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Best Blue Water Sailboats Under 40 Feet

19th jan 2023 by samantha wilson.

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What is a blue water sailboat?

What to look for when choosing a cruising sailboat under 40 feet, what are the advantages of small blue water sailboats, what are the disadvantages of small sailboats.

  • Best blue water sailboat models under 40 Feet

The term blue water sailboat doesn’t refer to a specific style of boat in the same way that a ketch or schooner does. In fact, a blue water sailboat could be either of those and many more. But when we talk about blue water sailboats, they have shared characteristics that make them suitable for, you guessed it, blue water sailing. Making long, open sea voyages such as crossing the oceans requires a boat that is solidly-built and can tackle heavy seas and inclement weather conditions. Blue water sailboats are able to be self-sufficient and lived on for extended periods of time, and to offer safety and comfort.

In a previous guide we looked at the different types of sailboats , focusing on identifying them by their hull type, rigging and uses. In general, smaller blue water sailboats under 40 feet tend to be cutters , sloops or ketches . Catamarans and trimarans too are becoming increasingly popular as long cruising vessels, although these tend to be larger than 40 feet. In fact, while there are manufacturers producing some excellent, sturdy and compact blue water sailboats under 40 feet, they tend to be a minority and most ‘small’ sailboats designed for long-range cruising are usually above 50 feet. 

blue water sailing

So what other characteristics should you be looking for in a small ocean sailboat? 

Construction:

The material of the hull is probably the most crucial aspect, as it needs to be solidly built and able to withstand harsh seas as well as any collisions with floating objects. Hulls made from steel, strong fiberglass or carbon fiber tend to be the most popular. With a brand new sailboat you can be assured of a sound hull, however when buying a used sailboat under 40 feet the most important aspect is to ensure that the hull is strong and durable. 

The type of keel also makes a big difference, as deep V hulls with an encapsulated keel will make your boat less likely to capsize or lose its keel. Keel sailboats under 40 feet with skeg-hung rudders are considered the best small sailboats for open ocean cruising. While in the past it tended to only be monohull boats which were used for blue water sailing, there are now several manufacturers offering catamarans and trimarans which are strong enough to cross oceans. 

While the rig itself doesn’t necessarily denote whether a sailboat is more blue water worthy, it needs to be able to be manned by the number of crew on board as well as less crew if anyone is injured. The most important aspect is to think of the manageability of the rig. 

Ocean-going sailboats tend to have small cockpits to keep water out. While traditionally they used to have an aft cockpit there are more center cockpit blue water sailboats around these days. They need to have good drainage as well as offering the helmsman easy reach of the headsail, staysail and mainsail sheets.

Self-steering:

Whether you’re sailing solo or with a small crew, having the ability to set an auto-pilot is an important characteristic of a blue water boat. From tiredness to accidents or illness, there might come a time when you need to set the autopilot when under power or windvane when under sail. 

A compact cabin, galley and head with plenty of handholds and safe storage are vital to spending long stretches of time at sea. There needs to be enough space to ensure you are able to be self-sufficient for long periods of time. This includes everything from provisions to safety equipment , power systems, water makers, fuel storage and two anchors. 

Ability to heave-to:

The act of heaving-to involves pointing the bow into the wind and fixing the helm and sail positions. This essentially stops the boat in the water and is a hugely important maneuver during storms to prevent capsizing and allows the crew to take shelter inside. Some sailboats are more able to perform this than others. 

Having a way to communicate an emergency is vital, and your blue water sailboat should have a satellite phone and radio installed. A radio will allow you to connect with passing vessels, while the satellite phone is your only means of true contact with land. On deck, safety is paramount, and additions such as granny bars by the mast, safety rails and of course a harness mean you’ll be staying on board in lively conditions. 

Ability to Store or Make Water:

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink is not a phrase any sailor wants to utter. So it’s imperative that your sailboat has enough storage capacity for long voyages, as well as the ability to make fresh water for drinking and washing in. Consider that two people on a three week voyage will require around 50 gallons of fresh water (allowing for a 20% contingency). Space – and weight considerations - is always a premium on small sailboats, so you need to make sure there are enough water tanks. You’ll also want a water maker which are powered by motors and generators. AC water makers can produce around 20 gallons a day, while DC water makers which use a lot less power, produce around 12 gallons of water a day.

Good Navigation Systems:

Ok, we’re going to say how important navigation systems are on your boat, and that’s true, but in fact you don’t want to reply on electronic navigation systems alone if you’re out in the middle of the deep blue. Having paper charts on board (in digital format preferably to save on space in a small boat) and knowing how to navigate using them is imperative. 

small sailing yacht

There are thousands of models of liveaboard sailboats under 40 feet on the market, but certainly not all of them are suitable for crossing oceans. We’ve seen the general characteristics of what to look for when choosing a blue water sailboat, but what are the pros and cons of a smaller boat versus a larger model?

Affordability:

Smaller tends to mean cheaper and so affordability is a major factor when buying a blue water sailboat . Whether you’re in the market for a new or used blue water sailboat under 40 feet, there are some excellent deals to be found. It means that long-held dream of sailing across the world can happen now, rather than saving for years. The other bonus is that smaller, simpler pocket cruisers will be cheaper and easier to maintain. 

Easier to Sail:

The simpler the rig and the less systems on board the easier the boat will be to sail (and to care for). You’ll need a smaller crew meaning cruising boats under 40 feet tend to be popular with couples and solo sailors. 

Less Spacious:

It goes without saying that smaller boats have less space. While manufacturers are finding ever-more ingenious ways to equip small sailboats with everything their larger counterparts have – and there are some clever ways you can maximize storage space in a boat – realistically space will be at a premium, meaning the number of crew and the amount of comforts you can have on board will need to be minimal.

They Tend to be Slower:

As a general rule, the smaller the sailboat, the slower it will be. While this isn’t always a bad thing if you’re in no hurry to get anywhere, it’s worth considering that out-running bad weather can be trickier in a small boat. 

Less comfortable:

A smaller boat can make for a less comfortable ride, especially in bigger seas. 

Best blue water sailboat models under 40 Feet

If you’re in the market for a cruising sailboat under 40 feet the options can seem dizzying. With so many to choose from it’s hard to know where to start. There are thousands of excellent used boats on the market, with reputations for reliability, safety, comfort and build. Here however we’re going to take a look at some of the manufacturers making the best bluewater sailboats in 2023 . With a solid reputation and excellent craftsmanship, they make a good place to start your search. 

Beneteau’s Oceanis 40, Oceanis 38.1 and Oceanis 34.1.

