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  • Writer's pictureYannick Slock

Choosing a blue water sailboat in 2024

How to choose a blua water sailboat
How to choose a blua water sailboat

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Introduction to Bluewater Sailboats

Bluewater sailboats represent a remarkable engineering feat, setting them apart from conventional sailing vessels and other marine craft. They fall into a distinct category, but what distinguishes one bluewater sailboat from another? How do you select the right bluewater sailboat for your needs? Key factors to consider include reliability, dependable navigation systems, structural features, and readiness for harsh weather conditions. In the decision-making process, the size of the sailboat takes a back seat to essential survival needs. The most desirable bluewater sailboats prioritize comfort, particularly in challenging situations, making them stand out from typical cruisers.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bluewater Sailboat

More than a handful of factors must be carefully examined before purchasing a bluewater sailboat. It's akin to the process of buying a car, where checking the history, test driving, and thorough inspection are a given. While modern bluewater sailboats may come equipped with an abundance of accessories, in some cases, opting for an older model with essential features may be the wisest choice.

Blue water sailboat from 2006
Blue water sailboat from 2006

Considerations for the Hull

No matter how well you plan your trips around the weather, sooner or later, you'll find yourself at the mercy of Mother Nature. If you prefer staying close to the dock or coast, you have the option of seeking shelter during storms. However, deep-sea adventurers must prepare for facing strong storms head-on. The number of people on board is another crucial consideration. Do you have a crew to assist with deck tasks, or do you need a boat that can handle more with fewer hands? Boats with fin and spade keels are vulnerable to debris strikes, making keel protection and skegs appealing for long-term success. Longer keels provide more stability in windy and rough sea conditions, enhancing the power of the helm. If you're unsure whether a boat can meet your needs in extreme conditions, it's best to clarify your sailing goals before making a purchase or embarking on world travels.

The Definition of Comfort

When choosing a bluewater sailboat, comfort is a top priority for most. Many desire luxurious features like dining areas, double beds, and plush chairs. However, these amenities may not be as practical if you spend most of your time tied up at the dock. The challenge lies in enjoying these comforts while at sea, where dining during rough seas can be a daunting task. Visiting boat shows to explore a variety of bluewater boats is a helpful way to compare and contrast features. Nevertheless, it's essential to use your imagination to envision how luxury items will fare in real-time at sea. Depending on where you plan to spend most of your time, luxury features may not justify the added weight and expense.

Location of the Cockpit

One often overlooked but vital decision is the location of the cockpit. While a coaming may be appealing for leisurely days in the sun, its primary function is to keep water out of the cockpit. An ideal cockpit location is toward the stern of the boat, offering more stability and safety during rough conditions. Although it's further from the bow, it experiences less motion, making it a better place to weather stronger waves. Cockpits designed for dockside comfort may not perform as well at sea. Ensuring you have the means to brace yourself in rough seas is crucial since you'll spend a significant amount of time in this area. While moonlit evenings in the cockpit may sound delightful, it can quickly turn into a harrowing experience during adverse conditions.

Weighing Options for Rigs and Sail Plans

Modern bluewater sailboats are often equipped with cutters, and there's an ongoing debate about the merits of in-mast furling. In-mast furling offers advantages like quick mast release, but it can be challenging in the event of a jam. On the other hand, furling booms or slab-reefing systems are less complicated and allow for single-line reefing from the cockpit. When selecting a standard production boat, it's advisable to avoid genoas rated at 125 percent or larger, as constant reefing becomes necessary. Having the right sail plan is essential for your safety and convenience at sea.


Whether your boat is anchored at the marina for occasional use or for extended periods, upgrading your ground tackle is a consideration. While casual weekenders may not require significant upgrades, those planning deep-sea voyages must invest in robust anchors. For sailboats around 40 ft long, a 8mm chain of over 70 meters, along with a 25 kg anchor and a heavy-duty windlass, is ideal. Adequate anchoring equipment is necessary for secure mooring, and having backup chains and anchors, as well as a storm hook, is essential for emergencies.

Updated Navigation Systems

Navigation is a fundamental skill for anyone venturing into the open sea. Even with modern technology, it's wise to learn traditional navigation methods, including chart reading, map use, and celestial navigation with a sextant. Paper charts are invaluable, as electronic charts may not always be flawless. In remote areas, relying on traditional navigation becomes essential. Rasters, digital images of paper charts, offer the benefits of both worlds. In an era of technological dependency, having alternate navigation skills is a prudent choice. These days starlink is becoming a viable option if you can afford the subscription. For digital nomads this is the perfect set up.

Water Systems and Refrigeration

The choice of a water system is crucial for those planning extended sea journeys. Large freshwater tanks are an option, but you must carefully consider your water consumption and potential refilling locations. Smaller tanks may require frequent refills, raising concerns about water quality and availability in some areas. An alternative is a water maker, which can produce freshwater efficiently. AC-driven water makers can deliver around 80 liters a day, while DC water makers consume less power and produce approximately 50liters daily. Refrigeration systems on modern boats have improved in terms of power consumption, drawing around 80 amps per day, making them more energy-efficient.

Equipped with Solar Panels or Other Energy Sources

Energy consumption at sea is a critical concern, especially in the event of generator failures. Solar panels and wind power can serve as supplementary energy sources, helping conserve power without negatively affecting overall performance. These additions can provide a safety net when traditional power sources falter.

Communication and Safety at Sea

Communication is limited at sea, making satellite phones and radios essential for staying connected and requesting assistance in emergencies. Ensuring that your boat is equipped with these communication tools or installing them yourself is a safety precaution that should not be overlooked. Being prepared for emergencies is crucial when venturing into the open ocean.

Sailing Experience and Its Role

Your level of experience at sea plays a pivotal role in choosing the right bluewater sailboat. If you have limited experience, consider gaining more by learning from experienced sailors, participating in safety courses, and seeking firsthand experience on the water. Building your skills and confidence is vital before embarking

How to buy a bluewater sailboat

Acquiring the perfect bluewater sailboat is an exciting journey, but where should you begin your search? There are several avenues to explore when it comes to buying your dream vessel.

  1. Online Marketplaces: In the digital age, you have access to a wide range of online marketplaces and classified websites where sailboats are listed for sale. Websites like YachtWorld, BoatTrader, and SailboatListings offer extensive listings, making it easier to browse, compare, and get an idea of the market. We can then help you close the boat deal and make sure the paperwork and money transfer are all safely and correctly set up.

  2. Private Sellers: Don't overlook the potential of finding your bluewater sailboat through private sellers. Word of mouth, local advertisements, and social networks might lead you to individuals looking to sell their boats. While private sales can offer unique opportunities, it's essential to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure the boat's condition and history.

  3. Boat Brokers: Utilizing the services of our professional boat brokerage can simplify the buying process. Brokers have extensive knowledge of the market, access to listings, and can help you negotiate the best deal. They can also assist with the paperwork and ensure a smooth transaction.

  4. Consider International Options: Depending on your location and budget, it may be worthwhile to explore international markets. There are sailboat manufacturers and dealers worldwide, and you might find a unique model or a more competitive price abroad. We can then help you close the boat deal and make sure the paperwork and money transfer are all safely and correctly set up following the latest regulations.

When you embark on the journey to purchase a bluewater sailboat, it's crucial to define your budget, research your desired make and model, and consider the condition, age, and equipment of the boats you're interested in. Take your time, do thorough inspections, and consider hiring a marine surveyor to evaluate the boat's condition. The right bluewater sailboat for your adventures awaits; all that's left is to set sail and make memories on the open sea.

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