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14 Great Pocket Cruisers in 2023

  • By Victor Tan
  • Updated: July 20, 2023

Pocket cruisers and mini yachts are generally vessels under 50 feet in length overall, and can include express cruiser designs, flybridge yachts as well as either monohull or catamaran hull forms. They are cruising boats easily handled by a small, or even shorthanded, crew. Pocket cruisers generally have wave-taming hull designs and have the ability to take on sporty seas, offer comfortable accommodations belowdecks with one or two staterooms for extended voyages, “homelike amenities,” and the ability to cruise as slowly or as quickly as an owner desires with inboard- and outboard-power options. These pocket-cruising boats have the range for longer voyages , can pull up in skinny water at the sandbar thanks to shallow drafts, and head over the horizon where cruising adventure awaits. Pocket cruisers are true multitasking yachts. When it comes to family and couples cruising, it’s hard to beat a well-built and well-equipped and pocket cruiser.

Best Cruising Boats Under 50-Feet

The following 14 pocket cruisers and mini yachts are all vessels we’ve seen, been aboard, and tested. They are listed in no particular order.

  • Hood 35 LM: high-tech, family-friendly pocket cruiser
  • Galeon Yachts 375 GTO: mid-size boat with plenty of below-deck space
  • Aquila 42: sleek power catamaran ready to entertain
  • Azimut Verve 42 : small, yet mighty yacht ready for open water
  • Hinckley Yachts 35: luxury picnic cruiser with range
  • Beneteau Gran Turismo 45: sleek cruising yacht with all the amenities
  • Solaris Power 48 Open: eye-catching power yacht with 360-degree views
  • Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS: luxury cruiser yacht with powerful outboard options
  • Back Cove 34O: modern outboard power combined with classic Downeast styling
  • Picnic Boat 40: speedy and fuel-efficient vessel with great looks
  • Aquila 36: comfortably seat up to 20 guests for fun on the salt
  • Boston Whaler 350 Realm: multitasker built for fishing and entertaining
  • MJM 35z: sporty, aesthetically pleasing, cruising-conscious features and elegant lines
  • Greenline 39: sturdy-looking lines and environmentally-friendly power

When Android co-founder, Rich Miner, wanted a new family-friendly pocket cruiser , he turned to a custom-penned C.W. Hood design and a Lyman-Morse-built 35-footer, which has a timeless Down East profile matched to seriously modern technology under the hood.

This yacht looks like a traditional, cold-molded Down East dayboat, but actually, it has everything, from Hamilton HJX Series water-jet drives to a planned Sea Machines autonomous command-and-control system . Top speed: 40-plus knots.

Hood 35 LM

Quick Specifications

350 Gal.
60 Gal.
19,000 lbs.

Galeon Yachts 375 GTO

Even the remnants of Hurricane Ian, couldn’t dissuade the Galeon Yacht 375 GTO from its cruising mission. The small yacht’s wave-splitting hull form is paired to torque-filled 600 hp Mercury Verado outboards , giving this fun-in-the-sun boat a 47-knot top hop.

The 375 GTO is a speedster, to be sure, but it’s also so much more. Just about every aspect of the main deck seating is transformable and multifunction, from the aft seating to the alfresco dining abaft the helm, and beyond. It also has a family-size and eminently cruise-worthy belowdecks space for four guests, all while providing a foredeck entertaining lounge too.

The Galeon Yachts 375 GTO ticks all the boxes for an easy-to-handle and sporty cruiser.

Galeon Yachts 375 GTO

396.25 Gal.
53 Gal.
27,270 lbs.

Aquila 42 Yacht Power Catamaran

Following the success of its 44-, 54- and 70-foot power catamaran models, Aquila has launched the stable-as-a-table, owner-operator-ready Aquila 42 Yacht Power Catamaran .

The Aquila 42 is the entry point into the builder’s yacht line and is noteworthy for its ability to accommodate anywhere from a two- to four-stateroom layout, depending on the owner’s cruising requirements. There are alfresco spaces to manage the sunset cruise with friends and family, including a foredeck lounge area that can be accessed via centerline steps from the flybridge. The Aquila 42 is available with several Volvo Penta diesel-engine options .

Aquila 42

290 Gal.
132 Gal.
41,895 lbs.

Azimut Verve 42

Want to cruise from Florida to Bimini in about an hour? The Azimut Yachts Verve 42 can do that thanks, in part, to triple 450 hp Mercury Racing outboards and a hull designed to dice-and-slice a seaway. Top hop: 45 knots. The Verve 42 also has style for miles with a fine entry, raked hardtop, and a razorlike sheerline accented by sweeping hull glass from bow to stern. It’s striking.

With accommodation for a family of four, the Verve 42 is also solid under the hull tokeep everyone safe on those passages. The Verve 42’s hull is built of fiberglass and uses vinylester resins for blister protection. The yacht’s deck and hardtop are comprised of carbon fiber for strength without added weight. This all means that the Azimut Verve 42 is built to CE Classification Type A , making it suitable for sea voyages where winds can exceed 45 mph and seas to 13 feet.

Azimut Verve 42

462 Gal.
66 Gal.
30,865 lbs.

Hinckley Yachts 35

The Hinckley Yachts 35 takes everything that yachtsmen like about this pedigreed-brand’s classic profile and infuses today’s modern outboard power to create 40 knots of sheer fun wrapped in sheer luxury.

This 35-foot Hinckley is built on a Michael-Peters-penned hull form with a fine entry, wider-than-average chines and a moderate deadrise. While the boat is built to sprint when desired, it’s also a relatively economical cruiser. For instance, a comfortable 24-knot cruise the Hinckley Yachts 35 has a 276-nautical-mile range.

It also has a tech-build thanks to vacuum-infused carbon-fiber composites and epoxy resin. An integrated interior structure is infused with the hull adding rigidity. The hull is then post-cured in an 80-foot oven, further strengthening the structure.

Hinckley 35

250 Gal.
35 Gal.
13,174 lbs.

Beneteau Gran Turismo 45

The Beneteau Gran Turismo is the flagship of the builder’s four-model GT series, which also includes 32-, 36- and 41-foot models.

The Gran Turismo 45 ’s cruise-centric layout includes two staterooms and two heads belowdecks, as well as a galley down. There is also a dinette for meals and a settee for rainy-day lounging. Entertaining guests and enjoying the sun is the primary mission of the main deck.

Beneteau Gran Turismo 45

238 Gal.
106 Gal.
24,782 lbs.

Solaris Power 48 Open

The Solaris Power 48 Open was the first powerboat from this longtime builder known for its sailing yachts, ranging from 40 to 110 feet length overall. The Solaris Power 48 Open is notable for its wave-slicing plumb-bow design, high freeboard forward and 32-knot-plus speed. Power is twin 480 hp Volvo Penta IPS650 diesels.

The high freeboard keeps the deck dry and help creates sizable volume belowdecks with an average 6-foot-6-inch headroom. This enables real estate for either one or two staterooms. With the single-stateroom setup, there is a forepeak master stateroom while an L-shaped settee converts to sleeping accommodations for family or occasional guests. Interior wood options are oak or walnut.

