What are cruising sailboats?
Cruising sailboats are ones that are designed to be used over long distances. They are bigger, stronger, and far more stable. If you imagine a typical small sailboat such as a wayfarer you are looking at a pretty solid boat. Good quality, great for beginners, very safe, very affordable. But, it is simply not going to cut it out at sea for long. People have used the wayfarer to sail from the United Kingdom to Norway. But, people have also done that in a kayak. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should or that you would even want to if given the opportunity.
A cruising boat is meant to be liveable for long periods between making land. Typically, cruising just means a multi-day trip. In reality, it can be far longer. Reid Stowe once sailed his self built 70-foot schooner for over three and a half years. This is an extreme example, no one lives on their boat that long, but it gives you an idea of the possibilities. To be able to spend so much time on a boat requires that it be of an adequate size to accommodate everything you would need. If a sailboat is capable of housing you for a few days, technically it can be classed as a cruising sailboat. Typically, cruising sailboats can reach speeds of ten knots. This is needed to be able to make it from one point of land to another before supplies run out. This is not a technical requirement to be “classed” as a cruising sailboat, just a practical one.
What makes a sailboat good for traveling long distances?
While, yes, a sailboat capable of traveling for multiple days without making land could be classed as a cruising sailboat. There are some criteria that it needs to hit to be considered a good choice. Your sailboat needs to not only be capable of making the journey but doing it safely. Here are some important things to consider when deciding if a sailboat would be suitable for cruising:
A boat that is not going to be stable is not ideal for cruising. When sailing for multiple days chances are you are going to crossing through rough seas and dangerous waters. If you don’t have a boat that can stand up to these conditions you are going to be in trouble. A good way of assessing stability is width and hull type. If a boat has a very wide, or multiple, hulls you can assume it is going to be quite stable.
The bigger the boat the better, not only for stability but for comfort. If you are going to be essentially trapped on your boat for several days it is a good idea to have as much room to move about as possible. Both in the cabin and on the deck. If you are stuck inside because of bad weather for several days every extra square foot you have is going to be a blessing. Size matters to when you consider how many people you can bring on your voyage. They don’t just require their sleeping quarters/bunk they need space to move around.
Strength matters. A strong hull will help you withstand even the roughest conditions. Some boats are built with metal reinforcing on their hulls, some aren’t. If given the choice, you would do well to choose the former. Strength doesn’t just mean material but the overall build of the boat. If a boat doesn’t have a strong mast, the sail is more likely to come down. A sailboat without a mast or sail is much more likely to capsize.
Being able to travel long distances is not only limited by the strength or sturdiness of the boat but how much storage it has. If you plan to be sailing for 7 days you will need 7 days worth of supplies. If a boat doesn’t have the storage to accommodate this, you won’t be able to make the journey. Just because a boat is larger doesn’t mean it will have more storage room.
More than anything, what makes a sailboat suitable for cruising is having an experienced skipper. There is a big difference between sailing for multiple days and multiple hours. Make sure you are capable of making the voyage before you think about whether your boat can.
What do people find so appealing about sailing long distances?
There is such a romantic notion of being able to sail wherever you please, whenever you please. Being able to make long voyages is so much more exciting than shorter ones. The chance to cruise from country to country is such an exciting opportunity that few people in the modern era have. Sailing from country to country used to be the only way to get around. Now, everyone uses planes. Sailing brings people back to their ancestral roots in a way no other form of transport does. There may not be new lands to discover on behalf of our countries, but there are new lands to discover for ourselves. Reading about, hearing about, or watching documentaries on places is not the same as exploring them for yourself by sea.
The sense of adventure and discovery is like nothing else. Who doesn’t dream of making the journey around the world? Most people will never do it, but the dream is still there. Most of all though, long-distance cruising is exciting. The adrenaline from making the dangerous trip through open sees is truly exhilarating. Whether you are racing or cruising along at your own pace, there is always a sense of danger when out at sea. Some people love it, they crave it, but it isn’t for everyone.
Is sailing long distances dangerous?
