Choosing the Right Sailboat for You

Once you learn to sail, you’ll want to buy a boat of your own. But what kind?
  • Traditional wisdom says to start with something small, maybe a dinghy or simple sloop (single-masted boat with two sails), hone your skills and move up. That’s great for your kids –a boat that can capsize will teach you to sail very quickly – but most adults are better off investing in a small keelboat, something in the 22- to 27-foot range. A boat like this is easy to sail, roomy, safe and affordable, and won’t repay mistakes with a swim. It will have more capacity for guests, will be able to carry gear for day-long cruises or even overnights (and keep it dry) and will have basic creature comforts—a head (toilet) and icebox at least, and maybe simple cooking facilities, too. There are lots of boats like this to choose from; start your search here: Buy a new sailboat.
  • Because your skills will grow quickly once you start sailing frequently, don’t buy a boat so safe and stodgy it’ll put your grandmother to sleep. Instead, find out what boats are popular in your home waters, especially among racing sailors. Even if you don’t race, you’ll soon want the performance of a racer. One thing all sailors enjoy is coaxing more speed from their boats, and that’s more fun if the boat has the speed potential to start with. A better performing boat will more effectively repay your growing skills and will thus be more fun to sail. And when it’s time to sell and move up, you’ll find more buyers if there’s an active racing fleet nearby.