Sail Universe

Editor’s Choice: 18 Bluewater Sailboats We Love

Advantages of bluewater sailboats, factors to consider when buying a blue water sailboat, allures 51.9, contest 55cs, discovery revelation 480, grand soleil 42 lc, hallberg-rassy 48mk ii, island packet 349, j/boats j/45, najad 395 cc, outbound 56.

Bluewater sailboats

Looking to sail the open seas? Bluewater sailboats are your answer. With their sturdy construction and ability to handle rough conditions, these boats are designed for serious offshore sailing adventures. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of blue water sailboats and provide you with everything you need to know. From their unique features to their advantages and considerations, we will explore it all.

Bluewater sailboats are known for their strength and durability. Built to withstand the challenging conditions of ocean crossings, these boats offer stability and safety on long voyages. Whether you’re planning a solo trip or setting off with a crew, a blue water sailboat is an excellent option to explore the depths.

We will discuss the key characteristics that make blue water sailboats stand out, such as their hull design, rigging, and navigation systems. Additionally, we’ll explore the various types and sizes available to help you find the perfect fit for your sailing aspirations.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of embarking on a thrilling ocean adventure, join us as we navigate the world of bluewater sailboats and uncover everything you need to know.

Bluewater sailboats are designed to withstand the demanding conditions encountered during long ocean voyages. They possess several key characteristics that set them apart from other types of sailboats. 

bluewater sailboats

1. Sturdy Construction

Bluewater sailboats are built with robust materials and construction techniques to ensure their strength and durability. They feature reinforced hulls made of fiberglass, aluminum, or steel, which can withstand the impact of large waves and adverse weather conditions. These boats are designed to handle the constant stresses of offshore sailing without compromising their structural integrity.

2. Seaworthiness

One of the defining characteristics of bluewater sailboats is their seaworthiness. They are designed to handle rough seas and strong winds, providing a stable and comfortable ride even in challenging conditions. The shape of their hulls, with a deep V or modified full-keel design, allows them to cut through waves and maintain stability, minimizing the rolling motion commonly experienced on other types of sailboats.

3. Self-Sustainability

Bluewater sailboats are equipped with systems that enable self-sustainability during long voyages. They typically have large water and fuel tanks, allowing sailors to carry ample supplies for extended periods at sea. In addition, these boats often come equipped with renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines, reducing the reliance on external power sources.

Bluewater sailboats offer numerous advantages for sailors looking to embark on offshore adventures. Here are some of the key benefits of choosing a blue water sailboat for your next sailing journey.

1. Safety and Stability

When sailing across vast oceans, safety is paramount. Bluewater sailboats provide a high level of safety and stability, thanks to their sturdy construction and seaworthiness. These boats are designed to handle adverse weather conditions and rough seas, ensuring the safety of the crew and the vessel. The robust hulls and well-balanced designs make them less prone to capsizing or taking on water, providing peace of mind during long voyages.

2. Long-Distance Capability

Bluewater sailboats are specifically designed for long-distance sailing. They have the capacity to carry ample supplies, including food, water, and fuel, allowing sailors to embark on extended journeys without the need for frequent resupply stops. With their self-sustainability features and efficient hull designs, these boats can cover long distances efficiently and comfortably.

3. Comfort and Liveability

Living aboard a bluewater sailboat for an extended period requires comfort and practicality. These boats are designed with spacious interiors, allowing for comfortable living quarters during long voyages. They often feature multiple cabins, a well-equipped galley, and ample storage space for provisions and personal belongings. The layout and design of blue water sailboats prioritize functionality and convenience, ensuring a comfortable living experience even in the middle of the ocean.

And now… it’s time to discover together our selection of 18 Bluewater sailboats we love!

The Allures 51.9 innovates with its full-beam aft owner’s cabin. This model disrupts the codes of the yard also outside with its cockpit of 6 meters long with sunbath and swim platform for comfort; the navigation space can be protected by a hardtop to navigate in any security. The boat has a length of 51.9 feet (15.8 meters) and a beam (width) of 15.4 feet (4.7 meters). It is equipped with a fixed keel and a composite hull, which provides good stability and seaworthiness. The Allures 51.9 is available in a variety of configurations, including a three-cabin layout with a spacious owner’s cabin and two guest cabins, or a two-cabin layout with a larger owner’s cabin and a smaller guest cabin. It is also equipped with a well-equipped galley, a large saloon, and a navigation station.  Allures official website .

amel 60 Bluewater sailboats

In a dynamic evolution and complementary to their range,  Amel  launched a larger model, with a higher specification and built with attention to details. Riding on the success of the  Amel 50 , the Amel 60 is an enhanced version of the new Amel design . The brand’s fundamental characteristics are well represented in this large yacht, with an additional 10 feet increasing her volume as well as her interior and exterior living spaces, while still ensuring ease of use for a small crew. 

Signed Berret-Racoupeau, the generous volumes of this large yacht have been designed to allow owners and their guests to fully enjoy life on board, while preserving everyone’s privacy: a large living space in the saloon, an ultra-equipped high-end galley three cabins each with a bathroom, an even larger protected cockpit, opening onto sunbathing areas ideal for relaxation.

contest 55cs Bluewater sailboats

The  Dutch specialist  in semi-custom constructions Contest Yachts presented the brand new 17-metre Contest 55CS at Boot Dusseldorf 2020. Don’t call it “simply” a  bluewater  yacht. The stunning lines both above and below water from star designers Judel/Vrolijk shall ensure a real sporty character. A newly conceived interior styling now features an even bigger flowing corner radius to the exquisitely finished timber work. There are also now more optional hull windows in up to four stations along the yacht’s length.

discovery revelation 480

Discovery Yachts  presented the new Revelation 480 at  Boot Dusseldorf 2020 . This is the first model of the new Revelation line and differs from the Southerly line for the fixed keel and the lowered saloon. Yes, the Revelation 480 is a lowered saloon boat based on the well-known Southerly 480. The Revelation 480 combines bluewater capability with a low, sleek coachroof that contributes to an interesting aesthetic. Down below, the single level interior is extremely light and exquisitely furnished.

grand soleil 42 lc

The Grand Soleil 42 LC is  Cantiere del Pardo ’s latest entry model of the bluewater line. Comfort and sailing autonomy are the main features of this 12-meter, designed by Marco Lostuzzi together with Nauta Design and Cantiere del Pardo’s Technical Office.

The 42 LC is available in two versions; standard or sport. The former is equipped with aft benches, and a carbon arch over the cockpit, designed to keep this area free of the mainsheet traveller. The GS 42 LC’s hull guarantees great stability thanks to greater hull volume. The well-proportioned sail plan optimizes the high-performance sailing standards. As with the rest of the Long Cruise range, the Grand Soleil 42 LC is designed to provide greater and more luxurious comfort on board.

The interior layout is available with either two or three cabins, to meet the client’s needs. Both versions include two heads with a shower. In the saloon, a three-seater sofa is found on the starboard side, while the central seat can be transformed into a chart table.

Hallberg Rassy 48 Mkll Bluewater sailboats

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 MK II is a true bluewater cruiser that offers more natural light, more comfort and more elegance than ever before. With three double cabins and a vast saloon, she offers great space for modern comfort aids. Known far and wide for sturdy construction, superb craftsmanship and signature seaworthiness, Hallberg-Rassy boats are globally respected for their elegant lines and spirited performance.

Hylas H60

Hylas Yachts has collaborated with German Frers for over 40 years and built a reputation for yachts that combine ocean sailing capability, classic lines and exquisitely finished interiors.  Now the company is staking out new territory with the H60. Still ocean capable, still with an exquisite interior but also embracing some of the contemporary demands of today’s cruising sailors. 

Longtime Hylas fans will not be disappointed by her performance. Built using the most advanced construction technologies, the H60 has been designed to excel in all conditions with excellent seakeeping ability. A plumb bow and broad transom make the most of her waterline length underway, providing speed with optimal comfort.

The builder partnered with Milan-based firm  Hot Lab , known for their elegant designs in the superyacht world, to offer interiors that immediately set the new Hylas on a new level.

ice yachts ice 70

The project of the ICE 70 by  ICE Yachts  has been realized using the most advanced modeling and analysis software available today. “ Thanks to the new virtual reality ‘tools’ ,” explains  Felci Yacht Design , “ we have been able to make the owner and the shipyard participant of many geometric and stylistic choices. It is a yacht with high technological potential, starting from the design of the hull and the appendices “. With this sporty bluewater sailboat, the Italian yard wanted to create a technologically avant-garde boat with large, comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces, which is easy to sail and entirely safe at sea. Like all ICE Yachts models, the ICE 70 is a semi-custom product with which the owner has many possibilities for customization and equipment. ICE Yachts official website

island packet 349 Bluewater sailboats

With this model, iconic Island Packet has returned to the Solent-style rig as standard, featuring a mainsail with a working jib and an optional lightweight 170% reacher or asymmetrical that mounts on the integral bow platform and furled with Harken systems. The working jib is fitted with a Hoyt Boom that is self-tending and improves performance with its close sheeting and self-vanging feature, while the large optional reacher or asymmetrical boost performance in light air or when off the wind.

The fully battened mainsail is equipped with a low friction Battcar system and drops easily into a stack pack with an integral cover and lazy jack system.  This rigging offers ease of use and versatility in the varied wind or sea conditions and increased speed and maneuverability.

j/boats j/45

The J/Boats J/45, is a true  bluewater sailing yacht, designed and built for the sea by life-long sailors. The  J/Boats  and  J/Composites teams have collaborated to create a special design for discerning sailors seeking an exceptional sailing experience. The J/45 can be sailed solo, cruised by 2-3 couples or large family, and pleasure sailed or raced with room for the whole crew. This is an investment-grade sailboat that won’t require a professional crew to sail, handle or maintain. J/Boats official website

kraken 50 Bluewater sailboats

The Kraken 50 is designed to be the short-handed bluewater cruising yacht. Due to her steady motion and stability, her crew will be equally comfortable at sea or in the anchorage, and special consideration has been given in the K50 layouts above and below deck to allow for short-handed ocean passage making. The Kraken 50 features the renowned integral  Zero Keel  and fully skegged rudder.

najad 395 cc Bluewater sailboats

N395 CC (centre cockpit) is part of the all-new Najad 395 range, designed in a joint venture by Najad, Farr Yacht Design, and Ken Freivokh Design – superyacht stylist, architects, and interior designers. The N395 CC is characterized by a well-protected large cockpit located close to the center of gravity. It has a well-designed interior and a very comprehensive options list that includes all equipment necessary to tailor the yacht to any individual needs. This model is available in two or three cabin layouts with one or two large heads.

outbound 56 bluewater

Welcome aboard the newest addition to Outbound’s impressive line of offshore passage makers. The new Outbound 56, built from German Frers timeless and proven design continues to fulfill our single mission of building great offshore yachts.  Fast, accommodating and gorgeous, the 56 will take you anywhere your heart desires in style and comfort.

oyster 565 Bluewater sailboats

The entry level yacht for the ‘G6’ range of seven models up to the Flagship Oyster 118.  Using the latest generation of Oyster hull shapes, developed with Humphreys Yacht Design, the Oyster 565 is designed for family sailing without professional crew.

A generous sail locker and lazarette, headroom and bunk lengths to match the larger Oyster Superyachts, the 565 can be configured with many different cabin layouts – and for the first time in Oyster Yachts – can have the master cabin forward and a dinghy garage in the transom.

rm970 Bluewater sailboats

The Brittany based yard is well known not only among ocean sailors but also to those who love short-handed sailing and are looking for seaworthy and easily driven bluewater sailboats, both safe and comfortable. This last aspect is where Fora Marine has made great progress in the last few years, shedding some of the spartan image that characterized their products for many years.

