Living on a sailboat is an interesting lifestyle choice, but you'll have to think long and hard if you're looking for the best sailboats to live on.
Selecting a boat to live on is an important decision that you should make carefully. There are a plethora of options to choose from that can make the decision-making process difficult. Some of the best models include the Catalina 30, Islander 36, Hunter 33, and the Nor'Sea 27.
The best sailboats must offer a balance between luxury and sailing ability. These boats are usually large, steady, and comfortable to live on. In addition, they must incorporate the appropriate gear to allow for cooking, resting, and bathing in all types of conditions.
Whether this is your first time buying a liveaboard sailboat or you just want to change your lifestyle, you will find valuable information in this article. Our industry experts (who have sailed the high seas for years) have compiled a list of the best sailboats to live on after thorough research. They have analyzed the pros and cons of each vessel to only feature the most ideal options.
The Catalina 30 is one of the most well-known sailboats out there. Even though they originally showed up in 1972, many of these reliable and resilient fiberglass boats are still a mainstay of marinas everywhere. The boat is designed in a standard fashion and has little displacement.
The keel on the boat is swept back and has a high surface area, like the design used on IOR sailing boats in the 1970s. With a modest skeg, the high aspect ratio spade rudder is fared into the bodywork. Moreover, the boat has a traditional, modern look to it. It has a relatively high side, a linear sheer, and short extremities.
The cabin trunk has a somewhat tapered profile and is sheered to match the hull's sheer. When combined with the tapering cabin windows and Catalina characteristic, the result is a more appealing appearance than many current boats.
During our tests, we found that the Catalina 30's interior was spacious and well-designed. The layout also featured a dinette that can be used as a workspace or chart table.
Catalina's achievement is even more impressive when you realize that the company does not advertise its boats. We haven't seen a single advertisement for Catalina in any national publication. The company relies on its large dealership network and word-of-mouth advertising from happy customers. The Catalina 30 can be bought for $18,900, which is a reasonable price given the features of this sailboat.
- Wide companionway opening, which makes the cabin look bigger
- Spacious for its size
- The engine has a flexible shaft coupling as well as flexible mountings
- Not as powerful as some of the modern sailboats
- It can be difficult to find this model in good condition
- A bit slower than some of the contemporaries like the Pearson 30.
If you would like a well-rounded sailboat with exceptional cruising capabilities, the Islander 36 is the vessel for you. It is one of the company's most popular boats, with nearly a thousand manufactured during 1973 and 1986.
From our experience, we found that the staterooms on these sailboats are well-appointed, with many possessing gorgeous hardwood interior trimming. The cabins are typically roomy, with a long port and starboard couch. The settee can be converted to a double berth when you're looking to catch some Zs. A nav workstation is also located at port, with a quarter bed at the rear that can be used as an extra seat.
The yacht also features a large master cabin with an attached shower, making it one of the best sailboats to live on. There are lots of drawers inside, as well as many caned and louvered lockers.
An L-shaped kitchen is equipped with an icebox that may be converted into a refrigerator. A three-burner LPG oven and a double sink are also included. The companionway steps, which are easy to maneuver, are indeed the most eye-catching aspect of the interior.
When you have visitors aboard, this is vastly superior to having ladders because the steps may be used as extra seats. The fuel capacity of the boat's tank is excellent for coastal sailing. Lastly, although the Islander 36 is capable of longer voyages, you will need to purchase more jerry cans to do so. The starting price of this model is currently $17,000.
- Extremely durable and long-lasting
- Excellent fuel capacity
- Hardwood interior
- Roomy cabins
- Not too premium-looking
- Due to the deep cockpit, it can be hard to see over the cabin when seated
- Fairly small cockpit drains
The Hunter 33 vessel is one of the most durable in its class. Hunter began producing their 33-foot yacht in 1977 and continues to do so today.
If you want to take your family on a coastline cruise or an offshore voyage, the Hunter 33 is worth considering. The interior of the mid-sized yacht is spacious, with plenty of room for sleeping and sitting. It has two individual cabins, which is ideal for a sailboat of this size.
The Hunter 33 is unique in that it was created as a house rather than a sailboat. There is more than enough space for the owners and the occasional guests to rest, and the boat has outstanding headroom everywhere. Not only that – the Hunter 33 boasts one of the largest and most luxurious dining areas seen on sailboats.
