It’s Good to be Little

Choosing to go small was a very conscious decision. For boating to be sustainable for me and my circumstances, I bought the smallest boat that would fulfill my needs. The more popular attitude seems to buy the biggest boat one can afford and to maintain land-based lifestyles.

Many new boat owners are unprepared for the ongoing costs of keeping a boat maintained. The bigger the boat, the higher that is. I often see an inability of people to keep up. They spend their time and money on maintenance and moorage, rarely using the boat. There is also the person who lives aboard but doesn’t keep it in seaworthy enough condition to leave the dock. This was all unappealing to me.

So, I went small. I do make choices and accept conditions that many would find unacceptable for themselves. Sacrifice can be relative. The payoff of sailing more and living within my means is worthwhile. My carbon footprint is smaller than the average American and far smaller than the average boater.

Living aboard a small boat

Has challenges you may note

The galley is small

A head with no wall

But low fees to stay afloat





5 Comments on “It’s Good to be Little

  1. Hi Josh,
    I like your reasoning with the small boat option. I’m considering a Hunter Horizon 21ft myself as I really don’t have a lot of money, but I have a lot of time to learn to sail. Would you say that a small boat is more limited in the conditions you can sail in? I live in Brighton on the English Channel and whilst it’s not the ocean exactly, it’s not a sheltered estuary either. I’m worried that the 21ft yacht might be a bit hectic in sea conditions that a longer craft would slice through with no drama. Having said that, I’m a newbie, used to sailing a laser dinghy, so what do I know?

    I’d be grateful for your opinion. I have a bunch more newb questions too:-)

    All the best

    Simon Forbes.


    • Simon,
      Thanks for reaching out and I’m glad you had some interest in the blog. I am not familiar with the Hunter Horizon 21, but I looked it up. That boat is a lightweight boat with a high ballast/displacement ratio. It’s a whole different animal than a Flicka. Compare these specs:
      It likely will have some limits in the conditions it can sail in, but since your new too, so will you. I have not sailed on the English Channel, but my understanding it has significant tidal currents and this is something that will affect when you can sail as much as the wind. The Pacific Northwest does too. When there is a stiff wind against a strong tidal current, short, choppy seas will kick up. While a stiff boat (high ballast/displacement ratio) might handle the wind fine, the short, light aspect won’t likely slice through heavy chop well. Because it’s short it might be more affected by the troughs and crests, and because it’s light, it will lose momentum trying to get through the waves. It might be, as you say, hectic in those circumstances.
      It’s big advantages are it can be trailered, seems affordable and might be a good starter boat. Depending on your situation the trailering aspect could save you money and give you cruising options away from Brighton. Since you are new, I would encourage not over investing and get a feel for having the bigger boat. You may break things as you learn and they won’t hurt so much to repair. As with any boat, choose your weather. I’ll bet you will have plenty of opportunities on the Channel where conditions will be easy and even frustratingly calm. The tides will always be a consideration.
      Ask around locally and get multiple opinions on boats of that size and type, and how they perform in the area.
      I am attempting to have an unbiased and honest look at the advantages and disadvantages of the sizes with the page. Finances are such a main influence in my own choice. Sail within your means or you won’t. Thanks. I hope this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Josh,

    Thanks for your very full answer. I appreciate you giving me the time. The Horizon 21 is, as you say, a lightweight trailer sailor. Less than half the displacement of yours in fact. I can picture it being tossed about a good deal by the waves and perhaps being quite demanding to keep on course. Having said that, my local marina has a cheap deal for boats under 21″3′ (6.5 metres) and so if its a case of go cheap, go soon. I might just confine myself to light wind days and early mornings while I build my skills.

    Thanks, and all the best from England.



  3. Hey Josh,
    Just started following. I am also a small sailboat, limited budget sailor. Last year I got a Georgian 23. Small boat with big features. Solid boat, 6’2″ headroom, pumpout head, wheel steering and inboard diesel. Great little sailboat. Apparently theres been a few sailed down coast and across to bahamas and back from Canada.


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