What has not changed, and what is still the RM range’s defining characteristic, is the twin-chined hull, made of Okumé plywood impregnated with epoxy resin (the deck is in fiberglass sandwich). Below the hull, the yard offers two options, a single deep keel or double shoal draft keels. The RM are designed by Marc Lombard, probably one of the architects most able to transform the fashionable chine into an important element in cruising design. A chined hull, when properly drawn, gives both better hull shape and interior volumes. ( Read our test )

rustler 42

The Rustler 42 is a classic looking yacht which combines style that is traditional yet modern. Her cruising layout results in a live aboard yacht that has stability and elegance with the same unique sea-kindly characteristics as the Rustler 36. Below the waterline, she looks conservative with a deep canoe body, long fin keel and a big skeg hung rudder.

Below the decks, this yacht has a spacious open plan saloon. The large, finished saloon table can comfortably seat eight. The aft cabin has standing headroom, a full-width double berth and plenty of storage within lockers and a vanity unit with seat. The aft head incorporates a shower unit and a ‘wet lilies’ locker. At the forepeak the grand master cabin has a 6 ft 6 in double V berth.

swan 58

Signed by  German Frers , the Swan 58 needs to combine the spaces of bluewater sailboats with a fast cruiser performances. Key details include a deck featuring soft and rounded shapes, a new cockpit design, a redefined coach-roof style and large swimming platform. The concept is easy: to give the maximum comfort and liveability at rest, together with maximum efficiency for short handed sailing, without losing the capability to race with a full crew. 

The interiors of the new Swan 58 , which is fitted with European oak, have been conceived as a combination between luxury and comfortable living spaces, storage and volumes for systems and safety features; we find here a large saloon, a galley with a 360 degree layout and three heads. Various interior styling layouts are available varying woods and materials. 

tartan 395 Bluewater

Designed by Tartan naval architect Tim Jackett, the 395 comes out of the Tartan factory in Fairport Harbor and is the perfect example of bluewater sailboats. Her hull shape is an evolution of tried and true concepts proven to deliver great stability and high interior volume while maintaining comforting manners throughout a wide range of sailing conditions. On deck Tartan 395 sports hallmark Tartan design elements such as a traditional cabin house fitted with functional polished stainless steel rectangular portholes.

Like her smaller sister 345, 395’s handcrafted interior is built in maple as standard, with cherry a no-charge option. The lighter maple opens up her interior in ways the darker cherry simply cannot.

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Outbound Yachts

The ultimate offshore cruising sailboats.

Outbound Yachts are first and foremost exceptional sailing yachts. Our flagship model, the Outbound 46, was first designed and built over 20 years ago to be a capable offshore sailboat that provided the capacity required for serious cruising, added safety that comes with performance and handling, and maximum comfort to encourage living aboard. Today, these same characteristics are still hallmarks of the Outbound brand as we continue to offer finely crafted cruising sailboats that are built to the highest standards.

Your Escape Awaits

Fast, safe, comfortable sailboats are few and far between, but Outbound delivers these desired attributes on every boat. Built for offshore passagemaking, each model can take her owners anywhere in safety, comfort, and style.

best offshore sailing yachts

Built For Offshore Sailing

Experienced sailors value the added safety that comes with good sailing performance. The ability to sail off a lee shore, shorten a passage to within the available weather window, and safely maneuver through heavy seas are all features that make Outbound Yachts some of the best cruising sailboats in the world. Equally important is having the comfort required to avoid fatigue when heading offshore. A dry and comfortable cockpit, good visibility, and a forgiving motion are essential for a safe and enjoyable passage.

Outbound 46

An aft cockpit with 2 cabins, the Outbound 46 was is the ultimate cruising boat for couples who want to go offshore.

best offshore sailing yachts

Outbound 521

A center cockpit with 3 cabins, the Outbound 521 is a capable bluewater cruiser that offers a spacious interior.

best offshore sailing yachts

Outbound 5360

Offering spectacular 360 interior views, the all new Outbound 5360 is a raised salon unlike any other cruising yacht on the market.

The All New Outbound 5360

The new Outbound 5360 is a next generation cruising yacht featuring impressive interior spaces that provide panoramic 360 views from within.

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Outbound 521 Center Cockpit

A center cockpit offshore passagemaker that is safe, comfortable, and can be handled by a cruising couple with ease.

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World-Renowned Outbound 46

Designed and built for serious sailors, the Outbound 46 is a fast, easy-to-handle, couples cruising boat that is capable of crossing all oceans in comfort and speed.

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Owner Testimonials

"we had to write to tell you, again, how much we love this boat.".

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It was such a delight to have Allora flying along day after day with such power (800 miles). We almost caught up with a boat that left several days ahead of us. One particularly great trait....

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Highlights & features.

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Offshore Safety

From deep cockpits that are designed to keep you secure in any condition, to heavy duty lifelines and grab rails, Outbound sailboats are equipped with all the features for safe offshore cruising.

Classic Styling

Beautiful clean lines and elegant interiors with fine woodwork, Outbound sailboats have a classic yacht style that is lost on most of today's production boats.

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Dedicated Workrooms

Each Outbound has a workroom onboard that is a dedicated space for tool storage and to perform repairs and maintenance.

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Comfortable Interiors

The interiors of Outbound yachts are built to maximize comfort for long distance cruising and extended onboard living.

Built For Performance

Outbound sailboats are designed to sail fast and handle adverse conditions.

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Additional Resources

Learn more about what goes into an outbound sailboat.

Outbound Yachts are built to the highest standards with quality construction methods, top of the line materials, and fine craftsmanship. Discover what goes into an Outbound.

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2022 Boat of the Year: Best Offshore Racer

  • By Dave Reed
  • December 17, 2021

Sailing World Magazine’s annual Boat of the Year tests are conducted in Annapolis, Maryland, following the US Sailboat Show. With independent judges exhaustively inspecting the boats on land and putting them through their paces on the water, this year’s fleet of new performance-sailing boats spanned from small dinghies to high-tech bluewater catamarans. Here’s the best of the best from our 2022 Boat of the Year nominees »

As interest in doublehanded offshore racing piqued with the expectations it would be an Olympic sailing discipline in 2024, so too did the development and production of several purpose-built 30-footers. Dehler Yachts, Germany’s big production boatbuilder, jumped into the action with its own 30-footer, and as we’d expect of a Judel/Vrolijk and Co.-designed race boat, this one is an all-business shorthanded racing machine jam-packed with cool features found on grand‑prix boats twice its size.

“You can tell they started with a blank slate because the boat is so well-integrated with the design and construction—from bow to stern,” Greg Stewart says. “It hits its design purpose spot on. It’s a complete small offshore one-design, and it’s obvious there was a lot of development required to get things so right.”

Prototypes and mock-ups after mock-ups were required, Dehler says, to efficiently accommodate a lot of boat handling and living in such a compact craft. Virtually every rope on the boat spills into the cockpit, which is the way of life in shorthanded sailing, where everything happens at the back of the boat. Vigilance with line keeping, therefore, is paramount. That and carefully executed and planned maneuvers. In full-tilt conditions, there will be a lot going on in the cockpit, Stewart says, but everything’s easily at hand.

“All the control-line leads are well thought out,” he adds, pointing to the smooth-operating traveler controls and the individual gross and fine-tuned mainsheet flip cleats mounted on the cockpit floor.

Powlison’s first impression at the dock was that the boat would be challenging to manage, but “once we went sailing, it all was logical. Yes, there’s a lot of line management, but once you’re disciplined to do that, the boat is much easier to sail than it looks.”

With the trio of judges and the owner piled on board during the test sail, it was immediately obvious that two is company and three is definitely a crowd. “It’s also not the type of boat where you’ll want to spontaneously invite an inexperienced crew [to go race],” Powlison says. “You will really need to know what you’re doing, but once you do get comfortable with everything, it will be a really easy boat to sail well.”

Ben Corson, the Annapolis-based owner of our test boat, had spent the better part of a year racing with his female partner and tinkering with the boat, and consequently, the boat is meticulously prepared, race-ready and offshore-compliant. There’s no mistaking what’s what and where—labels pasted throughout the boat identify halyards, sail and ballast controls, safety gear and even the electronics manuals.

As a tightly controlled one-design class with ratified rules, owners like Corson can’t do much to the boat as it is, but there’s not much—if anything—an owner would need to change anyway. Everything on the boat, the judges agreed, works as it should. Adjustable backstays, for example, lead forward to clutches mounted on the cockpit wall, which allows the backstays to be kept taut or released without having to worry about loading to a winch during a maneuver. With the turn of a locking nut on the tiller arm, the steering system can be adjusted to change rudder toe-in on either side. The traveler track runs nearly the full width of the wide transom, opening up a wide range of adjustability for the 361-square-foot mainsail, and as a bonus, small removable reaching struts open up headsail sheeting angles. Stainless-steel foot braces are easy to deploy and stow, and allow the skipper to lock into a comfortable position over the angled coaming, with great visibility over the bow.

When the boat is powered up and leaning on the chine, Allen says, the sensation is exceptional: “This delivered the best sailing experience of all of the boats we tested. It was easy to tack and jibe, it tracked great, it’s easy to get to the sail controls, and we had no problems whatsoever with wiping out—and we tried hard a few times.”

With Allen on the tiller and Powlison managing the sheets as they started upwind into a 15-knot breeze, Stewart hit the chamfered rail. “My first impression from the rail was how high I was and how it was charging upwind—like a big boat. I couldn’t feel the chop, I didn’t get wet, it didn’t skid out at all. I was also amazed at how solid it felt; there wasn’t one bit of pounding, creaking or anything.”

Eventually, Stewart came off the rail and they filled the ballast tank instead—to the equivalent of 400-plus pounds of rail meat. Allen says the gravity-fed water-ballast system took about five minutes to top off, roughly 30 seconds to transfer during a tack, and less than a minute to drain.

“Once we added the water ballast, the boat just powered forward,” Powlison says. “You can really feel the difference when the boat sits on the chine and just tracks straight ahead.”

Impressed as they were with the Dehler 30’s upwind pace, when they set the big red A2 spinnaker (1,076 square feet) and took off down the bay, they had no doubts about the boat’s downwind potential. They only used three of the five class-sail inventory on board, which includes an A2, an A5, a spinnaker staysail and a Code Zero, and if they had more time and distance, they would have certainly piled on more sail area.

“I could see going with the A5, the J3 and the staysail, and maybe a reefed main in a big breeze,” Allen says. “That would be fun—and wicked fast.”

Lightweight and strong is, of course, the holy grail of every race boat, and here too Dehler delivers with what the judges say is an immaculate cored-hull laminate and good detail in the finish work throughout the boat. Dehler was also keen to leave out extraneous weight from the interior to get the boat to weigh in at just over 6,000 pounds. Without any floorboards (there’s thin foam padding glued to the inner hull skin instead), they’re able to get 6 feet of standing headroom at the companionway (which has a sliding hatch hood on rails) and plenty of sitting headroom forward of the mast and into the V-berth.

To achieve a higher level of the camper-sailor experience, comfortable V-berth cushions and removable mesh hull liners are standard, as is a folding centerline table, rounded wooden bench seats, and backrests that double as pipe berths. With storage cubbies scattered about the boat, a marine toilet with a graywater tank, a two-burner stove and two quarter berths, this little race rocket is definitely a legit weekender too. Lithium-ion batteries and a 9.9 diesel with a retractable Stealth Drive shaft that pulls up flush with the hull will get you where you need to go and keep the electronics suite powered up just fine.

The Dehler 30 was a strong contender for Boat of the Year, but the judges couldn’t dismiss the boat’s biggest limitation: It will get hammered by most rating systems, which makes it a one-trick one-design offshore-racing pony. It is, however, an outstanding design for keen shorthanded sailors looking for a race-ready platform for just over $240,000. If—or when—international class racing ever becomes a real thing, the offshore sailing world will be a better place.

  • More: Boat of the Year , Boat of the Year 2022 , Dehler , Sailboats
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A deeper dive into the storm 18, 2024 boat of the year best recreational racer: z24, 2024 boat of the year best dinghy: rs toura, rib charter made easy, one charismatic crew, melges 24 team wins midwinter championship and overall title in st. pete, st. pete to shine again.

