My Cruiser Life Magazine

7 Best Trailerable Sailboats for Cruising

Many sailors balk at the idea of leaving their boat in the water at a marina. Slip fees are expensive, and maintenance bills get bigger the longer you leave a boat in the water. However, if you want a boat under 30 feet long, there are trailerable sailboats that will fit the bill.

Like any boat purchase, you’ll need to analyze precisely what kind of trailer sailer you want. Will a simple weekend sailboat suffice, or do you really need the best trailerable cruising sailboat you can find? 

Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of the best trailerable sailboat. Plus, we’ll look at how to compare them for your purposes.

trailerable sailboat

Table of Contents

Best trailerable sailboats, easy to launch trailerable sailboats, quick setup time, towing weight, catalina 22/25 “pop-top”, com-pac horizon cat for classic coastal cruising, marshall sanderling — small, portable, classy, west wight potter 19 — the tiny go-anywhere sailboat, seaward 26rk with retractable lead keel, corsair f-24 trimaran – sporty sailing, macgregor 26m — maximum speed meets maximum living space, long-range cruising boats, 7 best trailerable boats – a recap, what’s the best trailerable sailboat for a cruise, trailerable sailboats faqs.

  • Catalina 22/25
  • Com-Pac Horizon Cat
  • Marshall Sanderling
  • West Wight Potter 19
  • Seaward 26RK
  • Corsair F-24 Trimaran
  • MacGregor 26M
Catalina 22/25 with Pop-TopStanding headroom when pop-top extended; Feels much larger than it is; Allows freedom of movement for cooking, changing, etcPop-top only provides headroom in small section of boat; Later models lacked this feature
Com-Pac Horizon CatWell built; Quick-rig system for fast & simple setup; Separate head; Space to loungeNo mention of cons
Marshall SanderlingEasy to sail & tow; Traditional charm; Fiberglass hull; Option for electric motorVery small for cruising; No galley; Toilet not enclosed
West Wight Potter 19Reputation for go-anywhere cruiser; Hotplate, sink & porta-potty packed in; Easy setup & towingExtremely tight quarters; No mention of cons
Seaward 26RKHigh quality construction; Retractable keel provides stability & shallow draft; Lots of amenitiesHeavy – 6,000 lb towing weight
Corsair F-24 TrimaranVery lightweight & easy to tow; Offers adrenaline-pumping performance sailingNot ideal for offshore/rough conditions
MacGregor 26MMassive interior space; Towable behind most vehicles; Fast powerboat & sailboat capabilitiesNot built for offshore use; Not appealing for hardcore sailors

We’ll get into more detail about each brand in my post today, so hang tight!

What Is a Trailerable Sailboat, Exactly?

For this article, the priorities for a trailerable sailboat are:

  • Easy to launch
  • Require minimum setup to launch and store
  • Lightweight enough to be towed by the average vehicle

Before you can really classify a sailboat as trailerable, you need to evaluate and narrow your search criteria. Truthfully, 50-plus-foot ocean-going sailboats are regularly put on trailers. But that’s done commercially, on a big rig, with special permits for oversized loads, and even led cars.  

That probably isn’t what most people mean when they think of a trailerable sailboat. But what is the priority here, the trailerable part or the sailboat part? Compromises are going to have to be made somewhere. 

If you’re looking at the 20-foot-and-under sailboat crowd, finding a trailerable example should not be hard. Most sailboats this size are designed for trailers anyway since they aren’t the sort of boats people want to pay to leave in a slip year-round.

Things get more interesting when you look at the 20 to 30-foot boats. In this class, there are stout ocean-going cruisers with deep keels and lightweight centerboard trailer sailboats designed from the get-go to be trailered by the average car or SUV. The differences between these boats are night and day.

Sailboats often have a hard time at boat ramps. First, deep keels mean that the trailer must extend farther into the water than the average boat ramp allows. This means the ramp needs to go back far enough, and the trailer tongue needs to be long enough not to swamp the car. 

If you have a boat like this, you’ll need to find the right boat ramps. Unfortunately, not all ramps are created equally. If your boat draws more than two or three feet on the trailer, you’re going to be limited to steep, paved, and high-quality boat ramps. Unfortunately, those aren’t standard features, so your cruising grounds are going to be limited.

Usually, ramps aren’t built steeply because they are often slippery. Your tow vehicle will need excellent traction and torque to pull your fully loaded boat out of a steep ramp. The steeper the ramp, the more trouble you’ll have. 

The alternative to finding steep ramps is to use a trailer tongue extender. This lets you get the trailer into deeper water without swamping the tow vehicle. But it also means that the ramp needs to extend deep enough. Many ramps end abruptly. Allowing your trailer to sink off the edge is an excellent way to get stuck or pop a tire.

Pick a boat as easy to launch and retrieve as a similarly sized powerboat to remove all of these boat ramp problems. The soft chines of most sailboats will always require a little more water, but a swing keel and the hinged rudder raised mean that the boat can sit low on the trailer bunks. That way, you only need one or two feet of water to launch, an easy feat at nearly every boat ramp you can find.

The next consideration for a sailboat to be portable enough to call it “trailerable” is the amount of time it takes to step the mast and get it ready to cruise. 

To accomplish this, you need a mast that can be stepped by a two-person team–maximum. Ideally, it will have some tabernacle hardware to enable one person to do the task for solo sailing.

There is an entire family of pocket cruisers that could ideally fit on trailers. But you won’t find the Fickas or the Falmouth cutters on my list, simply because they aren’t easy to launch or easy to rig. But, of course, they’re also too heavy for most vehicles to tow, which leads us to the final point of excluding them this trailable pocket cruiser’s list.

One of the most significant financial burdens the trailer sailer faces is their tow vehicle. You are all set if you already drive a two-ton dually diesel pickup truck. But if your daily driver is an SUV or light pickup, you need to think long and hard about the math of the towing equation. 

Whatever boat you buy cannot exceed the towing rating limits of your tow vehicle. If you don’t have a tow vehicle, you’ll need to buy one. This will double or triple the cost of getting a trailer sailer in most cases. For the same money, you may want to look at a boat that stays in the water at a traditional boat slip. For the cost of a trailer sailer and a tow vehicle, you can probably step into a nice boat that is larger and more comfortable than any towable.

If you have a tow vehicle, you need a light enough vessel for it to tow. Most modern SUVs tow less than 2,500 pounds. Anything more than 5,000 will require a full-size pickup. Remember that the tow weight isn’t just the boat’s displacement—it’s the empty hull weight, plus the weight of the trailer and any extra gear you need to pack into the boat. 

Finding a vessel that fits these limitations on weight isn’t easy. If the manufacturer’s goal is to make it towable, immediate limits are placed on the materials they can use. This means less seaworthiness since boats are built light and thin. As far as stability goes, lead keels are generally out, and water ballast systems or centerboards might be used instead. It doesn’t mean these boats aren’t safe and fun, but they aren’t designed for rough conditions, crossing oceans, or living on in the water full-time .

Trailerable sailboats are usually limited to the best paved ramps

7 Best Trailerable Cruising Sailboats

There are more trailerable sailboats out there than you might imagine. Here’s a look at seven popular options of all shapes and sizes to give you a taste of what you might want to take to sea.

The boats here are selected for their storage and living space. With these boats and a little outfitting, you can spend weeks gunk-holing in the Chesapeake Bay or island hopping the Bahamas. If you broaden your scope to include daysailers with no cabin space, there are countless more options.

One of the worst parts of a small trailerable sailboat or pocket cruiser is the lack of stand-up headroom. One clever solution that you’ll find on some weekend sailboat types is the pop-top. 

The pop-top is simply an area around the companionway hatch that extends upward on struts. So when you’re at the dock or anchor, you get standing headroom down below—at least right inside the pop-top.

You can build a canvas enclosure for your pop-top to use it in all weather. A pop-top makes your boat feel much larger than it is and allows you to move freely to cook or get changed down below or even do a nice boat bed area. 

Later models of the Catalina Sport 22 and Capri 22s lacked this cool pop-top feature, so if you want it, you’ll need to seek out an older model on the used market.

Com-Pac has been building small sailboats since the early 1970s. They currently sell two lines, each with various-sized boats. All are well built, and a majority of their boats are trailerable. 

Most interesting at the Com-Pac traditional catboats . The rigging is more straightforward than modern sloops, with only one large mainsail. Com-Pac boats come with a unique quick-rig system to make getting on the water fast and simple.

The Horizon Cat Coastal Cruising has a displacement of 2,500 pounds with a 2’2″ draft when the board is up. She has a separate head forward and space to lounge either topside or down below. The smaller Sun Cat has slightly few amenities but shaves off a few feet and pounds, making it easier to tow and it is one of these amazing small sailboats. Com-Pacs features stub keels, so their centerboard and hinged rudder do not take up space in the cabin.

On the sloop rig side, the Com-Pac 23 comes in a 3,000-pound traditional sailboat or a very interesting pilothouse. Both are incredibly livable for their size , with shallow two-foot-long fixed keels and high-quality construction.

Another option if you like catboats is the Marshall Sanderling. This salty 18-footer oozes traditional charm , all while being easy to sail and easier to tow. And while she has wooden boat lines, she has a modern laminated fiberglass hull.

The Sanderling has a 2,200-pound displacement, so tow weights will be around 3,000 pounds. At only 18-feet, she’s on the small side for cruising. The cuddy cabin has no galley, and the portable toilet is not enclosed. But that small size means a simple boat that’s easy to maintain and take anywhere. 

An electric motor package is an exciting option on this weekend sailboat!

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You can’t mention tiny trailer sailers without touching on the famous West Wight Potter . These 15 and 19-foot pocket cruisers have earned a worldwide reputation as the ultimate go-anywhere coastal cruiser.

The West Wight Potter 19 offers the most living space for staying aboard and cruising. So even though its dimensions are diminutive, this little boat packs a lot in. There’s a single burner hotplate and sink and a porta-potty tucked under a cushion. Yes, it’s tight—but the company claims the little boat can sleep five people. Any more than two will feel pretty crowded, however.

The boat comes standard with a mast-raising system that a single person can manage alone. It has a daggerboard for a shallow draft of a half-foot when the board is up. The total towing weight is around 1,500 pounds, which means nearly any car can tow a West Wight Potter.

This little-known trailer sailer is produced at the same Florida factory that makes Island Packet Yachts. That should give you a little bit of an idea of what sort of boat it is—trailerable, yes, but also high-quality, beautiful, and built for cruising. In other words, it’s one of the nicest all round pocket cruisers and it feels like a much larger boat.

The Seaward is easily the saltiest boat on this list . It’s beefy and seaworthy. Instead of a lightweight centerboard, Seaward fits the RK with a bulb-shaped retracting keel. Other big-boat items include a Yanmar diesel inboard motor and an enclosed head. The spacious cabin of the boat features a double berth and is ready for salt water cruising.

According to sailboatdata.com , the tow weight of the 26RK is 6,000 pounds. With the keel up, the draft is 1.25 feet.

Multihull sailors need not feel left out from the trailer sailer club and the pocket cruiser. Beyond the ubiquitous beach Hobie Cat, there are not many options for catamarans. But trimarans are uniquely suited to be towed.