You can enjoy your favorite cuisines on the boat thanks to the L-shaped galley, which is perfect for food preparation and handling.
We have also observed that the space on the Hunter 33 has been used extremely well in the cockpit and below decks. In this respect, it's a major improvement over previous versions of the boat.
The pricing range on Hunter 33 is quite wide, with the cheapest model costing roughly $55,000 and the most expensive one going for $95,000 for the 2013 versions. In essence, this is the ideal sailboat for anyone looking to upgrade their sailboat to a model with modern amenities for lengthy cruising.
- Durable construction
- Two cabins give plenty of room for living on the boat
- Excellent performance on the water
- Paint failure and corrosion on the engine's lower unit are major concerns
If you're looking for a compact sailboat that you can call 'home,' then the Nor'Sea 27 should be on your list. This is, without a doubt, one of the best compact full-time cruisers on the market currently. This boat's cabin is quite spacious for a vessel that's only 27-foot long. It's also built to be extremely comfortable.
The Nor'Sea 27 should meet all the aesthetic requirements you have in mind. It features almost all the amenities found in a typical sailboat. This model includes a galley, shower, bathroom, and two bunks underneath the cockpit for convenience. The forward berth can be used as a dinette as well.
Moreover, the sailboat's layout has been a big success and has a sizable fanbase, which reflects why it is still in full operation, despite having first appeared on the market in 1976. The best thing about the boat is that you can easily tow it on your trailer.
The Nor'Sea 27 is an extremely comfortable sailboat. The hull is narrow, tracks well, and is easily driven. Two rig options are available, and both are single spreader, deck-stepped, and masthead arrangements. The tall rig offers more sail area compared to the standard rig, but there isn't a major difference in performance.
While you might think that Nor'Sea 27 might be inexpensive because of its smaller size, this isn't true. If you're looking to get your hands on a new model, it'll set you back around $150,000 while the kits start at around $40,000. Used ones start at $16,600 and go up to $95,000 depending on different factors like condition, age, and quality of finish.
- Ample stability and excellent motion in the seaway
- Designed to be transportable between cruising grounds
- Comfortable and safe
- Small in size
- Models in good condition are expensive
- Heavier than other boats in this category
This enormous sailboat is ideal for long-distance excursions, so you know where to turn if you want to buy a boat that will provide excellent accommodations for ocean cruising. The inside is quite spacious owing to the boat's massive structure, making it ideal for couples who wish to spend romantic evenings on a sailboat.
The Nordic 40 works seamlessly with top-of-the-line features, including a Navtec hydraulic vang, Navtec rod rigging, and full hull protection throughout the interior. It includes a master bedroom that you can use to rest all day long without feeling uncomfortable.
The galley is well-equipped with modern amenities and provides a pleasant living environment. There is no need to be concerned about storage capability with the regular Nordic 40. Even if you want to anchor away for a couple of weeks or months with proper supplies and meals, a remote lifestyle is a breeze with this boat.
This sailboat is a great choice if you have to spend plenty of time indoors due to bad weather. This is also a fantastic option if you're taller than the average person, as it provides more headspace than other choices on our list.
Since the Nordic 40 is an extremely large, spacious, and feature-rich boat, it's on the higher end of the price spectrum. Used models are currently going for over $100,000, which means that it's only an option for you if you're serious about living on a sailboat. Otherwise, it doesn't make much sense to spend a hundred grand on it.
- Large and spacious
- Feature-rich model
- Luxurious master bedroom for a comfortable stay
- It can be hard to maneuver due to its large size
- Require a bigger crew to sail
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20
The Flicka 20 is the tiniest and most intriguing sailboat on this list. The internal amenities of this vessel, which is barely 20 feet overall in length, are basic at best and appropriate for a minimalistic lifestyle.
When you enter the boat, however, you'll be astounded by the spacious and well-equipped inside. Its designer spent years living aboard the boat with his companion and cruising throughout the world, which is a testimony of his faith in his concept.
The Flicka 20 is distinguished by its outstanding Bluewater efficiency. This sailboat is the epitome of a compact cruiser. It is more capable offshore than some vessels nearly twice its size, thanks to its complete ballast keel, self-draining cabin, and wide breadth.