Solaris 48 Open

396 Gal.
114 Gal.
37,037 lbs.

Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS

Outboard-power cruising aficionados will appreciate the triple-engine options for the Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS . The 42 GLS we got aboard had the triple 400 hp Mercury Verados , which produced a top hop of 45 knots, but triple 450 hp Verados are available. Triple 350 hp Mercury Verados are the standard engine option. No matter the power arrangement, this express cruiser can easily be used for wakeboarding and tube towing. The 42 GLS is designed to handle the rough stuff too, with a fine entry and 21-degree transom deadrise.

For cruising enthusiasts, the 42 GLS has a master stateroom with an athwartships and a nearly queen-size berth, and the lower salon’s U-shaped dinette converts to a queen-size berth for the kids.

Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS

403 Gal.
50 Gal.
27,000 lbs.

Back Cove 34O

Combining modern outboard power with classic Downeast styling, the Back Cove 34O touts award-winning standards with cruising in mind. The 34O is equipped with twin 300 hp Yamaha outboards, engines that allow the Newport International Boat Show’s 2018 Best Powerboat Under 35 Feet winner to travel up to 214 nautical miles at 24 knots on a 250-gallon fuel tank.

Belowdecks, the 34O has an island double berth and a split-head arrangement with the toilet to port and a separate shower stall to starboard. On the main deck, a U-shape dinette to port accommodates four or more guests on the Back Cove Yachts vessel. The 34O’s galley is equipped with a Cuisinart microwave, a two-burner Kenyon electric cooktop and a Vitrifrigo fridge and freezer.

back cove 340

242 Gal.
60 Gal.
17,000 lbs.

Picnic Boat 40

Hinckley Yachts unveiled its first Picnic Boat more than two decades ago. Now, after two previous, sub-40-foot models, the Maine-based boatbuilder has developed its largest and most advanced model to date: the Picnic Boat 40.

Twin 480 hp Cummins diesel engines paired to twin Hamilton 322 jet drives propel the yacht to a 30-knot cruising speed and 34 knots on the pins. With optional twin 550 hp Cummins diesels, cruise and top-end speeds jump to 35 and 38 knots, respectively.

There is an L-shaped settee with a table and a wet bar on the main deck to port. The helm station is forward and to starboard with a benchseat for two. There is also a companion seat across from the helm. Belowdecks, there is 6-foot-2-inch headroom, and the dinette table drops to form a California-king berth for overnights and weekending.

hinckley picnic boat 40

375 Gal.
80 Gal.
25,000 lbs.

Aquila Power Catamarans started its line with 44- and 48-footers, and now the builder’s Aquila 36 takes the line into the midsize market.

The 36 features a single, main-living area from bow to stern, helped in part by the vessel’s 14-foot, 7-inch beam. The boat can comfortably seat up to 20 guests for fun on the salt. Several Mercury Verado engine options are available for the Aquila 36, including twin 250-, 300- and 350-hp four-strokes. With the 350s, the Aquila has a top-end speed of 37 knots.

Other notable features include a fiberglass hardtop, a dinette, a cooktop, a fridge, a sink and a smokeless grill. Belowdecks, there are two staterooms with nearly queen-size berths, en suite heads and 6-foot-6-inch headroom in each.

aquila 36

330 Gal.
52 Gal.
21,572 lbs.

Boston Whaler 350 Realm

From fishing and entertaining guests to diving and overnight cruising, Boston Whaler ‘s 350 Realm is a multitasker. And it’s fast, too. It’s powered with either triple 300 hp or triple 350 hp Mercury Verados. The 350 Realm can reach a top speed of 46 knots.

At the helm, two Raymarine displays provide vital navigation data. The captain can take in the displays’ view from a doublewide helm seat. There’s a flip-down platform for standing when needed and a footrest when desired.

There is a V-shaped berth that converts into a double berth with a filler cushion. The separated head has a VacuFlush MSD and a hot-and-cold shower. Owners also have the option to add a microwave and a flat-screen TV.

Boston Whaler 350 Realm

385 Gal.
45 Gal.
18,830 lbs.

The MJM 35z can reach a top speed of 44 knots and a cruising speed of 33 knots on its optional 350 hp Mercury Verado outboards; twin 300 hp outboards are standard on this MJM Yachts vessel. Additionally, the 35z can travel up to 304 nautical miles on its 250-gallon fuel tank.

The 35z has a flush-deck layout and to port is space for an electric grill, a baitwell, a sink, an ice maker and a fridge. There are two Stidd helm seats—one for the helmsman and the other for a copilot—that rotate to face the rest of the seating aft. In the cabin is V-shaped seating forward that can be converted to a berth.

Owners also have the option of adding a Seakeeper 3 gyrostabilizer and a full-length Bimini top to shade the cockpit.

MJM 35z

250 Gal.
58 Gal.
13,279 lbs.

Greenline 39

Greenline Yachts ‘ vessels are aptly named for their environmentally friendly means of moving about; the Greenline 39 is no different. The Slovenian yacht manufacturer produces two types of this model: hybrid and solar.

If owners opt for the latter, the 39’s four solar panels atop the salon power all of the vessel’s systems for three hours. With the power of the sun, the 39 can achieve a max speed of 6.5 knots and a cruising speed of 4 knots. The hybrid type uses those same panels to help power a 220 hp Volvo Penta D3 with a Mahle electric-drive system. Owners have the option of replacing the standard engine with a 370 hp Yanmar 8LV diesel.

Belowdecks, scissor berths provide accommodations for long weekends.

Greenline 39

185 Gal.
105 Gal.
15,432 lbs.
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best motor yachts under 40 feet

Yacht Sourcing > Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Yacht Under 40 Feet: Top Models Compared

Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Yacht Under 40 Feet: Top Models Compared

  • May 15, 2024

Choosing a yacht under 40 feet can be a complex decision, given the variety of options available in this size range. From catamarans to motor yachts and sailing yachts, there’s a vessel to suit every preference. In this guide, we’ll compare several notable models of yacht under 40 feet from renowned brands like Fountaine Pajot, Dufour, Al-Dhaen, and Yanmar, helping you navigate the choices and find the yacht that best fits your needs.

Fountaine Pajot Isla 40

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The Isla 40 is a well-balanced, spacious catamaran ideal for both leisurely cruises and more adventurous voyages. Known for its stability and performance, this model offers ample living space, including three or four cabins, a generous saloon, and an expansive cockpit. It’s perfect for family trips or entertaining guests, providing comfort without sacrificing agility.

  • Spacious Living Areas: The Isla 40 features expansive living spaces, including a large saloon and ample deck space.
  • Performance: Known for its stability and performance, it provides a smooth and comfortable sailing experience.

Motor Yachts

Fountaine pajot my37.

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The MY37 is a power catamaran that blends space, performance, and fuel efficiency. With its twin hulls, it offers unparalleled stability and a smooth ride. The MY37 features a large flybridge, a spacious saloon, and several cabins, making it an excellent choice for those seeking comfort and luxury in a compact motor yacht.