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40 Best Sailboats

  • By Cruising World Editors
  • Updated: April 18, 2019

Sailors are certainly passionate about their boats, and if you doubt that bold statement, try posting an article dubbed “ 40 Best Sailboats ” and see what happens.

Barely had the list gone live, when one reader responded, “Where do I begin? So many glaring omissions!” Like scores of others, he listed a number of sailboats and brands that we were too stupid to think of, but unlike some, he did sign off on a somewhat upbeat note: “If it weren’t for the presence of the Bermuda 40 in Cruising World’s list, I wouldn’t even have bothered to vote.”

By vote, he means that he, like hundreds of other readers, took the time to click through to an accompanying page where we asked you to help us reshuffle our alphabetical listing of noteworthy production sailboats so that we could rank them instead by popularity. So we ask you to keep in mind that this list of the best sailboats was created by our readers.

The quest to building this list all began with such a simple question, one that’s probably been posed at one time or another in any bar where sailors meet to raise a glass or two: If you had to pick, what’re the best sailboats ever built?

In no time, a dozen or more from a variety of sailboat manufacturers were on the table and the debate was on. And so, having fun with it, we decided to put the same question to a handful of CW ‘s friends: writers and sailors and designers and builders whose opinions we value. Their favorites poured in and soon an inkling of a list began to take shape. To corral things a bit and avoid going all the way back to Joshua Slocum and his venerable Spray —Hell, to Noah and his infamous Ark —we decided to focus our concentration on production monohull sailboats, which literally opened up the sport to anyone who wanted to get out on the water. And since CW is on the verge or turning 40, we decided that would be a nice round number at which to draw the line and usher in our coming ruby anniversary.

If you enjoy scrolling through this list, which includes all types of sailboats, then perhaps you would also be interested in browsing our list of the Best Cruising Sailboats . Check it out and, of course, feel free to add your favorite boat, too. Here at Cruising World , we like nothing better than talking about boats, and it turns out, so do you.

40. Moore 24

39. pearson vanguard, 38. dufour arpege 30, 37. alerion express 28, 36. mason 43/44, 35. jeanneau sun odyssey 43ds, 34. nor’sea 27, 33. freedom 40, 32. beneteau sense 50, 31. nonsuch 30, 30. swan 44, 29. c&c landfall 38, 28. gulfstar 50, 27. sabre 36, 26. pearson triton, 25. islander 36, 24. gozzard 36, 23. bristol 40, 22. tartan 34, 21. morgan out island 41, 20. hylas 49, 19. contessa 26, 18. whitby 42, 17. columbia 50, 16. morris 36, 15. hunter 356, 13. beneteau 423, 12. westsail 32, 10. alberg 30, 9. island packet 38, 8. passport 40, 7. tayana 37, 6. peterson 44, 5. pacific seacraft 37, 4. hallberg-rassy 42, 3. catalina 30, 2. hinckley bermuda 40, 1. valiant 40.

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Uncensored Sailing

11 Best Single Handed Bluewater Sailboats

best offshore sailing yachts

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

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

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

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

What Size Sailboat Is Best for Single-Handed Sailing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Untitled design 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sailboat Rigging Types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2020 11 26 at 11.53.30

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

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

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

Single Person Sailboat Equipment and Gear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

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

Westsail 32 solo sailing sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albin Vega 27 single handed solo sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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

alberg 30

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

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

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

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

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

pacific seacraft 34 solo sailing

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

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

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

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

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

Tayana 37 solo sailboat sailing

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

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

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

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

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

canadian sailcraft 36 single handed sailing solo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallberg rassy 352 single handing sailboat

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

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

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

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

corbin 39 solo sailboat review

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

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

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

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

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

Valiant 40 solo sailing

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

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

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

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

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

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

contessa 32 solo sailing sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

fast passage 39 single handing sailboat

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

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

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

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

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

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20 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats Under $100,000

January 5, 2021 by Travis Turgeon 2 Comments

thom milkovic p 0tDp9zAeI unsplash 1 - 20 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats Under $100,000

Choosing the right bluewater yacht for your needs requires a ton of research. With so many designs and features available, it can be overwhelming trying to narrow down your options. The process gets even more complicated when you begin to consider the personal opinions of other sailors. 

So how do you know where to start? Every person’s definition of comfortability will vary when it comes to onboard living. What suits a family of four won’t necessarily suit a couple or a single-handed sailor. Your budget, style, and needs are all unique to you and your situation, so it’s essential to know just what to look for when buying a new or used vessel . 

To start you off in the right direction, we put together a list of our top choices for bluewater cruising yachts under $100,000.

Allied Princess 36

Green Allied Princess 36 sailboat at a marina

Built as a long-keel ketch or cutter, the Allied Princess 36 was in production from 1972 to 1982. Around 140 vessels were manufactured in total, so you can occasionally find them on the used market. 

While these cruisers’ design and construction are considered sufficient, the excessive use of fiberglass makes the design a bit bland. Although they may not have the most appealing design, these bluewater yachts certainly tick a lot of boxes.

With the full-keel measuring just four-foot six inches, it’s a design that holds steady on its course without pointing as high as a fin-keel design. 

Overall, the Allied Princess 36 is a wonderful option for bluewater sailing.

Prices range between $30,000 and $60,000.

Cabo Rico 38

Cabo Rico sailboat with green sails

The Cabo Rico 38 is at the top of its class, constructed with a long-keel cutter rig design that gives it outstanding bluewater capabilities for its price point. The vessel was produced in two models – Pilothouse, and Trunk Cabin – although the Pilothouse design is less common.

Cabo Rico i s consistently successful with it s 38 models, and t hey remain one of the most prominent cruising boats on the water.

Internally, this boat has various features required for a bluewater cruiser: Large water and fuel tanks, a solid design with balsa wood cores for thermal and noise insulation, and an overall seaworthy design.

While this boat wasn’t m eant to win races, it is a fantastic choice for a crui sing vessel.

Prices range between $30,000 and $80,000.

Celestial 48

Bluewater Celestial 48 sailboat

The Celestial 48 is the largest boat on our list and is commonly sought after by the cruising fraternity. The problem is, these vessels are scarce on the used market. 

The Celestial 48 is a ketch rig with a shoal-draft, fin-keel design, and a center-cockpit configuration that is comfortable and ideal for bluewater sailing. One of our favorite features is the six-foot, two-inch headroom in the cabin, along with high-capacity water and fuel tanks.

The Celestial 48 was built in China by the Xiamen boatyard, although it’s no longer in production.

If you can find one, the Celestial 48 will make an excellent bluewater cruiser.

Prices start near our $100,000 mark.

Bluewater Corbin 39 sailboat

The Corbin 39 is manufactured in two designs, aft or center cockpit. Designed and built in Canada by Robert Dufour and Marius Corbin, the 39 is now (sadly) out of production. This cruiser remains a favorite of many and is still commonly searched for on the used market.

One thing to note is that most of the boats were sold as unfinished kits, leaving owners to complete the interiors themselves. For this reason, the standard of interior design finish will vary, so it’s worth checking and comparing with other vessels carefully.

When found, the Corbin 39’s present a very reasonable price tag, but a full survey is essential.

Prices range between $40,000 and $60,000.

Docked Freedom 36 sailboat at sunset

The Freedom 36 is one of the smaller yachts on our list, but it has an exciting design that attracts cruisers. The wide beam and long waterline design allow for a much larger interior than most other boats of similar length. As a cruiser, space is a top priority, so this cruiser should be on your list of considerations.

A unique feature of this Freedom yacht is the stayless carbon fiber mast. It looks a little odd for most, with no forestay or backstay and a mast that flexes alarmingly in the wind. It’s a proven design, though, and gives clean lines just like an aircraft wing.

The Freedom 36 is certainly an exciting cruiser to keep an eye on.

Prices range between $40,000 and $80,000.

Gulfstar 44

Gulfstar 44 sailboat at sea

Known as a capable cruiser or live-aboard boat, the Gulfstar 44 is a spacious yacht that can take you around the world.

Designed with a fin-keel and skeg-rudder, the Gulfstar is comfortable and well built.

Internally, you’ll find a large galley, king-size aft cabin, and spacious fore cabin, with ample room in the saloon. Earlier Gulfstar vessels suffered from inconsistent build quality, but from around 1976 onwards, the company made huge improvements.

For a spacious bluewater sailboat with excellent heavy-weather handling characteristics, the Gulfstar 44 is a great choice.

Prices start around $60,000.

Hans Christian 38

1989 Hans Christian 38 T sailboat

If you’re considering cruising the world in a bluewater yacht, then the Hans Christian 38-T should be added to your shortlist of candidates. 

With a full-length keel design and laden with solid teak, this boat weighs in at 12.5 tons, making it a heavy displacement vessel that you can rely on to take you through some of the harshest conditions.

Manufactured in Taiwan, these cruisers can be a chore to acquire. One of the most common downfalls of the Hans 38-T is electrical problems, so be sure to get the wiring checked out by a professional. 

Outside of electrical issues, this boat is a proven winner in the cruising world. 

Prices start around $70,000 but expect to pay well over $100,000 for the more admirable models.

Hinckley Bermuda 40

Group of people on a Hinckley Bermuda 40 with blue sails

The Hinckley Bermuda 40 was in production for over 30 years, from 1959 until 1991, but only 203 boats were manufactured in total. Many Bermuda 40s were used as racing vessels throughout their production, winning the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy in 1964. 

The design also gained many admirers in the cruising world thanks to the long keel and centerboard, which allows the boat to maneuver through shallow waters. The Hinckley Bermuda 40 is hard to beat for versatility, combining classic looks with the shallow draught and generous interior space.

Early models from the 60s and 70s start around $80,000, but later models land well above our $100,000 threshold.

Island Packet 35

Island Packet 35 sailboat anchored at harbor

Although only in production for six years, 178 Island Packet 35s made their way onto the market. These vessels have become justifiably popular with coastal cruisers and bluewater sailors alike.

These cruisers are available in two designs; long-keel or long-keel with centerboard – both of which come with cutter rigging. 

The design is conservative and built for comfort rather than speed. Inside space is very generous, with a 12-foot beam, a v-berth cabin in the forepeak, and a double cabin on the aft port side.

Island Packet 35’s appear on the used market regularly, so locating one shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Prices start at around $65,000.

Niagara 35 yacht at a dock

The Niagara 35 is a popular cruiser available in two exciting models, each one coming with a fantastic interior design. 

The original model features a center galley and marine toilet that separates the fore and aft areas. The saloon is completely closed off, making it useful during extended passage journeys.

The later model has a double-berth forward, separated from the saloon by the head and shower. Both models include a spacious cockpit design. Through its 12 years of production, 260 Niagara 35’s went on the market – so you can regularly find them for sale.

Early models start around $30,000, with later models coming in closer to $70,000.

White Nordic 40 sailboat with blue sails in a marina

Only 32 of the Robert Perry-designed Nordic 40s went through production, making them exclusive and difficult to find. If you do manage to get your hands on one, however, you won’t be disappointed.

The fin-keel and skeg-mounted rudder design allow for up to six people to stay comfortably, including extra storage space for luggage and provisions. 

The Perry design is recognized for the quality of its fittings, including rod-rigging and full hull insulation on early models. After 1987, they cut back on a few design features, but it’s still a quality boat. 

If you can manage to find a Nordic 40, it will make an excellent investment.

While it may be rare to find one below our $100,000 mark, it is possible.

Passport 40

Passport 40 sailboat anchored near shore

Built in Taiwan, the Passport 40 is another excellent design by Robert Perry. Sporting a fin-keel and a skeg-mounted rudder, the design is known for its well-balanced performance. 

Originally supplied with a sloop-rig, the majority have an inner stay, fitted to allow a double headsail. This cutter-style rig makes the Passport 40 even more suitable for ocean crossings.

