We know that you’re serious about sailing when you finally think of venturing to the ocean. Who can resist dreaming of solo sailing through the Atlantic? This is an adventure to prove your advanced skills, strength, and experience.
But before going off on your ocean adventure, you need to plan and prepare. We cannot stress enough the importance of good equipment. There is a lot of sailboat types and models in the market and we want to help you choose the best one for your needs.
Do you know what hull, rigging, and keel types you will need? What’s the best material and model for you to buy?
We will guide you through important sailboat features needed for the cruise. Follow this review until the end and we will share the 11 best single-handed blue water sailboats for your solo ocean sailing!
- What Size Sailboat Is Best for Single-Handed Sailing
- What Type of Hull Handles Rough Water the Best
- Sailboat Keel Types for Blue Water Sailing
- Sailboat Rigging Types
- Single Person Sailboat Equipment and Gear
- 11 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing
What Size Sailboat Is Best for Single-Handed Sailing
If you are planning to manage your boat single-handedly, then size is an important factor to consider. It can affect the size of your accommodation, and maybe the boat’s design for speed and power.
Being alone, you need to have a clear overview of what is happening on your boat. This is especially important when maneuvering or for docking operations.
Experienced sailors can handle a 60-foot sailboat but novices would find it difficult with its steep learning curve. Check out the Vendee Globe if you don’t believe me. In general, a good sailboat size for single-handed sailing would range from 25 to 40 feet.
We recommend sailboats with sizes under 40 feet. These have good displacement and are great when against bad weather. They are solo-friendly and simply the most manageable.
But in the end, choosing a suitable size depends on your experience and preference. You need to consider your overall health, age, and physique. Make sure to have a complete understanding of your sailboat before going on your journey to prevent accidents.
What Type of Hull Handles Rough Water the Best
The hull or the main body of your boat comes in varying shapes and sizes. Each different type of hull is designed for specific purposes.
When venturing the blue waters, you need to have a hull design that could handle rough waters easily. The hull shape determines the performance of your sailboat and therefore, should align with your strengths and skills.
Today, the most popular design would be the heavy displacement hull. This design is intended for ocean cruising and longer sailing travels.
It has great stability and performs better the deeper the draft is. With this design, you would expect a slow and steady motion during your sea travels with minimal effort.
V-type hulls, on the other hand, are designed to plane or ride on top of the water. You can usually see these types of hulls on powerboats. The V-type hull usually has a bigger engine and best when dealing with choppy waters while moving at high speed.
Narrow beams are also a great option for those who are looking for another ocean friendly feature. These are usually seen in traditional sailboats.
Canoe stern or the double are considered to be the best sterns for offshore sailing.They help cut through a following sea and really helps prevent the waves from pushing the stern over too much. It also has great buoyancy and balance that is perfect for bluewater cruising.
The best materials for hulls would be fiberglass, metal, and aluminum. These are durable and could last for decades if properly maintained.
Aluminum is lightweight and has resistance to corrosion and impervious to magnetism. Boats built with aluminum are fast, stable, and seaworthy.
Fiberglass hulls need less attention. Currently, boats are usually made of fiberglass as the material is easier for companies and also great for seakeeping and stability.
Metal like steel has high abrasion resistance. It helps retain the boat’s appearance but can be prone to rust and corrosion.
Sailboat Keel Types for Blue Water Sailing
A keel is a fin-like blade found at the bottom of a sailboat. It supports the ballast and helps to control and steer the boat.
It is generally designed to stop the boat from getting blown sideways because of wind pressure. The full keel, modified full keel, fin skeg, and fin spade rudder are all suited for bluewater sailing.
A full keel runs along the full length of the boat – from the bow to the stern – which makes it the most stable in the water. It carries the vessel well and is the safest to use when grounding as it reduces the chances of damage.
This is most ideal when cruising and the most comfortable out of the four keel types with its minimal heel. Although the slowest on the list, it has great directional stability and steering capability.
An improved version is the modified full keel. It is a hybrid with improved windward performance and better heel reduction than the full keel. However, it made small concessions on its stability and comfort.
Meanwhile, the fin keel with skeg rudder has more strength and protection against damage and impact. It also has better mobility and steering capability.
This type has a faster speed and windward performance compared to the modified and full keel types. It is also more balanced, which is ideal for cruiser-racer types of sailboats.
