Coastal Boating, Sailing, Cruising, Yachting, Racing, Coastal, Sailboat, Yacht, Fleet, Club, Regatta, Commodore, One design, Social, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Island, Seamanship, NE waters, NOAA, NWS


Choosing a Boat

Racing or cruising
Sail configuration
Hull configuration
New or used

The Perfect boat
Part 1
Part 2

The Ketch Rig
Why Cruisers like it
Versatile Rig
Ketch Trim

Cruising or Racing or Some of Both

Boats suitable for coastal sailing generally come in three categories: cruising, racing, racing/cruising. Multihulls can form a fourth category.

Sail configuration

Draft/Hull Configuration

Water/fuel capacity




Hanked on head sails

Lightweight materials

Deep draft

Fin keel

Canting keel



Coastal Cruising






Dacron cloth & roller furling headsails

Shallower draft

Full keel

Wing or bulb keel

Shoal keel



Private cabins or multiple quarter berths and more than one head




Two suits of sails – one for cruising one for racing


Fin, wing or bulb keel



Multiple berths, single head

Those labeled cruising boats tend to be heavier displacement vessels.  They could be classic shapes, have full keels, and multiple masts.  They tend to be comfortable, with good volume and amenities below, and seakindly motion in rough conditions. They may be fabricated of sturdier materials since weight is not a factor.  Even cruising sails tend to be heavier weight Dacron as opposed to lighter weight carbon fiber.  They do, however, tend to be slower to get going, and less nimble underway.  Examples of classic cruising boats are Cape Dory , Pacific Seacraft, Cabo Rico, Hinckley , Island Packet, Hans Christian, Hallberg Rassy and many more.  Some are more blue water than coastal cruising oriented.  If you’re not going to venture out on the ocean, then it probably does not make sense to buy a blue water vessel.   Some of the newer cruising boats are designed specifically for coastal areas and are designated “performance cruiser” which we have included in the category of racer/cruiser.

Racing boats are the exact opposite.  They tend to be Spartan in accommodations below deck, with very clean and sleek lines both above and below.  They tend to have a fin keel and deep rudder which makes them very nimble, especially at the start line of a race!  They are lightweight and tend to achieve higher speeds than heavier displacement hulls.  They also will carry maximum sail area, multiple sails for different conditions, and require a crew to help manage the sail inventory and balance the weight when heeling.  Examples of racing boats include the J boat series such as the J105, J109, and J120s, the Farr 40, and X-Yachts IMX 45.

Racer/cruisers offer the best of both worlds for the cruiser who does occasional racing, or vice versa.  Among the many manufacturers, they vary from the affordable Catalinas and Hunters to the extremely popular mid-range Jenneau, Beneteau, Sabre, Tartan, and C&C, and to the top-of-the-range Swans and Oysters.  It is not our intent to review the many options here, only to provide a guide for how to think about the options available.  For more information, you can obtain back issues of Practical Sailor containing reviews of many vessels.  There are also many reviews available online.    

Motor sailers tend to be hybrid vessels that have larger engines and smaller sail area.  Gulfstar, Irwin, and Nauticat are examples typical of this class, giving up some sailing performance for more luxurious and stable accommodations.  If you like performance under sail, these vessels are not for you.   

Multihulls offer the highest degree of stability and speed under normal wind conditions.  They also offer spacious and very private accommodations for multiple families or guests by virtue of separating the living space between two or more hulls, and providing a large shared area in between.  If your family doesn’t enjoy it when a boat heels and would prefer to sail upright, then a multihull may be the best choice for satisfaction all around, especially if you expect to sail in shallow areas or with multiple families on board.  Multihulls are gaining in popularity rather quickly because of their versatility and high comfort.

The main drawback to multihulls in coastal sailing is also their main attraction: the beam.  Be resigned to keeping your vessel on a mooring as you will find limited availability of dock space for multihulls in marinas.  Additional drawbacks to consider are limited opportunities for racing at this time and possibly less stability/righting ability in storm conditions at sea if you plan to go offshore. Interestingly, some of the fastest racing vessels in the around the world category are now multihulls.

Racing in J109s

Cruising/Racing in a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35.

Motor sailing aboard a Nauticat

Cruising on a Hallberg-Rassy 37

Sailing along on a Lagoon 440

Joy of sailingCoastal Boating (Reg. in Ireland No. 443222) is a division of Knowledge Clinic Ltd.
Port Aleria, Rosnakilly, Kilmeena, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland - USA: PO Box 726, Mahwah, NJ 07430
All content on this site is subject to Copyright© - All rights reserved.
Contact us - Advertising - Privacy - Terms & Conditions - Copyright & Trademark - Webmaster