5 Most Affordable Sailboats
When searching for sailboats, “affordable” takes on many definitions. An affordable, world circumnavigating sailing cruiser can be in the millions of dollars while a dinghy racer can be had for a few thousand new. The best way to define affordable is to consider the value that is offered per dollar spent, and the specific function and target market for the boat.
Let’s look at some of the most affordable sailboats in their class.
1. Beneteau 30.1
An entry-level model and a perfectly capable pocket cruiser, the Beneteau 30.1 has much to offer for the daysailing and weekending crowd. The hull design is by Finot-Conq and the overall aesthetic follows the “.1” series that started with the Oceanis 51.1 in 2017. The foam core sandwich hull is svelte at the stem but runs wide aft with a hard chine just above the waterline. There are three choices of keel: a fixed shoal keel at 4’3”, a deep version at 6’2”, or a swing keel for easier beaching and trailering. Twin wheels are set on slim pedestals and there are integrated footholds to help keep the driver upright when heeling.
The standard (and only) interior layout includes a master stateroom in the V-berth and a guest cabin aft to port. Both cabins have doors for privacy. Beneteau managed to pack in the necessary amenities for coastal hopping and weekending so a couple can enjoy comfortable cruising on a compact and affordable platform. Expect to pay $175,000 for a well-equipped version.
Visit Beneteau to learn more.
2. Catalina 275 Sport
Something a bit more sporty and perfect for club racing, the Catalina 275 Sport offers GenXers an affordable landing place when they graduate from bare bones racers. The 275 will race mid-week but comfortably cruise on the weekends for around $75,000. The single-spreader rig rises 39 feet above the waterline and below, there’s a choice of keel (3’5” or 4’5”).
The emphasis is on the cockpit which dominates the exterior where a tiller does the steering. Below, this boat is loaded with smart details like a compact galley including a sink with manual water pump, a pull-out drawer that holds an Igloo cooler, and a one-burner butane stove. To port is an enclosed head with a Jabsco manual toilet and sink. Forward are two 6’5” berths that double as seats around a drop-down table and aft is a second berth long enough to store a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). A unique feature is zippered storage bags into which you can pack your clothing and necessities when at home and then slide them into tracks along the hull sides.
Visit Catalina Yachts to learn more.
3. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349
There’s a lot to love about the diminutive Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 that feels much bigger than its dimensions suggest. It makes a great entry level vessel for young families or a downsizing option for empty nesters wanting to do more with less. The Marc Lombard design has a sleek profile with a tapered hull that has a positive sheer for increased interior volume and a hard chine to add stability. Due to its beam of 11’ 3”, the 349 uses twin rudders to keep a grip on the water at all angles of heel.
The Selden fractional rig supports double aft-swept spreaders and a total sail area of 613 square feet with a classic mainsail and a 106 percent genoa. The large, manual drop-down transom provides bonus exterior living space on the swim platform while two or three cabins and a single head (with a stall shower) wrap up the accommodations below. The 21 HP Yanmar diesel engine makes easy work of motoring at six knots and the boat is a kick under sail. This is a versatile design that comes in at $150,000.
Visit Jeanneau to learn more.
4. Leopard 42 Catamaran
For multi-hull sailing catamaran enthusiasts, the South African builder, Robertson & Caine, offers some sizable options. The price tag reflects the fact that a catamaran is, in some ways, two boats—with twin hulls, two engines and redundant systems. Leopard builds for a number of charter companies and the Leopard 42 Catamaran, redesigned for 2021, is currently the baby of their fleet.
The steering station on the 42 is on the flybridge where guests love to hang out. Another favorite spot is the aft cockpit with a full outdoor dining area and easy access to the swim platforms on either side. Available with three or four cabins (all with island berths), the 42 offers en suite heads for all staterooms. Naval architects, Simonis & Voogd created a model that feels bigger than its 42 feet and since you can test her out for a week in charter, you can decide if this is the cat for you before committing to the half million dollar price tag.
Visit Leopard Catamarans to learn more.
5. Walker Bay 10 with Sail Kit
Walker Bay is a renowned builder of rigid dinghies, often used as tenders by motor yachts and power cruisers. However, these small boats, made of rotomolded plastic, are durable and can be rowed, motored or sailed with a conversion sail kit. The Walker Bay 10 sail kit combines a high-aspect battened mainsail with an aluminum daggerboard and retractable rudder to optimize speed and minimize leeway when sailing upwind. This versatile design can be rigged quickly, so it can be stored, sailed and transported.
The dinghy itself is $900 with the sail kit adding another $1,000. Kids learning to sail will love this boat as will cruisers who add an outboard for commuting or row to get exercise. The best part is that the Walker Bay 10 is light on needed maintenance and virtually indestructible so it will bring years of fun both sailing and otherwise.
There are dozens of boats like inflatable beach cats with racing rigs and daysailing trimarans that are priced significantly below the models above but as stated in the beginning, affordability is a moving target when searching for the perfect sailboat.
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