  • Size and Comfort: At 37 feet, the MY37 provides the comfort of a much larger yacht with luxurious interiors.
  • Performance: Equipped with powerful engines, it offers excellent fuel efficiency and a cruising speed suitable for long distances.
  • Accommodation: It features spacious cabins and a large flybridge, enhancing onboard living.

Fountaine Pajot MY4.S

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The MY4.S is designed for those who desire a sleek, stylish motor yacht with modern amenities. It offers excellent fuel efficiency and a comfortable layout, including two or three cabins, a well-appointed saloon, and a spacious cockpit. The MY4.S is ideal for coastal cruising and short hops between islands.

  • Compact and Efficient: Even though this yacht is on the smaller side, the MY4.S offers efficient performance and luxurious comfort in a more compact design.
  • Modern Amenities: It includes modern amenities, stylish interiors, and ample outdoor space for relaxation and entertainment.

Sailing Yachts

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The Dufour 360 is a versatile sailing yacht that offers a perfect balance of performance and comfort. It features a spacious cockpit, dual helms, and a modern, airy interior with two or three cabins. This model is ideal for both novice and experienced sailors looking for a reliable and enjoyable sailing experience.

  • Versatility: At 35 feet, the Dufour 360 is versatile, suitable for both leisure cruising and competitive sailing.
  • Comfort: It features a spacious cockpit, a well-appointed saloon, and multiple cabin configurations.
  • Performance: Known for its responsive handling and solid performance in various wind conditio

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The Dufour 390 builds on the strengths of the 360, offering more space and luxury. With its innovative design, this yacht provides excellent performance under sail and a comfortable living environment. The 390 includes a larger saloon, multiple cabin configurations, and a well-equipped galley, making it perfect for extended cruising.

  • Space and Luxury: At 39 feet, the Dufour 390 offers more space and luxurious accommodations.
  • Design: It boasts a sleek design, with a spacious deck and high-quality interior finishes.
  • Sailing Experience: Excellent balance and handling, making it a favorite for extended cruising.

The Dufour 37 is a newer addition to the Dufour range, offering advanced design features and improved performance. It combines a spacious interior with a high-performance hull, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable sailing experience. The 37 is designed for those who want a modern yacht with excellent handling and comfort.

  • Compact Luxury: The Dufour 37 combines compact size with luxury and performance.
  • Innovative Design: Features an innovative layout maximizing space and comfort.
  • Ease of Handling: Ideal for those looking for an easy-to-handle yacht without compromising on comfort.

Sports and Fishing Boats

Al-dhaen 365.

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The Al-Dhaen 365 is a versatile sports boat designed for both fishing and leisure. It features a robust hull, ample deck space, and powerful engines, making it suitable for high-speed cruising and offshore fishing trips. Its practical layout includes storage for fishing gear and comfortable seating for passengers.

  • Performance: At 36.5 feet, the 365 offers robust performance with powerful engines.
  • Durability: Built with high-quality materials for durability and longevity.
  • Comfort: Spacious indoor area and comfortable seating arrangements make it ideal for both cruising and fishing.

Al-Dhaen 310

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The Al-Dhaen 310 is a slightly smaller option that offers similar versatility and performance. It is well-suited for day trips and coastal cruising, with a compact yet efficient layout. The 310 provides a good balance of speed, handling, and comfort, making it an excellent choice for both anglers and leisure boaters.

  • Agility: The 310 is a 31-foot motor yacht known for its agility and speed.
  • Versatility: Suitable for day trips, fishing, and coastal cruising.
  • Design: Sleek design with practical features for a comfortable boating experience.

Compact Motor Yachts

Yanmar vx34a.

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The Yanmar VX34A is a compact motor yacht that offers excellent fuel efficiency and a comfortable ride. Its streamlined design and powerful engine make it suitable for both short trips and longer cruises. The VX34A features a well-appointed interior with modern amenities, ensuring a pleasant experience on the water.

Yanmar VX30B

The VX30B is a versatile motor yacht that combines performance and comfort in a compact package. It features a spacious cockpit, a comfortable cabin, and efficient engine options. The VX30B is ideal for those looking for a reliable and enjoyable motor yacht for coastal cruising and day trips.

  • Compact Efficiency: The VX30B, at 30 feet, is designed for efficiency and ease of handling.
  • Performance: Strong performance with lower operational costs.
  • Practical Design: Practical and comfortable for both day trips and short cruises.

Yanmar VX28C

best motor yachts under 40 feet

The VX28C is the smallest in the VX series but offers impressive performance and efficiency. Its compact size makes it easy to handle, and it’s perfect for day trips and short cruises. Despite its smaller size, the VX28C provides a comfortable interior and practical layout, making it a great choice for new boaters or those looking for a nimble, efficient vessel.

  • Smaller Size, Big Performance: The 28-foot VX28C offers impressive performance in a smaller package.
  • Economical: Very economical to run, making it a great choice for frequent use.
  • Features: Includes essential features for comfortable and enjoyable outings.

Selecting the right yacht under 40 feet depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a spacious catamaran, a performance-oriented sailing yacht, or a versatile motor yacht, the models from Fountaine Pajot, Dufour, Al-Dhaen, and Yanmar offer a range of options to suit different tastes and budgets.

Contact Yacht Sourcing now! Let our experts guide you to find your perfect yacht under 40 feet. With extensive experience and a commitment to customer satisfaction, we are here to help you make the best choice for your yachting adventures.

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25 Sailboats Under 40′

  • By Cruising World Staff
  • Updated: March 25, 2014

Catalina 275 Sport

catalina 275 sport

“This is a complete package; it’s a good sailing boat and well-thought-out. It’s definitely ready for prime time,” says Boat of the Year judge Ed Sherman. Click here to read why the Catalina 275 Sport won Best Pocket Cruiser in 2014.

Beneteau First 30

beneteau first 30

As they approached the First 30 to conduct their dockside evaluation during the boat show, the BOTY judges may have been just a little skeptical of this performance-oriented 30-footer’s cruisability. But that skepticism turned into appreciation as soon as they stepped below, and they were downright enamored with how the boat sailed. Click here to read why the Beneteau First 30 won Best Small Cruiser, 20 feet and Under in 2011.

presto 30

The Presto 30 is an innovative, well-built, good looking cruising boat that satisfied its stated design brief as well as any other boat the judges looked at, though it’s not what you might expect from an average cruising boat. Cruising World judges also noted that this easy-to-handle boat may attract new sailors to the sport so they can learn the ropes and then trade up to another model, an approach that’s important to the health of the entire industry. Click here to read how the Presto 30 won the Cruising Spirit Award in 2011.