Beneteau’s reputation shines through in this smaller range of ocean-going yachts. At the top end of the under-40 foot range is the Oceanis 40 , with a hull designed by Marc Lombard and a huge amount of deck and interior space for its size. The Oceanis 38.1 offers surprising comfort and speed, with the ability to be sailed with a small crew, while the smallest in the range is the Oceanis 34.1 pocket cruiser, with cleverly designed spaces and a modern hull design. 

blue water sailboat beneteau

Photo credit: Beneteau

Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey 349 and Sun Odyssey 380:

For over 60 years Jeanneau has been crafting motor and sailboats which push the boundaries and the Sun Odyssey range is the perfect example of that. The Sun Odyssey 349 and Sun Odyssey 380 are the smallest in the range, offering high performance sailing you would expect of a much larger model. With an iconic inverted bow, huge interior spaces and fine-tuned handling, they are popular models for long distance cruising. 

blue water sailboats jeanneau

Photo credit: Jeanneau 

Hallberg-Rassy 340, 372, 40 and 40C:

The range of Swedish-built Hallberg-Rassy small blue water yachts is one of the most impressive of any manufacturer. Boasting four yachts under 40 feet, they put their nine decades of expertise into both center cockpit and aft cockpit ocean-going cruisers and have the awards to show for it. From the Hallberg-Rassy 340 , which manages to pack everything you could need in a long-range cruiser into an ultra-compact package, to the award-winning 372 which manages to be even faster than the already fast Hallberg-Rassy 40 . They offer incredible handling, expansive oak interiors, generous cockpits and modern rigs.  

blue water sailboats hallberg rassy

Photo credit: Hallberg-Rassy

SeaWind Catamarans’ 1160, 1190 and 1260:

It’s uncommon to find blue water catamarans under 40 feet, but SeaWind has crafted no less than three compact, sturdy cats that can cross oceans in safety and comfort. With huge interior spaces across its double beam, you get much more living space than you would in a monohull of the same size, as well as robust seaworthiness, great sailability and all at an attractive price. 

blue water sailboat seawind

Photo credit: SeaWind  

Written By: Samantha Wilson

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

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Best Blue Water Sailboats Under 40 Feet

Best Blue Water Sailboats Under 40 Feet | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

‍ Key Takeaways

  • If you enjoy sailing, then a bluewater boat under 40 feet is the perfect size
  • Storage space must be considered when attempting to travel long distances
  • Choose a boat brand that has a solid reputation and has better performance than others
  • Keep in mind the rig and keel type that are going to be best for your situation
  • Heavier boats tend to perform better in tough bluewater conditions

‍ There are plenty of sailboats in existence for blue water sailing that come in many shapes and sizes. But what are the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet?

The best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet include the Westsail 32, Hunter e33, Tayana 37, and Najad 355. These bluewater sailboats, depending on your situation, can suit your needs for offshore sailing or long distance cruising. Sailboats under 40 feet also tend to be an adequate amount of space.

After a detailed analysis, the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet can typically handle any situation you encounter on the water. However, the best sailboats will slightly differ based on your needs and what you want to accomplish while sailing.

Table of contents

‍ Top 10 Bluewater Sailboats Under 40 Feet

Bluewater sailing requires a sailboat that can cross oceans and handle harsh weather conditions. This means you might need a performance cruiser or something that you could live aboard. Below you can see which bluewater sailboat under 40 feet is best for you.

Westsail 32

{{boat-info="/boats/westsail-32"}}

Dubbed as the “ Wetsnail 32 ”, this boat offers a classic look but is also a great bluewater cruiser. It has that nickname due to its slower movements on the water but do not mistake it for a bad boat. There are plenty of sailors that have used this boat for open ocean cruising and is a great option for bluewater sailboats under 40 feet.

  • Classic look
  • Sturdy build to handle anything
  • Slower than other cruisers around the same length

{{boat-info="/boats/hunter-e33"}}

The Hunter e33 is another great choice as a cruising sailboat. Cruising World once named this boat the best compact cruiser back in 2012. This is an improved sailing boat compared to other models around that time and is perfect for rough seas.

  • Plenty of safety features and rugged build
  • Great for single handed sailing
  • Air conditioner is an additional feature

{{boat-info="/boats/tayana-37"}}

For those that are familiar with Bob Perry’s work, the Tayana 37 is another great installment in his line of boats. He wanted to build a classic looking boat that was also fast, so he made sure to have moderate displacement and add a long keel. This is perfect for those that want a bigger boat that can accommodate plenty of guests.

  • Excellent for offshore sailing
  • Ample room with tons of storage space
  • Closer to 40 feet so sailors might not want that large of a bluewater sailboat

{{boat-info="/boats/najad-yachts-najad-355"}}

The Najad 355 is considered to be one of the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet since it is rated to sail across many ocean conditions. It also has enough space to accommodate taller sailors and you do not feel like you are cramped for space. It also has a luxury feel to it so sailors can visually enjoy the boat while underway.

  • Visually appealing luxury boat
  • Plenty of headroom to move around below deck
  • Heavier in weight compared to other 35 foot sailboats

Hans Christian 38T

{{boat-info="/boats/hans-christian-38t"}}

The Hans Christian 38T is a traditional looking bluewater sailboat that happens to rival other popular bluewater cruising yachts. They have a heavy displacement since they weigh a little more than other boats around this size. These boats have successfully crossed oceans and back and make the sailing experience exciting.

  • Full keel sailboat with great stability
  • Plenty of circumnavigation stories with this boat
  • Heavier weight and potentially difficult to steer for novice sailors

{{boat-info="/boats/hanse-388"}}

Hanse 388 is regarded by many as one of the best liveaboard bluewater sailboats under 40 feet. It is relatively newer to the sailing scene, as it was produced in 2017. It is slightly lighter in weight for a sailboat that is nearing 38 feet.

  • Increased stability compared to other similar models
  • Excellent self-tacking jib system for sailing single handed
  • Plenty of windows below deck but they cannot be opened

Island Packet 380

{{boat-info="/boats/island-packet-380"}}

Island Packet has plenty of excellent bluewater sailboats in their lineup, especially the 380 model . This boat is a rugged beast that can handle many sailing conditions or any other harsh conditions that is thrown its way. It also offers plenty of room below the deck to accommodate a small family.

  • Plenty of room to move around below deck
  • Boat design allows for increased safety and stability
  • A hair from being 40 feet in length, which might be too long for some sailors

Catalina 38

{{boat-info="/boats/catalina-38"}}

Another one of Sparksman & Stephens designs, the Catalina 38 is perfect for those on a budget but still want a remarkable bluewater sailboat. You can find one of these in great condition for under $80,000 or more depending on the shape it is in. It also has a good amount of storage space that is perfect for long periods on the water.

