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Explore the diverse types of yachts with our comprehensive guide. Learn about various designs, construction materials, hull and keel configurations, rigging options, and specific yacht categories like day sailers, trailer yachts, sports boats, cruising yachts, and multihulls. Perfect for boating enthusiasts and prospective yacht owners.

Almost certainly, the right boat is out there waiting for you. Selecting her will involve emotional and practical considerations. I yearn to own a Morgan sports car but also need a vehicle to carry young grandchildren, as well as a tool chest, down to the boat yard during winter months, and to be able to throw a lawnmower in the back. A two-seater cannot cope with any of that. Buying a yacht requires the same practical thought processes.


Racing, they say, improves the breed, and this is certainly the case with yacht design, which in five decades, has progressed from traditional narrow, heavy displacement hulls with integral keel and rudder profiles to much more efficient wide beam, light displacement forms with all manner of keel and rudder configurations.

The greater volume within modern designs, developed to increase form stability and improve performance off the wind, has the practical benefit for cruising in providing more volume below, allowing for bigger berths, a fully fitted galley and heads (toilet), even in the most modestly sized yachts.

Traditional and modern keel
Compare this 1960s era long keeled cruising design with the modern lines of a similar-sized Beneteau First 31,7 production cruiser which has far more internal volume, a deeper keel and greater stability

There has been a marked change in hull profiles too. The graceful raked bows that mark out yachts from the 1950s to 1980s have given way to plumb bows and sterns, drawn to extend waterline length and thus speed and, as a by-product, extend internal volume.

Boat interior
Interior layout within a modern Beneteau First 235 (7,2 m) cruising yacht: double berth under the cockpit, twin berths forward, dinette arrangement, galley, nav station (with heads beneath seat) and a stowage locker for sails. Similar accommodation in a traditional hull would require 30 ft+ overall length

There is a financial advantage too, for by minimising bow and stern overhangs, berthing fees are proportionally less.

Construction types

Fibre-reinforced plastic

Fibre-reinforced plastic yachts are by far the most popular, being lighter and Operation and Maintenance of the Your Own Sailboatrelatively low maintenance. They are long lasting and hold their value well. Indeed, many of the early GRP yachts built during the 1960s are still going strong and commanding good prices in the brokerage columns. Later models are often moulded using more exotic materials to the simple chopped strand glass mat and incorporate Kevlar and even carbon fibre to provide greater strength without increasing overall weight.

When purchasing second hand, look for stress cracks around the shroud plates, mast slot and corners within the moulding. Star crazing within the gel coat around the hull and deck is a clue to minor impact damage.

Boat on the water
Cyclades: Milos
Source: unsplash.com

Check also for signs of osmosis. This water penetration through the outer gel coat manifests itself as small blisters below the waterline. This is expensive to repair, requiring the gel coat to be planed off, the hull dried, and the affected areas re-coated with an epoxy-based resin.


Wooden yachts have more character but require more work. If you don’t enjoy maintenance as much as sailing, steer clear of these.

If you are certain about buying a classic, then a survey is essential. Rot is the most prevalent enemy and will manifest itself anywhere where rain water gets trapped and soaks into the wood.

Wooden boats
Paternoster, West Coast South Africa
Source: unsplash.com

Vessels moored in salt water fare much better than those kept on a lake or river, but marinas, even those opening on to the sea, are often fed by fresh water streams which results in a brackish water environment, and is no kinder to wood than fresh water.

Wood, Aluminum and John BoatsWooden boats require regular maintenance to keep on top of a deteriorating atmosphere; wood should never be allowed to peel or go bare, and requires annual painting. Wooden boats are a labour of love. Be sure they are for you before you invest.

Aluminium or steel

Metal fabricated hulls are strong but require regular painting to minimise corrosion. They can also suffer from condensation in winter months unless they are well insulated. When buying second-hand, a survey is imperative.

Aluminum boat
Boat, Falmouth, United Kingdom
Source: unsplash.com

Check in particular for signs of electrolytic corrosion between hull plating and bronze fittings and stern gear.


Ferro-cement yachts are often amateur constructed. They are, however, relatively easy to construct by plastering concrete over a wire frame and, providing the wire remains encased, and not allowed to rust, these hulls can be very durable.

Boat on the sea
Boat from ferro-cement

They have a low second-hand value.

