10 Best Sailboats For Circumnavigation

Best Sailboats For Circumnavigation | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Circumnavigation means to successfully navigate around any sort of landmasses such as an island or continent. Whilst in yesteryear we would have relied on compasses, maps, stars and uncomfortable conditions, now sailboats are fitted with a vast array of equipment to help you circumnavigate anywhere you choose in a comfortable and timely manner.

It would seem reasonable to suggest that a small and lightweight boat wouldn't have the capability to circumnavigate effectively, but this is no longer the case. Due to the developments in the understanding of technology and materials over the last 20 years or so, mass produced boats are more than capable of surviving any conditions providing the crew are prepared properly. With the improvements in engineering especially, long gone are the days where slow, bulky, and claustrophobic cruisers were your only option. You can travel in style!

Ultimately, this article is going to answer the question: what are the best sailboats for circumnavigation? There are a few major things that you need to consider. Principle amongst them are the facilities on board the sailboat, the ease of use, how the deck and cabins are organized, the space available and finally the performance of the vessel overall. Take your time and think carefully about it.


Table of contents

10 Best Sailboats for Circumnavigation

1. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS


Starting off our list with one of the strongest contenders, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS certainly ticks the luxury box. What's impressive is just how visually striking and spacious the 54DS is. It has big, swooping curves that give this sailboat a really distinctive shape. When this line of boat made its debut in 2003, the superstructure was considered to be one of the very best in the world and it still ranks highly today. Not only this, but the interior is designed to be luxurious and you have a surprising amount of space available in the cabin.

There's more to this boat than the looks though. The build quality on the whole is absolutely fantastic and it's quite powerful too. Many previous owners have attributed the high standard build quality, powerful performance and the excellent superstructure to the predictable and reliable performance. This is ideal for circumnavigation as you want a boat that is going to perform predictably and not throw you any major surprises!

A few other notable features on the 54DS are deep-draft keel and a standard in-mast furling mainsail. It also comes with an optional full battened main. All of these features are considered to be standard equipment for long distance cruisers.

All the high-quality features come at an expensive price. The price is certainly above average for a sailboat like this and you could make do with something a little less advanced but it's important to remember that the price is balanced out by the quality of the interior and stunning shape. Certainly some food for thought.

2. Amel Super Maramu


A highly regarded design by the Frenchman Henri Amel, this sailboat was his idea of what a high-performance circumnavigating sailboat should look like. The main point of the design was to encourage as much performance out of the boat as possible in deeper waters. This means less luxury, and more functionality. Oh, and not to mention that is undeniably French, so bear that in mind.

The boat itself looks like a traditional circumnavigating sailor, but it's got a lot of modern features to offer. The ship itself is designed to be operated by a small crew of two people. Everything is about efficiency. For example, the ketch rig is designed to be simple yet highly effective. Even the sails are electrically controlled! This means that the boat is really easy to use and manageable. It's recommended that for sailors who have a couple of years' experience because a few components can be a little bit complicated to do.

One thing that you might want to consider is that the Super Maramu isn't designed to be customised. Coming in at 53 feet long, it simply wouldn't be worth the effort to make any exterior modifications. It's a similar story for the interior as well. All the interior is functional so if you are looking for a more luxurious circumnavigator, then this wouldn't be a good option.

3. Hallberg-Rassy 42 and 42F


The Hallberg-Rassy range is known for their toughness and almost mythical build quality. The design is ruthlessly efficient, seen as there is absolutely no wasted space at all. This means that everything is focused on functionality, but this comes at the expense of it being a little bit less comfortable. The relatively simple exterior design is fitting in terms of the overall theme of the boat, simplicity and efficiency.

The layout below decks is also designed to be as efficient and user friendly as possible. This means that the boat is easy to use as well as the interior having a surprisingly fantastic finish to it. The design adds a lot of value to this boat because the ease of use and quality mean it's a fantastic place to be. Of course, this is depending on the amount of time you're going to spend circumnavigating but for a long trip, this is wonderful.

A word on the performance. It is very good too. It wouldn't be considered one of the best performing boats on this list but it's certainly more than good enough to get you where you need to go.


4. Hylas 54


The German Frers design can be seen again in the Hylas 54 but it's no surprise considering how good the design actually is. The Hylas 54 is designed to be a good balance between performance and efficiency.

The hull is built to an extremely high standard and the boat can also be driven very easily. In fact, its so easy to sail that achieving over 200-miles per day isn't too much of a struggle. On the deck, the design is compact and efficient which is perfect if you're an experienced sailor.

Another strong feature of the Hylas 54 is that there's a great amount of space and degree of flexibility below decks. You are free to choose how you want the layout to look as well as the quality of the finish. It even has a raised saloon version of which further adds to the flexibility and space available.

Owners are generally positive about this modal as well as the newer model, the Hylas 56. One of the biggest advantages is that it's really easy to handle. This would make a great, all round option for circumnavigating where you have the freedom to make it feel like home!

5. Beneteau 57


This is possibly one of the best, high-end options on the market currently! The Beneteau 57 is designed to be as stylish and reliable as possible. It would be fair to categorise it as a luxury cruiser that's for sure!

The hull is designed to be as fast and as sleek as possible. Paired with the stunning hull, the cockpit is placed as central as possible to maximise the amount of space available on the deck as well as keeping everything as neat and organised below decks.

