13 Best Beginner Sailboats with Cabin (For Any Budget)

Have you ever thought you couldn't afford a sailboat with a cabin? Think again. In this article, you will find 13 beginner sailboats that will suit your budget. We've considered various factors such as safety, ease of handling, and affordability in our selection. These sailboats offer cabins, providing a much-needed break during extended trips and offer the option of overnight stays.

The best beginner sailboats with cabins are Catalina 22, West Wight Potter 19, Com-Pac 23, Hunter 240, MacGregor 26, Montgomery 17, O'Day 22, Precision 18, San Juan 21, Sea Pearl 21, Sirius 22, Tanzer 22, and Ventura 23. Their prices can range from around $5,000 to $30,000.

Whether you're just dipping your toes into the world of sailing or planning on making it a lifelong passion, our list of beginner sailboats with cabins has something for everyone. This will help you focus on what really matters: enjoying your time at sea and mastering the art of sailing.

  • Test-sail a few models so you can get a feel for how each boat handles and performs.
  • Check out online forums to find user reviews and insights on each model you won't find anywhere else.
  • Choose a sailboat that matches your current skill level, such as a small boat with simple rigging and easy handling.
  • Identify how you plan to use your sailboat, whether for weekend cruising or for racing.
  • Choose a boat that not only fits your budget but also ensures enough space and comfort for your activities.

small sailboats with cabin

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Best beginner sailboats with cabin, let's decide on a sailboat with cabin, understand your needs when choosing a sailboat with cabin, factors to consider for your sailing needs and experience level, 1. catalina 22 is a classic sailboat that has been popular for over 50 years.

The Catalina 22 is an excellent choice for beginners due to its spacious cabin and easy handling. You can get it for $10,000–$20,000. You will appreciate its versatility and stability, which makes sailing more enjoyable and less intimidating. With a length of 22 feet, it's a great boat for beginners because it's easy to sail and has a comfortable cabin. It weighs 2,500 pounds.

2. West Wight Potter 19 is another good option for beginners

Your confidence will grow while sailing the West Wight Potter 19, a compact and sturdy sailboat. You can get it for $5,000–$15,000. Its compact design and shallow draft make it perfect for navigating tight spaces and shallow waters. It's a small sailboat with a cabin that's easy to handle and can be trailered. It weighs 1,200 pounds.

3. Com-Pac 23 is a larger sailboat that's still easy to handle

A great option for beginners seeking comfort is the Com-Pac 23. You can get it for $20,000–$30,000. This sailboat offers a cozy cabin and ample storage for your sailing adventures. Its stability and performance will undoubtedly enhance your sailing experience. It has a roomy cabin and is a good choice for those who want to spend longer periods of time on the water. It weighs 3,000 pounds.

4. Hunter 240 is a popular sailboat that's great for beginners

The Hunter 240 combines functionality and performance, making it an excellent beginner sailboat. You can get it for $10,000–$20,000. You will appreciate its roomy cabin and user-friendly design, which make sailing a breeze. It has a large cockpit and a comfortable cabin, making it a good choice for day sailing or weekend trips. It weighs 3,500 pounds.

5. MacGregor 26 is a versatile sailboat that can be used for both sailing and powerboating

If versatility is essential for you, the MacGregor 26 fits the bill. You can get it for $10,000–$20,000. This sailboat easily adapts to both sailing and power boating , providing you with a unique and enjoyable experience on the water. It has a roomy cabin and is a good choice for those who want to explore both the water and the land. It weighs 2,250 pounds.

6. Montgomery 17 is a small sailboat with a cabin that's easy to handle and trailer

The Montgomery 17 offers a great sailing experience for those new to the sport. You can get it for $5,000–$15,000. You'll find its compact design and easy maneuverability make it an excellent choice for building your sailing skills. It's a good choice for beginners who want a simple, no-frills sailboat. It weighs 1,000 pounds.

small sailboats with cabin

7. O'Day 22 is a classic sailboat that's easy to handle and has a comfortable cabin

Beginners will love the O'Day 22 for its simplicity and accessibility. You can get it for $5,000–$15,000. With a spacious cabin and dependable performance, this sailboat will ensure your sailing journey is smooth and enjoyable. It's a good choice for those who want to spend longer periods of time on the water. It weighs 2,700 pounds.

8. Precision 18 is a small sailboat with a cabin that's easy to handle and trailer

The Precision 18 is designed with beginners in mind. You can get it for $5,000–$15,000. You'll appreciate its manageable size and capability to navigate various sailing conditions with ease. It's a good choice for beginners who want a simple, no-frills sailboat. It weighs 1,150 pounds.

9. San Juan 21 is a popular sailboat that's great for beginners

The San Juan 21 is a fantastic option if you're just starting. You can get it for $5,000–$15,000. Its good performance and stability will allow you to develop your skills with confidence. It has a large cockpit and a comfortable cabin, making it a good choice for day sailing or weekend trips. It weighs 1,900 pounds.

10. Sea Pearl 21 is a unique sailboat that's great for beginners who want to explore shallow waters

You will love sailing the Sea Pearl 21, a beginner-friendly sailboat known for its shallow draft and stability. You can get it for $10,000–$20,000. Its compact design makes it easy to handle and perfect for weekend getaways. It has a shallow draft and a comfortable cabin, making it a good choice for those who want to spend time on the water and on the beach. It weighs 1,200 pounds.

11. Sirius 22 is a versatile sailboat that's easy to handle and has a comfortable cabin

The Sirius 22 has a comfortable cabin and user-friendly layout, which makes it an excellent choice for beginner sailors. You can get it for $5,000–$15,000. You'll enjoy sailing in various conditions thanks to its stability and performance. It's a good choice for those who want to explore both the water and the land. It weighs 2,800 pounds.

12. Tanzer 22 is a classic sailboat that's easy to handle and has a comfortable cabin

If you're looking for a beginner sailboat that's easy to handle, the Tanzer 22 is a great choice. You can get it for $5,000–$15,000. Its functional design and favorable performance make it a popular choice among novice sailors. It's a good choice for those who want to spend longer periods of time on the water. It weighs 2,700 pounds.

13. Ventura 23 is a popular sailboat for beginners that has a roomy cabin

Ventura 23 has a spacious cabin that can accommodate up to four people. You can get it for $10,000–$20,000. It's easy to handle and is a good choice for weekend trips or longer periods of time on the water. Its user-friendly features make it easy for beginners to navigate and enjoy their time on the water. It weighs 4,000 pounds.

small sailboats with cabin

When choosing the perfect beginner sailboat with a cabin that suits your budget and needs, consider these factors:

Test sailing on a few models

This allows you to get a feel for how each boat handles and performs. Reach out to dealers or sailing clubs, as they may offer opportunities for you to try out different sailboats. Remember, your comfort and confidence on the water are crucial, so it's essential to choose a boat that feels right for you.

Research on various sailboat models

Invest some time in thorough research on various sailboat models within your budget. This will help you understand their features, strengths, and weaknesses. You can do this by consulting online resources, speaking with experienced sailors, and visiting boat shows.

Reviews from fellow sailors

Don't underestimate the power of reviews from fellow sailors. Reading the real-life experiences of others who have sailed on different boat models can provide valuable insights into their performance, maintenance, and overall satisfaction. Check out online forums, sailing magazines, and customer testimonials to gather a variety of opinions on the sailboats you're considering.

There are numerous online forums and communities dedicated to sailing enthusiasts and beginners where you can ask questions, share experiences, and learn from others who share your passion. In these spaces, you can find valuable advice and recommendations from experienced sailors on the best beginner sailboats for various purposes and budgets.

Some popular sailing forums and communities include:

  • Cruisers Forum
  • Sailing Anarchy
  • SailNet Community
  • Yachting and Boating World Forums

By participating in these communities, you'll be able to expand your knowledge, make new friends, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the sailing world. Just remember to always approach online interactions with a friendly tone and an open-minded attitude, as this will help create a positive and supportive learning environment.

small sailboats with cabin

Consider the following factors to help you make the best decision that caters to your preferences and budget:

Sailing experience

As a beginner, it's crucial to choose a sailboat that matches your current skill level . Smaller boats with simple rigging and easy handling, like the Sunfish or Hobie Cats, are great for those who are just starting. As you gain experience, you may transition to larger vessels with more advanced features.

Preferred types of sailing activities

Always think about what type of sailing activities you prefer. Some people enjoy leisurely weekend trips , while others are more interested in racing. For example, the West Wight Potter is an excellent choice for weekend cruising, while the Challenger Trimaran is more performance-oriented for racers. Identifying how you plan to use your sailboat will greatly help you make the best choice for your needs.

Your budget for a sailboat with a cabin

Finding a sailboat within your budget range is essential, but also keep in mind the ongoing costs such as maintenance, mooring fees, insurance, and fuel. With realistic financial planning, you can make a wise investment in a sailboat that suits your needs and avoids future financial issues.

In this section, we will discuss the following important aspects when choosing the best beginner sailboat with a cabin: size and layout, ease of handling, and maintenance and upkeep.

small sailboats with cabin

Size and layout of the sailboat

The size of the sailboat is an important consideration, especially if you plan to spend nights on board or have guests join you. Choose a boat that not only fits your budget but also ensures enough space and comfort for your activities. A good starting point might be boats between 22 and 30 feet in length, offering a combination of living space, stability, and sailing capabilities.

Think about the layout of the cabin and the overall interior design. Make sure there are enough berths for everyone staying on board, and consider the placement of the galley, head, and storage areas. Keep in mind that a well-designed layout can make a small space feel larger and more comfortable.

Ease of handling the sailboat

As a beginner, it's crucial to select a sailboat that is easy to handle and maneuver. Tiller steering is a great choice for beginners, as it helps you gain a better understanding of the boat's direction and the wind's force. Look for boats with simple rigging, easy-to-reach controls, and a responsive helm. This will ensure a smoother and more enjoyable learning experience as you build your confidence in sailing.

Maintenance and upkeep of the sailboat

Owning a sailboat comes with the responsibility of regular maintenance to keep it in top shape. Familiarize yourself with the costs and tasks associated with upkeep, such as cleaning, painting, and inspecting critical components. Choose a boat with a proven history of durability and low-cost maintenance, so you don't end up dedicating all your time and money to its upkeep. Fiberglass hulls, for example, tend to be easier to maintain than wooden ones.

Duane Stallings

Who makes the “Ventura 23” that weighs 4000 lbs? I can’t find it anywhere.

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small sailboats with cabin

Budget-Friendly Boats: Top 16 Small Cabins for Sailors

Ever dreamt of sailing into the sunset without sinking your savings? Discover 16 affordable small boats with cabins that promise adventure and won't drain your wallet. Set sail on a budget-friendly voyage today!

small sailboats with cabin

It’s difficult to find an affordable small boat with a cabin as even boats without cabins are often pricey. Boats with extra amenities such as cabins, kitchens, and showers are generally expensive, but that’s not always the case. So, what are the best affordable small boats with cabins?

The best affordable small boats with cabins are the Sea Ray Sun Sport 230, Stringray 208cr Cuddy Cabin, and Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe. You can also save money with the Jeanneau 1095 NC and Pro-Line 20 Express which both have roomy cabins at a great price. Otherwise, consider the Jet Capsule Mini Yacht and Dusky 227 Fish Cruiser.

Each of these small boats with cabins falls below the price point that you typically find on the market. However, that doesn’t mean that they lack amenities that make a boat so appealing, to begin with. Follow along as we explore the most affordable small boats with cabins and highlight their features.

Affordable Small Boats With Cabins

Finding small boats with cabins often comes at a high cost that many people are unwilling to meet. Cabins add plenty of value to boats, and it’s hard for many people to justify the extra cost . Luckily, there are many affordable small boats with cabins that don’t come at premium costs.

1. Sea Ray Sun Sport 230

small sailboats with cabin

Sea Ray makes many affordable boats, but the Sun Sport 230 is their best one that features a cabin. There are several models of the Sun Sport 230 with different floor plans that are 19’-40’ long . It’s hard to tell that this boat has a cabin from the outside because of its simple layout, but you can find it below the deck.

Below-deck cabins are the best use of space, especially if you are looking for a small, affordable boat. The cabin is spacious and features comfortable seating with cushions for lounging or sleeping. This is the main appeal of what is an otherwise impressive-yet-standard boat.

Boats with cabins generally average $75,000 but can exceed $100,000 in most cases. Luckily, the Sea Ray Sun Sport starts at $61,995 which is quite low for a boat with a cabin. That is a bargain when you consider the 50-gallon engine and world-renowned performance.  

2. Stingray 208CR Cuddy Cabin

small sailboats with cabin

The Stingray 208cr Cuddy Cabin is the smallest boat in the Cuddy series that features a cabin. It only measures 20’ and 8’ long which is modest for a boat with so many features. You can comfortably fit up to 9 people on this boat as long as the onboard weight doesn’t exceed 1,715 pounds including cargo .

A key feature of the Stingray 208cr Cuddy Cabin is that the cabin features a window. This should be a standard feature for any small boat with a cabin, but it’s not. You can easily fit several people in the cabin whether you are just lounging or going to sleep.

The cabin can fit a queen or king-sized bed and still leave some space on either side. It also features a toilet and plenty of bow storage which is necessary for a boat of this size. Finally, this boat comes with a 25-quart igloo cooler which makes it easy to embark on overnight trips on the water.

3. Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe

small sailboats with cabin

The Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe measures 23’ and 7” long and boasts a comfortable cabin. It features a Yamaha engine, so you know that you can rely on a smooth and consistent performance. The 300-horsepower engine is the highlight of the Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe beside the cabin.

It also includes a microwave and Kenyon grill, so you don’t have to return to shore to eat. While it is considered a small boat compared to most liveaboard vessels, its layout isn’t cramped at all. You can expect to spend $119,937 for a Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe which is affordable for a luxury vessel like this with a cabin .

4. Jeanneau 1095 NC

small sailboats with cabin

There are several options for the Jeanneau 1095 NC depending on your budget. This boat primarily appeals to families or seafarers who often go out with large groups. You can buy a Jeanneau 1095 NC that has 2 or 3 cabins depending on what you are looking for.

Both models feature a Yamaha Twin 300 horsepower engine which is quite powerful for a boat of this size. It measures 34’ long which still falls into the small boat category because it is under 40’ long . One major benefit of this boat is that it has a 106-gallon capacity which eliminates the need to refuel too often .

You don’t have to worry about strong winds or harsh waves with the Jeanneau 1095 NC. The bow thruster makes it easy to navigate inclement weather and rough water without a problem.

5. Dusky 227 Fish Cruiser

small sailboats with cabin

Coming in at 22’ and 7” long, the Dusky 227 Fish Cruiser has more bells and whistles than it looks at first glance. While it’s a relatively small boat, there is nothing small about the power that this Dusky boat has to offer. The 230-horsepower engine is a perfect example of this, and that’s quite powerful for an affordable boat with a cabin.

Dusky paid attention to detail when they made this boat between the hydraulic steering, storage, and navigation lights. You get a 60-gallon fuel capacity with this boat which isn’t huge, but it’s perfect for a boat of this size. The cabin includes comfortable cushions, lights, and a solid door for privacy.

The best part about the boat is that it’s so attainable and affordable. It only costs $55,000 which is an incredible deal for a boat that performs this well.

6. Pro-Line 20 Express

small sailboats with cabin

Pro-Line is a well-respected name in the marine world, and the 20 Express easily explains why that’s the case. It measures 20’ long and can hold 7 people at a time as long as they don’t exceed the weight limit combine with the cargo . This boat is just as much about fun as it is about practicality, as evidenced by the dive platform.

The tempered glass windshield means that you won’t have to worry about heavy winds throwing debris at the boat. Fishers particularly gravitate towards this vessel, but it applies to any boat enthusiast. The 27-gallon live well means that you can store as much fish as you can catch in a day without a problem.

The 200-horsepower engine is more than enough for a boat of this size and weight. Pro-Line crafted this boat with a small cabin that is comfortable enough to sleep 1-2 people. It may not be the perfect small boat with a cabin for large families, but it is perfect for groups of friends planning a weekend trip out on the water.

7. Atlas Boat Works Pompano 21

small sailboats with cabin

Consider the Atlas Boat Works Pompano 21 if you don’t want to spend a fortune on a boat with a cabin. Atlas Boat Works has made many amazing boats in various sizes, but the Pompano 21 is their standout model. It is 21’ and 3” long so it’s easy to transport without a custom trailer .

This unique small-yet-wide boat features a hard top which makes sleeping much more comfortably. The hard top also comes in handy if you simply want more privacy so that passengers can relax in the cabin. You get a sink, comfortable galley, and cozy cabin with this relatively small vessel.