Why? For one thing, performance oriented boats like trimarans are based on it being built light. There is no ballast—a trimaran’s stability comes from its two outer hulls. Additionally, the living space is entirely housed in the central hull–the outer floats are small and sometimes foldable. Finally, there are no keels on tris, so they are extremely shallow draft and perfect for trailering.

If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping sporty and fun sailing, it’s impossible to beat what a trimaran will offer. Let’s not beat around the bush—most of the trailer sailers on this list have hull speeds around five knots. The Corsair has no such limits, routinely sailing at 15 knots or more .

The new Corsair 880 trimaran has an unloaded weight of 3,659 pounds. It is trailerable behind a big SUV or small pickup and is probably the most fun sailing option that is trailerable at all.

An even more portable option is the older Corsair F-24. It has a light displacement of under 2,000 pounds—so nearly any SUV can tow it.

MacGregor owns the market on trailerable motor sailers since they more or less created the product to fit the bill. The MacGregor 26 is not like other boats. The design combines a planing powerboat with a centerboard sailboat. Imagine scooting along at 20 knots or more when the wind is down or enjoying a sporty sail on a breezy day–in the same boat.

The entire boat is built from the ground up for towing and long-range sailing. So if you want a big sailboat that you can tow behind pretty much any SUV, the MacGregor has to be on your list. 

Depending on the model, the 26-foot-long boats have incredibly light dry weights of between 1,650 and 2,350 pounds. Considering the massive volume of the roomy cabin, the ability to tow such a large vessel opens up an entire world of opportunities for owners. 

It’s not all good news, of course. MacGregor owners love their boats, but they are built light and are not ideally suited for offshore cruising or rough weather. But in bays and for coastal sailing on nice days, few boats can get as much use as a MacGregor. 

The motorboat capability of the 26M and 26X might not appeal to hardcore sailors, but for those looking to maximize their use of the boat depending on the weather, their mood, or location, it makes a lot of sense. 

MacGregor shut down in 2015, but the daughter and son-in-law of the original owners took over production and renamed the boat the Tattoo 26 . The company will soon release a smaller version, the Tattoo 22 .

If the 26 is a bit big to make your list of best trailerable small sailboats, consider the smaller Powersailer 19. It’s nearly identical to the 26, just smaller and lighter.

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What Do You Want Your Trailer Sailer To Do?

After you’ve settled on how you will tow and launch your trailer sailer, now it’s time to dream about what you want it to do. Where will it take you? 

The beauty of a towable boat is that you can travel anywhere. A boat in the water might take weeks or months to move a few hundred miles. But if you can attach it to your car and do 65 mph on the interstate, you could sail on the Pacific on Monday, the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, and the Atlantic on Friday.

We can divide our trailerable sailboats into three groups – daysailers, weekenders, and cruisers.

These are designed with open cockpits and no space to sleep. This is a majority of the sub-22-foot boats on the market. They are designed to be launched, play for the day, and return to the ramp or dock.

A weekender will have rudimentary sleeping facilities. Think of it as a floating tent—it’s not a five-star hotel, but you can sleep under the stars or get out of the rain. Conceivably you could stay aboard indefinitely, but it doesn’t have much room for gear. So most people are ready to get off after a day or two. 

A cruising boat has sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities built-in. These might be small and simple, but in any quantity, they mean you can disconnect from shore for a long time. Unfortunately, squeezing all of this into a tow-friendly package isn’t easy, and very few boats do it well. 

Trailer sailer adventures

Catalina 22/25 “Pop-Top”– Standing headroom below deck
– Feels much larger than it is
– Freedom to move below deck
Com-Pac Horizon Cat– Simple catboat rigging 
– Quick-rig system
– Shallow 2′ draft
– Quality construction
Marshall Sanderling– Traditional charm
– Easy to maintain
– Electric motor option
West Wight Potter 19– Go anywhere reputation
– Packs in amenities
– Towable by any vehicle
Seaward 26RK– Quality construction
– Big boat features
– Retractable keel
Corsair F-24 Trimaran– Very light/easy to tow
– Shallow draft
– Fast performance
MacGregor 26M– Massive interior space
– Planing hull enables speed
– Towable by most SUVs

The best trailer sailor for your adventures will depend on many factors. Like any boat, whatever you decide on will be a compromise – boats always are. But there are plenty of choices out there, no matter what size your tow vehicle is and no matter what sailing adventures you have in mind.

What size sailboat is trailerable?

Even large yachts are routinely transported by towing across land, so the question is more of how big a sailboat can you tow? Your tow vehicle will be the limiting factor. The upper limit for most large SUVs and trucks is usually a sailboat around 26 feet long.

Sailboats are generally very heavily built, with ballast and lead keels. Sailboats specifically made to be trailer sailers are lighter. They may use drainable water ballast tanks instead of fixed ballast and have fewer fixtures and amenities.

To find the best trailer sailer, you need to balance the total tow weight, the ease of rig setup at the boat ramp, and the boat’s draft. Shallow draft boats with centerboards are the easiest to launch and retrieve.

Is a Hunter 27 trailerable?

No. The Hunter 27 is a one of those fixed-keel larger boats built from 1974 to 1984. The boat’s displacement is 7,000 pounds, not including trailer and gear. That alone makes it too heavy to tow by all but the beefiest diesel trucks. 

Furthermore, the fixed keels had drafts between 3.25 and 5 feet, all of which are too much for most boat ramps. In short, the standard Hunter Marine 27 is too big to tow for most people.

On the other hand, Hunter has made several good trailer sailers over the years. For example, the Hunter 240 and 260 were explicitly designed for trailering. They have drainable water ballast and shallow keel/centerboard drafts less than two feet. 

Is a Catalina 22 trailerable?

Yes, the Catalina 22 is easily trailerable and makes a wonderful weekend sailboat. In fact, there were over 15,000 Catalina 22s made and sold over the years. 

The boat’s displacement is 2,250 pounds, which means your total tow weight with trailer and gear will be under 3,000 pounds. This is within the capabilities of most mid to full-size SUVs and light trucks. Be sure to check your vehicle’s towing capacity, of course.

The centerboard on the Catalina 22 is another factor in its easy towing. With the board up, the boat draws only two feet. This makes it easy to float off the trailer at nearly any boat ramp. You should avoid fixed keel versions of the 22 for towing unless you have access to extra deep ramps. 

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

Can someone tell me why no other manufacturer makes pop tops? Those who have them, love them. Makes sense for head space with a trailerable boat too. Catalina stopped making them decades ago, yet people still swear by them. So, why isn’t there any newer models?

MacGregor put pop tops on many of its trailerables

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trailerable liveaboard sailboat

7 Trailerable Sailboats That Have Standing Headroom

Trailering your boat is a great way to sail in a lot of different places while keeping your boat budget in control. You can take a smaller boat a long way to launch it somewhere new, and you don't get saddled with a lot of mooring and dockage fees while your boat sits around unused.

That sounds great, but one key word in about trailerable sailboats is small . To move a boat on a street legal trailer without special permits and problems, it has to stay within certain size limits.

You may struggle to find a trailer sailer with head room when you're down below. But there are some out there that an average person doesn't have to sit to work in the galley, and we've put together a list of seven great pocket cruisers you can stand up in (if you're not too tall!).

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

On this page:

Standing headroom and trailering, westerly pageant, catalina 25, grampian 26, beneteau first 27, macgregor 26m / tattoo 26, corsair 760.

Our list includes some old classics dating back to the 70s, new boats in production today, and even a high performance multihull. The range of trailer sailers to pick from is enormous, but if you want something you can stand up in, here's a good place to start.

  • Catalina 25 (poptop)
  • MacGregor 26

The terms "trailerable" and "standing headroom" are both a little vague. Many boats can be moved by trailer, but you wouldn't want to move them that way every weekend. Bigger boats require heavier trucks and trailers, and once they get past eight feet of beam, you may need permits, special routing, and commercial equipment. Just because you can get it on a trailer doesn't mean it's "trailerable" in this context.

And standing headroom means something very different to different people. It's not just tall and short people who need different space, but what space in the boat you can stand in. Most people can stand up inside a small boat with the companionway open, but can you cook standing up with your head out in the cockpit? Or stand and stretch on a rainy day?

For our purposes, we're going to use the following definitions:

A trailerable boat is one you can launched, rig, and recover with the crew which sails it, an move on normal roads with no special permits or commercial tow vehicles. Many boats will fit on a trailer, but to be "trailerable" it needs to be reasonable to use for a trip on a long weekend, starting from and ending on a trailer. Most roads in North America have a vehicle width limit of a little over eight feet without special permits. This eliminates any boat with a beam much over eight and a half feet.

Standing headroom for this discussion means a person of average height (5'10" or 178 cm for men) can stand inside the main saloon, out of the elements. It doesn't mean you can stand everywhere down below, but you should be able to stand and move around a bit, get dressed and undressed without doing calisthenics, and hopefully work in the galley if there is one. "Headroom" on a boat is a very fuzzy measurement, and is distorted by marketing hype and wishful thinking. There isn't a standardized measurement for it, so we'll work with our own.

Within these parameters, there are many boats. If you can deal with some inconvenience in your trailering, or you only plan to move your boat by trailer once or twice a season, you can get more boat and still get the headroom you want. But that's not what's on our list.

Built by Westerly Marine in the 1970s, the Pageant is a 23' bilge keeled cruiser with full standing headroom in the saloon. At 4,300 pounds, it's heavy for its size and is known more for comfort than speed. The bilge keels may make getting onto a trailer interesting and require modifications to accommodate its under water layout.

There is a fin keeled version marketed as the Kendal 23/24, with a four-foot draft and two hundred pounds less displacement. They built only a few, so they're difficult to find.

Hull Type: Twin Keel
LOA: 23.00 ft / 7.01 m LWL: 19.00 ft / 5.79 m
Beam: 8.00 ft / 2.44 m Draft (max): 2.83 ft / 0.86 m
Displacement: 4,300 lb / 1,950 kg Ballast: 2,094 lb / 950 kg

The Catalina 25 is one of the most popular pocket cruisers built, with almost 6,000 hulls built between 1978 and 1994. A variety of keel styles and rigs were built, including a fin keel, swing keel, winged keel, and a tall rig. But the most distinctive feature of these boats is the "pop top" over the companionway, which enabled the entire area in the saloon under the companionway to lift for standing headroom. Some owners built covers and sides, enclosing this area into a true part of the belowdecks space.

The pop top was an option prior to 1987, but became standard after that through the end of the production run. It's important to know the build year for any Catalina 25 you consider, since the features varied considerably. Always check pictures for the pop top!

Hull Type: Fin w/transom hung rudder
LOA: 25.00 ft / 7.62 m LWL: 22.17 ft / 6.76 m
Beam: 8.00 ft / 2.44 m Draft (max): 4.00 ft / 1.22 m
Displacement: 4,550 lb / 2,064 kg Ballast: 1,900 lb / 862 kg

This trimaran is fast, but still has six feet of headroom. With the amas folded, the boat is narrow enough to trailer and with a 3,000 displacement is light and easy to move. While you won't have the interior beam of an eight-foot wide monohull in the living space, you will have quite a comfortable space with room to stand. But unlike most of the shallow draft, trailerable monohulls on this list, this one can hit fifteen knots under sail.

