Sailboats embody the mystery of the sea, of going only where the wind is willing to take you. We offer a variety of sailboat sizes, using several construction techniques. We offer sails, hardware and rigging for many of our sailboat designs. This enables you to focus on building your boat, not searching around for all the bits and pieces needed to complete the project.

Free online book: 

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Glen-L 25 - Plywood

full keel sailboat plans

Sailboat Keels Explained

On this page:, overview of sailboat keel types, keel types: fundamentals, modified full keel, centerboard.

If you just want a quick overview, here's a list with the most common keel types and a short description. More detail will follow below.

The most common keel types

  • Full keels run from front to aft and are the most stable keel type, making them the most popular cruising keel.
  • Fin keels offer the best performance but are less comfortable. This makes them popular for racing. Fin keels are bolted on to the hull and generally run deep and thin.
  • Bulb and wing keels are both variants on the fin keel.
  • Bulb keels carry additional ballast in the tip, making them more stable.
  • Wing keels have two tips at the end of the keel, which reduces crossflow, improving directional stability.
  • Bilge keels are double fin or double full kees, which allows the boat to be beached, making them the most popular keel for tidal waters.
  • Lifting keels are moveable keels that can be lowered and raised, allowing the boat to enter shallow waters as well.
  • Centerboard keels are a pivoting lifting keel, allowing to sail both coastal and inland waters.
  • Leeboards are fins on the sides of flat-bottomed hulls boats, making a keel unnecessary.

Properties of each keel type

full keel sailboat plans

What does a keel do?

What does the keel do? A keel is a vertical blade running down from the hull. It is weighted and acts as a ballast, countering the boat's tendency to heel and preventing it from tipping over. The wetted surface under the waterline reduces slippage to leeward by creating a track, which counters the sideway force of the wind on the sails.

full keel sailboat plans

The reason sailboats don't tip over is that the weight of the keel counters the buoyancy of the hull, which means it will pull the boat downward. This downward force reduces heel and prevents the boat from rolling.

A canoe doesn't have a keel. Try stepping into that: it will want to roll.

It counters the horizontal force the wind puts on the sails. Whenever the force on the sails increases, the resistance of the water on the keel increases proportionally.

The heavier the keel, the less heel you'll get.

A keel reduces slippage to leeward. Slippage is simply the amount you fall off course because of the direction of the wind and current. Leeward is the side of the boat behind the wind.

So if you don't have a keel, you will fall off course quite a lot because the wind will push you over the water surface.

You will also heel quite a lot since there is nothing beneath the water surface to counter the force of the wind high up in your sails.

A keel fixes both of these issues and makes sailboats one of the most reliable boats in heavy winds and storms.

You can read on about how keels work here.

Keels can be classified by multiple dimensions. You can look at them from the side or the front. You can also classify them based on properties.

Before I dive into each keel type in-depth and show examples, let's make sure we have the same starting point.

There are essentially two sorts of keels:

Fixed keels

Movable keels.

full keel sailboat plans

Fixed keels are keels that are integrated into the hull or bolted on. They can't be moved or lifted.

When looking at fixed keels, you can divide them up further based on the side view. There are three main categories:

Bilge keels

Full keels are more comfortable, provide better stability and protection, but are also slower than fin keels.

Fin keels are less comfortable, provide less stability, are more vulnerable, but they're also a lot faster than full keels.

Bilge keels are double keels: one on each side of the hull. This allows them to be beached, which comes in handy in tidal waters. They are generally a lot slower and less maneuverable compared to fin keels.

Movable keels can be lifted from the water, creating a shoal (shallow) draft, allowing the boat to enter both shallow waters and coastal waters. This makes it a very versatile keel type. There are two main designs:

Lifting keels

Lifting keels can be lowered and raised through a slit in the hull. Examples of lifting keels are the daggerboard and centerboard.

Leeboards are wooden swords attached to the side of the hull and prevent slippage to leeward, but they don't stabilize the boat, nor counter heel by adding ballast.

full keel sailboat plans

With fin keels, there are different tip designs available. The most common two tip designs are:

These are both variants of the fin keel. Generally, these keel designs are mentioned in one breath with full keels and fin keels, creating confusion on what kind of keel they are. But it's important to understand that they are a sub-category of fin keels.

full keel sailboat plans

Rudder design

As with the tip of the fin, there are different rudder designs that may apply to both fin and full keels. The two most common rudder designs are:

Skeg rudder

Spade rudder.

A skeg is a structural part of the keel in front of the rudder that protects the rudder. The keel encompasses the rudder, preventing any rogue ropes, weeds, or rocks from damaging the rudder.

full keel sailboat plans

A spade rudder is an unprotected rudder: it doesn't have any structural protection from the keel design. It is simply attached to the hull. This design is very common.

Alright, we understand the big picture. Let's dive into more detail for each keel type and discuss the pros and cons.

Fixed keel Good for cruising and liveaboards Comfortable

full keel sailboat plans

What is a full keel? A full keel runs from front to aft for at least 50% of the hull and is fully integrated into the hull. It has the largest wetted surface of any keel type, and it is also the heaviest. This results in directional stability and reduced heeling, providing the most comfortable ride, but also the slowest.

The wetted surface simply means the amount of water contact area. With such a large wetted surface, it decreases slippage to leeward the most of all keel types, while it counters heeling the most as well.

The full keel is the most comfortable and stable keel type available. However, comfort comes at a price. It delivers the worst performance due to this large wetted area. It is the slowest of the keel types, and it has the worst windward performance.

This makes full keels particularly great for longtime cruisers or liveaboards who prefer comfort over speed, but less ideal for daysailers who need to navigate in and out of slips regularly.

Since it runs for at least 50% of the hull, it doesn't need to run as deep as a fin keel, resulting in a more shoal draft.

Heavier keels result in increased displacement, so a full keel boat will need a larger sail area to compensate for its weight.

For a more detailed discussion on full keel advantages, I recommend reading William's excellent article 5 Surprising Advantages of a Full Keel Sailboat here.

Example sailboats with a full keel:

  • Nicholson 22
  • Island Packet 380
  • Beneteau Oceanis 411 Clipper
  • Beneteau First 50
  • Jeanneau Sun Shine 38
  • Dufour 455 Grand Large

There are a lot of great cruising boats with full keel designs , some of them considered classics.

Full Keel with skeg rudder

Full keels with a skeg rudder design have a protected rudder, thanks to putting a structural part of the keel directly in front of the rudder. This helps with fending off any hazards to the rudder, like floating pieces of rope, rocks, or garbage, and protects it in case of running aground. The skeg design ensures the rudder is nearly impossible to break off.

Fixed keel Good for cruising and liveaboards Faster than a regular full keel

full keel sailboat plans

What is a modified full keel? A modified full keel is a full keel with a cutout at the front, reducing the wetted surface slightly, which increases performance without sacrificing too much comfort and stability. After the full keel, it has the best directional stability and the least amount of heel.

The modified full keel is popular among (bluewater) cruisers, thanks to its increased handling and performance. Most modified full keels have a skeg rudder, ensuring it is well-protected.

The slightly reduced weight and wetted surface improve windward performance quite a lot, but it is still one of the most stable keel designs out there.

Example sailboats with a modified full keel:

  • Hallberg-Rassy HR 40
  • Dufour Arpege 30
  • Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 281
  • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37.2
Fixed keel Good for racing Fast

full keel sailboat plans

What is a fin keel? A fin keel is a long, weighted blade attached to the bottom of the hull. It is lighter, faster, and more maneuverable than a full keel, but also more vulnerable. The increased distance between ballast and sails provides a lever, reducing the need for a large wetted surface or additional ballast.

Fin keels are generally bolted onto the hull and run deeper and thinner than a full keel. They are also lighter. This helps increasing performance (a lot), making fin keels a lot faster in all situations.

There are some major disadvantages to fin keels, however. Fin keels are a lot less comfortable than full keels and allow for more heel and a less solid track, so less directional stability. Fin keels are also a lot more vulnerable than full keels. They can break off when running aground, or get damaged.

They are very popular among racers and perform better when maneuvering in tight spots, like getting in and out of slips.

Example sailboats with a fin keel:

  • Catalina 30
  • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 36.2

Fin keel with skeg rudder

Fin keels with a skeg rudder use a small structural part in front of the rudder to protect it. This design is mostly integrated into the hull, making it less vulnerable, and a great compromise between speed and safety.

Fin keel with spade rudder

Fin keels with a spade rudder have a completely exposed rudder, and typically a fin that is simply bolted on. The keel isn't integrated into the hull, making it more vulnerable and less comfortable.

full keel sailboat plans

Fin keel variant Good for cruising Less crossflow

full keel sailboat plans

What is a wing keel? A wing keel is a fin keel with a horizontal foil at the tip, which is wing-shaped and generally weighted. Its shape reduces crossflow, improving directional stability, and its ballast decreases heel, resulting in a more comfortable ride. The addition of a wingtip allows for a shorter fin, reducing draft.

Wing keels are good for cruising since this design improves directional stability compared to a regular fin keel or a bulb keel.

We'll discuss the wing keel's advantages and disadvantages in more detail in this article.

Fin keel variant Good for cruising Stability

full keel sailboat plans

What is a bulb keel? A bulb keel is a high-aspect-ratio fin keel with additional ballast at the end, which generally has a bulb or teardrop shape. This ballast improves stability and utilizes the distance between force and counterforce as a lever. This design reduces the need for a deep fin, resulting in a shoal draft.

By placing the weight at the largest possible distance from the force on the sails, you need relatively little extra weight for the same reduction in heel, making bulb keels very effective for cruising.

This design reduces the wetted area while increasing the weight of the keel just slightly, which increases sailing comfort big time.

Example sailboats with a bulb keel:

  • Bavaria B/One
  • Beneteau First 24
Fixed keel Good for racing Can be beached

full keel sailboat plans

What is a bilge keel? A bilge keel is a twin keel which uses double fins, allowing the boat to be beached and rest on its keel upright. Bilge keels have double the wetted surface, which increases comfort and directional stability while decreasing heel. Modern bilge keels often provide decent windward performance, thanks to better design.

The bilge keel does sacrifice speed compared to the fin keel but doesn't necessarily offer worse performance overall. Older designs performed considerably worse than other keels and were especially slow.

full keel sailboat plans

Bilge keels have some major advantages over full keels and fin keels. The most important is that the boat can be beached, making it a popular design in tidal waters. Bilge keels are especially common along the British coastline, where fishermen keep their boats in tidal harbors.

Another major advantage is that the boat can be stored resting on its keels, making dry storage and maintenance a lot easier.

Of course, there are many more pros and cons to the bilge keel , which we go into here.

Example sailboats with a bilge keel:

  • Dufour Dynamique 62
  • Hunter Duette
  • Patagonia Patago 39
  • Macwester 27
Lifting keel Good for daysailers Versatile

full keel sailboat plans

What is a centerboard? A centerboard is a type of retractable keel that rests on a hinge and can be lowered through a slot in the hull. It folds out like a pocket knife and allows you to increase or reduce the draft of the boat. Centerboards are mostly used on small fishing boats.

The centerboard is a very versatile keel type, allowing you to have both a very shoal draft for inland waters, as well as steadying the boat and reducing heel for larger bodies of water, or even oceans.

I've sailed a Cornish Crabber with a centerboard for a week, and while we stayed inland, having the option to increase the keel depth really came in handy when crossing the IJsselmeer (a former sea in The Netherlands).

There's more to the center

Olaf Roethele

My name is Olaf and I am the owner of a Cornish Crabber 17 Adventure boat.

I would like to ask you if you can imagine to install on this boat a Torqeedo 2.0 Pod motor? Therefore i guess a modification of the keel/skeg is necessary ?!

Best regards from Uruguay,

You completely missed the hybrid planing/water-ballast keel of the Macgregor range

Thanks a lot for this explanation

Roger Bannon

Very well written article which provides an excellent guide for us small wooden boat builders. Thanks.

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Sailboat Plans 18-30ft

Sailboat Plans 18-30ft

Bruce Roberts sailboat designs

Boat plans 18 - 30 ft .

This section of Bruce Roberts sailboat designs and boat plans cover the following vessels in the range of 18 to 30 foot. The Roberts, Adventurer, Tom Thumb, and Canoe Stern. Boat building plans using steel, aluminium, fiberglass wood/epoxy, depending on the design, are available. Information and prices are on each individual design page.

Study Plan Packages contain all the sheets #1 from the actual plans. Sail Plans and the various accommodation layouts pertaining to the design are shown on these sheets. There may be anywhere from two to eight #1 sheets which are all to scale and which measure between one meter and two and a half meters long each. They are intended as a more in-depth overview of the design in which you are interested.

Material Lists for the basic materials required to build the hull, deck and superstructure are included in the study plan package to help you with your budgeting. Where Fibreglass is mentioned as a material this means Balsa sandwich / Foam sandwich, Single skin or C-Flex. Most steel plans can be adapted to aluminium construction. Both moulded ply and strip plank can be used in conjunction with the wood epoxy saturation method. Sail and rig details are also shown on the study plan sets.

As the Study Plan Packages include the basic measurements in scale for the accommodation layouts, you can customize the layouts to suit your needs if what is presented is not exactly to your liking.

The link to download the Study Plan Packages is emailed to your email address and generally within 24 hours, The link to the Full Plan Sets is also generally emailed within 24. All study plans and full plan sets are downloadable in .pdf format for you to have printed at a nearby print shop. The study and full plan sets are available on CD's on request with postage cost depends on country.

To View drawings , photos, information and prices of the design that interests you just click on that design.

Payments : We only accept payments through PayPal. This method of payment protects both of us. Please be aware that there is no obligation or need to be a member of PayPal to use them to pay us using the normal various methods of payment.

Pram Dinghy Boat Plan

Pram Dinghy Boat Plan

Roberts Pram Dinghy This Pram dinghy can be built in fiberglass or plywood. The pictures sho..

Adventurer 18 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Adventurer 18 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Roberts Adventurer 18 Trailer Sailer This design is available as two different concepts, Version ..

Adventurer 19 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Adventurer 19 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Roberts Adventurer 19 Trailer Sailer This design is available as two different concepts, Version ..

Adventurer 22 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Adventurer 22 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Roberts Adventurer 22 Trailer Sailer This trailerable sailboat has been very popular and performs..

Adventurer 24 Boat Plan

Adventurer 24 Boat Plan

Roberts Adventurer 24 This sailboat has been very popular and is a joy to build and sail. Suitabl..

Adventurer 24 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Adventurer 24 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Roberts Adventurer 24 Trailer Sailer This trailerable sailboat has been very popular in both it's..

Tom Thumb 24 Boat Plan

Tom Thumb 24 Boat Plan

Roberts Tom Thumb 24 Designed by Canadian Graham Shannon this boat was originally designed to be ..

Roberts 246 Boat Plan

Roberts 246 Boat Plan

Roberts 246 This sailboat has proved to be an exciting little boat to sail. The drop keel version..

Adventurer 25 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Adventurer 25 Trailer Sailer Boat Plan

Roberts Adventurer 25 Trailer Sailer Over 1,000 examples of this design have already been complet..

Tom Thumb 26 Boat Plan

Tom Thumb 26 Boat Plan

Roberts Tom Thumb 26 Although an enlargement of the Tom Thumb 24 the Tom Thumb 26 is a completely..

Roberts 27 Boat Plan

Roberts 27 Boat Plan

Roberts 27 This nifty earlier design is available for either fibreglass or wood epoxy constructio..

Roberts 28 Boat Plan

Roberts 28 Boat Plan

Roberts 28 Designed for multi-chine steel construction only, this design is available with both l..

Roberts 29 Boat Plan

Roberts 29 Boat Plan

Roberts 29 Another early design that still makes for a pleasant, safe, family yacht that is easy ..

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Sailboat Plans

Free Sailboat Plans

A selection of some of the Free Sailboat Plans (pdf) that were published in magazines such as “Popular Mechanics”, "Popular Science" and the "Boat Builder Handbook".

If you need help with lofting out the plans click here for an article here which should help.

  • Open Dayboats/Dinghys
  • Rowing Boats

Open/Dayboat, Free Sailboat Plans

Everyone who digs boating has heard of the Hobie Cat, the sleek little catamaran that burst on the scene and captured the attention of all the fast-action sailors.

hobby kat free boat plans

Marked by asymmetrical hulls and special trampoline supports, the Hobie can reach speeds above 20 mph and perform with a rare agility.

But it has one drawback.

It costs mucho dinero.

Thus, we introduce the Hobby Kat, sailboat plans, a build-it-yourself version of the “Hobie” that should cost from half to a third of the commercial version. If you have the moola, of course, go for a Hobie and have the time of your life on the water.

If not, try our Hobby

The homebuilt is not quite the same.

But she sails sweetly and fast—qualities which have made the “Hobie” popular

Even in a light air she’ll slip through the water at a fast clip.

She has no centreboards, leeboards or keel, and needs none.

The inside of each hull has built-in lift, like an airplane wing, so that as the boat heels and one hull digs in the boat is pulled back to windward.

Click Here for the Plans

She can run in very shallow water and the rudders kick up for beaching.

You can carry her on a trailer or even disassemble her.

tern free boat plan

Many a “stink pot” addict will take a second look at Tern because she planes in modest breezes, is easy to handle, and her streamlined prow arid pod-shaped, “inland scow” type hull offer slight water resistance. Then too, there’s a charm about the tiller of a sailer that’s not matched by the wheel of a motor-powered boat. Part of it is the challenge of making the most of nature’s free-wheeling breezes. Even with her 72sq.ft of sail, this Free Sailboat Plan is remarkably stable, and packs as many as four persons aboard

For thousands of inland lakes, Tern is the answer to sailing water sport, she is rugged and easy to launch

And she’s remarkably easy to build.

sailboat plans

Falcon is a small, speedy, sporty sailboat which handles well. Tests on the original Falcon showed that she could easily out-distance boats of comparable size such as the one design class Snipe and Comet sailers.

And she will pace neck and neck with 18 footers with considerably greater sail spread.


This strong, beamy, eight-foot pram may be sailed either cat-rigged or sloop-rigged.

The dagger-board may be adjusted forward to balance the helm when sailing with the addition of a jib sail.

Oars or a small outboard motor may also be used to power this versatile Free Sailboat Plans.


Dart” is a small two or three person sailing craft, designed for use on protected waters such as bays. lakes, rivers or wherever sheltered waters are found. Its construction will repay the builder handsomely and provide a fast sailing craft, light in weight, easily transportable and cheap to construct with all difficult joinery eliminated

It provides thrilling and economical sport.


The 'Crescent', designed by C. T. Allen, is the ideal sailboat for day sailing on a small lake, river, or protected waters of a bay.

Centreboard design (Fig. 2) reduces Crescent's draft, so Shallow is not a problem.

Its broad beam of over 5½ft. makes it an ideal family boat because there is room for a cockpit large enough to accommodate four adults or two adults and three kids, and side and forward decks big enough to stretch out on when sun bathing.

"Jewel" is a 16' Crescent Sailboat being built by Mike Allen from the free sailboat plans by C.T .Allen in the 1958 "Boat Builders Handbook". And what a superb job Mike is doing check out his photos here .

Click Here for the Free version of the Plans


Sailing enthusiasts and backyard boat builders are not likely to find free boat plans for a sailing pram that can be built faster, lighter, stronger, or less expensively than Graefin-10. Two men can begin work on a Friday evening and have a smart, lively 10-ft. 85-pound sailboat in the water by Sunday evening (it’s been done).


Zephyr Is a refinement of a type of boat developed by the English for use in the rough open waters of the English Channel. Not only is it fast under sail, but it can stand up under punishment. And it’s light enough to be easily loaded atop an auto or light trailer.


breeze baby

Skimming off a brisk wind or with the wind abeam, Breeze-Baby actually planes with one person aboard. Despite her rowboat lines that make her easy to build, she handles easily under her simple sail, an ideal first boat. Simple lines are adapted to plywood construction that’s strong, light and that keeps Breeze-Baby’s bilges dry

You can take her with you atop your car or on a lightweight trailer for summer fun wherever you vacation or get in a week-end’s sailing.

cats paw

Cat’s Paw is easy to build because of the straight-sided hulls. The sheer line is flat and that simplifies building the form. Bow and stern are straight, so there’s no cockeyed bevel to fit and fuss with

She Is an Ideal boat to learn or practice sailing in because she will forgive so many mistakes.

Cabin Cruiser, Free Sailboat Plans

free sailboat plans

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full keel sailboat plans

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full keel sailboat plans

Idea 21 sportboat

The development of the family of small offshore capable sailboat plans : chined hull for the highest stability, vertical lifting keel, trailerable, suitable for club racing or cruising (two interior versions) ,  plywood and epoxy hull with the radius chine system, sparkling performances while sailing and reasonable interiors for coastal cruising.

First boat launched : read the first impressions here

Idea 21 small sailboat plan is the latest development of my family of small plywood & epoxy sailboats plans for homebuilders : it was quite a time since i was thinking of an evolution of her smaller 19 footer sister, so i finally take the decision to publish this new plan. the goals of this plan is simple: add interior volume, simplify the work for homebuilders switching to a complete plywood & epoxy radius chine hull, enhance slightly the sparkling performances of idea 19, keeping the sailboat very balanced and suited for sailors ranging from enthusiast beginners to experienced seamen., first boat launched and several other boats in building stage make idea21 the most sparkling project on our catalogue,  hull: chined hull on a small light sailboat has a simple reason to exist: it gives more stability to the sailboat when heeled, much more than a round hull similar sailboat. i managed to keep a very low wetted area of the unheeled hull, in order to achieve a good pace in light air and avoid excessive drag. stern sections are quite flat to gain speed downwind (idea 19 has been clocked with speed steadily in excess of 15 knots)., bow sections: experiences on racers showed that “knife-blade” bows may give you less resistance, but the price to pay is high in terms of buried bow sailing downwind, so i decide to provide this plan a large u-shaped section on the bow ; sails provide the sailboat plenty of power to defeat the small amount of added drag., sailplan: i have a very good starting point with idea 19, so we’re doing small adjustments and no revolutions: square top mainsail, 7/8 fractional rig , very wide single swept spreaders, no backstay, deck stepped mast with sturdy section, 110 % j jib, code zero, jennaker hoisted on swinging retractable bowsprit, and a good amount of sail area., keel and ballast: idea21 have a solid hard wood cored & unidirectional glass epoxy laminated lifting keel, with a naca optimised profile and a low resistance hydrodynamical shaped 280 kg lead bulb bolted on the keel tip; it can be made by a homebuilder, no need for professional welder; the fin area is on the low side, speed will help generating the required lift without adding too much drag. keel case is in 20 mm thickness plywood and epoxy laminated glass reinforcements, and it’s perfectly waterproof while sailing., full lifting keel  version : after a request from a builder, idea 21 cruise is available in a version featuring an integral watertight keel case running form hull bottom to cabin top panels, this feature called flk (full lifting keel) will allow the boat to sail with keel partially raised or to motor with keel totally up, a good option if you sail in shallow waters frequently., cockpit: was one of the strongest point in idea19, we simply keep the same arrangement and dimensions, so we have a really huge area for the crew and a simple and sturdy building in plywood panels epoxy glued on a structure of bulkheads and stringers., interiors: here i focussed on several upgrades; i decided to split the project in two versions (so two different sets of plans, you have to specify on order), “sport cruise” or “racing” ; both versions have 4 berths, a classic v berth on bow and two quarter berth after; in the cruising version cabin is 55 cm longer, giving wider interiors, enough room for a separate toilette and more comfortable after berths ; in the racing version we have a marine toilet (there’s room for a jabsco compact one) under the bow v-berth; cabin height is 1.65 m in both versions. interiors plywood panels are detailed on plans., taking advantage form the first season of sailing, i can now say that i strongly advice the cruise version as long as you are not going to run a sailing school, thus needing extra space in the cockpit., wooden rig: starting form summer 2019 we deliver two extra drawings with the plans, both for race and cruise version,  describing how to build a wooden rig suited for this boat.  keep your budget low at the price of a small extra weight , how to build the boat: we chose the plywood & epoxy resin “radius chine” system, as for petrel 28 and hirundo 750, so the hull planking is in okume marine grade plywood ; planking the hull is quite fast , and the internal structure of the boat is made by plywood bulkheads, floors and solid wood longitudinal stringers, all glued with epoxy and strengthened with epoxy laminated glass tape, assembled on a cheap wood scaffold, keeping the hull light, sturdy and quite easy to build for homebuilders ; the goal is to keep the total weight of the 19 footer, raising the ballast fraction of the sailboat at the same time. here are a couple of pictures of the first planked hull perfectly showing the radius chine planking system.

a HUGE Thanks to Nils Theurer    ([email protected])   for the awesome pictures taken during the first sea trials  

full keel sailboat plans

Plans availability: Plans are available in italian and english. Plans are available in imperial units upon request (send me a mail before purchase).

full keel sailboat plans

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A Look at Sailboat Design: Fin Keels vs. Full Keels

Details like keel design count when considering cruising sailboats..

full keel sailboat plans

Photos by Ralph Naranjo

When a keel tears away from a sailboats hull, it makes the loss of a rig or rudder seem like a minor inconvenience. History shows that its an uncommon occurrence, but because we now annually hear of such incidents, weve decided to take a closer look at keels and see what keeps the ballast where it belongs.

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Offshore Special Regulations devotes pages to helping sailors prevent and respond to a crew overboard incident. There is nothing about how to handle the loss of a keel or ballast bulb. Some might say this is because such occurrences are so infrequent, while others note that, if youre still upright once the ballast breaks off theres not much you can do other than blow the sheets, douse the sails as quickly as possible and attempt to stop any leaks.

When solo sailor Mike Plants Open 60 Coyote lost her lead bulb in 1992, Mike was lost at sea. Other adventure-sailors have survived near instantaneous capsize precipitated by keel loss. In 2003, round-the-world racer Tim Kent and his crew capsized when Everest Horizontal lost its ballast on the way back from Bermuda. US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee Chairman Chuck Hawley was aboard the racing sloop Charlie, on the way back from Hawaii, when a loud groaning sound led to a deep heel as the lead peeled away from the keel bolts and ballast headed straight to the bottom. This encounter at least had a happy ending thanks to the crews quick actions to douse sail. Apparently the keel had been cast with too little antimony (an additive that causes lead to become a harder alloy). The point here is that keeping the keel attached is as important as keeping the crew safely on board. And for the offshore monohull sailor, preventing a keel loss, like preventing crew overboard, requires some informed forethought.

A ballast keel on a sailboat is a classic example of potential energy poised in a balancing act. The buoyancy of the hull itself offsets the effect of thousands of pounds of lead or iron. At rest, gravitys attraction for the dense material strains against the buoyancy of the hull, and the adjacent garboard region is continuously in tension. Few sailors spend much time contemplating how keel bolts corrode and what cycle-loading does to the resin matrix comprising the garboard region just above the ballast. What is apparent, is that the attachment material, whether it be wood, metal or fiber reinforced plastic (FRP), must be able to support a mass of metal weighing as much as a small truck-and do so day in and day out for decades.

Underway, every tack causes the rig and sailplan to try to lever this ballast package free from the hull. And when the helmsman starts daydreaming about lobster for dinner and wanders off course onto a granite ledge Down East, the keel designed to handle sailing loads takes it on the chin. Its easy to see why experienced designers and builders lose sleep over their decisions about keel shape, structure, and what kind of safety factor should be built into the structure.

Its surprising to discover that with better materials and computer-aided design, we still hear about incidents such as the Rambler capsize in the 2011 Fastnet Race (PS, May 2012). Just as significant is a spate of smaller race boat keel-ectomies that have caused ISAF to send out a cautionary note to sailors around the world, and introduce new structural standards for race boats. Keeping the ballast attached to the boat involves an awareness of a chain-like set of failure points. And one of the most difficult decisions each designer must make is how to marry foil efficiency with a structural safety margin that covers the boats intended usage and the unintended use of the keel as a depth sounding device.

For decades, engineers and naval architects have had to contend with some racing sailors Icarus-like quest-a trend that prioritizes shedding weight and making the keel foil a long, thin appendage with a high-aspect ratio. Though not quite a flight toward the sun with wings made of wax and feathers, some race-boat scan’tlings walk a fine line between lightweight and structural failure. The challenge lies in attaching a lead bulb on a high-tensile steel foil to a lightweight, high-modulus, FRP hull. Interconnecting the dense metallic ballast to the lower-density foam/fiberglass hull structure is a true engineering puzzle. Part of the challenge lies in the dissipation of point loads (confined to a relatively small area) and how to handle the resulting stress risers. A stress riser is the point at which theres an abrupt change in a materials flexibility, such as where a stiff, fin keel meets the more elastic hull bottom. In FRP composites like those found in a balsa-cored hull, stress risers are a likely place for delamination to occur. Over time, these can result in the failure of the FRP composite.

A Look at Sailboat Design: Fin Keels vs. Full Keels

The see-saw effect of the keel counteracting a vessels righting moment is a mathematically predictable energy transfer. Even the effect of groundings such as those that turn hull speed into a dead stop can be quantified. But its the cumulative effect of fatigue (localized structural damage caused by cyclical loading) and corrosion that are harder to pin down.

The term allision refers to hitting a fixed object such as a granite ledge or coral reef. Naval architects analyze the energy transfer and evaluate the stress and strain characteristics that occur. The recognition that the keel-to-hull connection must endure even more punishment than is doled out in heavy-weather sailing episodes is at the heart of how structural specs are devised.

Designers also must consider the jack-hammer-like pounding of a keel on a reef in surf, and realize that there are limits to the abuse a keel and hull can endure. With this in mind, its reasonable to assume that sailboat keels should be built to handle sailing induced loads for decades. It is the extra safety factor built into the boat that defines what happens when the sandbar is a rock pile.

What is harder to anticipate are the unusual encounters that can inflict serious damage to the keel connection. Take, for example, what happens when a sailboats deep fin keel is wedged in a rocky cleft and a good Samaritan with a big powerboat attempts to pivot the sailboat using a line attached to the bow. The distance from the keels vertical centerline to the stem may be 20 feet or more, and with a couple of thousand pounds of bollard pull, the 20-foot lever arm creates a rotary force that can spike to 40,000 foot-pounds or more. This level of torque goes well beyond what most designers and builders model as sailing loads, and its likely to seriously damage the boat.

In plain low-tech talk, extreme fin keels provide a valuable performance edge, but they come with their own set of downsides that every owner needs to be aware of. In essence, the more radical the keel shape, the better the crew must navigate.

A couple of decades ago, PS Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo ran a boatyard and had a client who liked to cut the corners during Block Island Race Week. His first spinnaker reach into a granite boulder stopped the boat and shoved the companionway ladder upward six inches. This underscored how an allision that causes the keel to stop abruptly transfers a shock wave through the entire hull. The resulting compression cracked several transverse members in the New York 40 and damaged the core in the canoe body near the garboard.

The FRP repairs had to be tapered and all delamination problems resolved. The moderate-aspect-ratio lead fin keel absorbed a good deal of the blunt trauma. Judging from the cannonball-size dent on the leading edge of the lead keel, it was clear that the impact was significant. The dent offered grim proof of the advantage of having soft lead instead of steel as keel ballast. New floor frames were added, the broken transverse members were replaced, and the boat was off and sailing.

The next season, the boat had another Block Island encounter, and only because the Petersen-designed New York 40 was a pretty ruggedly built boat was a second repair even considered. This time, an equally violent keel-to-hull trauma came from an on-the-wind encounter with a different rock. The extent of the delamination was greater than it had been in the first go round, and more extensive core removal and repair was required. The keel was dropped in order to check the bolts and the garboard. With the bilge fully opened for the FRP repair work, the repair crew made a pattern of the canoe body dead rise and fore and aft contour. As the glass work was being completed, they fabricated a stainless-steel grid that would spread keel loads fore and aft as well as athwartship. The new grid reinforced the keel attachment and returned the sloop to the race course.

Afterward, Naranjo and the owner discussed the details of the repair, including the possibility of hidden, widespread damage from the two groundings. These included the dynamic loads imposed upon the chainplates and rigging, the likelihood of hidden resin-cracking, and potential for more delamination and core shear linked to the torque induced by the accident. In short, any serious allision causes overt and hard-to-detect damage far from the actual impact zone, and these can lead to more problems down the road. When buying a used boat, look for a good pedigree, but also look for signs of previous blunt-force trauma. A good surveyor will be skilled in such structural forensics, and he or she will do more than comment on the gelcoat shine.

In the early days of wooden ships and iron men, a lack of dense metal ballast put less point-loading in the garboard region of the hull. Bilges free of cargo were filled with rocks or tighter-fitting granite blocks cut for more compact stacking. The principal of ballasting a vessel was to lower her center of gravity (CG) and create both an increase in the righting arm and a greater righting moment to offset the heeling moment created by the rig and sail plan. The keel also helped lessen leeway and would evolve into an appendage that added lift.

Movable ballast had a few downsides, not the least of which was its propensity to move in the wrong direction at the very worst moment. Even small boat sailors have found out what can happen to unsecured pigs of lead ballast when the boat heels far enough over for gravity to overcome friction. Whether stones, lead, movable water ballast, or a can’ting keel are used to augment the boats righting moment, a sailor must anticipate the worst-case scenario. This is when the weight ends up on the leeward side of the boat and a bad situation can turn into a real catastrophe. Fixing or locking ballast in place, controlling the volume of water put in ballast tanks, and limiting the can’ting keels range are sensible compromises.

A Look at Sailboat Design: Fin Keels vs. Full Keels

Internal ballast, the ballast inside a keel envelope thats contiguous with the hull, is still seen in many new boats. Island Packet is an example of a builder has stuck with this traditional approach of securing ballast without using keel bolts. Its a sensible design for shoal-draft cruisers, and the upsides are numerous. These high-volume, long-range cruisers arent encumbered by the demands prioritized by light displacement, performance-oriented sailors. Instead, Island Packets combine a rugged laminate and a long-footed, shallow-draft keel. This may not place the lead or iron ballast as deep as the tip of a fin keel, but it does keep the all-important CG low enough to deliver a powerful righting moment along with shoal draft.

In order to deliver the high angle of vanishing stability (AVS) also known as limit of positive stability (LPS), designer Bob Johnson puts what amounts to an internal bulb in the very lowest point in the boat. This long slug of iron or lead (depending on the model) is then covered by Portland cement, locking it in the Island Packets monocoque structure. The result is a contiguous FRP structure spreading keel loads efficiently over a considerable amount of hull skin. Keel bolts and the infamous garboard seam are completely eliminated. This approach to sailboat keel design dates back to the Rhodes Bounty II and other prototypes in the production world of sailboats. Now over 50 years old, many of these boats continue to have a tenacious grasp on the lead or iron that they hold.

Encapsulated iron ballast is much less desirable than encapsulated lead, and its sad to see builders skimp on this. Iron, or even worse steel, has been used in many Far Eastern encapsulated keels. It works as long as water and the resulting oxidation havent caused expansion and cracking of the seal. Lead is also denser than ferrous metal, and therefore, the same amount of ballast will have a smaller volume and create less drag.

Encapsulated ballast starts to be less appealing as keels become more fin-like and high-aspect ratio. The reason for this is that the geometry of the support changes, focusing more load on less area of the hull. As hull shapes evolved into canoe underbodies with hard turns in the bilge, and fin-like keels became thinner, deeper, and with shorter chord measurements (thickness), the concept of encapsulated keel became impractical. The Cal 40, Ericson 39, Pearson 365, and a long list of similar genre boats signified the end of an era when performance racer/cruisers would be built with encapsulated ballast.

A Look at Sailboat Design: Fin Keels vs. Full Keels

External Ballast

Performance-oriented sailors and race-boat designers quickly latched on to hull shapes marked by deep-draft, foil-shaped, high-aspect ratio fin keels. From the late 60s to whats currently glowing on CAD screens in designer offices around the world, keels have grown deeper and shorter in chord length, and bulb or anvil-like tips have grown more and more common.

The design development was sound, lift was enhanced, and deeper-not longer-became the answer to getting to windward faster. The challenge was not only in designing an efficient shape, it lay in creating an attachment means that minimized foil flex and twist, retained the low drag coefficient, and still had the ability to withstand an occasional, albeit modest, grounding.

During this same period, marine surveyors and boatyard techs began to see moderate groundings result in major structural problems. The classic example was the allision that produced a moderate dent in the lead at the leading edge of the keel tip. In many cases, further inspection revealed cracks radiating outward from a knot meter or depth sounder mistakenly placed just ahead of the keel. An even closer look often revealed grid damage or a cracked bulkhead just aft of the last keel bolt. Like the New York 40 mentioned earlier, this was a result of a shock wave radiating through the hull structure. As we learned in Mrs. McCrearys science class, Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, unless acted on by an equal and opposite force. Fin keel sailboats encountering abrupt energy transfers,tend to endure more damage than their long-keel counterparts.

A forensic look at the Achilles heel of external ballast highlights a few pitfalls. First the good news: Lead absorbs impact well, consuming much of the imparted energy through deformation. However, the translation of the remaining energy from the metal keel foil and keelbolts into an FRP hull is where we often find stress risers, and point loading linked to material and hull shape changes. The near right-angle interface between a modern sailboats canoe body and its deep fin keel is a classic load-path hotspot. In the old days, fiberglass techs spoke of oil-canning or the dimpling of a large section of the garboard as tacks were swapped.

Today Naval Architects use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to better engineer hull structure. Colorized graphics pinpoint load concentration, glowing bright red in the region where the keel joins the hull, the epicenter of the oil-canning. A common solution to coping with this high-load focal point, is to eliminate core in the region and to gradually increase the unit schedule (layers of FRP), or to add an internal FRP grid. Maximum thickness of a keel stub is located where the keelbolts penetrate the stub. In this region, the solid glass thickness is often equal to the dimension of the keel bolt diameter or even greater.

Laminate thickness at the keel bolts is only part of the equation. Just as important is how the transition to the general hull laminate transpires. A bullet-proof keel stub that immediately transitions into a core hull comprising two units of laminate on each side of the panel creates whats equivalent to a tear-on-the-dotted-line weakness. Transitions that involve sharp angles and marked differences in panel strength require a well-reinforced taper that spreads loads gradually rather than abruptly.

Occasionally, we see massive metal frameworks used in the bilge as support for keel bolts; these structures need to be carefully engineered to not create the same hard spot fracture points. When carefully tapered in order to gradually introduce more flex, the problem is abated, as it was in the repair of the New York 40 mentioned earlier. The stainless-steel grid built to support the keel loads incorporated a gradual decrease in stiffness to the framework. The keel was carefully mated to the underside of this grid to ensure full contact (See Keel Bolt Repair Options, online). As a result, the crew relieved the hard spots at the end points and made the transition to the more flexible FRP hull less dramatic.

For cruisers, the take-away lesson is that extra reinforcement, a long garboard keel-to-hull interface, and internal transverse and longitudinal reinforcement really do pay off. Keep in mind that the extra weight this entails is all below the center of gravity and contributes to the secondary righting moment as well as keeping the water out.

This is a big departure from the way many modern production boats are built. They carry a skimpy ballast ratio of 30 percent or less, have less structure to support the keel and are not designed to handle unintended cruising consequences. There are exceptions, and its worth looking at the keel design and structure of the Navy 44 Mark II and the USCG Leadership 44 (see PS, August 2012). These boats utilize external ballast and are examples of rugged keel attachment. They have a relatively long keel-to-stub garboard junction, the laminate scan’tling meets American Bureau of Shipping recommendations, and both utilize an overabundance of 316 stainless-steel keel bolts and an FRP grid to keep the keel where it belongs.

There are many reasons why were seeing more keel problems today. On one hand, light, fast, race-boat design pushes the envelope, and thats probably OK. But when mainstream racer/cruisers start to suffer from lead loss, too much of one good thing (high-aspect ratio) and too little of another good thing (reinforcement) can begin creeping into design and construction.

A Look at Sailboat Design: Fin Keels vs. Full Keels


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Jérôme Delaunay Naval Architect - Nautline design office in naval architecture: I design and draw custom boat and sailboat plans, in plywood epoxy and other materials. Sailboat plans for shipowner construction and professional construction. Plans of multihulls, plans of catamarans, praos and trimarans. CFD hull study, digital hull basin, engine optimization. I offer scantling calculations, keel calculations, mast and rig calculations. Composite sampling calculations. DXF digital plans for CNC digital cutting.

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  • CAPE COD BAY   A trailerable 18' sister to our popular CAPE COD CAT; accommodations for an adventurous couple for a week or a weekend.   SP-$35 US/ FP-$135 US
  • PHIALLE This is a 20' keel centerboard sloop. Only 2'2" draft with board up. Plywood construction. 3 berths. A good performing little yacht.  SP-$35 US/ FP-$135 US
  • GRAND BANKS 22 A dory hulled 22' ketch. Perky fin keel hull with skeg rudder. Flat bottom plywood construction; seam batten carvel topsides optional. Many amateur built. Has completed voyages from San Francisco to Alaska. SP-$35 US/ FP-$195 US
  • BAHAMA SLOOP Centerboard gaff 25' sloop. A perky daysailer and weekender for the skipper who cherishes a very traditional flush deck, gaff rigged cutter. Strip planked, round bilged hull. SP-$35 US/ FP-$295 US
  • CHAPPIQUIDICK 25' Cape Cod cat boat. Plans for conventional carvel planked construction or double chine plywood hull available. The latter hull could be built in steel as well. Very traditional type. 4 berths. Enclosed head. A well proven design. SP-$65 US/ FP-$450 US
  • LUBEC BOAT 25'9" modeled after a Maine Eastport pinky, a seaworthy commercial fishing boat of the late 1800's.  She offers a large cockpit for daysailing plus good cruising accommodations for a couple.  Construction is of strip planking and the simple, oldtime rig will attract attention wherever she sails. SP-$60 US/ FP-$450 US  
  • MYSTIC SHARPIE 32' sharpie ketch. Plywood construction, double ended pinky stern. Very handsome yacht. 4 berths, ob motor in well. Has reached at 10 knots under sail . SP-$45 US/ FP-$295 US
  • TERN 32' ketch with vee hull for plywood or carvel planking, outboard rudder, full keel. Has voyaged from New Orleans to Turkey and return. Accommodations for up to 5, but 2-3 is better. A boat that can go anywhere. SP-$50 US/ FP-$395 US
  • CAPE CARIB 32' attractive full keel ketch for a couple or small family. Construction is of strip planking on bulkhead frames, designed with the amateur builder in mind. Over 40 of th ese yachts have been built and have proven their seaworthiness in an Atlantic hurricane and a China Sea typhoon.  SP-$60 US/ FP-$495 US
  • INGENUE   33' wineglass hull is available as a schooner or cutter and with extended stern. As a schooner she has an enviable racing record and is a proven performer. Construction is strip planking on bulkhead framing. SP-$60 US/ FP-$495 US
  • PROSPECTOR 33'strip planked, blue water cutter.  Classic styling with a sweeping sheer, but modern fin / skeg underbody.  She has a roomy galley, spacious head, and accommodations for 4 to 5.   SP-$60 US/ FP-$750 US
  • MORGANA LE FAY 34' true blue water cutter with moderate fin keel and skeg rudder. Roomy, comfortable and seaworthy. Strip planked on laminated backbone and bulkhead framing. SP-$75 US/ FP-$895 US
  • G.T. WHITE 35' husky sloop or cutter rigged  cruiser, available as center or aft cockpit. Round-bilged, carvel planked, full keel hull. A go-anywhere cruiser. SP-$50 US/ FP-$495 US
  • MB&S 35 35'to 37' well proven full keel, ocean going cutter with excellent accommodations for a family, or two couples, for extended blue water cruising. Construction is of strip planking on bulkhead framing and plans are available as flush deck or traditional trunk cabin versions. SP-$75 US/ FP-$695 US   
  • AMEE 37', fast, strip planked double ended ketch or cutter. Available with fin keel/c.b. or deep 6' fin. Center cockpit layout accommodates 6-7 in 3 cabins.   SP-$75 US/ FP-$895 US
  • FRIENDSHIP SLOOP 39', large and traditional version of the Friendship Sloop with a lovely sheer line and clipper bow so characteristic of this type. SP-$90 US/ FP-$995 US  
  • PACIFIC 42 Burl Ives and Raymond Burr have owned one of these clipper bowed, center cockpit ketches. Wineglass hull, full keel, carvel or strip planked. A real seagoing, live aboard cruiser. SP-$100 US/ FP-$1395 US
  • TROUBADOR A handsome 42' pilot house sloop. Fin keel, spade rudder. Nicely balanced ends and a sweet sheer line. Epoxy strip/laminated construction. Accommodates 6-7 but 2 couples could cruise for months in her. Stall shower, large galley. Also available for aluminum construction. SP-$100 US/ FP-$1095 US
  • BLACK VELVET II A 43' strip planked, center cockpit, fin keel sloop/cutter. Fast and weatherly; a sister won 1st overall PHRF in the '83 Swiftsure race. 6-7 berths in 3 cabins, 2 heads. One of my favorite designs. SP-$110 US/ FP-$1495 US
  • TIME OF WONDER   45' pinky keel schooner. Strip planked. A true classic with her gaff rig, clipper bow and long sprit. Accommodates 6-7 in 3 cabins. SP-$120 US/ FP-$1795 US
  • SOPHIA CHRISTINA 46' pilot schooner. Another handsome full keel gaff rigger with sweeping sheer, but with plumb bow and raking transom. Carvel planked on oak frames. A beauty, and surprisingly fast. 8 berths in 3 cabins. SP-$120 US/ FP-$1795 US
  • ENTERPRISE 54' pilot house ketch well suited for live - aboard or world cruising. Traditional wood construction is designed to husky scantling rules and her keel/centerboard design offers shoal draft for exploring the world's less traveled waters.  A large galley and comfortable accommodations for 6 to 8 persons provide versatility as a private yacht or as a crewed charter vessel.   SP-$110 US/ FP-$2995 US
  • TREE OF LIFE 68' gaff schooner. Strip plank on laminated frames. Accommodates 10-12 in 5 cabins and features huge saloon, large galley, roomy pilot house. This large, traditional schooner can spread close to 4000 sq. ft. of sail and is an ideal charter cruiser. SP-$295 US/ FP-$5995 US

Be sure to include your full mailing address. The plans cannot be sent via e-mail. All plans are shipped folded and via airmail .

We do not share customer information with anyone without the customer's express permission.

It usually takes 4 to 5 days for delivery in Canada, a week to the US, and 10 days to two weeks to the rest of the world. Mail to a few countries may take as much as three weeks.

Express delivery, please contact us.

Rolled prints are too expensive to mail, check with us on other options.

Mailing rolled prints costs 5 or more times the cost of folded prints.

  All plans are sol d on a no exchange, no return basis

Brewer Yacht Designs 1825 Evergreen Drive Agassiz, BC Canada VOM 1A3 Phone 604-796-3732  Fax 604-796-3738 [email protected]

12 July 2014

Devlin Designing Boat Builders

Lit’l Coot 18 Bilge Keel Plans

$ 2.00 – $ 260.00

The Devlin Lit’l Coot is a wonderful little pocket sailing cruiser, ideally suited to the waters of Puget Sound or the Inside Passage.

Lit’l Coot 18 Full Keel information is here .


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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

How do you choose the right yacht for you? We highlight the very best bluewater sailboat designs for every type of cruising

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Which yacht is the best for bluewater boating? This question generates even more debate among sailors than questions about what’s the coolest yacht , or the best for racing. Whereas racing designs are measured against each other, cruising sailors get very limited opportunities to experience different yachts in real oceangoing conditions, so what is the best bluewater sailboat?

Here, we bring you our top choices from decades of designs and launches. Over the years, the Yachting World team has sailed these boats, tested them or judged them for European Yacht of the Year awards, and we have sifted through the many to curate a selection that we believe should be on your wishlist.

Making the right choice may come down to how you foresee your yacht being used after it has crossed an ocean or completed a passage: will you be living at anchor or cruising along the coast? If so, your guiding requirements will be space, cabin size, ease of launching a tender and anchoring closer to shore, and whether it can comfortably accommodate non-expert-sailor guests.

Article continues below…

full keel sailboat plans

The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht?

Choosing a boat for offshore cruising is not a decision to be taken lightly. I have researched this topic on…


European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best luxury cruisers

Before the sea trials began, I would have put money on a Hallberg-Rassy or the Wauquiez winning an award. The…

All of these considerations have generated the inexorable rise of the bluewater catamaran – monohulls can’t easily compete on these points. We have a full separate feature on the best bluewater multihulls of all time and here we mostly focus on monohulls. The only exceptions to that rule are two multihulls which made it into our best bluewater sailboats of 2022 list.

As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the venture in mind, we have separated out our edit into categories: best for comfort; for families; for performance; and for expedition or high latitudes sailing .

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

The new flagship Allures 51.9, for example, is a no-nonsense adventure cruising design built and finished to a high standard. It retains Allures’ niche of using aluminium hulls with glassfibre decks and superstructures, which, the yard maintains, gives the optimum combination of least maintenance and less weight higher up. Priorities for this design were a full beam aft cabin and a spacious, long cockpit. Both are excellent, with the latter, at 6m long, offering formidable social, sailing and aft deck zones.

It likes some breeze to come to life on the wheel, but I appreciate that it’s designed to take up to five tonnes payload. And I like the ease with which you can change gears using the furling headsails and the positioning of the powerful Andersen winches inboard. The arch is standard and comes with a textile sprayhood or hard bimini.

Below decks you’ll find abundant headroom and natural light, a deep U-shape galley and cavernous stowage. For those who like the layout of the Amel 50 but would prefer aluminium or shoal draught, look no further.

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a Category A ocean going yacht at this size with a lifting keel, hence the hull had to be very stable.

Enjoyable to helm, it has a practical, deep cockpit behind a large sprayhood, which can link to the bimini on the arch. Many of its most appealing features lie in the bright, light, contemporary, clever, voluminous interior, which has good stowage and tankage allocation. There’s also a practical navstation, a large workroom and a vast separate shower. I particularly like the convertible saloom, which can double as a large secure daybed or pilot berth.

Potentially the least expensive Category A lift keel boat available, the Ovni will get you dreaming of remote places again.

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

full keel sailboat plans

There’s no shortage of spirit in the Windelo 50. We gave this a sustainability award after it’s founders spent two years researching environmentally-friendly composite materials, developing an eco-composite of basalt fibre and recycled PET foam so it could build boats that halve the environmental impact of standard glassfibre yachts.

The Windelo 50 is an intriguing package – from the styling, modular interior and novel layout to the solar field on the roof and the standard electric propulsion, it is completely fresh.

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

I would argue that this is the most successful new production yacht on the market. Well over 50 have already sold (an equipped model typically costs €1.6m) – and I can understand why. After all, were money no object, I had this design earmarked as the new yacht I would most likely choose for a world trip.

Indeed 55 number one Sanya, was fully equipped for a family’s world cruise, and left during our stay for the Grand Large Odyssey tour. Whereas we sailed Magic Kili, which was tricked up with performance options, including foam-cored deckheads and supports, carbon crossbeam and bulkheads, and synthetic rigging.

At rest, these are enticing space ships. Taking one out to sea is another matter though. These are speed machines with the size, scale and loads to be rightly weary of. Last month Nikki Henderson wrote a feature for us about how to manage a new breed of performance cruising cats just like this and how she coaches new owners. I could not think of wiser money spent for those who do not have ample multihull sailing experience.

Under sail, the most fun was obviously reserved for the reaching leg under asymmetric, where we clocked between 11-16 knots in 15-16 knots wind. But it was the stability and of those sustained low teen speeds which really hit home  – passagemaking where you really cover miles.

Key features include the swing helms, which give you views from outboard, over the coachroof or from a protected position in the cockpit through the coachroof windows, and the vast island in the galley, which is key to an open plan main living area. It helps provide cavernous stowage and acts as the heart of the entertaining space as it would in a modern home. As Danish judge Morten Brandt-Rasmussen comments: “Apart from being the TGV of ocean passages the boat offers the most spacious, open and best integration of the cockpit and salon areas in the market.”

Outremer has done a top job in packing in the creature comforts, stowage space and payload capacity, while keeping it light enough to eat miles. Although a lot to absorb and handle, the 55 offers a formidable blend of speed and luxury cruising.

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult following for the French yard. Nearly a decade old, the Amel 55 is the bridge between those world-girdling stalwarts and Amel’s more recent and totally re-imagined sloop designs, the Amel 50 and 60.

The 55 boasts all the serious features Amel aficionados loved and valued: a skeg-hung rudder, solidly built hull, watertight bulkheads, solid guardrails and rampart bulwarks. And, most noticeable, the solid doghouse in which the helmsman sits in perfect shelter at the wheel.

This is a design to live on comfortably for long periods and the list of standard features just goes on and on: passarelle; proper sea berths with lee cloths; electric furling main and genoa; and a multitude of practical items that go right down to a dishwasher and crockery.

There’s no getting around the fact these designs do look rather dated now, and through the development of easier sail handling systems the ketch rig has fallen out of fashion, but the Amel is nothing short of a phenomenon, and if you’ve never even peeked on board one, you really have missed a treat.


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

A centre cockpit cruiser with true longevity, the Contest 50CS was launched by Conyplex back in 2003 and is still being built by the family-owned Dutch company, now in updated and restyled form.

With a fully balanced rudder, large wheel and modern underwater sections, the Contest 50CS is a surprisingly good performer for a boat that has a dry weight of 17.5 tonnes. Many were fitted with in-mast furling, which clearly curtails that performance, but even without, this boat is set up for a small crew.

Electric winches and mainsheet traveller are all easy to reach from the helm. On our test of the Contest 50CS, we saw for ourselves how two people can gybe downwind under spinnaker without undue drama. Upwind, a 105% genoa is so easy to tack it flatters even the weediest crewmember.

Down below, the finish level of the joinery work is up there among the best and the interior is full of clever touches, again updated and modernised since the early models. Never the cheapest bluewater sailing yacht around, the Contest 50CS has remained in demand as a brokerage buy. She is a reassuringly sure-footed, easily handled, very well built yacht that for all those reasons has stood the test of time.

This is a yacht that would be well capable of helping you extend your cruising grounds, almost without realising it.

Read more about the Contest 50CS and the new Contest 49CS


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

For many, the Swedish Hallberg-Rassy yard makes the quintessential bluewater cruiser for couples. With their distinctive blue cove line, these designs are famous for their seakindly behaviour, solid-as-a-rock build and beautifully finished, traditional interiors.

To some eyes, Hallberg-Rassys aren’t quite cool enough, but it’s been company owner Magnus Rassy’s confidence in the formula and belief in incremental ‘step-by-step’ evolution that has been such an exceptional guarantor of reliable quality, reputation and resale value.

The centre cockpit Hallberg-Rassy 48 epitomises the concept of comfort at sea and, like all the Frers-designed Hallberg-Rassys since the 1990s, is surprisingly fleet upwind as well as steady downwind. The 48 is perfectly able to be handled by a couple (as we found a few years back in the Pacific), and could with no great effort crack out 200-mile days.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 was launched nearly a decade ago, but the Mk II from 2014 is our pick, updated with a more modern profile, larger windows and hull portlights that flood the saloon and aft cabin with light. With a large chart table, secure linear galley, heaps of stowage and space for bluewater extras such as machinery and gear, this yacht pretty much ticks all the boxes.


Discovery 55

First launched in 2000, the Discovery 55 has stood the test of time. Designed by Ron Holland, it hit a sweet spot in size that appealed to couples and families with world girdling plans.

Elegantly styled and well balanced, the 55 is also a practical design, with a deep and secure cockpit, comfortable seating, a self-tacking jib, dedicated stowage for the liferaft , a decent sugar scoop transom that’s useful for swimming or dinghy access, and very comfortable accommodation below. In short, it is a design that has been well thought out by those who’ve been there, got the bruises, stubbed their toes and vowed to change things in the future if they ever got the chance.

Throughout the accommodation there are plenty of examples of good detailing, from the proliferation of handholds and grabrails, to deep sinks in the galley offering immediate stowage when under way and the stand up/sit down showers. Stowage is good, too, with plenty of sensibly sized lockers in easily accessible positions.

The Discovery 55 has practical ideas and nifty details aplenty. She’s not, and never was, a breakthrough in modern luxury cruising but she is pretty, comfortable to sail and live on, and well mannered.


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

You can’t get much more Cornish than a Rustler. The hulls of this Stephen Jones design are hand-moulded and fitted out in Falmouth – and few are more ruggedly built than this traditional, up-for-anything offshore cruiser.

She boasts an encapsulated lead keel, eliminating keel bolts and creating a sump for generous fuel and water tankage, while a chunky skeg protects the rudder. She is designed for good directional stability and load carrying ability. These are all features that lend this yacht confidence as it shoulders aside the rough stuff.

Most of those built have had a cutter rig, a flexible arrangement that makes sense for long passages in all sea and weather conditions. Down below, the galley and saloon berths are comfortable and sensible for living in port and at sea, with joinery that Rustler’s builders are rightly proud of.

As modern yachts have got wider, higher and fatter, the Rustler 42 is an exception. This is an exceptionally well-mannered seagoing yacht in the traditional vein, with elegant lines and pleasing overhangs, yet also surprisingly powerful. And although now over 20 years old, timeless looks and qualities mean this design makes her look ever more like a perennial, a modern classic.