Catalina 309

catalina 309

“I think that for the purpose it was put on the water, to be able to walk down, jump aboard, and simply go enjoy it on a weekend, the boat not only hit the price in terms of value but also hit the mark in terms of use,” remarked judge Alvah Simon, a world voyager. Click to read why the Catalina 309 won Domestic Boat of the Year for 2007 .

j/95 boat

The J/95’s retractable centerboard and dual rudders make it possible to sail in just 3 feet of water. During our dockside visit, designer Rod Johnstone told us that he wanted to build a comfortable coastal cruiser that could keep people sailing by providing “high performance in shallow water,” and the J/95 did exactly what Rod said it would. Click here to read how it won Best Weekender and Domestic Boat of the Year for 2010.

Catalina 315

catalina 315

This nifty pocket cruiser raises the Catalina quality bar with more comfort and better performance. It’s the little things that make this boat special, including the tall rig, the wide cockpit, the large anchor locker, the sprit for the asymmetric kite, and the clever use of space below. Click here to read how the Catalina 315 won Best Inshore Cruiser for 2013.

delphia 33

The Delphia 33 is a boat that’s maximized every inch of available space, and the overall fit and finish, from the joiner work to the systems installation to the structural integrity of the boat, is well done. Click here to read why the Delphia 33 won Import Boat of the Year in 2008.

hunter e33

“With this introductory cruiser, Hunter is trying to bring people up through its ranks and into cruising from trailer-sailers and smaller boats,” said Alvah Simon. “And the company has done that with a 33-footer that has quality and affordability but is still manageable and unintimidating.” Click here to read why the Hunter e33 won Best Compact Cruiser for 2012.

C&C 101

cc 101 yacht

The 33-foot C&C 101 boasts thoroughly modern lines and a nice turn of speed but also features a fine layout belowdecks, with cherry furniture and a teak cabin sole. Click here to read why the C&C 101 won Domestic Boat of the Year and Best Performance Cruiser in 2013.

x34 yacht

This dual-purpose cruiser is both easy to handle and zippy on the racecourse. Click here to read why the X-34 won Best Racer-Cruiser for 2009.

Beneteau 34

beneteau 34 yacht

This affordable performance cruiser is a blast to sail, with details often lacking on more expensive boats. Click here to read a boat review of the Beneteau 34. Click here to read why the Beneteau 34 won the award for Best Value in 2009.

Tartan 3400

tartan 3400 yacht

The Tartan 3400, with double cabins fore and aft, was still sufficiently nimble and distinctive to cop the 2006 Boat of the Year award for Best Production Cruiser from 31 to 36 Feet. Click here to read more.

najad 355 yacht

The BOTY judges found lots on which to agree as they proclaimed the Najad 355 to be the Best Small Cruiser of 2008: great sails, solid motion through the water, practical interior, well-laid-out deck. Click here to read more.

Catalina 355

catalina 355 yacht

Two themes—consideration and principles—epitomize the Catalina 355. Click here to read why it won Domestic Boat of the Year in 2011.

Sabre Spirit

sabre spirit yacht

Andrew Burton found the 36-foot Sabre Spirit boat not only easily handled and fast but also a sheer delight to sail; no wonder it won the Judges’ Choice Award in Cruising World’s 2008 Boat of the Year contest. Click here to read more .

Island Packet Estero

island packet estero yacht

Comfortable surroundings are easily driven by a fully self-tending and roller-furling rig on the 36-foot Island Packet Estero. Click here to read why it won Best Midsize Cruiser Under 40 feet in 2010.

Hallberg-Rassy 37

hallberg-rassy 37 yacht

Like the Swedes who manufacture it, the Hallberg-Rassy 37 is a hardy sailer. The boat’s seakindly performance gives the assurance that it can take you anywhere, and once you get aboard, that’s exactly where you’ll want to go. Click here to read why it won Import Boat of the Year in 2006.

Malö 37 Classic

malo 37 classic

This purpose-built craft is a dream to steer and a delight to the eyes. Click here to read how it won Import Boat of the Year for 2009. Click here to read a full boat review.

Catalina 375

catalina 375

Solid construction and thoughtful amenities make life onboard this boat more comfortable. Click here to read why the Catalina 375 won Best All-Purpose Cruiser, 30 to 40 Feet in 2009.

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379

jeanneau sun odyssey 379 yacht

This midsize offering from Jeanneau has a modern look and is ready for sea. Click here to read why it won Domestic Boat of the Year and Best Midsize Cruiser for 2012.

dehler 38

“This very responsive sailboat scoots along quite nicely, I think as well as anything we sailed in this fleet,” says Boat of the Year judge Mark Schrader. Click here to read why the Dehler 38 won Best Cruising Sailboat Under 38 Feet in 2014.

hunter 38

Better-than-expected performance, good design ideas, and follow-through in their execution led to the Hunter 38 winning Best Production Cruiser Under 40 feet for 2005. Click here to read more.

leopard 38

Who says a cruising cat under 40 feet isn’t big enough for comfortable accommodations? The 38’s hulls are narrow where they meet the water for performance purposes but flare out to create ample interior space. Click here to read why the Leopard 38 won Import Boat of the Year in 2010.

Seawind 1160

seawind 1160

This 38-foot cat will appeal to cruisers who want a well-built boat that can sail away in a hurry. Click here to read why the Seawind 1160 won Best Multihull Cruiser and Most Innovative Boat for 2007.

sabre 386

“The company is mixing traditional aesthetics with modern gear–from the carbon rudder to tweakers on the jib tracks, and it works really well,” said Boat of the Year judge Steve Callahan of the Sabre 386. Click here to read why it was named Domestic Boat of the Year for 2005.

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5 Best Liveaboard Boats

best motor yachts under 40 feet

Table of Contents

Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Want to live aboard a boat? Maybe you’re looking for more affordable waterfront living, or an alternative lifestyle – either way – living on a boat has many rewards. That said, choosing the right boat will make all the difference to your happiness. Before you commit, consider these five best liveaboard boats : 

  • Motor yachts and cabin cruisers 
  • Trawlers 
  • Sailboats 
  • Catamarans 
  • Houseboats 

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Motor yachts and Cabin Cruisers

Motor Yachts and Cabin Cruisers

Motor yachts is a broad term that encompasses large(ish) motorboats with accommodations like a bed (sleeping cabin), a head (bathroom), and a galley (kitchen). These boats can be quite large such as an Absolute 50 with a flybridge that provides extra space for outdoor recreation/entertainment, like the backyard of a house. 

Models like these usually have three cabins and two heads to accommodate an entire family. Of course, big boats come with big price tags and lots of maintenance needs, so you may not save much over living in a condo. 

Consider how much space you need and check out some best liveaboard boats under 40 feet. Cabin cruisers like the Cutwater 32 are great choices. This boat has one cabin as well as a galley and lounge area (living room) with large windows that bring in lots of natural light and air. 

The twin outboard engines can transport your home to new surroundings in the blink of an eye. Best of all, boats under 40 feet may save you a million dollars (literally) over large motor yachts and provide many of the same amenities. 

2. Trawlers  

Trawler Liveaboard boat

Trawlers are a great option because they are built with the liveaboard lifestyle in mind. They’re typically slower boats designed for long-distance cruising, and they come in many sizes from a large Nordhavn 60 built for tough ocean conditions to a more compact Beneteau Swift 35 that’s ideal for coastal cruising. 