Hull/keel configurations

Full-length keel with stern-hung rudder
Pre 1970s boatEraPre 1970s
ProsGood directional stability. Excellent sea keeping qualities
ConsNarrow beam, minimising accommodation. Unpredictable when steering astern
Twin bilge keels with skeg-hung rudder
Post 1960s boatEraPost mid-1960s
ProsAllows yacht to be beached, even on stony ground. Particularly suitable where moorings dry out at low tide. If you run aground, the boat stays upright. Also, when laying up over the winter, the boat does not need a cradle
ConsNot as efficient as a fin keeled configuration when sailing upwind. Their offset position can also create weather helm when the yacht is over-pressed
The purpose of the twin bilge keel concept is to provide a tripod of “feet” so the yacht stands upright when taking to the ground
Separate fin and skeg-hung rudder
xxEraPost 1970s
ProsLess wetted area than full-length keel and more predictable when steering astern. Excellent sea-keeping qualities
ConsNarrow beam though 1980s era saw beam width increasing
Shoal keel
xxEraPost 1980s – A shallow fin keel often with a bulb on the bottom to provide a similar righting moment to the deeper fin keel
ProsShallow draft suitable for use in rivers and estuaries
ConsLess efficient than a standard fin keel, offering less lateral resistance upwind
Drop keel
xxEraPost 1960s – Acts like a daggerboard inside vertical trunking with a winch or block and tackle to raise the keel. In the event of a knockdown, a locking mechanism keeps the keel from sliding back up its casing
ProsThe trunk is much narrower than with a swing keel and its “stiletto” shape, which often includes a bulb on the bottom, is more efficient
ConsIf you run aground, this puts a great deal of stress on the trunking. The trunking also acts as a huge cabin divider. When the keel is raised, then so too is the centre of gravity and the boat becomes more tippy
Wing keel
xxEraPost mid-1980s – A fin keel with winglets on the tip to provide an end-plate effect to maintain water flow around the lower section of the foil
ProsMore efficient than a fin keel. The wing also adds weight to the bottom of the keel and extends the depth of the foil when the yacht is heeled over
ConsIf you run aground, the wing is more susceptible to damage and getting stuck in mud
Asymmetric daggerboards
xxEraPost 1990s – This is where the trunking is offset from the centreline
ProsThis offers the same shallow draft benefits of the swing keel, without the trunking taking up space in the middle of the cabin. Instead, the trunking for the lifting daggerboards form part of the side berths and remain unobtrusive
ConsTwo keels to worry about rather than one
Swing keel
xxEraPost 1970s. A heavier version of the sheet metal centre plate used in early dinghies and day boats. Now available in much larger shoal draft cruising yachts
ProsProvides a similar performance to a fin keel while providing the ability to beach the yacht. If you accidently run aground, you simply crank up the keel and sail away. Some swing keel designs like those fitted in the Southerly range, have a cast iron grounding plate which serves as fixed ballast and protects the bottom when drying out. Jeanneau (opposite) house their swing keel within a stub keel and the yacht is supported by this and her twin rudders when taking the ground
ConsEarly designs used a steel pin to lock the keel in its “down” position. If you ran aground, this could become bent and difficult to remove
Boat with swing keel
The swing keel in operation
Crosssection of swing keel
Southerly hydraulic swing keel system
Swing keel yacht
A Southerly 42 RST swing keel cruising yacht has a cast-iron grounding plate let into the hull moulding which allows it to sit safely even on rough, stony beaches
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 30I
The swing keel within the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 30I is housed in a stub keel and is supported by this and her twin rudders when taking the ground


Bermudan masthead sloop

Most common cruising rig with triangular mainsail and full height overlapping genoa.

Bermudan masthead
Sailboat with a bermudan masthead

Fractional rig

Modern alternative to the masthead rig.

Pros: The smaller jib makes for easier sail handling. The mainsail is often fully battened and relies on a simple slab reefing system to lessen area.

Fractional rig
Sailboat with a fractional rig

Cons: Long boom can drag in water when overpressed making it difficult to spill wind.

Cutter rig

Similar to the masthead rig but with a staysail set as an intermediate sail between the genoa and mainsail.

Pros: More efficient than the standard sloop when sailing just off the wind.

Cutter rig
Sailboat with a cutter rig

Cons: Not as close-winded as the sloop rig.

Gaff rig

Traditional sail plan with a quadrilateral mainsail supported at the top by a gaff spar.

Pros: Simple to hoist and reef, and has a lower centre of pressure than a sloop rig.

Gaff rig
Sailboat with a gaff rig

Cons: Not as efficient as the sloop rig, and has more weight aloft.

Junk rig

Fully-battened mainsail favoured by some for short-handed sailing because of its ease of reefing.

Pros: Simple to reef.

Junk rig
Sailboat with a junk rig

Cons: Not as efficient as a sloop rig.

Ketch rig

Two-masted rig with the mizzen mast set ahead of the rudder post.

Pros: Popular for long distance cruising because the individual sails are smaller and thus easier to handle.

Ketch rig
Sailboat with a ketch rig

Cons: Greater expense.

Cat/Freedom rig

A simple rig popular in the USA with a large mainsail set on an unstayed mast, close to the bow. The wishbone boom is similar to those used on sailboards.

Pros: Inexpensive and simple to reef.

Freedom rig
Sailboat with a cat rig

Cons: Not as efficient as a sloop rig.

