François Vivier Naval Architect Stock plans : Sail and oars

You will find on this page my "sail and oar" designs for amateur builders. Most of them may also be purchased "ready to sail" from authorised builders. A general introduction to the sail and oars concept is to be found on this page . See page " classic and traditional sail boats " for other small boats designs where sail is the main propulsion mean. I am progressively translating my building plans into English. If a plan is not said "available", please ask for a delivery date. My translation schedule will be adapted to demand. 

Laïta | Morbic 12 | Aber | Ilur | Minahouet | Elorn | Seil 18 | Youkou-Lili


“NorseBoats…sexy looking with a sweet sheerline and a shapely bow profile.”  Robert Perry, naval architect

“I have Viking blood in my veins, and the NorseBoat really gets it stirring…this is one of the best small cruising boats I’ve seen in a long time.” Steve Isaac,  WaterTribe

sailboat with oars

Swiss army knife craftsmanship, performance, versatility

Perfect for:


Small boat sailing

“The simplicity of hauling up the mast is something I hadn’t anticipated. It is yet another piece of elegant and thoughtful engineering. Truly everywhere one looks on the boat one sees careful decisions that were made. And the boat is also just so pretty. We got three sincere complements In her lines just at the docks!! In short I’m so impressed by what you have created.” C. Gill, Lincoln, MA (NorseBoat 17.5 Classic owner).

NorseBoats are hand-crafted sailing and rowing boats with classic lines and high performance. They are fast, fun and easy to use under sail or oar. Their versatility and innovative features have earned them the reputation of the Swiss army knife of boats!

NorseBoats can be sailed, rowed, motored, and used as comfortable camp-cruisers or picnic motor launches. They are easily beached and trailered, and fit in a standard garage.

NorseBoat 12.5

Daysailer / Tender Sassy sistership!

NorseBoat 17.5 Classic

Sailing & Rowing Cruiser Our best seller!

NorseBoat 21.5

Daysailer/Coastal Cruiser High capacity, high performance!

“The NorseBoat is fantastic – meeting and exceeding my  expectations, which were derived solely from the internet!”  J. Austin, architect, Cambridge, MA

sailboat with oars

Sculling Oars for Propelling All Sizes of Boats

sailboat with oars

Sculling with a single oar off the transom is the ancient art of propelling a vessel with a figure 8 or "falling leaf" motion. A proficient sculler can easily move large vessels efficiently, bring them to a stop, and even sculling them backwards! There are many instructional videos and articles available online to learn more about the proper technique.

Shaw & Tenney makes all types of oars including conventional flat blade oars up to 21'. One of the more common uses of our long oars is for sculling sailboats, especially when navigating in and out of the harbor. Beyond sculling oars for sailboats we also make them for commercial fishing vessels operated in shallow waters, gunning floats, and dinghies. Almost any boat can be sculled as long as it can be set up for it.

Sculling offers many advantages to traditional oars (rowing) including the ability to move about in tight anchorages, particularly in smaller boats. Looking for a propulsion method that is environmentally friendly, sustainable and not to mention quieter than a motor, than rigging up a sculling oar to your boat may just be the perfect option.

Equipping Larger Boats for Sculling

The first step in equipping your larger boat for sculling is to properly size the oar. We recommend sizing the oar so it can be used off the transom to scull as well as to row on either side of the boat. This provides three alternate methods of propulsion to select based on the wind and sea conditions.

Now to the sizing formula:

  • To size the oar stand in the location you will be sculling from in the cockpit.
  • Holding a long straight object to simulate the oar (2x4, boathook, etc.) in your dominant hand about chest height, let it protrude off the transom parallel to the keel of the boat.
  • Measure the length from your hand to where it touches the water to determine the correct shaft length.
  • Repeat the measurement off the side of the boat in a position where you can take one step forward and one back simulating rowing. When using this technique you can steer with the rudder or wheel.
  • If the boat is on the hard have someone visually determine the length in relation to the waterline on the hull.

sailboat with oars

Once the shaft length is determined the blade length is added to determine the overall length of the oar. For larger oars, from 10' – 21' in overall length, blades range from 42" to 60".

The second, and very important step, is to ensure you have a good location to stow the oar aboard. It may be necessary to reduce the overall length in some cases. Typical locations are attached to stanchions and /or lifelines (be careful of you rigging technique, they can work loose) and on the cabin top. Sometimes affixing the oar to a stay or shroud is an option also.