Most trawlers have good liveaboard layouts and will travel at speeds 8-10 knots, where they offer good fuel consumption , which is important with high diesel prices. 

Pro Tip: Not all trawlers are slow – the French Swift series is designed to run at planning as well as trawling speeds, so you get the best of both. 

READ MORE: Don’t Ignore Your Bucket List: Great Loop  

3. Sailboats

liveaboard sailboat

Perhaps you’re contemplating living aboard in preparation for long-distance cruising under sail. Sailboats come in all sizes, just like motor yachts, but they’re usually narrower, and most of the living aboard happens lower down in the boat, so they’re not as airy and light. 

On the plus side, because space is more premium, sailboat design is very efficient, so you can pile a lot into a sailboat and still have room for sailing necessities. 

Looking for a compact sailboat? Consider the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 380 with two or three cabins in just 38 feet. For something a bit roomier, check out the new Hanse 510 . This massive model can be spec’d with up to five cabins and even has a tender garage. 

The great thing about sailboats is that you can travel long distances when you want to change your neighborhood entirely – and with little money spent on fuel. 

4. Catamarans

liveaboard catamaran

Catamarans are boats with twin hulls and they can be both power and sail models. They have many advantages including more room aboard than the same-length monohulls with better cabin privacy and more system redundancy for backup options. 

They’re more stable both in motion and at anchor (dock) so they produce less seasickness and are more comfortable in a rolly anchorage at night. They’re roomy platforms for kids as well as older folks but due to their beam (width), it’s harder to find a slip for them in a marina. 

Sailing cat models come in various sizes and prices. Production boats like the Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 and the Excess 11 are both around 40 feet but feel much bigger than a monohull sailboat of equal length. 

Many cats come in an “owners’ version” where one entire hull is dedicated to the master suite which is like a bedroom at home. Models like these start around $500,000 but upmarket, carbon fiber, semi-custom designs like the HH55 will set you back multiple millions.

Powercats are growing in popularity and offer the same amenities as their sailing counterparts, except they have bigger engines to travel at much greater speeds. Powers can be on the smaller side, like the 32-foot Aspen C100, or quite sizeable, like the Aquila 54. Cats tend to be more expensive to purchase and to own since there are two of just about everything to maintain. 

5. Houseboats

liveaboard houseboats

If you want to live aboard but have little interest in being mobile, you may consider a houseboat. These boats usually maximize living space and are shaped more like houses than boats. Household-sized amenities, including side-by-side refrigerators, massive sofas, and large TVs can be had.

Because they don’t require much technical gear like engines, electronics, and advanced power systems, houseboats can be quite affordable and can make the best liveaboard boats under $100k. 

A few companies build houseboats like Eco-Sea Cottages, but many will be one-off and home-built designs. Although these boats don’t move (much), they must still have a solid floating foundation to be safe, and only some marinas will allow them to dock there.

One more thing to consider

There are no hard rules as to what makes a great liveaboard boat! You just have to find one that suits you and your budget. Read our Living on a Boat post for more insight, and be sure to browse through Boatsetter to find the perfect liveaboard boat. 

About Boatsetter 

Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or yyou’rejust renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat , book a boat , or make money as a captain .  

List. Rent. Earn— Only at Boatsetter


Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin. 

A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide. 

Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico. 

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Best family yacht: our pick of the best yachts for sailing with the family

  • Toby Hodges
  • March 7, 2024

Toby Hodges takes a look at all the nominees and the winner of the best family yacht category in the European Yacht of the Year Awards

There are many categories in the European Yacht of the Year awards, from the  best luxury yachts  to  performance yachts . But some of the most hotly-anticipated options come when it is time to choose the nominees and winner in the best family yacht category.

The European Yacht of the Year awards are selected by a broad panel of expert judges from across the globe. These are people who spend their professional lives sailing and comparing yachts, so you can be certain that the yachts which stand out in this field are truly the best of the best on the market for those looking to set out with the whole family in tow.

A crop of the latest 35-45ft mainstream production yachts, including the ultra spacious Dufour 41 and the smaller sister to the award-winning Hanse 460, plus a couple of less well known yachts, made for a dynamic grouping this year when it comes to picking the best family yachts 2024.

In this, the most competitive size bracket for volume production yachts, there was plenty to like, but two models stood out: the RM and the Bavaria. The former because it’s different and fills an interesting niche that crosses fast cruising with family sailing, from coastal and shoal draught to bluewater sailing ability; the Bavaria because it masters that mix of deck and interior space, performance and handling in a well finished package.

Winner of the best family yacht 2024 – Bavaria C46

The Bavaria and Cossutti Yacht Design relationship continues to flourish and produce standout results in its second generation. The C46’s modern, full shape brings vast deck and accommodation space yet manages to do so on a hull which really performs for its size, and rewards the helmsman with direct feedback.

During my trial we had a good mix of conditions and were able to push the boat, a voluminous hull which becomes reactive once the breeze threatens double figures. We were able to press it during a rain squall, hitting 12 knots in 18 under gennaker, and maintained lengthy double digit spells during some enjoyable sporty sailing. Bear in mind this is a single-rudder boat, yet it still didn’t overpower or lose its grip. It’s impressive, especially given the exceptionally low ballast ratio (20%), which shows the reliance on form stability.

“The chine is a bit higher than the C42 and we tried to make the wetted surface as small as possible,” Maurizio Cossutti told me during our trial. The keel is also comparatively lighter, slimmer and deeper for a sporty feel. It’s clear the German yard has really poured its engineering energy and might into this build – from design to engineering to finish quality, the perceived richness of the C46 stands out (although dressed with over €200,000 of options, this is still no mean feat in a mass production size and brand). So much so that other big yards may struggle to compete.

You could argue the Dufour 41 does that to some extent, but here the emphasis is slightly more skewed towards volume, while it doesn’t quite match the Bavaria for the overall engineering and finish quality. Felci somehow managed to swell the forward sections enough to allow the Dufour to be the first 40-footer to offer four cabins, including two doubles forward. We then learned in September that Dufour had signed a new contract to supply Sunsail charter yachts, which helps explain the draw of all this extra accommodation space.

The price for this is extra weight. Although equipped with a tall rig, the 41 only becomes reactive once the breeze is up to the mid teens, where it can lean onto a chine and employ its generous form stability. But for those after volume, max deck lounging space and a bright spacious interior for multiple guests, it’s a hard model to compete with at this size (full report in YW September 2023 and online).

On paper the Hanse 410 should perhaps have challenged the Bavaria more. It’s the latest in Hanse’s new collaboration with Berret-Racoupeau, follows on from the larger sister 460 which won this category in 2022, and shares that appealing modern hull shape. It showed respectable performance and figures, and proved easy to manage short-handed, thanks to the self-tacking jib and winches positioned to hand.

A halyard issue with the mainsail and a tangled sock for the kite curtailed my sail trials somewhat. We also found the cockpit quite busy, particularly the winch layout, although it is nice and deep for protecting its crew. It makes you query why you need two tables on a 40-footer – until you see them lowered to create sun beds, that is!