The 34-gallon fuel capacity is enough for most seafarers that don’t plan to go out too far. This boat also features convenient ventilation hatches that come in handy on hot and humid days. You can purchase an Atlas Boat Works Pompano 21 for only $27,000.

8. Rinker 270 Express Cruiser

small sailboats with cabin

Consider the Rinker 270 Express Cruiser if you want a small boat with a cabin that can sleep multiple people. Up to 4 people can comfortably sleep in the Rinker 270 Express Cruiser which is hard to find in a small boat. It is nearly 29’ long with a spacious cabin that has over 6’ of headroom.

You get everything that you need for a weekend trip with this boat. This vessel includes a microwave, fridge, stove, and plenty of onboard storage . A new model starts at $27,995 but used Rinker 270s typically cost $18,000-$22,000 depending on the condition.

The Bluetooth stereo system makes it easy to turn this vessel into a party boat with the touch of a button. Few boats of this size offer as much value between the cabin, entertainment value, and appliances that are included.

9. Campion Allante 635

small sailboats with cabin

Boats made out of fiberglass have become the gold standard, and the Campion Allante 635 should explain why that’s the case. Everything from the deck to the cabin is comfortable and meant to accommodate multiple people. The cabin isn’t too large, but you can easily lounge or sleep in it with up to 3 people.

You can leave the cabin as is and use it as a lounge or convert it into a sleeping space. Converting it to a sleeping space takes less than 5 minutes and is worth it for overnight trips. The 60-gallon fuel tank is appropriate for the Campion Allante 635 because it’s not meant for long journeys.

The 250-horsepower engine can let you maintain a consistent 35-mile-per-hour cruising speed . Some people want more power out of a boat, but small boats with cabins don’t generally need more.

10. Campion EX18 OB SC

small sailboats with cabin

The Campion EX18 OB SC is another excellent offering from the brand, and its cabin is comparable to the Allante 635. This small boat is only 19’ and 6” which makes it easy to transport before you even set out on the water. Its dry weight is 1,990 pounds before you embark on your journey.

The Campion EX18 OB SC can fit 7 people onboard at once which makes it perfect for families. It is a popular boat among the fishing community because of features such as tackle boxes, live bait storage, and rod holders. However, it also appeals to enthusiasts who simply want to cruise around and have fun on the water.

The cabin is roomy and can fit at least 2 people overnight without a problem . Otherwise, you can fit 4 or more people in the cabin if you simply use it as a lounge. The possibilities are endless, and the Campion EX18 OB SC is worth the $81,521 price tag.  

11. Jet Capsule Mini Yacht

small sailboats with cabin

You will have a hard time finding a small boat with a cabin that boasts such a unique appearance. From the outside, the Jet Capsule Mini Yacht looks like something from a sci-fi film. It measures 24 feet long and has the most unique hard top of any boat on this list .

The only downside of the Jet Capsule Mini Yacht is that it doesn’t specifically come with a cabin if you buy it outright. However, it has the space for a cabin, so you can modify it via a dealer or the manufacturer to include one. Jet Capsule lets you add benches, chairs, and sofas or clear space for a mattress.

The windows react to the sunlight and brighten or darken depending on the outdoor brightness. Cruise through the water at up to 40 mph while someone relaxes in the custom cabin with your Jet Capsule Mini Yacht.

12. Scout 350 LXF

small sailboats with cabin

Boaters on a budget that don’t need too much space can appreciate the Scout 350 LXF. The cabin may not be too big, but it’s proportional to the size of the boat. Luckily, the galley makes up for it with plenty of space and a small dinette that is perfect for a mid-day meal or nightcap.

This certainly isn’t a liveaboard boat, but you could easily spend 1-3 nights on the Scout 350 LXF without a problem. It is much longer than it is wide which explains the limited cabin space on this vessel. The Scout 350 LXF is just under 35’ long which is nearly at the threshold of what is considered a small boat .

Speed is another key factor to consider about the Scout 350 LXF. Unlike most smaller boats, this vessel can reach speeds up to 70 mph which makes it a force to be reckoned with.

13. Bayliner 285 SB

small sailboats with cabin

Few 28-foot-long boats are as impressive as the Bayliner 285 SB. You have everything that you need with this boat as it is stocked with a pantry, stove, refrigerator, microwave, and stove. The galley on the Bayliner 285 SB is every bit as impressive as the cabin itself.

None of the other small boats on this list include a cabin that can fit 6 people in it . This is a major selling point of the Bayliner 285 SB, especially for seafarers that bring their friends and families out on the water . You won’t be able to reach speeds of 40 mph, but that isn’t necessary unless you’re trying to race or cruise at high speeds anyway.

Another selling point of the Bayliner 285 SB is the cockpit which is roomy enough for multiple people. This comes in handy if you have several passengers that are along for a day trip and don’t plan to sleep on the vessel.

14. Grady White Express 330

small sailboats with cabin

The Grady White Express 330 appeals to both novice and expert boat enthusiasts seeking an affordable vessel with a cabin. It measures 33’ and 6” and is notable for its powerful engine. The portside galley, comfortable cabin, and roomy cockpit all contribute to a boat that can comfortably fit many people.

Many seafarers describe the Grady White Express 330 as a liveaboard boat which is understandable given the onboard space . The 850-horsepower engine may seem like overkill, but it’s necessary to move such a heavy boat. This boat weighs more than it looks like at just under 11,000 pounds before it gets wet.

While the Grady White Express 330 is pricier than some of the other boats on this list, it’s also larger. With that said, it still falls into the category of small boats within the boating community. It starts at $85,000 if you can find a used one, and it’s worth every penny.

15. Boston Whaler Conquest 285

small sailboats with cabin

Coming in at just under 28’, the Boston Whaler Conquest 285 is worth considering if you want an affordable boat with a cabin . You get a 200-gallon fuel capacity, a roomy cockpit, and many customization options with this boat. Boston Whaler lets you customize the cabin to your likely and choose a floorplan that is ideal for you.

Like all Boston Whaler boats, the Conquest 285 is unsinkable. That alone should be a huge selling point because safety supersedes all the luxury features that a boat has to offer. You can drive half of the boat if it gets cut in half in an emergency, but neither half will sink.

The cabin doubles as a lounge and sleeping area which is nice if you are simply out on the water for the day. Used Boston Whaler Conquest 285s rarely exceed $48,000 which is a bargain even if they have many miles on them.

16. Four Winns Vista 238

small sailboats with cabin

While this boat is no longer in production, it has a comfortable cabin and fits the categories of small and affordable. You can easily find a used Four Winns Vista 238 for $11,000 or under which makes it one of the cheapest boats on this list . However, this 23’ long boat can still proudly fit in amongst many of the newer vessels in this guide

The 4 bunks on this boat mean that it has more room for people to sleep than the average small boat with a cabin. This is essential if you have a large family or plan to depart on a trip with friends. It also includes a full bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower which is hard to find on an affordable vessel.

You can also easily cook fresh fish on this vessel because it has a cooktop and refrigerator. The engine maxes out at 38 knots which is the equivalent of 43.7 mph, and that’s impressive for a budget boat. Don’t be discouraged that it’s no longer in production because boats can last for several decades if they are well-maintained.

How Much Does a Boat With a Cabin Cost?

small sailboats with cabin

A boat with a cabin typically costs at least $50,000 on the low end. On average, a boat with a cabin costs $75,000, but even that is considered somewhat low. Boats that feature cabins often exceed $100,000 because of the construction, materials, and how much weight they add to the vessel .

Luxury boats with cabins rarely fall below $100,000 and often cost $250,000 or more. With that said, boats with cabins have more resale value than a standard fishing boat or cruiser. Boats that include cabins include cuddy cabins, yachts, sailboats, cabin cruisers, and trawlers.

You can also modify an existing boat to include a cabin directly through a retailer in many cases. Many manufacturers produce boats with an optional hard top add-on that can transport part of it into a cabin.

What Are the Best Affordable Small Boats With Cabins?

The best affordable small boats with cabins include the Grady White Express 330, Boston Whaler Conquest 285, and Sea Ray Sun Sport 230. You can’t go wrong with affordable boats like the Bayliner 285 SB, Scout 350 LXF, and Stingray 208cr Cuddy Cabin . Brands like Campion sell many affordable small boats with cabins like the Allante 635 and EX18 OB SC.

If you’re on a budget, you should also consider the Jeanneau 1095 NIC, Dusky 227 Fish Cruiser, and Pro-Line 20 Express. You don’t have to spend a fortune on affordable small boats with cabins like the Atlas Boat Works Pompano 21 or Rinker 270 Express Cruiser either. Each of these boats holds up well to luxury boats with cabins, but at a fraction of the cost.

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Michael R. Wing

Michael R. Wing

Daysailers, pocket cruisers and other small sailboats.

Daysailer Designs

I love small boats!  I always have, ever since I was a kid.  If you gave me a mega-rock star’s money I would not buy a bigger boat, although I might buy some nice waterfront real estate to sail from.  But even if you love the small boat you have, you might like the looks of some of the others and be curious about them.  (There’s a reason they call boats “she.”)  The following are my notes from a life of noticing and sailing small boats.  I am arbitrarily not considering anything longer than twenty feet or weighing over one ton, or sailboats used only for class racing. 

“Daysailer” can mean any sailboat that’s not in a race or on an overnight cruise.  It also means a specific 16’ 9” sloop designed by Uffa Fox which was mass-produced in fiberglass by the O’Day company in Fall River, Massachusetts and is still made today by Cape Cod Shipbuilding.  I own one of these, built in 1963.  So from now on DaySailer will mean the boat designed by Uffa Fox and “daysailer” will mean a boat you sail for a few hours at a time.  A pocket cruiser has a small cabin with berths for sleeping, which mine (kind of) does.

small sailboats with cabin

A major division in these boats is between those with centerboards and those with keels.  You lose versatility when you put a fixed ballasted keel on a sailboat.  Keel boats are heavier, slower and more expensive than centerboard boats.  You can’t run up on a beach and step out onto the sand, which for me is part of the fun of sailing.  You avoid shallow water.  You need to tie up to a dock, or use a tender to get to and from the shore.  They may fit on a trailer, but because of their draft and weight it’s a chore to trailer-sail them.  However, they are safer in strong wind because they won’t capsize.  They have more room, and a steady motion.  Once a sailboat gets over 20’ long, rail meat isn’t enough to keep the boat upright.

Don’t buy a new boat unless you have to.  New boats are expensive compared to used ones, which sell for 10% – 50% of the price of new.  Any fiberglass boat can be restored to a “practically new” condition with a few weeks of work.  All fiberglass boats end up in landfills eventually, so by purchasing a used one you reduce waste as well as save money.  And the production boats designed years ago are at least as beautiful and functional as those being designed today.  Some of the most popular small sailboats ever were designed fifty or sixty years ago and have been made continuously for decades by more than one builder; the hull mold and production rights passing to a new company whenever the old company folds.

small sailboats with cabin

The Alcort Sunfish and other popular “wet” boats:  The Sunfish and the Laser have a lot in common.  They are identical in length (13’ 9”) and nearly identical in beam, draft, weight, sail area, price, and popularity.  Today they’re even made by the same company, LaserPerformance , but that wasn’t always true.  The Sunfish was designed by Alcort, Inc. and produced by Alcort for decades.  With its colorful striped lateen sail, tiny footwell of a cockpit, and flat fish-shaped hull it didn’t look anything like any other boat.  The designers had previously build iceboats, then experimented with paddle boards.  The Sunfish has won many design awards.  It is the most-produced fiberglass sailboat ever.  The Laser is more of a performance boat.  Even though it is wider than the Sunfish, its round-bottomed hull and tall rig make it faster and tippier.  Both boats have been produced by the hundreds of thousands.  On both boats, you are just inches off the water with little protection from getting splashed.  They aren’t for winter sailing.  A third boat in the “wet and popular” category is the Hobie 16 catamaran.  There’s no cockpit; you sit on a fabric trampoline.  Multihulls are inherently fast but their width makes them awkward to handle at the dock or on a trailer. 

The DaySailer was marketed as the “boat that launched 10,000 weekends.”  I have not sailed mine that many times yet, but I’m closing in on 100.  For me, it’s a right-sized boat: small enough to single-hand, big enough to take a few guests comfortably, fast enough not to be boring, with good-looking curves.  The cuddy cabin deflects spray and provides a place for tired children to rest.  I sleep overnight sometimes, head-forward under the cuddy on some camping foam pads with my feet sticking out into the cockpit.  She draws only a few inches with the board raised so you can sail up onto a sandy beach.  When the tide falls while you are on shore, the boat is light enough to push back into the water.  The DaySailer’s 145 ft 2 of sail area are really too much for my northern California climate, where winds in the double digits are the norm.  When I sail alone or on windy days I reef the main before I go out and use a smaller-than-standard jib taken from a 14-foot O’Day Javelin.  Then when the wind gets really hairy I slacken the main sheet, leave the tiller, go up on the foredeck and drop the jib and secure it.  The boat naturally heaves to in this situation and is quite stable.  Jib secured, I go back to the tiller and sail under reefed main alone.  She’s fast and well balanced under all these sail configurations. 

One other caveat – I keep my boat on the shore with the mast stepped all the time.  I don’t trailer-sail it and if I did that 25’ keel-stepped aluminum mast would be a problem because I cannot raise and step it by myself.  Even with two people it’s tricky.  If I was going to trailer-sail I would get a boat with a shorter, lighter mast. 

The DaySailer was the model that made the O’Day Corporation prosper but they built smaller and larger boats too, up to 40 feet long.  The O’Day Javelin is the DaySailer’s 14-foot little sister; it looks different because it has no cuddy cabin but sails similarly.  Even smaller than that is the 12-foot O’Day Widgeon .  The DaySailer’s twin big sisters are the Rhodes 19 and the Mariner .  The Rhodes 19 looks a like a larger, two-and-a-half-foot-longer DaySailer with a cuddy cabin.  The Mariner has the same hull as the Rhodes 19 but it has a real cabin for overnight cruising with a bulkhead separating the cabin from the cockpit and a big V-berth below with storage space, room for a small camp stove, etc.  The Mariner and the Rhodes 19 are both available with either a centerboard or a fixed ballasted keel. 

There have been over ten thousand DaySailers built, and several thousand each of the Widgeon, Javelin, Rhodes 19 and Mariner models as well, so you see these boats everywhere.  A rarer cousin of these is the 15’ 8” O’Day Ospray (yes, that’s Ospray with an “a” not “Osprey”.)  This boat is only a foot shorter than a DaySailer and looks just like one except that the mast is stepped forward of the raised domed cuddy cabin instead of through it.  The cuddy cabin is smaller.  I don’t know why O’Day bothered to build a boat so similar to its best-seller and they only did it for a few years.  I have only ever seen one of these.  The Widgeon, Javelin and Ospray are no longer built but Cape Cod Shipbuilding still builds DaySailers and Stuart Marine in Maine builds new Mariners and Rhodes 19’s.

small sailboats with cabin

West Wight Potter P-15 :  I had one of these boats when my kids were small.  It looked like a bathtub toy, but in a good way.  There are famous stories of people making long ocean passages in them, but really if you want to make a long ocean passage a 15-foot centerboard dingy is not the best way to do it.  A boat with a ballasted keel is.  If you absolutely have to go on a blue-water voyage in a dingy this is probably the one to use.  Most P-15 owners trailer-sail them on lakes and bays and they are very good for that because they don’t weigh much and the mast is stepped on deck and is only 15’ 6” tall and is thin also so it’s easy to put the mast up.  The mast is so short because the “simulated gaff”-rigged mainsail is compact and wide for its height.  The mainsail is in the shape of a gaff sail plus a gaff topsail, with a sturdy batten taking the place of the gaff boom.  Plus, the boat is under-canvased (main + working jib = 98 ft 2 ) compared to other boats of similar size and weight.  This was rarely a problem for me, sailing in windy northern California.  On the occasions when it was a problem I just put on a big genoa jib.  The reason the boat is under-canvassed is that it was originally designed to sail in the waters around the Isle of Wight, in English Channel, where it’s blowing a gale most of the time.  Strong winds and choppy conditions are built into this boat’s DNA, which is funny because today they are produced by International Marine in southern California where the wind is much lighter.