Yawl rig

Two masted rig with the mizzen mast set behind the rudder.

Pros: The mizzen sail is smaller than on a ketch and thus easier to handle.

Yawl rig
Sailboat with a yawl rig

Cons: Like the ketch, greater expense and not as efficient as a fractional rig.


A trailer/sailer is a large dinghy-styled day sailer, or small yacht (with a retractable keel) that can be towed behind the family car. Their advantage lies in being able to explore shallow cruising grounds and be beached safely when the tide recedes.

There is a financial benefit too because they can be stored on their trailer at home rather than in a marina or on a mooring. Most trailer/sailers have the facility to mount Boat Outboard Motorsan outboard motor.

Drascombe Drifter 22
Length overall22 ft6,7 m
Waterline length19 ft 4 in5,9 m
Beam7 ft 3 in2,2 m
Draft – keels up1 ft 4 in0,4 m
Draft – keels down3 ft 5 in1,0 m
Displacement1,2 tons
BuilderChurchhouse Boats

The Drascombe Drifter 22 is the largest in the traditionally lined Drascombe trailer/sailer range. She is equipped with twin drop keels and a lifting rudder to give clear space within the cockpit and cabin, and shallow draft. She has a simple loose footed gunter yawl rig, and the main mast is raised and lowered while the boat is on its trailer, using the trailer winch to take the strain out of the process.

Drascombe Drifter
Drascombe Drifter 22 inside

Accommodation includes two single berths that can convert into a double, together with cooking and toilet facilities. An optional cockpit tent offers further accommodation for children.

Sailer Drascombe Drifter
Trailer/sailers like the Drascombe Drifter 22 are designed to be launched and recoverd singlehandedly. Rigging and die-rigging is also simple, using the trailer winch to raise and lower the mast

Day sailer

Day sailers, like the 18 ft 9 in (5,7 m) Drascombe Lugger with its traditional gaff rig, mizzen sail and retracting steel centreplate, can be configured for family cruising.

This fibreglass design is easy to launch and recover from a trailer, has a deep cockpit, and their distinctive tan coloured sails are boomless, therefore avoiding possible head injury from a gybing boom.

Small yacht
Drascombe Lugger

Alternatively, sports boats like the 20 ft 2 in (6,1 m) Laser SB3 with its large sail area and asymmetric spinnaker are not only exciting to sail but offer competitive class racing throughout the world.

This Use of Fiberglass in Boat Constructionfibreglass design has a lifting keel rather like a daggerboard in a dinghy, in order for it to be launched from a slipway, and is lowered and raised once the boat is in deeper water using a removable crane (opposite).

Laser SB3
Length overall20 ft 4 in6,2 m
Beam6 ft 11 in2,1 m
Draft – keels up9 in0,2 m
Draft – keels down4 ft 10 in1,5 m
Displacement635 kg
Sail area
Jib/main293,8 sq ft27,3 sq m
Spinnaker495 sq ft456 sq m
BuilderLaser Performance

The boat packs down on to a two-wheel trailer and is light enough to be towed by a family car.

The latest swing-cradle trailers remove the need to immerse the wheels during launching and recovery which extend bearing and brake life considerably.

Laser SB3
Laser SB3.
1. Laser SB3 detail; 2. Keel is raised for launching and recovery using this removable crane; 3. Easy to launch – without necessarily getting the trailer wheels wet; 4. Ready to be towed home

Trailer yacht

These are small yachts with fixed or lifting keels designed for cruising and racing on inshore and coastal waters.

Ranging in size from 17-24 ft (5,2-7,3 m) they have a ballast ratio of around 30 % (percentage of keel weight to total weight of yacht) and offer basic accommodation, easy transportation and launching.

Yacht trailer
Typical yacht trailer

Examples featured in this book include the J24 (7,3 m) (below), the 20 ft 2 in (6,1 m) Beneteau First 20,7, the 21 ft 9 in (6,6 m) Jeanneau Sun 2000, and for the more traditionally minded, the Drascombe Drifter 22 which can accommodate a family of three or four.


Towing regulations In many countries stipulate that the dry weight of the towing vehicle must, at a minimum, equal the weight of the loaded trailer, which must also be fitted with brakes. Within the European Union, brakes are not required on fully loaded trailers below 750 kg and where the vehicle is at least twice the weight of the tow. From October 2012, all trailers used within the EU must have side as well as tail lights, requiring the car to be wired up with a 13-pin plug rather than the old 7-pin system. Some countries also restrict the driving age to those over 21 and you may be required to pass an additional driving test.

TIP: before buying a boat, check that your vehicle meets the legal restrictions to tow the weight of the boat and its trailer. The car handbook will list the maximum safe towing weight.

Sports boats

Typically 20-30 ft (6-8 m) with a basic cabin, these high performance yachts can still be towed behind a large vehicle, but invariably require a crane to launch and recover them.

