What Sailboats Can Be Sailed By One Person? (Complete List)

We all love sailing together with friends and family, but sometimes we can’t get them to come out with us. When that happens we must sail solo. Sailing solo can be hard sometimes but if it’s just a day sail in nice weather you shouldn’t have a problem.

There are a lot of options when it comes to picking a boat for one person. More than likely, you can sail the boat you have by yourself, but if you are considering buying one and want to be able to sail it yourself, then this article will help you find one.

1. Catalina 22

I believe this is one of the best boats for first-time sailors sailing solo. Yes, this is what I started on and a lot of people do. I have had dozens of people come up to me when I was with my boat and they would tell me all about their first boat which was a Catalina 22.

They are great starter boats and very easy to handle. They may not be big enough for crossing the Atlantic, but any bay or lake sailing and they will do just fine.

The Catalina 22 comes with a swing keel, which allows you to enter those shallower waters. This makes it very convenient for lake sailing and running it up onshore. It has a draft of 5ft with the keel down and a displacement of 2,250 lbs. Another unique feature of this boat is the pop-top. Being able to pop the cabin top up a few feet increases the headroom down below. It’s a great little feature that just adds to the fun of this boat.

If you’re looking for your first boat and want to sail solo, then this is the best option in my opinion.

2. 30′ Hunter Cherubini

The 30-foot hunter is a very common sight around the docks. It is a very solid boat and easy to handle. The hull is extremely solid when well kept and great for the open ocean. I have sailed on one of these in the Gulf of Mexico and it did very well.

The last year of production was 1983, but there are still plenty of them out there. That’s because they are very well built. It has a max draft of 5.25 ft and a displacement of 9,700 lbs. It’s a heavy boat which makes it good for open oceans.

I have seen these for sale under 10K making it a great option for purchase. Depending on if you have the money of course.

3. Catalina 250

This is one of my favorite Catalina models. I love how the cockpit has extra room and the cabin still has plenty of room. It is only 25 ft long making it a great size for solo sails. If you are looking for a good weekend boat, I definitely recommend this one.

Its LOA (length overall) is 25 ft even. The draft is 5 ft with a wing keel. (click here for information on keel types) Displacement for this vessel is only 4,200 lbs. This boat will require an outboard motor for getting in and out of the docks. If you need one click here.

4. Hobie 16

The Hobie 16 has to be mentioned in this list. It is a super common boat and it is seen all over the world. There are some people that race these professionally and others that use them recreationally. They are great for kids and adults alike. If you are ever at a resort you will usually see these on the beach for rent.

The Hobie 16 has a weight of only 320 lbs making it easy to flip over when needed. With the rudder in the up position, the draft is only 10 inches. It fits up to four people, but you might be able to fit a couple more.

This boat is all about fun! Don’t sail it across the Atlantic though.

5. Catalina 36 MK II

This boat is over the average of 30 feet but that doesn’t mean you can’t solo sail it. Like I said earlier it all depends on experience. The Catalina 36 MK II is another one of my favorites. I love the size and look of it.

If you want something just a bit bigger than the 30-footers, then I recommend this one.

The draft is 5.83 ft and the displacement is 13,500 lbs. It has two cabins giving you a guest room for overnight guests. This is definitely one of my favorite boats out there. It is just a perfect size, not too big and not too small.

Just remember it is 36 ft which can get more difficult. Once you practice with it enough, you should be able to sail solo when you want. If you plan to cross the Pacific in it, it is a good size for that, but having a couple of extra hands for the journey wouldn’t hurt.

6. Macgregor 25

The Macgregor 25 is an interesting boat. The first version was called the VENTURE 25. After a few changes to the design, it became the MACGREGOR 25. With more than 7000 boats sold, it’s one of the most popular models from this builder.

I looked at one of these for purchase once but did not go through with it. I ended up with a Catalina 22. That doesn’t mean this boat isn’t right for you though. It is a tiller steering setup if that is something you are considering. I started with a tiller and I think all people should.

The draft of this vessel is 5.67 ft. The displacement is 2,100 lbs. It is not the biggest boat out there but it is still a good choice if you are just starting out and want to do some solo sails.

7. Beneteau First 27

If you have the money, this is the one for you! This new model from Beneteau is most impressive. The speed of this boat will feel like you are in the middle of a race, or more like leading the race. It is designed for speed and comfort, with sleeping up to six adults. It is also designed where a single person can sail it as well.

This boat has a displacement of 3,747 lbs and the draft is 5 feet and 7 inches. The keel is a T-bulb design, making it very unique. We all know the Beneteau brand for being luxury on the water and this one delivers in a minimalist way. Check out the video below to get a real feel of this amazing sailboat.