Hull Type: Trimaran w/ centerboard Rig Type: Fractional Sloop
LOA: 27.49 ft / 8.38 m LWL: 26.51 ft / 8.08 m
Beam: 18.01 ft / 5.49 m (8.6' folded amas) Displacement: 3,000 lb / 1,361 kg
Draft (max): 4.27 ft / 1.30 m Draft (min): 0.98 ft / 0.30 m

The Canadian-built Grampian 26 was built from the late sixties through the late seventies, and many of the almost 1,000 boats that were built are still around. It has six feet of headroom inside, an enclosed head, and a galley. It's an ideal weekender for a couple, or even a couple with a small child. Some boats had inboard engines, others had outboards. Additional options were for a keel or a centerboard model; with 4'3" of draft, the keel model is still easy to trailer.

Hull Type: Fin w/spade rudder Rigging Type: Masthead Sloop
LOA: 26.00 ft / 7.92 m LWL: 21.75 ft / 6.63 m
Beam: 8.33 ft / 2.54 m Draft (max): 4.25 ft / 1.30 m
Displacement: 5,600 lb / 2,540 kg Ballast: 2,600 lb / 1,179 kg

One of the few new and in production boats in this list, the Beneteau First 27 is a fraction of an inch under our 5'10" qualifier (technically 5′9 5/16"), but it's such a roomy and quick boat that it seems appropriate to waive a few millimeters. This lightweight boat has sleeping space for up to six, and has a galley, fridge, and a proper marine head.

Don't confuse this boat with the earlier First 27 from 1978 or the First 27 SE (for "Seascape"), sold as the First 27 from 2018 to 2020 after Beneteau acquired Seascape. Those were quite different boats, though they had their own merits and strengths. They didn't have quite the headroom or interior volume as the newest model, and the earlier boat had too much beam for easy trailering.

Finds specs here

Hull Type: Fin w/bulb & dual rudders Rigging Type: Fractional Sloop
LOA: 26.21 ft / 7.99 m
Beam: 8.33 ft / 2.54 m Draft (max): 5.58 ft / 1.70 m
Displacement: 3,902 lb / 1,770 kg Ballast: 1,345 lb / 610 kg

The MacGregor 26 series of boats is the most popular trailer sailor ever built. The first "Mac 26" was built in 1986, and went through several design upgrades and enhancements, including the 25D (dagger board), 26S (centerboard), 26X (dual rudder, motor sailing) culminating in the 26M (motorsailor with a rotating spar) built from 2002 though 2013. Earlier models have less headroom, but all are water ballasted, lightweight trailerable boats. The later 26X and 26M models can be equipped with rather large outboards (for sailboats) which could hit almost 20 knots under power.

Though the rigs on these boats are undersized and they're lightly built, they're spacious near shore and inland cruisers you can easily rig and de-rig for a weekend of sailing.

The founder of MacGregor Boats, Roger MacGregor, retired in 2013, and his daughter Laura founded Tattoo Yachts and bought the tooling for the 26M. Tattoo continues to build the Tattoo 26, which is a Macgregor 26M with a few modernizations and enhancements.

Hull Type: Daggerboard Rigging Type: Frac. Sloop (Rotating Spar)
LOA: 25.83 ft / 7.87 m LWL: 23.17 ft / 7.06 m
Beam: 7.75 ft / 2.36 m Sail Area (reported): 300.00 ft2 / 27.87 m2
Draft (max): 5.75 ft / 1.75 m Draft (min): 1.00 ft / 0.30 m
Displacement: 4,000 lb / 1,814 kg Ballast: 1,450 lb / 658 kg

Corsair Trimarans offers several trailerable tris which meet the headroom test. The Corsair 760 is the smallest current production model, and like the Catalina 25, this 24' trimaran uses a clever pop-top over the companionway to get more headroom. It's sleeps two in the default configuration, though a foldable table can convert to sleep four.

Corsair designs their trimarans for easy setup and breakdown of the amas, and can be setup and launched in under an hour. The very shallow draft allows for anchoring in areas many boats can not, and even beaching.

The larger Corsair 970 is also trailerable with standing headroom, as is the older F-31.

Hull Type: Trimaran Daggerboard. Rigging Type: Frac. Sloop (Rotating Spar)
LOA: 24.25 ft / 7.39 m Beam: 17.91 ft / 5.46 m
S.A. (reported): 410.10 ft2 / 38.10 m2 Beam (folded): 8.17 ft / 2.5 m
Draft (max): 5.25 ft / 1.60 m Draft (min): 0.98 ft / 0.30 m
Displacement: 2,094 lb / 950 kg

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The end!

Great compendium Kevin. Also a sensible choice for those who've done the conventional cruising and are looking at phase 2 options. All the best.

While I'm not sure how old this post is, Ill add another boat to consider using your criteria above. We have a S2 7.9 Gran Slam which we cruise locally in Milwaukee and also take a few weeks out of the summer and trailer to better cruising grounds. We pull it with a Chevy Suburban and are quite please with having a performance boat that is straight forward to launch and rig. The beam is actually over legal limit at 9', but these boats have been trailered extensively to one design regattas over many years and I have never heard of anyone being stopped by the hi way revenuers.

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11 Best Pocket Cruiser Sailboats to Fit a Budget

  • By Cruising World Staff
  • Updated: May 24, 2024

Looking for a trailerable pocket cruiser that offers that liveaboard feeling? This list features 11 small sailboats with cabins that have the amenities often found on larger vessels. They may not be ocean crossing vessels, but they’re certainly capable of handling big bays and open waters.

What is a pocket cruiser? It’s a small trailerable sailboat, typically under 30 feet in length, that’s ideal for cruising big lakes, bays, coastal ocean waters, and occasionally bluewater cruising. Pocket cruisers are usually more affordable, compact, and offer a level of comfort that’s comparable to bigger liveaboards.

Small cruising sailboats are appealing for many reasons, but if you’re like most of us, you want to maintain a certain level of comfort while on the water. We took a poll and these are what we found to be the best cruising sailboats under 30 feet.

– DON’T LET CARBON MONOXIDE SNEAK UP ON YOU – Install detectors on your boat to sniff out any buildup of carbon monoxide gas. Avoid running engines or generators while anchored or stopped for extended periods. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Andrews 28

Open and airy below deck, the Andrews 28 doesn’t sacrifice comfort for speed. Designed by Alan Andrews, the Southern California naval architect renowned for his light, fast raceboats, this 28-footer will certainly appeal to the cruiser who also enjoys a little club racing. Sporting a total of 6 berths, a galley, head and nav area, you might forget you are on a boat small enough to be easily trailered. The retractable keel allows the Andrews 28 to be easily launched and hauled and ensures it’s as comfortable as a daysailer as it is a racer. Click here to read more about the Andrews28.

Beneteau First 20

First 20 at sunset

Small sailboat with a cabin? Check! Fun to sail? Modern design? Capable of flying a spinnaker? Check! Check! Check! The Finot-Conq-designed Beneteau First 20, which replaced the popular Beneteau first 211 nearly a decade ago now, is a sporty-but-stable pocket cruiser suitable for newcomers to the sport who are eager to learn their chops before moving up to a bigger boat or for old salts looking to downsize to a trailerable design. The boat features twin rudders, a lifting keel, and a surprisingly roomy interior with bunks for four. Click here to read more about the Beneteau First 20 .

Ranger 26

Conceived as a way to bridge the gap between a safe, comfortable, family cruiser and a competitive racer, Gary Mull’s Ranger 26 does exactly as it was designed to. Undeniably fast, (one won the 1970 IOR North American Half-Ton Cup) the boat sails as well as it looks. However speed isn’t the Ranger’s only strong-suit, with over 7 feet of cockpit there’s plenty of room for socializing after an evening of racing. The Ranger 26 sports a nice balance of freeboard and cabin height ensuring that a handsome profile wasn’t sacrificed for standing headroom. Click here to read more about the Ranger 26.

Nonsuch 30 left side

Catboats were once a common site in coastal waters, where they sailed the shallow bays as fishing or work boats. Their large single and often gaff-rigged sail provided plenty of power, and a centerboard made them well-suited for the thin waters they frequently encountered. In the late 1970s, Canadian builder Hinterhoeller introduced the Nonsuch 30, a fiberglass variation of the catboat design, with a modern Marconi sail flown on a stayless mast, and a keel instead of a centerboard. The boat’s wide beam made room below for a spacious interior, and the design caught on quickly with cruising sailors looking for a small bluewater sailboat. Click here to read more about the Nonsuch 30 .

– SHOW THEM HOW MUCH YOU CARE – Nothing says ‘I love you’ like making sure the kids’ life jackets are snugged up and properly buckled. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Newport 27

Debuted in 1971 in California, the Newport 27 was an instant success on the local racing scene. For a modest 27-footer, the Newport 27 has an unusually spacious interrior with over 6 feet of standing headroom. With 4 berths, a table, nav station, head and galley the Newport 27 has all the amenities you might find in a much bigger boat, all in a compact package. While quick in light air, the drawback of the tiller steering becomes apparent with increasing breeze and weather helm often leading to shortening sail early. Click here to read more about the Newport 27.

Balboa 26

First splashed in 1969, the Balboa 26 continues to enjoy a strong following among budget-minded cruisers. Built sturdy and heavy, all of the boat’s stress points are reinforced. The spacious cockpit comfortably seats 4 and is self bailing, ensuring that sailors stay dry. While only 26 feet, the Balboa still has room for a double berth, galley with stove and freshwater pump, and an optional marine head or V-berth. The Balboa has the ability to sleep five, though the most comfortable number is two or three. Under sail, the Balboa is fast and maneuverable, but may prove a handful in heavy breeze as weather helm increases. Click here to read more about the Balboa 26.

Cape Dory 28

Cape Dory 28

While the sleek lines and the teak accents of the Cape Dory 28 may grab the eye, it is the performance of the boat that make it unique. The Cape Dory comes with all amenities that you might need available, including a V-berth, 2 settees, and a head. Safe, sound and comfortable as a cruiser it is still capable of speed. Quick in light wind and sturdy and capable in heavy air, it is off the wind where the Cape Dory 28 shines with a balanced helm and the ability to cut through chop and still tack perfectly. Click here to read more about the Cape Dory 28.

Islander Bahama 28

Islander Bahama 28

On top of being a real eye-catcher, the Islander Bahama 28, with its 5-foot-6-inch draft and 3,300 pounds of ballast, sails beautifully, tracks well, and responds quickly to the helm. Inspired by the International Offshore Rule, it is unusually wide, offering stability in breeze without sacrificing the sheer and lines that make it so attractive. Below deck, the Islander Bahama 28 comes standard with plenty of berths and storage space and a galley complete with stove, icebox and sink. Click here to read more about the Islander Bahama 28.

– CHECK THE WEATHER – The weather changes all the time. Always check the forecast and prepare for the worst case. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

S2 8.6

Much like its older sibling, the S2 8.6 still holds its contemporary style, despite its 1983 introduction. Like all other S2 Yachts, the 8.6 is recognized for the quality craftsmanship that allows the boat to hold up today.The S2 8.6 is a very comfortable and easily managed coastal cruiser and club racer. It’s relatively stiff, its helm feels balanced, and it tracks well. On most points of sail, it compares favorably with other boats of similar size and type. Click here to read more about the S2 8.6.

