit not only purveyed a sense of security to the crew but also meant she was ahead of her time with regard to comfort below, and introduced Moody’s future signature feature – a full-width aft double cabin.

Unlike the Rustler’s long keel, the Moody’s fin keel and balanced rudder make her more responsive and agile, while her ample beam provides much more room below, both for living and for stowing equipment and provisions.

A moody 36 yacht sailing off the coast of Scotland

The high-volume Moody 36 is balanced to windward, and eats up the miles comfortably offshore. Credit: Marco McGinty/Alamy Stock Photo

Another early British boat, the Westerly Ocean 37, utilised the well-proven and easily driven Dubois-designed Typhoon hull.

The Ocean model added a more powerful rig and a deep, secure cockpit, with sensibly placed deck gear making her easy to sail single-handed.

Below, she is woody and warm with a very traditional layout, albeit with two heads.

The furnishings are solidly put together with no sharp edges, and she is comfortable to live in under way.

At anchor, she doesn’t feel quite as ‘open’ as more modern yachts do, but for those who put build quality before design flair she ticks all the boxes.

Another ideal yacht for this trip would be the Hallberg-Rassy 352 which did a great deal towards establishing the Swedish yard’s reputation for producing steadfast, go-anywhere cruising yachts.

In addition to having a comfortable interior and practical layout for liveaboards, she was one of the first centre-cockpit yachts to incorporate an internal corridor into the aft cabin, removing the need to go via the cockpit.

A yacht with white sails and a white hull in an anchorage

The Hallberg-Rassy 36 has a masthead sloop rig, an overlapping genoa and fairly small main. Hoisting and r eefing is done at the mast . Credit: Dick Durham

In early versions of the 800-plus HR 352s launched, headroom here was limited but over the following 14 years the deck was twice raised to alleviate this problem.

A long, encapsulated fin keel contains three tons of cast iron ballast with a cutaway forward to assist tacking and manoeuvring.

A full-depth skeg adds support to the rudder, which is semi-balanced to keep the helm light.

Those with a bigger budget but still yearning for the Hallberg-Rassy thoroughbred feel could opt for the equally sea kindly, but even more luxurious Hallberg-Rassy 36.

Though not cheap, a popular mid-range Swedish cruiser of the early 2000s was the Najad 380, a relatively long-keeled, heavy displacement yacht with enough volume to cruise in comfort as a family.

Not only is she sumptuous below with well thought out spacious accommodation but under sail, she’s really well balanced, even in a blow.

Motorboats 36-40ft LOA for sailing around the UK

A very common sight on the water in the 1980-90s, the Fairline 36 came in two versions.

The Sedan was a conventional aft cockpit with flybridge and aft cockpit, whereas the Turbo model, by far the most popular, boasted a large aft cabin with a raised afterdeck.

The Turbo’s aft cabin is full width and the centreline berth is huge. The ensuite and stowage matched the opulence.

Twin 165hp or 200hp Volvo diesels were standard, with the 300hp TAMD61 an option.

The former gave her reasonable performance in the mid-20 knots range, the latter nudged her on to touch 30 knots.

The Fairline 36 was launched in 1983; later versions were more powerful with TAMD60C (255hp) Volvo Penta engines as standard

The Fairline 36 was launched in 1983; later versions were more powerful with TAMD60C (255hp) Volvo Penta engines as standard

I’ve often looked longingly at the Aquastar OceanRanger 38, despite preferring to remain with rag and stick for as long as my aged body allows.

She looks like a proper gentleman’s yacht without the towering appendages that adorn many post-millennium motorboats, despite the popular option of a flybridge helm station.

Below, the standard layout on the aft cabin model provides two heads/shower and four permanent berths, fore and aft, with another four on a convertible dinette and convertible settee in the wheelhouse.

The aft cabin/owner’s suite is impressively spacious and boasts a queen-size centreline berth, loads of stowage and large windows letting the light flood in.

There is no doubt about the 38’s all-weather capabilities.

Early models, however, had relatively small 160hp diesels limiting her cruising speed to around 15 knots.

Later these were doubled in size and power to make her capable of a more impressive 25 knots or more.

Are you ready to go sailing around the UK?

Plenty of small boats complete arduous passages safely. The key is preparation.

Provided your boat is seaworthy, properly prepared, and skilfully skippered there’s no reason such a demanding journey as a UK circumnavigation should be a problem.

Size isn’t everything, but obviously once you get above 35ft almost any post-millennium sail or motor yacht should handle the vagaries of such a trip, along with many 1970-2000 boats too.