  • Great for those wanting a cheaper bluewater boat
  • Plenty of storage to fit your long voyage needs
  • Last built in 1990, so spare parts could be hard to find

{{boat-info="/boats/atkin-co-ingrid-38"}}

The Ingrid 38 has roots dating back to the 1930’s for a wooden boat design, but was later given a “remastered” treatment and turned into a fiberglass boat. This has a full keel and utilizes a heavy displacement. It serves a perfect balance being bluewater capable and rivals cruising boats of similar size.

  • Long keel is great for stability
  • Can be a good cruiser when not going through rough conditions
  • Older boat and spare parts might be difficult to locate

{{boat-info="/boats/j-boats-j122e"}}

The J/122e is just a shade under 40 feet but is perfect because it still qualifies as “under 40”. It is arguably one of the best racing bluewater sailboats under 40 feet but also comes with a hefty price tag. For a boat nearing 40 feet it is lighter than other boats its size and is fast.

  • Lighter in weight and fast
  • Easy to move and to trim or tack
  • Lacking adequate headroom for a boat this size

What Makes a Sailboat Bluewater Capable?

Sailing on a boat that is bluewater capable will make a huge difference than sailing on a boat that is meant to just cruise. The design of a boat will greatly affect what it can accomplish on the water and what it lacks. Below are some characteristics to look for when considering bluewater sailboats under 40 feet.

Most bluewater boats for sailing have two different rig types such as a ketch rig or cutter rig. This does not mean that other rig types cannot get the job done but some are more popular than others.

Cutter rigs are excellent for lighter winds or when you are battling tough storms. Ketch rigs are more common in larger boats and are perfect for handling any weather variations.

Type of Keel

A long keel is the best for providing stability but is usually seen on older sailboats. Newer boats might have different keel types that offer close similarities in safety and stability.

Fin keels are another great example that provide good lateral resistance but are not as strong as a full keel would be. Full keels lower boat speed since they are part of the boat’s hull rather than being bolted on like a fin keel.

Differences in Rudders

Most sailboats have a spade rudder but the next best thing to have is a skeg-hung rudder or a keel-attached rudder. Spade rudders are great since they act as a wing underneath the boat and move about gracefully, which does not slow down the boat.

Skeg-hung rudders are a great option since they are protected from any direct attack from debris or land. However, it provides one of the lesser aids in performance.

How Much Displacement?

The debate for heavy or moderate displacement is another topic to tackle. A majority of sailboats that conduct offshore sailing or circumnavigate typically had heavy displacement.

These boats are best in tough conditions all around and can handle just about anything. Boats that have a moderate displacement can move a little quicker and potentially avoid storms that are coming so that is something to consider depending on your sailing goals.

Reputation of Boat Builder

There are plenty of boat builders out there that have gained a positive following from the boating world. Brands such as Island Packet or even Hunter are great examples for boats that have a good reputation. Consider looking at sailors that have already experienced sailing in open waters and see what types of boats that were used.

Boat Ratings

In addition to the boat builder, you might see different ratings on the design of your boat. These ratings mean different characteristics of what your boat can safely handle at sea, assuming you are experienced to handle it. If it does not have a rating anywhere you should ask the dealer specifically what it is characterized as.

For a category A boat, this means it is ocean ready and can handle over 40 knots of wind and wave heights that are nearing 13 feet. This does not mean you should challenge hurricane weather and you should never attempt to get close.

Storage and Fuel

In order to have a bluewater cruiser or something to live aboard while traveling in potentially rough conditions, you need to consider the amount of space on board. You will likely need to store plenty of dry goods and other supplies for long periods at a time.

You also need to consider how much fuel and water you are going to need for that period of time as well. In addition, you might need to add extra tanks of water and fuel in safe locations on the boat too.

Length of Boat

There are some people in this world that can do the unthinkable and amazing, such as going into deep bluewater areas in boats that have no business being out there, such as smaller boats. However, to be the safest you could be, you should consider a hull length on a boat that is over 20 feet and has plenty of storage.

Ideally, you want to aim for a boat that is 25 feet at a minimum and will be able to handle blue water and tough weather conditions. Always consider your sailing goals and how the boat you intend to use can get you safely there and back.

Some boats for blue water sailing are going to be fairly expensive. These prices can range from $25,000 all the way to over $1,000,000. This all depends on the type of brand and the condition of the boat you are considering for your long voyage at sea.

Maintenance and Care for Your Bluewater Boat Under 40 Feet

Maintaining your boat is one of the key factors in prolonging your investment and making sure it remains safe while sailing. Failure to properly inspect and stay up to date with your boat can lead to catastrophic circumstances.

Less Moving Parts

Since bluewater boats under 40 feet will likely have less moving parts than larger ones, it can make preventative maintenance a little easier and less expensive over the long run. It is crucial to inspect your boat often and to keep track of what has been done in order to stay ahead of your maintenance goals.

Spare Parts

Since a lot of these bluewater boats are going to be older they have a lot more wear and tear on them. This means older boats will need to either have spare parts on board while traveling or completely fix everything you can think of before heading out. Most common issues can be prevented at the last minute because you are able to catch these problems early.

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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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Selene Ocean Yachts

  • Selene 38 Voyager Aft-cabin
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ALL THE SPACE IS INSIDE!

Biggest 38’ family cruiser in the world.

The Selene 38 Voyager Aft-cabin is based on the successful Archer design with several technical improvements like  Diamond Sea Glaze sliding doors, optional Seakeeper gyro stabilization, Li-Ion batteries, a new electricity management system, a sea-chest for easier maintenance, an optional water maker with high-voltage auto-clean system, etc… A happy and classy gentleman’s yacht which has been cruising in British Columbia, the Bahamas, the Greek islands and South-East Asia for decades already. This beautiful and charming pocket yacht has always been incredibly popular because of its unique layout which guarantees privacy to four people or two couples. Because of its moderate size it can be hauled-out by the smallest Travelift and accommodated in almost any marina anywhere in the world. Thanks to its classic lines designed by Howard Chen and the legendary marine architect Ted Hood, winner of the 1972 America’s Cup, the Selene 38 Aft-cabin model is, and will remain, one of Howard Chen’s favorite yachts. When creating this yacht the designers adopted the unique concept of the “Whale Back” hull, that was a trademark of Ted Hood’s designs. This is why the aft cabin concept has so much headroom and space in the engine room. It probably has the best engine room layout for its size anywhere.

best 38 foot sailboat

BEST ENGINE ROOM IN ITS CLASS

While the Selene 38 Voyager Aft-cabin is a legendary yacht, she doesn’t compromise on modern technology and first class components, like the recent addition of Diamond Sea Glaze doors, improved sound-proofing, optional air-conditioning, generator and larger aluminum fuel tanks for extensive cruising. Howard says that the best-selling yachts of all time were the Grand Banks 36-42, but when their production ended for a while Howard decided he wanted to bring a high quality compact trawler back to the market. He wanted to build an elegant yacht with traditional timber joinery, leather upholstery, teak & holly floors, a spacious interior with two cabins and two heads, a cozy salon, a practical galley and safe decks. The Selene 38 Voyager Aft-cabin is an excellent family cruiser, or the perfect Looper’s yacht. A tender finds its natural spot on top of the aft cabin where it can be loaded by a mast and boom.

