Affordable Cruising Sailboats
Published on July 29th, 2020
Practical Sailor reviews nine used boats over 35 feet and under $75,000.
In a search for a budget cruiser, Practical Sailor examined a field of used sailboats costing less than $75K and built between 1978 and 1984. We narrowed the field to boats with sufficient accommodations for four people and a draft of less than 6 feet. One way to approach a used-boat search is to look for sailboats with informed, active owners associations and high resale values.
Practical Sailor’s quest for recession-proof cruisers led us to the Allied Princess 36, Bristol 35.5C, Endeavour 37, S2 11.0, Freedom 36, ODay 37, Niagara 35, C&C Landfall 38, and the Tartan 37. The report takes a more in-depth look at the Tartan, C&C Landfall, and Niagara.
Let’s say you’re looking to buy a boat for summer cruising along the coastal U.S. or on the Great Lakes, one that, when the time is right, is also capable of taking you safely and efficiently to Baja or the Bahamas, and perhaps even island-hopping from Miami to the West Indies. Like most of us, your budget is limited, so a new boat is out of the question. Let’s set more specifics:
• Passes a thorough survey by a respected surveyor and has been upgraded to meet current equipment and safety standards. (These are old boats, after all, prone to all sorts of potentially serious problems.)
• Fun to sail inshore (which means not too heavy and not too big).
• Sufficient accommodations and stowage to cruise four people for two weeks.
• Popular model (active owners support group for help and camaraderie) with decent resale value
• Under $75,000.
• Monohull (multihulls violate the price cap, anyway).
• Draft of less than 6 feet (for the islands, mon).
In the February 2008 issue, we examined 30-footers from the 1970s, which is just above the minimum length for the Big Three: standing headroom, enclosed head, and inboard engine. Too small, however, to satisfy our new criteria.
So we need to jump up in size. As we culled through the possibilities, we found a fairly narrow range of boat lengths and vintages that satisfy the criteria. Of course, there always are exceptions, but basically it is this: 35- to 38-footers built between 1978 and 1984. Bigger or newer boats that meet our criteria cost more than $75,000.
Our list of nine models all were built by reputable companies in the U.S. or Canada, with underwater configurations ranging from full keels with attached rudders to fin keels and spade rudders. Displacements are mostly moderate.
So we present notes on six of the finalists with additional details of our three favorites: click here.