There are few things as idyllic and nautical as smooth sailing with the wind at your back. The sport of sailing is the historic backbone of boating. However, these days, you’re more likely to see a powerboat on the water instead of a regal sailboat. In fact, in 2020, less than 1% of all boats registered in the United States were sailboats. That means, if you’re interested in buying a sailing vessel of your very own, you’re looking at entry into an exclusive club.
People who own and spend their time on sailboats know that it’s less about how fast you get somewhere, and more about the fun you have along the way. Sailors are creative, inspiring, and laid back, since they have little control over how the wind blows. It’s a romantic lifestyle that calls back to the historic nature of life on the water, and one you really need to experience at least once in your life. If you’ve ever been curious about living aboard a sailboat, keep reading to learn all about life driven by the winds.
Boaters love their little rivalries, and the one between sailing and powerboating is no different. Each side of the argument thinks their method of boating is better. However, it’s important to remember that each one has specific benefits and takeaways.
Sailboats tend to be lower-maintenance and easier to care for than powerboats. If they do have an on-board engine, they’re usually smaller motors used for pulling in and out of slips or marinas. Those engines are easy to work on and effortless to maintain. Routine maintenance on a sailboat includes inspecting the lines to ensure they’re not fraying, and regularly cleaning or painting the hull to avoid stains and barnacles. This is a stark contrast to powerboats, which often have extensive maintenance schedules, including oil changes and flushing cycles that you have to do after every outing to prevent erosion.
Most people know that there are plenty of expenses that come with boating. When it comes to sailing or using a powerboat, the costs tend to even out. That’s because each type of boat ownership has its own unique costs. For example, sailboats are relatively fuel efficient. If they need any gasoline at all, it’s for powering a small motor that helps them get in and out of port, or when the wind dies. Meanwhile, powerboats rely on gasoline as their primary method of propulsion, and can go through a tank of gas in a day. Those fuel costs can add up, which makes boating an expensive hobby. Meanwhile, powerboats can come in a range of sizes, and it’s easy to keep smaller vessels at your home to save on storage costs. However, even relatively small sailboats may need to stay in a marina, especially if they don’t have a collapsible or removable mast. Monthly rent and service costs for a sailboat at a marina can be quite pricy, easily eliminating your gas savings.
When picking a boat with safety in-mind, there are few boats better than a sailboat. These vessels are designed with stability in mind, so they often have a very heavy weight, or ballast in the boat's bottom called a keel. This part of the vessel helps keep it upright, and can even make the boat self-righting if it tips into the water or gets swept under a wave. While most boatbuilders would hesitate to call anything “unsinkable,” some multi-hull sailboats are designed to stay above the water and waves. That extra-buoyancy means they’re safe to bring the whole family onboard.
One thing that powerboats have over sailboats is ease of use. Most powerboats are relatively turnkey when it comes to operating them on the open water. They’re also fairly simple to navigate through a marina once you’ve had a little practice. Meanwhile, properly tacking the sail on a sailboat can intimidate new boaters, and may require a few extra hands. The prospect of learning a new method of boating might even frighten some people from stepping aboard a sailboat in the first place. The good news is that a lot of sailing lessons go over the basics of being on the water, and experienced boaters should have no trouble getting acquainted with a new sailboat.
Every boater knows that the best way to have a great time on the water is to go out prepared and knowledgeable about your equipment and the conditions. That means that for most people, a sailing lesson is probably the best and safest way to learn how to sail the open seas. However, that option isn’t for everyone. Here are some ways you can safely learn to enjoy your time with your sailboat.
The best way to learn how to sail is to take a class by the American Sailing Association (ASA). This organization is dedicated to hosting sailing lessons that teach new and old boaters everything they need to know about getting and being safe while on the water. They provide a variety of lessons, including ones you can do from home. The ASA even has excursions you can take to popular sailing destinations like the British Virgin Islands, where you can learn to sail on a large vessel, so you can bring your skills home and enjoy your boat like a professional skipper.
Next, there are plenty of books and video resources you can look at to learn how to effectively captain your own sailboat. Sailing is one of the oldest pastimes, and skippers are often happy to share their knowledge with others. Take a look at YouTube for some highly rated content creators who are happy to share what life aboard a sailboat is like, and how you can start your own life at sea.