Do not hesitate to contact us for more info : [email protected]

Many Selene 38 Voyager Aft-cabin make use of the mast for a steadying sail which gives the boat a classy « heritage yacht » style as well as a simple and maintenance-free stabilization system. And all this, including a flybridge with an outdoor deck salon, comes at an affordable price! As the entry level model of the trawlers range, the Selene 38 Voyager Aft-cabin is still a best-seller. We call it our “small super-yacht”, all the space is inside…

TECHNICAL SHEET

  • LOA : 41’-8’’ (12.70m)
  • LWL: 34’-11’’ (10,64m)
  • Beam: 14’-6’’ (4,42m)
  • Draft: 4’-8’’ (1,42m)
  • Displacement: 35,700Lbs (16,27t)
  • Fuel tank capacity: 500 USG (1892L)
  • Fresh water tank capacity: 180 USG (681L)

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best 38 foot sailboat

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best 38 foot sailboat

Home Eagle 38

spec-image

11,77 m (38' 6")

spec-image

2,60 m (8' 6")

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Displacement

spec-image

1,85 meters or 1,25 meter (6' 1" or 4' 1")

As one can expect from Leonardo Yachts no compromises on beauty and elegance were made. The exterior truly captures the style and elegance of a Spirit of Tradition yacht. The 38 foot sailboat has a timeless appeal with elegant classic lines combined with ultra-modern deck hardware and a modern underwater body. The modern classic boat is designed as a true daysailer; the cockpit comfortably seats six people so family or friends can come along to enjoy a day on the water in style. At the same time the Eagle 38 can also easily be sailed single handed .

For ease of handling the jib winches are positioned within easy reach of the helmsman. Optionally the 38 can be equipped with electric powered jib winches. Combined with a powered captive mainsheet winch and electric halyard winch, this will make trimming and hoisting the sails of the 38 foot yacht as easy as pushing a button. The halyard winch is conveniently placed on the coach roof combined with the below deck mounted jib furler system ensuring hoisting or lowering your sails will never be a hassle.

The Eagle 38 is also built for performance. With its sleek design and state-of-the-art technology, this boat is sure to turn heads and provide a smooth and thrilling sailing experience.

best 38 foot sailboat

The interior is light and airy with plenty of daylight and warm LED lights. The varnished mahogany furniture and ceiling in alcantara give the 38 an elegant and luxurious feel. The interior of the 38 ft sailboat offers sleeping space for three people. To complete the comfort of a daysailer, a toilet is convenient and neatly built in out of sight in the cabin.

The Eagle 38 can be personalized in many ways. Hull color, color of the Permateek deck and caulking, different wood finishes for the interior and by making your personal choice for the interior and exterior cushion fabric, you can design the Eagle 38 to your personal preferences. Furthermore, there are performance upgrades possible as for example different race orientated sails like North Sails 3Di sails and a carbon mast. Please contact  us to explore all the possibilities.

See it for yourself

1,85 meters or 1,25 meters (6' 1" or 4' 1")

Mast height

13,80 meter above DWL

Construction

GRP vinylester

CE Category

C (shore- and coastal waters)

Hoek Design

Deck/hatches

Permateek with flush hatches

Self draining with Permateek flooring

Mahogany matt varnished

Volvo D1-13 12 hp sail drive or Oceanvolt SD8 electric

45 liters diesel

Fresh water

Waste water

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In this insightful and independent video produced by the YouTube channel Aquaholics, you are treated to an in-depth exploration of the distinctive features and intricate details that define the Eagle 38.

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Home » Blog » Bluewater sailboats » The best bluewater sailboats (we analyzed 2,000 boats to find out)

The best bluewater sailboats (we analyzed 2,000 boats to find out)

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: May 16, 2023

We analyzed two-thousand bluewater sailboats to bring you a list of proven offshore designs

BEST BLUEWATER SAILBOATS

What are the best bluewater sailboats?

This was a question we asked a lot of experienced cruisers when we decided to sail across the Pacific. We needed a boat after all, and we wanted to buy the best bluewater sailboat we could afford.

We heard a lot of strong opinions.

Some sailors thought it was reckless to go offshore in any boat that didn’t have a full keel.

Others prioritized performance, and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere in a slow boat like the Westsail 32 (a.k.a. a “Wet Snail 32”).

Opinions like these left us feeling confused like we had to choose between safety and performance.  

If we learned anything from these conversations, it’s that what makes a bluewater boat is a hotly debated topic!

However, there’s a way to cut through all the opinions and get to the bottom of it. The solution is….

We analyzed just under 2,000 boats embarking on ocean crossings (over a 12 year time period) and came up with a list of the ten best bluewater sailboats.

Where did we get our data?

The data for our best bluewater sailboats list comes from 12 years of entries in the Pacific Puddle Jump (PPJ), an annual cross-Pacific rally. We took part in 2017 and had a ball!

You can read about the methodology we used to analyze this data at the bottom of the post.

What do we mean by “best”?

We know, that word is overused on the internet!

Simply, based on our data set, these were the most common makes and models entered in the PPJ cross-Pacific rally. There were at least 10 PPJ rally entries for every make of boat on our top 10 list.

So, these boats are 100% good to go?

No! A bluewater boat isn’t necessarily a seaworthy boat. Almost every cruiser we know made substantial repairs and additions to get their offshore boat ready, adding watermakers , life rafts, solar panels, and more.

Also, you should always have a boat inspected by a professional and accredited marine surveyor before buying it or taking it offshore.

But my bluewater baby boat isn’t on this list!?

There are hundreds of excellent bluewater yachts that are not on this list. For instance, we sailed across the Pacific in a Dufour 35, which didn’t even come close to making our top 10 list.

Choosing the right boat is very much an individual journey.

Where can I find these bluewater boats for sale?

We recognize that a top 10 list won’t get you very far if you’re shopping for a bluewater boat (especially if you’re looking in the used market).

So, to help you find your perfect boat, we’re going to create a big list of bluewater boats that you can use to refine your search on Yachtworld, Craigslist, or any other places to buy a used boat .

Sign up for our newsletter to get our big list of bluewater boats list as soon as it comes out.

We’re also working on a series of posts by size class. For example, if you’re looking for a smaller boat, you can narrow it down to the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet .

Takeaways from our analysis

There were no big surprises on an individual boat level. All of these makes are considered good cruisers, some of them are even best-selling designs! However, there were a few things that caught our eye.