The interiors are well designed – as you’d expect from a Robert Perry – and make for comfortable living during long passages.

Peterson 44

Peterson 44 sailboat with a mountain backdrop

The Peterson 44 was designed and built as a performance cruiser, combining sufficient speed and sea-kindly handling. 

A low center-cockpit, 10,000 pounds of lead ballast, and a long fin keel allow this vessel to take turbulent conditions in stride without sacrificing the crew’s comfort. 

Internally, there is plenty of space in the well-designed cabin. For long passages, there’s a 132-gallon water tank and a 117-gallon fuel tank.

Finding a Peterson 44 may be your only problem. They manufactured about 200 boats, but owners rarely like to part with them – adding to their intrigue and value.

Prices for these yachts vary widely. Expect to pick up an older model between $50,000 and $75,000.

Prout Snowgoose 37

Prout Snowgoose 37 catamaran on a mooring line

As the only catamaran on our list, the Prout Snowgoose 37 is a proven boat for circumnavigation on the bluewater trail. 

A standout feature of the early Snowgoose models is its narrow beam, which allows them to navigate canals easily. These boats are popular in Europe and are common on the journey between Spain and France on the Mediterranian. Additionally, the Prout Snowgoose 37 can fit into a single-hull marina, reducing berthing costs when compared to most other catamarans. 

If you have never considered a catamaran in the past, the Prout Snowgoose 37 may change your mind.

Prices start near $45,000, with later models reaching over $100,000.

Two people on the back of a Shannon 38 sailboat

The Shannon 38 comes in two styles, with either an aft cockpit or pilothouse. Shannon Yachts are known for their build quality and attention to detail, and the 38 is no exception. The boat is available as either a ketch or cutter rig, but it’s renowned for its performance at sea in both forms.

Only 100 were built, with the final boat launched in 1988. If you can find one on the used market, it will make a competent bluewater cruiser.

Prices start at $40,000 for older models, with newer models inching closer to our $100,000 mark.

Tartan 4100 Spark sailboat on a cloudy day

Only 80 of the Tartan 41s were manufactured, although they produced a similar Tartan 43 with the same molds. It is a fin keel design, with a skeg-mounted rudder and sloop-rigging. In its day, it was considered a fast cruiser, but now they’re mostly made for comfort.

If you’re looking at a Tartan 41, check out the keel dimensions. The keel was undersized on earlier models, which caused heavy-weather steering issues. The boatyard redesigned the later models, and some retrofitting has been done on the originals.

Prices start around $45,000 and reach upwards of $70,000.

Tayana 37 bluewater sailboat with an American flag

No list of bluewater sailboats would be complete without the Tayana 37. It’s a beautiful boat designed by Robert Perry that comes in three variants; cutter, ketch, and pilothouse. 

Built to compete against the popular Westsail 32, the 37 became a good seller – with almost 600 launched to date. Today, they are manufactured in limited numbers, as the traditional teak-heavy design is now less popular.

If you can find a good Tayana 37, cruising the oceans will be a pleasure in this sturdy and robust vessel.

Early models cost around $45,000, with newer or retrofitted models topping $75,000.

Valiant 40 cruiser with white sails designed by Robert Perry

Another boat designed by Robert Perry, the Valiant 40 is one of the most sought-after bluewater cruisers on the used market. By the end of production, two manufacturers were able to put out around 200 boats, so it’s certainly possible to get your hands on one.

With a fin keel, reasonably heavy displacement, and solid build, open ocean cruising is made comfortable in the Valiant 40.

The Valiant’s trademark is the canoe stern, something Perry has carried over into many of his designs. The boat’s performance sets it apart from the more traditional heavy-cruisers, and it still has many admirers.

Expect to pay upwards of $45,000 for an early Valiant, but well-maintained vessels will command much higher prices.

Wauquiez Pretorien 35

Wauquiez Pretorien 35 small sailboat

When the weather gets rough, most people prefer bigger, heavier cruisers. Small boats generally don’t perform as well in harsh conditions, but the Pretorien 35 is an exception.

Built to IOR specifications, it’s a short, wide-beam design, with a ballast in the keel that makes up half of the displacement. It may be disappointing in light winds, but as the breeze picks up, the Pretorien comes alive.

Wauquiez built boats are known for their quality finish, so you shouldn’t hold any doubts when buying a used Pretorien.

Prices start around $39,000.

Westsail 32

White Westsail 32 cruiser in a marina

At just 32 feet, the Westsail might be a surprising inclusion on our list. However, the design has proven itself many times over and remains popular with many cruisers.

With a long keel, transom-mounted rudder, and heavy displacement, these are seaworthy yachts.

The flipside to this is that the performance can be underwhelming. The Westsails are known for being slow, safe boats that will get you wherever you need to go – making them perfect for leisurely cruising. 

Over 800 vessels entered the market between 1971 and 1981, so there should be plenty available if you look hard enough. The other point to remember is that they sold them as owner-completion kits, so the internal fitments, in particular, will vary in quality.

With so many available, the prices remain reasonable – with an early Westsail 32 fetching around $29,000 and well-maintained older models coming in closer to $50,000.

Remember: When buying a bluewater cruising yacht for less than $100,000, compromise is inevitable. 

If you’re looking for a seaworthy, heavy-displacement design, you’ll have to compromise on the boat’s age. Choosing a modern, light design will allow you more for your money.

The best advice for buying a boat is to be truly honest with yourself by defining your needs and separating them from your desires. 

Want to join the community at #BoatLife? Get a conversation started on our new forum by leaving a question or comment!

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment below, share it on social media, and subscribe to our email list.

For direct questions and comments, shoot me an email at [email protected]

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November 15, 2021 at 6:30 pm

You guys didn’t mention Cape dory or pacific seacraft. How long have you been sailing?

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February 18, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Very nicely done. There will always be people who disagree with your list but they reserve the right to comment without creating any value which is what you provided. Thanks for putting this together.

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Yachting Monthly

  • Digital edition

Yachting Monthly cover

Offshore sailing skills: All you need to know

Rachael Sprot

  • Rachael Sprot
  • April 22, 2022

What does it really take to step up from coastal cruising to offshore sailing? Rachael Sprot talks to crews about essential offshore skills

A small yacht sailing offshore

Small yachts rely heavily on sail power alone, making for a fulfilling or potentially frustrating experience. Credit: JK Maxi

‘Give me five minutes to chop down a tree,’ the woodsman says, ‘and I’ll spend the first three sharpening the axe’. This philosophy holds true for offshore sailing, but the proportions are more unbalanced.

For many taking part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) , the three-week crossing is the culmination of years of preparation. But apart from time, what else does it take to get into ocean sailing? I spoke to the crews of the 2021 ARC to find out.

The 2021 event was the 36th year of the supported Atlantic crossing . Despite all the disruptions of the last few years the Rally has never skipped a beat. The usual start date for the 2,700-mile route is November, but this year, due to demand, a second departure in January 2022 was offered.

The ARC+, which goes via Cape Verde, has also increased in popularity and now finishes in Grenada. The route makes good use of the trade winds which are more reliable at the lower latitudes, and shorten the journey, which makes it a top choice for families.

However, tragedy struck this year’s ARC just under a week into the crossing. Max Delannoy, skipper of Agecanonix , died following an accident in gale-force winds with a 4-5m sea state.

best offshore sailing yachts

An ocean crossing is a great time to try astro-navigation, even if it’s an optional extra. Photo: Emily Morgan/Anna Black

There were two other crew members on board; father and son Jean Philippe and Philippe Anglade. Philippe was also injured. They issued a Mayday and MRCC Ponta Delgada guided the rescue, diverting the cruise ship, Mein Schiff, to assist. The two crew and the body of Max Delannoy were evacuated. Agecanonix has since been recovered, assisted by the Yellow Brick tracker which continued to transmit its position.

Emergency drills for offshore sailing

The importance of emergency drills and safety training came into sharp relief when Charlotte Jane III , a Hanse 588, suffered catastrophic steering damage and the five crew took the decision to abandon the vessel. They were approximately halfway between Gran Canaria and St Lucia when the situation deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe to remain aboard.

The single spade rudder has two totally independent steering systems. Theoretically the standby system should be isolated from harm when not in use, but for unknown reasons, both systems were damaged beyond repair.

Hanse does not supply an emergency tiller with the 588 because the tender garage impedes access to the rudder stock. However, if the tender is removed there is an access port to the stock and it does have an emergency tiller fitting.

best offshore sailing yachts

Getting into a liferaft in rough conditions was treacherous, let alone getting out of it. Photo: WCC/ Magic Dragon/Dorothy Halling

The crew deployed the drogue to stabilise the boat whilst repairs were attempted, but the boat was thrown around in the swell.

An Oyster 55, Magic Dragon of Dart , was an hour away when the crew received a Mayday call, and stepped up to assist. The 30-tonne blue-water cruiser was crewed by Rod and Jane Halling, their three young children Dorothy, 9, Peter and Vera, 4, Rod’s elder daughter, Lizzie, and experienced sailor Craig Gray.

The conditions for the transfer were treacherous with strong winds and 3-4m swell. The Hanse’s drogue hampered the approach angle and the swell posed a risk of the rigs clashing if they came too close together, so the five crew had to abandon to the liferaft for the transfer.

It was successfully accomplished, thanks to the seamanship and experience of those involved. After recovering from the initial shock, the skipper of Charlotte Jane III fixed Magic Dragon ’s broken watermaker and the two crews became fast friends. The Hanse 588 has been recovered and is safely in St Lucia.

Reflections on a rescue

The crews identified several important lessons from the incident:

The liferaft didn’t inflate immediately. It took several attempts to trigger the cylinder, which takes much more effort than you think.

Getting into a liferaft from a vessel which is pitching was difficult and dangerous. The Hanse has high topsides for her length, and the crew had to jump down into the raft. Once detached, it took some time to drift far enough away from the Hanse for rescue to be attempted. The liferaft drogue was not deployed, but the large pockets of water ballast reduce leeway to a minimum.

Rod initially approached the liferaft to windward, as you would during an MOB drill. However, there was a serious risk that the Oyster would be thrown onto the raft by a big wave so he changed tactics and left it to windward – an important lesson when dealing with big waves you often find offshore sailing.

Offshore sailing course

A recent sea survival course contributed to the success of the rescue

The crew could not find a way of securing the raft alongside. Magic Dragon threw them a line, which the skipper of Charlotte Jane III clung onto whilst everyone else scrambled aboard.

This took huge physical effort from all parties. A throwing line is included in every liferaft SOLAS pack, but it isn’t actually attached to anything. There are only two strong points for securing a liferaft: that for the painter and that for the drogue. If you’ve cut the painter short, which may be the only option in an emergency, you could use the drogue line if it hasn’t been deployed.

Jane was in constant communication with the crew of Charlotte Jane III throughout. As well as managing the logistics of the operation, good communication like this inspires confidence in those being rescued.

The crew of Charlotte Jane III attended the Sea Survival course just before setting off. Magic Dragon had been practising MOB drills on the day the race started. There is no doubt that this training contributed to the success of the rescue.

Steering failure

Jeremy Wyatt of the World Cruising Club explained that steering failure has been the single biggest cause of abandonments during the offshore sailing rally’s 36-year history. It left me wondering what preparations other boats had made for steering failure, rudder damage and rudder loss.

Wolfgang Hass, skipper of Jeanneau 54DS Gian , emphasised the importance of having an effective emergency tiller set-up. ‘Most emergency tillers are very short and you don’t have much leverage,’ he explained. ‘I have had additional eyes welded onto mine so that I can attach lines to it and control it from a winch’.

Offshore sailing emergency tiller

Get familiar with your emergency steering, and try it out under way

He was also carrying some plywood boards, already epoxy coated, and he’d asked Sika (of Sikaflex) to equip him with whatever substances might be useful en-route. It was the fastidiousness that you’d expect from a Swiss engineer.