Lastly, we have the fin with a spade rudder. This is the fastest type on the list but also the most vulnerable as the spade rudder greatly relies on the rudder stock. But if you want speed and great windward performance, then this type is the right one for you.
Sailboat Rigging Types
Rigging is the whole system of ropes, chains, and cables. It supports the sailboat mast and controls the sails’ orientation and degree of reefing.
Keel or Decked Stepped Mast?
There are two main groups of sailboat rigs, Deck Stepped and Keel Stepped. The main difference lies in the location of its mast step. Both are fine choices and the better rig would depend on your preference.
Just as its names suggests, you can find the mast stand on top of the deck with Deck Stepped and on the hull’s bottom with Keel stepped. This means that to reach the keel, the mast would need to pierce through the cabin.
Deck Stepped rigs have masts that are more flexible because of their contact points, and are easily adjustable for optimal performance. Keel Stepped rig is rigid and strong and offers slow and steady cruising.
Sloop or Ketch?
Now let’s move on and talk about Slope rigged and Ketch rigged. Which is better?
A sloop rig is simple. It is composed of a mast with a jib and a mainsail. Ketch, on the other hand, is more complex with its two masts with any foresail, main and mizzen mast combinations.
If you are choosing between Sloop and Ketch rigged sailboats for solo sailing, then we recommend Sloop. Although, Ketch is manageable and can be easily used with less strength and effort. This is perfect for cruising as it can work around multiple sailing conditions.
How Many Spreaders?
In terms of spreaders, you can freely choose between a single or dual spreader. This deflects shrouds and supports the mast. We do recommend dual spreaders but single spreaders are also good.
It’s just that double spreaders give the rig more strength and better sail control.
The cutter rig is sometime referred to as an inner forestay or baby stay. Simplest way of describing it is that you have two head sails instead of just one. Gives you more options on sail configurations.
Single Person Sailboat Equipment and Gear
Your sailboat would not be complete without gear and equipment. You might want to invest in autopilot or wind vane, furling headsails, electric windlass, life jackets, and AIS to make your voyage much easier.
Self Steering Gear
Wind Vane is an autopilot steering that you can use without electricity. It is usually placed on the back to catch the wind and respond to various wind conditions.
It automatically adjusts the rudders in response to the wind to alter the boat’s course. This is helpful because it’s like having another crew member on board you don’t have to listen to and feed.
Headsail furling or roller reefing is necessary for easier management of your headsails. It is important to have a functioning and updated roller furling system in order to reef, dowse, or stow the headsail efficiently.
Another item we would recommend is an electric windlass. You can choose one that works vertically or horizontally, depending on your needs. This will help you move the anchor effortlessly with a single button. Using the two windlasses that god gave you makes anchoring more difficult then it needs to be.
Life jackets are a must in every sailboat. Just be sure it fits you and that you know how to use it. Also, be sure to buy a coast guard approved product with a harness that could support your weight.
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) will help you avoid collisions. It is recommended to get a receiving and transmitting one when going solo sailing.
This way, you and the other boats with AIS within the radar area are alerted to each other’s speed, course, and direction.
Really, you won’t know what you might encounter in the ocean so you must always be prepared. We hope that these items will help you achieve a safer and more secure sailing experience.
11 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing
Now, here are 11 sailboats that are best for solo sailing. Any of these vessels are guaranteed to take you safely and comfortably anywhere around the world.
This is a long full keel fiberglass sailboat that was built from 1971 to 1981. Its design was based on a previous model, Kendall 32, and has an amazing interior size geared for comfortable cruising.
W32 is widely noted for its seaworthiness. It is built with a strong and durable design and materials to resist extreme sea conditions.
It was used on various voyages and circumnavigations. Its hull is a heavy displacement and double-ender type designed for long periods of sailing.
It is also a cutter-rigged sailboat equipped with a single mast, forestaysail, mainsail, and jib. Its overall length including the bowsprit and boomkin is roughly 40 feet, which is perfect for sailing single-handedly.
Most people would note that the speed and acceleration of W32 are quite slow. This is due to its larger wetted area and sometimes newbies’ mistake of carrying too much on board.
With the right keel, sails, and rig configurations you can improve on W32’s speed and weaknesses. As seen from David King’s documented modifications, W32 proved to be safe, steady, and fast when sailing on blue waters.
Albin Vega 27
Vega 27 is a modified full keel sailboat with a masthead sloop rig. It was designed around 1966 and became the most popular production sailboat in Scandinavia.
