Owning and Sailing Small Boats

The great thing about sailing small boats is that you can have just as much fun as sailing larger ones, but at a fraction of the cost. This is particularly so with trailerable sailboats - 'trailer-sailers' as they're often known.

The essential features of a trailerable sailboat is its lifting keel, which lets it sit low on the trailer for towing stability and launching in very shallow water, and a removable or 'kick-up' rudder.

The mast and boom must be easily removable for stowage along the length of the boat.

With a small outboard motor for when the wind drops and the essential safety gear you're ready to go.

With your pride and joy securely stowed aboard a purpose-built sailboat trailer it can be parked for free on your driveway, and towed astern of the family car for launching from a slipway of your choice. No expensive marina berth and lay-up charges to haemorrhage your bank account. 

The cost versus size thing is deserves a brief look...

Imagine two similar sailboats, one of which is double the size of the other. Double the cost then, right? Well no, it's even worse than that; those items which are based on area - sails and bottom paint for example - will be affected by a multiple of four for the larger boat, predictably costing four times as much - and there'll be four times more deck to scrub.

But the other side of that coin is that the internal volume - the living space below - will increase by the cube. That is, there'll be eight times the room aboard the larger boat.

But What About Sailing Small Boats?

The first thing to be aware of is that the smaller the boat, the larger will be the crew's contribution to the boat's overall displacement. So think of the crew as movable ballast, and move them around with care to avoid upsetting the trim.

Boat speed for displacement hulls is proportional to the waterline length, which in a small boat you won't have much of. So smaller boats are always going to be slower than larger ones, which means that taking advantage of tides and currents is something that sailors of small boats must pay particular attention to.

And a smaller boat will get thrown around more in a seaway than a larger one, so crew comfort underway will not always feature strongly. And with all other things being equal, a good small boat can never be as seaworthy as a good large one but it doesn't mean that small sailboats aren't capable of some epic voyages in the right hands. 

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