Finally we need to determine how the oar connects with your vessel. Many smaller boats will have a traditional sculling notch in the transom typically not found on larger sailboats. If not equipped with a sculling notch we recommend using a conventional oar socket and horn oarlock. The type of oar socket, top mount, side mount, or angle mount will be determined by how it will be installed on your boat. The most common installation is the angle mount or side mount socket, oftentimes requiring adding a wooden block on fiberglass vessels. An interesting method for the side rowing position is to modify an oar socket to mount on a winch in place of the crank handle. You can view the various oar sockets and oarlocks we offer on our Oar Hardware & Accessories page.

Sculling Smaller Boats

Smaller boats are allot of fun to scull too. We offer our unique Shaw & Tenney 7'-10" sculling oar which is ideal for most dinghies and smaller boats. Originally designed for the Seacoast Gunning Float and duck hunting, it has an offset, curvilinear blade. Made from a solid piece of native Maine 8/4 ash, it has a superb flex too. It can be custom made in lengths up to 14' also. Please visit our Sculling, Specialty and Large Oars page to learn more about our sculling and specialty oars.

sailboat with oars

Sculling Tradition at Shaw & Tenney

Creating oars for sculling is a big part of the Shaw & Tenney DNA and we are always proud when a customer tells us that they thought they we pretty proficient scullers… but once the tried our S&T sculling oar they were amazed at how much better they became!

We are quite proud that a customer chose a Shaw & Tenney 17' clear spruce flat blade as their only auxiliary propulsion when circumnavigating the World.

We also make a reproduction of the traditional Merrymeeting Bay sculling oar in spruce and the Whitney sculling oar in ash.

We have helped our customers with many, many sculling applications and installations over the years. Please don't hesitate to contact us regarding your specific application, we are always glad to help! A photo of your boat always helps too!

Our S&T quote: "Single oar sculling: How to row with one oar and not go in circles!"

« Back to Shaw & Tenney Blog

How to Size Your Oars

To determine the correct length oar for your boat measure the distance between the port and starboard oar sockets. Then apply the Shaw and Tenney oar length formula to determine the oar length that will provide the correct 7:18 leverage ratio. This length will provide an oar where 7/25 the length is inboard of the oarlocks and 18/25 of the oar is outboard of the oarlocks. It is the ideal ratio to row almost all boats. Sized correctly, when rowing your hands will be 1 to 3 inches apart and you will be pulling directly towards your abdomen. If you are popping out of your oarlocks when rowing your oars are far too short. If you prefer an overlapping grip, add 6” to the calculated oar length. If you have more than one rowing station in your boat, measure both. Typically they will require two different length oars which is fine if you’re going to be rowing tandem and need two sets. Otherwise you’ll need to compromise the correct length to work properly in both stations. If you are rowing more than 75% in one station size the oar to that length. As always feel free to call us and were happy to help you select the correct oar length and blade style for your boat.

The Original Shaw & Tenney Oar Length Formula

To help our customers size their oars correctly, we’ve been using the same formula since 1858: Measure the distance between the center of the port and starboard oar sockets, which hold the oar locks on each gunnel. This is called the “span” between the oarlocks. Divide the span by 2, and then add 2 to this number. The result is called the “inboard loom length” of the oar. Multiply the loom length by 25, and then divide that number by 7. The result is the proper oar length in inches. Round up or down to the closest 6” increment.

How to Size Your Paddle

For traditional wooden paddles the ideal length for the Stern paddler is the bridge of your nose or 6 inches less than your height. For the bow paddler the paddle reaching the cleft of your chin or 9 inches less than your height is correct.

For our Racine paddle if you are over 5’6” tall select the 63-1/2” length and the shorter paddle if you are under5’-6”tall.

When paddling solo we typically recommend a bow length paddle. For Canadian style solo most paddlers prefer an even shorter paddle.

For paddling canoes when standing (yes our mother let us do this) a 69 inch or 72 inch paddle is usually about right.

Shaw and Tenney

Toll Free: 800-240-4867 207-866-4867 20 Water Street, PO Box 213, Orono, Maine 04473

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sailboat with oars


Types of Sailboats: A Complete Guide

Types of Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Learning the different types of sailboats can help you identify vessels and choose the right boat.

In this article, we'll cover the most common kinds of sailboats, their origins, and what they're used for. We'll also go over the strengths and weaknesses of each design, along with when they're most useful.

