Easy to rig, simple to toe, compact, manageable, maintainable, and affordable, all the perfect small sailboats have one thing in common: they always provide an adventurous tour in the sea.
So, either you are looking for something light on the pocket or just an adventure enthusiast wanting some safe daytime ride, the perfect small sailboats are the sole good means to fulfill your call.
After all, honestly, everybody does not need large 30 ft sailboats for cruising. However, large boats offer a lot of features like bunks, refrigeration, entertainment, and electronics. But are these features necessary for just boating? Well, I guess not.
When cruising, you only require a boat, a sail, a rudder, and a mast. Thus, nothing can offer you the ultimate adventures of coastal cruising better than small sailboats. Small sailboats not only provide you a breezy feel in the water but also offer you the opportunity to sense every change in trim instantaneously.
12Best Small Sailboats
The market has a wide variety of small sailboats that measure less than 20 ft in size. Moreover, they are quite hit products as they offer great fun in the water.
With this guide, you may equip yourself with all the necessary information about the top 12 small sailboats. My top picks are just perfect as they’re simple to sail, easy to rig, and time-tested. Thus, if you were looking for a listing of the perfect small sailboats, you’re certainly on the right post.
Keep scrolling to read on for the best small sailboat picks.
Hunter 22 is a clever boat for a very fair price. It retains the hull of its predecessor- Hunter 216, featuring an open transom and a large cockpit. However, it is made of fiberglass with balsa-cored topsides and a solid bottom section.
Furthermore, the deck is a bit changed, having a 40 sq. ft. larger rig. Similar to Hunter 216, it, too, features a hydraulic ballast keel. The Hunter 22 is primarily designed to offer a thin line between “go-fast mini-sport boat” and “fun family daysailer and weekender”.
You can select between either half of them according to your requirements.
The cruising package features a simple electrical system, a portable toilet, and a V-berth in the small cuddy cabin. Whereas, the performance package offers an asymmetric spinnaker, a retractable bowsprit, mid-cockpit traveler, hiking grips, and straps in the cockpit.
- Hunter 22 is a daysailer.
- It offers a portable toilet.
- The manufacturers offer an optional electrical system with Hunter 22.
- The boat features a large cockpit and open transom.
- It offers a cuddy cabin and twin bunks.
- It features a hydraulic lifting centerboard and laminated fiberglass deck and hull.
- Fair priced
- Easy for trailing
- Faster than most of the other boats available in the market
- Versatile and family-friendly
- Might need some replacement parts
The retractable keel and basic amenities allow the Catalina 22 Sport to be trailered easily. Basically, the Catalina 22 Sport is an updated design of its predecessor Catalina 22.
The large cockpit is enough to seat a crowd. It offers a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib, a cabin that provides bedding for four with a forward hatch for ventilation, and a retractable lead keel.
In essence, the Catalina 22 Sport is more of a family-friendly racer. Also, it offers an alternative to choosing an older boat.
Besides, the Catalina 22 Sport offers the value and quality Catalina has come to expect since 1970. It is simple to rig and an excellent sail to step up from dinghy sailing to budget cruising.
- Catalina 22 Sport is a daysailer.
- It offers an adjustable outboard motor bracket.
- The boat features a comfortable cockpit with contoured coamings.
- It has an anodized aluminum mast and boom.
- It offers low stretch halyards and internal halyards.
- Catalina 22 offers a complete standing and running rigging.
- Many interior features, including Fiberglass Hull Liner, molded Headliner, and Low Glare Texture.
- Easy for trailing with its swing keel
- Simple to rig without a complicated setup
- Fast in speed
- Stability and reliability
- Features spacious cabin
- If you choose some old models, you will need some replacement parts.
- Not much trendy considering the interior and upholstery
The legendary Hobie Cat 16 has revolutionized boating. Firstly, it belongs to a proud watersports lineage, which within a few years of the foundation was loved by thousands.