The Flicka 20 sailboat might easily be mistaken for a much larger ship from afar. Its modest size, controllable Bermuda rig, and hull form make it an ideal single-handed offshore sailing yacht. The cabin on the inside has generous headroom everywhere, which is unique for a yacht of this size.
Moving on, a small but practical galley greets you on the port side, while a tiny head with a bathroom and a shower are located on the starboard side. The Flicka 20 has a weight capacity of 5,500 pounds. There is no centerboard trunk to limit internal room due to the broad keel.
The sleeping quarters are made up of a V-berth upfront, with seat cushions on both sides and a pop-up eating and chart desk in the middle. To be honest, there isn't much deck space, but on the inside, it has the luxury and spaciousness of a boat that you could live in.
For several years, getting a Flicka was difficult. It was an expensive vessel when new and managed to retain its value in the used sailboat market. However, the price eventually started to drop. Today, you can get your hands on a used Flicka for about $28,000. Some models still go for around $50,000 or more. The Flicka has appealed to budget-minded cruisers looking for a small, strong, and capable boat.
- Compact and easy to maneuver
- Self-draining cabin
- Small size
- It won't offer the amenities found in more luxurious models
The Pearson 35 is one of the earliest sailboats under 40 feet ever built. They were initially seen in the 1980s. It has a roomy interior, which is a trait to look for when you're looking for sailboats.
Because it features everything you'd expect from a large oceangoing sailboat, the Pearson 35 strays into the big boat classification. The vessel also features a displacement keel with a swinging keel at the bottom.
The Pearson 35 is a spacious yacht with exceptional seakeeping and a wide sail layout. With a lofty mast and the normal sheet and halyard layout, it's a conventional Bermuda-rigged sloop. Consequently, sailing it is enjoyable and simple. It's also a pretty quick and agile boat, so it's great for longer trips.
Moreover, the Pearson 35 isn't a shoal-draft sailboat because of its swing keel. It has a redesigned full keel that pulls 3 feet 9 inches with the swing keel extended. The Pearson 35's draught grows to almost 7 feet with the installation of a swing keel.
A complete galley, an insulated head with a shower and sink, and numerous berthing places, along with a forward V-berth, are all features that make the Pearson 35 a popular choice. The sailboat has plenty of space throughout the cabin, so you can invite your friends to enjoy an evening on the boat for an amazing experience.
Piloting a 35-foot sailboat through bad weather gives you a sense of accomplishment. The boat's size offers both safety and a feeling of stability, which can help you maintain your composure in tense conditions at sea. The ship is also beamy, which reduces forceful heeling and improves roll comfort in rough seas.
Overall, the Pearson 35 is a large yacht with excellent seakeeping capabilities. This renders it one of the most popular sailboats in its category, and there are still several Pearson 35s cruising around the US.
This sailboat is livable and has a generous cabin arrangement. While it has plenty of features and a spacious cabin, it doesn't cost a lot of money. The starting price is currently $16,000, making it one of the most reasonably priced sailboats on our list. The most expensive model will set you back $19,900, which is still not too much compared to some of the other large vessels on our list. So, if you're looking for a large and roomy sailboat that is great for living, the 35-foot long Pearson should be on your list.
- Roomy interior
- Suitable for living on board due to its large size
- Not ideal for offshore use
- Small tankage
William Atkin "Eric" 32
The vessel "Eric," created by legendary maritime architect William Atkin in the 1920s, outperforms some of the best sailboats to live on in practically every way.
Eric is a 32-foot ketch built in the traditional wooden style. This planked full-keel sailboat has a draught of around five feet and a displacement of over 19,000 pounds. The hull's fundamental design is inspired by early Norwegian fishing boats, recognized for their ability to withstand North Sea storms.
This version is a long-range ocean cruiser that was designed specifically for rough seas. The interior accommodations are roomy and well-designed for comfort and convenience. Eric has a full head with showers, a master bedroom style V-berth forward, a working galley with an icebox, and standing headroom aboard, unlike other sailboats of the era.
Furthermore, by all criteria, William Atkin's Eric is an ocean-crossing yacht designed to support between one to four people as far as they want to go. It has all the attributes of an oceangoing sailboat in a small package, as well as superb sea keeping abilities.