Evergreen designs like the 24 ft (7,3 m) J24, carry a traditional spinnaker, but more recent designs like the Melges 24, the 26 ft 3 in (8 m) and J80 are all equipped with masthead asymmetric gennakers flown from the end of retractable bowsprits.

Melges 24
Melges 24Length overall24 ft6,7 m
Beam8 ft 3 in2,2 m
Draft5 ft 4 in0,4 m
Displacement809 kg
BuilderMelges Performance Sailboats

All are racing oriented sports boats with the emphasis on performance, and have very basic interiors.

Length overall26 ft8 m
Waterline length2 ft6,7 m
Displacement1,3 tons
BuilderJ Boats
Length overall24 ft7,3 m
Waterline length20 ft 4 in6,1 m
Beam8 ft 3 in2,7 m
Draft4 ft 4 in1,2 m
Displacement1,4 tons
BuilderJ Boats

This popular French trailer/sailer offers hassle-free preparation, easy transportation, good stability and speed, a large comfortable cockpit and creative use of interior space.

Jeanneau Sun 2000
Length overall21 ft 7 in6,6 m
Waterline length20 ft 4 in6,1 m
Beam8 ft 3 in2,5 m
Draft – keel up1 ft0,3 m
Draft – keel down5 ft 2 in1,6 m
Displacement1,25 tons
BuilderJeanneau Yachts

This evergreen trailer/sailer is the baby within the Beneteau range. She is equipped with twin rudders and has recently undergone an interior re-design to provide twin quarter berths and double berth forward.

Beneteau 21.7
Length overall21 ft6,4 m
Waterline length20 ft 6 in6,2 m
Beam8 ft 2 in2,5 m
Draft – keel up2 ft 4 in0,7 m
Draft – keel down5 ft 10 in1,8 m
Displacement1,24 tons
BuilderBeneteau Yachts

Second-hand yachts

Pre-owned yachts offer a very cost-effective entry to sailing. Most are moulded from glass reinforced plastic (GRP) and these have been a popular choice since the first of this kind were built in the late 1960s and 70s. It is quite possible to buy a serviceable second-hand boat for between £4 000 and £10 000.

Compared to the latest offerings, these boats are quite basic in their appearance, especially below decks, so it is a question of finding an example that has benefitted from years of tender loving care. Yachts, especially those from a well-respected builder, hold their value remarkably well and you can expect to recover your initial investment, just as previous owners have done. Westerly was a leading brand both in the UK and America during the 1970s and their boats are ideal examples of production yachts from that era.

See Guidance to buying second-hand (page 72****). 398 of these popular 22 ft (6,7 m) fin-keeled Westerly Cirrus yachts were built between 1968 and 1972. The design packed in two berths forward, a quarter berth under the port cockpit seat, a small dinette on the starboard side that folds down into another berth, opposite the galley area. There is also a separate toilet compartment squeezed in between the forward and main cabins. The John Butler design carries 233 sq ft (21,6 sq m) of sail on a fractional rig, together with optional spinnaker measuring 112 sq ft (10,51 sq m). She is also fitted with Advantages of the Inboard Enginesan inboard engine.

The Westerly Cirrus, a trend-setting pocket cruiser developed in the late 1960s that still provides excellent value on the second-hand market.

Westley Cirrus
Length overall22 ft6,7 m
Waterline length19 ft5,8 m
Beam8 ft 2 in2,5 m
Draft – keel up3 ft 5 in1,0 m
Displacement3,24 tons
BuilderWestley Marine Construction Limited

The Westerly Centaur is one of the most popular British built yachts, with some 2 500 launched between 1969 and 1984. A centre-cockpit version was also produced called the Chieftain. While most were sold with a sloop rig, a few yachts were equipped with ketch rigs.

Westley Centaur
Length overall26 ft7,9 m
Waterline length21 ft6,5 m
Beam8 ft 5 in2,6 m
Draft3 ft0,9 m
Displacement3 tons
BuilderWestley Marine Construction Limited

She was one of the first mass-produced yachts to have her underwater shape developed in a test tank, which explains why this bilge keeler sails so well. The Centaur was fitted out with either a five or six berth layout and had a Volvo inboard engine.

Yacht interior
The 26 ft Westerly Centaur was sold in several guises: as the aft cokpit sloop rigged version (above) and with a ketch rig. Her interior design packed in five or six berths

Pocket cruiser racing yachts

Typically 20-26 ft (6,1-8 m) with a cabin and either lifting, fixed or bilge keels, these small yachts can still be towed behind a large car, but invariably require a crane to launch and recover them.