Secondly, The Hobie Cat 16 is either used as a daysailer or a racer. The double banana-shaped hulls easily cut through the water, and the boat gets going fast even in light winds, as the aluminum alloy frame and two sails catch wind considerably.
Thirdly, there would certainly be no complete roundup of fun, trailerable, and small sailboats without any mention of the venerable Hobie Cat 16. The large trampoline provides a spacious platform to move about. Moreover, it offers many optional features, including a beach dolly, trailer, douse kit, a spinnaker, and a main and a jib.
In essence, it is a classic boat; enthusiasts and collectors covet it alike. Undoubtedly, it has the pedigree to prove that it is the red Ferrari in the world of cruising.
- The mast is 26 ft 6 inches tall and weighs about 320 pounds.
- The boat is 16 ft 7 inches in length and 7 ft 11 inches in width.
- Two color options are available.
- The dual-trapeze rig offers you harness its sheer power.
- The asymmetrical fiberglass hulls offer lift
- Low maintenance sailboat
- Reasonably priced
- Perfect for a Small Crew
- Easy to trailer
- Simple to rig
- Sailing may be hard when you’re alone.
In essence, the Norseboat 21.5 offers everything an expensive trailer-sailer does. It features a sensible centerboard arrangement, contemporary, good fit and finish, high-quality construction, and sea-kindly underbody.
The value of Norseboat 21.5 lies in its charm. You will easily fall under its spell if you are into the idea of a solid and easy-to-sail boat. The price tag looks much higher for a small 21 ft boat. However, the hype of Norseboat 21.5 tells you that it’s worth it.
Moreover, the NorseBoat 21.5 offers several configurations: one with a small cockpit and cabin that has a double berth for two adults and an optional berth for children, and another with an open cockpit and smaller doghouse.
Each of them comes with a ballasted stub keel and centerboard and carries the brand’s exclusive carbon fiber gaff-rigged mast. Also, the lightweight design of the Norseboat 21.5 offers easy rowing and a simple trailer.
- Norseboat 21.5 offers a lightweight design.
- It offers two different configuration options.
- Norseboat 21.5 has rowing stations.
- It features an electric outboard.
- The hull and deck are of fiberglass with a wood core.
- Comfortable and versatile
- Fair priced
- Easy for trailing
- Expensive compared to the other sailboats on the list
Barney Lehman and W.D. Schock designed the Lido 14. It is an American sailing dinghy that was built in 1958 for the very first time.
In essence, the Lido 14 is a classic sailboat that proves to be a perfect pick to suit small boats, especially for the owners who are still learning the ropes of boating.
The Lido 14 is just perfect for shorthanded racing, single-handed sailing, and solo sailing. It offers seating arrangements for about six people at most.
In the first year of its launch, two hundred Lido 14 boats were ordered. And, around 6300 Lido 14s had been built for 40 years. Today, a new Lido 14 boat is not available in the market; however, you will not regret ever getting a functional used boat.
Thus, the Lido 14 makes your investment worth it and serves you well throughout the journey.
- It offers a retractable centerboard raised with stainless steel straps.
- The hull features a near-vertical transom, a spooned plumb stem, and a transom-hung rudder controlled by a tiller.
- It has a fractional sloop rig with a loose-footed mainsail and anodized aluminum spars.
- Has the car top capability
- Easy in handling
- New models not available
RS Sailing is primarily known for its line of racing dinghies. It built the 16-ft, 4-in sized Venture, which is such a perfect training and cruising dinghy.
The Venture offers a large, self-draining cockpit that can accommodate a group of friends or a family. Whether you are just messing about with your family or friends, club sailing, or just up for casual racing, RS Venture delivers the best with all its features. It is among the most versatile and nimble dinghies for sailing the masses.
In addition, the RS Venture can carry up to eight people in its self-draining cockpit. The excellent performance makes it adventurous; the multiple equipment options allow several boat configurations.
Moreover, the RS Venture is the winner of multiple awards. The excellent stability makes the boat ideal on coastal water, offering an advantage to those learning the sport.
More importantly, The RS Venture has the potential to carry more people in it than its dinghy rivals.