I miss sailing dry (the Potter deflects spray efficiently) and I sure do miss those two big 6 ½ foot-long berths down below.  The Potter is faster than she looks like she would be; I had no complaints about her speed.  I did find the cockpit uncomfortable.  The P-15 has a lot of big boat features and one of these is a self-bailing cockpit.  This means the floor of the cockpit is above the waterline, which makes the cockpit quite shallow.  I don’t have very long legs but I wished for more legroom.  It was like sitting in a bathtub.  And the cockpit coaming didn’t make it easy to sit on the rail.  As my kids grew there wasn’t room in the bathtub for four people anymore.  So I traded up to my O’Day DaySailer.  Then my kids lost interest in sailing.  Oh well, the DaySailer is a great boat too.  Some other “big boat” features I could have done without are the bow pulpit (what’s it for?) and the bulkhead between the cabin and the cockpit.  I like a more open arrangement.  But if I were a trailer-sailer I would go back to the Potter in a heartbeat because it’s so easy to wrangle on and off the trailer. 

The same company also builds the P-19 which is more than twice the boat even though it is only four feet longer.  One difference between them, besides size, is that while the P-15 has a typical centerboard that pivots backwards and up, the P-19 has a 300-lb. metal daggerboard that goes straight up and down.  So even though this boat only draws 6” with the board up, you can’t just sail towards the beach until the board bumps.  You have to slowly raise it using a winch.

West Wight Potters, especially the P-15’s, hold their resale value much better than most boats.  I sold mine for more than I paid for it.  Many owners keep them in their garages and polish them obsessively, so used Potters are often in Bristol condition. 

Some pocket cruisers similar to the Potters (but with deeper drafts) are the Montgomery 15 , the Montgomery 17 , the Com-Pac 16 and the Sage 17 . In the 1960s and 1970s the MacGregor Yacht Corporation produced thousands of Venture-21’s,and their little sisters the Venture-17’s .  These were inexpensively made trailer-sailers with ballasted swing keels, big cockpits, low headroom in the cabin, and very few frills.  They are not pretty by anyone’s standard (they look like skinny Clorox bottles with sails), but if your budget is tight they can be had for next to nothing. 

small sailboats with cabin

The Herreshoff 12½ and its relatives: (12 ½ refers to the waterline length; the boat is almost 16’ long overall.)  Nathaniel Herreshoff, its designer, was a member of a prominent family of naval architects and yacht builders in Bristol, Rhode Island.  He designed many of the America’s Cup defenders of the Gilded Age and the early 20 th century.  Those elegant yachts were his inspiration for this charming little gaff-rigged sloop.  It was conceived as a safe and stable boat for beginners and children.  It has been in continuous production since 1914.  Today you can buy one from Cape Cod Shipbuilding or from Ballentine’s Boat Shop , also on Cape Cod (where they call it the Doughdish) but there are used ones, in wood or fiberglass, all over New England.  Warning: these boats aren’t cheap.  Expect to pay what you would for a car.  The Herreshoff 12½ has a fixed ballasted keel with 735 lbs. of lead in it that draws 2’ 6”.  It must be the smallest keel sailboat in common use.  There is no cabin, but some people have used it for overnight cruising by rigging a boom tent and making a bed on the cockpit sole, which of course has no centerboard trunk to divide it in half.  Of all of the boats I’ve never had or sailed, this is the one that most calls to me.

Two and a half feet of draft is too deep to land on beaches, so designer Joel White modified the design to make the Haven 12½ which is almost identical to the Herreshoff 12½ from the waterline up.  Down below it has a centerboard, but also a shallow keel.  The Haven 12 ½ draws a foot less than the Herreshoff 12 ½ but weighs about the same.  So it still draws 1’ 6” with the board up and weighs well over half a ton.  It’s not obvious that this is enough of an improvement to make it truly beachable.  The Bullseye has the same hull as the Herreshoff 12½ but has a more modern Marconi sloop rig and a cuddy cabin.  Cape Cod Shipbuilding produces the Bullseye.  The Paine 14 is a scaled-down version of the Herreshoff 12½ that looks similar above the waterline but has a carbon fiber mast and a modern fin keel and less wetted surface area, so it performs with more zip. 

small sailboats with cabin

The Cape Dory Typhoon has been called “America’s Littlest Yacht” although maybe the Herreshoff 12 ½ deserves the title more, being even littler and being designed by a famous yachtsman.  But the Typhoon has a proper cabin complete with a bulkhead that separates it from the cockpit and a sliding hatch, sleeping berths below, round portholes in the cabin trunk, teak cockpit coamings, winches for the jib sheets, and all the other details of a much larger keel boat.  Plus, Carl Alberg designed it with elegant, understated lines.  Several thousand of these were made, a few as daysailers without the cabin, but Cape Dory no longer exists as a company.  My uncle Eddie had one of these on Lake Michigan. 

As long as we’re on the subject of keel boats, the Cal 20 is ubiquitous where I live on the west coast.  I learned to sail on a Cal 20 when I was seven years old, in San Diego Harbor, steering a course between the aircraft carriers and the Hobie cats.  The Cal 20 is a stocky little boat with a 7’ beam.  My father always said it developed a “vicious weather helm” when the wind got too strong but I’ll bet this problem can be solved by reefing the main – I don’t remember if he ever did that.  Used Cal 20s are easy to find and the seller is usually motivated to sell because the slip fees at a marina in the San Francisco Bay Area or Los Angeles are often more than the boat itself is worth.  You have to keep it at a marina; it’s no trailer-sailer. 

Traditional Catboats : These are heavy, wide, and slow with deep round cockpits, oval portholes on the cabin trunk and one huge gaff mainsail on an unstayed mast that’s right up at the bow.   They have their origins as utility boats for clamming and fishing on Cape Cod.  They look salty at the mooring but they are not as exciting to sail as more slender sloops.  They have a lot of room for their length, though.  No one model or manufacturer dominates this category.  The Marshall Marine Corporation on Cape Cod makes the 15-foot Sandpiper, the 18-foot Sanderling and the Marshall 22.  Arey’s Pond Boat Yard (also on Cape Cod) makes traditional catboats 12’ and up, with their 14-footer being the best-selling model.  Florida-based Com-Pac Yachts produces a line of trailerable gaff-rigged catboats 14-20’ with less wood trim that are more affordable then the high-end boats that Marshall and Arey’s Pond makes.

small sailboats with cabin

Beetle Cats , however, are catboats that are nimble sailers.  The design of this lightweight (for a catboat) 12-footer goes back to 1921 and four thousand of them have been built.  There are plenty of used ones available but you can buy new ones in wood from Beetle, Inc. on Cape Cod and in fiberglass from Howard Boats , also on Cape Cod. 

small sailboats with cabin

The Drascombe Lugger and its many relatives are triple-propulsion boats: they can be rowed, sailed or powered by an outboard motor in a built-in motor well.  It should go without saying that design compromises mean that they are not high-performance sailboats, rowboats or motorboats.   They are traditional looking open boats with a Gunter rigged mainsail and a small mizzen.  They are made in the United Kingdom so even though more than 2000 have been produced there are not a lot of used ones available in North America.  Expect to pay top dollar or even to have to buy a new one, unless you live in the UK.  There is no cabin on the Lugger but people use them for beach camping on extended cruises because they have plenty of storage space and shallow draft.  Their design is based on traditional English fishing boats that had to be beachable.  The Lugger is 18’ 9” but Drascombe makes many other models including the 15 ½ – foot Dabber and the 21’ 9” Longboat, all essentially the same except for the size.  The Norseboat 17.5 , “the Swiss Army Knife of boats”, made in Canada, is a modern alternative.  It is advertised as a sailing/rowing boat but with a beam of just 5’ 2”, round bilges and low freeboard it looks tender.  I would sail it in light air; I’m not sure how it would do in a gale. 

Cornish Crabbers and Shrimpers are also based on traditional fishing boats, and are also made in England.   However, most of these are heavy keelboats that violate my “not more than twenty feet and not over one ton” rule.  Even the popular 19’ Shrimper is really over 22’ with the bowsprit and weighs over a ton.  Also, since they are made in England there are not that many of them available in North America, unless you want to pay for a new one. 

small sailboats with cabin

Flying Scot: I used to sail one of these.  I single-handed it and found that this boat is really too big and powerful to single-hand very well.  The mainsail was bigger than a barn door.  Mine had no reef points.  I would come screaming back to the dock at the end of the sail thinking “geez, I sure hope I can stop this beast…” It’s not tippy, just has a lot of power.  You could water ski from one.  The company that makes them, Flying Scot, Inc . is located on a small lake in western Maryland; maybe it’s not very windy there.  Also, there is no place in the cockpit or forepeak or even on deck to lay out a sleeping bag for an overnight; it’s strictly a daysailer and racer.  That’s unusual for a boat that is 19’ long and almost seven feet wide. 

Cape Cod Mercury Sloop: Don’t confuse this with the 18’ “Mercury Class” boats; this boat is 15’ long.  It is a favorite with camps, sailing schools and community boating programs but it looks kinda generic and institutional – I don’t think that many people buy these for their own personal use.  At least all the ones I’ve ever seen have been in institutional fleets.  Come to think of it, there are other sailboats like that, the Flying Junior for instance.  Cape Cod Shipbuilding makes Mercury Sloops. 

Whitehalls are rowing boats.   They were originally water taxis in New York City.  So they are light in weight, and have narrow beams and low freeboard.  Today you can get Whitehalls with sail rigs but these light, narrow, low hulls aren’t ideal for sailing.  I would only sail one in gentle conditions, and gentle conditions are uncommon where I live.  Whitehall Rowing & Sail and Gig Harbor Boat Works (both in the Pacific Northwest) are two companies that produce them with sail rigs. 

small sailboats with cabin

So there you have it – every boat has a story that explains why it looks the way it does.  Many of the stories have happened on or near Cape Cod.  If you live there, you are lucky to be surrounded by all these pretty boats. 

Poem: Sailing Alone – by Michael Wing

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12 Perfect Small Sailboats

Jonathan Holmes 5.0 Rated 5.0 out of 5 5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 40 reviews)

Last updated on December 31st, 2023

Easy to rig, simple to toe, compact, manageable, maintainable, and affordable, all the perfect small sailboats have one thing in common: they always provide an adventurous tour in the sea.

So, either you are looking for something light on the pocket or just an adventure enthusiast wanting some safe daytime ride, the perfect small sailboats are the sole good means to fulfill your call.

After all, honestly, everybody does not need large 30 ft sailboats for cruising. However, large boats offer a lot of features like bunks, refrigeration , entertainment, and electronics. But are these features necessary for just boating? Well, I guess not.

When cruising, you only require a boat, a sail, a rudder, and a mast. Thus, nothing can offer you the ultimate adventures of coastal cruising better than small sailboats. Small sailboats not only provide you a breezy feel in the water but also offer you the opportunity to sense every change in trim instantaneously.

Table of Contents

12Best Small Sailboats

The market has a wide variety of small sailboats that measure less than 20 ft in size. Moreover, they are quite hit products as they offer great fun in the water.

With this guide, you may equip yourself with all the necessary information about the top 12 small sailboats. My top picks are just perfect as they’re simple to sail, easy to rig, and time-tested. Thus, if you were looking for a listing of the perfect small sailboats, you’re certainly on the right post.

Keep scrolling to read on for the best small sailboat picks.

Hunter 22 is a clever boat for a very fair price. It retains the hull of its predecessor- Hunter 216, featuring an open transom and a large cockpit. However, it is made of fiberglass with balsa-cored topsides and a solid bottom section.

Furthermore, the deck is a bit changed, having a 40 sq. ft. larger rig. Similar to Hunter 216, it, too, features a hydraulic ballast keel. The Hunter 22 is primarily designed to offer a thin line between “go-fast mini-sport boat” and “fun family daysailer and weekender”.

You can select between either half of them according to your requirements.

The cruising package features a simple electrical system, a portable toilet, and a V-berth in the small cuddy cabin. Whereas, the performance package offers an asymmetric spinnaker, a retractable bowsprit, mid-cockpit traveler, hiking grips, and straps in the cockpit.

  • Hunter 22 is a daysailer.
  • It offers a portable toilet.
  • The manufacturers offer an optional electrical system with Hunter 22.
  • The boat features a large cockpit and open transom.
  • It offers a cuddy cabin and twin bunks.
  • It features a hydraulic lifting centerboard and laminated fiberglass deck and hull.
  • Comfortable
  • Fair priced
  • Easy for trailing
  • Faster than most of the other boats available in the market
  • Versatile and family-friendly
  • Might need some replacement parts

Catalina 22 Sport

The retractable keel and basic amenities allow the Catalina 22 Sport to be trailered easily. Basically, the Catalina 22 Sport is an updated design of its predecessor Catalina 22.

The large cockpit is enough to seat a crowd. It offers a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib, a cabin that provides bedding for four with a forward hatch for ventilation, and a retractable lead keel.

In essence, the Catalina 22 Sport is more of a family-friendly racer. Also, it offers an alternative to choosing an older boat.

Besides, the Catalina 22 Sport offers the value and quality Catalina has come to expect since 1970. It is simple to rig and an excellent sail to step up from dinghy sailing to budget cruising.

  • Catalina 22 Sport is a daysailer.
  • It offers an adjustable outboard motor bracket.
  • The boat features a comfortable cockpit with contoured coamings.
  • It has an anodized aluminum mast and boom.
  • It offers low stretch halyards and internal halyards.
  • Catalina 22 offers a complete standing and running rigging.
  • Many interior features, including Fiberglass Hull Liner, molded Headliner, and Low Glare Texture.
  • Easy for trailing with its swing keel
  • Family-friendly
  • Simple to rig without a complicated setup
  • Fast in speed
  • Stability and reliability
  • Features spacious cabin
  • If you choose some old models, you will need some replacement parts.
  • Not much trendy considering the interior and upholstery

Hobie Cat 16

The legendary Hobie Cat 16 has revolutionized boating . Firstly, it belongs to a proud watersports lineage, which within a few years of the foundation was loved by thousands.

Secondly, The Hobie Cat 16 is either used as a daysailer or a racer. The double banana-shaped hulls easily cut through the water, and the boat gets going fast even in light winds, as the aluminum alloy frame and two sails catch wind considerably.

Thirdly, there would certainly be no complete roundup of fun, trailerable, and small sailboats without any mention of the venerable Hobie Cat 16. The large trampoline provides a spacious platform to move about. Moreover, it offers many optional features, including a beach dolly, trailer, douse kit, a spinnaker, and a main and a jib.

In essence, it is a classic boat; enthusiasts and collectors covet it alike. Undoubtedly, it has the pedigree to prove that it is the red Ferrari in the world of cruising.

  • The mast is 26 ft 6 inches tall and weighs about 320 pounds.
  • The boat is 16 ft 7 inches in length and 7 ft 11 inches in width.
  • Two color options are available.
  • The dual-trapeze rig offers you harness its sheer power.
  • The asymmetrical fiberglass hulls offer lift
  • Low maintenance sailboat
  • Reasonably priced
  • Perfect for a Small Crew
  • Easy to trailer
  • Simple to rig
  • Sailing may be hard when you’re alone.

Norseboat 21.5

In essence, the Norseboat 21.5 offers everything an expensive trailer-sailer does. It features a sensible centerboard arrangement, contemporary, good fit and finish, high-quality construction, and sea-kindly underbody.

The value of Norseboat 21.5 lies in its charm. You will easily fall under its spell if you are into the idea of a solid and easy-to-sail boat. The price tag looks much higher for a small 21 ft boat. However, the hype of Norseboat 21.5 tells you that it’s worth it.

Moreover, the NorseBoat 21.5 offers several configurations: one with a small cockpit and cabin that has a double berth for two adults and an optional berth for children, and another with an open cockpit and smaller doghouse.

Each of them comes with a ballasted stub keel and centerboard and carries the brand’s exclusive carbon fiber gaff-rigged mast. Also, the lightweight design of the Norseboat 21.5 offers easy rowing and a simple trailer.

  • Norseboat 21.5 offers a lightweight design.
  • It offers two different configuration options.
  • Norseboat 21.5 has rowing stations.
  • It features an electric outboard.
  • The hull and deck are of fiberglass with a wood core.
  • Comfortable and versatile
  • Expensive compared to the other sailboats on the list

Barney Lehman and W.D. Schock designed the Lido 14. It is an American sailing dinghy that was built in 1958 for the very first time.

In essence, the Lido 14 is a classic sailboat that proves to be a perfect pick to suit small boats, especially for the owners who are still learning the ropes of boating.

The Lido 14 is just perfect for shorthanded racing, single-handed sailing, and solo sailing. It offers seating arrangements for about six people at most.

