8 Types Of Small Sailboats ─ A Complete Guide

Are you ready to start your sailing adventures? Small sailboats make this dream possible, with the perfect combination of affordability and usability. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sailor, there are small sailboat models that will meet your needs. These boats come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from classic wooden skiffs to modern keelboats.

Small sailboats are generally boats under 20 ft long, they can come in a wide variety of designs, with different hulls. For any enthusiast, and lover of boats and open water such as you will find on, knowing which small sailboat is best for you, is very important.

Some models can include catamarans, monohulls, trimarans, and such. All they need is a mast, rubber, sail, and a size less than 20 ft, in order to be considered a small sailboat.

Small boats are believed to be one of the best types of boats for handling, they also tend to be better for sailing in general. However, when you are looking for the best sailboat for you, it will not be the same as the best sailboat for someone else.

About Small Sailboats

When considering types of small sailboats, note how they are designed. It depends on what your sailing goals are, but a person will ultimately choose based on how they intend on sailing.

If you had a Hobie catamaran, for example, you will probably be using it for recreational purposes. However, for shallow drafts, you would need something that can handle shallow waters without taking hull damage, such as a monohull.

Here are some small sailboats to consider.

1. Marblehead Daysailer


This is a traditional-looking monohull perfect for anything relative to small sailboats. Even though it is compact, there is still plenty of room for guests on board.

It’s got a cockpit almost 12ft, it can seat several people, and has a stowaway cuddy too. With a bulb keel, it still isn’t ideal in shallow water.

2. Laser

A laser is a small sailboat often raced. They’ve been used in the Olympics each year since’96. Lasers generally tend to capsize if they are not handled correctly. These are good beginner boats, however, they are best for calm conditions.

3. Catalina Sport

The Catalina 22 Sport has earned a reputation as one of the best small sailboats for many years. It has many simple amenities for different goals in sailing, however, it also has a retractable keel allowing for shoal draft exploration.

For boats of this size, it can sleep up to 4 people and even has a swim ladder in the back. Sailors which are used to simple designs will also appreciate its roller furling jib, mainsail, and fractional rig.

Under 25 feel, it is the queen of small sailing boats.

4. Cape Cod Daysailer


This Daysailer was one of the first of its kind in the ‘50s, it could travel in many ways, from racing, cruising, or as a pleasure craft.

Around 1,000 were built by various shipyards, however, Cape Cod still produces them. For a 16 ft sailboat, it also packs a punch with affordable pricing and enough space for a small family.

5. Bay Raider

Bay Raiders are small sailboats that are easy to navigate and put on trailers for transport. What is great about them is that around the whole 20 ft is an open cockpit. However, on rough waters, it is ideal to add a spray hook which may add stability with 300 lbs of ballast.

6. Beetle Cat

For those who enjoy solo rides, this is a good ride, it’s got a 2 ft draft and is around 12 ft in length which makes it ideal for coastal cruising in tight spaces. It has a single gaff-rigged sail and has loads of power, even in light air. It is nice to use even in rough waters.

7. West Wight Potter

This has a specific model, the P19, which is one of the best small sailboats. It is only just under 20 ft and has a galley, dink, 4 berths, stove, and a cooler. It is also in a closed-cell form on the aft and fore which makes it nearly unsinkable.

8. Norseboat

These boats are 17.5 ft and are great for sailing and rowing. It is not ideal in rough waters, but it has amazing load capacity and many opportunities to bring gear with no fear of the boat getting weighed down.

How to Choose?


First, it’s important to think about what kind of boat will best suit your needs. Consider your sailing skill level and the type of terrain that you plan to sail on. You may want a boat that is easily maneuverable for areas with shallow water or one that is built for larger bodies of water with more wind. Also consider size; if you plan on recreational cruising, then a small boat might suit your purposes better than a larger craft.

Next, make sure you choose a boat that meets local safety regulations and isn’t too expensive for your budget. The cost of repair, maintenance, insurance, docking fees, and so on can add up quickly, especially if you’re new to sailing. Research different brands and models online to see which ones are best recommended by experts in the field and what their costs are estimated for upkeep.

Thirdly, look at the features available with each model before making your selection. A good place to start is determining what kind of sails or rigging will work best based on where you’ll be sailing most often as well as whether you need additional storage space or other accessories such as GPS navigation systems or autopilots. Additionally, inspect the hull thoroughly for any cracks or weak spots before making any purchases so that you know it is safe to use in deep waters and other conditions.

Finally, when shopping around compare prices between stores since they could vary drastically depending on the availability and age of the sailboat in question. Before purchasing anything take time out for practice sessions to get accustomed to the particular model beforehand so even more informed decisions can be made afterward without any regrets later on down the line when its too late to do anything about it anymore after the investment has been done already due to poor planning in terms of gathering info prior deciding for purchase!

Honorable Mentions

  • Montgomery
  • CW Hood
  • Sun Cat
  • Sunfish
  • Catalina
  • Hobie
  • Hunter
  • Super Snark
  • Flying Scot
  • RS Venture
  • RS Aero
  • Topaz
  • WRTango
  • Minicat
  • Vancouver 28.


While these are not the only small sailboats out there, these are some of our favorites, and now you are ready to start your sailing adventures. Small sailboats can be really beneficial, however, always make sure that you choose the right one for your needs, as every small sailboat is different.

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