Richard Foulkes, owner of Sweden 390, Raven , had replaced his rudder bearings and steering cables prior to departure, and made regular inspections of the steering gear during the crossing. Being familiar with your steering gear, carrying spares and knowing how to fit them is an essential skill for ocean sailors.

Total rudder loss is a different ball game altogether, and many skippers were dubious about how easy it would be to steer with a floorboard lashed to a spinnaker pole.

Those with twin rudders have some redundancy, although the positioning further off the centreline and the fact that they’re nearly always spade rudders, arguably makes them more vulnerable in the first place. Traditional skeg-hung rudders are increasingly hard to find in modern designs; even Oyster have moved away from them.

Self-steering gear with an independent rudder was the only genuine answer to the question of total rudder loss when offshore sailing, but it won’t necessarily compensate for the reduction in directional stability, especially on fin keel boats. Many people were carrying drogues, which have proved effective for rudderless steerage.

best offshore sailing yachts

The crew of Gian were well prepared for steering issues that large waves can cause. Photo: WCC/Gian/Wolfgang Hass

Although you wouldn’t want to test emergency-steering kit in challenging conditions when sailing offshore, you do need to spend time familiarising yourself with it, preferably at sea. The more you practise with it, the better it will serve you when you need it.

Setting up an autopilot correctly is important. You need well-calibrated inputs from your instruments to get sensible outputs. Remember to set it to wind angle and not the compass, to avoid an accidental gybe during wind shifts.

Autopilot failure is a demon that needs addressing. Spare motors and control units are essential. Make sure you know how to fit them before you set out offshore sailing. As Amel 55 Rupella discovered, there are situations where no amount of spares will help. Water ingress in her rudder compartment ruined the boat’s autopilot and the crew had to hand steer the rest of the way.

Like all technologies, autopilots can strip us of the ability to steer ourselves. For many people, the ARC is their first taste of big ocean swell. It’s important to get used to helming in those conditions, starting off in daylight when you have a horizon to watch.

Wendy Lainton was a member of the crew on board Sigma 38, Sam . The crew of five hand-steered all the way: ‘We had some pretty big seas. At night it took two people to helm: one person on the wheel and another to call out the true wind angle.’

Mark Zamaria, skipper of Dehler 42, Division , explained that they too didn’t want to rely on the autopilot as they’re so power-hungry. Turning your autopilot off will also give you a feel for weather helm.

A powerful autopilot can mask the symptoms of being over-powered until it’s too late and you broach.

Offshore sailing headsails

Poled-out headsails are a more flexible sail plan than a spinnaker and can quickly be furled away in squalls, as on Jeanneau SO410 Amanaki. Photo: WCC/OliverVauvelle

Offshore sailing downwind

Poled-out headsails were the go-to for most boats in the 20-25kn trade winds and is a classic downwind offshore sailing setup. Although much easier than running with the spinnaker, there were still several instances of bent poles and pole tracks sheared off the mast when using white sails. The pole requires careful set-up.

Spinnaker / genoa pole set-up

  • It needs to be firmly braced without any play.
  • Keep the pole horizontal: it is designed to be used in compression. If one end is higher than the other you risk bending it.
  • For headsails (not spinnakers) rig a snatch block or low-friction ring at the outboard end to run the sheet through. This will be kinder on the line than running it through the beak.
  • A separate guy is essential if the pole is to be independent of the sail.
  • The mast track is not designed for large, lateral loads. If you pole out a large genoa it’s tempting to pull the pole well aft to keep the sail tensioned, but if there’s a big squall or the headsail backs, the sideways pressure on the track can shear it off the mast.
  • If in doubt, roll up some of the headsail to reduce the angle of the pole, especially in squally conditions.
  • Carrying two poles allows you to pole out a second headsail on the leeward side, and provides some redundancy if things go wrong.

best offshore sailing yachts

Use low-stretch lines and keep preventers tight to avoid shock-load failures. Photo: Poled-out headsails are a more flexible sail plan than a spinnaker and can quickly be furled away in squalls, as on Jeanneau SO410 Amanaki. Photo: WCC/Alan Cooke/Misty Mhor

A gybe preventer, although never to be relied upon, is essential to crew safety, particularly when offshore sailing. With a substantial sea running and a big cross swell, the chances of a crash gybe were high this year. Several boats experienced preventer failure. Owing to the enormous loads involved, preventers need to be well designed.

  • Preventers should be led as far forwards as possible, and then back to the cockpit.
  • Shock loading can cause failure – make sure your preventers are kept under tension at all times.
  • Few decks are laid out with a designated preventer system so they often have a sub-optimal lead via cleats and fairleads. However, not every deck fitting will take the loads involved. Always check that the fittings you’re using are securely reinforced below decks.
  • Avoid creating a dangerous apex where the failure of a single fitting would be catastrophic. If you’re running lines through a block on the bow, soften the angle by taking it through a fairlead first.
  • Consult your rigger to help you design a safe system.
  • Ensure you have dedicated preventer lines and make a point of replacing them more frequently than your other running rigging. Don’t be tempted to use an old sheet or halyard which is already beyond its working life.

Halyards that remain in the same position for days or weeks on end will suffer chafe to outer sheathes and then inner cores. Many yachts in this year’s ARC suffered multiple halyard failures, some to the extent that they could no longer fly a full set of sails.

The two lines most affected by chafe are headsail halyards and the preventer. Furling headsails tend to go up for the season and stay up, meaning the pressure point is never changed and there’s no opportunity for inspection.

Offshore sailing chafe

Stitch protective sheaths onto lines subject to high wear

Preventers often have excess movement and take complex routes around things like cleats and fairleads. These make for aggressive points of contact compared with the dedicated sheaves and blocks of other running rigging systems.

Chafe can be reduced by some simple measures:

  • Ease your halyards by an inch or two at dawn then tension them back up at dusk to move the pressure point.
  • Protect sections of line that are prone to chafe by removing the outer sheath from an old line and milking it onto the line you’re using. This works particularly well on preventer lines. Stitch the protective sheath into place carefully so as not to create a snag-point, and check the line runs smoothly through any blocks or sheaves before setting off.
  • Inspect for chafe on a twice-daily basis, using binoculars if necessary to check the masthead.
  • Spare halyards are a must for ocean sailing. Try to alternate using the port or starboard spinnaker or headsail halyards to share the wear and tear.
  • Carry a spare full-length halyard and know how to mouse it through by stitching or taping it to the old one. If you notice chafe on any line then replace it proactively.
  • Allowing sails to flog accelerates chafing. When a full main sail flogs in light airs and a rolly swell, tightening the outhaul or putting in a reef will reduce the belly and stop it building up so much momentum.

Jury Rigging

Gear failure is par for the course when offshore sailing and is something all ocean sailors must contend with. It’s important to be able to make do and mend. The crew of Calash , a Sweden 45, had various problems with their powerful, fully battened main: four cars broke and the vertical gooseneck pin pulled out when the roll pin, which secured it sheared, twice.

They had a good set of spares on board to replace the broken cars, and with the help of some threaded bar and ingenious lashing the boom was secured well enough for the crossing.

best offshore sailing yachts

Jury-rigging solutions are part of ocean salling, like Ruth II’s lashing and purchase to replace the failed hydraulic vang. Photo: WCC/Ruth II

The team aboard Misty Mhor managed to repair their damaged pole track en route, with skipper, Jon Moss, described as a ‘master mender’ by his crew.

Division chafed through their second reef and since there was no third reef point on the sail, they made do with their tri-sail for some of the crossing. They’d practised setting it before heading off so the process was relatively straightforward.

‘Gear failure was very much on our minds from the start,’ explained owner Patricia Zamaria. ‘We were vigilant about checking the boat over during the crossing.’ Ollie Vauvelle, skipper of Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410, Amanaki , fixed the mast fitting for their spinnaker pole by cutting up an old bicycle lock.

It takes a good set of tools, determination and imagination to make effective repairs at sea with limited resources, but it’s amazing what can be overcome if you set your mind to it.

best offshore sailing yachts

Regular deck walk-rounds, plus crew training, will help you spot issues before they become serious. Photo: Emily Morgan/Anna Black

Gear failure can have unforeseen consequences. The watch system breaks down whilst repairs are made and crew may become fatigued.

If one sail is out of action the sail plan is unbalanced, making the motion less comfortable and helming more difficult. This may lead to an increased likelihood of rounding up in squalls or crash-gybing. The reduction in boat speed also increases voyage time, putting additional pressure on resources such as food, gas and water.

Things to check on a daily deck walk when offshore sailing:

  • Standing rigging at deck level
  • All lines for chafe
  • Shackle-seizings
  • Gooseneck, vang and mainsheet fittings
  • Guardwires and jackstays

Offshore sailing routing

Routing is one of those things that it is impossible to get completely right, except with hindsight. Technically there are three routing options: follow the Great Circle; follow your compass down the rhumb line or follow the weather.

At the start of this year’s ARC there was a well-established high-pressure cell over the UK and another ridge north of the Canaries. This unseasonal picture meant that winter depressions were trapped much further south than usual.

The trade winds, which are normally within striking distance of the Canaries, were south of Cape Verde and blocked off from the fleet by a large area with no wind at all.

Offshore sailing routes

The ARC fleet split across a wide range. Racing crews stayed north for (a lot) more wind, and those wanting comfort went south, but still had breeze

It presented skippers with an unenviable choice: find wind on the edge of the low-pressure systems but be prepared to sup with the devil, or motor south to find the Trades by burning valuable diesel at the start of an offshore sailing passage.

After listening to meteorologist Chris Tibbs’ advice during the skippers’ briefing, nearly all the boats in the cruising division, where engine use is permitted, went south, many with jerry cans lashed to the side decks.

Their prudence was rewarded with more wind than expected, and most of them recorded a modest 18-36 hours of engine use. Those that took the northern route were less fortunate. They also experienced more wind than forecast, reporting gale-force winds at times.

These days most people have access to weather forecasts en route, allowing the plan to be refined as you go. But this year’s ARC was a potent reminder that no amount of technology can deal with the weather for you or relieve you of the decision-making process.

best offshore sailing yachts

Many of the crews that stayed north encountered strong winds and rough conditions. Photo: WCC/Alan Evett

Routing skills are often hard won through experience, but you can short-cut some of the learning with good research:

Go traditional and consult the routing charts. Each ocean has one per month, but you probably only need to buy a couple: one for the way there and one for the way back. They’re a treasure trove of information accumulated through years of real-life observations.

Check the routing charts against current surface pressure charts in the run-up to departure to help you understand how typical the weather is.

Following the ARC fleet tracker, which has weather overlaid, is a good way to develop routing skills without getting wet feet.

When a rogue water bottle landed in the sink on Cloud Jumper , it had surprising knock-on effects. The Jeanneau Sunshine 38 was sailed by Chris and Kerry Stevens and their two children, Alfie, 9, and Rose, 11. They’re all taking a year out for an Atlantic circuit. ‘It fell on our sink tap and led to it running our entire portside water tank dry before the pump overheated and shut down!’ Chris explained. With two young children on board and battling big seas, this was the final straw and they diverted to Cape Verde to reset.

It was the right decision; they set off five days later with seven other boats who had also diverted. They came in last but with zero damage and smiles all round.

best offshore sailing yachts

The family arrived safely, having made a wise choice to divert to Cape Verde. Photo: WCC/Cloud Jumper

The family took up sailing three years ago and have only owned the boat for eight months before the start of the ARC. I asked them what they’d learned during their first ocean crossing. ‘To reef before you need it,’ said Chris, a professor of engineering at Oxford University.

‘Watching for squalls on the radar, not trying to go too fast and being able to sleep in the daytime were also useful skills.’ Rose’s number one skill was not being seasick, and when I asked her how she managed it she advised ‘take the tablets early and don’t eat big meals’. Well done, Rose. Conquering your seasickness is no mean feat at any age!

Offshore sailing electrical systems

As boats become more technologically advanced, the spectre of electrical failure haunts us more than ever.