Beneteau First 25,7
Length overall25 ft 11 in7,9 m
Waterline length24 ft 7 in7,5 m
Beam9 ft2,7 m
Draft – keel up2 ft 9 in0,8 m
Draft – keel down6 ft 1 in1,9 m
Displacement2,1 tons
BuilderBeneteau Yachts

Other small yachts like the 25 ft 11 in (7,9 m) Beneteau First 25,7 featured here, are more cruiser/racer orientated with better headroom and a full interior that includes a galley, table, head (toilet) and navigation table, together with 4-5 berths counting the seating in the main cabin.

Mid-sized cruising yachts 27-50 ft (8,3-15,2 m)

27 ft (8,3 m) is by most reckoning, the minimum practical size of yacht for extended cruising and sailing abroad, though of course there are instances where hardy people have crossed oceans in smaller.

The smallest to date is the 5 ft 4 i (1,6 m) Father’s Day in which American Hugo Vihlen sailed from Newfoundland to England in 1993 but you can bet creature comforts were rather less than in a prisoner of war camp sweat box!

Hunter Channel 31
Length overall30 ft 10 in9,4 m
Waterline length26 ft 10 in8,2 m
Beam10 ft 6 in3,2 m
Draft – Standard keel5 ft 2 in1,6 m
Twin bilge keels4 ft 2 in1,3 m
Displacement4,3 tons
BuilderBritish Hunter Yachts

There is an old saying that yacht length (in ft) should measure the same as your age. The longer the boat, the smoother the ride, so when you turn 50, you should be looking at a 50 footer (15,2 m) yacht. Bank balances don’t always allow for that, but if you are planning to do extended cruising, don’t just think about the number of berths, but the stowage space and recreational area available. For anything more than a weekend, a 27 ft (8,3 m) yacht becomes pretty cramped with more than two on board.

32-38 ft (9,7-11,6 m) is the comfortable optimum for 4 people sleeping at opposite ends of the boat while sharing the communal area amidships, and 46-50 ft (14-15,2 m) is really what is needed for six people to live in harmony for any length of time. If your sailing adventures are going to be limited to coastal cruising with overnight stops, then you can fill every berth on board.

Hallberg-Rassy 310
Length overall30 ft 11 in9,4 m
Waterline length28 ft 11 in8,8 m
Beam10 ft 6 in3,2 m
Draft5 ft 11 in1,8 m
Displacement4,35 tons

Kids in particular love a scrum and all will happily nest away in the smallest of spaces playing games or watching videos. And, providing adults can look forward to getting ashore to a shower block, they will be happy too.

The Hunter Channel 31, like others within the Hunter range, is available with either fin or twin bilge keel options. Her 3-cabin layout provides 6 berths, a well appointed galley and large heads. Her inset transom allows easy access onboard from a dinghy and doubles as a swim platform.

Read also: Anatomy of a Boat Cost and Recommendations for a Profitable Sale

This yacht has a self-tacking jib and all lines lead back to the cockpit. Like other Hunter yachts, the Channel 31 is available fully fitted or as bare mouldings ready for home completion.

The Hunter Channel 31 offers a lively performance and her bright and airy 3-cabin layout, incorporating a double berth under the cockpit, sleeps six in some comfort.

The Hallberg-Rassy 310 is the latest in a long line of introductory designs to this famous Swedish range of yachts. More than 2 000 have been built over the years, and this latest Germán Frers design incorporates the very best elements from this experience.

The new model is wider than her predecessor giving greater room below, and with her short overlap jib and push button winches and furling gear, she is easy to sail with just one or two people. A Code Zero or gennaker can be flown between the masthead and a removable bowsprit. She also carries the trademark Hallberg-Rassy windscreen, integrated rubbing strake and a lead keel.

Hallberg-Rassy 310 inside
The interior of the Halberg-Rassy 310 comprises double cabins fore and aft and a large saloon with settee berths. The gallley is set on the starboard side of the companionway steps

The interior is bright and roomy for her size, with four opening skylights and nine port lights providing light and ventilation. The 2 m L-shape sofa and the straight settee convert into berths. The galley is set to one side away from the main thoroughfare and is fitted with double sinks and a fridge with a basket to organise small items. The counter top is solid PlexiCor composite stone.

The generous sized cabins fore and aft have double berths, and plenty of stowage space. The aft cabin also has vanity and hanging locker. The toilet compartment is well ventilated and the counter top and sink match the kitchen work top.

Jeanneau Sunfast 3200
Length overall31 ft 1 in10,1 m
Waterline length28 ft8,5 m
Beam11 ft 5 in3,5 m
Draft 6 ft 2 in1,9 m
Displacement3,4 tons
BuilderJeanneau Yachts

The 310 is very close winded (33°) and will clip along at 11 knots+ with gennaker set on a broad reach in 20 knots of wind. She is powered by a 22 hp diesel engine and has a tank range of almost 400 miles.

This Jeanneau built one-design class racer/cruiser design was named European Yacht of the Year in 2008 and is moulded using an automated vacuum infusion process to ensure very tight weight and shape tolerances. The yacht has a high level of equipment as standard, a Yanmar 15 hp diesel inboard engine and a well furnished interior. The class offers close one-design racing, but the design also has a competitive rating for handicap racing.

