What makes a good ocean boat? It’s a valid question, commonly asked, but as with many boating questions, there is no one answer. In fact, there is no best ocean boat either. Only the best ocean-going boat for you and what you want it to do. Whether it’s offshore fishing, sailing around the world, coastal cruising, or extended voyages, there will be good boats for the task—and others, not so good.
Of course there are many characteristics that ocean-going boats will need to have that are different from those designed to ply gentler inland waters where breaking seas, long distances, and inclement weather rarely if ever are a factor. Here we’ll take a look at the types of boats that are designed for the ocean and also look at some of the best ocean boat brands on the market today.
What Characteristics Do the Best Ocean Boats Have?
Seaworthy in open water and stormy weather: A boat tackling ocean waters needs to be sturdy enough, large enough, and/or nimble enough to navigate the bigger seas and stronger winds that can arise. If you’re tackling oceans, you’ll typically want a boat that is 20 feet long or larger and built with strength. It’s important to know your boat’s limitations, to check the weather carefully before venturing out, and prepare accordingly. Knowing your boat’s range—is it a long-distance, bluewater voyager or a day-sailing coastal boat?—is also key to staying safe.
Deep-V hulls and deep draft: Most ocean-going boats have deep-V hulls and adequate draft to provide extra stability in turbulent waters, high waves, and bad weather. An exception to that are multihulls, which can offer excellent stability thanks to their multiple hulls and wide shape. In addition to a deep V hull, ocean-going boats are often designed with strakes—molded lines running down the hull of motorboats that help them reach planing speed and reduce the slap from large waves. If you don’t plan to venture offshore or undertake long voyages, a shallow or modified V hull is often ideal for more coastal ocean cruising in shallower waters.
Corrosion resistance: In contrast to fresh water, salt water is highly corrosive and damaging to boats, and they need to be designed for and maintained to cope with those damaging effects (see our guide to the differences between saltwater and freshwater boats for more advice). Boats designed for salt water will have marine-grade metals such as stainless steel, and must be built with corrosion-resistant hardware.
Power and fuel capacity: If you’re going to cruise farther, it makes sense that your boat will need a fuel-efficient engine as well as a larger fuel tank to allow you to carry on longer without refueling. Fast boats such as those used for offshore fishing commonly have large powerful engines, allowing you to get to the offshore fishing grounds in less time. For those crossing oceans, sailboats have long been the boat of choice since wind-power is free, if occasionally finicky.
Sleeping and storage capacity: If you’re cruising long distances, you’ll need to ensure that you have enough cabin space, living space, and storage space for supplies to accommodate all those on board. Bunks will typically be fitted with lee cloths to securely hold sleeping crew members in their berths. Ventilation is also critical, allowing fresh air below decks without bringing sea water along at the same time.
The Best Types and Brands of Ocean Boats
Sailboats bring the romance to cruising the oceans, and are able to sail motor-less for thousands of miles, making them the top choice when it comes to long range ocean cruising. The choice of sailboat is endless, but it depends how far you want to travel as to how big a sailboat you’ll need. Coastal sailing can be done in most sizes and styles of sailboat, while you’ll ideally be looking for a strong and sturdy sailboat over 35 feet to travel long distances (see our guide to bluewater sailboats under 40 feet for some exciting small sailboat options and what to look for in an ocean sailboat).
The best ocean sailboat brands
- Hallberg-Rassy has been producing quality ocean-going cruising boats in Sweden for more than half a century. The company’s current lineup of comfortable, seaworthy, premium-priced yachts from 34 to 69 feet LOA. Hallberg-Rassy boats for sale
- Beneteau’s impressive range of Oceanis cruisers ranges from 31 to 60 feet and offers spacious, versatile layouts and sound performance at a moderate price. Beneteau boats for sale
- Jeanneau has produced ocean-capable sailboats for more than 60 years and has a good reputation for building innovative boats that perform well. The company’s current range includes large yachts, small ocean racers, and 35- to 49-foot cruising models. Jeanneau boats for sale
Hallberg Rassy 400. Hallberg Rassy photo.
Known for their long-range capabilities and excellent fuel efficiency, trawlers are becoming increasingly popular as ocean-going liveaboards. Unlike the fishing vessels from which they draw their name, this new breed of power-cruising yacht typically offers extensive living space, home comforts, and even luxury living, which is highly regarded among many cruising great distances or spending extended periods of time living aboard.
The best trawler yacht brands
- Nordhavn is a long-standing, all-American brand producing some of the best trawler yachts on the market today. Ranging from 41 feet all the way into superyacht classification sizes, Nordhavn trawlers balance robustness with comfort. Nordhavn yachts for sale
- Selene is a Dutch brand, building up to 100 world class boats every year. Their impressive inventory includes boats from 40 feet to 128 feet, with their mid-sized models in particular offering excellent use of space and a classic styling. Selene boats for sale
- American Tugs is one of the best smaller shipyards, with 20 years’ experience producing high quality coastal cruisers under 45 feet. American Tugs boats for sale
Nordhavn 475. Nordhavn photo.