Stand out features from the interior were the number of stowage solutions, particularly on the two-cabin test boat. Offered as two or three cabins with one or two heads, the former provides a huge amount of stowage accessible from the cockpit or interior. There’s more in the galley and a multifunction space in the saloon, which can be a full length sofa berth, a proper chart table, or a standing desk with storage below.

Beneteau Oceanis 37.1

The Beneteau Oceanis 37.1 is also all about easy sailing and handling, and proved to be a fun, manageable sized cruiser, particularly the First Line option we tried, which increases sail area with a square-top main and flat deck furler. While certainly an accessible yacht, it perhaps comes across as a little basic. This is the last Oceanis in the new generation eight-boat range between 30ft and 60ft, so the focus is more on evolution than the revolution of its early predecessors. Hence the two- or three-cabin interior seemed a little unremarkable when viewed against the opposition.

The same could not be said for the RM 1380, particularly when you step down the companionway – which doesn’t really feel like going below decks on a conventional monohull as it’s so naturally bright in the raised saloon and helps you appreciate your surroundings. So much so it’s more like being on a multihull. The doorways are a little tight, but the double cabins are of good size thanks in part to the generous beam. The standard two-cabin layout has a practical utility space in place of the optional third cabin.

I’ve long appreciated the plywood epoxy technique RM uses for its hulls, together with the powerful form stability Lombard’s design brings. This comes with the choice of keels, including the shoal draught options of a lifting centreboard or efficient twin keels. We tried the latter and the result on the water is in keeping with the sporty looks: it’s an enjoyable mid-displacement cruiser to sail from the aft quarters. Then there’s the superb winch layout, which sees the primaries positioned inboard for use standing under the protection of the coachoof and sprayhood. For offshore sailing the open transom can be closed off with a platform. It’s not perfect, but the RM is intriguing and versatile.

Elan Impression 43

Another memorable interior is to be found on the Elan Impression 43. The rustic knotted oak finish is unique, the only option Elan offers and something the Slovenian yard wanted style gurus Pininfarina to maintain to identify it from the sportier ranges. Personally, I like the strong focus on timber as it helps showcase Elan’s heritage, but appreciate it won’t suit all tastes.

These mid size Impressions are the mainstay of Elan’s sailing range, the family and charter staples for the Med. This Humphreys-designed update has a modernised shape, but retains the older style and the hull rocker to keep a soft, smooth sailing experience. It’s rigged with a genoa or self tacker and two to four winches. Although somewhat unremarkable in terms of sailing performance, it fits its purpose, while the increased aft beam allows for larger aft cabins and a service tunnel between them.

best motor yachts under 40 feet

In an age where we need to focus on making things last, my preconceptions of the Maxus 35 revolved around questioning the need for a lower budget Polish build. Why not just buy a proven second-hand yacht? That said, the Northman shipyard has done a respectable job on this, the largest Maxus yet, in terms of the build and finish for the price. It feels solid throughout, the interior is light and inviting and it is worth consideration as an entry level yacht with reasonable accommodation.

I can also see some appeal of the centreboard design for lake sailing. However there was little to take home with regards to the design or sailing experience, so my conclusions mirror my first thoughts.Best family yacht 2023

Best family yacht 2023

Best family yacht winner – linjett 39.

This is quite possibly the best boat you haven’t heard of. The 39 offers easy, fast family cruising and occasional racing in luxurious comfort and proves that classic needn’t be old fashioned.

Linjett exudes Scandi heritage: a third generation 50-year-old brand, it’s run by three brothers and has built 900 yachts from its Rosättra yard in Sweden, which dates from to the 19th Century. Its business model is based on long production runs – think evergreen rather than trendy. Linjett not only designs, engineers and builds its own boats, but services and maintains them too, with 220 in winter storage. It also now produces the high performance Shogun Yachts in carbon epoxy, which hints at the skill levels of its infusion techniques.

A telling result at sea is how quiet the yacht is. Sturdy and stable, it instils instant confidence and proved a delight to sail. We had some very pleasant upwind beats, pointing high, and some lively reaching, hitting double figures a few times while pushing it under 150m2 gennaker in waves. The Linjett is set up to easily short-hand it too, with two winches and a bank of clutches each side positioned aft in reach of the helm.

The interior is offered with two or three cabins and the latter we saw had an excellent layout, including separate shower/wet hanging compartment aft. Joiner work is first class, with traditional mahogany used as standard, or the more contemporary European Oak on the test boat.

This is a premium yacht, but you get what you pay for. It will surprise most and ensure everyone steps ashore smiling. See our full review next month.

The Dufour 37 may be shorter than the old 360, but Dufour was reluctant to brand this 37 as smaller because its modern, broadened hull shape has resulted in an enlarged deck space, cockpit and owner’s cabin. Felci has designed a clever hull that sails well with good performance for its (34ft) size. The aft quarters behind the helms feel compact to maximise cockpit size, but proved comfortable enough to sail from. The primaries are in reach of the helm and we liked the lightweight, low friction jib sheet adjusters.

The 37 is offered in Easy (two winch), Ocean (cruising), or Performance versions and with a two- or three- cabin layout. The test boat was the most popular Ocean model, although it had €100,000 worth of optional extras including sails, engine and bow thruster, resulting in an expensive yacht for its length.

For those who recognise the Bente name, we previously featured it in detail in 2015 when it burst onto the scene with an innovative and affordable new 24-footer (around 150 of which have been built in Poland). We then tested its 39 in 2019, a year before the yard then filed for bankruptcy. But it’s now back under new ownership with this really impressive and more refined Bente 28, again by Judel/Vrolijk.

It’s a fun yacht to sail, easy to short-hand, with sprightly performance, especially when reaching. The coachroof is part of the deck structure and proves crucial in providing light, space and headroom below in an ergonomic interior that has been very well thought out.

All in all it’s a great compact, entry-level cruiser, with a practical, well protected cockpit.

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  • Cruising Yachts 35' to 40'

Popular Cruising Yachts from 35 to 40 Feet Long Overall Their Physical Properties & Key Performance Indicators

Welcome to this ever-growing gallery of some of the most popular cruising yachts between 35 and 40 feet (10.7m to 12.2m) long overall.

Cruising Yachts featured on this page...

Medium sized cruising yachts like these are often the sailboat of choice for short-handed crews, and if properly equipped and maintained, will take long offshore voyages in their stride.

Sailboats at the top of this size range, those above 12m long overall, will find that they are charged considerably more in marinas than those that fall just under 12m LOA. Something worth bearing in mind perhaps?

Westerly Oceanranger 38

Westerly Oceanranger 38 'Petrel Blue' at anchor

Jeanneau Sun Fast 39

Hustler 35

Islander 37 MS

Islander 37

Beneteau First 35s5

Beneteau First 35s5

Amel Sharki

Amel Sharki

Dehler 38 (Van de Stadt)

A Dehler 38 sailboat (Van de Stadt)

Dehler 39 CWS

A Dehler 39 CWS sailboat

Finnsailor 35

A Finnsailor 35 sailboat

Bolero 35.5

Bolero 35.5 sailboat on a Tamar River Sailing Club mooring in Devon, England.