Beneteau First 30
Length overall32 ft 2 in9,8 m
Waterline length31 ft 3 in9,5 m
Beam10 ft 6 in3,2 m
Draft – Shoal keel5 ft 1 in1,5 m
Standard keel6 ft 3 in1,9 m
Displacement3,4 tons
BuilderJeanneau Yachts

The Sunfast 3200 is a low tolerence one-design with a favourable rating for handicap racing.

The First 30 combines performance with a high level of comfort below. The 3-cabin layout provides double berths forward and beneath the cockpit, together with a large communal cabin amidships with galley and nav station. There is a separate toilet compartment opposite the aft cabin.

Interior of the Beneteau First 30
The Beneteau First 30 with its avant garde graphics on hull and sails

The design has a slender T-shaped bulb keel to provide a low centre of gravity and the rig is supported by swept-back spreaders to avoid the necessity for a back stay.

The Sun Odyssey 379 is a performance cruiser with a difference, offering not just push-button sailing but joy-stick manoeuvring under power. The French design is one of the first to take advantage of the ZF 360° pivoting sail drive, which takes all the pain out of berthing in a tight spot.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379
Length overall37 ft 7 in11,4 m
Waterline length36 ft11,0 m
Beam12 ft3,8 m
Draft5 ft1,5 m
Displacement6,7 tons
BuilderJeanneau Yachts

The joystick transmits the commands to a control box, which uses the autopilot to lock the helm. Then, a simple movement of the joystick controls the orientation and the thrust of the pod, as well as the bow thruster to move the boat backwards, forwards or sideways.

Interior of the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379 is a performance cruiser with a modern, spacious interior with double berth cabins fore and aft (opposite)

The interior design marries solid wood, stainless steel and light fabrics to provide a warm feeling. The galley has numerous storage compartments, a high-capacity fridge, and there is large saloon table, a hanging locker in the saloon and easy conversion of seating areas to berths.

Yacht drive system
The Sun Odyssey 379 is fitted with a pivoting sail drive system which, linked to the bow thruster, provides simple 360° manoeuvrability using a joystick sited in the cockpit

The design is also available with three keel options, a standard wing keel, a shoal keel and a swing keel which varies draft between 3 ft 7 in and 7 ft 4 in (11-2,2 m).

Southerly 42 RST
ImageLength overall42 ft 2 in12,9 m
Waterline length36 ft 5 in11,1 m
Beam13 ft 3 in4,0 m
Draft – keel up2 ft 9 in0,8 m
Draft – keel down8 ft 11 in2,7 m
Displacement11,2 tons
BuilderNorthshore Yachts

The Southerly 42 RST combines a fast, modern hull for good performance, with stability and comfort for blue water cruising. The modern plumb stem maximises waterline length and her broad transom provides volume aft, for performance and interior space.

Southerly 42 RST
The keel mechanism within the Southerly 42 RST swing keel cruising yacht has a large cast iron insert within the hull which the yacht sits on when taking the ground. Her raised deck design provides for a spacious main saloon with 180° vision

Deck styling and a sociable cockpit layout with twin helm positions, makes this a comfortable and easy to sail blue water cruising yacht.

All Southerly yachts are equipped with an hydraulic swing keel (see page 16***) which has the versatility of having a deep aerofoil-shaped keel for performance, the ability to navigate in very shallow waters and take to the ground safely.

Oyster 46
The Oyster 46 raised saloon cruiser/racer has a high spec spacious interior with two twin berth cabins forward, a master suite aft, spacious saloon and large galley sited either side of the companionway leading back to the aft cabin

Below decks, the large raised saloon seating area with its all-round views, provides a focal point for comfortable dining whilst at anchor, and the swing keel mechanism remains unobtrusive, hidden within the dinette seating. The well equipped galley and nav station are both positioned to starboard of the central companionway.

Oyster 46
Length overall46 ft 10 in14,3 m
Waterline length40 ft 7 in12,4 m
Beam14 ft 6 in4,4 m
Draft – Standard keel7 ft 1 in2,2 m
Draft – Shoal keel5 ft 9 in1,8 m
Displacement7,2 tons
BuilderOyster Marine

A two cabin layout is standard with a large double aft cabin, enjoying a centreline berth and en-suite facilities. A three cabin layout is also available. The Southerly has a self tacking jib on a roller furler and all leads and sheets run “unseen” through deck conduit back to the cockpit to provide simple push-button control.

The Oyster 46 is a true ocean-going cruiser/racing yacht with a large, sheltered centre cockpit. She has good headroom throughout her 3-cabin accommodation layout, which allows six to sleep in comfort, without using the saloon. The owner enjoys en-suite facilities, whilst the forward two cabins share a comfortable heads and shower.