“Go simple, go small, go now” still holds water

We were thrilled to see the smallest boat in our roundup at the very top of the list! Westsail 32 owners can take pride in their small but mighty yachts (and ignore all those snail-sayers).

While undoubtedly there’s been a trend towards bigger bluewater cruisers in recent years, small cruising sailboats seem to be holding their own. 60% of the monohulls on this list were under 40 feet (if you count the Valiant 40 which sneaks just under at 39.92 feet).

Cat got our tongue

So, we knew catamarans were a thing, but we didn’t fully appreciate HOW popular they’d become!

50% of our top 10 bluewater boat list consists of catamarans—a good fact to toss out the next time you’re trying to garner a happy hour invite on the party boat next door (which will undoubtedly be a catamaran).

Still got it!

We’ve got good news for all you good old boat lovers! 60% of the boats on our list were first built before 2000.

While these older models are less performance-oriented than modern designs, cruisers value these boats for their ability to stand up to rough seas and heavy weather. It just goes to show that solid bones and classic looks never go out of style.

Alright, without further ado, let’s dive into our list of the 10 best bluewater boats!

The 10 best bluewater boats

best bluewater sailboats

1. Westsail 32

The Westsail 32 is an iconic bluewater sailboat

The Westsail 32 is one of the most iconic bluewater cruisers and 19 have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009.

In 1973, this small cruising sailboat garnered a 4-page spread in Time magazine. The article inspired many Americans to set sail and the Westsail 32, with its double-ender design, set the standard for what a real bluewater cruiser should look like.

There were approximately 830 built between 1971 and 1980.

This small boat has taken sailors on ocean crossings and circumnavigations. Though considered “slow” by some, the heavily-built Westsail 32 has developed a loyal following for her other excellent offshore cruising characteristics.

If you’re interested in small bluewater sailboats, check out our post on the best small sailboats for sailing around the world .

2. Lagoon 380

Lagoon 380

The Lagoon 380 is a reliable, solidly built catamaran and considered roomy for its size. We counted 18 of them in our data set. With over 800 boats built , it may be one of the best-selling catamarans in the world. Like the other boats on this list, the Lagoon 380 has proven itself on long passages and ocean crossings, winning it many loyal fans.

3. Lagoon 440

Lagoon 440 is a bluewater catamaran

18 Lagoon 440s have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009.

Why leave the comforts of home, when you can take them with you? The Lagoon 440 is a luxurious long-range cruiser, offering beautiful wood joinery, spacious accommodations, and a deluxe galley. Oh, and you have the option of an electric boat motor !

SAIL and Sailing Magazine have both done in-depth reviews of the Lagoon 440 if you want to learn more.

4. Amel Super Maramu (incl. SM 2000)

Amel Super Maramu is a popular bluewater sailboat

If you follow the adventures of SV Delos on YouTube, you probably know that the star of the show (SV Delos— in case the title didn’t give it away ) is an Amel Super Maramu. These classic bluewater sailboats can be found all over the world, proof they can go the distance.

We counted 16 Amel Super Maramus and Super Maramu 2000s in our list of PPJ entries.

Ready to join the cult of Amel? Read more about the iconic brand in Yachting World.

5. Valiant 40

The Valiant 40 is an iconic bluewater cruiser

When I interviewed legendary yacht designer, Bob Perry, for Good Old Boat in 2019, he told me that the Valiant 40 was one of the boats that most defined him and marked the real start of his career.

At the time, heavy displacement cruisers were considered sluggish and slow, especially in light winds.

Perry’s innovation with the Valiant 40 was to combine a classic double ender above the waterline, with an IOR racing hull shape below the waterline. The result was the first “performance cruiser”, a blockbuster hit, with over 200 boats built in the 1970s.

It’s no surprise we counted 16 Valiant 40s in our data set.

Cruising World magazine dubbed it “a fast, comfortable, and safe cruising yacht,” and there’s no doubt it’s covered some serious nautical miles.

It’s worth noting that there were blistering problems with hull numbers 120-249 (boats built between 1976 and 1981). Later models did not have this problem. Despite the blistering issues, the Valiant 40 remains one of the most highly thought of bluewater designs.

6. TAYANA 37

The Tayana 37 is a top bluewater boat

The Tayana 37 is another hugely popular Perry design. The first boat rolled off the production line in 1976 and since then, nearly 600 boats have been built. Beautiful classic lines and a proven track record have won the Tayana 37 a devoted following of offshore enthusiasts.

12 Tayana 37s have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009. Read more about the Tayana 37 in this Practical Sailor review .

7. Lagoon 450

The Lagoon 450 is one of the best bluewater sailboats

If this list is starting to sound like a paid advertisement, I swear we’re not on Lagoon’s payroll! This is the third Lagoon on our list, but the data doesn’t lie. Lagoon is making some of the best cruising sailboats.

The 450 has been a hot seller for Lagoon, with over 800 built since its launch in 2014. While not a performance cat, the Lagoon 450 travels at a reasonable speed and is brimming with luxury amenities.

At least 12 owners in the PPJ rally chose the Lagoon 450 to take them across the Pacific. It’s no wonder SAIL had so many good things to say about it.

8. Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46

Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46 Bluewater Sailboat

There were 11 Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46s in our data set.

Fountaine Pajot released the Bahia 46 in 1997, a sleek design for traveling long distances. Its generously-sized water and fuel tanks along with ample storage for cruising gear are a real plus for the self-sufficient sailor.

According to Cruising World , “Cruising-cat aficionados should put the Bahia 46 on their “must-see” list.”

9. Catalina 42 (MKI, MKII)

Catalina 42 bluewater boat

10 Catalina 42s (MKI and MKII) have set out to cross the Pacific in the PPJ rally since 2009.

The Catalina 42 was designed under the guidance of the legendary yacht designer and Catalina’s chief engineer, Gerry Douglas.

One of Catalina’s philosophies is to offer “as much boat for the money as possible,” and the Catalina 42 is no exception. According to Practical Sailor , Catalina aims to price its boats 15% to 20% below major production boats like Hunter and Beneteau.

Practical Sailor has a great in-depth review of the Catalina 42 .

10. Leopard 46

Leopard 46 bluewater sailboat

Since 2009, 10 Leopard 46s have embarked on Pacific crossings in the PPJ rally.

Leopards have won legions of fans for their high build quality, robust engineering, and excellent performance.

The Leopard 46 also boasts something of a racing pedigree. It was built in South Africa by Robertson and Caine and designed by Gino Morelli and Pete Melvin, who came up with the record-breaking catamaran Playstation / Cheyenne 125 .

Read more about the Leopard 46 in this Cruising World review .

Methodology

What the data is and isn’t.