The decider is often how you plan to sail.

If you’re keen to tick off the headlands and get around ASAP then you need a robust boat with big tanks that is capable of handling heavy seas.

However, if you plan to potter, day sail, anchor in nice places and stay out of the rough stuff on inclement days then your choice of craft is much wider.

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best small sailing yachts uk

6 of the best classic yachts for sale



Mcgruer yawl.

The McGruer-built yachts, like the 8-M cruiser-racers, are well known for their quality of build and versatility. This one is a bermudan yawl, built in 1959 (by McGruer of course, to a design by his own hand), and measures 43ft 4in (13.2m), which is enough to cruise with up to six berths.

The build is in mahogany and teak, and the commissioning owner back at the tail end of the 1950s, for added intrigue, was Archibald J Barr, grandson of the famous Charlie Barr, possibly… probably… the greatest yachtsman Britain has ever produced (he was Scottish).


Westward of Clynder was exhibited at the London Boat Show the year after her launch, to show the quality of her construction the pencil stroke of her architect.

The broker adds: “Very sturdy construction, easy to manoeuvre because of her split rigging; she is a good seaworthy in all weather conditions and at all speeds as well as very comfortable even in bad weather! Involved in many regattas, Westward of Clynder has always lived up to her reputation.

Lying: Hendaye, France Asking price: €75,000 Contact: bernard-gallay.com


Fastest wooden 12-M?

Chancegger was built for French ballpoint pen and cigarette lighter magnate Baron Marcel Bich and, says the broker, was often referred to as the fastest timber-built 12-M ever, but unfortunately never raced in the America’s Cup. Bich commissioned American designer Britton Chance Jr to design the boat and had it built in Switzerland by renowned shipbuilder Herman Egger using imported French craftsmen. Such was interest in the challenge in France that the French Navy donated to Bich the Honduras mahogany used in the hull (she’s triple-planked in the stuff).

Chance’s design was for a yacht with 30sqft less wetted area than any previous design and for the lightest 12-Metre to date. It was also the first yacht of that type to have the distinctive knuckle bow that every 12-M designer from then on copied.

Since the 1970 America’s Cup (it was used as the trial horse to France), Chancegger has had several owners and ended up in Australia. The current owner has restored and raced her over many years and has now just completed her last refit in Argentina.

“ Chancegger is superb and a true consideration for any owner looking to sail or properly race a true classic with pedigree” says the broker. With the biggest gathering of the 12-M class planned to take part in Barcelona this autumn to accompany the America’s Cup, the timing is pretty good too. Chancegger measures 62ft 9in (19.1m) on deck.

Lying: Brasil Asking price: $525,000 Contact: bernard-gallay.com


Naval pinnace

“ Atta Boy is a stunning and historic launch with an amazing naval history,” says broker Gillian Nahum. Hard to disagree. “I was impressed by the condition and beauty of this centenarian which has clearly been maintained in tip-top condition during its current ownership”, added Gillian. “It is not hard to imagine an Admiral being swept across a harbour at speed by a rating at the helm.”

The 30ft (9.1m) naval pinnace was built at the JW Brooke yard in Lowestoft in 1915 as one of a number of similar vessels ordered by the Admiralty. Her first duty was to serve Calliope at Chatham, then in 1919 she was sent to Rosyth as a tender to Royalist . According to the Brooke record she was sold in 1923.

A regular attendee at river events including the Thames Traditional Boat Festival , this remarkable launch also took its place at the Jubilee Pageant in 2012 and proudly flies the burgee which all participants were presented with prior to the event.


There is plenty of dry, below-decks stowage, but no sleeping arrangement that would be acceptable to a 21st-century owner. This is now purely a dayboat for the connoisseur. Gillian suggests that a canopy or pram hood would work well to provide all-weather boating.

Atta Boy has a “remarkable turn of speed” from her Rover V8 petrol engine, so could be suitable for use away from the temperate Thames. For a local owner she does have a current BSS (also required for the Norfolk Broads were she to return) as well as a current EA licence.

Lying: Upper Thames Asking price: £89,500 Contact: hscboats.co.uk


Canoe-sterned motor cruiser

“She was a beautiful design but a devil to build.” These were the words of 97-year-old Arthur Frazier when he stepped aboard a newly-restored Merita in 2019, a boat that he’d helped to build 83 years ago as an apprentice to the family boatyard… Frazier in 1936.

The 39ft (11m) Merita is built of pitch pine planks on oak frames as a private motor yacht, although much of the yard’s output was destined for the fishing industry. She’s notable for her pretty canoe stern, with a wheelhouse added in the 1960s.