Dehler 37 CWS

A Dehler 37 CWS sailboat

Hunter 36 Legend

A Hunter 36 Legend sailboat moored fore and aft

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35

A Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35 sailboat moored fore-and-aft

Beneteau First 375

A Beneteau First 375 Sailboat

Challenger 35

A Challenger 35 sailboat moored on the River Tamar in the UK

Starlight 35

A Starlight 35 sailboat moored on the River Tamar in the UK

Starlight 39

A Starlight 39 sailboat motor-sailing, with a back-winded headsail

Cabo Rico 38

A Cabo Rico 38 cutter at anchor

Westerly Typhoon 37

best motor yachts under 40 feet

Southerly 110

A Southerly 115 sailboat on a broad reach

Sweden Yachts 390

A Sweden Yachts 390 sailboat prepares to drop anchor

Pearson 365

'Evening Ebb', a Pearson 365 ketch on a mooring ball in Prickly Bay, Grenada in the West Indies

Jeanneau 'Sun Fast' 37

A Jeanneau 'Sun Fast' 37 sailboat at anchor

Hallberg-Rassy 37

A Hallberg-Rassy 37 sailboat at anchor

Gulfstar 36

A Gulfstar 36 sailboat at anchor

Beneteau Oceanis 381

A Beneteau Oceanis 381 at anchor

Catalina 36

A Catalina 36 cruising yacht

Undeniably, with her gentle sheer, clipper bow and 'moustache' nameplate, the Mariner 40 ketch is a very attractive cruising yacht. Her long keel and very heavy displacement suggest she'll be a steady, comfortable performer in a seaway but passage times will suffer as a result.

A Mariner 36 cruising yacht moored in Prickly Bay, Grenada

Cavalier 39

Many thanks to the owner of 'Kiwa' for this pic of his Cavalier 39 cruising yacht.

'Kiwa', a Cavalier 39 sailboat

Vancouver 36

'Chardonnay', a Northshore Vancouver 36 at anchor in Prickly Bay, Grenada.

Bayfield 40

<'Island Girl', a Bayfield 40 staysail ketch at anchor in St Anne, Martinique, French West Indies.

Island Packet Estero 36

An Island Packet Estero 36 sailboat

Beneteau 393

A Beneteau 393 sailboat beating to windward.

Tashiba 40 (aka Baba 40 and Panda 40)

A Tashiba 40 Heavy Displacement Canoe Sterned Cruising Yacht

Oyster Heritage 37

Many thanks to Andy Thomson for this pic of  'Spellbinder',  his Oyster Heritage 37 cruising yacht  ...

The Oyster Heritage 37 cruising yacht

Southerly 115 Mk1

A Southerly 115 Swing Keel Cruiser

Colvic Countess 37

'Tudor Rose', a Colvic Countess 37 at anchor in Five Islands Bay, Antigua, West Indies

Shearwater 39

'Sea Lion', a Shearwater 39 on a mooring ball in Jolly Harbour, Antigua, West Indies

Island Packet 38

'Blue Pearl', an Island Packet 38 at anchor in Five Islands Bay, Antigua, West Indies

Island Packet 380

'Harmonium Cays', an Island Packet 380 cutter sailing beautifully on passage from Guadeloupe to Antigua.

Pearson 39-2

Many thanks to Crystal and Rob Bleecher for this pic of their Pearson 39-2 cruising yacht.

A Pearson 39-2 sailboat

Many thanks to Barry Bateman for this great pic of 'New World' , his Valiant 40 cruising yacht. 

'New World', a Valiant 40 Bluewater Cruising Yacht reaching under full sail.

Westerly Conway 36

'Weohgi' , a ketch-rigged Westerly Conway 36 cruising yacht, winter-sailing off the south coast of England. Many thanks to owner Geoffrey Mills for the pic.

Westerly Conway 36 ketch-rigged sailboat

Reefed down, 'Transcendence' - a Cascade 36 sloop - is making good progress into a short chop. Many thanks to owner Michael McLaughlin for the pic.

A Cascade 36 sloop beating to windward under shortened sail.

Tradewind 35

'Barnstormer', a Tradewind 35 heavy displacement cruising yacht at anchor under Jennycliff in Plymouth Sound, UK

Thank you, Han van der Stap, for submitting this pic of your stunning yacht 'SysterSol' . As you say, she is "a beautiful Swedish boat, sure and fast, for long distance cruising."

The light, fast Wasa 30 sailboat

Allied Princess 36

Many thanks to David Humphreys for submitting this great pic of  'Gabriel', his ketch-rigged Allied Princess 36 Mk2. The Mk2 version was introduced in 1980, unlike its predecessor, sporting a bowsprit. Both versions were available as either ketch or cutter rigs.

David tells us that 'Gabriel'  (hull #130) has been well maintained and up-graded since her commissioning in 1980. She's based in Annapolis MD and spends her days sailing to local destinations with a few over-nighters.

<i>'Gabriel'</i>, an aft-cockpit ketch-rigged version of the Allied Princess 36 cruising yacht.

Pacific Seacraft 37

'Sea Glass', a Pacific Seacraft 37 Long-Distance Ocean Cruiser

Next ~ Cruising Yachts 40-45ft LOA >>>>

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Best Blue Water Sailboats Under 40 Feet

19th jan 2023 by samantha wilson.

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What is a blue water sailboat?

What to look for when choosing a cruising sailboat under 40 feet, what are the advantages of small blue water sailboats, what are the disadvantages of small sailboats.

  • Best blue water sailboat models under 40 Feet

The term blue water sailboat doesn’t refer to a specific style of boat in the same way that a ketch or schooner does. In fact, a blue water sailboat could be either of those and many more. But when we talk about blue water sailboats, they have shared characteristics that make them suitable for, you guessed it, blue water sailing. Making long, open sea voyages such as crossing the oceans requires a boat that is solidly-built and can tackle heavy seas and inclement weather conditions. Blue water sailboats are able to be self-sufficient and lived on for extended periods of time, and to offer safety and comfort.

In a previous guide we looked at the different types of sailboats , focusing on identifying them by their hull type, rigging and uses. In general, smaller blue water sailboats under 40 feet tend to be cutters , sloops or ketches . Catamarans and trimarans too are becoming increasingly popular as long cruising vessels, although these tend to be larger than 40 feet. In fact, while there are manufacturers producing some excellent, sturdy and compact blue water sailboats under 40 feet, they tend to be a minority and most ‘small’ sailboats designed for long-range cruising are usually above 50 feet. 

blue water sailing

So what other characteristics should you be looking for in a small ocean sailboat? 


The material of the hull is probably the most crucial aspect, as it needs to be solidly built and able to withstand harsh seas as well as any collisions with floating objects. Hulls made from steel, strong fiberglass or carbon fiber tend to be the most popular. With a brand new sailboat you can be assured of a sound hull, however when buying a used sailboat under 40 feet the most important aspect is to ensure that the hull is strong and durable. 