Contessa 26

Contessa 26

When the Contessa 26 was released in 1965, it immediately proved itself to be a strong, seaworthy vessel. The Contessa has continued to prove itself throughout its lifetime, being the boat of choice for two solo circumnavigations under the age of 21. While upwind performance leaves some wanting, the boat is sturdy and can carry full sail in up to 20 knots of breeze. Suited more for single-handing, the Contessa lacks standing headroom and the accommodations are sparse. Nonetheless, the Contessa 26 performs well as a daysailer with guests aboard. Click here to read more about the Contessa 26.

Hunter 27

The Hunter 27 perfectly encompasses the pocket cruiser ideal. Even if you don’t want a big boat, you can still have big boat amenities. With the generously spacious layout, wheel steering and a walkthrough transom the Hunter feels much larger than 27 feet. Step below deck and any doubts you had that the Hunter was secretly a big boat will be gone. The amenities below are endless; a full galley including stove, microwave and cooler, head with full shower, several berths and not to mention a saloon with seating for 6. The Hunter 27 has reset the benchmark for 27-footers. Click here to read more about the Hunter 27.

  • More: 21 - 30 ft , Boat Gallery , monohull , Sailboat Reviews , Sailboats , used boat guide
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trailerable liveaboard sailboat

12 Best liveaboard Sailboats To Live on | What’s Best For You?

Are you considering buying a live-aboard boat? If so, there are many options to choose from. Obviously everyone’s choice is unique, so “the best live-aboard sailboat” is a subjective topic. Therefore we have come up with a list of 12 best live-aboard sailboats that will serve everyone’s needs. Whether you are looking for a smaller vessel, a 20 feet, because you are a solo sailor or you want an all-out house on water, there is a vessel for you in to consider . 

But first, you will have to decide what your budget, needs and desires are. Once you have that clearly identified, you can then go on to see what are the best vessels for you according to your personal requirements.

Here are our top 12 best live aboard sailboats:

Catalina 30, contessa 32, islander 36, leopard 45 catamaran, beneteau oceanis 57, peterson 44.

When choosing a sail aboard vessel, it is crucial to consider the following 11 elements that distinguish a great boat from the rest. These are:   

The size of the boat 

The condition and seaworthiness of the vessel.

  • Standing headroom in the cabin
  • Having a good size Water tank
  • Having a good size fuel tank
  • Does the boat have a Water maker

A fully functioning Galley (kitchen)

  • Heating and ventilation 

Shower and Toilet

  • Power Availability

Seating Area

Sailboats are among the best liveaboard vessels on the water, there are some other types of boats that one can live in such as recreational boats, luxury yachts, trawlers, Sport fishing boats, houseboats etc., to name a few, but we are more interested in liveaboard sailboats which has many advantages over the other types.

So far we shared with you our top 12 best liveaboard sailboats and what makes a sailboat the best vessel to live on. In the following sections we will cover each sailboat in much more detail and explaining everything you need know to make an educated decision. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll feel confident enough to choose your dream sailboat to live in.

Things To Consider Before Living Aboard A Sailboat

Sailboats vary a lot from size, design and amenities to the comfort level they come with. Deciding which one is best for you depends on the overall purpose and requirement and the level of comfort you require while living aboard. 

For instance, some sailors find themselves okay living aboard on a sailboat that has no shower or a fully functioning galley. While for others it is important to have an electric toilet, a fully functioning galley and practical salon with some type of entertainment system installed. 

Additionally, you need to identify the purpose of the vessel, will your sailboat serve as an off offshore accommodation or an inshore accommodation. 

Offshore vessels generally don’t come with unnecessary furniture just to increase storage space on the boat. Also these boats have different sleeping layouts to provide for easy access and to ensure that the crew can stay in control of the boat at all times. 

Inshore sailboats on the other hand are geared towards luxurious interior design and high comfort level. Generally, inshore vessels stay within 2 miles from the shore therefore, they will have less storage space to allow for other luxurious amenities to exist.

In any case it is imperative to know what purpose will your sailboat serve and what amenities do you require before you can make an educated decision. 

What Makes A Liveaboard Sailboat The Best One?

Here are a list of characteristics of the sailboats that we believe make a liveaboard sailboat a great one: 

When it comes to living aboard, the size does matter, so depending on how many people are going to be sailing and living with you, generally bigger sailing boats offer are more comfortable. We will discuss this topic in the sections to come in great detail.

Is the boat you are about to live on in a good condition. When you buy a new sailboat for this purpose then it is a must that you hire a professional surveyor to assess the condition and the seaworthiness of the vessel before you make any down payment. Yes, it will cost you a bit, but that fee will save you a lot of money and headache.

Standing Headroom

The next feature is standing headroom. It is imperative to be able to stand upright properly without needing to crawl or bend yourself to move from one part of the boat to another. A good boat should offer at least between 5 feet 11” or 6 feet tall headroom. This element is important to consider for the health of your back and neck in the long run.  

Bigger Water Storage Tank

This is a crucial element that many older boats miss out on it. On average sailboats come with only 60 gallon tank capacity. If you make long passages then at least you should have a double of that aboard, meaning 120 gallons depending how far your destination is, you would be much safer to have 180 gallons if you are in a seaway for an extended period of time.

The last thing we don’t want to happen to you is that you run out of drink water while days away from the closest civilisation. Therefore, we recommend you to have approximately 140 gallons of water aboard during mid to long range trips or ocean crossing depending on how many people live aboard. Although, 40 gallons water storage tank is standard in the industry, you can increase this by having a few 5 gallon water container (also known as jerry cans). We have used these tanks in the past they are amazing. Click here to check these out on Amazon.

Bigger Fuel tanks

Like the water tank it is very important to have bigger fuel tanks if you plan to sail and explore the world. To give you an idea, for a 44 feet vessel a great fuel tank size will be in the range between 100 -120 gallons and on the contrary, a 30 gallons fuel tank is considered small for the same size boat. A 55 gallons Fuel tank for a 34 feet boat is classified as adequate, while a 25 gallon is considered a small fuel tank.

Although, if the boat you are considering to buy ticks all the other box except for this one, then you know that you can buy a few portable fuel tanks to resolve this issue. The best ones that I have found on Amazon will cost you around $85 for 12 gallon container. Click here to check for availability.

Does the boat have a water maker

A water maker is a live support equipment and a great amenity to have on your liveaboard sailboat that you can’t do without one. This is not a so important if you have super large storage tanks to store the water for you. Or you are located in the Caribbean where water is readily available everywhere. Other than that having a water maker means that you don’t have to worry about running out of water in the middle of the ocean, for this reason a water maker could be a life saver in some instances.

The water maker, like any other systems on the boat, needs some level of maintenance from time to time, but the quality of water that you get from a decent water maker out weighs the associated maintenance and costs.

In order to make life easier aboard this option is a must on our list, while sailboats’ galleys vary from only being able to prepare light meals to a fully equipped kitchen, but a great sailboat should at least have a fridge, cooking stove and a sink. Having a small oven is a luxury but not a necessity. 

Heating and ventilation

Even in the warmer locations, it can get really cold in the nights during winter months. So, if a boat comes with a heater, be it electric or diesel, is a great advantage. I have written a very useful article on how to heat your sailboat during winter months. Click here to read it.

Likewise, proper ventilation is crucial when living aboard a sailboat for an extended period of time. This is because mold and mildew grow in places that are dump and poorly ventilated. We know now that mold is very toxic to humans and animals.  

With proper ventilation we mean a roof vent, a porthole or window that allows sufficient air flow, also good insulation help against condensation and dump.  

Having a shower and a fully functioning toilet that is adequately supplied with water is one of the necessities on our list. It is vital to have a clean boat to prevent spread of diseases due to poor sanitation.

A good sailboat should have a well built-in toilet with safe waste storage tank. 

Power Availability  

A great vessel offers 120V AC outlets, some less great sailboats might offer only a 12V outlet, but if you live aboard all year round, you will need electricity to have your cell phones, laptops, batteries charged. 

A great boat should come with good size seating area other than beds or banks. It is important to have seating area for everyone to set while eating, working or just chilling out.

What is the best size sailboat to live on?  

Liveaboard monohulled sailboats.

The answer is very subjective and depends on a few factors: your budget, family size, the level of comfort and convenience you wish to have while living aboard. 

The smallest sailboat a single person can live in with very basic amenities is about 19 feet. A 23 – 26-feet vessel will offer a much decent living space but If you want comfort, 30 feet and longer will offer a great living abroad experience, as they come with dedicated washing, cooking and living spaces.  

For couples the 37 – 44 feet range will offer a comfortable living aboard space. While families with kids and pets, probably 45-50 feet range will be the most comfortable. 

We have researched best size sailboat to live in, here is a summary of our findings:

Number of PeopleBasicDecentComfortable
Single 19 ft23 ft – 30 ft30ft and Above
Couple30 ft31 ft – 37 ft37 ft and Above
Couple & Kids upto 537 ft37 ft – 44 ft45 ft and Above
5+45 ft46 ft – 54 ft55 ft and Above

Liveaboard Catamaran Sailboats

Catamarans on the other hand will offer you the most space and comfort. Catamarans have two hulls and a salon attaching the two hulls together, allowing for more space. In addition to that they tend to be more stable and go much faster than a monohulled sailboat, due to their physical structure and size and number of sails. These vessels are well known for their safety, pleasant and smooth sailing characteristics. However they are much more expensive then monohulled sailboats.

These vessels offer a comfortable liveaboard experience. Our findings show that living aboard a 30-feet catamaran offers a comfortable and good enough space for a couple and a 1 child or a pet. 

A 35-feet catamaran will accommodate at least 4 people (4 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids) comfortably. Here is a summary of our findings:

Number of PeopleCatamaran size
A small family (including a child)30 feet
4 people (4 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids)35 feet
4 to 6 people40 feet
6+ people44 feet & Above

Is living on a sailboat worth it? Pros & Cons

In this section we will discuss some of the pros and cons of living aboard a sailboat and will leave the judgement to you to judge whether it is worth it or not.

What are the advantages of living aboard a sailboat?

There are a few advantages that come with living aboard. We will discuss them one by one below:

Freedom and Relaxed lifestyle

Living aboard a sailboat may provide you the freedom and comfort that will not be possible anywhere else. Just as RVs on land offer great freedom while traveling from one place to another on land, living aboard allows you to take your entire household to a different geographic location whenever you choose to do so. 

This lifestyle comes with freedom and nearly limitless opportunities for exploration. Likewise, living aboard means living a life away from the fast paced life of the modern era, a way from many stressors to living a truly laid back and relaxed lifestyle. 

Safety and sense of community

For many of us living in a safe environment is absolutely a must, that is exactly what marinas offer you. Marinas are regarded as very safe places as they have the most advanced security gates, CCTV cameras and professional security guards present on the marine who keep watch 24/7. 

In addition to that, marinas are one of the best places to socialise as well. You will come across many like minded and well-travelled people who can share their knowledge and sailing expertise with you and vice versa.

Scaping the cold months and saving money

Also living aboard allows you to travel to the southern part of the country (or world) in the colder months of the year, where it is much warmer in the south than in the northern hemisphere. This lifestyle is really something unique and cool to be able to live where-ever and when-ever you want. 

