Boat Guide

Best Cruising Sailboats on a Budget

best cruising sailboats

Who says going on an adventure has to come at a steep price? The best cruising sailboats don’t always cost a fortune. In fact, you can explore different harbors and sail through tourist hot spots or hidden gems on a budget. Below, we’ve curated some of the best cruising sailboats for people on a budget.

Best Cruising Sailboats

It’s a myth that the best cruising sailboats always come with a steep price tag. Most of the time, you just need to take account of your priorities for an ocean adventure and then go from there. Usually, you’ll find a sailboat in your budget with just the right balance between creature comforts and sea faring capability. With this in mind, we took the liberty of reviewing the most affordable sailboats for you.

1. Hunter 31

best cruising sailboats
image by winterssailing.com

To start with, we present the Hunter 31, lauded not only for its affordability but also for its versatility. To illustrate, the Hunter 31 can function as both a dayboat and a family cruiser. This midsize cruiser is a beloved classic that can be found in most of the country’s marinas. While their general build is not their strongest suit, its interior spaces and ample storage are. Once you finish cruising and found a place to settle, you’ll find that the Hunter 31 will provide you with a comfy temporary home.

2. Cal 25

Cal 25
image by gjenvick.com

Secondly, we have to talk about the Cal 25, which is recognized as one of the world’s best-performing sailboats. Even if this sailboat is just 25 feet long, it has a surprisingly spacious cabin area with an almost 6-foot headroom. Aside from the impressive space it offers, this beloved sailboat is fast and easy to handle. Thus, you can use it for either racing or leisurely cruising. If you’re just starting out with cruising, the Cal 25 is a great boat to learn the ropes.

3. Freedom 36

freedom 36
image by yachtworld.com

Following the Cal 25, we also need to tell you about the Freedom 36 – a sea kindly vessel owing to its simple handling and design structure. It has a spacious cockpit along with wide and comfortable benches perfect for lounging.  Although they’re not the most stylish sailboat, their interiors are outstanding. You can really tell that much though was put into its layout and seat configuration. Consequently, this cruising sailboat is very livable.

4. Endeavor 37

best cruising sailboats
image by endeavourowners.com

Fourthly, we cannot forget about the Endeavor 37. If you value comfort and safety over windward sailing performance, then this is the sailboat for you. It’s not the fastest, neither is it the most stable. However, it has a heavy build that makes for great onboard living. Because of these qualities, the Endeavor 37 is more suitable for certain destinations. Specifically, it will perform better near the Florida Keys or Bahama Islands.

5. Niagara 35

niagara 35
image by cruisingworld.com

The Niagara 35 is another contender for best cruising sailboats when you’re on a budget. With style and above average cruising ability, this boat is certainly one for the books. If you plan to circle through the South Pacific or the Caribbean, the Niagara 35 is sea-kindly enough for this purpose. It gets high scores for livability, in part because of its interior layout that has a ton of stowage capacity. While it’s not the fastest boat, it’s notably comfortable for offshore cruising. The above average handling of this vessel makes it a perfect vessel for close couples looking to have an ocean adventure.

6. Catalina 38

best cruising sailboats
image by cruisingworld.com

Next, the Catalina 38, whose roots can actually be traced to a raceboat. With its sleek form, this sailboat has a notably exceptional upwind performance. Additionally, its design and build quality has created a loyal following that further gives credence to its enduring qualities. Being a staple in club races, the Catalina 38 is also comfortable to live in. Thus, they also make for a superior cruising boat.

7. Ranger 26

ranger 26
image by sailboatdata.com

Alternatively, you’d also get great bang for your buck with the Ranger 26 – an impressive racer-cruiser suitable for a family of sailors. One of the most notable accolade for this model is winning the 1970 IOR North American Half-Ton Cup. Despite its speed, this sailboat still remains comfortable. In fact, it has a pretty decent head room for its size. The Ranger 26 is not just a great sailboat for racing and cruising. Its spacious cockpit is also good for hosting guests. 

8. Sabre 28

best cruising sailboats
image by moreboats.com

Another sailboat worth mentioning is the Sabre 28. Stylish and compact, this sailboat is not one to be scoffed at. Despite its size, it’s actually quite nimble. As a matter of fact, it often made an appearance in various races when it first came out. Nowadays, they are mostly used for coastal cruising due to size and tank limitations. However, it’s not impossible to use it for offshore cruising. Just keep in mind that the space below deck can be a bit cramped for extended trips.

9. Bristol 40

bristol 40
image by moreboats.com

Finally, rounding up our list of the best cruising sailboats is the Bristol 40. This model may be old, but that’s no reason to put it on the back burner. Now, we’ve mentioned several boats in this list with both cruising and racing capacity. Similarly, the Bristol 40 is no different. It has a traditional look which many people might appreciate. Moreover, it can run on a respectable speed despite its size. Perhaps the only qualm people have about this boat is the relatively small living space below deck.

So, which is the best cruising sailboat for you?

As can be seen above, there are a range of options if you’re looking for the best cruising sailboats that are affordable. Just to clarify, these sailboats are listed in no particular order. That is to say, they are not ranked according to performance, livability, or sea faring capability. It’s up to you to assess which best satisfies your boating requirements. Specifically, you should consider the kind of sailing you do as well as the conditions you’ll likely encounter.

Lena Horner
the authorLena Horner
Lena Horner is a LA Galaxy fan who does freelance writing and marketing. A graduate of UCLA with a degree in Marketing, she enjoys the outdoor. Lena enjoys the outdoor and is constantly convincing her partner to live in an RV fulltime.

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