The new millennium saw the addition of an external helm position, added during her thorough rebuild at Dennetts on the upper Thames, which has made her into a modern, comfortable vessel below decks. The hull, deck and cabin sides are still original.

She now sleeps six with one forward cabin, a master cabin at the stern, and a double berth and a spacious saloon with bunks. There is one heads with a shower. Everything on board is now electric thanks to a 4kVA generator and Merita comes with a new 74hp Sole diesel.

Lying: Thames Asking: £69,500 Contact: hscboats.co.uk


Nicholson time capsule

Stepping aboard the 55ft CE Nicholson yaw Patna for a chance nose around at the Barcelona Puig Regatta in 2015, courtesy of owner and restorer Greg Powlesland, was quite revealing: nothing else is quite like her, from the moment you descend into the cabin down a half-spiral companionway, the steps edged in intricate, original wrought iron.

The yacht is incredibly original inside and out, the subject of a five-year restoration between 2006 and 2010 under David Walkey and owners Greg and his wife Katie Fontana. She was even sporting cotton sails at that regatta.

Patna was built in 1920 of pitch pine planks on oak frames, and her entire history is known. She was conceived as a blend of racer and cruiser, and from 2014 to 2019, toured the regattas of the Mediterranean, winning the Concours d’Elegance at 2015’s Monaco Classic Week . She has been well looked after since her restoration.

Lying: UK Asking price: £750,000 Contact: sandemanyachtcompany.co.uk


Holman’s original yawl

People will always associate the English post-war designer Kim Holman with his popular little cabin sloops in the sub-30ft range; yachts like the Stella and Twister that were built in their hundreds. Holman also drew a number of lovely bermudan yawls in the 35-50ft range, starting with Rummer , his third design in 1957, and first of these larger yawls.

She was built at Whisstock’s for Holman himself a year later, in pitch pine planks on oak and iroko frames, at 35ft 1in (10.7m). Early racing success and excellent press that praised her easy short-handed manners, ensured that at least eight more ‘Rummers’ were built over the next decade or so.

This first Rummer won a handful of races, proving herself storm-worthy as well as handy and, with the wider ‘American-style’ beam, quite commodious for her time – berths for six and 6ft 3in (1.9m) headroom below decks.

Rummer was very recently the recipient of a serious restoration at Harbour Marine Services that ended in 2022, with over £100,000 spent. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the owners are now compelled to sell, providing the chance to own a very well-specced, newly-rebuilt yacht with good historical provenance, easy manners and good accommodation.

Lying: UK Asking price: £75,000 Contact: sandemanyachtcompany.co.uk



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Westerly Centaur 26: Can this 1969 GRP boat be considered a true classic?


Passing on the flame: How Marie Tabarly re-wrote history with Pen Duick VI

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Dozens of police officers are powerless on French beaches as people smugglers exploit loopholes to pack dinghy

Sky News witnessed the desperation of migrants trying to board a dinghy off a French beach, with police powerless to stop the people smugglers. The atmosphere turned from calm to chaotic in a matter of seconds.

best small sailing yachts uk

Europe correspondent @adamparsons

Tuesday 18 June 2024 18:15, UK

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Migrants climb onto boat in Calais as police watch unable to intervene

So here's a story of a morning at the beach. There's no ice cream, no sandcastles and no sense of fun in this tale - but there are criminal gangs, dune buggies and desperate people.

This beach in Calais is an illustration of the lengths people will go to, the risks they will take, just to try to get to Britain. And things start early.

We arrive at the beach at about 4am. There is a beautiful orange sunrise on the way and barely a whisper of wind. But down on the shore, things are happening.

A group of people are getting on to a dinghy and slowly heading out into the Channel.

As we arrive, the boat is making its way toward Britain, while the people smugglers are heading back toward their hiding places in the dunes.

More will follow. A little later, we see another boat come around the headland, chugging slowly along.

As we're watching, a crowd of people - men, women and children - start hurrying down the beach.

We can see them as they head towards the shore, splashing through the water to try to get on to the boat.

As we catch up and film the scene, three of the Kurdish smugglers start shouting at us. They may not speak English but, safe to say, they know a few swear words.

By now, the sun has risen. Smugglers used to only send people out under the cover of darkness, but now they are more bold.

From Adam Parsons VT

Boat launches happen quickly these days. Smugglers have worked out that it's much more efficient to launch the boat elsewhere and bring it round to the beach, allowing your passengers to run into the water and clamber aboard.

