What makes a sailboat safe?
All sailboats are designed to be somewhat safe, it would be strange if they weren’t. That being said, some are going to be safer than others. There are complex calculations that can be made about the safety of a boat based on the square footage of the hull and various other measurements. But, there are some simpler things to consider when assessing how safe a sailboat is going to be. Here are the four key things to consider when assessing the safety of a boat.
When sailing stability is everything. The more stable a boat is, the less likely it is going to capsize. This is especially important for beginner sailors, they are still learning the ropes and are far more likely to capsize than someone with a lot of experience. One of the best ways to assess how stable a boat will be is what type of hull it has, a double-hulled sailboat (catamaran) is going to be twice as stable as a single-hulled one. The wider the surface area, the more stable a boat will be. This is why ferries are typically very flat and very wide.
When it comes to boats, size matters. The bigger a boat the more stable it is going to be. Waves and wind don’t scale to the boat. The smaller the waves are compared to your boat, the safer you are going to be. An extreme example would be comparing a little sailboat to an aircraft carrier, the aircraft carrier is going to be infinitely safer than the sailboat in rough conditions. The difference between a small sailboat and a medium sailboat is less extreme but still matters.
A strong mast is important, you want a mast that is going to be able to withstand the very worst of the storms. The reason being that if a boat loses its mast it is far easier to capsize. A mast is integral to the stability of a ship; if you don’t have a strong mast you don’t have a strong ship.
A sailboat that is made of stronger material is safer. It’s as simple as that. It may end up costing you more to have a boat built of steel, but that’s the price of safety. That isn’t realistic for a beginner sailboat, so you are more likely to be looking for fiberglass/carbon fiber boats.
Why is finding the safest sailboat so important?
When you are a beginner, finding the safest sailboat possible is so important. You may feel like you have a well-developed set of sailing skills, perhaps you even do, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions. No matter how much natural talent you may have for sailing, the fact is if you are a beginner you are far more likely to crash, capsize, or beach your boat. Chances are you won’t be doing any of those things, but it is still best to anticipate the worst-case scenario.
First of all, the safer the sailboat is the less likely you are going to have any of the above problems. A wider, stronger, more stable sailboat is less likely to capsize or be blown off course. This is the precautionary benefit of owning a safe sailboat. Next, having a safer sailboat means if any of those things do happen YOU are more likely to survive the experience. Sailing is dangerous, the sea can be deadly. So, if you have a boat that will survive you crashing into something or someone YOU are more likely to survive it too.
What are the safest sailboats available?
Which sailboats are safest is up for debate, there is no definitive single boat that one can point to and say, “that’s the safest sailboat”. But, there are some models that most professionals agree are generally very safe for experienced sailors and beginners alike. Just because a bigger sailboat might seem safer at first, you have to consider who is sailing it. A beginner is interestingly going to be safer on a smaller boat than a larger one, it takes practice and experience to sail larger vessels. These 3 sailboats would make excellent choices for anyone with safety as their priority.
The wayfarer is a large two-man sailboat. Someone can sail it solo if they wish, but that might take a little more practice.
The wayfarer is a British made sailboat that is incredibly popular in Europe. It has been used to make many solo voyages by experienced sailors to all kinds of interesting places. It is commonly used to sail solo around the United Kingdom, it has even been used to sail from England to Norway.
This boat is a little older than some of the other options, so you want to ensure the one you are buying is still in good condition. Despite its age, it is a very sturdy boat. It is very reliable, very wide, and very sturdy. It is going to be able to stand up to anything that gets thrown at it. The only problem you might find is tracking one down. There are plenty for sale all over the continental United States, but they are also in high demand.
The Wayfarer costs approximately $15,000 US. It depends on the condition, age, and the seller.
2. Flying fifteen
The flying fifteen is a sturdy two-man keelboat. A keelboat is a mid-sized sailing boat, that is capable of withstanding high winds and rough seas. The flying fifteen has a solid iron on the bottom of the hull. This makes it very sturdy; you would have to crash into something very hard to damage this hull. Perfect for beginners who are more likely to have that sort of problem.
The flying fifteen, despite its iron hull, is a pretty swift boat. It has a large sail and is perfect for racing. They are interestingly used almost entirely for racing in Australia. The only downside to this boat is that it is not ideal for use in a busy marina. The sale is very big, so it is much easier to learn to use on the open water than in congested marinas and docks. As boats go, it is also very good looking. It is surprisingly affordable for such a high quality, good lucking, sailboat.
A Flying fifteen will only set you back about $7,500 US. They are easy enough to come by, as they are one of the most popular two-man racing boats.
3. Sprint 15 Catamaran
Catamarans are great boats for beginners. They are typically cheap, sturdy, and easy to use. They are also especially safe. The biggest safety feature of a catamaran, as mentioned above, is their two hulls. This increased stability makes them perfect for even the most inexperienced sailors.
The best catamaran for beginners is probably the Sprint 15. This is yet another British made sailboat, though this one is slightly slower than the wayfarer. It is also far, far cheaper.
The Sprint 15 has a fiberglass hull, meaning it is swift but strong. This ship is easy enough to find in the States and very easy to use. It is a double hander, meaning it may require a slight adjustment in your sailing styles. Once you adjust, it will be all smooth sailing from there. Safety aside, a sprint 15 is one of the best beginner boats on the market.
The sprint 15 is a very affordable sailing boat, even as catamarans go. You can find one of these on the market for as little as $2,000 if you are lucky. You might end up paying more for a newer model, but that will only be $1,000 more at most.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when you are looking for the safest sailboat. They all have their pros and cons, which one is best for you depends on personal preference and need.
For example, getting a Sprint 15 might be the best choice for you based on stability and price. But, perhaps you don’t want a catamaran. Perhaps you would prefer a two-man keelboat like the flying fifteen, with a strong hull and a racing sail.
Maybe neither of those appeals to you and you would be happy to spend the extra money on the wayfarer. Perhaps, there is even a different sailboat than these that you had your eye on. Whichever boat you choose, so long as you keep the tips from this article in mind you will have no trouble picking the safest, most affordable, sailboat for you.