The most common kind of sailboat is the sloop, as it's simple to operate and versatile. Other common sailboat types include the schooner, cutter, cat, ketch, schooner, catamaran, and trimaran. Other sailboat variations include pocket cruisers, motorsailers, displacement, and shoal-draft vessels.

The information found in this article is sourced from boat reference guides, including A Field Guide to Sailboats of North America by Richard M. Sherwood and trusted sources in the sailing community.

Table of contents

Distinguishing Types of Sailboats

In this article, we'll distinguish sailboats by traits such as their hull type, rig, and general configuration. Some sailboats share multiple characteristics with other boats but fall into a completely different category. For example, a sailboat with a Bermuda rig, a large engine, and a pilothouse could technically be called a sloop, but it's more likely a motorsailer.

When discerning sailboat type, the first most obvious place to look is the hull. If it has only one hull, you can immediately eliminate the trimaran and the catamaran. If it has two or more hulls, it's certainly not a typical monohull vessel.

The next trait to consider is the rig. You can tell a lot about a sailboat based on its rig, including what it's designed to be used for. For example, a long and slender sailboat with a tall triangular rig is likely designed for speed or racing, whereas a wide vessel with a complex gaff rig is probably built for offshore cruising.

Other factors that determine boat type include hull shape, overall length, cabin size, sail plan, and displacement. Hull material also plays a role, but every major type of sailboat has been built in both wood and fiberglass at some point.

Sailboat vs. Motorsailer

Most sailboats have motors, but most motorized sailboats are not motorsailers. A motorsailer is a specific kind of sailboat designed to run efficiently under sail and power, and sometimes both.

Most sailboats have an auxiliary engine, though these power plants are designed primarily for maneuvering. These vessels cannot achieve reasonable speed or fuel-efficiency. Motorsailers can operate like a powerboat.

Motorsailers provide great flexibility on short runs. They're great family boats, and they're popular in coastal communities with heavy boat traffic. However, these features come at a cost. Motorsailers aren't the fastest or most efficient powerboats, and they're also not the most agile sailboats. That said, they make an excellent general-purpose sailing craft.

Monohull vs. Multi-hull: Which is Better?

Multihull sailboats are increasingly popular, thanks to advances and lightweight materials, and sailboat design. But are they better than traditional sailboats? Monohulls are easier to maintain and less expensive, and they offer better interior layouts. Multihulls are more stable and comfortable, and they're significantly easier to control. Multihull sailboats also have a speed advantage.

Monohull Sailboats

A monohull sailboat is a traditionally-shaped vessel with a single hull. The vast majority of consumer sailboats are monohulls, as they're inexpensive to produce and easy to handle. Monohull sailboats are proven and easy to maintain, though they lack the initial stability and motion comfort of multi-hull vessels.

Monohull sailboats have a much greater rig variety than multi-hull sailboats. The vast majority of multihull sailboats have a single mast, whereas multi-masted vessels such as yawls and schooners are always monohulls. Some multi-hull sailboats have side-by-side masts, but these are the exception.

Catamaran Sailboats

The second most common sailboat configuration is the catamaran. A catamaran is a multihull sailboat that has two symmetrical hulls placed side-by-side and connected with a deck. This basic design has been used for hundreds of years, and it experienced a big resurgence in the fiberglass boat era.

Catamarans are fast, efficient, and comfortable. They don't heel very much, as this design has excellent initial stability. The primary drawback of the catamaran is below decks. The cabin of a catamaran is split between both hulls, which often leaves less space for the galley, head, and living areas.

Trimaran Sailboats

Trimarans are multi-hull sailboats similar to catamarans. Trimarans have three hulls arranged side-by-side. The profile of a trimaran is often indistinguishable from a catamaran.

Trimarans are increasingly popular, as they're faster than catamarans and monohulls and considerably easier to control. Trimarans suffer from the same spatial limitations as catamarans. The addition of an extra hull adds additional space, which is one reason why these multi-hull vessels are some of the best-selling sailboats on the market today.

Sailboat Rig Types

Rigging is another way to distinguish sailboat types. The rig of a sailboat refers to it's mast and sail configuration. Here are the most common types of sailboat rigs and what they're used for.