Cost of living aboard a sailboat in majority of the cases is far less than living a life in a typical house or apartment. If you live fully all year round on a sailboat and you don’t have any residential rent or mortgage costs to pay, you can live very cheap and even save money. Of course you have to rent a slot in your desired marina, but usually it is much cheaper than renting a house or paying for your monthly mortgage payment in that same area. 

It goes without saying that if you live aboard only a few months in a year that you will have higher costs, as you still have to pay for a marina slot as well as your house expenses. 

What are some disadvantages of living aboard a sailboat?

So far we mentioned some of the pros why living aboard a sailboat could be desirable for many. While what we have mentioned above is true, there are some cons that come with this lifestyle, I will mention a few below:

Lack of space

From my experience, what I miss when I am sailing for days on end, is the lack of space. I mean by that no room for yourself or for your belongings. Even the largest catamarans will not be able to offer you the same amount of space as the typical house does, so anything less than that will be even more tighter living. 

Some sailors who live aboard all-year round find it easier to rent a storage locker, additionally choosing this lifestyle will mean that you will have to get used to taking your wash to the laundry and get used to having a small refrigerator and small storage spaces. It is crucial that you know your crew well or people who will live with you. While living aboard with someone is a great way to bond with each other, it can also be challenging at times, especially due to lack of privacy and personal space.

Bad Weather

Although sailors have the choice to sail to warmer locations during the winter month, which many do, they cannot escape from the storms, floods, hurricanes and even worse of them all the tsunamis. Because severe weather conditions could be seriously life threatening living aboard, it is imperative that you evacuate the sailboat if you are docked at the marina at times of severe weather conditions. But if you are out on the sea then you can do a lot to stay safe. I wrote a useful article on this topic. Click here to check it out.

Unwanted Visitors

One of reasons why most sailors choose to live aboard is that they want to be closer to nature, that is definitely true when it comes to wildlife. While docked on the marina or out on the water, you will have some unwanted visitors such as ants, spiders, insects, lizards and cockroaches to mice, rats and cats, foxes and raccoons. Seals and otters love to sun bathe on the deck and enjoy last night’s leftovers as well. If you are safe from seals and otters you will definitely not be safe from sea gals and other sea birds. The solution is keeping your sailboat tidy and clean and leave no food or leftovers etc on the deck or in the cabin. 

Maintenance and Repairs

It is inevitable that your vessel will need maintenance and repairs at some point. It could be bottom painting or to repair a rusty part or otherwise treating mildew and mold that grow constantly in certain areas of your boat. One thing they all have in common is: they all come with high price tags. You want to stay on top of these repairs and maintenance as having a maintenance routine will save you a lot of money and headache in the long run.

Top 12 Best Sailboats To Live On

In this section we would like to share with you our findings (after a thorough research of the market) of 12 fantastic sailboats that could make a great home on water.

This very special boat was designed by Dean Wixom with the seaworthiness and crew safety in mind. In addition, it was built to be easily transportable (trailerable)from one place to another. 

This feature is very unique to this boat, there are not many vessels serving the same purpose.

Although, legally it is possible to transport this boat on the back of a trailer without any special permit, it needs a bigger than average trailer to transport it. 

Nor’Sea 27 comes with the quality, comfort, amenities and safety on the sea of a much greater vessels. Most models feature a fully galley including fridge/freezer, Double sink, a reasonably sized head and v-berth with an inbound engine and a cutaway full keel. This vessel is well known for its comfort and functionality.

Although she is available in both an aft-cockpit and center-cockpit layout, the centre cockpit is a more preferred option for many sailors. This option features an amazing aft cabin, with 4 beds and standing headroom throughout main areas in the cabin and a safe and protected cockpit. 

So all in all this beautiful and spacious boat features amenities which are very unique for its size. It comes with almost all the features you would expect on a liveable boat. For this reason it comes with a slightly higher price tag. Nor’See 27 pride itself on safety and seaworthiness. That makes this model one of the best liveaboard vessels that ticks many boxes.

The only issue that this boat has (although it is manageable) is having smaller water and fuel tank storage. We mentioned how important it is to have a bigger water and fuel tanks in this article, in case you missed that part click here to read our recommended water and fuel tank sizes and how to resolve this issue. Other than that Nor’Sea 27 is one of the best liveaboard sailboat out there in this price range that is very safe and comfortable.

A brand new Nor’Sea 27 will cost you around $130,000 depending on the features, however a good used Nor’Sea 27 could be found for approximately $45,000. 

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall27.00 ft / 8.23 m
Max Draft3.50 ft / 1.07 m
Beam8.00 ft / 2.44 m
Cabin Headroom6.00 ft / 1.82 m
Ballast:3,100 lb / 1,406 kg
Displacement8,100 lb / 3,674 kg
Water Tank Capacity40 gals
Fuel Tanks Capacit30 gals
Cabins: 4: V- berth forward and two aft berths
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
First Built1976
Engine 9hp Farymann/ 20hp Yanmar 2GM diesel

This is a great sail aboard sailboat which was first introduced in 1974 and since then it has been extraordinarily improved. This is a very popular vessel which is sold plentifully all over the world. 

It comes in 3 models: Mark I (1974 – 1986), Mark II (1986 – 1993) and the Mark III (1994 – 1997). So if you would go for an older model, be prepared to customise a lot to improve functionality. 

The founder and president Frank Butler has been quoted in many publications saying that his company goal was to provide its customers with “as much boat for the money as we can.” 

Catalina is believed to be one of the best all-around sailboats ever built, it is a reliable and robust fibreglass sailboat that has a low price point which provides a good option for many new sailors to enjoy sailing and living aboard. 

Cataline features a well thought and spacious cabin layout and has all the basic features that a 30 feet boat has to offer such as fully galley including ice box, a large double sink, a reasonably sized head and fully functioning navigation station which makes living on this very comfortable.

This beautiful boat has a wide beam, abundant storage space, and good ballast/displacement ratio in addition to a low sail area/displacement ratio which makes Catalina very stiff and therefore comfortable to sail.  

Size-for-size and feature-for-feature the Catalina 30 is tough to beat. Depending on the model, condition and specification of the boat, you can find a good one under $40,000.

Length Overall29.92 ft (9.1 m)
Max Draft5.25 ft / 1.60 m
Beam10.83 ft / 3.30 m
Cabin Headroom6 ft 3′
Length at Waterline25.00 ft (7.6 m)
Displacement10,200 lb / 4,627 kg
Ballast4,189 lb (1,900 kg)
CabinsSleeps 7 people
Water Tank Capacity40 gals
Fuel Tank Capacity30 gals
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass

There are many reason why we think Contessa 32 is the best live aboard sailboat relative to its size and price tag. This cruising and racing boat with proven blue water track record, is truly a reliable, versatile, comfortable and seaworthy vessel that is built to cater for any type of adventure including living aboard. 

Contessa 32 is considered by many as a British yachting icon. It was first built in 1971 and it is still produced but on customer order basis. Co32 comes with speed and stability that not only make a nice racing vessel but also a great accommodation or a live aboard sailboat for you and your crew.  

Due to the design of the hull and the shape of the keel it sails smoothly without slamming on the sea bed, making the journey very comfortable. It is a classic boat with lovely lines and it is just looking so pretty, accommodating for a maximum of 6, however if living aboard probably it will be suitable for a couple and 2 kids or 4 adults. 

Co32 features a small galley on the port side and a navigation table on the starboard. An aft quarter berth, a large salon settee with a beautiful wooden fold up dinette table in the middle that transforms into a cosy double berth at night. Additionally you have a single settee that can be used as berth to starboard, forward a head and v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments.

The sailboat makes excellent accommodation for  2-4 people with many amenities that are required to call it a sail-aboard home.   

Depending on the model, condition and specification of the boat, you can find a good used one for about $45,000.

Length Overall9.75 m. (32′ 0″)
Max Draft1.68 m. (5′ 6″)
Beam2.9 m. (9′ 6″)
Cabin Headroom6’1″ / 1.85 m
Displacement4309 kg (9,500 lbs)
Ballast2042 kg (4,500 lbs) (lead)
Cabins: Sleeps 6
Water Tank Capacity 18 gals
Fuel Tank Capacity 12 gals
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine24hp Farymann/20hp Bukh/ 28hp Volvo 2003/ 3 cylinder Yanmar
Headroom Main cabin 6’1″

The next sail aboard winner on our list is the 40 feet, Nordic 40. If you want to live aboard comfortably or with a larger family/crew then look no further. This American designed beauty was first built in 1978 and is generously spacious in its interior. 

That means plenty of storage space which is needed during longer crossings. This fine cruiser is initially designed as a race/cruiser, so when it comes to sailing performance that is unbeatable. Its deep draft fin keel provides for a superior windward capability. 

Nordic 40 comes with a fully insulated fiberglass hull throughout the interior, not only it will keep you warm during the cold winter nights but also to keep the condensation at bay.  

This beauty comes with a large fuel and water tank and plenty of storage spaces that will allow you to stock up for your longer crossings or to sail around the world.

Nordic features a reasonably large galley on the port side and a navigation table on the starboard. An aft cabin with 2x quarter berths, a large salon settee with a beautiful wooden fold up dinette table in the middle that transforms into a cosy double berth at night. Additionally you have a single settee that can be used as berth on the starboard side, forward a head and v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments, this comes very handy while living aboard simply because it is hard to live with some of the household items.

All in all Nordic 40 is hands down one of the best live aboard sailboats in its category that has a lot of potential for being a floating home.

Although there are not many Nordic built you will still be able to get hold of them for a market price of approx $135,000. 

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

Length Overall39′ 9″ (12.11 m.)
Max Draft6.50 ft / 1.98 m
Beam12.43 ft / 3.79 m
Cabin HeadroomCabin Headroom 6’1″ / 185.4 m
Displacement18,000 lb / 8,165 kg
Ballast7,091 lb / 3,216 kg
Water Tank Capacity140 gals / 530 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit55 gals / 208 L
Cabins: Sleeps 6
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
First Built1982
Engine44 HP (33 kW) diesel engine
D/L 234
Price (Used)Approx 135,000 USD

Is the safety and a superb performance something that you are looking for in a liveaboard vessels? If the answer is yes, then Etap 37s is the sailboat for you. Etap 37 is an award winner certified (by Bureau Veritas) unsinkable boat with an outstanding performance.

Something interesting with this model is that in case of flooding in the boat while at sea, not only the boat will stay afloat but it will also allow the captain and crew members to continue stay aboard and sail towards safety. This is possible because a special foam is injected in between the hull and the lining which in turn acts not only as a floatation mechanism but also as a great insulation and sound dampening layer.

This Belgian beauty has a generously wide beam for loads of storage space as well as extended stability. We think this sailboat will make a great living space for medium sized families with excellent live aboard facilities .  

Ergonomic and well thought out beautiful teak wood in the setting areas and the cabin give this boat a luxurious look. This fine cruiser offers accommodation for 6 people, with a v-berth in the bow, an aft cabin double bed and two fairly large settees in the main cabin and comes with a head and shower. The galley offers a 2-burner stove and double sink and fridge/freezer etc. 