The facilities below decks don't suffer either. All the systems have a fantastic finish to them and on the whole are very impressive. There is a fairly reasonable amount of space considering that the length of the boat is over 50 feet long.

It's fair to say that if you want to enjoy your tip but do it in luxury, then the Beneteau 57 is an absolutely fantastic option. The biggest benefit is that the price is extremely competitive considering the build-quality and luxurious feel you pay for.

6. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49


A rather surprising selection on the list! The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey isn't actually designed for circumnavigation by the charter market. However, due to its size and adaptability, it works extremely well as a circumnavigator.

Featuring a large cockpit, easy to maintain sailplan and a wonderful all-round performance, this really is a boat that can do pretty much anything you ask of it. A unique feature that this boat has is that it has a dedicated sail lock in the bow of the ship which is ideal for adjusting the height of the sail.

Below decks, you'll find a boat that has a variety of options for you. The cabin is designed to be twin aft but, if you remove the bulkhead, you can change the space into a massive single cabin. Below decks also feature a large navigation station which is a cool feature. The finish of the interior is also completed to a high standard which means that it's a comfortable and relaxing place to be!

7. Lagoon 440


This is a sailboat that has a lot of accolades. More lagoons have crossed the Atlantic. This is due to the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. In regards to the 440 modal in particular, they have taken part in the Atlantic Rally more often than any other lagoon. So, what does all this mean? Well, the Lagoon 440 is designed to be a quality cruiser that's incredibly reliable and safe.

On the deck, there is an awful lot of room. You have a saloon, a big cockpit, a wide trampoline forward and the flybridge. This means that there's plenty of space to socialise with your other crew members or in the harbour. It also means that you have enough space for some privacy too which is fantastic depending on how much time you're going to spend on the boat.

Below decks, it's very much the same story. The interior is polished and refined as well as having an enormous amount of space. This is absolutely ideal for having a large crew and enjoying your journey!

One final thing to highlight is the performance of the boat itself. It certainly isn't the fastest, but the boat will certainly get you anywhere in a good amount of time.

8. Beneteau Oceanis 473


The Beneteau Oceanis 473 is an extremely popular sailboat for circumnavigation. The design was actually meant for the charter market but because of the vast size, comfortable features and the fact its relatively affordable, it became a target for cruisers looking for a bargain.

There hasn't been a lot of modifications for circumnavigation, but the boat is good at handling heavy weather and performs in a stable and predictable manner. This means that it's incredibly easy to control and perfect for a long-distance cruise.

The interior is a little bit funky too! There are a few different cabin styles but the most popular one is the three-cabin version. The rooms are big enough, but they aren't ideal to use on the sea because some of the room is wasted. However, it is excellent for harbour parties.

9. Bavaria 42


The Bavaria 42 is the most popular mass-produced boat to cross oceans. The sailboat is designed to be a no-nonsense, affordable, and adaptable cruiser. It's also well engineered for the price.

On the deck, a long waterline and fairly good sail area provide a good amount of performance. It is very heavy though when the cruising essentials are stored on board. It's important to bear this in mind. The cockpit is also positioned to be as central as possible to open up more space.

Below decks, the interior is straightforward and functional. There are two to three sleeping cabins depending on what model you choose. The sleeping cabins are generally considered to be functional at best.

It's the standard, go to a cruiser for circumnavigation. This should be the sailboat that you compare everything to!

10. Oyster 56


I've saved possibly the best option for last. The Oyster 56 is highly regarded and considered to be a dream boat for most. The biggest advantage of the Oyster 56 is the fact that it's so flexible and simple to use but the standard of the instruments and interior is absolutely stunning.

There isn't too much else to say because everything is built to an unbelievably high standard. The deck is designed to be small enough to be crewed by two people, but it's sufficiently big enough to cross vast distances quickly and in immense comfort. The systems can be crewed by up to six people, with the ideal number being from two-four.

It's the exact situation below decks as well. A lavish interior is designed to relax you in comfort. There's a lot of space so it feels more like home rather than a boat. Everything you could want is available. The 56 is absolutely fantastic for long distance cruising.

A final thing to mention is that the Oyster 56 wins pretty much anything it competes in. You certainly are buying a quality boat!


Ultimately, the choice of the best sailboat for navigation depends on what experience you are looking for. It's fair to say that each sailboat has their own positives and negatives. You might want to relax in comfort and luxury, or you might want to have a more authentic, manual experience. The important things to consider are the space available below decks, the size of the boat and how easy it is to use and whether the boat meets your needs.

However, if I was to make a recommendation, I would suggest the Beneteau 57. Even though it is one of the most expensive sailboats on the list, it offers a wide variety of applications, excellent build quality and luxury interior makes this an amazing boat to travel in. If you want to travel in style, then this certainly is the boat for you! This is an excellent boat for larger crews, especially six and up.

If the Beneteau 57 isn't your cup of tea, then another excellent recommendation would be the Bavaria 42. This is an excellent option due to the outstanding build quality, quality engineering and functionality. It's perfect for small crew that like to have a functional and minimalist experience but really connect with the sea and the natural surroundings. Just bear in mind that it is a lot smaller than the majority of the sailboats on the list so don't expect to have the same luxurious experience you might have with some others.

Hopefully, you've found the perfect sailboat for you or if not, you've got some inspiration! The main thing is that the boat should add to the enjoyment and experience of the journey, not detract from it. No matter what boat you choose, make sure you enjoy it!

Happy sailing!

10 Best Sailboats For Circumnavigation
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

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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