Sloops are the most common type of sailboat on the water today. A sloop is a simple single-mast rig that usually incorporates a tall triangular mainsail and headsail. The sloop rig is easy to control, fun to sail, and versatile. Sloops are common on racing sailboats as they can sail quite close to the wind. These maneuverable sailboats also have excellent windward performance.

The sloop rig is popular because it works well in almost any situation. That said, other more complex rigs offer finer control and superior performance for some hull types. Additionally, sloops spread their entire sail area over just to canvases, which is less flexible than multi-masted rigs. The sloop is ideal for general-purpose sailing, and it's proven itself inland and offshore.

Sloop Features:

  • Most popular sailboat rig
  • Single mast
  • One mainsail and headsail
  • Typically Bermuda-rigged
  • Easy to handle
  • Great windward performance
  • Less precise control
  • Easier to capsize
  • Requires a tall mast

Suitable Uses:

  • Offshore cruising
  • Coastal cruising

Cat (Catboat)

The cat (or catboat) is a single-masted sailboat with a large, single mainsail. Catboats have a thick forward mast, no headsail, and an exceptionally long boom. These vessels are typically gaff-rigged, as this four-edged rig offers greater sail area with a shorter mast. Catboats were popular workboats in New England around the turn of the century, and they have a large following today.

Catboats are typically short and wide, which provides excellent stability in rough coastal conditions. They're hardy and seaworthy vessels, but they're slow and not ideal for offshore use. Catboats are simple and easy to control, as they only have a single gaff sail. Catboats are easy to spot thanks to their forward-mounted mast and enormous mainsail.

Catboat Features:

  • Far forward-mounted single mast
  • Large four-sided gaff sail
  • Short and wide with a large cockpit
  • Usually between 20 and 30 feet in length
  • Excellent workboats
  • Tough and useful design
  • Great for fishing
  • Large cockpit and cabin
  • Not ideal for offshore sailing
  • Single sail offers less precise control
  • Slow compared to other rigs
  • Inland cruising

At first glance, a cutter is difficult to distinguish from a sloop. Both vessels have a single mast located in roughly the same position, but the sail plan is dramatically different. The cutter uses two headsails and often incorporates a large spar that extends from the bow (called a bowsprit).

The additional headsail is called a staysail. A sloop only carries one headsail, which is typically a jib. Cutter headsails have a lower center of gravity which provides superior performance in rough weather. It's more difficult to capsize a cutter, and they offer more precise control than a sloop. Cutters have more complex rigging, which is a disadvantage for some people.

Cutter Features:

  • Two headsails
  • Long bowsprit
  • Similar to sloop
  • Gaff or Bermuda-rigged
  • Fast and efficient
  • Offers precise control
  • Superior rough-weather performance
  • More complex than the sloop rig
  • Harder to handle than simpler rigs

Perhaps the most majestic type of sailboat rig, the schooner is a multi-masted vessel with plenty of history and rugged seaworthiness. The schooner is typically gaff-rigged with short masts and multiple sails. Schooners are fast and powerful vessels with a complex rig. These sailboats have excellent offshore handling characteristics.

Schooners have a minimum of two masts, but some have three or more. The aftermost large sail is the mainsail, and the nearly identical forward sail is called the foresail. Schooners can have one or more headsail, which includes a cutter-style staysail. Some schooners have an additional smaller sale aft of the mainsail called the mizzen.

Schooner Features:

  • At least two masts
  • Usually gaff-rigged
  • One or more headsails
  • Excellent offshore handling
  • Precise control
  • Numerous sail options (headsails, topsails, mizzen)
  • Fast and powerful
  • Complex and labor-intensive rig
  • Difficult to adjust rig single-handed
  • Offshore fishing

Picture a ketch as a sloop or a cutter with an extra mast behind the mainsail. These vessels are seaworthy, powerful, excellent for offshore cruising. A ketch is similar to a yawl, except its larger mizzen doesn't hang off the stern. The ketch is either gaff or Bermuda-rigged.

Ketch-rigged sailboats have smaller sails, and thus, shorter masts. This makes them more durable and controllable in rough weather. The mizzen can help the boat steer itself, which is advantageous on offshore voyages. A ketch is likely slower than a sloop or a cutter, which means you aren't likely to find one winning a race.