All these excellent amenities along side the safety and performance make it and excellent liveaboard sailboat.

Sure, this boat has positioned itself at the high end of the market when we compare this vessel with other models of the same size, but the price is still competitive enough to compete against the high quality design sailboats. 

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

Length Overall36′ 11″ (11.26 m)
Max Draft6’5″ (1.95 m.)
Beam12′ 7 1/2″ (3.85 m.)
Cabin Headroom6’1″ / 1.83 m 
Length at Waterline32.48 ft / 9.90 m
Displacement14,427 lb. (6,550 kg.)
Water Tank Capacity66 gal. (250 l.)
Fuel Tanks Capacit30.6 gal. (116 l.)
Cabins:  6: V- berth forward and two aft berths & 2 settees
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 29 hp (21 kW) 
Price (Used) Under 120,000 USD

Hunter was first introduced in 1977 and amazingly still being produced till today.  

This will make an outstanding live aboard sailboat because it is designed to provide you with more of a house feeling than a boat. The cabin features two fairly large settees in the main cabin, good standing height headroom and beautifully designed storage compartments. Standing headroom is a great advantage to have which offers you extra comfort while living aboard.

Hunter is well known for its stainless steel arch in the cockpit area which creates a really nice set up for short handed or single hand sailing,  and the extended cockpit area enjoys all the modern devices that a modern sailor needs. Additionally the Hunter comes with lots of room in the salon, cockpit area and it is very well ventilated and lit all throughout and it is easy to sail.

Hunter features a spacious u shape galley on the aft portside, a good size fridge and freezer, 2 burner stove with oven and a stainless steel sink. 

It also features a relatively spacious liveaboard accommodation for 6 people. Aft head compartment offers a large queen size berth with plenty of headroom and ventilation windows above. Just fore of that is the head and shower. 

The cabin has a large u-shaped salon seating area that transforms into a cosy double bed using the large dinette table which is located in the middle of the salon. Additionally you have a single settee on the starboard side and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments.

The price ranges from $50,000 to $90,000 depending on the models and condition of the boat. 

Truly, Hunter has enormous potential for live-aboard sailors who are willing to forgo some aspects of luxurious amenities that other same sized makes do offer, for maximising storage spaces, especially when storage is such a crucial matter in longer ocean crossings.

Less luxury has also an added benefit that is: less maintenance. This performance cruiser offers great opportunities for new sailors or people on tighter budgets. 

Length Overall32.67 ft / 9.96 m
Max Draft5.25 ft / 1.60 m
Beam10.17 ft / 3.10 m
Displacement10,600 lb / 4,808 kg
Ballast4,100 lb / 1,860 kg
Water Tank Capacity50 gals
Fuel Tanks Capacit25 gals
Cabins:  6: V- berth & double aft berths and double cabin beds
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
First Built1977
Engine 21hp

Cal 34 (first produced in 1966) is considered a fairly light mid-sized sailboat for its material usage in early models. The basic model even is a very promising sail aboard boat. It comes with a spacious and basic interior, offering many standard features although it is lacking some luxury ones. 

The older models are acquired for approximately $20,000. If you decide to buy an older Cal 34 from the 70s, please note that a lot has changed in the sailing industry since then such as more efficient rigging, easier sail handling, efficient diesel engine, bigger water tank storage and more appealing interior design etc. All in all this is an excellent fairly priced live aboard option for couples and families.  

Length Overall33.24 ft / 10.13 m
Max Draft5.00 ft / 1.52 m
Beam10.00 ft / 3.05 m
Displacement9,500 lb / 4,309 kg
Ballast3,750 lb / 1,701 kg
Holding Tank Capacity 15  gals / L15  gals
Water Tank Capacity23 gals / 87 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit25 gals / 95 L
Cabins: 5-6: V- berth forward and (two) aft berths and 2 cabin double berth
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 30 HP
Price (Used) 20,000 to 40,000 USD

The I-36 was first introduced in the market in 1971, and the company built around 800 boats of this model before they ceased production in 1986. This model prides itself on speed, performance and ease of handling even in heavy air. 

Like Catalina this model makes an excellent live aboard option for couples or families without compromising any important amenities. 

The cabin features a large salon seating area that transforms into a cosy double bed using the large dinette table which is located in the middle of the salon. Additionally you have a single settee ( it can be used as a bed) on the starboard side, a aft quarter berth and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments. 

I-36 features an enclosed head (flush toilet) and a shower which are very important amenities to have when living abroad. 

The L-shaped galley features a large stainless steel sink, a 3 burner stove and standard icebox that can be upgraded to a full refrigeration unit. 

The price ranges from $25,000 to $65,000 depending on the models and condition of the boat. 

All and all, a generously spacious living area alongside the master berth makes this model a very good option for exploring the world as well as living aboard all year round.

Length Overall36.08 ft / 11.00 m
Max Draft 6.00 ft / 1.83 m
Beam11.17 ft / 3.40 m
Displacement13,450 lb / 6,101 kg 
Ballast5,450 lb / 2,472 kg
Water Tank Capacity54 gals / 204 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit32 gals / 121 L   
Cabins:  5-6: V- berth forward, quarter berth and 3 cabin beds
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine  5-6: V- berth forward, quarter berth and 3 cabin beds
Price (Used) 25,000 to 65,000 USD

This 20-feet sailing boat is specifically built for blue water sailing and extended cruising. It differentiates herself from all other 20 to 27 feet live aboard boats by just being much larger for its size and class. Furthermore, it is a seaworthy and comfortable single handed boat and has a great strong structure yet small enough to be loaded on a trailer and transported easily to another location. 

The 20 feet world cruiser comes with the interior space of much larger boats, making it an awesome option to live aboard for a single or even couples.    

It was originally introduced to the market in 1972 and the production continued till late 90s. The company has built over 400 vessels over the period of 25 years. 

There are many reviews showing that many have crossed the oceans with this little sailboat even under heavy weather conditions. When it comes to size of the boat, one reviews mentioned that he felt that Flicka was more spacious than his previous 31 feet boat, that is without exaggeration.  

It is spacious enough to live in, with an excellent headroom and easy to handle. It sails beautifully although it is only 24′ 0″ ft long and it has a heavy displacement. 

This amazing vessel can accommodate 4 people and comes with many hatches and opening ports to keep your sail aboard home ventilated. 

Flicka features an aft quarter berth, a large salon settee that transforms into a cosy bed at night. Additionally you have a single settee (can be used as a bed) on the starboard side, and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments. 

The galley is located amidships that includes stove/oven sink and icebox with hinged table for two. 

We have admit to that this vessel is one of the best live aboard sailboats in its size and price range.

Because this boat comes with quality, strength, safety and ease of handling, it is priced with a higher price tag of $25,000 to $45,000. 

Length Overall24.00 ft / 7.32 m
Max Draft3′ 3″ / 99cm
Beam8′ 0″ / 2.44m
Cabin Headroom 6.00 ft / 1.83 m
Displacement6,000 lb / 2,722 kg
Ballast1,750 lb / 794 kg
Water Tank Capacity20 gals / 76 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit8 gals / 30 L    
Cabins: 2-3
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 9 HP Diesel
Price (Used) $25,000 to $45,000

Leopard 45 is a “Boat Of The Year” award winner in 2017. This luxurious live aboard vessel features a superb performance and build quality. It has a very well thought out, all rounded and practical layout through the entire boat.

Known for for sailing speed, comfort, safety, luxury and entertainment, this offers the best live aboard options in its price range. It is a firm favorite of liveaboards as well as charters alike. This model features a light, airy and luxurious interior. The living space overall is very accommodating for those of us who wants total comfort.

Leopard 45 comes with plenty of living, setting and entertainment spaces in the cockpit area that adds to your comfort and luxury and joy during the warmer days.

The interior features 3-4 cabins, a super large saloon, a fully equipped galley, plenty of entertainment area in the cockpit with 3 to 4 heads and showers.

She is so spacious and luxurious that you will not miss anything you had in your typical home while living aboard this beauty.

The price for a used one ranges from $200,000 to $810,000 depending on the models and condition of the vessel. 

Length Overall45.00 ft / 13.72 m
Max Draft4.92 ft / 1.50 m
Beam24.17 ft / 7.37 m
Displacement32,849 lb / 14,900 kg
Water Tank Capacity206 gals / 780 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit185 gals / 700 L  
Cabins: 3-4
Number of Heads & Shower3-4
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 2x 45 HP Diesel
Price (Used) $200,000 to $810,000

Beneteau is a very popular and modern looking cruiser thanks to its sheltered cockpit, large deck space and a vast aft master cabins and it makes an excellent live aboard option.

The manufacturers built this boat with speed, safety, luxury and also comfort in mind. This model can be found in 2 or 4 cabin configuration. The 4 cabin options comes with 2 huge aft master cabins, two double berth forward each featuring a luxurious head, sink and shower and a single aft cabin accommodating 9 people for the larger option and 7 people with a 2 cabin configuration.

The aft master cabins feature queen size berths, a side bench seating area and lockers and cabinets and plenty of natural sun light. The designers have done a great job in paying close attention to every detail.

This live aboard cruiser has every amenity that you will need while living aboard. This is a truly master piece, featuring a really massive galley with fridge/freezer, four-burner gas stove and even a dishwasher.

The gorgeous saloon features a large u shape seating area with beautiful saloon, a large bench seat on the starboard side with its own table. It is worth to note that the saloon is filled with plenty of natural light coming from the ceiling and wall windows. The saloon is finished in beautiful cherry wood that gives it a super warm feeling.

The price is between $200,000 to $600,000 range for a good used Beneteau.

Length Overall58.40 ft / 17.80 m
Max Draft16.17 ft / 4.93 m
Beam16.17 ft / 4.93 m
Displacement48,623 lb / 22,055 kg
Water Tank Capacity264 gals / 1,000 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit127 gals / 480 L
Cabins: 5 (accommodating 9 people)
Number of Heads & Shower5
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 160 HP
Price (Used) $200,000 to $600,000

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

We chose this boat on our best liveaboard sailboat list because this model features a very solid structure that will allow you to build and upgrade upon if needed, in addition to that this vessel is very reasonably priced. 

This option is a well known cruiser which prides itself on the ease of sailing in any type of wind. 

The company first introduced Peterson 44 in 1976 and built only 200 of this model before they ceased production. From what we have gathered reading owner’s review they have nothing but good to say about its performance. 

This boat is very unique in having two enclosed heads and showers, one in forward and one in aft.  A full size U-shaped galley is positioned to the port. The galley comes with a large sink, a 3-burner stove, oven, fridge/freezer, good size countertop and plenty of storage in and around the galley. A large navigation station that is located to the starboard very close to the cockpit for easy access.

The main cabin features a large salon seating area that transforms into a cosy double bed using the large table. Additionally you have a single settee (can be used as a bed) on the starboard side, and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments. This live aboard vessel features a gorgeous looking large aft master cabin with a head and shower, hanging closet, plentiful storage cabinet and private access to the cockpit. This amazing vessel can accommodate up to seven people and comes with many hatches and opening ports to keep your sail aboard home ventilated. 

The price for a good used Peterson 44 ranges from $60,000 to $110,000 depending on the models and condition of the boat. With all the amenities and above average quality it makes an excellent liveaboard option for slightly bigger families.

