Boat Guide

Best Small Sailboat Under 20 Feet: Daysailer’s Guide

best small sailboat under 20 feet

There are several reasons you may be looking for the best small sailboat under 20 feet. It could be for the simplicity of handling a smaller boat, lack of a desire to commit to larger boats, or the more practical reason of having budget constraints.

Whatever your reason may be, we’ve listed a few sailboats below which will surely satisfy the bill. Continue reading to check them out.

Best Small Sailboat under 20 Feet

Perhaps one of the primary reasons people opt for a smaller sailboat is budget constraints. Other reasons you may be looking for the best small sailboat under 20 feet may include easy handling, portability, and speed. Obviously, small sailboats under 20 feet have cheaper maintenance and operational costs. Moreover, they are also easier to get underfoot, transport, and store. All of the boats below satisfy these criteria.

1. Marlow-Hunter 15

best small sailboat under 20 feet
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Firstly, let’s talk about the Marlow-Hunter 15 – an excellent sailboat for families of up to four or begginner sailors. In fact, even children can be taught to handle this model.

This 14 feet and 6 inch sailboat prides itself for its safety and versatility. It has a sturdy construction that lends to easy handling. Thus, you can rest assured and have peace of mind whenever it is taken out into the water. Easily towable, the Marlow-Hunter is also affordable at just a little over $10,000.

2. West Wight Potter 19

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Next, we have to talk about the West Wight Potter 19. Cutting it close to 20 feet, this is a popular model because of its high performance. This pocket cruiser was first launched in 1971. Since then, it has amassed a loyal following, specifically among trailer-sailors. While it’s not the most affordable small sailboat (almost $26,000), you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from it.

Regarding its capabilities, the Potter 19 is small and lightweight. However, that doesn’t hinder its performance on water. In truth, it packs a punch for its size. In particular, this sailboats stability and easy handling are what people rave the most about. What’s more, it has a retractable keel that allows it to be fully beachable. Alternatively, when it comes to the interiors, you will be surprised at how spacious and comfy it actually is. In fact, its features are comparable to that of a larger luxury yacht.

3. Norseboat 17.5

norseboat 17.5
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Also a contender for the best small sailboat under 20 feet is the Norseboat 17.5. In fact, it’s often referred to as the Swiss Army Knife of Boats. This is because of its versatility, that is to say, it can either be sailed or rowed. Inspired by Viking boats, the Norseboat 17.5 looks like it’s limited to bay and river cruising only. However, it’s also great for coastal cruising. This is evidenced by a few wins in the Water Tribe Everglades Challenge in Florida.

Regarding its features, this daysailer has a classic look and a low-maintenance rig. Living up to its vision, it’s a high performing and sea-worthy vessel that’s capable of cutting through water with speed and much pointing ability. Despite its size, the Norseboat 17.5 has lots of stowage. Alternatively, its size is also makes it easily trailerable.

4. Hobie 16

best small sailboat under 20 feet
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Of course, we cannot exclude the revolutionary Hobie 16 catamaran. This multihull first came into the scene in 1970. At the time, it was a game changer for both sailing and sailboat racing. Up until this day, the Sailboat Hall of Famer still has a huge following, and for good reason.

The Hobie 16 is a great boat for racing. Even beginners can handle it. Aided by the wind, the lightweight catamaran’s double hulls can cut through the water quickly. Consequently, even if you don’t use it for sailing, getting aboard one will still be a thrilling experience. There’s simply nothing like the speed and stability that this legendary sailboat will offer.

5. Catalina 16.5

catalina 16.5
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The Catalina 16.5 is another sailboat you should check out. This classic daysailer is a versatile option that comes with two keel configurations – centerboard or shoal-draft fixed keel. The centerboard is ideal for trailer storage while the shoal-draft fixed keel is great for dock or mooring parking.

Additionally, the Catalina 16.5 has good windward performance and is consequently stable on water. It has a spacious cockpit and storage locker with a waterproof hatch for your necessities or equipment. For this reason, it makes for a great family outing sailboat. As an added bonus, new models are priced at around $10,000.

6. Paine 14

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Lastly, we’d also like to throw the Paine 14 into the ring. This sailboat takes after the popular and beloved Herreshoff 12 1/2 e. Actually, the Paine 14 is just a scaled down version of the latter. With its classic looks, this daysailer will surely catch the attention of many whenever you take her out into the marina.

That being said, there’s more to this sailboat than its looks. Because of its size, the Paine 14 is more lightweight than its predecessor. Thus, it’s faster and more agile on the water. Even so, adjustments in keel and rudder design have helped it maintain its stability while in action. Other advantages of its size includes easy trailering, affordable maintenance, and uncomplicated storage and transport. If you were looking for a simple sailboat, then this one you will certainly enjoy.

Final Word on the Best Small Sailboat Under 20 Feet

In summary, you don’t have to commit to a large sailboat if you want to experience the marina life. There are a number of high performing sailboats which come in tiny packages – all of which have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Take, for example, our recommendations above. Some of them are great for racing but not that comfortable. Alternatively, some are more comfortable than they are nimble. There are also some small sailboats which are more affordable than others.

In truth, the best small sailboat under 20 feet will depend on your budget, primary use, and location. Only you can decide which tiny sailboat will be suitable for your needs. However, the models we mentioned above are all top of the line. They are among the finest small sailboats you will find.

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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