In the first year of its launch, two hundred Lido 14 boats were ordered. And, around 6300 Lido 14s had been built for 40 years. Today, a new Lido 14 boat is not available in the market; however, you will not regret ever getting a functional used boat.

Thus, the Lido 14 makes your investment worth it and serves you well throughout the journey.

  • It offers a retractable centerboard raised with stainless steel straps.
  • The hull features a near-vertical transom, a spooned plumb stem, and a transom-hung rudder controlled by a tiller.
  • It has a fractional sloop rig with a loose-footed mainsail and anodized aluminum spars.
  • Non-intimidating
  • Has the car top capability
  • Easy in handling
  • New models not available

RS Sailing is primarily known for its line of racing dinghies. It built the 16-ft, 4-in sized Venture, which is such a perfect training and cruising dinghy.

The Venture offers a large, self-draining cockpit that can accommodate a group of friends or a family. Whether you are just messing about with your family or friends, club sailing, or just up for casual racing, RS Venture delivers the best with all its features. It is among the most versatile and nimble dinghies for sailing the masses.

In addition, the RS Venture can carry up to eight people in its self-draining cockpit. The excellent performance makes it adventurous; the multiple equipment options allow several boat configurations.

Moreover, the RS Venture is the winner of multiple awards. The excellent stability makes the boat ideal on coastal water, offering an advantage to those learning the sport.

More importantly, The RS Venture has the potential to carry more people in it than its dinghy rivals.

  • The RS Venture offers a spacious platform.
  • It features a rear back storage.
  • The boat also offers reverse transmission.
  • It has an open cockpit with high buoyancy.
  • The exterior is composed of plastic and dual carbide.
  • Can be car toped
  • Versatile and stable
  • Simple to handle
  • Good looking
  • A bit expensive

Super Snark

The Super Snark is a simple, lightweight, lateen-rigged daysailer, marketed as the “Super Sea Snark.” It is fun sailing, easy to learn, unsinkable, and simple to set up, and transport. Most of the people who get it find it satisfying to their sailing requirements.

Moreover, Super Snark is highly portable and storable. It can easily load onto your vehicle due to its construction and light-weight. In addition, the roof racks with slide-out loading bars make moving much easier.

Termed as unsinkable, the Super Snark is built with EPS foam, with the external hull and deck, which is vacuum-formed to the deep with ABS. polymers. The Super Snark weighs approximately 50 lbs having a capacity load of 310 lbs. It can carry two people at once.

  • It has the capacity for two people.
  • The internal hull leaves no void as it is filled with EPS foam, making the boat unsinkable.
  • Mast, spar, and boom are of aluminum.
  • It is made of recycled plastic.
  • It weighs approximately 50 lbs
  • Lightweight
  • Car top-able
  • Recyclable construction material
  • Easy to learn
  • Simple to setup
  • Not family-friendly

The Laser is one of the most popular single-handed racing sailboats available in the market. With its simple rigging and simple design, Laser started single-handed racing 50 years ago when it came out. Interestingly, with over two lacs made, it is the most popular race boat in the world.

Everyone enjoys the Laser, from club racers to Olympians. It is a simple vessel to own and rig, which rewards practice and good sailing techniques. The Laser is built with updated foils and sail controls.

Moreover, a three rigs system allows the sailors to enjoy boating. It offers a seating capacity for two people. This boat is a fiberglass lightweight model easy for capsize and recovery.

  • It has the capacity for two people seating.
  • Includes the upgraded Vang, Cunningham, and Outhaul controls
  • The boat features heavy fiberglass hull construction with aluminum spars.
  • It has a small rudder with a lower boom.
  • Worldwide popular and recognized racer
  • Car top capability
  • Stable and easy to handle
  • A bit hard to sail

If you are looking for a good looking sailboat with excellent performance, the Paine 14 is here for you. It features a contemporary fin keel and spade rudder, which makes it more agile and faster.

In essence, Paine 14 is an old-time appeal with its varnished gunnels and transoms. However, it offers all the modern features every updated boat has. You can rig this boat with a gaff or a Marconi rig and can trailer it behind a vehicle.

In fact, Paine 14 can sail under mainsail alone due to the large flotation compartments fore and aft. The rig is simple, with an unstayed carbon-fiber mast and a mainsail bent onto its spars.

Overall, the Paine 14 feels like a favorite classic daysailer when you sit in it. The bronze hardware, the slatted-wood cockpit sole, and the varnished trim; all of these are elegantly designed. The cockpit ergonomics are seamless, and the sail controls fall perfectly to hand.

  • It features a modern fin keel and spade rudder.
  • The boat is built in seamless epoxy cold-molded wood construction.
  • It has parallelly fitted fiberglass battens to the luff, which extend from the leech to the foot of the sail.
  • Easy for trailing with its fin keel
  • Good prevention of slippage
  • Features spacious platform
  • Not much trendy in looks


The FarEast 18 is a low maintenance 19-ft vessel that offers high speed cruising in the sea.

Equipped with an open deck, the Far East 18 offers excellent performance. It offers great safety and stability due to its design. The hull has a beautiful shape that can be easily handled.

The lifting keel and the removable rig makes it easy to transport by a trailer. It takes a square-top fixed mainsail and an asymmetrical spinnaker, which is a driving force for buoy racing. The Far East 18 can compete with six crew but also offers bedding for three people when you are staying out overnight.

Moreover, this vessel features an updated bulb keel with carbon structure, vacuum-infused foils, and fiberglass hull. Best of all, a single person can easily rig and launch FarEast 18. Moreover, you can trailer this boat easily with a displacement below 1500 pounds.

All in all, Far East 18 is an excellent little sailboat available in the market.

  • Small cabin instead of a reduced deck
  • It features an updated bulb keel.
  • The boat features a spacious cockpit.
  • It has a lightweight structure.
  • It is constructed with a vacuum infused polyester sandwich.
  • Not too brutal on the pocket
  • Comfortable and low maintenance
  • Modest Price
  • Does not perform well in strong wind

The Sage 17 was designed in 2009 by Jerry Montgomery. It is a small, stable, go-anywhere vessel, featuring a transom with a balsa core, a carbon fiber deck, and a cabin roof.

The Sage 17 is a 1300 pound vessel. It comes with a loose-footed main and a working jib that sheets inside the lifelines. There is a kick-up rudder, a 120-lb centerboard, and a 400-pound lead keel that will not strand while cruising through shallow water.

In addition, this boat is simple enough for beginners and sophisticated enough for experienced sailors. It is manufactured to handle your adventures with safety. It comes with a non-skid covering on the horizontal surfaces, a bow pulpit, transom-mounted boarding ladder, and a self-draining cockpit.

Moreover, this model is hand-built with vinyl ester resin, fiberglass, and carbon fiber in a lapstrake style to offer you enhanced strength. The cabin and deck are made of a balsa core and carbon fiber.

The Sage 17 sails fast in light air and provides unruffled travel as the wind blows more strongly. You will definitely enjoy hindrance free comfort in the airy open cabin. And, you can get customized cabin cushions that are available in different colors.

  • Jib downhaul lead for the cockpit
  • Cabin-top mounted winches and jib tracks
  • Internal halyards
  • Single reef main and working jib, with running rigging
  • Complete mast and stainless-steel standing rigging
  • Fiberglass and vinyl ester lapstrake hull with a carbon fiber
  • Carbon fiber and vinyl ester deck with a balsa core
  • A variety of options available to choose from
  • Simple enough for beginners
  • Safe and durable
  • Quite reasonably priced, considering all the features
  • Might require some replacement gears

Montgomery 17

The Montgomery 17 was designed for Montgomery Boats by Jerry Montgomery in conjunction with Lyle C. Hess. It was manufactured with centerboard and keel models.

The Montgomery 17 offers more stability than most of its rivals. And, when it comes to comfortability, the Montgomery 17 again stands above the rest.

This boat has the capability of going about moderate offshore passages. You can easily trailer it as it is small enough in size.

Moreover, it is designed with a masthead and toe rail that fits most of the foresails. It has a proper amount of storage area, a DC power, an optional shore, and seating arrangements for two people offering a headroom, a pair of bunks, and a portable toilet.

Overall, the Montgomery 17 is among the giant-killers of the market when it comes to performance. Though small in size, it makes its way past its larger rivals and excels in the extremes.

That is not just it; using a four-part gear, you can easily uplift the deck-stepped mast.

  • The hull type is swing keel.
  • A flush deck version is also available.
  • Some versions feature a fixed keel.
  • There are three types of keel configurations available; retractable keel, shallow draft fixed keel, and a shallow draft fixed keel in conjunction with a centerboard.
  • Comfortability
  • Quite faster than its rivals
  • Outstanding racing record
  • Favorable handicap
  • Not suitable for deep sea

The Wrap Up

Hitting the water with the right sailboat can be an overwhelming task for many. To ease this process, the list above has narrowed down the 12 perfect small sailboats.

While there are infinite sailboats available in the market, the sailboats, as mentioned above, will serve you right and make you enjoy the ride.

However, in my opinion, the best of all is none other than the Catalina 22 Sport as it is the most moderate pick of all. You don’t have to compromise on either the quality or affordability.

In my opinion, you must not spend too little or much for too low or too high quality. A moderate model will serve as the perfect pick for you. Thus, Catalina 22 Sport being moderately robust and not-so-expensive wins my heart.

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7 Small Sailboats for Everyday Cruising

  • By Cruising World
  • Updated: July 29, 2019

Not everyone needs a 30-foot sailboat equipped with bunks, a galley and head to go off cruising. In fact, all we really need is a hull, mast, rudder, and sail. There is nothing better than the thrill of a small sailboat or daysailer slipping through the waters of a lake, bay or even the open ocean.

Whether it’s simplicity to rig, ease of trailering or a manageable size that you’re looking for, these small sailboats are perfect for the cruising enthusiast who wants the thrill of the sea without the commitment of a 30-footer. And some of these sailboats come with cabins. This roundup of the best daysailers goes to show that sometimes big things come in small packages.

Marblehead 22 Daysailer

Marblehead 22 Daysailer

Traditional-looking above the waterline and modern beneath, the cold-molded hull sports a deep bulb keel and a Hall Spars carbon-fiber mast with a wishbone rig and square-top main. The 11-foot-9-inch cockpit can seat a crowd, and a small cuddy forward will let you stow your friends’ gear for the day.

Catalina 22 Sport

Catalina 22 Sport

Recently, the company introduced the Catalina 22 Sport, an updated design that can compete with the older 22s. The boat features a retractable lead keel; a cabin that can sleep four, with a forward hatch for ventilation; and a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib. Lifelines, a swim ladder, and an engine are options, as are cloth cushions; vinyl cushions are standard. The large cockpit will seat a crowd or let a mom-and-pop crew stretch out and enjoy their sail.

Hunter 22

With its cuddy cabin, twin bunks, optional electrical system, opening screened ports, and portable toilet, a parent and child or a couple could comfortably slip away for an overnight or weekend. Add in the optional performance package, which includes an asymmetric spinnaker, a pole, and a mainsheet traveler, and you could be off to the races. The boat features a laminated fiberglass hull and deck, molded-in nonskid, and a hydraulic lifting centerboard. Mount a small outboard on the stern bracket, and you’re set to go.

West Wight Potter P 19

West Wight Potter P 19

First launched in 1971, this is a line of boats that’s attracted a true following among trailer-sailors. The P 19’s fully retractable keel means that you can pull up just about anywhere and go exploring. Closed-cell foam fore and aft makes the boat unsinkable, and thanks to its hard chine, the boat is reportedly quite stable under way.

Montgomery 17

Montgomery 17

With a keel and centerboard, the boat draws just under 2 feet with the board up and can be easily beached when you’re gunkholing. In the cuddy cabin you’ll find sitting headroom, a pair of bunks, a portable toilet, optional shore and DC power, and an impressive amount of storage space. The deck-stepped mast can be easily raised using a four-part tackle. The builder reports taking his own boat on trips across the Golfo de California and on visits to California’s coastal islands. Montgomery makes 15-foot and 23-foot models, as well.

Catalina 16.5

Catalina 16.5

With the fiberglass board up, the 17-foot-2-inch boat draws just 5 inches of water; with the board down, the 4-foot-5-inch draft suggests good windward performance. Hull and deck are hand-laminated fiberglass. The roomy cockpit is self-bailing, and the bow harbors a good-sized storage area with a waterproof hatch.

Hobie 16

The company has introduced many other multihulls since, but more than 100,000 of the 16s have been launched, a remarkable figure. The Hobie’s asymmetric fiberglass-and-foam hulls eliminate the need for daggerboards, and with its kick-up rudders, the 16 can be sailed right up to the beach. Its large trampoline offers lots of space to move about or a good place to plant one’s feet when hanging off the double trapezes with a hull flying. The boat comes with a main and a jib; a spinnaker, douse kit, trailer, and beach dolly are optional features.

  • More: 21 - 30 ft , Boat Gallery , monohull , Sailboat Reviews , Sailboats , under 20 ft , used boat guide
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Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere

John Vigor turns the spotlight on twenty seaworthy sailboats that are at home on the ocean in all weather. These are old fiberglass boats, mostly of traditional design and strong construction. All are small, from 20 feet to 32 feet overall, but all have crossed oceans, and all are cheap.

Choosing the right boat to take you across an ocean or around the world can be confusing and exasperating, particularly with a tight budget. Vigor sets out to remedy that in this book. He compares the designs and handling characteristics of 20 different boats whose secondhand market prices start at about $3,000. Interviews with experienced owners (featuring valuable tips about handling each boat in heavy weather) are interspersed with line drawings of hulls, sail plans, and accommodations. Vigor has unearthed the known weaknesses of each boat and explains how to deal with them. He rates their comparative seaworthiness, their speed, and the number of people they can carry in comfort. If you have ever dreamed the dream this book can help you turn it into reality.

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International Folkboat

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Pacific Seacraft 25

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Albin Vega 27

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Cape Dory 25D

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Contessa 26

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Morris 26 Frances

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Catalina 27

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Falmouth Cutter 22

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Pacific Seacraft Dana 24

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Pearson Triton

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Contessa 32

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Southern Cross 31

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Nicholson 31

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Allied Seawind

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11 Small Boats With Cabins You Can Afford (With Pictures)

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If you’re looking for a small boat with a cabin, what you’re essentially looking for is either a trawler, a cuddy cabin, or a “cruiser”.

Let’s break down each category and find some great deals for each.

Table of Contents

After we’ve gone over these categories, we’ll also go over a few questions which need to be answered before you decide on a purchase.

What is the most affordable cabin cruiser or a small cabin boat?

There are a variety of cuddy cabins which are both affordable and spunky while out on the water.

You can find older models for sale between $20,000 and $30,000, and which are between 20’ and 25’ in length.

Some of the best options you can find are:

  • 20’ Pro-Line Hard Top
  • 22’ Sea Hunt 225 Victory
  • Sea Ray Sundeck
  • Stingray 21’ Cuddy Cabins

What is the best trawling boat?

While you might not be a fisherman at heart, some of the heartiest boats are fishing boats. They have bigger cabins for fisherman to relax after a hard day on the water as well as large storage areas for their gear.

Trawling is a method of fishing where the fisherman drags a net through the water behind them.

Recreational trawlers aren’t actually fishing boats, however. They resemble the vessel’s design, but that’s where the similarities end.

Remember that recreational trawlers use smaller engines than their fishing brethren; one which will only produce approximately 80 hp.

Trawlers have a dedicated following. These boats can be slow cruisers but, at their heart, they weren’t built for speed. After all, they are single-engine boats that can go from 7 knots to 20 knots.

One of the best values when it comes to trawling boats is the Carver c34 .

Here it is:

small sailboats with cabin

While it might not be as inexpensive as the other options in this article, at $371,820, you’re getting a smaller (34 feet long) more economical coastal cruiser.

More economical than a lot of the other boats of the same type on the market right now, which can range up to $500,000 – $900,000(!)

If you look for this boat used, you will most likely find it over $100,000 cheaper than the new sticker price.

What is the best boat to buy for a beginner?

The Glastron GS 259 is a 25-foot-long cruiser with a price range of about $77,000.

small sailboats with cabin

While the cabin is huge, as is the full galley, and the large dinette, the price also matches the large accommodations.

However, it will be difficult to find such accommodations on a boat of this size. Not only that, it comes recommended for a beginning boater by Lenny Rudow of Boats.com.

You should also check out the Trailcraft boat models .

What is the best cabin cruiser under 30 feet?

At 28 feet, the Bayliner 285 SB is a great cruiser which is still small enough to be towed and stored on your property.

small sailboats with cabin

But at the same time, it is still big enough to say overnight if you feel like going on a weekend excursion on your boat.

