10 Best Sailboats for a Fun Lake Day
Sailing on lakes can be fun, especially if the wind is steady and the water is relatively flat. Although a 50-foot sailboat wouldn’t go amiss on Lake Superior, most lakes are perfect for smaller, more lightweight boats.
For inland waterways, it’s best to find compact sailboats under 30 feet with a centerboard or swing keel so they can be trailed from one lake to another. A tabernacle or collapsible mast that folds or is removable also comes in handy.
Finally, there’s a difference between a small open sailboat for day outings and one with a bunk and a head (toilet) so you can camp aboard for the weekend. Let’s look at a mix of 10 older and newer boats perfect for lake sailing.
- Harbor 20
- Alerion 28
- Hobie Cat
- Catalina 22 (25 & 27 also available)
The Optimist sailing dinghy weighs under 80 pounds and is virtually unsinkable. They’re easy to find since over 100,000 hulls have been sold.
Designed in the 1970s, the Laser is a simple sailboat with a single sail and room for one. It’s very popular with one-design racers.
A workhorse in yacht club youth sailing programs, the Sabot is a sailing dinghy with a centerboard that is perfect for kids to learn the ropes – literally.
This open 14-footer was first built in 1958 and developed quite a following with dinghy sailors. It has a fractional rig and a centerboard and can be sailed by one or two.
The Sunfish is more sophisticated than a typical sailing dinghy and can carry two adults since it’s 14 feet long. It’s a great boat on which to master racing skills.
6. Harbor 20
A fast and contemporary daysailer, the Harbor 20 was conceived on a bar napkin by fellow yacht clubbers, and its appeal has grown worldwide since. Fast and fun, the Harbor 20 even has a small electric motor hidden in the transom.
7. Alerion 28
Smart and sophisticated, the Alerion 28 turns heads with its impressive lines. With classic East Coast styling, the Alerion 28 has a beautifully appointed interior with all the amenities a couple would need for weekending.
8. Hobie Cat (assorted lengths)
This rotomolded sailing catamaran is virtually indestructible, which is why it’s so popular with resort and hotel fleets. There are a few to choose from, with the 18-foot Mirage Tandem Island model offering not only sails but also patented pedal power below the water.
9. MiniCat (assorted lengths)
This model is surprisingly sophisticated, an inflatable sailing catamaran with kick-up rudders and lots of sail trim adjustments. It can be assembled in under an hour and packed into two bags for easy transport.
10. Catalina 22 (25 & 27 also available)
The smallest of the current Catalina Yachts line, the 22, and its slightly larger siblings can be sailed coastally and on lakes. These covered boats have a V-berth bunk, toilet, sink, ice box, and room for a camping stove.
Try renting a sailboat
You don’t need to own a sailboat to have the pleasure of cruising on one. You can rent a sailboat for a fun lake day. On Boatsetter, you’ll see many of the models we cover above. You have the pick of the litter to see which one fits your style of sailing. And if you ever buy a sailboat, you can list here and start making money renting it out!
Dive In! Here’s more on sailboats:
- 7 Best Sailboat Accessories
- 10 Best Beginner Sailboats
- Newport, Rhode Island: The Sailing Capital of the World
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone— whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.
Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin.
A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide.
Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico.