Reviewing the Best Sailboats for 2021
Eagle Class 53
Catalina 22 Sport
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For some, there are fewer things in the world that trump the sheer joy you get from enjoying some water sports . There’s something so surreal about floating in the middle of the sea, surrounded by water on all sides stretching out to infinity. It’s truly a sight to behold.
Now, if you thought the feeling you get onboard a basic motor-powered boat was exhilarating, you haven’t had the sailboat experience. There’s no better way to enjoy nature than cruising stealthily through the water silently, using nothing but the wind to propel you forward.
Now, that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you take in the majesty and magnificence of the sea.
If you’re in the market for a new boat, we’ve put together a comprehensive review of the best sailboats, as well as a buying guide to help you pick the right one.
Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Best Sailboats
Sailboats don’t come cheap. So, if you end up buying the wrong one, well, let’s just say you’re stuck with it. It is, therefore, very important that you take your time and apply some logic to avoid regret later on. Here are the major factors you need to consider when choosing the best sailboats.
1. Size of the Boat
The first thing you need to consider is the size of the boat you need. Do you intend to be cruising in the company of friends and family, or do you plan to do it by yourself?
Will you have a crew with you when you embark on your sailing expeditions, or will it be purely for entertainment? Will you be living in your boat full-time, or do you intend to use it only on the weekends?
The answers to these questions will determine the size of the boat you’ll need.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Many first-time boat buyers often make the mistake of thinking that getting a large boat is the best decision since they plan to have it for decades to come. They look for one that will meet every single one of their present and future needs. Here are a couple of reasons why bigger isn’t always better when buying a sailboat.
- Safety considerations – You require a substantial amount of skill to operate a large boat. If you’re not all that skilled and end up purchasing a big boat, you’re essentially endangering your life and that of the other boaters.
- Learning curve – It’s easier to pick up on the nuances of operating a smaller sailboat than it is a larger one since the feedback you get is almost instant. This makes it easier to learn as you work your way up to larger vessels. The learning curve on a big boat, however, is pretty steep, and critical errors can cost you a lot more than you bargained for.
- Associated costs – The rule of thumb to remember is: The larger a boat is, the higher its associated costs will be. Don’t buy a boat designed for the open seas if you intend to be using it on small bays.
- Low resale value – There’s also the risk of buying a boat that’s too big, only to regret your decision a few short sails later. The unfortunate reality is – you might be stuck with it for several years to come since it’s quite difficult to sell large vessels.
2. Boating Location
Next, you need to think about is – where you’ll be boating. Sailing on Lake Michigan, for instance, is vastly different from sailing on the Atlantic. The same logic applies when boating on smaller rivers.
If the water isn’t deep enough, based on how far down into the water your keel goes, let’s just say you’ll be in for an unpleasant grounding experience. You need to pick the right vessel for the environment you’ll be sailing in.
3. Boating Experience
If this is your first-ever sailboat (or any boat for that matter), then going with a large model is probably not the best thing. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who purchased boats that were too big, only for them to end up losing control of their vessels in the open water.
We recommend starting small and working your way up from here as you gain more experience.
4. Use of the Boat
We touched a bit on this in the preceding sections. But, in this case, we mean “use” in reference to your budget.
If you want to buy a sailboat primarily for entertaining, then you need to get one that’s large enough to host the number of people you intend to have onboard. Keep in mind, though, that it may be at the expense of certain luxury, convenience, and comfort features.
Likewise, you might find a sailboat with loads of useful amenities, but without enough space to accommodate the people who might enjoy them. There’s no point in buying a boat that comes with a kitchen and grilling station, but without enough room to accommodate the number of people who might enjoy fresh grilled fish. Or maybe you want a boat that only you will use – in which case you may prefer one with a comfortable and attractive cockpit for yourself, seeing as you’ll be the main person enjoying it.
Size generally trumps luxury when buying a sailboat. Then again – it depends on what you intend to use it for.
5. New vs. Used Sailboats
The other thing you need to think about is whether you’re buying a new or used sailboat. Each option has its own set of pros and cons. For one thing, buying a brand new boat means that it’s ready to hit the open waters the moment you own it.
On the other hand, buying a used sailboat means that you may have to make repairs and upgrades before you can set sail. You also have to think about the costs associated with such repairs and the time required to do all the legwork to get the right gear.
So, ensure that you factor in these costs when coming up with your boat budget. That way, you’ll be able to tell if it makes sense to buy a new boat versus a used one, based on the overall cost for each. Don’t buy a lemon that turns into an infinite money-pit all in the name of saving a couple of bucks.
What to Check for When Buying a Used Sailboat
If you’re going the previously-owned route, here are a couple of things you need to check for before you sign on the dotted line.
- Deck and hull – Check that the deck and hull are dry and intact. If not, you’ll have to budget for repairs if you go ahead with the purchase.
- Electrical work – Rewiring a boat is a very complex and expensive process. Get a certified electrician to examine the existing electrical work before you buy a used boat.
- Engine – It’s always a good idea to bring a mechanic onboard during the purchase process just to make sure that everything is in excellent working condition. They are better-placed to give you a true picture of the boat’s existing state.
- Safety equipment – Last but not least, you need to keep in mind that insurance service providers usually require sailboats to have a minimum amount of safety equipment onboard. If anything is missing from the boat you’re about to purchase, you will need to buy them, which will no doubt drive up the cost.
6. Recurring Costs
The recurring costs associated with owning a sailboat aren’t exactly cheap. Buying the vessel is only one part of the process.
You’ll need to pay for insurance, which is more expensive for larger boats. You also need to think about storage costs if you don’t own property on the waterfront. There’s also the cost of docking and mooring at the various locations you visit.
So, when calculating your overall budget, don’t forget to factor in these costs as well.
Research, Research, Research
When looking for the best sailboats, ensure that you do your homework. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for years of additional expenses, work, stress, and heartache.
Get something ideal for your needs and won’t take up too many resources in maintenance and upkeep. All in all, with the right sailboat, you’re in for one helluva ride! Any of the 9 best sailboats detailed in this guide are excellent options worth looking into.
In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a new pontoon boat, check out our comprehensive review on the 10 best pontoon boats.