Sailing long distances may be romantic, it may be exciting, it may be freeing, but it is also one of the most dangerous things you can do. When you are out of contact with the rest of the world, out at sea beyond the help of those onshore, the potential for danger is huge. You don’t know what will happen, you don’t know what could go wrong. No matter how experienced, how skilled, or how brave you are there is the potential for disaster. There are things you can do to improve the odds. Being a great sailor is one, making sure you have the best cruising sailboat possible is another. You don’t have to spend millions or even hundreds of thousands on getting a great sailboat. Some are far more affordable than you might expect.
What are the 5 best cruising sailboats?
There are so many fantastic sailboats out there that finding the right one might feel impossible. The choice is overwhelming, even with the above guide on what to look for in your boat there are still almost endless choices. Luckily, this article is here to help. This section will give you a good selection of cruising sailboats at various price points. Which one is best for you will likely depend on a mixture of preference and budget. While none of these boats are exactly cheap, they won’t break the bank like some of the other options on the market.
1. Prout Snowgoose 37
If you are looking for a reliable sailboat look no farther than the Prout Snowgoose 37. This large catamaran makes use of its double hulls for increased width and stability. It is easy to steer, handles well, and is pretty spacious. There are more roomy catamarans on the market but none are as strong as this one. It is built to be sailed long distances in rough conditions. Its fiberglass hull makes it light and nimble all while retaining its strength. It is a slightly older model, but one that will serve you well. It is British made so finding one in the States can be a little tricky. If you do find one though you would do well to jump at the chance to purchase it.
Price: Less than $100k
2. Corbin 39
The Corbin 39 is a beautiful blue water sailboat. It is a very rare boat with a proud history. Only a handful of these boats were finished to completion in the factory, the majority were sold as kits and built by the boat’s owner. Because of this method of production, this model can vary drastically on the inside. The interiors are all expressions of their owner’s creativity, and craftsmanship. This means you may want to have a proper look around inside the boat before purchasing one. The outside, especially the hull, is likely to be the same from boat to boat as they were sold as a piece. If you don’t mind potentially having to remodel the interior this might be the boat for you. The Corbin 39 is a rather large boat, the deck is huge and is perfect for transporting multiple passengers. You may have to shell out some more cash for renovations but the boat itself is second to none.
3. Tayana Vancouver 42
Finding one of these cruisers isn’t going to be too hard, as quite a few were made, but it is important to note they were made almost 40 years ago. Some models were made in the early 2000s, but not many. This double-ended hull cruiser is incredibly strong, it has a cast iron ballast and can withstand even the very worst weather conditions. This boat is strong, rugged, but not very quick. If you are looking for speed this is not the boat for you. The hull is fiberglass so you know you are getting a sturdy boat, but the trade-off from the iron ballast means this boat is heavy and slow to maneuver. This double sail cruiser costs anywhere from $80-$100 grand depending on how old the model you are looking at is. The older ones are a bit cheaper, at the expense of being a little worse for wear.
Price: Less than $100k
4. Nordic 40
This 40-foot cruiser is a jack of all trades type of craft. If you are looking for a very solid middle of the pack choice this is the one for you. It does everything well but excels almost nowhere except in size. The Nordic 40 is very large for the price you are paying, so you are certainly getting your money worth here. This vessel is sturdy, strong, light and nimble. It is capable of moving very quickly and agilely through the water in a light breeze but is more than capable of resisting tougher conditions. If you are looking for a cruiser that is good for living on, not just sailing on, this could be the one for you. Its extra size means extra storage and living spaces. It has a great shower, huge fridge, plenty of counter space and decent sized sleeping quarters.
Price: Less than $100k
5. Pacific Sea Craft 34
If you are looking for the perfect cruiser for you and your significant other, the Pacific Sea Craft 34 is just what you are looking for. It has a solid fiberglass hull and is capable of reaching decent speeds. The 34 may be slightly smaller than some of the other options but it still has plenty of storage, six and a half feet of headroom, and is simply stunning to look at. This sailboat is incredibly well designed, its 13,500 pounds of displacement make it strong and sure in the water without losing its agility.
Price: Less than $100k
Hopefully, you now have a good idea about what to look for in a sailing cruise boat. There are so many great options on the market, the ones mentioned above are just a good starting point. If you take the time to find the right boat for you, you won’t regret it. Buying a cruising sailboat is a huge commitment, it is important to be sure of your choice before you make the purchase. Good luck with your hunt for the perfect cruiser!
Thinking of living on a sailboat? Read up on the 10 Best Sailboats To Live In.