Finally, some people learn best by doing. This can be a risky way to learn how to sail, so make sure to take it slow. Many new sailors like investing in a small, single-person dinghy like a Sunfish so they can teach themselves how to sail. These small boats are launchable from a beach or boat ramp, and can be used in shallow water to learn how the boat reacts to certain conditions and driver inputs. It’s a valuable way to learn, but can cause a new boater to develop some bad habits. That means it’s best to use this method while cross-referencing an official at-home course by the ASA, or other resources.
Just like powerboats, there are several different types of sailboats on the market that you should know about before shopping for the boat of your dreams. The biggest category of sailboats is sweet water and blue water boats. These categories help establish which environment is best for a particular type of boat. Sweetwater boats handle best in freshwater areas. This can be because they’re made of metal or corrosive material that won’t do well in saltwater or because they have a shallow keel that is unstable in rough seas.
Blue water boats are designed for saltwater boating, and may even have additional features that means that they’re capable when far offshore, where waves may get higher. For a boat to be a true blue water boat, it needs a deep, heavy keel for stability in high seas, and large water tanks for extended journeys. They may also have a large gas tank and powerful motor for operation in dead calm conditions. Blue water sailboats are usually the pinnacle of safety, but that doesn’t mean you should try to cross the Atlantic the moment you bring it home. Take a few weekends to get used to the features and traits of your boat, so you can feel confident when you’re under sail in rough conditions.
You can even customize the layout of the sails, or rigging, on your ideal sailboat. Most boats come with a large headsail and mainsail, called a sloop or Bermuda rigging. There’s also boats with cutter riggings and ketch, which means they have either two forward sails, or an additional rear sail. These different rigging styles help sailors pick the type of driving they like to do, as they can affect maneuverability and handling when under sail.
Finally, there are many different hull designs and building materials you should familiarize yourself with before committing to one type of sailboat over another. For example, multihull sailboats like catamarans are incredibly popular for people who like to go fast and have a little more stability on the water. Because these boats distribute their weight effectively, they don’t draft as much, making them less prone to tipping. Sailboats are also made from a variety of materials that can affect performance, from traditional wood, to fiberglass, metal, and even a combination of these materials. It can be overwhelming to tackle shopping for a sailboat, with so many variables. However, this customization helps you pick the exact boat that’s right for you and your lifestyle.
Now that you know some basics about sailboats, here are some of the most popular brands on the market. Take a look at these vessels and see which ones stand out to you. Again, there are literally hundreds of unique features and combinations on today’s sailboats, so whatever you like, you’ll probably find it on this list.
With a top-end range of large blue water yachts, Catalina has a storied history of providing American sailors with top luxury and comfort. This company’s most popular model is the Flagship 545, an opulent 54-foot-long sailing vessel with room for the whole family. The flagship 545 is perfect for extended offshore sailing voyages, and can even come outfit with an electric washer and dryer so you can always be fresh while traveling.
Beneteau isn’t only known for its luxury power yachts. This company comes with an impressive fleet of performance-minded, capable sailboats. While its Oceanis line comes with outsized capability and luxury, experienced sailors looking for an a thrilling ride must look towards the unique and exhilarating Figaro 3. This unique racing-style sailboat has refined features, with a foiling-style keel that makes it cut through the water with ease.
Like Beneteau, Jeanneau has made a name for itself in both the sailboat and powerboat markets. That means, when you buy a Jeanneau, you have an opportunity to get the absolute best of both worlds. Jeanneau has three lines of sailboat, Jeanneau Yachts, which prioritize luxury and size, the Sun Fast, which are light, performance boats, and the Sun Odyssey, which provide a smooth, safe, comfortable ride. With three defined lines, you can find a boat built for the lifestyle you’re looking for that can achieve greatness.
Bring the island life with you wherever you go when you go aboard an Island Packet Yacht. These boats are spacious sailboats with timeless styles. They’re not built for aggressive handling or high speeds. Instead, they offer comfortable accommodations that make sure you relax and unwind wherever you go. Island Packet’s range is smaller than other competitors, with boats coming in between 34 and 42 feet.
