What Is The Safest Small Sailboat? – Multiple Options

When it comes to small sailboats there are a lot of different options. Picking one will depend on your personal needs.

The Hobie Wave is the safest and easiest sailboat to sail today. It has a boomless mainsail and a mast float to help prevent turtling if capsized. The mesh trampoline is heat melded to prolong its life. The Wave is easily manned by one person.

The Hobie brand makes great boats for zipping around the lake or just of the ocean coastline. They would not be good options for sailing across the world.

This article is going to discuss other small sailboats and what situation they would work best in.

What Makes A Sailboat Small And Safe?

When it comes to small & safe sailboats, there are a few things I take into account before putting one into these categories. After we go through what makes a sailboat small or safe, I will list out 5 different ones that fall into these categories.

Size– The size of a small sailboat is 22 ft and under. This is my personal opinion of course. When you start to get bigger than this, you have more things to manage and will eventually need more hands to help out. The smaller the boat the easier it is to handle.

Safe– Safety for a boat is very important. There are a lot of different things to consider before deciding if a sailboat is safe. The list below has my personal thoughts on what makes a sailboat safe.

  • Capsizing correction- If the boat does capsize, how easy is it to correct this issue? Sailboats that have a floatation device at the top of the mast helps prevent turtling. This makes it much easier to flip the boat back upright.
  • Maneuverability- When a sailboat is easy to maneuver it will be much safer for everyone aboard.
  • Moving Parts- The fewer moving parts on a boat the fewer issues that can come up. Which in my opinion is a safer situation.
  • Captain- The person in charge of the sailboat “The Captain” is the person responsible for the safety of the crew or people on board. If the Captain knows what they are doing, then the boat and people aboard will be much safer.

Top 5 Small Sailboats – My Personal Opinion

1. Hobie 16

The Hobie 16 is a classic and has been around for 45 years. It is similar to the wave but has a much more athletic build. It is meant for serious racing and speed. Each hull has a rudder on it, that is controlled by one tiller. This allows for maximum control and maneuverability. The best place to sail these boats is on the lakes or just off the coastline. I used to take lessons from a guy that would race them from Miami to Key West. Imagine doing that! This one is truly one of my favorites. It is great for racing and cruising.

2. Catalina 22

Now, this option might be on the larger side of the small boat spectrum but it is a great option if you want a real sailboat feel without the large responsibility. This boat has a small cabin below with a pop-top for extra headroom. I have met a lot of sailors in my life that started out on this boat and they all loved it. This was my first boat as well and I miss it every day. If you are looking for a starter sailboat this is the one for you. Read more about the Catalina 22 in my other article here, Catalina 22 Full Review!

3. Flicka 20

The Flicka is another true sailboat feel with a smaller size. The Flicka 20 is an American trailerable sailboat designed by Bruce Bingham as a cruiser and was first built in 1974. The boat has a draft of 3.25 ft (0.99 m) with the standard fitted keel. It is only 20 feet long but definitely has the feel of a boat that is 5 to 8 feet long. If a new sailing couple is comfortable with being close to each other and wants a great starter boat then this is the one for them.

4. Wayfarer

The Wayfarer is definitely a small boat because it is in the dinghy class. This boat is made of wood or fiberglass and is used for day sailing or racing in a protected area. The vessel is only 15 ft 10 inches, which means you should not be sailing out into the open ocean on this boat. It is a great boat for lakes and bays. The sail plan consists of a Bermuda rig with a main and jib sail. The boat uses a retractable centerboard making it great for shallow areas. An optional asymmetric spinnaker and spinnaker chute is available; also available is a “sail patch” which provides flotation for the mast in the event of a capsize. The “sail patch” helps make this boat a safer option for beginners. If the mast doesn’t go under during a capsize situation, that will help tremendously in getting the boat back upright.

5. Hobie Wave

The Hobie Wave is a great option for anyone looking to get into sailing. This is a great boat to learn the basics of sailing and have some fun. There is almost no risk sailing this boat because flipping it back over after capsizing is super easy. This is the boat I had my first sailing lesson on. I highly recommend this boat for lakes and bay sailing. It’s a lot of fun and very easy to manage if you are new to sailing. Like I mentioned earlier, if you ever go to a tropical resort for vacation, this boat is almost always available for rent on the beach. If you want to try it out before purchasing one, then definitely check it out next time you are on vacation. I recommend 2 people max on this boat but you could get up to four people but moving around would be difficult.

Final Thoughts

The safest small sailboat definitely comes down to personal opinion. I personally think that the smaller the boat the safer it is, as long as you are sailing in a safe location. There are a ton of small sailboat options out there. I mentioned 5 above that I personally like, but there are plenty more out there for you to consider. Small sailboats are so much fun and very easy to maintain compared to a 42-footer. If you are considering a small sailboat go for it! It’s easy to change your mind later and sail it off to someone else.


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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