- The RS Venture offers a spacious platform.
- It features a rear back storage.
- The boat also offers reverse transmission.
- It has an open cockpit with high buoyancy.
- The exterior is composed of plastic and dual carbide.
- Can be car toped
- Versatile and stable
- Simple to handle
- Good looking
- A bit expensive
The Super Snark is a simple, lightweight, lateen-rigged daysailer, marketed as the “Super Sea Snark.” It is fun sailing, easy to learn, unsinkable, and simple to set up, and transport. Most of the people who get it find it satisfying to their sailing requirements.
Moreover, Super Snark is highly portable and storable. It can easily load onto your vehicle due to its construction and light-weight. In addition, the roof racks with slide-out loading bars make moving much easier.
Termed as unsinkable, the Super Snark is built with EPS foam, with the external hull and deck, which is vacuum-formed to the deep with ABS. polymers. The Super Snark weighs approximately 50 lbs having a capacity load of 310 lbs. It can carry two people at once.
- It has the capacity for two people.
- The internal hull leaves no void as it is filled with EPS foam, making the boat unsinkable.
- Mast, spar, and boom are of aluminum.
- It is made of recycled plastic.
- It weighs approximately 50 lbs
- Car top-able
- Recyclable construction material
- Easy to learn
- Simple to setup
- Not family-friendly
The Laser is one of the most popular single-handed racing sailboats available in the market. With its simple rigging and simple design, Laser started single-handed racing 50 years ago when it came out. Interestingly, with over two lacs made, it is the most popular race boat in the world.
Everyone enjoys the Laser, from club racers to Olympians. It is a simple vessel to own and rig, which rewards practice and good sailing techniques. The Laser is built with updated foils and sail controls.
Moreover, a three rigs system allows the sailors to enjoy boating. It offers a seating capacity for two people. This boat is a fiberglass lightweight model easy for capsize and recovery.
- It has the capacity for two people seating.
- Includes the upgraded Vang, Cunningham, and Outhaul controls
- The boat features heavy fiberglass hull construction with aluminum spars.
- It has a small rudder with a lower boom.
- Worldwide popular and recognized racer
- Car top capability
- Stable and easy to handle
- A bit hard to sail
If you are looking for a good looking sailboat with excellent performance, the Paine 14 is here for you. It features a contemporary fin keel and spade rudder, which makes it more agile and faster.
In essence, Paine 14 is an old-time appeal with its varnished gunnels and transoms. However, it offers all the modern features every updated boat has. You can rig this boat with a gaff or a Marconi rig and can trailer it behind a vehicle.
In fact, Paine 14 can sail under mainsail alone due to the large flotation compartments fore and aft. The rig is simple, with an unstayed carbon-fiber mast and a mainsail bent onto its spars.
Overall, the Paine 14 feels like a favorite classic daysailer when you sit in it. The bronze hardware, the slatted-wood cockpit sole, and the varnished trim; all of these are elegantly designed. The cockpit ergonomics are seamless, and the sail controls fall perfectly to hand.
- It features a modern fin keel and spade rudder.
- The boat is built in seamless epoxy cold-molded wood construction.
- It has parallelly fitted fiberglass battens to the luff, which extend from the leech to the foot of the sail.
- Easy for trailing with its fin keel
- Good prevention of slippage
- Simple to rig without a complicated setup
- Features spacious platform
- Not much trendy in looks
The FarEast 18 is a low maintenance 19-ft vessel that offers high speed cruising in the sea.
Equipped with an open deck, the Far East 18 offers excellent performance. It offers great safety and stability due to its design. The hull has a beautiful shape that can be easily handled.
The lifting keel and the removable rig makes it easy to transport by a trailer. It takes a square-top fixed mainsail and an asymmetrical spinnaker, which is a driving force for buoy racing. The Far East 18 can compete with six crew but also offers bedding for three people when you are staying out overnight.