Beneteau Oceanis 50
Length overall49 ft 6 in15,1 m
Waterline length48 ft 5 in14,8 m
Beam14 ft 9 in4,5 m
Draft – Standard keel6 ft 10 in2,1 m
Draft – Shoal keel5 ft 9 in1,8 m
Displacement12,24 tons
BuilderBeneteau Yachts

This is the smallest in the Oyster range which progresses up to their 125 ft (38,1 m) flagship. The 46 is available with either a standard fin or shoal draft keel and standard alloy cruising rig or lightweight carbon fibre spars.

The Oceanis 50 is available with the option of three or four cabin layouts either with the master suite forward to minimise disturbance when moored stern-to and two double cabins beneath the cockpit, or set aft to provide two really spacious double cabins with en-suite facilities.

Interior of the Beneteau Oceanis
The Beneteau Oceanis 50 offers the choice of a master suite forward (left) or twin double cabins beneath the cockpit. The galley is sited to one side of the main saloon (bottom)

By converting the dinette and utilising the settee in the saloon, it is possible to sleep 13 onboard. She is finished to a very high specification and was voted “Yacht of the Year” in the under 100 ft (30,4 m) category when launched in 2007.

Bavaria Cruiser 50
Length overall51 ft 1 in15,6 m
Waterline length45 ft 6 in13,9 m
Beam15 ft 5 in4,7 m
Draft – Standard keel7 ft 4 in2,3 m
Draft – Shoal keel6 ft 1 in1,9 m
Displacement14,1 tons
BuilderBavaria Yachts

The Bavaria Cruiser 50 is a great example of German precision boatbuilding. Manufactured in one of Europe’s most modern facilities, everything about Bavaria yachts scream form and function. The Cruiser 50 is available in either a 3, 4 or a 5 cabin layout with plenty of light shining through a large array of deck hatches.

Common to all is the owner’s suite in the bow area, furthest away from a noisy dockside. Her 18 ft 7 in (4,7 m) beam makes for a cavernous interior which can be fitted out in a wide variety of woods and fabrics.

Interior of the Bavaria Cruiser 50
The Bavaria Cruiser 50 has huge interior volume, and the optional 3, 4, and 5 cabin layouts maximise this. Common to all is the large owner’s suite (right) sited in the forward cabin

Her large cockpit with its twin wheel steering and dinette table opens up at the transom to provide a large boarding platform.


Cruising multihulls, generally catamarans, have several advantages over monohulls. These include greater speed when sailing off the wind, a large foredeck for sunbathing and far greater volume below decks. This invariably takes the form of a wide communal cabin across the bridge deck coupled with private sleeping quarters, galley and heads within the two hulls.

Their greatest attribute in many eyes, however, is the fact that multihulls don’t heel over like monohulls, but are susceptible to weight limitations. A full compliment of crew and their attendant gear invariably saps their speed advantage.

Lagoon 400
Length overall39 ft 3 in12,0 m
Waterline length23 ft 9 in7,2 m
Draft4 ft1,2 m
Displacement10,2 tons
Sail area904 sq ft84 sq m
BuilderBavaria Yachts

Since multihulls rely on their form for stability rather than weighty keels, most are fitted with retractable daggerboards which allows them to be beached safely and sit on a drying mooring. Trimarans (3 hulls) carry more form stability than a twin hulled catamaran, but have less volume below decks.

Onboard the Lagoon 400, the large bridge deck with its panoramic views and sliding glass door opening out to the cockpit, makes this a great social area onboard. The galley is well sited against the cockpit bulkhead to serve both areas. The hulls are devoted to sleeping areas with en-suite facilities. The master suite situated in the starboard hull is accessed via a private dressing room.

The greatest attractions of catamarans are the plentiful sunbathing areas, large alfresco cockpits and bathing platforms at the stern of each hull.


Trimarans offer a better performance than a catamaran, mainly because their form stability allows them to be pushed harder than a cat, without fear of capsize. On the minus side, they have less interior volume, and since they draw very little draft as well, living space within the main hull is invariably smaller to monohulls of equivalent length.

But if performance is a prerequisite, then there is nothing to beat modern trimarans, and designers have even beaten the problems of their extreme beam and the extra mooring fees this incurs at most marinas, by developing folding outriggers that allow boats of 30 ft+ length to be towed on a trailer.

Wings on trimarans
Titling wing and Folding wing

This folding concept has been developed successfully by companies in America, Denmark and New Zealand. Corsair, (now built in Vietnam) and Farrier Marine in New Zealand, share the same vertical tilting wing mechanism that fold the outriggers in on their side. On the Danish built Dragonfly trimarans, the beams are hinged in a horizontal plane and fold in towards the hull in the same attitude as when extended for sailing.