It has a unique look because of its reverse sheer commonly seen in smaller boats to increase the area of its interior. It is made with fiberglass, but has a narrower hull compared to similar sized boats in its class.
Its shallow hull has a large cutaway as seen with modified full keel designs. This can make her quite stiff, heeling to about 15 degrees when its shoulders are buried.
Still, it is great for single-handed sailing because of its manageability and balance under different conditions. You cannot help but admire its light helm and great tracking capability.
Vega’s light air performance is okay but it shines when the wind blows at 15 knots or more. It could even maintain its dryness even with rough waves and weather conditions.
The most comforting feature would be its control and stability at all times unlike other more modern vessels with spade rudders. Overall, it is safe and ideal for longer cruises offshore.
This 30-foot traditional sailboat could take you anywhere. Alberg is notable for its narrow beams, long overhangs, and full cutaway keel with its directly attached rudder.
It is strong and durable. Its materials were mostly aluminum, hand-laid fiberglass, and polyester resin. More ballasts were produced in later productions as the early ballast was built with iron as opposed to the original lead design.
Alberg is greatly influenced by folk boats in Scandinavia. It is built with fiberglass and has an interior with comfortable full standing headroom and a well-vented galley.
This classic design from 1962 is ideal to cross oceans and is used for various circumnavigations. Alberg is a stable and seaworthy boat that could even be used in casual racing. Its best point of sail seems to be a beam reach and close reach.
It is praiseworthy when crossing oceans. Unlike modern designs that tend to be thrown around on rough seas, Alberg’s narrow beam design slices through big and rough waves and moves quickly. Under extreme weather conditions, it could perform heaving-to and lying-a-hull with no problems.
Pacific Seacraft 34
Pacific Seacraft 34 is a smaller heavy displacement semi-long keel sailboat based on the highly successful Crealock 37. It has the same graceful lines and appearance as the Crealock and is known as the Voyagemaker.
It is built with comfort and safety in mind with its large overhanging bow and beautiful sheer line ending with a traditional canoe stern. Constructed with the highest standard, it is a seaworthy sailboat that is ideal for bluewater voyages.
It is a cutter-rigged sailboat with skeg-hung rudders and control lines being fed back to its cockpit. The smaller cockpit may feel cramped but its design lowers the risk of flooding.
Still, it has a great interior suited for living aboard. It has a large headroom, comfortable galley, and up to five berths for comfortable cruising.
Although you may feel some hobby-horsing windward because of the overhangs, Seacraft 34 is overall a very balanced boat with great upwind performance. It has outstanding control capabilities and is able to sustain surfing speed with ease.
This is a double-ended full keel cruiser designed by Bob Perry and built-in Taiwan in response to the rising popularity of Westsail 32. It was offered to the market as a semi-custom boat and built with high-quality materials.
You can modify the internal layout and can choose a ketch, cutter, or pilothouse version. There is an option to use wood or aluminum spars. The mast could also be keel-stepped or deck-stepped.
Before, only 20 were ketch sailboats due to the popularity of the cutter design at that time. Now, ketch has proven to be faster and more balanced between the two.
Tayana is relatively faster than any sailboat in its class. Its best point of sail is in its broad reach. It also tracks well windward, and is an ideal choice for the trades. It is also great how the cockpit is secured from any flooding even when traveling.
Today, a lot of people are still actively sailing this. Tayana 37 has become well known for offshore and blue water sailing.
Canadian Sailcraft 36 Traditional
Canadian Seacraft is well known for its fiberglass racer and cruiser. CS 36 is a small traditional fin keel sailboat with a masthead sloop intended for recreational use. It is seaworthy and has good performance in different weather conditions.
It was designed by Raymond Wall and had a production run between 1978 to 1987. It remains to be popular in both north and south borders.
It is a beautiful sailboat with a graceful sheer line and balanced overhangs at both bow and stern. Its details and quality in design and production are clearly of a higher tier.
It is mostly built with fiberglass and balsa wood. It is equipped with an internally mounted spade transom hung rudder. All of its lines lead to the cockpit, which is ideal for single-handed sailing.
CS 36 Traditional also has a deep-depth draft and wide beams with great access to the cockpit and foredecks. It is wide and spacious, which is perfect for comfortable cruising.
The sailboat has great proportion and traditional aesthetics. It is simple and straightforward, which makes it ideal for bluewater sailing.