The PPJ data was a real boon because it reflects a wide range of cruising boats: small, big, old, new, expensive, and affordable. We think this may be because the PPJ is a very financially accessible rally—the standard entry cost is $125 or $100 if you’re under 35 (age or boat length!).

We did look at data from other (pricier) rallies but found that the results skewed towards more expensive boats.

Needless to say, the data we used is just a sample of the bluewater boats that crossed the Pacific over the last 10+ years. Many cruisers cross oceans without participating in a rally!

Entries vs. completions

The data we used is a list of the PPJ entries, not necessarily the boats that completed the rally. In instances where we saw the same boat entered multiple years in a row, we assumed they’d postponed their crossing and deleted all but the latest entry to avoid double counting.

Boat make variations

The world of boat building and naming can get pretty complicated. Sometimes a manufacturer changes a boat’s name a year or two into production, other times the name remains the same but the boat undergoes a dramatic update.

For the most part, we’ve used SailboatData.com’s classification system (if they list the boats separately, then we have also), except where there are two separately listed models that have the same LOA, beam, and displacement.

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.

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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

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

best 38 foot sailboat

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

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

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

Article continues below…

best 38 foot sailboat

The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht?

Choosing a boat for offshore cruising is not a decision to be taken lightly. I have researched this topic on…

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European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best luxury cruisers

Before the sea trials began, I would have put money on a Hallberg-Rassy or the Wauquiez winning an award. The…

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

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

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

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

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

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

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

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

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

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

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

best 38 foot sailboat

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

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

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

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

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Contest-50CS-credit-Sander-van-der-Borch

Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

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

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-discovery-55-credit-rick-tomlinson

Discovery 55

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

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Rustler-42-credit-Latitudes-Picture-Library

Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-privilege-serie-5

Privilege Serie 5

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

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

Gunfleet 43

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

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Photo: David Harding

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

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

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .

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Wauquiez Centurion 57

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Bowman-40

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

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Photo: Voyage of Swell

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Hylas-46

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

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Photo: Peter Szamer

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

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Tartan 3700

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

Broker ’ s choice

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Discovery 55 Brizo

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

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Oyster 575 Ayesha

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

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Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

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

Best bluewater yachts for performance

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

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Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Arcona-435-credit-graham-snook

Photo: Graham Snook

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Outremer-51

Outremer 51

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-xc45

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Catana-47

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Sweden-Yachts-45

Sweden Yachts 45

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Swan-51

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-JPK-45-credit-Julien-Giradot-european-yacht-of-the-year

Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-pogo-50-credit-Andreas-Lindlahr

Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Seawind-1600

Seawind 1600

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

Best bluewater sailboats for families

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-lagoon-450s-credit-Nicholas-Claris

Photo: Nicholas Claris

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-fountaine-pajot-Helia-44-credit-Gilles-Martin-Raget

Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-RM-1370-credit-Arnaud-De-Buyzer-Graphikupcom

Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Jeanneau-54-credit-Bertel-Kolthof

Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Nautitech-46-Open

Nautitech Open 46

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Leopard-45

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-neel-51-credit-Olivier-Blanchet

Photo: Olivier Blanchet

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

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-beneteau-Oceanis-46-1-credit-graham-snook

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

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

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

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

Beneteau Oceanis 473

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

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

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-nautitech-441

Nautitech 441

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

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Atlantic-42

Atlantic 42

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

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

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

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

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

Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

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

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

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

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

Photo: svnaima.com

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

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

Futuna Exploration 54

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

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

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40 Best Sailboats

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

the 40 best sailboats

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.

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

moore 24 sailboat

40. Moore 24

pearson vanguard sailboat

39. Pearson Vanguard

dufour arpege 30 sailboat

38. Dufour Arpege 30

Alerion Express 28

37. Alerion Express 28

Mason 43/44 sailboat

36. Mason 43/44

jeanneau sun odyssey 43ds sailboat

35. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 43DS

nor'sea 27 sailboat

34. Nor’Sea 27

freedom 40 sailboat

33. Freedom 40

beneteau sense 50 sailboat

32. Beneteau Sense 50

nonsuch 30 sailboat

31. Nonsuch 30

swan 44 sailboat

30. Swan 44

C&C landfall 38 sailboat

29. C&C Landfall 38

gulfstar 50 sailboat

28. Gulfstar 50

sabre 36 sailboat

27. Sabre 36

pearson triton sailboat

26. Pearson Triton

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

islander 36 sailboat

25. Islander 36

gozzard 36 sailboat

24. Gozzard 36

bristol 40 sailboat

23. Bristol 40

tartan 34 sailboat

22. Tartan 34

morgan out island 41 sailboat

21. Morgan Out Island 41

hylas 49 sailboat

20. Hylas 49

contessa 26 sailboat

19. Contessa 26

Whitby 42 sailboat

18. Whitby 42

Columbia 50 sailboat

17. Columbia 50

morris 36 sailboat

16. Morris 36

hunter 356 sailboat

15. Hunter 356

cal 40 sailboat

13. Beneteau 423

westsail 32 sailboat

12. Westsail 32

CSY 44 sailboat

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

Alberg 30 sailboat

10. Alberg 30

island packet 38 sailboat

9. Island Packet 38

passport 40 sailboat

8. Passport 40

tayana 37 sailboat

7. Tayana 37

peterson 44 sailboat

6. Peterson 44

pacific seacraft 37 sailboat

5. Pacific Seacraft 37

hallberg-rassy 42 sailboat

4. Hallberg-Rassy 42

catalina 30 sailboat

3. Catalina 30

hinckley bermuda 40 sailboat

2. Hinckley Bermuda 40

valiant 40 sailboat

1. Valiant 40

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Morgan 38/382

Charlie morgan's hurrah becomes ted brewer's success story becomes today's pseudo-classic..

We receive many requests from readers to review certain boats. Almost without exception, the requests come from owners of the boat suggested. Few boats have been the object of more requests than the venerable Morgan 38. At first blush, it is difficult to determine which Morgan 38 we ought to address, as two distinct designs were built since the first one appeared 22 years ago. After some thought, we decided to trace the history of both as best we could, including also the Morgan 382, 383 and 384.

Morgan 38/382

The Morgan 38 was designed in 1969 by Charlie Morgan. He had founded Morgan Yacht Company in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1965. The Morgan 34 was his first production model. A hometown boy, he had made a name for himself in the 1960 and 1961 Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC), winning with a boat of his own design called Paper Tiger . While not a formally trained naval architect, Morgan demonstrated his skill with a variety of designs. Many of these were keel/centerboard models, owing to the shoalness of Florida waters. Seventy-nine were built before production halted in 1971.