And, under maritime law, there's not much the French police can do to get involved.

They're not allowed to enter the water to stop a boat that hasn't asked for help and, well, it's not illegal for migrants to run into the water.

Basically, there are loopholes that smugglers have learned to exploit, and which hinder and frustrate the police. And we're about to see that play out.

Read more: People smuggler 'at peace' with dying on the job

A large, black dinghy comes into sight, heading in our direction. This time, though, there is a reaction.

On the beach, the police are gathering, ready to puncture the vessel if it comes on land.

Two teams of officers have arrived on the dune buggies they drive across the beaches; others have walked down. I count 25 officers at one point.

On the water, a police boat - its blue lights flashing - is circling the dinghy, building up waves and trying to knock it off course, to stop it from reaching the waters near the beach, where a group of people are now slowly gathering, a little way from both the water and the police.

The police boat continues to zig-zag, but the dinghy, with five men on board, is resolute.

A police boat near the dinghy

It perseveres and, as it nears the water, the men offer up a signal, and there is a sudden surge from the beach.

The group who had been waiting quietly now rush forward, past the police and into the sea. They wade into the water and set out towards the boat.

And we follow them, striding into water that rapidly rises to the top of our legs. Two men stride past, each cradling a child. I can see people scrambling to get on to the boat.

A minute ago, the atmosphere of these people had been deliberate and calm. Now, it feels chaotic.

A woman's cry, desperate and imploring, rings out. She has drifted away from the boat and, despite wearing a life jacket, she is struggling in the water.

More from Sky News on the migration crisis: On 'Train of Death': Electric shocks and beatings Poll reveals what people think about immigration

One of the smugglers comes over and brings her back to the boat, helping her on.

Some children are crying; others simply seem bewildered.

The last two people to get on are men, who pull themselves up and out of the water with a huge effort.

Everyone on board is drenched; many have lost or dropped the bags they'd brought with them. But they are on a dinghy, and now, with a jolt, the engine is pulled into action and they start their journey towards British waters.

We stride back through the water and reach the shore. The police have been watching, filming the boat on their phones, powerless to stop anything happening.

And beyond them is another crowd of migrants, now walking away from the beach. The ones who couldn't get on to this boat, or who decided it was simply too dangerous.

Those that couldn't make it to the dinghy headed back

Among them is Rebaz, from Iraq, who's trying to get to Britain with his wife and his two small children, one of them just five months old.

In his home country, he insists, his whole family would be at risk. Rebaz says the family, including their baby, has been sleeping out in the cold.

He dreams of getting across the Channel.

"We have tried four times to get across," he tells me.

"Will you try again?" I ask.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

"Yes, of course because I don't have any solution. I know it will be very dangerous for me and for my children. But when you don't have any solution... I will try," he said.

"I don't want to take money from anyone. I just want to live a life, be safe and make a life for my children."

His daughter clings on to his neck as he talks, Rebaz holding her close. He has a desperation to get to Britain, a belief that crossing the Channel will right the wrongs of his life.

And, as long as people have that belief, the smugglers will have customers.

Watch special programme on migration crisis with Yalda Hakim on Sky News from 9pm tonight

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Install the Sky News app for free

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BAE Systems shares are flying! Have I missed the boat?

Sumayya Mansoor looks into whether or not BAE Systems shares are still a good buy for her portfolio after the share price has been soaring.

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  • 2 mouthwatering FTSE growth stocks I’d buy and hold for 10 years - 20 June, 2024
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I can’t help wondering if there’s still an opportunity for me to snap up some BAE Systems ( LSE: BA. ) shares, or if I’m too late to the party?

Let’s take a closer look.

The best attack is often a good defence

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that I’m an advocate of peace, and sincerely hope all conflicts, of which there have been many news reports and column inches worth of coverage, come to a peaceful resolution.

However, it’s also worth remembering defence spending isn’t just limited to weapons for war. There are many aspects, including cyber security. This is more important than ever due to technological advancement across the globe.

The shares of BAE, and of other defence firms like Rolls-Royce , have climbed in recent times.

The BAE share price is up a whopping 42% over a 12-month period. At this time last year the shares were trading for 950p, compared to current levels of 1,353p.

More to come?

I think it’s noteworthy to mention a couple of key points. Firstly, BAE is a mammoth and industry-giant in its own right. It possesses a long track record, a wide footprint, and good relationships with all the major defence spenders across the planet. This should stand it in good stead to boost earnings and returns.