Sprint 750
Length overall24 ft 4 in7,3 m
Waterline length23 ft 1 in7,0 m
Beam – Overall18 ft 2 in5,5 m
Beam – Folded8 ft 2 in2,5 m
Draft – Keel Down5 ft 5 in1,7 m
Draft – Keel up1 ft0,3 m
Weight839 kg
BuilderCorsair Marine

These trimarans share light displacement (2,69 tonnes in sailing trim for the 24 ft Corsair 750) and shallow draft of less than 1 ft (0,3 m) for even the 38 ft Dragonfly 1200 Ocean Cruiser.

Length overall32 ft 3 in9,8 m
Waterline length31 ft9,5 m
Beam – Overall23 ft7,0 m
Beam – Folded8 ft 2 in2,5 m
Draft – Keel Down5 ft 10 in1,8 m
Draft – Keel up1 ft 5 in0,4 m
Weight1 270 kg
BuilderFarrier Marine

They also offer a remarkable performance, able to make 10 knots upwind in little more than 12 knots of breeze, and a scintillating 20 knots+ when sailing off the wind.

Dragonfly 1200
Length overall39 ft 3 in12,0 m
Waterline length36 ft 9 in11,2 m
Beam – Overall28 ft 3 in8,6 m
Beam – Folded14 ft 1 in4,3 m
Draft – Keel Down6 ft 7 in2,0 m
Draft – Keel up2 ft 6 in0,8 m
Weight5 700 kg
BuilderQuorning Boats

This, the largest of the folding trimaran types, takes up no more space in the marina than similar sized monohulls, yet has seven berths spread between three cabins and can seat eight in her saloon.

Motor sailers

These are at the traditional end of the market, and as their name implies, are half motor, half sailboat. These designs, whose genre can be traced back to early Danish trawler yachts, trade on their study, sea kindly, long keeled hull shape, a powerful engine, well protected deck and aft cockpit, and enclosed wheelhouse. They look safe, they feel safe and they are safe.

Motor sailers are at the heavier end of the displacement scale and none will win races, but given a soldier’s breeze – force 3-5 – they perform well enough under sail.

Yacht Nauticat 441
Nauticat 441

In lesser winds, or indeed stronger conditions, their powerful engines come into play, and with the mizzen set as a steadying sail, their enclosed environment make them go-anywhere boats.

The most popular are the Fisher range from 30-46 ft (9,1-14 m) now built in the UK by Northshore Yachts, and the Finnish built Nauticat whose models range from 34-44 ft (10,3-13,4 m).

Fisher 37
Length overall37 ft 2 in11,3 m
Waterline length32 ft 6 in9,9 m
Beam12 ft3,7 m
Displacement14,2 tons
BuilderNorthshore Yachts

There are also a large number of self-built models on the secondhand market, some constructed in steel, and others from bare mouldings produced by Colvic Craft for home completion.

Nauticat 441
ImageLength overall48 ft 6 in14,79 m
Waterline length38 ft 9 in11,8 m
Beam12 ft 4 in3,75 m
Draft6 ft 3 in1,9 m
Displacement16,5 tons
BuilderNauticat Yachts

First introduced in 1973, the Fisher 37 is the epitome of a reliable, safe, and sturdy motorsailer. Accommodation is split between a social wheelhouse, main saloon, and double cabins fore and aft.

The Nauticat 441 is another popular 6 berth motorsailer, with a large centre wheelhouse which doubles as a large deck saloon, together with an open bridge deck aft.

Author photo - Olga Nesvetailova
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  2. Motor Boating & Sailing, P. O. Box 10075, Des Moines, IA 50350.
  3. Multi-hulls, 421 Hancock St., N. Quincy, MA 02171-9981.
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  5. Sail Magazine, P. O. Box 10210, Des Moines, IA 50336.
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  8. Soundings, Soundings Publications, Inc., Pratt Street, Essex, CT 06426.
  9. The Practical Sailor, Subscription Dept., P. O. Box 971, Farmingdale, NY 11737.
  10. Wooden Boat, Subscription Dept., P. O. Box 956, Farming-dale, NY 11737.
  11. Yacht Racing/Cruising, North American Building, 401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19108.
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  14. Chapman, Charles F. Piloting, Seamanship and Small Boat Handling, 56th ed. New York: Hearst Marine Books, 1983.
  15. Coles, Adlard. Heavy Weather Sailing, 3rd rev. ed. Clinton Corners, N.Y.: John De Graff, Inc., 1981.
  16. Pardey, Lin and Larry. Cruising in Seraffyn and Seraffyn’s Mediterranean Adventure (W. W. Norton, 1981).
  17. Roth, Hal. After 50 000 Miles (W. W. Norton, 1977) and Two Against Cape Horn (W. W. Norton, 1968).
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  19. Kinney, Francis S. Skene’s Elements of Yacht Design, 8th ed. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1981.
  20. Street, Donald M., Jr. The Ocean Sailing Yacht, Vols. I and II. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973, 1978.


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