If you want endless customization, you must consider a Hanse yacht. These yachts, built and designed in Germany, feature innovative technological advancements and new boatbuilding techniques that make them some of the most high-tech vessels on the market. Hanse allows buyers to customize almost all parts of their vessel, from hull color to the wood decking, ensuring you get exactly what you want. And, with vessels ranging in size from 31 to 67 feet, there’s a Hanse for you in this lineup.
Dehler Yachts share a parent company with Hanse Yachts, mentioned above. However, just because they’re related doesn’t mean they’re comparable. Dehler is the performance division of the company, offering exciting, light, oceanic vessels with comfortable interiors that can stand up to the hardest challenges that the ocean has to offer. With vessels between 29 and 46 feet long, you can find a boat that can take you to destinations you’ve only dreamed of before.
If you want a timeless wood-yacht sailing experience with modern accommodations, you must consider Pearson yachts. With nearly 70 years of history, this company knows how to build a historic sailing vessel. Now, they have one of the widest ranges of sailboats, with a small and portable eight-foot dinghy, and the namesake Pearson 53. Sailors opt for a Pearson for the reputation and the heart in every boat. It’s one that’s built with love and gives it right back to the skipper.
As an American boat maker that’s over 40 years old, Marlow-Hunter knows how to make a vessel that can handle both freshwater and blue water sailing. Marlow-Hunter has a variety of sailboats in its fleet, ranging between 15 and 50 feet long. One vessel that stands out in this lineup is the 15-foot Hunter, which is perfect for those who want a small, trailerable vessel that’s perfect for someone looking for a versatile runabout. This is ideal for someone looking for a platform for children, or a low-maintenance vessel for breezy day trips alone.
Now that you know the wide range of sailboats out there and available on the market, it’s time that you go and find the right one for you. With knowledgeable sellers and a passionate staff ready to help you find your perfect boat, you can’t go wrong starting your sailboat search at Moreaboats.com. Take a look at our inventory today!
Some sailboats are considered yachts. When talking about “yacht’s” in particular, it’s much better to think of them as a type of boat with specific amenities, instead of just a sailboat or a powerboat. That’s because there are both sailing and power yachts. Yachts are pleasure vessels that are over 33 feet long with a cabin on board. Since most sailboats are longer (as that increases stability in rough seas) that means they’re usually considered yachts.
When you consider what makes a boat ideal for fishing, you have to consider a few factors. Fishing boats are great at quickly getting to where the fish are, and then safely storing them onboard. Since it's hard to use a sailboat to follow schools of fish, this means they’re often not ideal for offshore fishing. Further, sailboats are usually designed with comfort on board, not for cleaning or storing fish. That’s not to say they can’t be great fishing charters. Since sailboats don’t have motors, they can move quietly over water, sneaking up on unsuspecting fish. If you do catch something, consider cleaning the fish on the transom, where evidence of your catch can be easily washed away.
Licensing for boating often depends on jurisdiction, so check your local laws before setting off on your own sailboat. However, generally speaking, you don’t need a license to captain your own sailboat. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to pursue a license or certification. This kind of documentation is excellent for people looking to excel as a skipper, or those who want to learn how to safely captain their own vessel. If you don’t intend to become a professional skipper, you can look into a certificate called an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV.) This allows you to captain vessels of under 100 tons with 6 people or fewer on board, and gives you the right to go by the title “Captain.”
One of the most popular reasons that some people love sailing is that there are no noisy engines onboard. Sailing can be relatively eco-friendly, especially if you do it right. Excluding the environmental impact of construction and delivery, most boaters look at a vessel’s fuel economy to judge it’s environmental impact. Most large sailing vessels will have gas tanks with hundreds of gallons of capacity. This is to ensure safety on multi-day voyages, especially if the wind doesn’t cooperate. However, just because there is a gas tank onboard, doesn’t mean you have to use it. If you choose to sail only to where the wind is sending you, you might find that the only time you use your engine is to get in and out of the marina. That is truly an eco-friendly way to enjoy the water.