Next, according to Statista, global defence spending is currently at all-time highs, and is showing no signs of slowing. With the characteristics mentioned above, there’s plenty to suggest BAE shares could be in for more fruitful years to come.

I personally think BAE Systems shares still offer some value for money. This is despite their excellent run of late. Using two key metrics, the price-to-earnings ratio and price-to-book ratio , each reading is looks good against a peer group average. The P/E ratio comes in at 22, compared to the peer average of 44. The P/B ratio comes in at 3.9, compared to the peer average of 4.7.

Finally, a dividend yield of 2.4% would offer me a passive income opportunity too, albeit not the highest. However, I do understand that dividends are never guaranteed.

Risks and what I’m doing now

Firstly, in the defence business, product failure or malfunction could be catastrophic, and it’s a risk I must be wary of. It could harm reputation, investor sentiment, earnings, and even result in litigation, if it were to occur.

The other issue for me is if the world were to become a conflict-free zone. As I said, this is an ideal scenario from a humanitarian and personal perspective. However, from an investment view, earnings and returns could be dented.

Overall I’m of the belief that BAE Systems shares are still a good buy right now. They could continue their ascent, as the global geopolitical landscape is more complex than ever. However, with more facets to defence spending than weapons, I reckon the business is in a good position to provide me with shareholder value, even away from times of lots of conflicts, like now.

I’d be willing to buy some shares when I next have some available funds to invest.

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    1. Twelve of the best training boats Sailing schools, clubs and training centres use a variety of boats with beginners, including singlehanders such as the Pico, Hartley 10 and the RS Quba, the latter having three rigs catering from entry level to more experienced sailors. There's also a range of larger training dinghies from builders such as RS, Topper, Laser and Hartley Boats.

  15. Built in Britain: Five Best British Sailing Yachts « YachtWorld UK

    Here are five of the best, in my opinion of course! Best British Sailing Yachts: Oyster 885. Oyster 885. The largest yacht in Oyster's core range the 885 was designed by Rob Humphreys and the Oyster team as a quick and powerful yacht that would provide the maximum space possible within the limits of the MCA (UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency ...

  16. The Small Yacht Company

    The Small Yacht Company is changing all that. We have assembled the largest range of small sailing yachts available in the UK today. Please take a look at our range of boats available from Pointer Yachts, Astus Boats, Viko Yachts and Buckley Yacht Design. Contact us now for more details or advice based on your sailing requirements.

  17. An Easy Guide to the 8 Best (And Funnest) Small Sailboats to Learn to Sail

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

  18. 5 of the best compact cruisers

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  19. Best family yacht: our pick of the best yachts for sailing with the family

    Dufour 37. The Dufour 37 may be shorter than the old 360, but Dufour was reluctant to brand this 37 as smaller because its modern, broadened hull shape has resulted in an enlarged deck space ...

  20. Best boats for beginners: 4 affordable options for your first boat

    Marex 310. Built: 2019. Price: £235,000. Almost a quarter of a million pounds might feel a little steep for a first boat, but it's important to understand that people have all sorts of different budgets, and this boat works so well as a first boat that if you have the means, it's actually a very sensible investment.

  21. Best portable sailing dinghies for under £5k

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

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

  23. The biggest day for small boat crossings all year

    The number of people per boat is steadily increasing too, to more than 50, as smugglers change their tactics, making the crossing even more dangerous. Wednesday 19 June 2024 22:11, UK

  24. French police watch on as migrants attempt to board small boat to

    French police are not allowed to enter the water to stop a boat that hasn't asked for help - and it's not illegal for migrants to run into the water. Tuesday 18 June 2024 17:45, UK Please use ...

  25. Best yachts for short-handed cruising

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  26. Best boats for sailing around the UK: sail & power

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  27. 6 of the best classic yachts for sale

    The McGruer-built yachts, like the 8-M cruiser-racers, are well known for their quality of build and versatility. This one is a bermudan yawl, built in 1959 (by McGruer of course, to a design by his own hand), and measures 43ft 4in (13.2m), which is enough to cruise with up to six berths. The build ...

  28. Latest statement in response to small boat crossings

    Latest statement in response to small boat crossings 19 June 2024; Reducing Net Migration Factsheet - May 2024 23 May 2024; Independent Review of political violence and disruption: Home Secretary Statement 21 May 2024

  29. Dozens of police officers are powerless on French beaches as people

    More will follow. A little later, we see another boat come around the headland, chugging slowly along. As we're watching, a crowd of people - men, women and children - start hurrying down the beach.

  30. BAE Systems shares are flying! Have I missed the boat?

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