The definitive crossover size, the point at which a yacht can be handled by a couple but is just large enough to have a professional skipper and be chartered, sits at around the 60ft mark. At 58ft 8in, the Oyster 575 fitted perfectly into this growing market when launched in 2010. It went on to be one of the most popular models from the yard, and is only now being superseded by the newer Rob Humphreys-designed Oyster 565 (just launched this spring).

Built in various configurations with either a deep keel, shoal draught keel or centreboard with twin rudders, owners could trade off better performance against easy access to shallower coves and anchorages. The deep-bodied hull, also by Rob Humphreys, is known for its easy motion at sea.

Some of the Oyster 575’s best features include its hallmark coachroof windows style and centre cockpit – almost everyone will know at first glance this is an Oyster – and superb interior finish. If she has a flaw, it is arguably the high cockpit, but the flip side is the galley headroom and passageway berth to the large aft stateroom.

This design also has a host of practical features for long-distance cruising, such as high guardrails, dedicated liferaft stowage, a vast lazarette for swallowing sails, tender, fenders etc, and a penthouse engine room.


Privilege Serie 5

A true luxury catamaran which, fully fitted out, will top €1m, this deserves to be seen alongside the likes of the Oyster 575, Gunfleet 58 and Hallberg-Rassy 55. It boasts a large cockpit and living area, and a light and spacious saloon with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, masses of refrigeration and a big galley.

Standout features are finish quality and solid build in a yacht designed to take a high payload, a secure walkaround deck and all-round views from the helm station. The new Privilege 510 that will replace this launches in February 2020.

Gunfleet 43

It was with this Tony Castro design that Richard Matthews, founder of Oyster Yachts, launched a brand new rival brand in 2012, the smallest of a range stretching to the flagship Gunfleet 74. The combination of short overhangs and centre cockpit at this size do make the Gunfleet 43 look modern if a little boxy, but time and subsequent design trends have been kind to her lines, and the build quality is excellent. The saloon, galley and aft cabin space is exceptional on a yacht of this size.


Photo: David Harding

Conceived as a belt-and-braces cruiser, the Kraken 50 launched last year. Its unique points lie underwater in the guise of a full skeg-hung rudder and so-called ‘Zero Keel’, an encapsulated long keel with lead ballast.

Kraken Yachts is the brainchild of British businessman and highly experienced cruiser Dick Beaumont, who is adamant that safety should be foremost in cruising yacht design and build. “There is no such thing as ‘one yacht for all purposes’… You cannot have the best of all worlds, whatever the salesman tells you,” he says.

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .


Wauquiez Centurion 57

Few yachts can claim to be both an exciting Med-style design and a serious and practical northern European offshore cruiser, but the Wauquiez Centurion 57 tries to blend both. She slightly misses if you judge solely by either criterion, but is pretty and practical enough to suit her purpose.

A very pleasant, well-considered yacht, she is impressively built and finished with a warm and comfortable interior. More versatile than radical, she could be used for sailing across the Atlantic in comfort and raced with equal enjoyment at Antigua Sailing Week .


A modern classic if ever there was one. A medium to heavy displacement yacht, stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Pretty, traditional lines and layout below.


Photo: Voyage of Swell

Well-proven US legacy design dating back to the mid-1960s that once conquered the Transpac Race . Still admired as pretty, with slight spoon bow and overhanging transom.


Capable medium displacement cruiser, ideal size and good accommodation for couples or family cruising, and much less costly than similar luxury brands.


Photo: Peter Szamer

Swedish-built aft cockpit cruiser, smaller than many here, but a well-built and finished, super-durable pocket ocean cruiser.


Tartan 3700

Designed as a performance cruiser there are nimbler alternatives now, but this is still an extremely pretty yacht.

Broker ’ s choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

This yacht has already circumnavigated the globe and is ‘prepared for her next adventure,’ says broker Berthon. Price: £535,000 + VAT


Oyster 575 Ayesha

‘Stunning, and perfectly equipped for bluewater cruising,’ says broker Ancasta International. Price: £845,000 (tax not paid)


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

Nearly new and with a high spec, this Oyster Brokerage yacht features American white oak joinery and white leather upholstery and has a shoal draught keel. Price: $1.49m

Best bluewater yachts for performance

The Frers-designed Swan 54 may not be the newest hull shape but heralded Swan’s latest generation of displacement bluewater cruisers when launched four years ago. With raked stem, deep V hull form, lower freeboard and slight curve to the topsides she has a more timeless aesthetic than many modern slab-sided high volume yachts, and with that a seakindly motion in waves. If you plan to cover many miles to weather, this is probably the yacht you want to be on.


Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Besides Swan’s superlative build quality, the 54 brings many true bluewater features, including a dedicated sail locker. There’s also a cockpit locker that functions as a utility cabin, with potential to hold your generator and washing machine, or be a workshop space.

The sloping transom opens out to reveal a 2.5m bathing platform, and although the cabins are not huge there is copious stowage space. Down below the top-notch oak joinery is well thought through with deep fiddles, and there is a substantial nav station. But the Swan 54 wins for handling above all, with well laid-out sail controls that can be easily managed between a couple, while offering real sailing enjoyment to the helmsman.


Photo: Graham Snook

The Performance Cruiser winner at the 2019 European Yacht of the Year awards, the Arcona 435 is all about the sailing experience. She has genuine potential as a cruiser-racer, but her strengths are as an enjoyable cruiser rather than a full-blown liveaboard bluewater boat.

Build quality is excellent, there is the option of a carbon hull and deck, and elegant lines and a plumb bow give the Arcona 435 good looks as well as excellent performance in light airs. Besides slick sail handling systems, there are well thought-out features for cruising, such as ample built-in rope bins and an optional semi-closed stern with stowage and swim platform.


Outremer 51

If you want the space and stability of a cat but still prioritise sailing performance, Outremer has built a reputation on building catamarans with true bluewater characteristics that have cruised the planet for the past 30 years.

Lighter and slimmer-hulled than most cruising cats, the Outremer 51 is all about sailing at faster speeds, more easily. The lower volume hulls and higher bridgedeck make for a better motion in waves, while owners report that being able to maintain a decent pace even under reduced canvas makes for stress-free passages. Deep daggerboards also give good upwind performance.

With bucket seats and tiller steering options, the Outremer 51 rewards sailors who want to spend time steering, while they’re famously well set up for handling with one person on deck. The compromise comes with the interior space – even with a relatively minimalist style, there is less cabin space and stowage volume than on the bulkier cats, but the Outremer 51 still packs in plenty of practical features.


The Xc45 was the first cruising yacht X-Yachts ever built, and designed to give the same X-Yachts sailing experience for sailors who’d spent years racing 30/40-footer X- and IMX designs, but in a cruising package.

Launched over 10 years ago, the Xc45 has been revisited a few times to increase the stowage and modernise some of the styling, but the key features remain the same, including substantial tanks set low for a low centre of gravity, and X-Yachts’ trademark steel keel grid structure. She has fairly traditional styling and layout, matched with solid build quality.

A soft bilge and V-shaped hull gives a kindly motion in waves, and the cockpit is secure, if narrow by modern standards.


A three or four cabin catamaran that’s fleet of foot with high bridgedeck clearance for comfortable motion at sea. With tall daggerboards and carbon construction in some high load areas, Catana cats are light and quick to accelerate.


Sweden Yachts 45

An established bluewater design that also features in plenty of offshore races. Some examples are specced with carbon rig and retractable bowsprits. All have a self-tacking jib for ease. Expect sweeping areas of teak above decks and a traditionally wooded interior with hanging wet locker.


A vintage performer, first launched in 1981, the 51 was the first Frers-designed Swan and marked a new era of iconic cruiser-racers. Some 36 of the Swan 51 were built, many still actively racing and cruising nearly 40 years on. Classic lines and a split cockpit make this a boat for helming, not sunbathing.


Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

The JPK 45 comes from a French racing stable, combining race-winning design heritage with cruising amenities. What you see is what you get – there are no superfluous headliners or floorboards, but there are plenty of ocean sailing details, like inboard winches for safe trimming. The JPK 45 also has a brilliantly designed cockpit with an optional doghouse creating all-weather shelter, twin wheels and superb clutch and rope bin arrangement.


Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

For sailors who don’t mind exchanging a few creature comforts for downwind planing performance, the Pogo 50 offers double-digit surfing speeds for exhilarating tradewind sailing. There’s an open transom, tiller steering and no backstay or runners. The Pogo 50 also has a swing keel, to nose into shallow anchorages.


Seawind 1600

Seawinds are relatively unknown in Europe, but these bluewater cats are very popular in Australia. As would be expected from a Reichel-Pugh design, this 52-footer combines striking good looks and high performance, with fine entry bows and comparatively low freeboard. Rudders are foam cored lifting designs in cassettes, which offer straightforward access in case of repairs, while daggerboards are housed under the deck.

Best bluewater sailboats for families

It’s unsurprising that, for many families, it’s a catamaran that meets their requirements best of increased space – both living space and separate cabins for privacy-seeking teenagers, additional crew or visiting family – as well as stable and predictable handling.


Photo: Nicholas Claris

Undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories has been the Lagoon 450, which, together with boats like the Fountaine Pajot 44, helped drive up the popularity of catamaran cruising by making it affordable and accessible. They have sold in huge numbers – over 1,000 Lagoon 450s have been built since its launch in 2010.

The VPLP-designed 450 was originally launched with a flybridge with a near central helming position and upper level lounging areas (450F). The later ‘sport top’ option (450S) offered a starboard helm station and lower boom (and hence lower centre of gravity for reduced pitching). The 450S also gained a hull chine to create additional volume above the waterline. The Lagoon features forward lounging and aft cockpit areas for additional outdoor living space.

Besides being a big hit among charter operators, Lagoons have proven themselves over thousands of bluewater miles – there were seven Lagoon 450s in last year’s ARC alone. In what remains a competitive sector of the market, Lagoon has recently launched a new 46, with a larger self-tacking jib and mast moved aft, and more lounging areas.


Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

The FP Helia 44 is lighter, lower volume, and has a lower freeboard than the Lagoon, weighing in at 10.8 tonnes unloaded (compared to 15 for the 450). The helm station is on a mezzanine level two steps up from the bridgedeck, with a bench seat behind. A later ‘Evolution’ version was designed for liveaboard cruisers, featuring beefed up dinghy davits and an improved saloon space.

Available in three or four cabin layouts, the Helia 44 was also popular with charter owners as well as families. The new 45 promises additional volume, and an optional hydraulically lowered ‘beach club’ swim platform.


Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer /

The French RM 1370 might be less well known than the big brand names, but offers something a little bit different for anyone who wants a relatively voluminous cruising yacht. Designed by Marc Lombard, and beautifully built from plywood/epoxy, the RM is stiff and responsive, and sails superbly.

The RM yachts have a more individual look – in part down to the painted finish, which encourages many owners to personalise their yachts, but also thanks to their distinctive lines with reverse sheer and dreadnought bow. The cockpit is well laid out with the primary winches inboard for a secure trimming position. The interior is light, airy and modern, although the open transom won’t appeal to everyone.

For those wanting a monohull, the Hanse 575 hits a similar sweet spot to the popular multis, maximising accommodation for a realistic price, yet with responsive performance.

The Hanse offers a vast amount of living space thanks to the ‘loft design’ concept of having all the living areas on a single level, which gives a real feeling of spaciousness with no raised saloon or steps to accommodation. The trade-off for such lofty head height is a substantial freeboard – it towers above the pontoon, while, below, a stepladder is provided to reach some hatches.

Galley options include drawer fridge-freezers, microwave and coffee machine, and the full size nav station can double up as an office or study space.

But while the Hanse 575 is a seriously large boat, its popularity is also down to the fact that it is genuinely able to be handled by a couple. It was innovative in its deck layout: with a self-tacking jib and mainsheet winches immediately to hand next to the helm, one person could both steer and trim.