The price ranges from $96,000.

What is the best cabin cruiser under 25 feet?

A cabin cruiser is a powerboat with overnight accommodations and a galley.

They are generally faster than trawlers and cuddy cabins and can range from 25’ to 100’ in length. There are a number of different types of cruisers, including:

  • Aft cabin cruisers
  • Convertibles
  • Express cruisers
  • Motor yachts
  • Pocket cruiser

It cuts it close, but the Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe is just over 25’ (at 26’) and can be found for around $100,000.

small sailboats with cabin

It also comes in a longer 10’ model and has a double-stepped hull with a deep entry that turns into a moderate keel pad, which shows off its maximum efficiency.

It even has the option of coming with an electric grill built into the transom, and an adjacent sink.

The former is fully removable and can hide under a fully rigged livewell.

All of these small touches add to its appeal.

What if I don’t necessarily need a cabin?

If not having a cabin isn’t a deal breaker, your options for affordable boats just blew wide open:

The 16’2” Bayliner Element

($14,742) with a cruising speed in the mid 20’s can seat four.

The 17’11” Four Winns H180 OB

($24,451) includes a swing away tongue, full-sized walk-across swim platform, and Bluetooth-capable stereo with MP3 port and two speakers.

The 23’1” Larson LX 225S IO

($43,267) comes with a trailer that has disc brakes, a canvas bow, and cockpit covers. It also has an MP3-capable stereo.

Is it better to buy a used boat?

There are plenty of advantages to buying a used boat. The biggest advantage is the price.

While you might find some expensive boats listed on used vessel or vehicle websites, but you will find more reasonably priced used models than not.

Just like a car, a boat depreciates in value when it gets driven off of the lot.

Because of that, a used boat will better hold its value.

Another perk to buying used is the option to buy from a private seller or a dealer.

While there are many different perks, there are also a few disadvantages. One of which is that you never really know what you’re going to end up with.

You might be able to take it out for a ride with the seller but if you don’t have a boat mechanic look at it, you won’t really know what kind of wear and tear it’s been through.

If you do buy a boat used, make sure to inspect:

  • The hull for scratches, dents, and marring
  • The motor for damage
  • The upholstery for worn spots and tears in the vinyl
  • Broken levers

Don’t be shy about inspecting as much as you can.

small sailboats with cabin

An example of how to save money with a used boat is with the C Dory 23’ Venture Sport which weighs less than 3000 lbs. and has a fuel capacity of 60 gallons.

Fishermen will love how it tracks while you’re trolling, which will let you focus on fishing.

Every day boaters will love how much headroom is in the cabin and how much more pleasant it is to cruise on rough waters.

When you buy it new, it can be upwards to $100,000 but buying it used, instantly cuts the price in half or even as low as $35,000.

If you decide to find yourself a used boat, it would be best to check out some local options.

When is it better to buy a new boat?

A new boat ensures that you’re getting what you want.

The ability for customization is fantastic. From the paint scheme to the engine and turbines to the stereo system, you can fulfill your wish list in one stop.

New boats are both shiny and clean. You’ll rarely have any issues with the engine. You might also have the backing of a manufacturer’s warranty, which isn’t just a great deal of safety when it comes to your finances (in the long run) but is also great peace of mind.

The downside to buying a new boat is the price.

You’ll also have to deal with the depreciation, which starts as soon as you tow it off the lot. While it might cost a little more, look for high quality, trustworthy manufacturers and builders, which could help with the depreciation.

What exactly is a cuddy cabin on a boat?

A cuddy is another term for a small room on a boat. It comes from the 19 th century when they used to be referred to as saloon cabins, which were on the stern of ships.

These days it refers to a small shelter cabin , which has a small berth and head.

Normally, they are not tall enough to stand in but are still popular recreation boats for boaters who don’t quite want to upgrade to a full-size cabin boat.

A lot of fishermen use cuddy boats as their fishing boats because of the price, storage capabilities, and the small stature.

Final Thoughts

When going on a treasure hunt for your future boat, make sure that you have these things before you leave the house:

  • An idea of what you are going to use your boat for (watersports, racing, fishing, day trips, cruising, party boat, etc.)
  • An initial list of dreamboats you want to test out
  • Clear cut boundaries for price and options (AKA a “wish list”)

Remember that it may take a little while to find your dream boat.

It can be difficult to cull through all of the choices at the lots or on the internet. Know that the only way to make sure which boat is perfect for you is to take it out for a spin on the water.

If you’re still indecisive, that just means that you can go out and try out as many different boats as you can. This search doesn’t have to be a chore; go out and have fun.

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Best Small Sailboats Under 20 Feet

The ideal size boat for beginners is anything under 20 feet. So, what are the best small sailboats under 20 feet? Let’s find out.

Michael Moris

October 17, 2023

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Smaller boats are easy to navigate and not a hassle to maintain compared to larger yachts, which is why many choose sailboats under 20 feet as the ideal starter boat.

From the Catalina 16.5 to the Beneteau First 20 or the Marlow Hunter 15, there are many smaller sailboats under 20 feet that offer beginner or expert sailors great value for money. Many sailing enthusiasts prefer smaller sailboats because they are easy to handle and are cheaper to own.

No two 20 feet sailboats are made equal, which is why you need to do your research and find the best fit for you. We have gone through many blogs, articles, and videos on the sailing yachts below 20 feet and are here to share with you the best options available in the market today.

As sailing enthusiasts who have owned multiple sailing boats below 20 feet, we are in the ideal position to help guide you through the process so that you are able to make a more informed decision when it comes to investing in a small yacht.

small sailboats with cabin

Table of Contents

‍ Best Small Sailboats Under 20 Feet

Small sailboats are the way to go sailing RIGHT NOW, not after you retire or discover the "ideal" bluewater cruising boat. "Go tiny, go simple, go now," is the first premise of cruising philosophy.

Small yachts may be inexpensive, straightforward, and seaworthy. However, they are uncommon in today's cruising grounds. We could count the number of under 30-foot sailboats we've seen after three years and 13,000 nautical miles of bluewater traveling. They were all skippered by persons in their 20s and 30s. Today's anchorages are brimming with 40, 50, and 60-foot ocean sailboats, but that doesn't mean a tiny sailboat can't sail around the world.

The Saffier SE 33 UD

The Saffier SE 33 UD

If you're looking for a high-performance daysailer, the Saffier Se 33 UD is a great option. The designers, the Hennevanger brothers, put a lot of effort and money into making this dream boat a reality. The vacuum-infused construction and high-quality polish of the boat demonstrate the production facilities.

Saffier offers a variety of models ranging in size from 21 to 37 feet, all of which have been fully tested for seaworthiness. Given the size of these boats, it's logical to expect that they'll be tough to sail. This is not the case with these boats, though. One person may sail even the largest versions with ease.

In 2014, the Se 33 UD was released with a sporty style. Thanks to its strong sprayhood, it sails effortlessly in all weather. The sailboat has a handy self-draining cockpit that allows any water to drain off. A folding transform and two-meter benches are included in the cockpit. The boat has ample room for a four-person crew, and you can even take a brief snooze below deck.

This high-end yacht is a good choice if you have a large budget. For new boats, the starting price is around $150,000. If you're looking for something really entertaining, check out the new Se 27 model. The latest versions have a top speed of 20 knots.

The Norseboat 17.5

The Norseboat 17.5

Looking for a one-of-a-kind daysailer that will stand out in a crowd? The Norseboat 17.5 might be exactly what you're looking for. This one-of-a-kind sailboat dubbed the "Swiss Army Knife of Boats," can be sailed or rowed.

But wouldn't row this boat takes a lot of effort? No. With the boat's sheer, no way! The fiberglass hull has a lot of sheers, which is an intentional and effective design for effortless rowing. So, even if there's no wind, you can still have a good time rowing while getting some workout. With strong enough winds, you may sit back and relax while the jib and mainsail take care of the rest.

The Norseboat 17.5 is ideal for daysailers looking for a high-performance boat with classic styling. But whether you're a beginner sea kayaker or a cruising sailor wishing to downsize, you'll find its famous pedigree to be a terrific fit for you.

A small draught, furling headsail, a full battened mainsail, and a trademark curving headboard are just a few of the features. The lightweight boat has two rowing stations and works admirably, whether rowed or driven by the wind. It also offers lots of storage space. The boat's modest weight makes it simple to move. All you need is a mid-sized automobile to haul it.

The Paine 14

The Paine 14

This sailboat is modeled after the well-known Herreshoff 12 1/2 e. The Paine 14 is essentially a smaller version of the latter. This daysailer will attract a lot of attention whether sailing or just parked at the marina because of its classic appearance.

However, this yacht is more than just a pretty face. The Paine 14 is lighter than its predecessor due to its smaller size. On the water, it is thus quicker and more agile. Despite this, changes to the keel and rudder design have helped it maintain its stability in the water. Other benefits of its size include ease of trailering, low maintenance, and simple storage and transportation. This sailboat is great if you're seeking a basic sailboat.

The Laser 13”

This is probably one of the smallest boats on this list and is an excellent option for beginners who are not ready to take on the responsibility of maintaining or paying for larger boats just yet. If you are just testing the waters, then this is a smart option if you find that sailing isn’t your cup of tea.

The 13' 10" Laser dinghy is an excellent alternative for one or two persons looking for a workout and adrenaline rush in a breeze or simply plain pleasant sailing in lighter breezes. That is if you don't mind the fiberglass boat's small weight and strong sail making it simple to capsize—and recover from.

The Laser is an international sailing class that competes in everything from Olympic sailing competitions to club races. Most of the 200,000 boats manufactured over the years are just sailed for enjoyment, thanks to the 1969 design's single sail, two-part mast, daggerboard, and kick-up rudder, all of which make it very easy to store, and carry, and launch.

LaserPerformance sells new boats for less money, which is why they are one of the favorites for first-timers and those sailing enthusiasts who are on a budget. LaserPerformance sells yachts for around $7,500, as well as a variety of rigs and sails as well as replacement components. Used boats, as you might expect, are also easily available.

The Hobie 16

The Hobie 16

It is easy to see why the historic Hobie 16 , which made its debut in Southern California way back in 1969, made it on this list. Since then, the business has produced a number of additional multihulls, but the 16s have sold over 100,000 times, which is an incredible number.

The Hobie 16's fiberglass-and-foam hull takes away the requirement of traditional daggerboards, thanks to its kick-up rudders. Its huge trampoline provides enough room for movement or a suitable spot to put one's feet when hanging from the two trapezes with a hull flying. A main and jib sail are included, and a douse kit and trailer with a beach dolly option.

The West Wight Potter 19

This type is popular because of its excellent performance, cutting it close to 20 feet. This miniature cruiser was initially shown in 1971. It has since gained a devoted following, particularly among trailer sailors. While it isn't the cheapest tiny sailboat (it costs about $26,000), you will surely get your money's worth.

The Potter 19 is compact and light in terms of capability. Its performance in the water, however, is unaffected. In fact, it has a lot of punch for its tiny. People remark about this yacht’s stability and ease of handling in particular.

It also features a retractable keel that allows it to be beached completely. Alternatively, you will be astonished at how big and comfortable the interiors are, along with the fact that it is easy to rank the Potter 19 among luxury yachts for its many features and amenities.

The Montgomery 17

The Montgomery 17 is designed and made out of fiberglass by Montgomery Boats in Ontario, California. The boat boasts its way onto this list as a trailerable pocket cruiser. You get a keel and centerboard that takes the guesswork out of preparing the boat to be readily beached when gunkholing and draws slightly under 2 feet with the board up.

There's sitting headroom, a couple of bunks, a portable toilet, optional shore, and DC power, and a lot of storage space in the cuddy cabin. A four-part tackle makes it easy to raise the mast with relative ease. The builder claims to have taken his boat on journeys across the Gulf of California and to the state's coastline islands. In case you were wondering, Montgomery also offers 15-foot and 23-foot variants. The Montgomery 17 must be on your wish list if you're looking for a small sailboat with a cabin.

The Bluewater Cygnet 20

The Bluewater Cygnet 20

The Cygnet 20 is a great trailer sailer and pocket cruiser, and it has the potential to revitalize the sub-20-foot segment. The Cygnet has everything you want in a pocket cruiser: it's easy to transport, sail anywhere, and it's economical. It also happens to look gorgeous. Beaching the boat is simple because of its flat bottom and hand-laid fiberglass hull.

The Cygnet 20 is a fun weekend sailboat; as a result, while the cockpit can accommodate four to six people, it leaves less space below decks, but there is still enough space to sleep a crew of four. There are also several choices for customizing the cabin to your liking.

There are also several choices for customizing the cabin, but the typical form includes a V-berth, a portable toilet stored beneath the V-berth, a sink to starboard, two beds, and a portable stove beneath the cockpit. Apart from the swing keel box, the saloon table pulls out to seat four people, which is ideal for sailing solo or taking friends along for a weekend trip.

The Beneteau First 20

The Beneteau First 20

This is often ranked as one of the best trail-able pocket cruisers and for good reason. It's beautiful, tiny, has a retractable keel, and is speedy, but because of its big cabin, it can also accommodate a small family for a weekend on the lake.

The hull of the First 20 is one of those that, although quite stable in windy conditions, allows you to have as much fun as possible. Unfortunately, Beneteau has stopped producing boats under 20 feet in order to focus on larger sailboats, but you may still find these boats for approximately $25,000 secondhand.

The Catalina 16.5

The Catalina 16.5

Catalina Yachts are known for their larger boats, but they also offer some fantastic smaller boats, such as the Catalina 16.5 . Because it features a huge and airy cockpit and a large storage box, this is one of the best small sailboats for family vacations. The Catalina 16.5 is a versatile boat with a hand-laminated fiberglass sloop that comes in two styles: centerboard and keel.

Because of the fiberglass centerboard, the stable hull form, and the rudder, the centerboard model has a strong sailplane that remains balanced. It also includes a tiller extension, adjustable trekking straps, and an overhaul that can be adjusted. It's vital to remember that these are both standard features.

It's worth noting that these features come standard on both variants. When it comes to the keel model, it's constructed with a high aspect keel as the cast lead and stainless steel keel bolts, making it ideal for mooring or docking when not in use.

In essence, the centerboard form is ideal for trailer storage, whilst the keel model may be left at the dock. Overall, the Catalina 16.5 is one of the greatest small sailboats available for around $10,000. This is undoubtedly an excellent example of what a daysailer is.

The Fareast 18

The Fareast 18

Fareast is a Chinese boat builder that has only been in business for around two decades. Despite this, the Fareast 18 is a competent cruiser-racer that will elevate your sailing to new heights. This boat has a retractable keel along with a nifty ballast bulb, a strong rig, and an enclosed cabin, in addition to its attractive appearance.

The Fareast 18's narrow shape with closed stern is unusual in this size, but the good news is that's not an issue in the Fareast 18. This design stresses speed while also making the boat easier to maintain. This boat is ideal for roughly six passengers and punches above its weight. It is, however, intended for one person to rig and launch.

Lido 14

Most sailors start to sail on a daysailer, and the author of this piece has a special place for the Lido 14 , which is where she began to sail. The little boat offers seats for six people, but it may be operated alone and even raced.

The first year the type was introduced, 200 boats were purchased, and 40 years later, roughly 6,300 Lido 14s had been produced. Although new boats are no longer available, old boats are still readily accessible. Although new boats are no longer produced, secondhand boats are readily available; there is an active owner's group and plenty of one-design racing in various regions of the nation.

In a pocket cruiser, don't expect to be sailing at great speeds. Monohulls with a lesser displacement will always be slower than monohulls with a bigger displacement. As a result, a smaller cruiser will take longer to complete a journey, leaving them more exposed to weather variations.

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I'm Michael Moris. I've been sailing my whole life, and it has taken me to places I never imagined. From the Caribbean to Europe, from New Zealand to South America - there's nowhere that hasn't felt like home when you're on a boat!


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small sailboats with cabin

What are the Best Small Sailboats Under 20 Feet?

Small sailing boats in regatta

Sailing is a timeless and exhilarating activity that allows individuals to connect with the wind, water, and nature in a way that few other pastimes can match.

While sailing often conjures images of grand yachts and vast open waters, there’s a thriving community of sailors who prefer smaller vessels that offer a more intimate and agile experience.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best small sailboats under 20 feet, highlighting their features, performance, and why they stand out in the world of sailing.

families on small sailing boats having fun

The Hunter 17 is a charming and capable small sailboat designed to provide a fantastic sailing experience for both beginners and seasoned sailors. With a length of 17 feet and a beam of 7 feet, it strikes an ideal balance between manoeuvrability and stability.