Almost everything on board these days relies on some form of electrical input: the autopilot, fridge, water-maker, navigation instruments, even the heads and the water systems on some yachts.

Old batteries give little to no warning before failing completely, and if one battery fails the entire bank becomes compromised. Before setting off it’s important to have a good charging system set up, and to test the health of your batteries, replacing any that are showing signs of deterioration.

Offshore sailing solar

A combination of wind and solar power, plus hydro provide a robust power regime. Photo: ARC/James Mitchell

Yacht power consumption and managing it is a top priority. ‘With six crew, and each one charging an iPhone or iPad, you can easily draw 10A, and that’s before the fridge, freezer or anything else is turned on,’ explained Wolfgang Hass of Gian .

Closely monitoring the state of charge and having more than one method of charging is essential. Most boats had wind generators and solar panels . Wind generators gave mixed performances on downwind legs due to the reduction in apparent wind, but they do well whilst sitting at anchor with the Caribbean trades whirring through them.

Solar panels were reported to be a powerful asset during the day, but with 12 hours of darkness in the tropics, some yachts experienced better output during the long daylight hours in Scotland last summer than they did on their way to the Caribbean.

Hydro-generators are fairly new to the scene. Those who’d fitted them were impressed by their output in this year’s fast sailing conditions but they are disabled by weed. For those running electric winches and air-conditioning, diesel generators were often the only thing that would keep up with demand. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution and, unless your power consumption is very modest, you’ll need an omnivorous diet to keep everything well-fed.

Key electrical check points

  • Take time to understand your boat’s electrical system and invest in some training if you’re out of your depth on this one.
  • Wiring diagrams are really helpful and worth creating if they don’t exist already.
  • Identify the fuses for all important systems and take spares with you.
  • Get some training on DC fault finding so that you have basic multi-meter skills.
  • Carry spare inverters and voltage droppers if you have navigation systems that rely on them.

best offshore sailing yachts

Decent food and well-run domestics makes life at sea more enjoyable as the crew of Emily Morgan found, above. Photo: Emily Morgan/Anna Black

It’s a fragile existence at sea and the fabric of daily life can quickly unravel if you don’t tend to any loose ends. When we’re day-sailing, we reset every time we return to shore – offshore sailing we can’t do that.

‘It’s very often the domestics that get forgotten about,’ said Anna Black, ‘but the hard bit is the day-to-day stuff.’ Together with her husband, Bones, they run Emily Morgan, a Bowman 57 on which they’ve completed multiple circumnavigations. Bones added, ‘When things go wrong, it’s an accumulation of a number of small things.’

Maintaining a tidy ship may sound simple, but it’s surprisingly difficult when you’re sailing hard, especially with children or novice crew who are struggling with the conditions.

How to keep your boat shipshape

  • Make a rota system for cooking and cleaning to share the significant work of domestic life.
  • Everything should have its proper stowage place.
  • Don’t over-fill lockers as they’ll spill their contents when opened. Under-filling should be avoided too, as things will rattle around.
  • If you can, tackle routine jobs such as emptying the bilges as they arise rather than putting them off in the hope of completing the task during better conditions.

With thanks to the Gran Canaria Tourist Board and St. Lucia Tourist Board for their help in producing this feature

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Home » Blog » Buy a boat » 5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: April 19, 2023

sailing around the world

A small sailboat can take you big places

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

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

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

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

dinghy boat

What makes a good blue water sailboat

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

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

Smaller equals slower

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

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

pocket cruiser

Small but sturdy

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

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

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

The pros and cons of pocket cruiser sailboats

Pocket cruiser sailboats present certain advantages and disadvantages.

More affordable

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

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

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

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

how to remove rusted screw

Less time consuming

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

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

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

Easier to sail

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

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

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

Less spacious

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

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

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

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

boat galley storage ideas

Less comfortable

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

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

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

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

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

Albin Vega 27($7-22K USD)

small sailboats

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

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

Cape Dory 28 ($10-32K USD) 

small sailboat

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

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

Dufour 29 ($7-23K)

small sailboat

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

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

Vancouver 28 ($15-34K)

most seaworthy small boat

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

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

Westsail 28 ($30-35K)

small sailboat

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

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

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

Fiona McGlynn

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

Saturday 1st of September 2018

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

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

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

Friday 31st of August 2018

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

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10 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing (One Person)

10 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 27, 2023

The idea of single-handed sailing or solo sailing appeals to racers and cruisers alike. But what are the best sailboats for solo sailing? Well, let's find out.

Whether you've been thinking of going for a day's sail without assistance or dreaming of a solo passage to Bermuda, the desire and the magic of venturing out alone at the sea is something that any sailor can experience. It doesn't matter if you're cruising or racing, solo sailing, of course, requires you to change your thinking as you'll be solely responsible for the entire operation of the boat. More importantly, choosing a well-founded boat is critical to solo sailing.

When sailing with a crew, things may seem a little easy because you share the responsibilities among the crew and support each other in case of anything. But what happens when you decide to venture out alone or sail single-handedly? Whatever motivates you to go out sailing solo, you should choose a good boat that you can perfectly operate single-handedly.

In this article, we'll highlight 10 best sailboats for solo sailing, their prices, their best rigs, and everything else that you might need to sail them comfortably and safely.

Table of contents

General Features of Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

Here are the general features to look for when choosing the best sailboat for solo sailing.

The Availability of Automation Systems

The forces that you sometimes have to deal with when out sailing can be extreme, to say the least. It doesn't matter whether you're sailing solo or with a crew, it's always very important not to underestimate the power of the wind and tide. While you can do a lot on your own, having some automation systems in place is an important feature if you're planning to sail single-handedly. In other words, a good sailboat for solo sailing should have various automation systems to make your work a lot simpler.

So if you're planning to go solo sailing, it would be great to consider a boat with the following systems:

  • ‍ Autopilot for steering
  • Lines running aft (running to the cockpit)
  • Roller furling
  • Electric windlass
  • Hydraulic bow/stern thrusters with remote

Stability and Ease of Use

Again, the best sailboats for solo sailing are generally not known for their speeds. This is because they typically have wide beams and short waterlines, which are vital in providing stability thereby limiting their speeds. In short, the best sailboats for solo sailing usually sacrifice speed and additional performance for ease of use and stability.

Boat Features

When it comes to the structure of the boat itself, it's important to go for a boat that is close to the water, relatively small when compared to the wave height, and has lighter ballast, especially when compared to the displacement ratio. The idea here is that these features can combine to increase the boat's performance when you're sailing solo.

Additionally, a good solo sailing boat should be designed with a flat profiled aft bottom section. This is to ensure that the boat can come up on a plane when the wind conditions are breezy or marginal.

When it comes to the best sails for solo sailing, you can go for the unique sail design that combines both a Bermuda sail and a gaff sail. This can be essential in giving you a more sail area on a shorter mast than is possible when using either a gaff sail or a Bermuda sail. More importantly, the combination of a gaff sail and a Bermuda sail not only gives you a greater sail area on a shorter and easy to control mast but can also reduce the heeling force that's common in boats with taller and narrower sails.

Still on sails, it makes a lot of sense to choose easily operated sail controls. You certainly want a sail that one person can tuck a reef in quickly and be able to easily adjust the sheets. You should, therefore, prioritize the reefing and sail handling systems.

In terms of rigs, the gaff rig is arguably the best when solo sailing. Although the Bermuda rig is the most common, especially in modern sailboats, you can lose some windward abilities because of its lower aspects. As such, you can choose to use the gaff rig thanks to its ease of use and superior downwind performance.

10 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

There are numerous sailboats out there that can be easily and properly handled by a skilled and experienced sailor. To make it a lot easier for you, the following boats are great choices when solo sailing. Whether you're just looking to experience how it feels to solo sail or short-handed, they all offer easy, comfortable, and safe sailing.

Jeanneau Sunfast 3200


From the outset, it's easy to see that the Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 is designed with offshore short-handed sailing in mind. In addition to being a purist's sailing boat, this boat is a small and light boat that can be easily handled. Even better, it has the stability and strength to handle long passages and that's exactly why it was initially designed with the Trans-Atlantic race in mind.

With this boat, you can easily attain double figures in terms of speed even if you're sailing downwind. In essence, the Sunfast 3200 is designed with some of the latest technology to afford you the best strength-to-weight ratios. It has all the necessary features to allow you to easily adapt it to perform perfectly either as a cruising or racing sailboat. Some of its greatest features include the two double cabins, the chart table, a galley, and a head compartment.

This boat is particularly impressive when sailing off the wind and it's designed to ensure that it's functional and reliable even when solo sailing. This is perhaps because it's designed and set up for racing, so it can be great for you especially if you're looking for a coastal cruiser that can be easily handled.

Using the sloop Marconi can be the best way to go given that this vessel has a keel-stepped mast. Its maximum beam begins at 60% aft of the stem before extending to the transom, which can result in the sled hull being driven by a mainsail-heavy rig. This can then fly the masthead asymmetrical off a short sprit.

Given that the Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 is a very modern boat that's equipped with some of the latest boating technology; it comes with a base price of about $160,000. This is a vessel that's built by one of the world's premier builders and offers an intriguing blend of technology, reliability, functionality, practicality, and performance.

Having been the European Yacht of the Year for 2008, the Sunfast 3200 may just be the godsend boat for your solo sailing dreams.


If you're looking for a slippery cruiser-racer that's always ready to sail single-handedly, you might perhaps want to take a serious look at the Hanse 371. Introduced in 2003, the Hanse 371 is a mid-sized boat that was designed in a true blend of old and new boating technology. Thanks to its furling and self- tacking jib, the Hanse 371 becomes an instant single-handed sailing vessel that takes much of the strain out of your solo sailing adventures. That's not all; this boat is more popular as a result of its autopilot system. Press a few buttons and you'll be ready to go.

Although it's a little bigger and not one of the smallest boats out there, it can be a great option if you're planning to sail solo but on a vessel that offers a tremendous amount of space. Whether you love a boat with a shallow or deep center of gravity, the Hanse 371 has a commendable large galley and a spacious cabin layout.

Everything about rigging this boat is designed to be easy. Again, the jib on a roller furler is self-tacking. In essence, everything is standard and easy to use, which makes this boat a dream when sailing single-handed.

Already a classic that's known for its stylish interior, timeless look, and ultimate performance, the Hanse 371 is a coveted vessel that may cost you around $60,000.

Hunter Channel 31


Launched in 2001, the Hunter Channel 31 is structured with a hull and keel design that makes it easy to sail single-handed. This is a British-made vessel that has steadily moved from the racing scene to become a well-respected cruiser, especially among the solo sailing community. Thanks to its faultless handling and impressive turn of speed, the Hunter Channel 31 provides near uncomplicated sailing without losing its impeccable handling features.

Its well-balanced hull shape can either be structured with a low or deep center of gravity. It also has an efficient twin keel to give it more stability, which is perfect for solo sailing. This is, without a doubt, one of the main reasons why Hunter Channel 31 has proved popular among solo sailors trying to sail across narrow channels.

The Hunter Channel 31 is also designed with a great standard deck layout, as well as a non-compulsory self-tacking jib that comes with a single line mainsail reefing. That's not all; the tiller steering is also efficient if you're sailing single-handed as you can steer it with your legs while trimming sails.

It should, therefore, not come as a surprise that owners of the Hunter Channel 31 keep them for a long time, so finding them on the market will be a long shot. But if you're lucky enough to find one, you'll be getting a great vessel that will never let you down if you want to sail solo.

Like many Hunter designs, the Hunter 31 can be fractionally rigged given that it has a relatively large mainsail to give it a more sail area in light winds and a small headsail with a lower sheet load. In other words, you can efficiently and easily reef from the cockpit.

At about $35,000, the Hunter Channel 31 is quite affordable and is a great bargain in its category.


The J/109 is unquestionably one of the best single-handed or double-handed sailboats that money can buy. Whether you're looking for a coastal cruiser or a long-distance single-handed vessel, the J/109 will rarely disappoint. That's essentially why its single-handed offshore capabilities remain popular with sailors looking to make North Atlantic crossings.