Direct steering gives a feeling of control and some tangible sailing fun, while the waterline length makes for rapid passage times. In 2016 the German yard launched the newer Hanse 588 model, having already sold 175 of the 575s in just four years.


Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

Jeanneau leads the way among production builders for versatile all-rounder yachts that balance sail performance and handling, ergonomics, liveaboard functionality and good looks. The Jeanneau 54 , part of the range designed by Philippe Briand with interior by Andrew Winch, melds the best of the larger and smaller models and is available in a vast array of layout options from two cabins/two heads right up to five cabins and three heads.

We’ve tested the Jeanneau 54 in a gale and very light winds, and it acquitted itself handsomely in both extremes. The primary and mainsheet winches are to hand next to the wheel, and the cockpit is spacious, protected and child-friendly. An electric folding swim and sun deck makes for quick fun in the water.


Nautitech Open 46

This was the first Nautitech catamaran to be built under the ownership of Bavaria, designed with an open-plan bridgedeck and cockpit for free-flowing living space. But with good pace for eating up bluewater miles, and aft twin helms rather than a flybridge, the Nautitech Open 46 also appeals to monohull sailors who prefer a more direct sailing experience.


Made by Robertson and Caine, who produce catamarans under a dual identity as both Leopard and the Sunsail/Moorings charter cats, the Leopard 45 is set to be another big seller. Reflecting its charter DNA, the Leopard 45 is voluminous, with stepped hulls for reduced waterline, and a separate forward cockpit.

Built in South Africa, they are robustly tested off the Cape and constructed ruggedly enough to handle heavy weather sailing as well as the demands of chartering.


Photo: Olivier Blanchet

If space is king then three hulls might be even better than two. The Neel 51 is rare as a cruising trimaran with enough space for proper liveaboard sailing. The galley and saloon are in the large central hull, together with an owner’s cabin on one level for a unique sensation of living above the water. Guest or family cabins lie in the outer hulls for privacy and there is a cavernous full height engine room under the cabin sole.

Performance is notably higher than an equivalent cruising cat, particularly in light winds, with a single rudder giving a truly direct feel in the helm, although manoeuvring a 50ft trimaran may daunt many sailors.


Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

A brilliant new model from Beneteau, this Finot Conq design has a modern stepped hull, which offers exhilarating and confidence-inspiring handling in big breezes, and slippery performance in lighter winds.

The Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 was the standout performer at this year’s European Yacht of the Year awards, and, in replacing the popular Oceanis 45, looks set to be another bestseller. Interior space is well used with a double island berth in the forepeak. An additional inboard unit creates a secure galley area, but tank capacity is moderate for long periods aboard.


Beneteau Oceanis 473

A popular model that offers beam and height in a functional layout, although, as with many boats of this age (she was launched in 2002), the mainsheet is not within reach of the helmsman.


Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

The Philippe Briand-designed Sun Odyssey range has a solid reputation as family production cruisers. Like the 473, the Sun Odyssey 49 was popular for charter so there are plenty of four-cabin models on the market.


Nautitech 441

The hull design dates back to 1995, but was relaunched in 2012. Though the saloon interior has dated, the 441 has solid practical features, such as a rainwater run-off collection gutter around the coachroof.


Atlantic 42

Chris White-designed cats feature a pilothouse and forward waist-high working cockpit with helm position, as well as an inside wheel at the nav station. The Atlantic 42 offers limited accommodation by modern cat standards but a very different sailing experience.

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

All of the yachts in our ‘expedition’ category are aluminium-hulled designs suitable for high latitude sailing, and all are exceptional yachts. But the Bestevaer 56 is a spectacular amount of boat to take on a true adventure. Each Bestevaer is a near-custom build with plenty of bespoke options for owners to customise the layout and where they fall on the scale of rugged off-grid adventurer to 4×4-style luxury fit out.


The Bestevaer range began when renowned naval architect Gerard Dijkstra chose to design his own personal yacht for liveaboard adventure cruising, a 53-footer. The concept drew plenty of interest from bluewater sailors wanting to make longer expeditions and Bestevaers are now available in a range of sizes, with the 56-footer proving a popular mid-range length.

The well-known Bestevaer 56 Tranquilo  (pictured above) has a deep, secure cockpit, voluminous tanks (700lt water and over 1,100lt fuel) and a lifting keel plus water ballast, with classically styled teak clad decks and pilot house. Other owners have opted for functional bare aluminium hull and deck, some choose a doghouse and others a pilothouse.


Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

The Boreal 52 also offers Land Rover-esque practicality, with utilitarian bare aluminium hulls and a distinctive double-level doghouse/coachroof arrangement for added protection in all weathers. The cockpit is clean and uncluttered, thanks to the mainsheet position on top of the doghouse, although for visibility in close manoeuvring the helmsman will want to step up onto the aft deck.

Twin daggerboards, a lifting centreboard and long skeg on which she can settle make this a true go-anywhere expedition yacht. The metres of chain required for adventurous anchoring is stowed in a special locker by the mast to keep the weight central. Down below has been thought through with equally practical touches, including plenty of bracing points and lighting that switches on to red light first to protect your night vision.


Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

The Garcia Exploration 45 comes with real experience behind her – she was created in association with Jimmy Cornell, based on his many hundreds of thousands of miles of bluewater cruising, to go anywhere from high latitudes to the tropics.

Arguably less of a looker than the Bestevaer, the Garcia Exploration 45 features a rounded aluminium hull, centreboard with deep skeg and twin daggerboards. The considerable anchor chain weight has again been brought aft, this time via a special conduit to a watertight locker in front of the centreboard.

This is a yacht designed to be lived on for extended periods with ample storage, and panoramic portlights to give a near 360° view of whichever extraordinary landscape you are exploring. Safety features include a watertight companionway door to keep extreme weather out and through-hull fittings placed above the waterline. When former Vendée Globe skipper Pete Goss went cruising , this was the boat he chose to do it in.



A truly well-proven expedition design, some 1,500 Ovnis have been built and many sailed to some of the most far-flung corners of the world. (Jimmy Cornell sailed his Aventura some 30,000 miles, including two Drake Passage crossings, one in 50 knots of wind).


Futuna Exploration 54

Another aluminium design with a swinging centreboard and a solid enclosed pilothouse with protected cockpit area. There’s a chunky bowsprit and substantial transom arch to house all manner of electronics and power generation.

Previous boats have been spec’d for North West Passage crossings with additional heating and engine power, although there’s a carbon rig option for those that want a touch of the black stuff. The tanks are capacious, with 1,000lt capability for both fresh water and fuel.

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full keel sailboat plans

full keel sailboat plans

  • Basic Kayaking Knowledge , Learn

15 Free Boat Plans You Can Build This Week (with PDFs)

Boatbuilding is one of the most ancient forms of craftsmanship still alive today. As long as our ancestors have had a curiosity about exploring open waters, they have been practicing and honing their boatbuilding skills.

To be honest, however, building a boat is no small task. It will require a lot of work and patience to ultimately create a finished product that you are happy with and that is actually seaworthy.

Of course, we have also included a few free boat plans. You can keep in your back pocket for the next time you are asked to build a cardboard boat as part of a contest or lakefront teambuilding adventure.

We hope that these resources help you in your journey to build your own boat!

Resources for free boat plans with PDFs

Photo by SeventyFour via Shutterstock

Free Boat Plans

Why build your own boat, 1. the wanigan, 2. the mouse, 3. the slipper, 4. the handy andy, 5. the junior, 6. the jolly roger, 7. the cork, 8. the hobby kat, 9. the tern, 10. the falcon, 11. the white duck, 12. the sea midge, 13. the zephyr, 14. the gypsy, 15. the crazy cardboard boat, 15 free boat plans you can build this week (with pdfs) – final thoughts, share on pinterest.

  • The Wanigan
  • The Slipper

The Handy Andy

  • The Jolly Roger
  • The Hobby Kat

The White Duck

  • The Sea Midge

The Crazy Cardboard Boat

full keel sailboat plans

Photo by Halsey via Shutterstock

There are a lot of reasons why you should explore building your own boat versus buying a pre-made model. Here is a quick breakdown of the most obvious benefits:

  • You will know the ins and outs of your finished boat better than anyone
  • It can be a great project to work on with your teenage or even adult children
  • You will gain valuable skills molding and shaping wood and other materials
  • You can design your boat for your specific needs
  • You don’t have to trust the sometimes-questionable manufacturing of mass-produced boats
  • You can create a boat that functions as your second home on the water
  • You can save money if you source materials mindfully

Of course, most first-time boatbuilders still experience some level of trial-and-error. With patience and perseverance, however, you can craft a one-of-a-kind vessel that has no equal anywhere in the world.

Free Boat Plans You Can Build This Week (with PDFs)

PC Duckworks Boat Builders Supply

The Wanigan boat began as a garvey design, which is one of the older boat plans known to the Americas. Traditionally, these boats were built as work scows and were very popular among American summer camps.

The design itself is very simple, but these boats can carry heavy loads. It can also handle a trolling motor being mounted to the stern so you can cover more ground if you want to use it as a fishing boat.

The creator of this boat plan became aware of some of the downsides of the garvey design, such as the heavier weight that made it less efficient than some other designs. So he combined elements of dory and wanigan designs to create a hybrid.

The main changes include an enlarged beam, tilted lathes to provide a stiffer hull, and knocking off the top strakes to reduce the boat’s overall weight.

The Wanigan text

These additional The Wanigan drawings   may also prove useful for your build process!

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The Mouse is one of the most compact and nimble boat plans we have found for this list. It is an easy build and also a great boat for two kids or a single teenage paddler.

The original builder began with a one-sheet boat design in an effort to create the lightest and most affordable boat possible. This means it is only suited for calm waters and should not be used in high winds or wavy conditions.

That said, it was built in roughly 12 to 24 hours of work time and doesn’t require a full workshop to construct. The main material that is required for building this boat is quarter-inch plywood. But the builder recommends using one-inch by half-inch pine or something a little sturdier.

The plywood and pine components are held together using a method called ”˜stitch and glue’. This method requires choosing one of the best glues for kayak outfitting , which are typically made of epoxy and glass tape rather than something cheaper like polyurethane.

The Mouse Instructions

Also, here are a few extra useful The Mouse Notes for builders

full keel sailboat plans

The Slipper is the first of many sailboat plans on our list and it is faster, easier, and cheaper to build than most. It also features a deeper cockpit than many other sailboat designs, which makes it safer for intermediate sailors.

This sailboat plan features dual steering stations so that you can sail from inside or outside of the helm. It also includes a centerboard trunk that hardly intrudes into the cabin at all. So that, it is easier to work around while you are in the cockpit.

The exterior hull and cabin of this sailboat feature a modified dory design using two sheets of plywood ripped to three feet wide before being joined together. The resulting hull is a modified V-shape that reduces drag.

The centerboard of this boat can also be winched up to the level of the top of the cabin or lowered down to alter the draft. This allows you to customize the boat design for a stiffer and more weather-worthy vessel if you need it.

The Slipper was also intentionally designed with an aft cabin that naturally helps to keep the bow pointed into the wind whether you are underway or the boat is anchored in the port.

The Building Slipper

full keel sailboat plans

PC DIY Wood Boat

The Handy Andy is a great little 10-foot portable rowboat for hunting, camping, fishing, and other recreational uses. It is actually the only folding boat design on our list, which makes it best for folks that need the most portable boat plan possible.

This boat features a 42-inch beam and a depth of about 15 inches at the mid-section. It also weighs roughly 80 pounds when assembled and can handle up to three average-sized human passengers.