Key Features:

A. Spacious Cockpit: Despite its compact size, the Hunter 17 boasts a surprisingly spacious cockpit that can comfortably accommodate up to six people. This design makes it an excellent choice for family outings or weekend adventures with friends.

B. Swing Keel: The swing keel design allows for shallow draft sailing, meaning you can explore shallow waters without worry. It’s a versatile feature that expands your sailing horizons.

C. Easy to Rig: One of the Hunter 17’s standout features is its simplicity in rigging. Setting up and launching this sailboat is a breeze, making it accessible to those new to sailing.

D. Stability: The boat’s stable design and responsive handling make it a great choice for beginners. Even when the wind picks up, you’ll feel confident and in control.


The Hunter 17 offers a respectable level of performance, with its responsive helm and well-designed sails. While it may not be the fastest boat in its class, it offers a smooth and enjoyable ride, perfect for leisurely cruising and day sailing.

O’Day Javelin

The O’Day Javelin is another excellent small sailboat option, known for its simplicity, reliability, and affordability. With a length of 14 feet and a manageable sail area, it’s an ideal choice for those looking to get started in sailing without breaking the bank.

A. Simple Rigging: The Javelin features a straightforward rigging system, making it easy for beginners to set up and launch the boat. This simplicity is a significant advantage for those new to sailing.

B. Lightweight and Trailerable: The Javelin is lightweight, making it easy to trailer to different bodies of water. This portability allows you to explore a variety of sailing locations.

C. Durability: O’Day sailboats are known for their durability, and the Javelin is no exception. With proper care and maintenance, this sailboat can provide years of sailing enjoyment.

While the O’Day Javelin may not be the fastest sailboat on the water, its focus on simplicity and reliability makes it an excellent choice for beginners and those looking for a hassle-free sailing experience. It’s a forgiving boat that allows you to learn the ropes at your own pace.

Catalina 18

The Catalina 18 is a small sailboat that bridges the gap between compact boats and larger cruisers. With a length of 18 feet, it offers a bit more space and comfort while maintaining the agility and excitement of a smaller vessel.

A. Comfortable Cabin: The Catalina 18 features a small but comfortable cabin, providing a place to escape the elements or even spend a night on the water. This feature sets it apart from many other small sailboats.

B. Self-Righting Design: The boat’s keel design makes it self-righting, which means it can recover from a capsize easily. This safety feature is especially reassuring for novice sailors.

C. Responsive Handling: Despite its slightly larger size, the Catalina 18 maintains responsive handling, making it enjoyable to sail in a variety of conditions.

The Catalina 18 offers a good balance of performance and comfort. While it may not be as fast as some dedicated racing sailboats, it’s a capable cruiser that can handle a range of wind conditions. The inclusion of a cabin adds versatility to your sailing adventures, making it an excellent choice for day trips and overnight excursions.

Catalina sailing boat

Conclusion :

Choosing the best small sailboat under 20 feet when you are getting ready to sail ultimately depends on your preferences and sailing goals. The Hunter 17 offers a spacious cockpit and stability, making it an excellent choice for families and beginners. On the other hand, the O’Day Javelin focuses on simplicity and affordability, making it an accessible entry point into the world of sailing. Lastly, the Catalina 18 strikes a balance between performance and comfort, with the added bonus of a cabin for overnight stays.

Regardless of which small sailboat you choose, each of these options provides a unique sailing experience. Whether you’re seeking adventure, family sailing , relaxation, or a way to connect with nature, these boats have something to offer. So, set your sails and embark on your sailing journey with confidence, knowing that you’ve chosen one of the best small sailboats under 20 feet to accompany you on your maritime adventures.

Determining the absolute safest sailboat in the world is challenging, as safety can depend on various factors, including the crew’s experience, weather conditions, and maintenance. However, sailboats designed for offshore cruising, such as those from renowned manufacturers like Hallberg-Rassy or Oyster, are often considered some of the safest due to their robust construction and advanced safety features.

The most efficient sail shape varies depending on the specific point of sail and wind conditions. However, in general, an aerodynamically curved shape, similar to an airfoil, is often considered the most efficient for harnessing wind power and generating forward propulsion on a sailboat.

A sailboat size suitable for two people typically ranges from 20 to 30 feet, with 25 to 30 feet being a popular choice for couples. This size provides enough space for comfortable living quarters and maneuverability while still being manageable for a two-person crew.

The size of a sailboat that one can single-hand largely depends on the sailor’s experience, skills, and the boat’s design. Many experienced sailors can comfortably single-hand sailboats up to 35-40 feet, but with the right equipment and know-how, even larger vessels can be handled solo.

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Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

sailboats for beginners

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

Some of the best small sailboats for beginners include:

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

Explore All Sailboat Types

Boats with Tiller Steering

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

Boats with No Winches

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

Sailing Dinghies

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

Small Sloops

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

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

Small Catamarans

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

Rotomolded Boats

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

Trailerable Sailboats

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

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

Read Next: Small Boats: What Are My Options?

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Best Sailboats With 2 Cabins

Best Sailboats With 2 Cabins

The passion of living and voyaging overseas is difficult to explain to people that can’t live without their basic needs and additional comforts. But if you choose the right sailboat tailored to your needs and preferences you might be able to live on a sailboat and have more comforts than expected. Choosing a well-designed, robust, spacious, and seaworthy sailboat is the key to successful passagemaking. So, are you looking to accomplish your dream and sail overseas with a 2-cabin sailboat? Then, continue reading this article. I’m going to list the best 2-cabin sailboats to live on and travel overseas as well as their characteristics. Follow me!

Island Packet 35

The full-keel IP 35 with a high-freeboard hull design still proves her value and is one of the best choices amongst sailors. The beamy IP 35 has a robust construction, spacious interiors and great amenities that make her a great cruising sailboat. The IP 35 was firstly introduced in 1988 and has a comfy and roomy interior as well as a large cockpit, and an easy-to-handle cutter rig with a jib boom. Even though she’s not the fastest boat upwind, she can perform well in trade winds. All these features make the IP 35 a good option for family cruising. Lastly, she can cruise on long-passages and as for her price, you can find a well-maintained used model with approximately $75,000.

Island Packet 35

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 100k

Catalina 30

The Catalina 30 deck forms a very functional boarding space. Even though they first appeared on the market in 1972 they still continue to sail in the seas. Furthermore, these reliable fiberglass models are the most common ones in terms of production. The galley of Catalina 30 has large counter space and two private double cabins, one forward (V-berth) and one aft. The forward cabin is a V-berth formation. Also, the sofa converts and forms two more berths on the starboard side. It is possible to find a good and properly maintained Catalina 30 with the price of $15,000.

Catalina 30

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

The old-time classic Pearson 34 will give you the appropriate space you need in order to sail for a long time offshore. She has spacious accommodations and is easy to handle making her ideal for enjoying the joys of cruising. Her aft sections are full which increases sail carrying power and her forward sections are moderately full so as to provide buoyancy. A classic arrangement plan is used for the below decks resulting in the best use of space.

Oceanis 311

The Oceanis 311 is a practical and roomy high-performance cruiser and racer. She can accommodate 6 persons and has 2 cabins placed below her deck. The accommodation layouts have a double-berth cabin on the port side aft and a double V-berth in the forepeak. The galley and WC are situated on the port side, the small navigation area is situated on the starboard, and the table on the centreline. As for the headroom, it’s around 6 ft. The boat doesn’t have a convertible saloon but has a convertible settee which forms two single berths. Lastly, the 311 combines appropriate internal volume and a fast hull, making it ideal for long offshore passages.

Beneteau First 31.7

This sailboat has achieved the right balance between sailing performance and accommodation. This family of Beneteau’s First sailboats designed by the Finot Group is highly appreciated among sailors for their resistance and high-performance. The First 31.7 features a high freeboard, a self-bailing cockpit, and a wide transom. Her design is simple and efficient, provides enough room for provisions which makes it great for long passages. Moreover, the 31.7 model is the more compact design of the Beneteau First 40.7 model. Its large beam provides plenty of interior volume with a simple layout of 2 cabins and one head. The main cabin is in the V-berth forward and has approximately 6ft of standing headroom. The galley is situated to the port side and includes a sink, a stove, and a refrigerator. Aft of the boat is the second private cabin with standing headroom and a double berth.

Hallberg-Rassy 310

The Hallberg-Rassy 310 is a fast and easy-going boat with her simple design and her robust GRP construction which makes her great for ocean cruising. She is a 30ft monohull sloop and features a deck steeped mast configuration. Furthermore, it has a spacious and comfy interior including 2 cabins, enough space for storage, and an L sofa with a straight settee. You can find a properly maintained used Hallberg-Rassy 310 with approximately $160,000. She’s definitely included on our top list of 2-cabin cruisers/racers!

Hallberg-Rassy 310

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats to Live On

Moorings Beneteau 38.2

This exceptionally designed monohull is proven to be seaworthy, stable, and reliable for overseas sailing. Her hull design ensures excellent performance even under strong winds due to her wide beam towards the stern construction. Furthermore, she has a large cockpit area that facilitates walking, relaxing, and dining on the deck. Her interior is equipped with two cabins and two bathrooms and has space to accommodate from 6 to 8 persons. The galley has all basic amenities such as a refrigerator, an oven as well as extra seating and countertop space. She is one of the sailboats that provide more than enough amenities for a long offshore sailing and she definitely worths the investment!

Peterson 44

The Peterson 44 is one of the best center-cockpit cruisers that can sail well in any wind, and she’s ideal for overnight cruising or day sailing. The sailboat has a split-cabin both fore and aft and a generally roomy and comfy interior without putting aside its excellent sailing capabilities. Through the passageway, to starboard and back, is the aft cabin, with a double berth and separate head with shower. The traditional main cabin is situated forward and includes a dinette to port and settee to starboard. Moreover, there’s a second head with a shower and a large V-berth. All these amenities and space combined with this seaworthy and easy-to-handle sailboat can’t let me without putting her on our list. On today’s market, you can find her from $100,00 to $125,000.

Peterson 44

The ideal high-sided family cruiser that ensures easy handling, speed, and comfort. With a large cockpit area, a practical walk-through transom, and with spacious interior/outdoor areas, you can enjoy your days sailing overseas. Moreover, she has dual-ended mainsail sheeting and the headsail sheet winches are adequately placed to the helm. The sheets are well built into the companionway bulkheads so as to facilitate the control of halyards and furling lines led aft to the cabin top. The galley and saloon areas are large enough to cook and relax and both cabins are bright and spacious. Lastly, she’s quick and quite responsive while sailing and adequate for coastal cruising with your whole family!

Hunter 33 2-Cabin Layout

>>Also Read: Best Small Sailboats To Sail Around The World

Bavaria C42

This modern and innovative Bavaria C42 won’t let you down in terms of sailing performance and offshore sailing. Her V-shaped bow hull shape with chines, the large amount of space, and robust construction are the characteristics that make this model one of the best 2-cabin boats on our list. Better performance is achieved due to the chines that ensure stability and direct feeling while steering. Also, the foredeck and side decks have enough space for a sailboat of this size and the hull design creates extra space below the deck. So, there’s everything in the Bavaria C42; 2 luxurious cabins with a bathroom, a roomy saloon with a lounge bench, extra headroom in the bow cabin, and generous storage capacity. You’ll definitely appreciate her design and sailing performance and she’ll certainly prove her worth!

These are some great 2-cabin sailboats adequate for either offshore sailing or just for coastal cruises with your friends and family. Again, everything depends on your needs, preferences, and budget when you’re planning to buy a new or used yacht. So, you need to consider everything before buying a 2-cabin sailboat. Your crew members, your routes, your budget, comfort needs, amenities and sailing performance. There’s a wide variety of different options out there to choose from and you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for. Bon voyage!


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

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10 Best Sailboats To Live In

Best Sailboats To Live On | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Living aboard a sailboat is an exciting lifestyle choice, but there are lots of considerations you’ll need to make.

‍ First and foremost, you have to pick a boat to live in. Unless you plan on sleeping under a canvas tarp, it’s essential to find a sailboat with a proper cabin.

Cabin sailboats became common in the United States during the early 20th century, but size and amenities vary widely between boats.  

For example, early wooden sailboats generally featured very sparse accommodations below, typically consisting of a pipe berth, oil lamps, a coal-fired stove and a bucket privy—typically without standing headroom.

Fortunately, the majority of cabin sailboats came with a lot more than a bucket to wash with.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important considerations to make when choosing a sailboat to live on . After, we’ll give a top-ten list of the best used liveaboard sailboats you can buy today.

Table of contents

Why Live Aboard a Sailboat?

Thousands of people choose to live aboard their sailboats.  It’s an alternative lifestyle with a host of benefits for those willing to deal with the added challenges.  

Liveaboards can move their entire house on the water, and it’s typically cheaper to live on a boat than in a traditional house.

This is especially true in major waterfront cities, where rent in the same area as the marina can be several times more expensive.  

Some people love the marina lifestyle, and others travel the world.  All-in-all, living aboard a sailboat can be a rewarding, enriching, and financially-freeing lifestyle choice.

What to Consider when Buying a Liveaboard Sailboat

The most important thing to consider when buying a liveaboard sailboat is what level of accommodation you need.

Some people aren’t bothered by limited amenities; in fact, many traditional sailors prefer a stripped-down and basic sailboat interior. However, many others appreciate useful features such as electric toilets and a full galley.

You can find virtually every creature comfort on board a modern sailboat, so it’s up to you to decide what level of convenience you expect. ‍

For most people, a standard cruising sailboat interior from after 1970 will suffice, as these typically include a usable galley, shower, head, and ventilation.

Offshore VS Coastal Cruising Accommodations

Sailboat interior design is dependent on certain criteria, such as the sailboat’s intended use. Long-distance cruising sailboats have cabins arranged to suit such a journey.

Long-distance sailboats usually remove any unnecessary furniture or extras down below to increase storage, and sleeping options are altered to ensure easy access, which allows the crew to regain control of the boat in a pinch.

Coastal cruisers tend to feature a more luxurious layout, with larger sofas and more complex interior features. Additionally, storage space is generally reduced to allow for the inclusion of other amenities.

Whichever style you choose should reflect both how you plan to use your boat and what level of comfort you need.

What Makes A Great Liveaboard Sailboat?

For this article, we’ve outlined a few requirements which we believe identify an excellent liveaboard sailboat :

  • Standing headroom (at least 5’10”)

While many people live aboard boats without standing headroom, it’s still a nice feature to have.  Months or years spent crawling or crouching can wreak havoc on your back and body, so standing headroom is a necessity in this list.

  • 120V AC availability

Electricity is a definite requirement for our liveaboard list.  Boats without 120V AC outlets present major challenges to liveaboards, as there’s no way to charge most computers or cell phones.  Some boats feature a 12V outlet, but full-time liveaboard boats should have standard house connections for electricity.

  • Galley facilities

Unless you plan on eating out every day, a galley is a must for our list.  We define an adequate galley as a facility with a sink, ice box or refrigerator, and a stove.  An oven is an added bonus, but one can usually be added along with a new stove.

  • Electric lighting

Electric lighting is a matter of both safety and convenience aboard boats.  There’s nothing wrong with kerosene lamps; many sailors adorn their boats with them.  However, a long-term liveaboard boat should feature safe and reliable electric lighting.

  • Toilet with plumbing

Sanitation facilities are vital on board a sailboat, especially if you live on it.  Improper human waste storage and disposal will spread awful diseases.  Plus, nobody wants to live on a stinky boat or use a porta-potty all year long.  We required each of our ten boats to have built-in and properly outfitted toilets, plus safe storage tanks for pumping out later.

Bathing facilities are also a must on most liveaboard sailboats.  However, many liveaboards opt not to use their on-board showers in favor of marina or gym facilities.  That being said, it is very convenient to have a shower on your boat.  Keep in mind, some boat showers drain directly into the bilge.  If you use your onboard shower, be sure to keep the bilge pump in working order and remember that anything you put in the drain ends up below your floor.

  • Separate seating spaces

We think a liveaboard sailboat should have extra sitting spaces on board, apart from the main bed.  A place for sitting, eating, working, and navigating is essential when living aboard long-term, and the added convenience of a separate space will make day-to-day activities much more enjoyable.

  • Ventilation

Last but not least, we believe ventilation is essential for any liveaboard sailboat.  This is the simplest of requirements, as a passive solar roof vent or opening porthole should be sufficient.  In short, there should be a way to let fresh air in without opening a main hatch.