In 1977, the Morgan 382 was introduced, designed by Ted Brewer, Jack Corey and the Morgan Design Team. According to Brewer, the boat was loosely based on the Nelson/Marek-designed Morgan 36 IOR One Ton. The most obvious difference between the 38 and 382 was the elimination of the centerboard and the addition of a cruising fin keel (NACA 64 012 foil) with skeg-mounted rudder. They are two completely different designs from two different eras in yacht design.

In 1980, the 382 was given a taller rig and called the 383. About 1983 the boat underwent other subtle changes, now called the Morgan 384. The rudder was enlarged and the interior modified. In its three versions, the Brewer model registered about 500 sales.

The company changed ownership several times during this period. It went public in 1968, was later bought by Beatrice Foods and then Thor Industries. Presently it is owned by Catalina Yachts, who built just 24 38s (three were kits) before discontinuing production in 1986.

The first Morgan 38 was a development of the highly successful 34, which Morgan called a “beamy, keelcenterboard, CCA (Cruising Club of America)-style of yacht. We had a good thing going and didn’t want to deviate; we found little interest in those days in keel boats. Centerboards have their own sorts of problems, but there’s an awful lot of thin water in the world, and safe refuge and quiet anchorages are mostly in shoal water.”

The boat has a long, shoal keel drawing just 3′ 9″ with the board up. The rudder is attached and there is an aperture for the propeller. “Beamy,” in 1969, meant 11 feet. The waterline was fairly short at 28 feet, but the overhangs give the hull a very balanced and pleasing profile. The stern is pure Charlie Morgan—a finely proportioned shape that is neither too big nor too small. In profile, the angle between the stern (which interestingly is a continuation of the line of the backstay) and the counter is nearly 90 degrees. It’s a trademark look.

Sloop and yawl rigs were offered, which was typical of CCA designs. The rig has a lower aspect ratio (the proportion of the hoist to the foot of the mainsail) than later designs, including the Brewer-designed 382. Yet this is a very wholesome rig for cruising. Owners responding to our questionnaire said the boat balances very well.

Owners of the 382 and subsequent permutations seemed less pleased. They didn’t rate balance as highly, noting most frequently the difficulty in tracking (keeping the boat on a straight course) when sailing off the wind (not uncommon with beamy fin keel designs; it’s a trade-off with speed, pointing ability and maneuverability). Others said that they raked their masts forward to improve balance. One thought the problem was caused because the rudder was slightly undersized. Still, these owners liked the way their boats sail.

The rig, of course, isn’t the only difference between the Morgan and Brewer designs. The latter has a foot wider beam—12 feet—and a longer waterline. Two keels were offered, the standard five-foot draft and an optional deep keel of six feet. Displacement jumped a thousand pounds to 17,000 despite a reduction in ballast from 7,500 pounds to 6,600 pounds. Centerboard boats, naturally, require more ballast because it isn’t placed as low as it is in a deep fin keel boat.

The look of the 382 is much more contemporary. The rake of the bow is straighter, as is the counter, which is shorter than the original 38 as well. Freeboard is higher and the windows in the main cabin are squared off for a crisper appearance.

Construction

The hulls of the early 38s were built of solid fiberglass and the decks of sandwich construction. Some 382 hulls were cored, others not. A variety of core materials were used, mostly Airex foam. The lamination schedule was your basic mat and woven roving, with Coremat added as a veil cloth to prevent printthrough.

Both designs have internal lead ballast, sealed on top with fiberglass.

The early 382s did not have the aft bulkhead in the head fiberglassed to the hull, which resulted in the mast pushing the keel down. All boats “work” under load, and bulkheads bonded to the hull are essential to a stiff structure. Anyone who has a boat in which major load-bearing bulkheads are not attached to the hull should do so before going offshore. To its credit, the company launched a major recall program.

Morgan 38/382

The owners of all Morgan 38s, as a group, note the strength of the boat. One said he hit a rock at 6 ½ knots and suffered only minor damage. Very few problems were mentioned. The owner of a 1981 model, however, said he “drilled through hull at waterline and was surprised at thinness of glass on either side of the Airex: 1/8” inside, 1/16″ outside.” With the stiffness that sandwich construction provides, not as much glass is required; still, protection from collision and abrasion would recommend greater thickness outside. Brewer, incidentally, discounted the report.

Interestingly, Hetron-brand fire-retardant resin was used for a time, prior to 1984; if you recall, this was blamed for the many cases of reported blistering on the early Valiant 40s. About half of the 382 owners responding to our surveys reported some blistering, none serious.

The attached rudder of the early 38 is stronger than the skeg-mounted rudder of later models. But we do prefer the skeg configuration to a spade rudder, at least for cruising. A problem with skegs, however, is the difficulty in attaching them strongly to the hull. One owner said his was damaged in a collision with a humpback whale, but that is hardly normal usage!

Several owners of later models commented that the mast was a “utility pole,” recommending a custom tapered spar for those inclined to bear the expense.

Other problems reported in our survey were only minor and were corrected by the company. In fact, owners were nearly unanimous in their praise for Morgan Yachts’ customer service.

The layout of the Morgan 38 is quite conventional and workable. In both incarnations there are Vberths forward, private head with shower (separate enclosure in the 382), dinette in main cabin with settee, galley aft in the port quarter area and nav station with quarter berth opposite to starboard. Specifications for the first 38s included “attractive wood-grained mica bulkhead paneling, with oiled American walnut trim.” This was a popular treatment in the 1960s, and practical, but often done to excess. By the 1980s, fake teak didn’t play so well. Owners wanted real wood, and that’s what they got in the 382.

Owners of early 38s complained of poor ventilation (“I added six opening ports, and would like an additional center cabin hatch,” wrote one), short Vberths (“Could be 4″ longer, but I’m 6′ 2.””), and more closet space (from a live-aboard).

Owners of later models mentioned the need for a larger forward hatch to get sails through, a hatch over the galley, larger cockpit scuppers, and Dorade vents.

(Teak Dorade boxes were added on the 384.) They complained of not enough footroom in the V-berths and poor location of the main traveler in the cockpit. (The traveler was moved to the cabinhouse top on the 384.)

Despite these minuses, most owners cite the volume of the interior and many stowage compartments as major reasons for their satisfaction with the boat.

Performance Under Sail

As implied in our comments on balance in the “Design” section of this review, the centerboard 38 sailed beautifully. She is dry and seakindly, stable and relatively fast for her generation. Its PHRF rating ranges from 145 to about 150. The yawl rig is probably not as fast as the sloop, but for the cruising couple, the mizzen sail gives the skipper another means of balancing the boat, as well as a means to fly more sail when reaching if he’s prepared to fuss with a staysail.

The 382 rates between 128 and 150, about 137 on average. The Morgan 383 and 384, which are grouped together, rate a mite lower at 135, on average.