Length Overall43’10” (13,36 m.)
Max Draft6’4″ (1.98 m.)
Beam12’11” (3.93 m.)
Displacement30,000 lbs. (13,607 kgs.)
Ballast10,000 lbs. (4,536 kgs.)
Water Tank Capacity132 gals
Fuel Tanks Capacit117  gals
Cabins: 6-7 people
Number of Heads & Shower2
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 62-80 HP
Price (Used) $60,000 to $110,000

I know it has become a super lengthy and detailed post that takes some time to read through, but I wanted to make sure to create a complete guide including all the features to look out for and the elements to avoid when looking for a great sailboat to live on. 

When it comes to living aboard, there are many crucial elements that you don’t want to miss out as we have discussed these in great depth in this article. The tips and recommendation that we shared in this article will save your a lot of money and headache. 

This article has provided you with the knowledge how to identify a great sailboat, and how to choose your first sail aboard vessel and what makes a sailboat the best one for you.  

Our recommendation list of top 12 best boats will give you the best options out there, bear in mind that to buy a great sailboat, you might have to travel abroad to find the best options. All the best.

I am the owner of sailoradvice. I live in Birmingham, UK and love to sail with my wife and three boys throughout the year.

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trailerable liveaboard

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hi, i am looking for a sailboat to liveaboard while going to school. it needs to be trailerable, shallower draft, have a head and shower, and a decent sized galley. it would be great to find a quality built boat that won't break my bank in the process. i've looked into seaward 25's, norsea 27, catalina 27...any other ideas as to what other boats would fit my needs? thanks in advance! joel  

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

Let's see... you want a boat that is: Trailerable shallow draft have a head have a shower have a decent size galley fairly decent quality and won't break your bank... It would help if you said what your bank/budget was... Generally, liveaboards have to be slight roomier boats than weekend boats or daysailers. However, most trailerable boats are either weekend boats or daysailers. Also, most boats that have a shower, are generally larger than a trailerable boat will be. A decent size galley on a trailerable boat is a contradiction. Given your criteria...you're going to have to prioritize them and decide what you really need. A decent, reasonably priced liveaboard would be something like an Alberg 30. This is large enough that it is a liveable boat. Anything smaller than 25' is going to be more like camping on the water. An Alberg 30 is not really a trailerable boat...and it doesn't have a shower generally...and the galley is fairly small. A Norsea 27 or Seaward 25 would probably be a pretty tight fit, and last I checked, neither had a decent size galley or a shower. The Catalina 27 is a lot roomier in many ways, but IIRC, doesn't have a shower or a decent size galley, and I don't believe it is a trailerable boat. I believe the only "trailerable" Catalinas are the 22 and 25/250. Some of the characteristics you are looking for are somewhat difficult to get in a single boat. Trailerable and shallower draft work fine together, since most trailerable boats are shallower draft by their nature. Many trailerable boats will fail both the decent size galley or shower tests. A decent size galley or a quality boat will tend to be more expensive. One boat that is trailerable, has a shallower draft, a head and galley, and could be fitted with a shower is a MacGregor 26. However, they're somewhat less than stellar in terms of sailing performance... and the quality is only mediocre at best. There are several multihulls that might fit your requirements, especially the shallower draft and trailerable, but they're probably more expensive than what you can afford. It might also help if you said what waters you're planning on sailing this boat in. If you're not going to be sailing it, get a power boat... they're often a lot bigger in terms of the room they can provide, given the same LOA.  

my highest budget would be around $30,000. it would be great if i could find something in the 15 to 20 range, though. i've found seawards to have showers. same with the other two. nothing fancy is needed, just a handheld. as far as the galley, an oven would be my idea of a decent sized galley. sorry about the confusion. i can always outfit the boat to fit my needs. i would mainly be on smaller lakes. i hate to admit but i have been looking at houseboats, and for some reason i feel like i would favor the cramped conditions on a 27 foot sailboat. the size/trailerability is an issue, that is my biggest problem. i am just trying to get other ideas as to what other boats may be similar to those i listed before i start looking into barges. i would rather live on a sailboat anyday. i just can't justify spending $1000 on lift fees. thanks for the reply! joel  

If you do get a boat with a shower, make sure that the shower has its own sump, rather than draining into the bilge, which will lead to problems and seriously nasty smelling bilge in short order. The Catalina 25 might be a good choice, a bit smaller than the 27 footers you've been looking at, but trailerable, and definitely in your price range.  

jte, Kind of a contradiction ....most any decent size houseboat is rather heavy for trailer. What vehicle are you planning to pull whatever boat you end up with? Where are you planning the liveaboard? Marina or on the trailer? Better check on the liveaboard marinas for prices, facilities, and seasonality. If you are in a marina with facilities you will most likely never use the shower in a boat. It is much like taking a shower sitting on a stool in a closet and then drying out the closet after you are done. I have a 34 and just can't bring myself to use that shower. I swim or use marina facilites, but I don't live aboard except on trips. Lots of difference between camping in Florida or S. Texas than planning on camping in upstate NY or Michigan. Trust me, whatever trailerable boat you will living on WILL BE camping.  

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

Each individual is different. I know for me persoanlly, I could not live on a 25' trailerable boat. You as a young student might be able to make it work. My wife and I have been thinking about this for the past couple of months. We too envision ourselves living aboard a boat in the not so distant future. For us and our needs and what we think we would be comfortable with, we are looking in the 45' range. But hey thats just us. Like Dog has said, trailerable boats don't usually have all of the anemities which you are looking for. In fact a lot of them don't even have standing head room. You might only have a cooler and a small sink for your galley. But, You can always add a camping type Coleman stove to cook on. Along with the Catalina's already mentioned, Hunter also makes a range of trailerables which you might want to look into. Good luck with the search and the dream.  

sailortjk1 said: Like Dog has said, trailerable boats don't usually have all of the anemities which you are looking for. In fact a lot of them don't even have standing head room. You might only have a cooler and a small sink for your galley. But, You can always add a camping type Coleman stove to cook on. Along with the Catalina's already mentioned, Hunter also makes a range of trailerables which you might want to look into. Good luck with the search and the dream. Click to expand...

there are already houseboats available on the lake within my price range. however the marinas do not have a lift. as long as i am able to launch and retrieve it bymyself. a 30 foot cat could be possible. yes it is wide, and hauling it down the road would take a few permits, but with it's shallow draft i can launch and pull it up on a fabricated trailer. a 30 foot monohull with a deep fin keel would be quite difficult, and the marina is not very deep (6 foot max). as far as accomodations, i'm used to a 23 foot monohull, so i can improvise pretty well. thanks again.  

i have actually just started looking at the catalac and iroquois. they are wide but at least i could pull it out on a tweaked flatbed. i am going ot look into the dragonfly. and yes, majority of the corsairs are out of the price range and may not have quite as much room that i have been looking into. thanks for the reply!  

Typically, when a catamaran is to be moved overland, it is put on a modified cradle that sits the boat tilted over about 40˚ or so to reduce the effective beam. However, doing this requires a large flatbed and a crane at both ends of the journey.  

trailerable liveaboard sailboat

The problem with going with an Alberg 30, which is one of my favorite boats, is that he is trying to avoid needing a crane... which an Alberg 30 would certainly require.  

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trailerable liveaboard?

  • Thread starter Gary
  • Start date Aug 19, 2003
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I am trying to find information on trailerable sailboats that can be lived aboard and coastal cruised. Any info will be appreciated.  

Phil Herring

Phil Herring

Anything can be a 'liveaboard' ...if you're willing to make do with the create comforts that the boat can offer. In my estimation, you need a good shower, head, shore power, stove, refrig or ice box, good storage and ventilation, at minimum. from there, it's whatever you can live with. Literally. As far as coastal cruising goes, not all trailerables are created equal. Others on this board can probably point you in the right direction as to which brands/models are more capable of handling big seas. Good luck! On any vessel it's a great lifestyle!  

I have seen the following big boats on trailers Hunter 28, Hunter 27, Hunter 270, Hunter 280, Catalina 270 and Catalina 28 MK II. You need a big truck to pull them and because of the beam permits depending on state. These are all major trailing effects... ie stepping the mast and getting the boat in the water. You may want to look at the Hunter 260.  

T J Furstenau

My 26 Experience I probably shouldn't be considered a true liveaboard, as I'm not staying on the boat 7 days a week. But I live about 80 miles from my boat, which is conveniently about 3 blocks from my current client. Rather than driving back and forth every day, I spend several nights a week on the boat. Marina has good shower facilities, a deli, and there are several decent restaurants in walking distance. Eating out of a cooler has its disadvantages, but not enough to push me to get a small mini-fridge. Shore power helps run gadgets, mainly my laptop. Could I stay on the boat for longer stretches, certainly by myself. Could I spend a summer trailering up the coast, living aboard, you bet. But when company shows up, it gets crowded quickly. Not sure if this helps or not, just my 2cents. T J  

-21 a bit small I live aboard for two weeks at a time on my Aquarius 21 but I wouldn't recommend it for longer stretches. It's a good coastal cruiser, they're even used to cruise the Carib. but they are just too small for most of the "comforts of home" that most liveaboards want.  

Bob Davidson

Any boat can be a live aboard I have a Catalina c22 that has never been wired for A/C current. I would like to spend the weekends on her but the cabin is too hot. I was thinking about installing a 5000 BTU Maytag in the wall air conditioner but I am not sure how to install a 30 amp twist and lock shore power system on the boat,help?  

Any boat can be a live aboard I have a Catalina c22 that has never been wired for A/C current. I would like to spend the weekends on her but the cabin is too hot. I was thinking about installing a 5000 BTU Maytag in the wall air conditioner but I am not sure how to install a 30 amp twist and lock shore power system on the boat,What about grounding,what about a power buss, help?  

More Info Needed What do you want to spend? How many living on board? Towing capacity of vehicle? How much cruising versus living at the slip? Inboard or outboard? Comfort level needed? How well does it need to sail? Enclosed head? Answer these questions and you will be able to narrow down the boat you think you will want. Then test drive a few and get out your checkbook. Happy hunting! p.s. Look at the Pacific Seacraft Flicka or Dana. May not go to windward as well as some but will take you anyplace you want to go.  

New 2003 H260 Hunter I live aboard my H260 and love it. I have it a great marina with all the facilities I need (showers, store, etc.) I am on Lake Conroe which is a great lake to sail on (if you watch the powerboaters). It has the biggest cabin of all the trailerable sailboats that I looked at and is quiet comfortable, but I had to run 110V with surge protectors to plug my 5000btu carry-on air conditioner, coffee pot, etc. and it does not have pressurized hot & cold water. So it is kinda ruffing it, but you will be amazed at what you can live without. I work for the local school district so have alot of time off and enjoy trailering it down to Galveston. It sails great in the bay and the gulf. I don't get very far out but have no problems. I plan to keep her for a couple of years, then move up to Hunter's new 306.  

H260 I agree on the Hunter. It is a sweet little boat that I believe still comes with an option for a trailerable with a lead keel. I was lucky enough to be the first to sail Hull #1 of this design in 97 or 98 (I am old and the memory is fading) at the Annapolis boat show. Great boat with a real lead keel and shoal draft. Roomy to live-aboard...I LOVED the huge aft birth. Live your dream! Griffin.  