Top 10 Liveaboard Sailboats

Here’s a list of the top ten liveaboard sailboats that you can purchase used today.

These are in no particular order, but each boat meets or exceeds the requirements of a great liveaboard sailboat.

Remember, the features listed for each of these boats could vary based on age or trim, so be sure to check back to this list when inspecting a boat.

Without further ado, here’s ten of the greatest liveaboard sailboats ever produced.

1. Catalina 30


The Catalina 30 is one of the most common production cruising sailboats ever.

Thousands of these reliable and robust fiberglass boats still sail, despite the fact that they first entered the market in 1972.

This 30-foot boat features a modern and spacious interior, with all the accommodations you’d expect on a boat its size.

Most models feature a large and useful galley, along with running water supplied by electric pumps.

The Catalina 30 also featured a ‘suite’ layout, with a master bedroom V-Berth closed off to the rest of the cabin by a door.

An enclosed shower and head make it a pleasant boat to live on.

The layout of the Catalina 30 also featured a dinette, which serves as an excellent chart table or workspace as well.

2. Islander 36


The Islander 36 is a well-rounded liveaboard sailboat which also has impressive cruising capabilities.

While manufacturing ceased in the 1980s, the I-36 was the company’s best-selling model with nearly a thousand built.

Islander boats are known for some well-adorned cabins, and many featured elegant wooden interior trim.

Like the Catalina 30, the Islander 36 includes an enclosed head with a shower and flush toilet.

The interior layout of the I-36 is spacious and well-designed, featuring a long port and starboard settee which folds out into a double-berth for sleeping.

An enclosed shower and spacious master berth make it a very well-rounded option for cruising and living aboard.

3. Contessa 32


Contessa Yachts produced their venerable 32-foot cruising and racing sailboat from 1970 until 1990, but custom boatbuilders still manufacture the yacht today.

It’s well-known for cruising capabilities, but it has a lot to offer as a liveaboard as well.

The traditional cabin is thoughtfully designed, featuring a fold-up table in the center of the cabin floor.

The spatially conscious design of the Contessa 32 makes it an excellent option for the no-frills and organized sailor.

This vessel features a separate master bedroom, along with a head and shower in the hallway between the compartments.

4. Pearson 34


Pearson produced their excellent 34-foot sailboat during the 1980s. This medium-sized cruising yacht features an extremely spacious interior with plenty of floor space to move around.

The layout is complex, but not overwhelming. The galley nook is functional and features convenient overhead storage for utensils giving it a ‘home-y’ feeling.

The head is enclosed and spacious, including a bathroom sink and mirror.

The separate master bedroom is also enclosed with ample clothing storage throughout.

Out of all the boats listed so far, the Pearson 34 should feel most like a traditional living space to most people.

If the Pearson 34 seems a little too compact, be sure to read on and check out the next two boats on the list.

5. Nordic 40


So far the largest boat on our list, the Nordic 40 is a super-capable offshore cruiser with excellent liveaboard facilities.

This relatively rare boat features an extremely spacious interior, which is more than ample for a couple to live comfortably.

Standing headroom throughout, a spacious master bedroom, along with a nearly full galley allows for superbly comfortable living in any climate or region.

The extra storage aboard makes remote living possible, so owners can anchor out for weeks or months at a time with enough provisions to last.

While this boat isn’t very common, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for it while searching for a liveaboard sailboat .

6. Peterson 44


The Peterson 44 is what’s known as a ‘center-cockpit cruiser,’ featuring a split-cabin both fore and aft.

This spacious interior layout maximizes living space without decreasing sailing capabilities.

The boat features a master bedroom and bathroom, along with another cabin, berth, and head behind the cockpit.

In addition to two bathrooms, it features a full galley, booth dinette, and settee.

All these extras combined with excellent storage make it an excellent liveaboard option.

Pearson is well-renowned for building excellent boats, and their interior quality is above average.

7. Nor’Sea 27


The Nor’Sea 27 is a classic compact sailboat, which is ideal for minimalist or single people living aboard.

The interior is surprisingly spacious for its size, featuring all the amenities you’d expect on a larger boat.

This beautiful little boat likely mimics the comfort of a Catalina 30, and should cost less in slip fees.

The interior features a toilet, shower, and galley.

The forward berth converts into a dinette but features two other bunks underneath the cockpit.

Production of the Nor’Sea 27 began in 1976, and it’s still produced today.

And the best part—you can legally tow it on a trailer. It’s arguably the ultimate compact cruiser/liveaboard available today.


The Cal 34 is very typical of mid-range sailboats of the 1970s. Produced between 1968 and 1975, this basic but comfortable yacht has a lot of potential as a liveaboard.

The interior is simple and spacious, without much luxury or adorning. However, less features make for less maintnence, and everything you’d need is available in the Cal 34.

A master bedroom, shower, and toilet are all standard, along with a well-arranged galley and comfortable sitting area.

The boat features ample storage for clothes, food, and gear.

All mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems aboard are easy to maintain, plus the cabin is well-designed.

9. Catalina 38


Another classic Catalina sailboat makes the list, with a well-thought-out interior that’s spacious enough for a couple to live comfortably.

Catalina produced their 38-foot sloop between 1977 and 1990, and it came standard with many excellent liveaboard features such as electrical outlets throughout the cabin.

Also, the head is spacious and includes a sink, which is always very convenient.

With plenty of places to sleep, there’s no need to fold away the galley table to get some rest.

The Catalina 38 is another fantastic mid-sized sailboat for living aboard, especially if you aren’t quite comfortable inside a Catalina 30.

10. Hunter 33


The last boat on our list is also one of the longest-lived in its category. Hunter produced their 33-foot sailboat starting in 1977, and it’s still in production today.

This handy mid-sized boat features excellent interior accommodations, with plenty of sitting and sleeping areas to choose from.

In addition to a full dinette, it features a toilet and shower aft away from the master bedroom.  Such an arrangement is a great option for sailors, as it allows the use of the head without moving too far away from the controls.

Standing headroom throughout the long cabin makes for a very comfortable long-term living arrangement.

The galley has plenty of storage space and the L-shaped layout allows for easy and efficient use.

At the end of the day, you’ll get to choose the liveaboard sailboat that works best for you. Check out some of the boats we mentioned and get an idea of what they offer.

Use this list to help identify features that you need, and perhaps avoid features that you don’t want.

When it comes to living aboard, there’s a lot more to consider than just your boat. As long as the boat you choose is in good condition, you’ll likely end up falling in love with it.

Either way, consider these top-ten liveaboard sailboats when you’re on the hunt for your boat.

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15 Small Liveaboard Catamarans

small sailboats with cabin

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If you want to live on the sea, catamarans are probably the most comfortable way of doing it. Unlike monohulls, catamarans have two hulls, giving you a smooth sailing experience and more interior space. There are tons of small catamarans, each with its pros and cons.  

The smallest cruising/liveaboard sailing catamaran is the Smart Cat S280. With a length overall of 27.9 feet (8.5 meters), it offers the most economical and spacious living area you can find on any liveaboard catamaran today. 

In this article, I’ll talk about the Smart Cat S280, and then ill show you alternatives. This article is meant to give you examples of boats that might be interesting and it’s a jumping-off point for further research into what suits you the best.

Table of Contents

How To Pick a Small Catamaran

Small catamarans are great if you’re on a budget. They’re also ideal if you want a modest space without too much going on inside. However, every small-size catamaran varies in features and design. So, if you’re looking for one, there are a few essential factors you have to bear in mind.  


When choosing a catamaran , your decision depends on what level of performance you need from the boat. Your choice will often come from what you’re going to use the boat for. 

However, the performance of a catamaran is a critical factor for safety as well. For example, the sail plan significantly affects the catamaran’s stability offshore.

Some performance features you have to keep in mind when choosing a catamaran include:

  • Average Speed upwind and downwind
  • How much weight can be loaded before performance is impacted

Interior Layout

Despite their size, small catamarans come with a variety of living spaces. In between the hulls, you’ll find different types of amenities, including a kitchen, lounge, and dining area.  

Every catamaran comes with a unique arrangement for its cabins. Usually, you’ll also have cabins in the two hulls and sometimes a master cabin on the deck. The deck may also have a sitting space with trampoline areas to relax.

The cabins on a catamaran are sometimes referred to as berths. Manufacturers modify one or two berths to make a bathroom with a toilet and showerhead or “head.”

Exterior Design

The interior features are essential because they determine not only your living condition while onboard but also how easily the boat can be sailed, are all lines drawn to the cockpit?

Now that we know how to choose sailing catamarans, let’s look at the smallest liveaboard catamarans on the market today, starting with the most compact one.

Smart Cat S280: The Smallest Liveaboard Catamaran

The Smart Cat S280 is the smallest catamaran on the market today. The Korean-made catamaran offers a mix of space, shallow sailing, and affordability.

At the 2020 Miami Boat Show, the starting price of the Smart Cat S280 was $149,900.

It runs on a 19.8 Yamaha HorsePower engine with a 50 Horse Power option. Depending on your location, you can drop down or lift the engine out of the water. It holds a 102-liter (26.94-gallon) fuel tank and a 135-liter (35.66-gallon) water tank. 

The open hard-top version is ideal for summer sailing and boat parties. The cat is also available in a closed “house” version, allowing more privacy and climate protection. 

The boat features three queen-sized berths, office space, and a kitchen area. It has two living configurations:

  • Three cabins and one head
  • Two cabins and two heads

Each cabin berth has a double-sized bed. The bathroom contains a sink, a head and handheld shower, and an electric toilet. The wide lounge area with two trampolines can accommodate at least four seating positions. It also contains a drop-down anchor with an electric windlass.

The interior is fitted with broad windows and drop-down blinds, cabinet lockers, tour-size hanging closets, and LED step lights to guide you when lights are dim. It also has an 18,000 BTU air conditioning system controlled from the inside. The ceiling has a vinyl finishing, an upgrade from the carpet fabric finishing in previous models.

The kitchen space comes with storage cabinets, a DC 12 V 50-liter (13.2-gallon) refrigerator, enclosed refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, electric stove burner, and a sink. It is wired with a Fusion audio system that includes two speakers.

The Smart Cat S280 supplies hot water to the kitchen and bathroom, thanks to an AC 120 V 6-gallon water heater. The head floor is wooden, while the cockpit has a patterned Seadek floor. 

The boat has a VHF radio, a Garmin sail pack navigation package, and a Garmin GPS Chart Plotter. It also includes wind speed and direction equipment, a depth sounder, and a compass. The rigging is performed with a steering wheel.


The dimensions of the Smart Cat S280 are:

The Smart Cat S280 has made its mark as the ideal small-size cruise cat. However, there are other options on the market.

Other Small Sailing Catamarans

The Dean 365 is suitable for cruising coastal grounds. Made by Dean Catamarans in South Africa, it is 36 feet (10.97 meters) long with single or twin diesel engines. It can be configured to have four cabins and one showerhead or three cabins and two showerheads.

At $50,000, it features:

  • A 3-foot draft (0.91 meters)
  • A mast height of 46 feet (14.02 meters)
  • A Fixed Keels underbody
  • Weight of 6 tons (5,443.1 kg)
  • Speed of 6 to 7 knots
  • A beam of 17.7 feet (5.39 meters)

The Gemini 105 is one of the flagship boats of Gemini Catamarans. Initially manufactured in Maryland, the compact cat is now made in Florida. It’s 33 feet (10.05 meters) long with a layout of three cabins and one head.

Costing around $100,000, it contains:

  • Mast height of 47 feet (14.32 meters)
  • Maximum draft height of 5 feet (1.52 meters)
  • One diesel engine
  • Centerboards underbody
  • A beam of 14 feet (4.26 meters)
  • Speed of 8 knots
  • Weight of 4.8 tons (4,800 kg)

At 36 feet (10.97 meters), the Mahe 36 has two inboard diesel engines with sail drives. It contains three cabins and one head, or two cabins and two heads. 

Commonly found in the Caribbean, it costs about $300,000 and comes with:

  • A maximum draft height of 3.6 feet (1.09 meters)
  • Mast height of 55 feet (16.76 meters)
  • Fixed Keels underbody
  • A beam of 19.4 feet (5.91 meters)
  • A weight of 5.5 tons (4,989.52 kg)
  • A speed of 7 to 11 knots

Endeavor 36

The Endeavor 36 is a three-cabin catamaran commonly found in the United States coastal areas. This catamaran was made for easy handling and comfort. It is powered by twin diesel engines and costs about $100,000. 

It is 36 feet (10.97 meters) long and features:

  • A mast height of 47 feet (14.32 meters)
  • A maximum draft of 2.75 feet (0.84 meters)
  • An underbody of Fixed Keels
  • A beam of 15 feet (4.57 meters)
  • A speed of up to 8 knots

This catamaran is 37 feet (11.27 meters) long with an interior layout of four cabins. Running on twin diesel engines, it costs about $150,000. 

It also has:

  • A maximum draft height of 3.35 feet (1.02 meters)
  • A mast height of 55 feet (16.76 meters)
  • A beam of 19.68 feet (5.99 meters)
  • A fixed Keels underbody
  • A weight of 4.5 tons (4,500 kg)
  • A speed of up to 11 knots

Seawind 1000

The Seaweed 1000 is an Australian-made catamaran that is 37 feet (11.27 meters) long. It’s ideal for bluewater cruising with four cabins, one head, and a twin gas outboard engine. 

It costs over $150,000 and features:

  • A maximum draft height of 3.2 feet (0.97 meters)
  • A beam of 19.42 feet (5.92 meters)
  • A weight of 4 tons (4,000 kg)
  • A speed of 4.5 knots

PDQ 36 Capella

Designed by Alan Slater, the PDQ 36 Capella is a 36-foot (10.97 meter) long catamaran that costs around $100,000. Its engines can be single or twin gas outboard. It can also run on a twin diesel inboard engine. It contains two or three cabins and one or two heads. 

Some of its other features include:

  • A maximum draft height of 2.8 feet (0.85 meters)
  • A maximum mast height of 47 feet (14.32 meters)
  • A beam of 18.25 feet (5.56 meters)
  • A speed of 7 knots

Lagoon 37 TPI

The Lagoon 37 TPI is 37 feet (11.27 meter) long and costs over $100,000. It is a rare classic catamaran with three or four cabins and two heads. It uses two inboard diesel engines. 

  • A maximum draft height of 4 feet (1.21 meters)
  • A speed of 7 to 14 knots
  • A beam of 20.17 feet (6.15 meters)
  • A weight of 5.3 tons (5,300 kg)

This catamaran is 29.25 feet (8.92 meters) long, making it one of the smallest and most affordable on this list. With either a single gas outboard engine or twin inboard diesel engines, it’s an excellent catamaran for sailing the North Sea. 

It costs about $50,000, and features:

  • A tabernacle mast
  • A mast height of 54.5 feet (16.61 meters)
  • A draft of 3.33 feet (1.02 meters)

Prout 37 Snowgoose

The Prout 37 Snowgoose is 37 feet (11.27 meters) long and came after the Prout 35. It’s a great choice for bluewater sailing with three cabins and one head. They cost about $100,000 and run on a single outdrive engine, although some rare models have twin inboard engines. 

They also contain:

  • A maximum draft of 2.08 feet (0.63 meters)
  • A mast height of 40 feet (12.19 meters)
  • A weight of 5.5 tons (5,500 kg)
  • A draft of 3 feet (0.91 meters)
  • A beam of 6.25 feet (1.91 meters)

The Lagoon 380 is a bluewater catamaran that runs on twin diesel engines. Its price is $100,000, and it measures 37 feet (11.27 meters) in length. The boat launched in 1999 and is primarily found in Europe and the United States.

Some of its features include:

  • Two or three cabins and two heads
  • A mast height of 56.1 feet (17.09 meters)
  • A maximum draft of 3.83 feet (1.17 meters)
  • A beam of 21.42 feet (6.53 meters)
  • A speed of up to 10 knots
  • A weight of 7.1 tons (7,100 kg)

Prout Event 34

The Prout Event 34 looks just like the Snowgoose, although the latter is slightly bigger. It has two diesel engines that can support bluewater sailing. At 34 feet (10.36 meters), it costs nearly $30,000. 

The Prout Event 34’s interior includes three berths, one head, and office space. This catamaran is not commonly found worldwide, though a few can be located on European and American coastlines. 