8. Hunter 33 Cherubini

Another Hunter sailboat for the list. This is just a little bigger than the 30-foot Hunter mentioned earlier. It is very similar and still designed by Mr. John Cherubini. The draft is 5.25 ft and has a displacement of 10,600 lbs.

The design was originally marketed by the manufacturer as the Hunter 33 but is often confused with the 2004 Hunter 33-2004, which was also sold as the Hunter 33, and the 2012 Hunter E33, which is in production as the Marlow-Hunter 33.

Hunters are always a very solid choice.

9. Laser Sailboat

The Laser is a class of single-handed, one-design sailing dinghies using a common hull design with three interchangeable rigs of different sail areas, appropriate to a given combination of wind strength and crew weight. Bruce Kirby designed the Laser in 1970 with an emphasis on simplicity and performance.

These are great boats for racing around the lake. They are very popular for racing, but can also be used for recreational sailing. Sunfish are a type of dinghy sailor very similar to lasers but are usually built for recreational only use.

10. O’Day 25

O’Day is another one of my favorites. I love their classic look and feel. This is a very popular model from the O’Day company.

The boat was built by O’Day Corp. in the United States, with 2,898 completed between 1975 and 1984, when production ended. It was one of the company’s most successful designs

The O’Day 25 is a small recreational keelboat, built predominantly of fiberglass, with wood trim. It has a masthead sloop rig, a transom-hung rudder, and a fixed fin keel or centerboard. It displaces 4,007 lbs and has a draft of 4.25 ft.

What Size Sailboat Can One Person Handle? Depends on Experience

The average size boat that most people sail solo is a 30-footer. It is very common to see people sailing by themselves or with others on this size of boat. The size is easy enough to maneuver by yourself and the sails are easy to manage when you are all alone.

This does depend on experience though. If you have never sailed before then a 30-foot boat may be too much to handle. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when sailing and not knowing how to handle them will put you in harm’s way.

There is no specific timeline that will tell you when you are ready to captain a 45-foot sailboat. It comes down to confidence. Are you comfortable sailing a 45-foot vessel by yourself? If you answered yes, then you are probably good to go, unless you are just overconfident.

Sailing certifications will usually certify you to captain a boat up to a certain length. All though you are certified you may not have the confidence still. Being confident is a huge factor. When problems come up, confidence will allow you to stay calm and resolve the issue. Don’t think you can handle anything the sea throws at you just because you have a certification.

Check out this article on sailing certifications to find out more!

Factors To Consider When Sailing Solo – General Guidance

When you are considering a boat for solo sails there are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

First, how big of a boat do you want? The bigger the boat gets the harder it is to handle by yourself. Do you want this to be a sailing solo-only boat or do you want the option to have people with you when you sail? Consider safety on the boat. If you are going to be sailing by yourself you need to make sure you have the best safety gear.

What sails are needed? The self-tacking jib may be something you want to look into. A furling jib is a minimum in my opinion. Supplies are a general category to consider. Supplies will mean spare parts in case something breaks, food and water for the trip, and anything else you might need.

Gear For Sailing Solo – Multiple Items

When it comes to sailing solo, there is some gear you may need. Check out the list below for recommendations on gear for solo sailing.

  1. Autopilot – When sailing out in the open ocean, the autopilot will be necessary if you ever want to sleep. It is very nice to turn it on while you take a nap or go fix something on the boat.
  2. Windvane – Windvanes are also great for steering when you are busy. They use wind and cabling to steer the boat. They are a great thing to have in case the autopilot goes out. Plus, if the wind vane breaks for some reason, you might have a better chance of fixing it compared to an autopilot.
  3. Safety Tether – These are essential for solo sailing in the open ocean. When the water gets rough, make sure you are attached to the boat so you don’t fall off. Never go on deck in rough conditions without a tether.
  4. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) – This is also an essential item when sailing around the world. One thing to make sure of is easy access. If you are in trouble you don’t want to be digging under the v-berth looking for this. Put it somewhere close to the cockpit.
  5. Supplies – This covers all items you may need from spare parts to canned foods. Remember to plan accordingly. Not planning is planning to fail.

These are just some of the essential items needed for multiple-day sails in the open ocean. Always plan and think about what is needed.

In Conclusion

This article discussed the different types of boats that one person can sail. My personal recommendation if you are just starting out is the Catalina 22. It was my first boat and I loved it. If you need something bigger the Catalina 250 is a great weekend boat.

If you are an average sailor look for something in the 30-foot range. That is usually a safe length that won’t get you into trouble.

As always make sure you have the gear that will keep you safe out there!

Sail Away!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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