Ketch Features:

  • Headsail (or headsails), mainsail, and mizzen
  • Mizzen doesn't extend past the rudder post
  • Good offshore handling
  • Controllable and mild
  • Shorter and stronger masts
  • Easy self-steering
  • Slower than sloops and cutters
  • Less common on the used market

A dinghy is a general term for a small sailboat of fewer than 28 feet overall. Dinghys are often dual-power boats, which means they usually have oars or a small outboard in addition to a sail. These small boats are open-top and only suitable for cruising in protected waters. Many larger sailboats have a deployable dinghy on board to get to shore when at anchor.

Dinghy Features:

  • One or two people maximum capacity
  • Easy to sail
  • Works with oars, sails, or an outboard
  • Great auxiliary boat
  • Small and exposed
  • Not suitable for offshore use
  • Going from anchor to shore
  • Protected recreational sailing (lakes, rivers, and harbors)

Best Sailboat Type for Stability

Stability is a factor that varies widely between sailboat types. There are different types of stability, and some sailors prefer one over another. For initial stability, the trimaran wins with little contest. This is because these vessels have a very high beam-to-length ratio, which makes them much less prone to rolling. Next up is the catamaran, which enjoys the same benefit from a wide beam but lacks the additional support of a center hull section.

It's clear that in most conditions, multihull vessels have the greatest stability. But what about in rough weather? And what about capsizing? Multihull sailboats are impossible to right after a knockdown. This is where full-keel monohull sailboats excel.

Traditional vessels with deep displacement keels are the safest and most stable in rough weather. The shape, depth, and weight of their keels keep them from knocking over and rolling excessively. In many cases, these sailboats will suffer a dismasting long before a knockdown. The primary disadvantage of deep-keeled sailboats is their tendency to heel excessively. This characteristic isn't hazardous, though it can make novice sailors nervous and reduce cabin comfort while underway.

Best Sailboat Type for Offshore Cruising

The best sailboat type for offshore cruising is the schooner. These graceful aid robust vessels have proven themselves over centuries as durable and capable vessels. They typically use deep displacement keels, which makes them stable in rough weather and easy to keep on course.

That said, the full answer isn't quite so simple. Modern multihull designs are an attractive option, and they have also proven to be strong and safe designs. Multihull sailboats are an increasingly popular option for offshore sailors, and they offer comfort that was previously unknown in the sailing community.

Many sailors cross oceans in basic Bermuda-rigged monohulls and take full advantage of a fin-keel design speed. At the end of the day, the best offshore cruising sailboat is whatever you are comfortable handling and living aboard. There are physical limits to all sailboat designs, though almost any vessel can make it across an ocean if piloted by a competent skipper and crew.

Best Sailboat Type for Racing The modern lightweight Bermuda-rigged sailboat is the king of the regatta. When designed with the right kind of hull, these vessels are some of the fastest sailboats ever developed. Many boats constructed between the 1970s and today incorporate these design features due to their favorable coastal and inland handling characteristics. Even small sailboats, such as the Cal 20 and the Catalina 22, benefit from this design. These boats are renowned for their speed and handling characteristics.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Trailerable Sailboat Reviews: Small Boats, Big Adventures

  • By Herb McCormick
  • March 15, 2023

We were approaching the trickiest, most hazardous stretch of the Northwest Passage , high in the Canadian Arctic, when we happened upon a sight more wondrous in its own way than all the ice, polar bears and other assorted wildlife that preceded it. Tucked up against a barren shoreline, its anchor embedded in a handy ice floe, was a nifty little trailer-sailer, what we soon discovered was a NorseBoat 17.5 Classic. 

Hopping in the dinghy from our rather cushy 64-foot steel cutter, we pulled alongside and were greeted by a pair of strapping Royal Marines named Kevin Oliver and Tony Lancaster. They were on military leave for a busman’s holiday of sorts: sailing, rowing and occasionally dragging their open boat, with a simple cuddy for accommodations, through the notoriously challenging high northern latitudes. One thing was clear: If these dudes were running the British Empire, there’d still be one.

Those chaps, and that boat, captured my imagination. I thought about them again late last fall on a road trip from New England to Florida with my daughter as we passed one compact camper after another. We both love camping, and we were debating the merits of one mini Gulf Stream to another tiny Winnebago when she said something profound: “Why not have a trailerable sailboat as your RV? You could sleep in it while traveling, then when you reached your destination, you could go sailing.” Why not indeed?

