What Is A Cruising Sailboat?

What Is A Cruising Sailboat? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

If you're buying a sailboat to go on a long getaway, you need a cruising sailboat. But what is a cruising sailboat, and how is it different from other boats?

Simply put, a cruising sailboat is a water-based vessel that can be used for long-distance travel. This means that the boat needs to be livable, should have the right amenities and storage space, and should be able to travel at a decent speed. Moreover, it should be strong and durable. 

More often than not, people end up purchasing a cruising sailboat even though they have no intentions of going on long sailing trips, in which case, they will be paying a lot more just for a weekend getaway. On the other hand, beginners who are looking to sail may end up with a sailboat that's inadequate.

As veteran skippers ourselves, we know a thing or two about cruising sailboats, having gone on plenty of excursions. Here, we're going to talk about cruising sailboats and their requirements.


Table of contents

What Is a Cruising Sailboat?

While for many folks, all sailboats may look the same, apart from their size, the truth is, different sailboats are built for different purposes. This is why it is crucial for those looking to take long trips on their boat to choose a cruising sailboat. For instance, the following are some of the different types of sailboats that are available:

  • Sailing dinghies
  • Sailing cruisers
  • Day cruisers
  • Racing sailboats
  • Bluewater cruising sailboats
  • Motorsailers

What's Required in a Cruising Sailboat?

So, what's required in a cruising sailboat? While opinions differ, some features are universal in all cruising sailboats, depending on the skipper you're asking.


The first factor to consider when it comes to choosing a cruising sailboat is the size. When it comes to boats, it turns out, size does matter, both in terms of getting more speed and better stability, which are two of the basic requirements of a cruising sailboat. One of the reasons for this is that you need to be comfortable when you are stuck on a boat for several days. Larger sailboats have an adequate deck and a cabin, along with plenty of space to store away the essentials you will need for your trip.

If you are sailing through bad weather, which is often the case when going on weekend trips, then a large cabin can really be a blessing since you will be spending much of your time indoors. The size of a cruising sailboat matters even more if two or more people are going to come along for the cruising trip because it means you'll be getting more sleeping quarters and extra square footage for everyone to move around in comfortably.


It goes without saying that a sailboat that's not stable cannot be a good choice for cruising over open waters, especially if you're going to be sailing for multiple days or travelling through rough waters. A sailboat needs to maintain stability and stand up to the harsh conditions of the sea to keep the occupants safe. As a rule of thumb, it is advised to always choose sailboats with a wide hull, or multiple hulls, which almost guarantees better stability while cruising.

Hull Types

While we are on the topic of sailboat hulls, it is important to note that there are different types of hulls that are on a sailboat: monohulls or a single hull, catamarans, or two hulls, and trimarans that have three hulls.

Mono Hulls

Monohulls may have a single hull, but that doesn't mean that they are all similar. For instance, traditional monohulls could have a full keel, a cutaway keel for better maneuverability, swing keels, or a bolted keel on the fin. It is important to know the difference between all of these types of monohulls if you are planning to choose one for cruising.


Catamarans or cats come with dual hulls and a trampoline or deck in the middle. It is important to note that small cats that come with just a trampoline in the middle of the hulls are only recommended for daysailers and not for longer trips. If you are looking to take a long but quick cruise, then catamarans are a great option since their keels are shallow and lightweight, making them sail faster.


As the name implies, trimarans have three hulls and come with two side hulls for added stability. Large trimarans are fast becoming the go-to choice for sailors who enjoy cruising sailboats that are fast and stable.


It goes without saying that a sturdy hull will be able to withstand even the most demanding sea conditions. This is one of the main reasons why some cruising sailboats are built using metal reinforcements to give the hulls extra support. On the other hand, many sailboats do not use metal to reinforce the hulls, which are not recommended if you are looking for a cruising sailboat. When it comes to the durability of a sailboat, many other factors also need to be considered.

For instance, the durability of a sailboat does not only mean having hulls that have been reinforced with metal. Other areas of a sailboat, such as the mast and sail, are also important. For example, if the mast of a sailboat is not strong enough, the sail will likely come down, and a sailboat without a sail or mast also increases the chances of the boat capsizing.

Speaking of sails, the sail that is used in a cruising sailboat is going to be different from a racing sailboat, which is another factor that you need to consider.


If you plan on getting a cruising sailboat, you will want to get one that has not only been well built but also has the space that's necessary to store the essentials, such as food and water. This is another important factor to consider because if you plan on going on cruising for a few days or a week out in the open waters, you will need to have a sailboat that also has a large storage room to accommodate your storage needs, which in this case, is a week's worth of rations.

There are many reasons why sailing enthusiasts or beginners would love to sail the open seas, mainly because the sense of adventure that one experiences is like no other. While long-distance cruising can be incredibly exciting both for experienced as well as novice boat enthusiasts, it is also important to make sure you have the right vessel for the job.

What Is A Cruising Sailboat?
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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