9 Best Trailerable Sailboats

9-best-trailerable-sailboats

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

October 10, 2020

Sailing

Sailing is an excellent activity for the weekends, especially in remote mountain lakes or sheltered waterways. The United States is full of small isolated waterways, inland lakes, and rivers—which make the perfect environment for an adventure in a small sailboat.

Unfortunately, many people are put off by the idea of owning a sailboat due to the associated docking and maintenance fees. Weekend sailors often don’t want to pay for a long-term slip, and there’s no question that the added expense can be a pain.

Luckily, you don’t have to permanently dock a sailboat to enjoy this great pastime.

Instead of docking a large boat, you can purchase a small trailerable sailboat. A trailerable sailboat is a perfect option for part-time sailors and people with busy lives. Trailer sailors are some of the most popular boats in the country, and they’re not limited to light winds and calm seas. Many trailerable sailboats have made some impressive passages both offshore and coastal. In this article, we’ll go over some of the top new and used trailerable sailboats that you can purchase today. 

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1) West Wight Potter 15

The West Wight Potter 15 is perhaps one of the most capable 15-foot sailboats around. This neat little vessel is as seaworthy as it is easy to handle, and it’s a great choice for all kinds of cruising adventures. The West Wight Potter 15 is a 15-foot sloop with an aluminum mast and tiller. This tiny boat also features a small cabin, which has ideal sleeping accommodations for a cruising couple. The cabin itself is spartan compared to its larger relatives, but it’s the perfect design for the minimalist cruiser. This small sailboat is easily trailerable and can be stored in some garages with relative ease. The West Wight Potter 15 is ideal for inland and coastal waters and sets up (and takes down) fast with minimal fuss. Don’t let the small design fool you—this craft is surprisingly seaworthy. The West Wight Potter 15 has an impressive cruising record, including a trip from England to Sweden in the brutal North Atlantic. The West Wight Potter 15 can be purchased new from International Marine, and thousands of craft are in circulation already.

2) West Wight Potter 19

We thought it fitting to include the Potter 15’s big brother, the West Wight Potter 19, on this list of the best trailerable sailboats. West Wight Potter boats are well known for their robust design and easy handling, and the Potter 19 is no exception. The West Wight Potter 19 boasts the seaworthiness and ease-of-handling offered by its little brother, with the benefit of greater sailing comfort and cabin accommodations. This 19-foot sailboat is constructed of fiberglass. The hull contains a liberal amount of positive flotation, which makes the boat practically unsinkable. The cabin features generous accommodations for a boat of its size, featuring space for a vee-berth, a small stove, a sink, and a portable head. Additionally, the West Wight Potter 19’s cabin can be wired for electricity from the factory, further increasing the level of comfort in this capable trailer sailor. Like its smaller alternative, the West Wight Potter 19 has a history of some impressive cruises. An individual sailed this craft thousands of nautical miles from California to Hawaii—a single-handed voyage usually reserved for boats twice its size. That’s not to say that the Potter 19 is a purpose-built long-haul sailboat. This design is ideal for larger lakes, rivers, and coastal cruising. However, the design has demonstrated toughness and seaworthiness rarely found in smaller boats. The Potter 19, like the Potter 15, is a centerboard craft. This sailboat is available new from International Marine and offers a wide range of options packages and upgrades.

3) Newport 27

The Newport 27 is a massive step-up in size and amenities compared to the other boats on this list so far. This comfortable trailerable sailboat originated in 1971—at the height of the fiberglass boat boom. The Newport 27 measures 27-feet in length and feature a flush-deck design similar to the famous Cal 20. This sailboat, despite its trailerable size and weight, features surprisingly good handling characteristics and generous accommodations. A full 6-feet of standing headroom is available in the cabin, making this boat exceedingly comfortable for longer journeys. This sailboat is an excellent choice for the trailer sailing sailor who dreams of longer journeys but spends much of the time just hopping around local ports. Despite its modest size and weight, the design of this small sailboat is proven. Many people sail them long distances and enjoy the quick handling characteristics of its design. The Newport 27 is a true pocket cruiser, if not slightly larger than most. The Newport 27 isn’t produced anymore, but there is a healthy second-hand market for the boat.

4) Cape Dory 28

The Cape Dory 28 is a legendary Carl Alberg design known for its commodious living spaces and well-rounded performance both offshore and inland. This spacious little cruiser has the styling and capability of many larger boats, featuring traditional styling and generous amounts of varnished teak and brass. This cozy boat is a great choice for traditionalist sailors. The Cape Dory 28 features a proven, simple, and robust rig, and it functions gracefully in a variety of conditions. While a 28’ sailboat is hardly considered trailerable by many, it can certainly be hauled-out and transported with relative ease. This is the kind of sailboat that’s just as happy in the boatyard or a permanent mooring. The Cape Dory 28 offers attractive features for long-haul voyages, plus ease-of-handling and quickness that is necessary for tighter coastal waters. The Cape Dory 28 is ideal for salt-water cruising, though it’s a bit large for small lakes and narrow rivers. This is certainly not a shoal-draft cruiser—with a draft of 4-feet, it's primarily at home in the water. 