Dana,C&C 30' Mega 1978-1980

30' trailersailer that will launch at a ramp They built 175+ of them in two types,lift keel and a fixed keel. You'd need to build your own insides to your needs as I have done! But I love the way it sails and the room,plus befor you fill it up with your crap,it's only 45oolb. for the lift keel model(2'up/5'down)  



Live aboard or sleep aboard Some are describing tied to a marina, using the marina's facilities and eating at restaurants as living aboard. To me living aboard would mean spending a lot of time at anchor. needing water, a way to cook and store food. Something to do with poop etc. Porta potties fill up too quickly!!!! If you are looking for a place to sleep at a marina anything with a comfortable place to sleep will work. We used to spend a week at a time on our Macgregor 26. It towed well and could be launched from almost any ramp. but even a catalina 22 with a fixed keel can be hard to launch. The ramp has to have the perfect slope. Too steep You can't reload it easily as it can be hard to line up the boat and trailer. Too gradual your tow vehicle gets very wet before the boat floats. Salt water isn't great for tow vehicles especially things like wheel bearings. Lots of ramps have drop offs at the end where trailer wheels like to get stuck. Did I mention a line of fishermen wanting you to get the hell out of their way. My experience with trailering a sailboat is don't do it regularly!!! We loved taking the Mac on trips a couple times a year and towed it over 700 miles several times. but on a weekly basis it was too much work and we kept the boat at a slip on the lake taking it out for trips and to redo the bottom etc.  

David Walters

Nimble wanderer It't not the fastest monoslug on the water, but it really has all the amenities of home and can be trailered (big pickup needed). Follow the bouncing ball on the link for more info.  

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Best Trailerable Sailboats Under 30 Feet

Best Trailerable Sailboats Under 30 Feet | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Trailerable sailboats are the perfect solution for weekend or day cruisers. They're easy to store, transport, and set up, which gets you on the water fast.

Trailerable sailboats come in many different shapes and sizes. Many trailerable sailboats even have retractable keels, which not only comes in handy for towing, but also for sailing around shallower waters. Depending on how you plan on sailing, there's sure to be a trailerable sailboat that suits you and your family.

Below are the best trailerable sailboats under 20 feet, separated into their best use: day sailing and cruising.

Table of contents

Best Sailboats Under 30' for Day Sailing

Small, trailerable sailboats are great for daily use because they're easy to set up, and you can take them anywhere within driving distance and explore new areas.

This category of sailboat won't have a cabin, instead, these sailboats have plenty of room on deck for the whole family to enjoy a sailing adventure together. Many of these sailboats are faster and have less amenities than a cruising boat, which makes them easy to set up for a day use and offer a fun, sporty day activity.


The Hunter 15 is designed for safety and versatility. Without a cabin, it can fit up to four people on its benches. The Hunter 15' features high sides and a self-bailing cockpit, which makes it a great option for novices and kids.

The sailboat tows at 750 lbs, which means most vehicles can tow it. The retractable keel makes it so even lower vehicles can tow the boat.

The retractable keel also makes it so you can beach the sailboat, something you can't do with a bigger sailboat. That makes sailing the Hunter 15 around coves and islands even more enjoyable. Explore hidden beaches by yourself or with friends and family. 


The Laser sailboat has been a favorite among dinghy racers for years. That's because it's super lightweight, really fast, and fun.

Not only is the laser a fun craft, but it's also very easy to use and transport. Its lightweight is due to the fiberglass hull construction and lack of a keel. You can either tow the Laser, or you can even strap it to the top of a vehicle.

While going fast is fun, you don't have to race the Laser to have fun. The Laser is great for leisure sailing. Thankfully, since it is so light, you don't need much wind to have a great sailing day.

Since it is so small, it fits one to two people in its cockpit. Also, it's lack of keel means it is very easy to tip over . But, it's also very easy to flip back. If you're someone who doesn't want to get soaked, the Laser might not be for you.

But if you're looking for a way to get on the water without much fuss and special towing equipment, the Laser is perfect for you.

Catalina 16.5


Catalina has been a popular sailboat brand for decades, and there's no question that their larger crafts are some of the most common sailboats you see at any marina.

They're popular for good reason. Catalina sailboats are made with lightweight fiberglass and include standard, good quality rigging. They're affordable sailboats to buy new and easy to find used.

The Catalina 16.5 came into existence in 1994 and has remained on the market ever since. It comes in at under 500 lbs, which makes it easy to tow with just about any vehicle, so don't worry about adding a massive truck to your purchase.

This trailerable sailboat has a storage compartment in the front (great for packing a picnic and extra supplies) and can accommodate up to four adults. If you're looking for a boat you can spend all day sailing comfortably and not break the bank to purchase, the Catalina 16.5 might be the one for you.


Chances are, you've seen a Hobbie 16 on a beach somewhere. They're popular anywhere there's a body of water because they're fast and easy to operate. They're one of the most popular small crafts for youth sailing and racing. They're so popular that they were recently inducted into the Sailing Hall of Fame.

Hobbie 16s are recognizable because of their "banana-shaped" hulls and often colorful sails. Unlike the previously listed sailboats, these are catamarans. So, you get two hulls and a trampoline in between them. They also hold 1-4 people in their cockpits.

As a trailerable catamaran, you can't get much better. It's super lightweight, it has no keel, and it's easy to set up. Because of the catamaran style, you'll often see people having fun on these ocean beaches.

The two-hull design makes it less likely to capsize, and it's sturdy enough that you can take on bigger waves and stronger winds than some other trailerable sailboats .

Norseman 17.5


The Norseman 17.5 is one of the more attractive boats on this list. It's not a racing boat-in fact, it's an ideal day cruiser.

It's a handcrafted cruiser, and it's designers nicknamed it the swiss army knife of sailboats because it's a sailboat and a rowboat all in one.

If you want something that looks and feels seaworthy but is still trailerable, the Norseman 17.5 hits the spot. It's low maintenance and expertly designed to be as efficient as possible. Because it's designed to mimic a more traditional, larger sailboat, it does have a fixed keel. But, that doesn't mean you can't trailer it still.

The dual purpose of the Norseman 17.5 is appealing because no matter what setting you're in, the Norseman 17.5 can perform, not unlike a swiss army knife. First and foremost, this boat is for sailing, and it gives a great sailing experience, not unlike any larger sailboat.

Best Trailerable Sailboats Under 30' for Cruising

Sailboats for camping come with a few more amenities. Many people prefer this kind of sailboat because it offers more freedom to stay overnight on the boat and make longer trips. Most of the time, they come equipped with a cabin for sleeping and cabin lights for a comfortable sleeping experience.

Most trailerable sailboats for cruising and camping are over 20' and cost more than a daysailer. They also typically weigh more and require a towing vehicle and special trailer because of their larger cabin space and equipment. Many people opt to put a trolling motor on the back of their pocket cruiser for getting in and out of slips and docks.

Even though they're tiny, many people spend their entire weekends or days on a small cruiser. Since they're more equipped for extended trips, you can sail along the coasts comfortably.

Catalina 22 Sport


The Catalina 22 is one of the most popular sailboats in the United States. No matter where you are, you'll find a fleet of Catalina 22s at just about any marina. After they stopped making the original Catalina 22, the only way to find one (if you wanted to join a racing fleet) was to buy one used.

After years of demand, the sailboat manufacturer finally came out with the 22' Sport. It's just about the same as the original 22, so much so that you can join a Catalina 22 fleet among the original sailboats.

Catalina 22 Sport is a racing boat and a pocket cruiser. It's easy to trailer, easy to rig, and a great family sailboat.


Like its smaller relative, the Hunter 22 is known for being safe and sturdy, ready for adventure. It makes for an ideal daysailer or weekend tripper. Even though it's family-friendly, it's still capable of going fast. You can enter in a race or beach hop.

The Hunter 22 features a small cabin that's very comfortable for camping. It comes with a small stove, cooler, and toilet. There's a small dinette that converts to a bed, so you can go from breakfast to bed easily within the boat cabin.

The original Hunter 22 stopped production in 1985, but Hunter has since recently started making a new Hunter 22 that's even better than the original. Still, you'll find plenty of used Hunter 22s.


The Sage 15' is a good looking compact, abstract-style sailboat. It's almost identical to its bigger counterpart, the Sage 17, but this model has a retractable keel.

On the water, you wouldn't guess the Sage 15 was a trailer sailer . It's got all the charm of a classic sailboat, with many of the amenities desirable in a pocket cruiser.

One thing to note is the mast and its rigging only weighs 20 pounds, which makes it easy to raise and lower by yourself. When you're towing to and from your location, you want the set up to be as easy as possible, so this is a huge plus.

This boat has room for two people on the deck and in the cockpit. It's perfect for people who enjoy a solo voyage here and there or for couples looking to have a day on the water every once in a while.

West Wight Potter 19


According to the West Wight Potter website, it only takes 45 minutes to rig a simple setup and get on the water. As far as trailerable sailboats go, the Potter 19' has all the amenities you could want for comfortable weekend getaways on the water.

Like almost all the boats on this list, the Potter 19 has a retractable keel and a self-bailing cockpit. It's stable and very unlikely to heel over too far. The Potter 19 is one of the most responsive sailboats in its class.

What makes the Potter 19 a great trailerable sailboat for camping is the spacious cabin. The cabin features two berths that can sleep four and seating for up to five people. The cabin also comes with a burner stove and a cooler. Depending on what your plans are, you can get the boat customized to your needs.

The West Wight Potter 19 makes the most out of its compact space, which makes it versatile. Also, with the trailer, the Potter 19 fits inside the standard garage. So, don't worry about paying marina fees when you can store your boat right in your garage.


The last boat on this list is a trailerable sailboat that's proven seaworthy. The Moor 24 was famously sailed from Santa Cruz, California to Honolulu, Hawaii in 17 days. Not only is it seaworthy, but it's fast. The Moor 24 is a prime racing boat, and it's won many Cups.

The Moor 24 sailboat is not only a performance vessel. It also offers comfortable cruising with a cushioned v-berth for overnight or weekend trips. The Moore 24 is easy to handle and one of the smoothest sails. Experienced sailors will appreciate how it sails, and novice sailors will appreciate how easy it is to master.

It's such a gem of a sailboat, it's hard to believe it fits on a trailer.

Which Sailboat is Right for You?

Choosing to buy a trailerable sailboat is a good choice for people who don't want to break the bank or worry about marina fees and docking fees. For people who want to go on the occasional weekend sailing trip or day trip, there is no more affordable option.

To choose the right trailerable sailboat, consider what kind of sailing you want to do. A day sailor offers you a smaller boat that's easy to tow and that's more affordable. These boats are great for training kids to sail or learning how to sail yourself.

But, likely, you'll eventually want to graduate to a slightly more capable sailboat. That's because a trailerable cruising sailboat gives more of a traditional sailing experience, including overnight trips and more seaworthiness.

Thankfully, sailboats are easy to find used and cheaper than brand new. Trailer sailors especially are easy to come by and get a good deal on. Whether you're just starting out or just looking for some fun on the weekends, finding the right trailerable sailboat under 30 feet is a breeze.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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