A sailboat is actually a powerboat of sorts. First, because on most sailboats a small outboard or inboard engine moves them when the wind won’t. And second, because the boat is always powered, whether by wind or engine.

That said, there’s an almost limitless variety of watercraft on which sails are raised, from the windsurfer with its simple board and windowed sail to the tall ship with its elaborate rigging.

Many sailors cut their teeth on a small cartop or trailerable boat with a sail or two and a deployable centerboard or daggerboard. The next step is a boat with a fixed keel, which is more stable but more worrisome in shallow waters. Larger sailboats often have at least a small berth or sleeping area below deck. Some, built for long voyages, have luxurious furnishings.

Distinguish sailboats from one another by size, hull configuration, keel type, number and deployment of sails, and the boat’s purpose and use. Then match those features to your sailing tastes.

Quick Stats

  • sailing
  • overnight cruising
  • day cruising
  • N/A Max
  • 7 - 70 ft
  • sail power
  • trailerable