I’ve owned many fully found, systems-rich cruising boats but have always been enamored with the simplicity and versatility of something small and trailerable that you could tow and launch from just about anywhere: the Florida Keys, the coast of Maine, the Sea of Cortez, the Pacific Northwest. (The closest I’ve personally come is a J/24, which can be trailered anywhere, but which is more of a dedicated racer than a pocket cruiser.) There’s something seriously appealing about the idea. Which is why, over the years, I’ve kept a short list of the boats I think could fill the bill, having sailed them to test their potential. What follows are a few of my favorites. 

For the Hearty at Heart 

I’ll always relate to those ­hardened Brit lads in the Arctic when I think of the NorseBoat 17.5 Classic. (Perhaps to underscore their no-nonsense attitude, they co-authored a book about their adventure entitled—what else?— Blokes Up North. ) The boat’s Canadian builder has an appropriate nickname for its vessels, which include 12.5 and 21.5 models: the “Swiss Army knife of boats.” The 17.5 Classic is one salty-looking craft, with a pronounced bow, sweeping sheerline, lapstrake fiberglass hull, pivoting carbon-fiber gaff-rigged spar, fully battened mainsail, kick-up rudder, and a pair of rowing stations with a set of 9-foot oars. Options include a full-size tent that encapsulates the entire open boat, though the cuddy works well for most outings, and motor mounts for a 2 or 4 hp outboard. Talk about distinctive. NorseBoat says that the boat can be towed by a midsize car, fits in a standard garage, and is ideal for “cruising sailors who want to downsize, sea kayakers who are moving up, and daysailors who want a high-performance boat with lovely traditional lines.” I agree with that assessment. It will also work, ahem, for grizzled soldiers looking for a “relaxing” break from the front lines.

The Trailerable “Legend”

My lasting memory of the Catalina 22 is a visit I paid to the Southern California plant where they were built some four decades ago. From a balcony overlooking the factory floor, I saw four production lines knocking out the classic little 22-footer, each line producing a boat per day (another facility on the East Coast also churned out one daily). It was the Golden Age of American boatbuilding, and I’ve always considered this compact craft to be the gold standard of trailerables (longtime Catalina designer Gerry Douglas prefers to call it “the Miller Genuine Draft of sailboats: cheap and cheerful”). Seeing that almost 16,000 have been launched over the years, “ubiquitous” also works. The early models were bare bones: no winches, lifelines, nothing. But over the years, Douglas says, “the options grew, and it morphed into a cruiser,” with galleys, heads, holding tanks and other accoutrements. The trouble with all the stuff was that many sailors liked racing their 22s, and the extra gear made the boats heavier and noncompetitive. Douglas eventually went back to the drawing board and designed a lighter version, the Catalina 22 Sport. It was competitive with the older, original boats—and is still produced today. “If you opened up a dictionary with a picture of a sailboat, it would be the Catalina 22,” Douglas says. “I think it has a place in the history of our sport. It was simple, with no bad habits. It introduced a lot of people to sailing and provided a lot of pleasure over the years.” And continues to do so. I’ll take one anytime.

Fast and Fun

My first exposure to the Seascape line of quick and trim racers/cruisers—a brand built and launched from Slovenia, which is a rather sailing-crazed nation—came from my colleagues at our sister publication Sailing World , a dedicated racing magazine. They raved about the quality of construction and sailing experience. Then, in 2018, Seascape was acquired by Groupe Beneteau, and all previous Seascape models were integrated into the Beneteau First product range. It provided the line with the sort of widespread, mainstream marketing punch that it deserved. I’ve since sailed a pair of larger models produced by their collaborative effort, but if I were inclined to go the trailer-sailer route, my choice would definitely be the Beneteau First 24 SE (the SE standing for Seascape Edition). It’s a high-tech version of the previous First 24 with a serious boost in performance. The SE line’s sweet spot, in the company’s own assessment, is as a dual-threat boat aimed at competitive one-design racing and adventure sailing. I reckon that 24 feet is an ideal size for both, and the 24SE delivers on the promise with a carbon rig; swing keel with lead bulb; laminate sails; and light, high-tech, infused-­vinylester construction. With ­removable crew bags and modular components that can also be stored ashore when racing, the 24 SE can be set up quickly and easily for cruising or competition.  