Center Console Boats
Center consoles boats are high-powered vessels, commonly used for offshore fishing due to their open deck layout allowing for 360 fishability. Fast, stable, roomy, and well-equipped, they are wonderfully versatile and are available from trailerable 17-foot models up to 45 feet and longer, with cabins and heads. They are typically able to handle big seas and weather, but don’t have the sleeping, living, and storage space of longer-range types of ocean boats.
The best center console boat brands
- Boston Whaler have been around since 1958 and have one of the best reputations in the center console industry for both their fishing and recreational boats. Boston Whaler boats for sale
- Everglades is a brand offering 23- to 45-foot center consoles with a clear focus on fishing offshore. It is known equally for premium quality finishings and strong hull construction using high-density foam core to offer a smooth ride in waves. https://www.rightboat.com/boats-for-sale/evergladesEverglades boats for sale
- For more check out our article on the best center console boat brands and the best center consoles over 40 feet.
Boston Whaler 250 Dauntless. Boston Whaler photo.
Sport Fishing Yachts
Powerful, robust, and equipped to take anglers on deep sea fishing adventures, sport fishing boats are more than capable when it comes to big ocean conditions. They’re capable of cruising up to 100 miles offshore where the big pelagic creatures such as bluefin tuna and marlin live, allowing anglers to fish for several days at a time in comfort. With all the equipment needed for fishing, storing, and living, sport fishing yachts aren’t inexpensive, but you can buy a seriously high-performance yacht for the money.
The best sport fishing yacht brands
- Viking Yachts has a huge range of world-class sport fishing yachts ranging from towable 38 footers all the way up to 90 feet, although the majority fall within the 45 to 70 feet range. Impeccable finish and extremely high performance is the norm throughout the fleet. Viking Yachts for sale
- Hatteras Yachts bring elegance and innovation to sportfishing with their four convertible sport fishing yachts from 45 to 70 feet. For more than 60 years, the firm has been creating high-performance sport fishing boats that ooze luxury. Hatteras Yachts for sale
- Bertram has a long history of building fishing yachts focused on seaworthiness, stability, and safety. The company offers serious blue water fishing machines, as well as smaller, capable boats ranging from 28 to 61 feet. Bertram boats for sale
For more top fishing boat brands, see Best Offshore Fishing Boat Brands.
Viking 68C. Viking Yachts photo.
Cabin cruisers make up one of the most versatile and popular of ocean boats as they are multifunctional, seaworthy, and well-designed for coastal cruising. While not normally suited to prolonged periods at sea or long-range cruising, this style of boat features home comforts, modest galley areas, and cabins that can be used for extended trips.
The best ocean cabin cruisers
- Sea Ray are masters in producing small, luxurious cabin cruisers that offer weekends at sea, plenty of home comforts, and reassuring seaworthiness. Their Sundancer range is from 26 feet to 37 feet, and the SLX series goes up to 40 feet. Sea Ray boats for sale
- Chris-Craft has been producing elegant, traditionally styled cabin cruisers (as well as center consoles) for decades, and their range of boats certainly turn heads. Offering pocket-sized luxury and packed with amenities, they remain one of the best brands in the industry. Chris-Craft boats for sale
- Grand Banks Yachts is a brand that has shifted over the years from producing what was the iconic ocean-going trawler yacht to a higher-performance luxury motoryacht that fits better in the cabin cruiser category. Design and construction attend to hull shapes, weights, and materials to produce a capable, quiet boat in rough conditions. Grand Banks Yachts
Grand Banks 54. Grand Banks photo.
Cruising catamarans are fast gaining popularity for their long-range capabilities as well as their stability and huge amounts of extra living and storage space compared to monohulls of the same size. With salons and cockpits that stand well above the water line you get wrap around sea views, as well as huge cabin and galley space. They’re extremely capable blue water cruisers, but also perfect for coastal adventures with larger groups than you could comfortably get on a monohull. They don’t keel over in the same way as sailboats, offering impressive stability and speed, and are fast becoming a popular choice for around the world cruisers and charter companies.
The best cruising catamarans
- Fountaine Pajot is one of the biggest names in the cruising catamaran world and are instrumental in shaping this new industry of long range, high performance blue water multihulls. Fountaine Pajot Catamarans for sale
- Lagoon Catamarans have a huge inventory of cruising catamaran models throughout the size ranges, and are one of the top choices for charter companies. Lagoon Catamarans for sale
- Leopard Catamarans offer a huge range of top-of-the-range sailing and motor cruising catamarans through boat builders Robertson and Caine. In their 50 years of business they’ve delivered an impressive 2,500 vessels, making them one of the most popular cruising catamaran brands out there. Leopard Catamarans for sale
Leopard 40 Powercat. Leopard Catamarans photo.
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