The design boasts a flat bottom with canvas-bound edges and the primary material used for construction is ⅜-inch marine-grade plywood. Despite its lightweight nature, this rowboat can handle trolling motors or even outboard motors with a maximum of five horsepower.

Once finished, the hull can be folded or unfolded in less than a minute’s time.

This design makes it one of the only boats on this list that can be stored in a truck bed or easily carried by two people to be launched at more remote locations.

The Junior - Free Boat Plan

If you are looking for an all-purpose dinghy that can handle almost any use you might imagine, look no further than The Junior free boat plan. It can carry three or four average-sized adults and is much easier to row than a traditional dinghy.

It is also durable enough to be equipped with a small outboard motor. You could even set it up with sailing equipment if you want to use it as a sailing vessel. As we said, this is truly an all-around boat design!

This boat plan requires constructing three frames that will provide the majority of the load-bearing support. The builder recommends using ¾-inch framing with ⅜-inch plywood as the exterior material for this boat build.

Resin glue and flathead screws are also required to hold this boat together. But there is a full list of materials included in the plans we have linked to below. Sticking to that plan should also give you enough leftover materials to construct two six-foot oars for rowing this boat until you install a trolling motor or outboard motor down the line!

full keel sailboat plans

Channel your inner Captain Morgan when you are following these plans to build your very own Jolly Roger boat. This flat bottom boat design is designed for pond fishing . It can also be a useful yacht dinghy for getting from your dock to a larger vessel anchored offshore.

The plan follows conventional dinghy construction methods but also includes a few modifications that will save you time and energy. The wide design is super stable for boaters of all ages.

The keel, frame, chines, and risers are all cut from ¾-inch oak, ash, or any other trusted hardwood you can get your hands on. For the smaller components, the builder recommends using cedar, cypress, fir, or white or yellow pine.

Because this boat plan is also sturdy enough to handle a small motor, it includes important points for protecting the wooden hull from spark plug damage.

Be careful to follow these guidelines to build the safest boat possible if you imagine installing a motor down the line.

The Jollyroger

full keel sailboat plans

The Cork is another simple rowboat design. This one trends away from the flat bottom plans that we have included thus far. Instead, it features a deeper, V-shaped hull that makes it better suited to more efficient rowing and easier maneuverability.

It can be rowed easily from either seating position and is durable enough to handle up to three average-sized adult passengers. The ends of the boat are identical, which allows for multi-directional rowing.

The list of materials required for this boat plan should cost you between $30 and $50, depending on your location and hardware costs there. The resulting build is lightweight enough for two people to be carried and also to be transported on top of a vehicle .

Inside the boat, the builders use aluminum tubing to secure the struts that hold the seats. This material choice keeps the overall weight of the boat down while still adding the necessary rigidity across the beam of the boat.

full keel sailboat plans

The Hobie Cat is one of the most iconic and recognizable small sailing vessels ever made. This Hobby Kat plan is your answer to building your own iconic sailboat without spending thousands of dollars.

Your finished boat will be able to handle speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. It will be a super fun vessel for windy days on the lake or bay. The builder was able to construct the hulls, decking, and rudder for this boat while spending little more than $200.

From there, they purchased and installed the mast, boom, sail, and rigging, which brought the total amount spent to roughly $650 (still much less than a name-brand Hobie!). Without the mast and sail, this boat weighs roughly 165 pounds and is constructed using primarily 3/16-inch marine plywood.

You can also elect to build your own mast, boom, and sail if you have the time and skills to do so.

Those elements are not included in this boat plan, but they do offer some recommendations for where to buy these components!

The HobbyKat

full keel sailboat plans

Named after the common seabird found around the world, the Tern is a lightweight and nimble sailboat with a 72 square foot base design. She is made for inland sailing and planes very well in moderate breezes.

The hull design also provides minimal water resistance and the small floor plan makes this boat easier for intermediate sailors to handle. Even though it offers a small footprint, this boat is sturdy enough to handle up to four adult passengers.

One of the best things about this boat plan is that it can be built almost entirely by using only common hand tools.

Of course, you can speed things up if you have power tools and you are skilled enough to use them correctly.

The Tern boat plan includes a 20-foot mast, but you can shorten that length if you desire. The plan includes a complete list of materials and step-by-step instructions on how to plane and assemble each element.

full keel sailboat plans

As you might expect from its name alone, the Falcon is an incredibly speedy sailboat for its size. It boasts a 14-foot centerboard and can handle two to four passengers, depending on its size and weight.

In tests of the original build, the creators claim that this boat out-distanced many Snipe and Comet sailing vessels as well as pacing evenly alongside longer 18-foot sailboats. When finished, your boat will have a six-foot beam and a total weight of roughly 475 pounds.

For the main framing components, they recommend using white oak and plywood will be the main material used in the hull construction. The hull features a V-shaped that was inspired by larger schooners.

The Falcon is best suited to sailing on bays, lakes, and wide rivers. It is also a boat plan with just under 120 square feet of deck space and it is a great build for amateur craftsmen and sailors.

full keel sailboat plans

The White Duck is a flat-bottomed rowboat with a total length of 13’6” and a four-foot beam. The cockpit is approximately 15 inches deep all the way around and this boat can handle up to five passengers while maintaining buoyancy and stability.

When fully constructed, it will weigh roughly 200 pounds, but the final weight will depend on the type of lumber you choose for your build. This boat plan features plywood planking over solid wooden frames.

The White Duck is built with a pointed bow that cuts nicely through the water. The flat stern of this boat design will make it easy to attach a small outboard motor with a maximum of six horsepower.

As you might expect from its name, this rowboat is a great option for duck hunting trips. That being said, it is a highly versatile craft that can also be used for pond fishing or casual rowing on your nearby lake.

full keel sailboat plans

The Sea Midge is one of the smallest rowboats on our list and it is ideally suited for one average-sized rower or two small paddlers. It is only about 8 feet in length and offers a 52-inch beam at its widest point.

The Midge’s small dimensions make her ideal for navigating narrower creeks and streams. With an approximate weight of 62 pounds, she is easy to maneuver on the water and can also be much more easily transported than some of the larger boat plans on our list

The Seamidge

full keel sailboat plans

The Zephyr is a compact and speedy dinghy sailboat that measures roughly 14 feet long and approximately five feet across. This boat style was originally developed for safely crossing the English Channel. This means it can stand up well in rough waters.

When finished, it is also light enough to be transported on a small trailer or on top of a larger vehicle.

The boat plan calls for using hemlock or fir for the framing and oak or Douglas fir for the keel and chines.

full keel sailboat plans

The Gypsy is a small cruising sailboat that is meant to be equipped with an outboard motor for powered locomotion. The original design resulted in an incredibly seaworthy vessel that logged more than 6,000 nautical miles in her lifetime.

It includes a comfortable cabin that makes it well-suited for multi-day sailing adventures. This boat plan includes improvements on the original design that will help you build an extremely durable and long-lasting sailboat.

The Gypsy boat design will help you construct a vessel that can handle a motor up to 25 horsepower so that you can enjoy cruising speeds of up to nine miles per hour.

While it may require a bit more of an investment in time and money, it will also help you produce one of the best boats you can build with a free boat plan!

full keel sailboat plans

PC Saint Dominic Catholic School

Finally, let’s talk about a crazy cardboard boat plan that you can build in less than a day. This is a great boat plan to bookmark for your next teambuilding project so that you can earn bragging rights with your coworkers.

The plan calls for using 1.5 sheets of cardboard. But you can use the remaining half sheet to build your own boat paddle if you want to get creative.

Triple-thick cardboard is best for this boat plan. But you can always double up thinner sheets if that is all you can find.

These plans include an easy-to-follow diagram for marking, cutting, and folding the cardboard sheets to create the hull of your boat. From there, it calls for using contact cement and construction adhesive to seal the edges and corners.

If you are looking to save a little money on this build you could also use duct tape and then wrap the entire design in plastic sheeting to provide waterproof qualities.

Overall, this build is one of the cheapest and easiest on our list. It is also a great project for hot summer camp days on the lake or river!

full keel sailboat plans

Photo by Alexandra Soloviova via Shutterstock

We hope that you now have a couple of free boat plans to inspire you to begin your own construction project.

Don’t hesitate to check out YouTube for some useful boat-building videos when you are getting into the nitty-gritty of these build processes!

Enjoyed 15 Free Boat Plans You Can Build This Week (with PDFs)? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the Kayakhelp journey.

Free Boat Plans You Can Build This Week (with PDFs)

Peter Salisbury

Pete is the Owner of Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

full keel sailboat plans


  1. Winter Wren 19 Full Keel Plans

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  2. Lit’l Coot 18 Full Keel

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  3. Great Bluewater Sailboats ... Full Keel Cutter

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  4. How I Became a Full-Keel Convert–Part Two

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  5. Sailboat Keel Types: Illustrated Guide (Bilge, Fin, Full)

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  6. Sailboat Keel Types: Illustrated Guide (Bilge, Fin, Full)

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  1. Episode 2 the Keel

  2. #sailboat #keel

  3. Yellowtail From a Kayak

  4. Sailboat Shopping

  5. Building the Keels

  6. Truth


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    BOAT PLANS & FULL SIZE PATTERNS - Package Includes latest sail boat plans, SAILBOAT building plan updates & revisions, PLUS direct contact with the designer. This rugged sailboat is a spin-off of the popular Roberts 392will appeal to those that favor the modern ling fin keel / seperate skeg and rudder configuration.

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    BOAT PLANS & FULL SIZE PATTERNS - Package Includes latest sail boat plans, SAILBOAT building plan updates & revisions, PLUS direct contact with the designer. ... The design features a modern long keel configeration that is popular with many of our builders. SEE MORE: VOYAGER 600 WOOD / EPOXY SEE MORE. BOAT PLANS & FULL SIZE PATTERNS - Package ...

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    Two sailboats plans in one ! A pocket cruiser with a double chines hull. - LOA 4.50 m x beam 1.80 m - SA 12 m² - Weight 295 kg - Weight full load 580 kg - Cruiser for three ( CE D/3 protected waters ) One double berth, a single bunk, galley and toilet locker. Full plans in PDF with 3D building guide and photos.

  16. Ted Brewer Yacht Design

    Round-bilged, carvel planked, full keel hull. A go-anywhere cruiser. SP-$50 US/ FP-$495 US; MB&S 35 35'to 37' well proven full keel, ocean going cutter with excellent accommodations for a family, or two couples, for extended blue water cruising. Construction is of strip planking on bulkhead framing and plans are available as flush deck or ...

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    Lit'l Coot 18 Full Keel information is here. ... Winter Wren 19 Full Keel Plans $ 2.00 - $ 185.00; Sale! Guppy 9 Plans $ 2.00 - $ 95.00; Sale! Arctic Tern 23 Plans $ 2.00 - $ 265.00; Search for: Cart. Notice to our valued Devlin Boat customers. As always, if you have any questions about orders (past or present), don't hesitate to get ...

  18. 43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

    Allures 51.9 price: €766,000. The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a ...

  19. Boat Plans modern and fast swing keel cruising boat

    Modern and fast swing keel cruising boat designed for single or short-handed ocean sailing. Purchase Plans. The Explorer 39 is an easy to sail, shallow draught blue water cruising yacht. Provided with a pivoting keel and twin shallow depth rudders, she is a boat designed for ocean passages, possessing for that matter a high degree of positive ...

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    You'll see them sail in all corners of the world. The traditional canoe stern, bowsprit, and teak galore both on deck and down below make her a beautiful small cruising sailboat. She is one of the most sea-kindly monohulls out there with a full keel, a 3.55m beam and a well-balanced sail plan. Most Tayanas are cutters, but a few ketches were ...

  21. Yachts 24' to 35'

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