It contains:

  • Maximum draft height of 2.72 feet (0.82 meters)
  • Mast height of 30.25 feet (9.22 meters)
  • A beam of 15.7 feet (4.78 meters)
  • A speed of 7 to 9 knots

Endeavor 30

The Endeavor 30 is 30 feet (9.14 meters) long with two cabins, a galley, a dining area, and two heads. Manufactured by Florida-based Endeavor Catamaran Corporation, the $80,000 catamaran has:

  • Sails that reach 7.5 knots
  • Mast height of 48 feet (14.63 meters)
  • Maximum draft of 2.83 feet (0.86 meters)
  • Headroom of 6.33 feet (1.93 meters)
  • A beam of 14.5 feet (4.42 meters)
  • A weight of 3.5 tons (3,500 kg)

Maine Cat 30

The Maine Cat 30 is a 30-foot (9.14 meters) long catamaran that costs over $100,000. It features a 26-gallon fuel tank and a 63-gallon (286.4 liter) freshwater tank. It has three double berths and one single berth.

The Maine Cat 30 contains:

  • A weight of 3 tons (3,000 kg)
  • 18-foot beam (5.48 meters)
  • Maximum draft of 5 feet (1.52 meters)
  • A speed of 5.5 to 6.5 knots
  • A mast height of 48 feet (14.63 meters)

Key Takeaways

The smallest liveaboard catamaran, the Smart Cat S280, is 27.9 feet (8.5 meters) long. However, numerous other options are available if you are looking for a small liveaboard catamaran.

Each of these options comes with different interior designs, exterior features, and performance specifications, so look at all your options to pick the best one for you!

Owner of CatamaranFreedom.com. A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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13 Best Small Catamarans For Cruising 2024

The best small catamarans for cruising are affordable and comfortable, making great sailboats for a number of different purposes. If you’re looking for the best small catamarans to start your cruising life then look no further!

When searching for a catamaran for our adventures we scoured the internet for any and all information we could find on just about every size, shape, and model!

Although in the end, we opted for a bigger catamaran, in the hopes of having more family and friends on board, we did heavily research the best small catamarans as an option.

One of the best small catamarans for cruising out at anchor.

Each small catamaran has different pros and cons. As with every sailboat, there will be compromises, but hopefully, this post will help you firm up what you’re really looking for in a multihull and find the right smaller catamaran for you!

Here are what we consider the best small cruising catamarans out there, costing anywhere from $40,000 to $300,000. You can also read up on the average costs of sailboats here.

Why choose a small catamaran for cruising?

The downsides to small multihulls for cruisers

The best small catamarans for ocean sailing

The best small catamarans for coastal cruising

Why Choose A Small Catamaran For Cruising?

a small multihull on an ocean passage, cutting through the water.

The main advantage to choosing a small catamaran for cruising has to be the cost. Not only are smaller sailboats cheaper to buy initially, but they are also cheaper to maintain and to dock in marinas or dry storage.

Why buy a small catamaran over a monohull? This isn’t the post to go into the pros and cons of multihulls vs monohulls, but a few of the main reasons you might prefer to buy a small cat over a bigger, cheaper monohull is the living space and the comfort underway and at anchor.

Living on a sailboat is very different from taking the boat out for a sporty sail every now and again. Having a catamaran over a monohull means you won’t be heeling or rolling at anchor half as much, you can leave out your coffee cup, and you have the space you need to spread out a little.

A small catamaran will enable the more comfortable lifestyle you’re seeking at a more reasonable price tag. So what’s not to love about small cruising multihulls?

The Downsides To Small Multihulls For Cruisers

a sailboat with its sails up, goosewinged.

Of course, just with everything in sailing, there are always compromises to be made when it comes to small multihulls.

One of the biggest downsides for cruisers is the weight issue smaller catamarans present. You won’t be able to carry half as much as you would on a larger catamaran or monohull, which might be a problem if you live onboard full time.

The other negative is that smaller boats usually aren’t quite as seaworthy as larger ones. You might find you’re limited to coastal cruising if you choose a small catamaran, so make sure you have your cruising intentions in mind before you buy.

the sails of a sailboat against the blue sky.

Another big thing to look out for when it comes to choosing the right small cat for you, is the bridge deck clearance. This is often worse on smaller catamarans, and can cause nasty slamming in any sort of sea, both when sailing and at anchor.

With these downsides in mind, we’ve split this post into the best small catamarans for ocean sailing and the best for coastal cruising. Obviously this is a little subjective, as many people have sailed around the world in much smaller and less seaworthy vessels!

The Best Small Catamarans For Ocean Cruising

#1 wharram tiki.

  • Suitable for: Bluewater sailing
  • Fixed Keels
  • Draft (max): 2.08′
  • Engines: Single outboard, though some versions have twin inboards
  • Price: Roughly $100,000

small catamarans sailing with the sunset behind

We have lusted after the Wharram catamarans since our adventures began and would have opted for one of these if we had found one for sale this side of the pond.

Designed by the legendary James Wharram, these small multihulls are pretty unique. They are based on the Polynesian catamaran design, and the plans enable you to self-build these boats if you have the time, money, and space for a project of this magnitude.

If you aren’t keen on taking on a project then you can commission a boat builder to complete the design for you, or buy one second-hand. The advantages of having one made yourself are that you can tweak things to your personal taste, and you can even contact the Wharrams themselves to see if they can adjust the designs for individual requests.

The Wharram catamarans have a lot of charm dues to their traditional design, and the old-fashioned appeal continues inside the boat too. You won’t find the same huge hull space as some of the modern design catamarans now have, but the outside entertainment space is perfect for entertaining.

One of the best small multihulls for ocean cruising

These small catamarans don’t have an inside space across the hulls, so all of your inside living space is below. If you’re used to monohulls then this won’t be a problem but if you like the idea of a galley-up then these boats aren’t for you.

Wharram catamarans, especially the Tiki 38, have great reputations as around the world, bluewater boats. They have fantastic bridge deck clearance so slamming is minimum and they sail well.

Most models have a double cabin and two singles, a galley, a head, and a small salon area below. They are smaller catamarans than many newer 38ft multihulls but this does make them more affordable.

small catamarans in the Caribbean with a beautiful white sand beach behind

A big appeal for us was the fact these boats are designed to be self-made. Although a secondhand model could potentially come with a lot of problems (get a decent survey before you buy!) it does mean that almost everything onboard can be self-fixed. This is a huge bonus if you plan on sailing your small catamaran around the world.

Another thing we loved about these smaller catamarans is the fact they have outboard engines, which we felt would be easier to maintain and replace if necessary. This is a personal choice though so consider this before you get your heart set on one!

One of the downsides to the Tiki 38 is that there aren’t many of them around. These are unique boats and they don’t come on the market frequently. When they do, they tend to be scattered all over the world so you’ll have to be prepared to travel to find one!

#2 Prout Snowgoose 37 : Small Catamaran For Ocean Cruising

a sail on a cruising catamaran and the ocean in the background.

Prout catamarans are a popular choice for cruisers, and you’ll find many owners who have circumnavigated in them. The Snowgoose is no exception. Prout no longer exists as a company, as it was bought by Broadblue in the 90s.

Broadblue still makes catamarans today, and they have very similar features to the original Prouts, though obviously they are far fancier and have all the benefits of a more modern design!

The Snowgoose is a great small multihull to go for as you get quite a lot of space inside and out. We weren’t sure about the berth in the salon area, but it might make a great space for a baby or small child while underway!

The compromise in the Prout Snowgoose is the bridge deck clearance and this was something that put us off these smaller cruising catamarans. A low bridge deck clearance makes the boat slam in waves, both at anchor and underway.

#8 PDQ 36 : A Small Catamaran Without Too Much Slamming

  • Suitable for: Bluewater
  • Draft (max): 2.82′
  • Engines: Twin inboard or outboard
  • Price: Over $100,000

small sailboats with cabin

These small catamarans have an excellent reputation among cruisers because of their solid build and use of decent materials. They come with either outboard engines for coastal cruising or inboard engines designed to withstand offshore use.

If you like the sound of the PDQ 32 but need a little more room then you’ve got that here! It’s also a boat that people have crossed oceans in, though you might want to consider something more tried and tested like the Prout Snowgoose or the Wharram if you’re planning longer ocean sails.

The boat has three cabins, a galley, salon and head, but there’s a more spacious feel compared to the smaller model. Again, the bridge deck clearance is good so you shouldn’t experience too much slamming.

#9 Lagoon 380 : One Of The Most Popular Small Multihulls

small sailboats with cabin

  • Fixed keels
  • Engines:  twin diesel engines
  • Price:  from $100,000, used

The Lagoon 380 is one of the most popular catamarans out there, and you’ve probably already spotted a lot of them in your search! This is a great option if modern cats appeal to you, as it’s pretty ‘with the times’ as far as smaller catamarans go!

There are lots of different layouts of this boat available all over the world. Some were built for charter with numerous berths and others were commissioned for couples or families with differing cabin and head options.

This is a proven catamaran from a reputable company, but obviously with so many of these boats out there, they come in a range of conditions. Make sure you get a thorough survey done before purchase!

Lagoon 37 TPI

  • Draft (max): 4′
  • Engines: Twin inboard diesels 
  • Price: Over $100,000 USD 

This is the smallest catamaran built by Lagoon, and unfortunately there aren’t many of them out there. These boats were built mainly for the charter market, and have a smaller rig than some similar sized catamarans.

There are two big queen-size forward doubles port and starboard and a smaller double in the starboard hull aft. The galley and salon are designed to be simple and timeless, with none of the fancy trims you’ll find in the newer Lagoons.

As this boat was intended for charter it probably wouldn’t make a great ocean-going vessel. For starters, it isn’t designed to carry too much in the way of provisions. That’s not to say it won’t be a suitable bluewater boat with a few tweaks. Sailors who have circumnavigated in them have increased sail area and added folding props to get more speed from the vessel.

#11 Catalac 9M/30

small sailboats with cabin

  • Draft (max): 2.5′
  • Engines:  two outboard engines or one diesel engine
  • Price:  from $50,000

The Catalac 9M is a little different to a lot of the catamarans on this list, as it was built for sailing in the North Sea! This is a great small catamaran for anyone wanting a boat built to be safe!

The bridge deck clearance is reasonable but the boat is light, which can make it more prone to slamming. The unique feature of this small sailboat is the hard dodger, designed as somewhere safe and dry to stand in bad weather.

It sails well, though like a lot of catamarans there is technique involved in getting it to tack smoothly. Once you’ve got the hang of though, this boat will make good speeds for its size.

The Best Small Catamarans For Coastal Cruising

  • Suitable for: Coastal
  • Draft (max): 3.62′
  • Engines: Twin inboard
  • Price: Up to $300,000 for a newer model

The Mahe 36 is the smallest of the Fountaine Pajot range, and these small catamarans can go for a heafty budget if you find a newer model!

This tiny multihull packs a lot into a small space, and because of its modern features, you’ll feel like you’re in a much bigger boat when you step aboard.

This boat is a fast mover, with an ok bridge clearance and some attractive upgrades compared to their last small catamaran design. Most notably the full-length hard top bimini which has the reviewers raving!

If you have the money to splash out on a newer, more expensive small catamaran then this should definitely be on your list to consider! Although they come with a large price tag, these small catamarans are considerably cheaper new than some of the bigger models.

#4 Gemini 105Mc (34ft)

small sailboats with cabin

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Centreboards Draft (max): 5′ Engines:  Single inboard Price:  from $80,000

The Gemini 105Mc is still in production in the US, which speaks to its popularity. Obviously if you buy new you’ll pay a much higher price! This is one of the smallest catamarans on the list, but it’s still a great option for coastal cruising (or some have even successfully completed ocean passages on them in relative comfort).

For a small multihull this boat sails pretty well and is fast for a coastal cruiser. The living space is decent with good headroom. It has two double cabins and a master bedroom, and the interior finishes are nice too.

A big negative to this boat is the bridge deck clearance which really isn’t amazing, but as we said at the start, there’s always a compromise! This is a sporty-looking little catamaran that’s a good contender for the top smallest catamarans out there!

#5 EndeavourCat 36

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Fixed keels Draft (max): 3′ Engines:  two inboard Price:  from $100

small sailboats with cabin

Designed and built by Endeavour Catamaran, these American built boats are great cruising catamarans. A big advantage to this little multihull is that it will fit into most monohull slips, so if you anticipate using marinas a lot then this might be the small catamaran for you!

This isn’t a slow boat, and owners report speeds of 8-9 knots. Bear in mind though that the narrow beam does make it less suitable for any offshore passages. It has good interior space with 6′ standing headroom throughout, three double cabins, and a decent-sized galley below. The salon area can seat 6 people comfortably.

This cat is great for single-handed sailors, as all the lines lead to the cockpit and the main and jib are completely self-tacking.

#6 Prout Event 34

small sailboats with cabin

Suitable for: Coastal/bluewater Fixed keels Draft (max): 2.72′ Engines:  Single inboard Price:  from $30,000

These multihulls are quite hard to find, but if you like the Snowgoose but are on a tighter budget then they might be just what you’re looking for. They share lots of features with the Snowgoose and look very similar, only smaller!

There are three cabins, one head, a salon, and a galley, only they are rather squeezed in compared to the larger model. Personally, we thought there was plenty of space for a smaller sailboat but it’s worth seeing them in person if you’re keen on this model.

They do have the same downsides as the Snowgoose though, with limited headroom and low bridge deck clearance. These boats are known for their slamming!

Coastal Engines:  twin outboards Price:  from $80,000, used

small sailboats with cabin

The PDQ 32 is a great budget option catamaran and should be cheap(ish) to buy second hand and maintain. With two outboards that are easy to replace on a smaller budget, you’re looking at some of the usual pinch points on a boat becoming a lot more affordable!

This small catamaran only has two cabins, so sleeps less than a lot of the boats on this list, but it is roomier than you’d imagine inside with a decent galley and salon area. It has decent bridge deck clearance so shouldn’t slam too much in any waves.

This isn’t a boat for longer passages as it is a little small (and perhaps underpowered) to face serious weather. If you’re searching for something to potter around in then this is a fun boat to sail and live in!

#12 Dean 365

small sailboats with cabin

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  • Suitable for: Coastal cruising
  • Draft (max): 3′
  • Engines:  one or two inboard
  • Price:  from $45,000, used

These South African catamarans are great little coastal cruising catamarans that are hard to come by anywhere other than South Africa!

They’re pretty tiny, but have enough space for a galley, 3 or 4 cabins, and 1 or 2 heads. Some of the designs even have a bathtub, which speaks of their liveaboard suitability rather than their sail performance!

These boats are some of the smallest multihulls on this list, so don’t expect much in terms of headroom or bridge deck clearance. That being said, if you’re looking for a tiny catamaran to live on and you are prepared to compromise on sailing ability then these are a solid choice.

We have heard that the build quality can vary somewhat with these multihulls, so make sure you do some solid research and get a good surveyor when buying one of these. If you get a good version then they can make really solid boats.

#13 EndeavourCat 30

the lines of small catamarans tied off to a cleat

Suitable for: Coastal cruising Fixed keels Draft (max): 2.1′ Engines:  single or twin outboard Price:  from $70,000

This is a boat built for comfort over all else, so if you’re looking for a budget catamaran to live in then take a look at the endeavourcat 30. Some people don’t like the boxy design, but we quite liked how it looked in the water. I guess it’s personal taste!

This sailboat has two double cabins, a decent sized galley and salon for the size of the boat, and a head. The bridge deck clearance is low so that’s something to bear in mind before you buy, but the headroom is good (another reason why this would make a good liveaboard catamaran).

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration when searching for small catamarans for cruising, and helped you to find your dream boat!

We’re passionate about helping people live this incredible cruising lifestyle, so if you’re planning your dream liveaboard life make sure you check out our guide on how to run away to sea, with everything you could possibly need to know before, during, and after starting this adventure of a lifetime!

small sailboats with cabin

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Such small mention of probably the best catamaran for overall cruising, focusing on ease of helming, speed and livability. Simple rig, great ergonomic features, style and definitely a pedigree on the water. The FP Mahe duo! Sea proven. Most delivered on their own bottoms from France. Wide beams and light. Beautiful interior arrangements and easy to maintain. I’m confused about so little mention of probably the best entry level and beyond real cruiser out there.

You forgot the edelcat 35. Great boats, and have circumnavigated!

I wonder why Broadblue 346 is not on the list.

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  • Search Search Hi! We’re Emily, Adam and Tiny Cat, liveaboard sailors travelling the world on our 38ft sailboat and writing about it as we go. We hope we can inspire you to live the life you’ve always dreamed, whether that’s exploring the world or living a more simple way of life in a tiny home. Find out more. Patreon
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