We believe that the main disadvantage of this 32-foot Atkin sailboat is its upkeep. Most of these hulls were built with traditional wood planking, which may last a lifetime if properly cared for but require specialized maintenance. Nonetheless, you should consider an Atkin Eric 32 if you're looking for a magnificent and vintage sailboat with substantial offshore traveling possibilities.
Overall, the Eric 32 has all basic gear and a good set of sails. Her elegant natural wood interior has a nice feel. It's a magnificent mini-cruiser that can easily accommodate two people.
When it comes to price, the Atkin Eric 32 is a mid-range option that costs around $20,000 to $30,000, which means that you can get your vessel without putting a dent in your wallet.
- Comfortable and functional
- Full galley and master cabin
- Difficult to maintain
If you prefer a compact sailboat that is ideal for accommodating two people, then the O'Day is worth looking into. It is a classic sailboat that is ideal for cruising and living abroad. Between 1978 and 1986, roughly 500 models of the vessel were built.
Overall, the O'Day 28 is a capable cruising yacht that can sail both offshore and along the coast. It has a sloped rear and hidden rudder, and a helm that seems like it belongs on a much bigger boat.
This type has a huge fuel tank for its inlet engine and a water capacity of 25 gallons, making it ideal for offshore sailing. Extra tanks can be installed in the O'Day 28's storage rooms, which means that you can use the vessel for longer excursions.
The O'Day 28 was manufactured in two versions: One with a swing keel and the other with a permanent swing keel. The swing keel O'Day 28 is best for coastal sailing or shallow-water yachting, while the fixed keel model is ideal for bluewater sailing.
Both keel types, however, make excellent offshore sailboats. A big kitchen with a stove and icebox, two huge settee sleepers, a large center table ahead, and a V-berth front make up the cabin of the O'Day 28. The head acts as a barrier between the V-berth and the front cabin, providing additional privacy.
Finally, the stateroom of this magnificent ship is huge and equipped with everything you'll need to live a decent life aboard. The O'Day 28's wide beam provides plenty of room, so the cabin doesn't seem congested despite the boat's small size.
A used O'Day 28 is currently available at a low price of $12,500, which is a bargain considering the boat's excellent features.
- Inexpensive sailboat with plenty of features
- Good for living abroad and offshore voyage
- Two extra-long cabins
- Maintenance can be tricky
- Not the most durable vessel
Tartan has been creating great, high-quality cruising boats in Ohio for 60 years, earning a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the nation's finest sailboats. The construction quality of the boat is outstanding as it is built with excellent finish detailing and meets ABS standards.
The Tartan 395 is a 39-foot family cruiser built to sail very well while providing its owner with the comfort they expect. With a Solent-style jib installed within a huge genoa, the double-headsail rig offers a very handy and adaptable sail design that can be reefed or unreefed simply from the cockpit.
The ship comes with a regular cruising fin keel, but a keel-centerboard variant is also offered for customers who cruise in shallow waters. The owner's bedroom will be a big double cabin forward to starboard on the interior design. The rubber shaft is made using carbon fiber, while the deck fittings come from quality suppliers. Since high-quality materials are used in all parts of the boat, you can expect it to last a long time.
The guest cabin has a good center-line twin berth forward. The U-shaped dinette features a table with folding seats and a bench seat next to it. Tartan is a business that should be regarded as an American gem. Those looking for a traditional, American-style yacht created specifically for a living should go no farther than the Tartan 395.
We personally love the Tartan 365. It is a classy, well-made vessel with a lovely interior and excellent sailing qualities. It is costly, but it's worth it. Moreover, you'll get a good resale value thanks to its exceptional design and construction.
The cost of a sail away Tartan 395 is estimated to be roughly $425,000, which makes it the most expensive sailboat to live on.
- Classy interior
- Plenty of headroom
- Two cabins with good ventilation and light
- Difficult maneuvering
- Expensive vessel
About THE AUTHOR
I'm Michael Moris. I've been sailing my whole life, and it has taken me to places I never imagined. From the Caribbean to Europe, from New Zealand to South America - there's nowhere that hasn't felt like home when you're on a boat!Read more about Michael Moris