How to choose the right sailboat for your sailing goals
How to choose the right sailboat for your sailing goals

Choosing the right sailboat for your family's sailing adventure is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of various factors.

How to Choose the Right Sailboat for Your Sailing Goals

Embarking on a sailing adventure with your family is an exciting and life-changing decision. One of the most important aspects of this journey is choosing the right sailboat to suit your needs and goals. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various factors to consider when selecting the perfect vessel for your family’s sailing adventure.

Table of Contents

Understanding Your Sailing Goals

Before diving into the specifics of sailboats, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your sailing goals. Consider the following questions:

  • What type of sailing do you plan to do? (Coastal cruising, bluewater cruising, racing, etc.)
  • How experienced are you and your family in sailing?
  • How much time do you plan to spend on the boat?
  • What are your long-term sailing plans?

Having a clear vision of your sailing goals will help you narrow down your options and make an informed decision when choosing the right sailboat.

Types of Sailboats

There are various types of sailboats, each with its own set of characteristics and advantages. Here are some of the most common types of sailboats you may encounter:


A monohull sailboat has a single hull and is the most traditional type of sailboat. Monohulls are known for their excellent upwind performance and ability to handle rough seas. They are available in various sizes and designs, making them suitable for a wide range of sailing goals.


A catamaran has two parallel hulls, providing a stable and spacious platform for sailing. Catamarans are known for their speed, shallow draft, and ample living space. They are ideal for families who prioritize comfort and stability while sailing.


A trimaran has three hulls, with the main hull in the center and two smaller hulls on either side. Trimarans offer a combination of speed, stability, and space, making them suitable for those who want the best of both worlds.


A motorsailer is a sailboat equipped with a powerful engine, allowing it to be propelled by either sail or motor. Motorsailers are ideal for those who want the flexibility of sailing and the convenience of a motorized vessel.

Size and Layout

The size and layout of a sailboat are crucial factors to consider when choosing the right boat for your family. Here are some aspects to keep in mind:


The length of a sailboat will significantly impact its handling, performance, and living space. Smaller boats (under 30 feet) are generally easier to handle and maintain, making them suitable for beginners or those with limited sailing experience. However, they may lack the space and amenities needed for long-term cruising.

Larger boats (over 40 feet) offer more living space, storage, and comfort, making them ideal for extended cruising or living aboard. However, they can be more challenging to handle and maintain, especially for inexperienced sailors.


The layout of a sailboat refers to the arrangement of its interior spaces, including cabins, heads (bathrooms), galley (kitchen), and salon (living area). Consider the following when evaluating a sailboat’s layout:

  • Number of cabins: Ensure there are enough cabins to accommodate your family comfortably.
  • Heads: Having more than one head can be convenient, especially for larger families.
  • Galley: A well-equipped galley is essential for preparing meals while cruising.
  • Salon: A spacious salon with ample seating and storage is crucial for comfortable living aboard.

New vs. Used Sailboats

When choosing the right sailboat, you’ll need to decide between purchasing a new or used vessel. Both options have their pros and cons:

New Sailboats


  • Customization: You can choose the layout, equipment, and finishes to suit your preferences.
  • Warranty: New boats typically come with a warranty, providing peace of mind and protection against defects.
  • Minimal maintenance: New boats require less maintenance initially, allowing you to focus on sailing.


  • Higher cost: New sailboats are generally more expensive than used ones.
  • Depreciation: New boats depreciate quickly, meaning their value decreases significantly in the first few years of ownership.

Used Sailboats


  • Lower cost: Used sailboats are typically more affordable than new ones, allowing you to get more boat for your budget.
  • Proven performance: A used boat has a track record, allowing you to evaluate its performance and reliability.
  • Room for upgrades: Purchasing a used boat may leave room in your budget for upgrades and improvements.


  • Maintenance: Used boats may require more maintenance and repairs, especially if they have not been well-maintained by previous owners.
  • Unknown history: It can be challenging to know the full history of a used boat, including any accidents or damage.

Budget Considerations

When choosing the right sailboat, it’s essential to consider not only the purchase price but also the ongoing costs of ownership. Some factors to keep in mind include:

  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Insurance
  • Mooring or marina fees
  • Fuel and water costs
  • Provisioning and supplies

Ensure you have a realistic understanding of the costs associated with owning a sailboat and factor these into your overall budget.

Inspecting a Sailboat

Before making a final decision, it’s crucial to thoroughly inspect any sailboat you’re considering. Here are some key areas to examine:

  • Hull and deck: Check for signs of damage, cracks, or repairs.
  • Rigging and sails: Inspect the condition of the rigging, mast, and sails, looking for wear or damage.
  • Engine and mechanical systems: Ensure the engine and other mechanical systems are in good working order.
  • Electrical systems: Test all electrical systems, including lights, instruments, and appliances.
  • Plumbing and water systems: Check for leaks or issues with the water and waste systems.
  • Safety equipment: Ensure all required safety equipment is present and in good condition.

It’s also a good idea to hire a professional marine surveyor to conduct a thorough inspection of the boat, as they can identify potential issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye.

Making the Final Decision

Choosing the right sailboat for your family’s sailing adventure is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. By understanding your sailing goals, researching different types of sailboats, and thoroughly inspecting potential vessels, you can find the perfect boat to embark on your journey.

Remember that no sailboat will be perfect, and compromises may need to be made. However, with patience and diligence, you can find a sailboat that meets your needs and allows you and your family to experience the freedom and fulfillment of life on the open sea.