Hallberg Rassy 352
This is a sturdy and high-quality sailboat built between 1978 to 1991. It features a progressive design, combining a walk through with the aft-cabin from the main saloon. It is made with a tall and standard rig each supported on double and single spreaders, respectively.
Hallberg Rassy 352 has a nicely balanced hull sporting a fin keel with rudder on skeg, a generous beam, and a 45 percent high ballast ratio. Its water and fuel tanks are placed low in the keel to improve sail carrying ability.
Its production spanning 14 years allowed for continuous improvements in its specifications. Newer sailboats have raised hulls for bigger headroom in the under the deck, aft cabins, and the walkthrough. Engines were also replaced by a Volvo and later a Penta Turbo or the bigger MD 22.
It is impressive how they balanced good interior and sailing performance. It has great seakeeping ability and smooth motion in heavy seas, easily an ideal sailboat for singlehanded sailing.
Corbin 39 was designed based on a Dufour design named Harmonie, increasing freeboard, and flushing the deck. Its style is influenced by the classic Scandinavian cruiser, Westsail 32.
It has a long fin keel, blunt bow, and a high freeboard. It was sold as kits, and various deck molds were produced. They have pilot, aft, and center cockpit variations.
It was made of sturdy and high-quality materials. The earlier version’s decks were of marine grade mahogany but it was later changed with Airex foam. Its lead ballast was encapsulated with fiberglass for added protection.
Earlier boats had a single spreader main or a turbocharged double spreader. Later, Corbin used 49 feet double spreader rigs instead, and all were deck-stepped.
Corbin 39 is truly a strong and seaworthy vessel. With its fin keel and skeg rudder, cutter rig, and reefed main combinations, it could take anyone safely and comfortably anywhere in the world.
Valiant 40 took its looks from Scandinavian double-ender sailboats. It had a successful production run that spanned for 47 years. It proved to be one of the pioneers for modern blue water designs.
Its hull is made from thick hand-laid fiberglass, bolted and covered with teak. Its ballast is cast with lead bolted to the keel stub. Lastly, the skeg is constructed separately from hull molding and encased with fiberglass before being fastened to the hull.
It has a beautiful bow and sheer lines and a longer LWL for maximum speed. At the back are a non-spacious cockpit and a canoe stern ideal for bluewater sailing operations.
Under the waterline is a fin keel with its skeg hung rudder. It perfectly matches with the cruising hall above, minimizing wetted surface area
Overall, Valiant 40 is a seaworthy vessel with great blue water performance. Extremely balanced and well-mannered, it can withstand extreme weather conditions with ease and minimal effort on your part.
It soon gained a reputation as a fast water passage-maker with high integrity. Now, it is regularly used for circumnavigations by solo sailors and voyagers.
If you like a sailboat with a proven track record, then Contessa 32 is for you. It is a seaworthy racer-cruiser with good all-around sailing capabilities released in 1971.
Like its younger sister, Contessa 26, it has great speed, integrity, and affordability. Contessa 32 is a definite combination of old and new with its traditional narrow beam, a full hull with a fin keel, and fiberglass rudder protected by a skeg found in more modern yachts.
It has marked overhangs and a narrow tuck-up stern. It has less headroom below in return for its lesser wind resistance.
This configuration delivers fast racing speed and great stability. It could definitely withstand extreme weather and rough waves. Contessa 32 is claimed to be able to right itself when rolled or capsized.
Contessa 32 is known for its forgiving nature. It has a responsive helm and excellent windward performance. With its astounding stability, it can carry full sail for up to 25 knots.
Fast Passage 39
Fast Passage 39 was designed by William Garden and is said to be a legendary cruiser with speed, ruggedness, and fame. It is a stout double-ender comparable to the Valiant 40.
It has the same LOA and LWL as Valiant and also has nearly identical ballast and displacement. The difference is its narrower frame and more evolved underwater shapes resulting in flatter forward and aft keel sections and less wetted area. It also has great directional stability as its rudder allows great control under wind vane and down steep waves.
It is a high performing sailboat but also difficult to find as only 41 were produced. A part of the group was offered as hull and deck kits intended to be finished by the sailboat owners.
Fast Passage 39 also has a proven track record and has won single-handed blue water races. It performs great under a wide range of conditions, especially in light winds.
By now you should have some idea what makes a vessel Bluewater friendly. There are hundreds of vessels that can make long distance voyage safe and enjoyable. These examples above are just a few examples of the Best Single Handed BlueWater Sailboats.