Even though it is widely categorized as a planing sailboat, this vessel is too heavy for simple planing. Instead, this is a superb boat that offers an all-round performance. It doesn't matter whether you're solo sailing or sailing with a crew, its performance is always top-notch.

Thanks to its asymmetric spinnaker, you can easily jib it from the cockpit, especially in light wind. But when the wind is on the north of 20 knots, you can pole out the jib to give you a quick downwind speed. No matter which type of rig you choose to use, the J/109 offers a fair degree of control.

In terms of price, the J/109 is one of the relatively expensive sailboats out there, though this is compensated with the high standard equipment and outstanding quality of construction. For about $58,000, you can get a great boat that offers excellent solo sailing adventures.

West Wight Potter 19


Designed for safety and easy handling, the West Wight Potter 19 is a great sailboat for solo sailing. Although its name might not be one of the catchiest in the sailing scene, it's been around for over three decades and is steadily becoming a popular pocket cruiser. The original design draws inspiration from the U.K. but is currently built by the International Marine in California.

Over the years, this boat has seen several improvements even though its original look and features still attract a large and dedicated group of followers. This is not only a tough little boat but its hard-chine hull offers incredible stability. This makes it a very easy and ultimately forgiving sailboat. Whether you're looking to sail from California to Hawaii or across the Atlantic, the Potter 19 is outstanding for solo sailing.

This is a Bermuda-rigged sloop. Its sail plan is huge enough to propel the sailboat in various conditions. This makes it a perfect single-handed boat as you can easily set it up or take it down with no special equipment.

This is a remarkably affordable boat. At around $5,000 you can get a superb solo sailing sailboat. But if you want a new Potter 19 with additional features, you could pay about $25,000.

Beneteau 31


As a small cruiser keelboat, this French-designed boat is primarily built of fiberglass and is perfect if you want a vessel that's great for solo sailing while still offering maximum space for comfort. Its galley is equipped with superb stowage and counter space and even a sit-down navigation station with a small table.

Maneuvering this boat under power is quite easy and is well worth it for any solo sailor who is in the market for a coastal cruiser.

It has a fractional sloop rig, which makes in-mast furling a great option. This makes it easy to handle but also powerful in light winds. If you're sailing the boat off the wind, bow pulpit and an optional asymmetric cruising chute can keep things lively.

The new 31 can cost around $115,000, which is quite expensive but certainly worth it if you want to cruise the world in this French masterpiece.

Catalina 315


This is a nifty pocket cruiser that raises the quality bar for solo sailors with extreme comfort and performance. With just a 9.45 meter hull, the Catalina 315 has more internal room than most classics and remains superb for solo sailing.

Although it's a much bigger boat, it has little but significant features that make all the difference. For instance, the split backstays are great for balance and functionality. This is one of the main reasons why it won the Cruising World's 2013 Boat of the Year Best Inshore Cruiser award.

With a masthead sloop, rigging the Catalina 315 is a lot easier as it is equipped with both an in-mast roller furling mainsail and a roller furling genoa.

Even though the Catalina 315 will exceed your expectations when sailing solo, it's a high-end sailboat that will cost you north of $175,000. But if that seems expensive, you can look for a used model, which will cost you slightly lower.


A boat that has become a staple in the Olympics Games, the Laser may be simple and small but a real-go to boat if you want a vessel that will rarely let you down for your solo sailing escapades. As one of the world's most popular single-handed sailboats, its main feature is its sheer simplicity. This might not be the best boat for you if you love those fussy, big boats. But if you're looking for an amazing boat with a two-part free-standing mast and a sleeved sail, the Laser should be on top of your list.

The fact that it has a lightweight hull and is easy to rig makes it one of the most popular racing sailboats in the world with over 200,000 boats in over 140 countries. This is undoubtedly a perfect boat that's specifically designed for solo sailing.

This boat can be rigged using various rigs, so you should go with whatever works for you. We, however, prefer cat rigging the boat since it has no headsail and only has one mainsail. This is a boat that is designed for speed, particularly in high winds. It's also easy to set up, which makes it a marvelous option for solo sailing.

For around $7,000, this is probably one of the most affordable solo sailing sailboats you could ever get your hands on. You should, however, keep in mind that its price may widely vary depending on their availability in your area.


A real classically-styled sailboat, the Rhodes 19 is an ideal family daysailer that can be perfect for you if you're a spirited solo sailor. Whether you're planning to sail in heavy weather or fast, the Rhodes 19 is designed with a forgiving hull and is an accomplished heavy-weather performer. For over 5 decades, and with more than 3,500 boats built, this sailboat has proven time and time again that it has the characters for both beginners and experienced sailors.

With a low center of gravity, this boat remains a classic beauty that's very fast, easy to trailer, and will get many compliments whenever you're solo sailing. No wonder it is still actively raced throughout the United States.

A simple sprit rig can work greatly on this boat but you can also consider Bermuda-Rigged sloop, which is efficient in propelling the boat in various wind conditions.

Its price may vary depending on your location but something around $20,000 will get you a sailboat that's still in tip-top condition.


If like most Americans, you have a soft spot for finely engineered German automobiles, the Dehler 29 can be a great option for your solo sailing escapades. Even though the Dehler 29 hasn't attracted a huge following in the American shores, it remains an excellently-structured German sailboat, especially for sailors looking for a stable, agile, adaptable, and comfortable sailboat.

Whether you enjoy a smooth and solo cruise on a breezy afternoon or is energized by speed, the Dehler 29 is one of the most adaptable sailboats. This is certainly why it has received numerous accolades in the boating scene including the 1998 Cruising World Magazine Boat of the Year, as well as Sailing World Boat of the Year award.

Given that it's a single-handed sailboat, you can tiller steer it and cat rig it with ease to give you easy maneuverability, confidence, and absolute versatility.

With powerful dynamics and maximum safety, the Dehler 29 is one of the best German-produced sailboats that will set you back around $55,000.

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

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best offshore sailing yachts

Published on February 29th, 2024 | by Editor

Fielding to lead Navy offshore program

Published on February 29th, 2024 by Editor -->

A veteran offshore sailor with nearly two decades of professional racing experience, Jesse Fielding has been named the next head offshore sailing coach at the US Naval Academy.

The founder, CEO and skipper of Open Ocean USA, Fielding has an extensive resume both in the offshore and inshore disciplines, spanning from his time as a member of the Morning Light crew that appeared in a Disney documentary to most recently serving as the co-skipper and general manager of the State Street Marathon Sailing team.

“First, our collective and sincere gratitude to Jahn Tihansky for 18 years of incredible leadership and success as our offshore sailing coach at Navy,” said Chet Gladchuk, Director of Athletics. “The Navy Sailing community extends our best wishes as he launches into calm waters and a well-earned retirement from competitive coaching.

“We now welcome a new leader for our Midshipmen who brings a documented resume of regional, national, and international acclaim. Jesse Fielding has experienced the widest array of challenges brought forth by the sea. He has achieved success at every level of offshore sailing and his reputation in racing circles is phenomenal.

best offshore sailing yachts

“I am extremely confident our Midshipmen will be highly motivated to train and compete with Jesse. The decision to bring him aboard complements our ongoing ambitions to be the best collegiate offshore sailing program in the nation.”

Taking home triple crown honors at the Transatlantic Race 2015, Fielding has also won or recorded podium finishes at professional competitions such as the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Transpacific Race, the Newport Bermuda Race, and the Regata Palermo Montecarlo.

“I am very excited to lead the Navy offshore sailing team and I want to thank Mr. Gladchuk for the opportunity to guide the program,” said Fielding. “Navy and college sailing are synonymous with each other and this is a program that has had outstanding success through the decades while helping develop some of the best and brightest our country has to offer.

“I look forward to using my wide range of experiences as we aim at continuing the long tradition of success within the program.”

Naval Academy Sailing Foundation trustee and Fales Committee member Brad Rodi sees this as a tremendous hire and addition to the Naval Academy and the sailing program’s leadership.

“He brings with him world-class offshore racing and management success, which will help elevate the team to greater heights,” noted Rodi. “Jesse’s extensive at-sea experience will continue to greatly reinforce Navy Sailing’s primary goal in the development of naval officers through experiential leadership and readiness for the Fleet.”

Fielding’s experience at the highest levels of sailing kicked off when he was selected to be part of the Morning Light program that was the youngest crew by average age to compete in the 2007 Transpac. A film, executive produced by Roy E. Disney, followed the formation of the Morning Light sailing team, their six months of training in advance of the yacht race, and finally the week-long Los Angeles to Honolulu race itself. He returned to the Transpac in 2009, racing aboard another Disney-backed crew in Pyewacket.

Joining several Morning Light alumni on the Oakcliff All-American offshore team, Jesse competed in the Transatlantic Race 2011 and took second place, subsequently finishing second in class (third overall) in that year’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

Fielding then raced aboard Lucky in the Transatlantic Race 2015, as the crew claimed the triple crown by taking line honors and finishing first in class and first overall. He was then part of the fourth-place crew at the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and captured seventh place in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Other offshore racing highlights include finishing second overall in the RORC Caribbean 600, setting a race record in the 2012 Bermuda Race and taking fifth in the 2018 edition of the race, posting three race wins in the Block Island Race, claiming four Northern Ocean Racing Trophy victories, finishing first in class and first overall in the Vineyard Race 2018 and winning the Palermo Monte Carlo 2017.

With inshore racing, Fielding was part of the crews that claimed the 2008 ROLEX Farr 40 World Championship, the 2011 Melges 32 World Championship and the 2015 ROLEX Mini-Maxi World Championship. Additionally, Fielding’s crews took first overall at both the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta and Race Week in 2018, as well as second place at the International 12 Metre Class 2019 World Championship.

During his time with State Street Marathon Sailing, Fielding partnered with two-time Olympian Francesca Clapcich as the pair chased the 2024 Paris Olympics in the proposed mixed doubles offshore discipline, becoming the first American team to complete the La Solitaire du Figaro.

A former collegiate sailor for the University of Rhode Island, Fielding was the skipper on the Rams’ 2008 Kennedy Cup-winning team, taking home the big-boat national championship of college sailing. Earning a spot in the 2009 Student Yachting World Cup in Marseilles, France, Fielding and his crew raced to a third-place finish in URI’s 11th appearance on the international stage.

Fielding also intermittently served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Rams, helping guide Rhode Island to first place at the 2022 McMillan Cup.

A native of Wickford, RI, Fielding graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Fielding holds Yachtmaster Ocean and Maritime Radio Operator (Short-Range) certifications from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Royal Yachting Association, as well as a U.S. Coast Guard 100-Ton Master Captain’s License and a certificate in Safety and Sea Survival Qualification.


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Olympic sailing : 2024 Olympics: offshore sailing and kiters in, Finn out

Tatjana Pokorny

 ·  03.11.2018

Olympic sailing: 2024 Olympics: offshore sailing and kiters in, Finn out

The discussions between the various committees at the annual meeting of the World Sailing Federation in Sarasota, Florida, were heated. It's been a long time since there have been such controversial arguments and such passionate battles as there were last week in America. The stakes were high: In the struggle for the Olympic fitness of sailing for the future, the member associations, class representatives and lobbyists have therefore had an intensive week with little sleep. On Sunday, the proposals of the World Sailing Council meeting were finally adopted by the General Assembly.

After that, the Finn dinghy, which has been an Olympic single-handed dinghy since 1952, will be history. Despite good arguments and a last-minute petition, the boat in which Jochen Schümann won his first gold medal in 1976 and in which so many prominent sailors such as Paul Elvstrøm (1952, 1956, 1960), Willy Kuhweide (1964), Russell Coutts (1984) and also the four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie were successful, will have to make way for a reorganisation of the Olympic sailing disciplines. This was decided by a majority vote of the 69 national associations present in Sarasota - the so-called "MNAs" - in accordance with a proposal from the World Sailing Board, which was developed in collaboration with other bodies and had also previously been approved by the Athletes' Commission.