Moreover, this vessel features an updated bulb keel with carbon structure, vacuum-infused foils, and fiberglass hull. Best of all, a single person can easily rig and launch FarEast 18. Moreover, you can trailer this boat easily with a displacement below 1500 pounds.
All in all, Far East 18 is an excellent little sailboat available in the market.
- Small cabin instead of a reduced deck
- It features an updated bulb keel.
- The boat features a spacious cockpit.
- It has a lightweight structure.
- It is constructed with a vacuum infused polyester sandwich.
- Not too brutal on the pocket
- Fast speed
- Comfortable and low maintenance
- Modest Price
- Easy for trailing
- Versatile and family-friendly
- Does not perform well in strong wind
The Sage 17 was designed in 2009 by Jerry Montgomery. It is a small, stable, go-anywhere vessel, featuring a transom with a balsa core, a carbon fiber deck, and a cabin roof.
The Sage 17 is a 1300 pound vessel. It comes with a loose-footed main and a working jib that sheets inside the lifelines. There is a kick-up rudder, a 120-lb centerboard, and a 400-pound lead keel that will not strand while cruising through shallow water.
In addition, this boat is simple enough for beginners and sophisticated enough for experienced sailors. It is manufactured to handle your adventures with safety. It comes with a non-skid covering on the horizontal surfaces, a bow pulpit, transom-mounted boarding ladder, and a self-draining cockpit.
Moreover, this model is hand-built with vinyl ester resin, fiberglass, and carbon fiber in a lapstrake style to offer you enhanced strength. The cabin and deck are made of a balsa core and carbon fiber.
The Sage 17 sails fast in light air and provides unruffled travel as the wind blows more strongly. You will definitely enjoy hindrance free comfort in the airy open cabin. And, you can get customized cabin cushions that are available in different colors.
- Jib downhaul lead for the cockpit
- Cabin-top mounted winches and jib tracks
- Internal halyards
- Single reef main and working jib, with running rigging
- Complete mast and stainless-steel standing rigging
- Fiberglass and vinyl ester lapstrake hull with a carbon fiber
- Carbon fiber and vinyl ester deck with a balsa core
- A variety of options available to choose from
- Simple enough for beginners
- Safe and durable
- Quite reasonably priced, considering all the features
- Might require some replacement gears
The Montgomery 17 was designed for Montgomery Boats by Jerry Montgomery in conjunction with Lyle C. Hess. It was manufactured with centerboard and keel models.
The Montgomery 17 offers more stability than most of its rivals. And, when it comes to comfortability, the Montgomery 17 again stands above the rest.
This boat has the capability of going about moderate offshore passages. You can easily trailer it as it is small enough in size.
Moreover, it is designed with a masthead and toe rail that fits most of the foresails. It has a proper amount of storage area, a DC power, an optional shore, and seating arrangements for two people offering a headroom, a pair of bunks, and a portable toilet.
Overall, the Montgomery 17 is among the giant-killers of the market when it comes to performance. Though small in size, it makes its way past its larger rivals and excels in the extremes.
That is not just it; using a four-part gear, you can easily uplift the deck-stepped mast.
- The hull type is swing keel.
- A flush deck version is also available.
- Some versions feature a fixed keel.
- There are three types of keel configurations available; retractable keel, shallow draft fixed keel, and a shallow draft fixed keel in conjunction with a centerboard.
- Quite faster than its rivals
- Outstanding racing record
- Favorable handicap
- Not suitable for deep sea
The Wrap Up
Hitting the water with the right sailboat can be an overwhelming task for many. To ease this process, the list above has narrowed down the 12 perfect small sailboats.
While there are infinite sailboats available in the market, the sailboats, as mentioned above, will serve you right and make you enjoy the ride.
However, in my opinion, the best of all is none other than the Catalina 22 Sport as it is the most moderate pick of all. You don’t have to compromise on either the quality or affordability.
In my opinion, you must not spend too little or much for too low or too high quality. A moderate model will serve as the perfect pick for you. Thus, Catalina 22 Sport being moderately robust and not-so-expensive wins my heart.