5) Islander 24

The Islander 24 is a common fiberglass classic that makes an ideal trailer sailing setup. This 24-foot fiberglass boat features a robust design and ease-of-maintenance rarely found on boats with similar capabilities. The design has been around for over 40 years, and it’s served weekender and cruising sailor alike. The Islander 24 is a well-rounded cruising vessel with a spacious cabin for two (or more). The cabin features a forward vee berth, space for a head, and tables for a sink, stove, or navigation. The boat is single-handed with ease, and the rig is simple enough to be stowed without too much hassle. The Islander 24 is a relatively common trailer sailor, though many owners leave it in the water. A vessel of this size is ideal for cruising coastal waters, though some sailors have attempted longer voyages in this vessel. The Islander 24 is available on the used market all over the country. 

6) Contessa 26

The Contessa 26 is an excellent classic trailerable sailboat. Don’t let its modest size fool you—this cruising craft has a long-standing reputation for seaworthiness. The Contessa 26 is a fiberglass boat that debuted in 1965 and has since earned a bit of a cult following. These rather innocuous looking crafts are as fun and capable as they are easy to handle. The boat features a spacious cabin, comfortable cockpit, and plenty of available cruising upgrades. The rig is well-built and resembles the rig of a much larger boat. The Contessa 26 is an ideal pocket cruising setup for a moderately experienced sailor. The vessel has a narrow beam, which contributes to heeling. The boat is known to heel rather violently, but it stiffens up shortly after and becomes a joy to sail. A boat like this knows its capabilities and is sure to impress anyone. The Contessa 26 is a safe, hardy, and comfortable cruising boat for minimalists, and one of the best tailorable sailboats in the mid to large-size category. This boat is a little harder to come by than many other vessels on this list, as around 300 were built. However, if you’re lucky enough to locate one on the used market, it’s definitely worth considering. Contessa built a fine boat, and the Contessa 26 meets the standard with confidence.

7) Hunter 27 

If you’ve made it this far down the list, you’re probably surprised that the Hunter 27 hasn’t come up yet. This famous little boat has quite a reputation and happens to be one of the most popular modern trailerable cruisers available. The Hunter 27 isn’t a traditionalist’s dream, but it offers the modern amenities and capabilities you’d expect from Hunter. This capable little sailboat has the handling characteristics of a truly seaworthy boat and manages well in all kinds of conditions. The Hunter 27 has a reputation for amazing durability, and the design is sound from keel to masthead. Now, let’s get into some of the features that make the Hunter 27 a very attractive option. The Hunter 27 is a purpose-built small cruising vessel, but the accommodations appear to be a shrunken version of a boat 10 feet longer. Down below, the Hunter 27 features a full galley, head, a full standing shower, berths, and generous storage space. The Hunter 27 is a truly livable trailer sailor, featuring accommodations that make it suitable for extended cruising or even living aboard. The salon features over 6 feet of standing headroom, with plenty of seating and counter space throughout. The rig is sturdy and easy to handle. And remember, the Hunter 27 is still a trailer sailor. The boat features a shoal draft of under 4-feet and a displacement of less than 8,000 pounds. The Hunter 27 is available used, and this boat is still produced and available brand-new by Marlow-Hunter. 

8) Cal 20 

How could we forget the little Cal 20? We didn’t—and it’s certainly worth including the famous Trans-Pac underdog on this list. The Cal 20 is reminiscent of the glory days of fiberglass sailing in the 1960s and 1970s. This flush-deck racer is a fantastic trailer cruiser for anyone wanting big-boat handling and speed in a compact package. The accommodations on this boat leave something to be desired, but many people find them cozy and acceptable. The cabin features sitting headroom and a berth, along with small tables for a stove or sink. The Cal 20 has a history of impressive voyages and was a popular choice for daring sailors on long offshore journeys. However, the boat is designed to be quick, safe, and fun on inland passages and coastal cruises. The Cal 20 is common on the used market and makes a great entry-level cabin sailboat. The Cal 20 features an enormous cockpit, making it ideal for a day on the bay with friends or family. The boat is easy to handle, and upgrades abound. The Cal 20 is a great little sailboat with a fun history and a massive fan base. This stout little yacht makes an excellent weekender too, and the cabin makes overnighting comfortable. 

9) Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20

One of the most legendary small trailerable cruisers is the full-keel Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20. A limited number of these boats were produced by Pacific Seacraft during the 20th century, and they have a reputation for incredible seaworthiness and long-range voyaging. These sailboats have the hull shape of boats twice their size, with a long, deep, full keel running the length of the hull. The boat can handle some serious offshore cruising and features the capabilities of other full-keel sailboats. The Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 is an amazing find on the used market, as owners tend to cling to them due to their incredible characteristics. There aren’t many trailerable offshore cruisers available, which is because it’s not easy to design a small boat with offshore capabilities. However, Pacific Seacraft did just that and built one incredible trailer sailor. This vessel is not really designed for shallow lakes and rivers. The Flicka 20 is known to be a truly seaworthy ocean-going sailboat, which happens to be small enough to fit on an average-sized boat trailer.

Conclusion

Wherever you choose to sail, a trailerable sailboat is often a great choice. The boats listed here are by no means the only options—in fact, there are dozens of excellent trailerable sailboat models on the market. If you enjoy sailing but want to avoid the hassle of a permanent mooring, or if you travel to sail, a trailer sailor is a great choice. Many sailors pick trailerable sailboats to sail multiple oceans. Many people would agree that it’s a lot more practical to haul your boat from the Pacific to the Atlantic, especially when the alternative option is the Panama Canal. A trailerable sailboat can give you access to a multitude of sailing adventures—the lake one weekend, the coast the next, and perhaps an offshore voyage or island hopping in the delta. And with this list of the best trailerable sailboats, you can find the boat that fits your needs (and your budget) and hit the water in no time.

9 Best Trailerable Sailboats

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