The type of keel also makes a big difference, as deep V hulls with an encapsulated keel will make your boat less likely to capsize or lose its keel. Keel sailboats under 40 feet with skeg-hung rudders are considered the best small sailboats for open ocean cruising. While in the past it tended to only be monohull boats which were used for blue water sailing, there are now several manufacturers offering catamarans and trimarans which are strong enough to cross oceans. 

While the rig itself doesn’t necessarily denote whether a sailboat is more blue water worthy, it needs to be able to be manned by the number of crew on board as well as less crew if anyone is injured. The most important aspect is to think of the manageability of the rig. 

Ocean-going sailboats tend to have small cockpits to keep water out. While traditionally they used to have an aft cockpit there are more center cockpit blue water sailboats around these days. They need to have good drainage as well as offering the helmsman easy reach of the headsail, staysail and mainsail sheets.


Whether you’re sailing solo or with a small crew, having the ability to set an auto-pilot is an important characteristic of a blue water boat. From tiredness to accidents or illness, there might come a time when you need to set the autopilot when under power or windvane when under sail. 

A compact cabin, galley and head with plenty of handholds and safe storage are vital to spending long stretches of time at sea. There needs to be enough space to ensure you are able to be self-sufficient for long periods of time. This includes everything from provisions to safety equipment , power systems, water makers, fuel storage and two anchors. 

Ability to heave-to:

The act of heaving-to involves pointing the bow into the wind and fixing the helm and sail positions. This essentially stops the boat in the water and is a hugely important maneuver during storms to prevent capsizing and allows the crew to take shelter inside. Some sailboats are more able to perform this than others. 

Having a way to communicate an emergency is vital, and your blue water sailboat should have a satellite phone and radio installed. A radio will allow you to connect with passing vessels, while the satellite phone is your only means of true contact with land. On deck, safety is paramount, and additions such as granny bars by the mast, safety rails and of course a harness mean you’ll be staying on board in lively conditions. 

Ability to Store or Make Water:

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink is not a phrase any sailor wants to utter. So it’s imperative that your sailboat has enough storage capacity for long voyages, as well as the ability to make fresh water for drinking and washing in. Consider that two people on a three week voyage will require around 50 gallons of fresh water (allowing for a 20% contingency). Space – and weight considerations - is always a premium on small sailboats, so you need to make sure there are enough water tanks. You’ll also want a water maker which are powered by motors and generators. AC water makers can produce around 20 gallons a day, while DC water makers which use a lot less power, produce around 12 gallons of water a day.

Good Navigation Systems:

Ok, we’re going to say how important navigation systems are on your boat, and that’s true, but in fact you don’t want to reply on electronic navigation systems alone if you’re out in the middle of the deep blue. Having paper charts on board (in digital format preferably to save on space in a small boat) and knowing how to navigate using them is imperative. 

small sailing yacht

There are thousands of models of liveaboard sailboats under 40 feet on the market, but certainly not all of them are suitable for crossing oceans. We’ve seen the general characteristics of what to look for when choosing a blue water sailboat, but what are the pros and cons of a smaller boat versus a larger model?


Smaller tends to mean cheaper and so affordability is a major factor when buying a blue water sailboat . Whether you’re in the market for a new or used blue water sailboat under 40 feet, there are some excellent deals to be found. It means that long-held dream of sailing across the world can happen now, rather than saving for years. The other bonus is that smaller, simpler pocket cruisers will be cheaper and easier to maintain. 

Easier to Sail:

The simpler the rig and the less systems on board the easier the boat will be to sail (and to care for). You’ll need a smaller crew meaning cruising boats under 40 feet tend to be popular with couples and solo sailors. 

Less Spacious:

It goes without saying that smaller boats have less space. While manufacturers are finding ever-more ingenious ways to equip small sailboats with everything their larger counterparts have – and there are some clever ways you can maximize storage space in a boat – realistically space will be at a premium, meaning the number of crew and the amount of comforts you can have on board will need to be minimal.

They Tend to be Slower:

As a general rule, the smaller the sailboat, the slower it will be. While this isn’t always a bad thing if you’re in no hurry to get anywhere, it’s worth considering that out-running bad weather can be trickier in a small boat. 

Less comfortable:

A smaller boat can make for a less comfortable ride, especially in bigger seas. 

Best blue water sailboat models under 40 Feet

If you’re in the market for a cruising sailboat under 40 feet the options can seem dizzying. With so many to choose from it’s hard to know where to start. There are thousands of excellent used boats on the market, with reputations for reliability, safety, comfort and build. Here however we’re going to take a look at some of the manufacturers making the best bluewater sailboats in 2023 . With a solid reputation and excellent craftsmanship, they make a good place to start your search. 

Beneteau’s Oceanis 40, Oceanis 38.1 and Oceanis 34.1.

Beneteau’s reputation shines through in this smaller range of ocean-going yachts. At the top end of the under-40 foot range is the Oceanis 40 , with a hull designed by Marc Lombard and a huge amount of deck and interior space for its size. The Oceanis 38.1 offers surprising comfort and speed, with the ability to be sailed with a small crew, while the smallest in the range is the Oceanis 34.1 pocket cruiser, with cleverly designed spaces and a modern hull design. 

blue water sailboat beneteau

Photo credit: Beneteau

Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey 349 and Sun Odyssey 380:

For over 60 years Jeanneau has been crafting motor and sailboats which push the boundaries and the Sun Odyssey range is the perfect example of that. The Sun Odyssey 349 and Sun Odyssey 380 are the smallest in the range, offering high performance sailing you would expect of a much larger model. With an iconic inverted bow, huge interior spaces and fine-tuned handling, they are popular models for long distance cruising. 

blue water sailboats jeanneau

Photo credit: Jeanneau 

Hallberg-Rassy 340, 372, 40 and 40C:

The range of Swedish-built Hallberg-Rassy small blue water yachts is one of the most impressive of any manufacturer. Boasting four yachts under 40 feet, they put their nine decades of expertise into both center cockpit and aft cockpit ocean-going cruisers and have the awards to show for it. From the Hallberg-Rassy 340 , which manages to pack everything you could need in a long-range cruiser into an ultra-compact package, to the award-winning 372 which manages to be even faster than the already fast Hallberg-Rassy 40 . They offer incredible handling, expansive oak interiors, generous cockpits and modern rigs.  

blue water sailboats hallberg rassy

Photo credit: Hallberg-Rassy

SeaWind Catamarans’ 1160, 1190 and 1260:

It’s uncommon to find blue water catamarans under 40 feet, but SeaWind has crafted no less than three compact, sturdy cats that can cross oceans in safety and comfort. With huge interior spaces across its double beam, you get much more living space than you would in a monohull of the same size, as well as robust seaworthiness, great sailability and all at an attractive price. 

blue water sailboat seawind

Photo credit: SeaWind  

Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.


More from: Samantha Wilson

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