Morgan 38/382

It is not surprising that Brewer’s redesign is faster, even though it’s 1,000-2,000 pounds heavier. This is due to it’s deeper fin and higher aspect rig with the ability to carry larger headsails. There is also less wetted surface. Performance Under Power

The centerboard 38 was powered by the seemingly ageless Atomic Four gasoline engine, though a Perkins 4-107 or Westerbeke 4-107 was available at extra cost ($1,940 in 1969). The early 38s cruise at about 6 ½ knots.

A first-generation Yanmar—the 3QM30—was used on some 382s, and as owners of those engines know, they tend to be noisy and vibrate a great deal. Yanmar engines improved a great deal after the manufacturer redesigned and retooled the entire line. But the most common powerplant was the magnificent 50-horsepower Perkins 4-108. If we were looking for a Morgan 38 to purchase, we’d certainly lean toward one with this engine.

Both designs handle reasonably well under power, as well as most sailboats do, meaning that backing down with a two-blade prop is a necessarily cautious procedure.

A number of owners recommend changing to a three-blade prop, but that will affect sailing performance. One should examine his sailing style closely before making the move.

The Morgan 38, in any incarnation, is a handsome boat that sails well and is built strong enough for most people’s purposes. Some may pause before taking a centerboard boat far offshore, but it has certainly been done—recall, if you will, Carleton Mitchell’s hugely successful racer Finnisterre .

Both centerboard and fin keel versions seem to us to have advantages and disadvantages that are essentially tradeoffs.

On the one hand, we like an attached rudder for cruising, as it provides the best protection from collision with logs and other hard objects. On the other, we recognize the importance of placing ballast low, as in the fin keel version, and we appreciate

Brewer for giving a nice slope to its leading edge so that damage from hitting logs will be minimized. Brewer said that a 382 that passes survey is capable of cruising just about anywhere. “They’ve crossed oceans,” he said.

To our eye, we admit to being fond of the CCA designs with low freeboard and graceful sheer lines. The yawl is a versatile rig that is especially attractive, though it does require more in the way of tuning and maintenance.

An early Morgan 38, in good condition, should sell in the high 20s. Expect to pay a thousand or so more for the yawl. For sellers, considering that in 1969 the base price of the boat was $22,995, that’s not a bad return on investment.

Fifteen years later the price had jumped to $84,995 (1984 model). Those boats today are advertised in the mid to high 60s, and occasionally the low 70s. (What anyone is actually getting for these days is another matter entirely).

Considering the changes in the economy, that’s still not bad performance. What it means most to the prospective buyer is that the Morgan 38 and 382 are popular, much admired boats that should, we expect, hold their value as well as or better than most others.

RELATED ARTICLES MORE FROM AUTHOR

My husband & I bought a 382 Morgan in 1980. Named her Galewynd. We enjoyed her til we sold in 2000

My husband & I bought a 382 in 1980. We named her Galewynd. We enjoyed her til we sold in 2000

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FJORD 38 XPRESS

Fjord 38 xpress.

Our FJORD yacht offers luxury, performance, and avant-garde design. The enlarged T-top provides full cockpit shade, while the helm features modern equipment including a wireless entertainment system. The windscreen adds a spectacular touch, resembling designer eyewear. Inside, refined materials and expert craftsmanship create a luxurious and exclusive atmosphere. Inside, premium materials and superior craftsmanship create a special, exclusive ambiance. First-class woods, luxury fabrics, and textured wall coverings adorn the interior with elegance.

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Custom line navetta 38 debuts in style.

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Th eNavetta 38 was the star of the party at Cipriani in Venice recently.

The party to introduce the 124-foot-long Custom Line Navetta 38 at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice was exactly what you’d expect from an Italian brand that reveres beauty, quality, style—gorgeous people gathered at an iconic Italian location to celebrate the debut of a beautiful boat.

Navetta 38 in Venice

And I’m just going to go out on a limb and say, “that’s the way it should be,” because this next generation Navetta that features exterior styling by Filippo Salvetti and interior design by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel of ACPV ARCHITECTS is drop dead gorgeous. In fact I love the way the clean, contemporary and elegant exterior lines work with the interior design that’s airy, open and makes great use of natural light.

The dining room features elegant oak ceiling panels and large opening doors.

Inside, one of the most distinctive features is the three-dimensional oak ceiling, which has ribbed structure that adds a texture to the interior. It also accents the hull lines and the floor-to-ceiling windows perfectly.

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The transition between ceilings, walls and floors feature rounded teak doors to create a uniquely soft atmosphere in the light-filled space.

Indoors and outdoors are integrated in the main deck saloon

The main deck is characterized by total integration between the interior and exterior spaces and the flush deck concept Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel designed for this yacht. The aft deck is totally open towards the beach club and furnished with a system of freestanding modular units to create a unique multi-functional area.

The beach club onboard the Navetta 38

Meanwhile the main living area on the main deck features a timelessly elegant style and custom-made furniture designed by Antonio Citterio.

Main Saloon onboard the Navetta 38

The B&B Italia Maxalto sofa and B&B Italia Maxalto leather pouf can also be used as a coffee table, while the drop-down TV is recessed in the ceiling.

The upper deck is made comprised of a spacious outdoor lounge and indoor salon featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that open. For me, this is the coolest spot on the whole boat. I’d live in that area if I ever could affors to buy a boat like this!

The upper deck saloon on the Navetta 38.

The master cabin on the main deck features two walk-in wardrobes, a long sofa, two freestanding tables large windows. Meanwhile the lower deck has four guest cabins that are accessed via an elegant teak staircase with leather-clad handrail.

Meanwhile this 120-footer also utilizes mega yacht technology including Fratelli Canalicchio stern mechanical movement systems, Najad stabilizer fins, and Seakeeper systems for maximum stability when cruising and at anchor. There’s also a special focus on the design and technical architecture of the audio-video system, which integrates latest a Bang & Olufsen BEOSOUND Theater into the interior beautifully.

Bellissimo.

Bill Springer

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    For almost 20 years, we've called this awards program SAIL Best Boats, but this year, we're refining and renaming this program to better and more fairly represent the boats we've selected. Restricting boats to categories and labels—such as Best Cruising Monohull 30-40 feet and Best Performance Monohull 40-50 feet—doesn't bring our readers the full picture.

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  22. Morgan 38/382

    The most obvious difference between the 38 and 382 was the elimination of the centerboard and the addition of a cruising fin keel (NACA 64 012 foil) with skeg-mounted rudder. They are two completely different designs from two different eras in yacht design. In 1980, the 382 was given a taller rig and called the 383.

  23. FJORD 38 Xpress

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  24. Custom Line Navetta 38 Debuts In Style

    Custom Line. The party to introduce the 124-foot-long Custom Line Navetta 38 at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice was exactly what you'd expect from an Italian brand that reveres beauty, quality ...