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Kitesurfing and offshore sailing become Olympic

A mixed kite competition will be added to the programme. The main aim of this is to increase the appeal of the Olympic sailing disciplines among young people. Mixed offshore keelboat sailing is another new addition to the programme. The hosts of the 2024 Olympic sailing regatta in Marseille, among others, made an impressive presentation in favour of this, as did World Sailing President Kim Andersen, the majority of his Vice Presidents and many well-known offshore sailors.

In France, offshore sailing is a top sport - just look at the millions of enthusiasm for the Route du Rhum, which started today in Saint-Malo. The opponents of the new Olympic sailing variant (and those in favour of retaining the Finn class) had pointed out the as yet undefined format, the threat of extremely high costs, the many World Sailing member countries without coasts (49) and other problem areas, but were not listened to. A statement from the International Finn Class Association on Sunday evening said: "We feel that the Finn class has become collateral damage in the battle for gender balance and Olympic TV rights revenue for World Sailing. It is a great injustice that many of the best athletes in our sport will be denied access to the Olympics in the future. And we honestly believe that the Olympics will be poorer as a result of the exclusion of the Finn class."

Those in favour of the offshore discipline with mixed teams of two were able to assert themselves with their arguments about the worldwide spread of keelboat sailing, which has not been represented in the Olympics since the Starboat withdrawal after 2012, the need for radical changes and increasing the telegenicity of sailing through an attractive "24-hour format", in which one female sailor and one male sailor will be required to work as a team. The 13th Volvo Ocean Race had shown in an attractive way what is possible in this respect.

Torsten Haverland, DSV Vice President for Competitive Sports, said after the vote in Sarasota: "At the annual meeting, we tried to find common ground with other nations in order to make as few changes as possible to the boat classes, because we believe that Olympic sailing needs stability above all else in all other important endeavours, also in the interests of the IOC. That's why we would have liked to keep the Finn Dinghy. The majority of us did not get our way. In this respect, I am disappointed. It's a shame that a discipline that ideally represents the core values of sailing and has historically always produced well-known sailing greats with later careers in professional sailing is no longer part of the programme. Of course, we will now develop paths for kitesurfing and offshore sailing and promote strong athletes. These are challenges that we are tackling step by step. World Sailing still needs to clarify some of the equipment and formats. Our focus is therefore currently on the 2020 Olympic Games, even though we will be tackling the development for 2024 in parallel."

The disciplines decided for the 2024 Olympics at a glance:

  • Windsurfing Men - RS:X*
  • Windsurfing Women - RS:X*
  • Single-handed dinghy men - Laser*
  • Single-handed dinghy women - Laser Radial*
  • Mixed Kite - (format still open)
  • Mixed two-person dinghy - (format still open)
  • Skiff Women - 49erFX
  • Skiff Men - 49er
  • Mixed two-person multihull - Nacra 17
  • Mixed two-person keelboat / offshore* - (boat and format open)

(*) Different formats and boats are to be tested here. All in accordance with the anti-monopoly laws of the European Union. The final decisions will be made in 2019.

  The last top German surfer was Toni Wilhelm. Will new young talent be found again after the disciplines are retained at the Olympics?

The RS:X board has been finalised as the equipment for the Olympic surfers. The Olympic mixed kite regatta will be held on foils. The two-person mixed dinghy will be held on a non-foiling dinghy that sails with a mainsail, headsail and spinnaker. The new boat for the mixed offshore keelboat discipline will be a non-foiling monohull with a length of six to ten metres. The keelboat will be able to sail in winds of between four and 40 knots and will be equipped with appropriate sailing gear including a spinnaker.

For the mixed kiteboard discipline and the mixed two-person keelboat, there will be separate trials with a number of different boats before the boat type is finalised. The final decision on the boat type will be made at the Annual Meeting in Bermuda in November 2019. In all equipment tests and decisions, the World Sailing Federation must always bear in mind the European Union's anti-monopolisation laws, which also have Olympic sailing and its Olympic contracting partners in their sights. Towards the end of the General Assembly in Sarasota, a decision was made on the venue for the World Sailing Federation's annual meeting in 2020. The last three of the initial 21 candidates were put forward. Abu Dhabi, Budapest and Sanya in China were on the shortlist. Abu Dhabi was chosen with 32 and thus more than 50 per cent of the votes. Budapest received 28 votes and Sanya two. The 2019 annual conference will take place in Bermuda in November.

  The 49er is here to stay, and with it the strong German teams, who have their sights set on another medal in 2020 after Erik Heil/Thomas Plößel took bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games

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best offshore sailing yachts

Best offshore sailing jacket buyer’s guide: 4 of the best jackets and smocks

  • February 7, 2023

As The Ocean Race is now effectively an "indoor" sailing event, where its legends concentrate on their slipper choice, us mere mortals still have to rely on gear that will protect us from the harshest elements our sport has to offer - here are the best offshore sailing jackets.


With the ocean trying to enter at every possible opening, combined with the moisture produced within, there is a lot of attention to detail required to keep you dry.

Whatever your position onboard, if you are comfortable then you can concentrate on the task in hand a lot better than if your kit is causing some rubbing, or damp issues to the skin.

Even tacticians can get a little sweaty from driving and have been known to help out onboard in a crisis – yes honestly! – so a good offshore sailing jacket is essential kit for all, a your standard workaday sailing jacket just won’t cut it.

As the only line of defence and the seriousness of protecting the wearer against the worst of elements, the best offshore sailing jackets can be relatively expensive. But when it’s 4am and you are huddled on the rail with your hood up, waves washing over you, how much would you pay to be warm and dry?

So to avoid you setting up your own fully kitted up game of twister whilst someone points the garden hose at you, we have looked at what’s on the market and picked out what we believe to be the best offshore jackets available right now.

Note: The current Ocean Race crews closer to slippers on this edition than in any previous race, (except the legendary tales of the old “traditional” navigators who were rumoured to finish a Whitbread leg with their wet weather gear still sealed in the wrapper).

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.

4 of the best offshore sailing jackets and smocks, north sails southern ocean jacket and smock.

The best offshore sailing jacket you can get

Reasons to buy

– No stone unturned in producing the best kit possible – Racing movement and comfort prioritised in the design for top performance – Great range of sizes

Reasons to avoid

– Towards the top of the price range – but what cost for the best?

The name North Sails in the yachting industry is synonymous with performance and quality. A titan of a sailmaker with every sailing trophy in their cabinet, their focus on delivering results and dependable products is what the company thrives on. So why not supply kit also… And what a great job they have done!

In a rather niche market they have simply decided to create the best offshore sailing jacket possible and they have succeeded. With a vast array of test pilots as their employees, combined with the unparalleled knowledge of Nigel Musto, they have produced the best kit to date.

Made with Gore-Tex pro, still considered the best best fabric in outdoor clothing, the attention to detail in every aspect is vast and effective. A unique upgrade is the hardwearing seat and elbow pads, now constructed from North’s own 4DL cloth, which does not absorb water and is bonded to the jacket.

This eliminates the need for the tough reinforcing pads to be included in the seams of the jacket and thus makes the whole thing lighter, less bulky and the panel seam stitching smaller.

best offshore sailing yachts

A women’s version is also available

In fact the whole jacket seems less cluttered – the pockets, although big, are not the size of the saddle packs so often seen on some of the best offshore sailing jackets, and have plenty of room for the essentials. This means less snagging as you move around the boat.

The hood and forward storm flap do a great deal to cut out the weather, but without removing all of your senses. The longer length of the jacket helps to stop the waves flowing up the jacket, but without hindering movement.

Even the cuffs of the sleeves are scalloped to match the curve of your knuckles, to avoid any hindrance of your grip when grinding, driving or trimming. Minimal signage leaves room for boat names and sponsor branding, which is a nice touch with teams in mind.

The smock boasts  a double entry chest pocket and Duraseal neck seal (a bit like a modern wetsuit material), which is waterproof, comfortable and great for those with latex allergies.

The rise in female participation in offshore sailing has led to a rise in women’s specific clothing, and again North Sails have nailed it with a women’s specific jacket and smock which is comfortable and proportioned.

Buy Men’s jacket at North Sails

Buy Women’s jacket at North Sails

Buy Men’s smock at North Sails

Buy Women’s smock at North Sails

Musto MPX Gore-Tex Pro Offshore Jacket 2.0

The old favourite

– Great kit with long track record – Nice selection of colours – Widely available – Competitively priced

– Bulkier than others – Pockets so roomy they can promote carrying a bit too much kit – Less competition has meant development has stagnated a little

Musto have been designing some of the best offshore sailing jackets for a long time, and so there is a certain amount of reliability associated with one of the leading specialists in the field.

The MPX series uses the heavier and sturdier Gore-Tex cloth. Musto have been involved directly at the top level of offshore racing for a very long time and have leant lots from various top end ambassadors. The hood and storm spume guard can be sealed down in the nastiest of conditions for full protection.

Ample pockets mean room for the essentials (torch, strobe, personal EPRIB and knife) as well as lots of fun-sized chocolate snacks and empty wrappers! Luckily the flaps do a good job at keeping the waves out.

Some of the pockets are fleece-lined, which are great for cold hands on those crisp spring mornings when still waiting for the nice warm mug of tea. A nice big seat pad will also help keep you comfortable and dry when sat on the rail.

Buy men’s version at Musto

Buy women’s version at Musto

Helly Hansen Aegir Ocean Racing Jacket

A great alternative

– The removable hood on the smock is inspired – Mid skirt for extra protection – Rubber cuff seals

– Not Gore-Tex – jury still out on Helly-Tech – Cuff seals can be restrictive and require care, also not good for those with latex allergies

Heavily associated with ocean racing in recent years, Helly Hansen have certainly been making a push at the top end of the sport. Using their own waterproof system, Helly-Tech Professional, the jackets do seem waterproof and breathable – a must for all the best offshore sailing jackets.

The fluorescent hood boasts additional clear side panels to help your vision when you have fully enclosed yourself in your hood and have the waterproof face visor deployed.

Another nice feature are the rubber arm seals – to really stop water ingress up the sleeves. The Aegir Ocean jacket also has good length on the back of the jacket, which helps to stop the water rising.

The jacket also has a waist skirt, which also adds a barrier to any unexpected waves heading up your jacket. Helly Hansen are a supplier to the RNLI, so the kit is certainly good enough for the harshest conditions.

The smock version has a removable hood and collar to improve its versatility. Its latex neck seal will stop water coming down your neck. You also get a double-entry chest pocket and a waist-level zip, which aids ventilation and gives access to your salopette pockets.

Mustang Survival EP 6.5 Ocean Racing Jacket

The new (old) kid on the block

– Great track record with the likes of NASA and US Coastguard to name but a few!

– Not fully globally available just yet, but expect this to change

Although lesser known globally, Mustang Survival have been supplying kit to some of the biggest services in North America since the late 1960s.

Now with a concerted push of kit in the ocean racing scene, the EP 6.5 Jacket is their top-of-the-range offering. Manufactured in Canada using Gore-Tex technology, this black offshore sailing jacket looks smart.

With two lower pockets and a chest pocket, there is plenty of room to keep personal survival equipment on you. Also a handy pocket on the upper right arm, perfect for a single personal strobe or knife.

The bright hood folds neatly in the collar, the adjustment on the back of the hood really helps to get a great fit on the head, the face guard makes a great barrier and the fleece lining to the collar adds a lovely level of warmth. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mustang associated with a lot more high level pro teams in the future.

Buy at Mustang Survival

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.

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best offshore sailing yachts

Naval Academy Athletics

Jesse Fielding - Navy Offshore Sailing Head Coach

Offshore Sailing 2/29/2024 9:30:00 AM

Jesse Fielding Named Offshore Sailing Head Coach at the Naval Academy

Professional offshore sailor brings bevy of racing highlights to annapolis.

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