One Sharp Sharpie

The late Rodger Martin was a South Africa-born naval architect who is probably best known for the robust ­round-the-world racers he conceived for solo legend Mike Plant, which is when I first met him. Tellingly, ­however, when it came to ­designing his own personal boat, he produced the very cool Presto 30. The 30-­footer was an offshoot of the Outward Bound Hurricane Island 30 that he designed for the wilderness program based in Maine, but that was a hybrid sailing/rowing boat. To upgrade it for cruising, Martin basically designed a sharpie, based on the straight-sided 18th-­century fishing boats with a hard chine, flat bottom and centerboard for access to shallow water. With a beam of 8 feet, 6 inches, the boat is eminently trailerable, and Martin regularly towed it south from New England in the wintertime for cruising forays across the Gulf Stream and into the Bahamas. Due to that shallow draft and minimal freeboard, the rig required a low center of effort, which Martin addressed with a simple cat-ketch rig. With the addition of a slightly raised cabin top, he was able to insert basic interior accommodations (which were also somewhat compromised by the centerboard trunk). For a couple who can embrace camper-style cruising, ­however, it fit the bill. In recent years, a couple of Presto fans have tried to put the boat back into production, which has yet to happen. But if you can find a used one, you’ll have a boat with a fine and unusual pedigree. ­

An Upgraded Ensign

A couple of years ago, I got myself a 1963 Pearson Ensign, a venerable daysailer designed by the great Carl Alberg that measures in at a smidgen under 23 feet with a full keel and a spacious cockpit. I quite enjoy my Ensign, but designer Tim Jackett has taken some of the ancient classic’s best features and incorporated them into a thoroughly modern upgrade: the Tartan 245. Conceived as an ideal tool for teaching sailing, the 245 replaces that massive keel with a lifting one that has 900 pounds of ballast, which makes it just as stiff as the old-timer. With the board down, it draws 4 feet, 6 inches, but once raised, the draft is just 1 foot, 8 inches—and with its kick-up rudder, you can nudge into the shallows that the Ensign could only dream about. Like the full-size members of the Tartan clan, the 245 has a carbon-fiber spar that’s stepped on deck and is easily raised and lowered. A retractable bowsprit is ideal for flying off-wind reachers; for working sail, there’s a choice of an overlapping headsail or a self-tacking jib. The little cuddy space forward is another feature reminiscent of the Ensign; it can be employed, along with the handy tiller, for camper-style cruising. You may be able to have more kicks on a little sailboat, but I’m not sure how.

Happy Little Girl

And now for something completely different: the Pacific Seacraft Flicka (Swedish for “happy little girl”). It’s a 20-foot, heavy-displacement, full-keel pocket cruiser that, yes, you can pop on a trailer and wheel to destinations of your heart’s content. Designed by Bruce Bingham—an illustrator and sailor who, for many years, penned this magazine’s Workbench column—the boat was originally offered in kit form, and then bounced around to a couple of builders before finding a permanent home at Pacific Seacraft, which produced the grand majority of them (reportedly, roughly 400 Flickas were ultimately produced). Bingham loved his, sailing his pretty Sabrina all over creation, which is when I became enamored with the boat. The Flicka certainly fits the definition of a cult boat, and these days, if you look hard enough, you can find one in almost any configuration: sloop, cutter, yawl, schooner, even gaff-rigged. With a startlingly roomy interior, the Flicka is cozy but certainly not the fastest 20-footer you can find. You might not get where you’re going quickly, but you will get there.

To the Third Power

Talk about a boat that was ahead of its time. Any list of good trailerable boats has to include a multihull, and few have reached the overall popularity of the Corsair F-27, the prototype for which was originally launched way back in 1985. It’s designed by Kiwi Ian Farrier, based on another little trimaran he’d created a decade earlier. The signature feature of the three-hulled 27-footer is the folding outrigger system—better known as the Farrier Folding System—which reduces the beam from a significant 19 feet to a mere 8 feet, 2 inches, which makes it eminently trailerable. You can still see (and find) F-27s just about everywhere. They have active one-design racing fleets all over the place, and they make for tidy pocket cruisers when they’re not zipping around the racecourse. From a pure sailing point of view, there’s nothing more enjoyable than finding yourself perched out on an ama of an F-27, coursing along at double-digit boatspeeds, with a light touch on a long tiller extension. We’re talking joy, cubed.  

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    Launched in 1985, the speedy Corsair F-27 ­delivers double-digit boat speeds. Courtesy The Manufacturer. Talk about a boat that was ahead of its time. Any list of good trailerable boats has to include a multihull, and few have reached the overall popularity of the Corsair F-27, the prototype for which was originally launched way back in 1985.