Can Yachts Have Sails? Basic Facts (For Beginners)

Yachts can have sails, and they often do have sails.  These yachts are officially known as sailing yachts. They will also be equipped with a motor for safety and convenience.

A sailing yacht will likely have a diesel engine for power.   While this motor is running, it will be considered a sailboat under power.  In this case, it will have to follow the basic navigation and light rules of a powerboat.

There are other aspects of sailing yachts that you may also want to consider.

In this post, we’ll give you the full rundown on sailing yachts.

Some Sailing Yachts Are More Capable Than Others

Just because a yacht is big and has a sail doesn’t mean it can travel.  Boats come in a wide variety of builds, and not all designs are meant for high waves and strong winds.

Luckily there is a certification system in place that determines what types of waters different boats can navigate.

This certification system places boats into one of four categories.  The categories range from category A boats to category D boats.

A category A classified yacht can head out on long ocean voyages, while a category D classified yacht should stick to the calmer waters of lakes and rivers.

You can read more about these categories and what they mean on the post titled, “Can Yachts Cross The Pacific & The Atlantic Oceans.”

Sailing Yachts Offer Fewer Amenities

A sailing yacht can be built with a luxurious interior that offers many luxury amenities.

Large kitchens, spacious berths, and relaxing decks can all be found on a yacht with sails.

This being said, a sailing yacht has space restrictions that a motor yacht does not have.

For example, the sails of a yacht often do not allow for things like pools to be built onto the deck of a yacht. 

Even if it did allow for it, the movement of a sailboat might preclude the pool from being functional.

If you’re considering a sailing yacht, you should know that the spas, Jacuzzis, and relaxing deck areas of a motor yacht might not be available to you.  Also, to have these amenities added to a sailing yacht, you’ll probably have to buy a much bigger boat than you would have had to with a motor yacht.

Sailing Yachts Can Travel Further

A motor yacht can only travel so far before it runs out of fuel.

Run out of fuel while out at sea in a motor yacht, and you could be stranded out there.

Unfortunately, motor yacht fuel gauges are also likely to be inaccurate.  Besides the effect from the shape of the tank that can influence the gauge’s accuracy, the angle and movement of the boat can affect the fuel gauge readings.

As a result, people with motor yachts have to make fuel calculations before heading out on their trip.  On top of this, high winds or strong currents could result in poor fuel economy.

This means that even if you do fuel calculations ahead of time, you could still end up running out of fuel unless you monitor carefully and slow down if necessary.

In the end, people with motor yachts who wish to travel longer distances will usually need to get a larger yacht so that they can have a larger fuel tank.

Sailing yachts don’t have this problem.  A sailing yacht doesn’t have to rely on fuel, so even smaller yachts can safely travel long distances without ever having to worry about running out of fuel.

Sailing Yachts and Motor Yachts Have Different Costs

A motor yacht is generally a lot more expensive to operate and maintain.

This is because their engines are much larger, and the engines require a lot of fuel.

Sailing yachts rely mostly on their sails and only have a small engine that is used primarily for getting in and out of docks and narrow passageways.

This being said, a sailing boat has expensive sails and rigging that needs to be replaced regularly.  This equipment is expensive and will often need to be replaced whether you use it or not.

The reason for this is that the equipment can degrade over time, and boat owners don’t want to become stranded because their equipment has failed due to a lack of maintenance.

Sailing Yachts Are Slower

A sailing yacht cannot move as fast as a motor yacht.

In fact, a sailboat usually has a top speed of about 10 knots, while a powerboat can travel between 12 to 24 knots.  That means a motor yacht will travel at more than twice the speed of a sailing yacht.

If you’re new to watercraft, a knot is equivalent to about 1.15 miles per hour.

This means a sailing yacht may only travel 11 miles per hour, while a motor yacht might travel at speeds of up to 29 miles per hour.  For people on the metric system, this is about 18 kilometers per hour or 46 kilometers per hour.

One thought to keep in mind, however, is that a sailing yacht will not have to stop to refuel like a motor yacht.  This saves time in two ways.  Firstly, the yacht doesn’t have to stop at ports to refuel.  Secondly, a sailing yacht may take a more expedient route than a person with a motor yacht might have to take.

Sailing Yachts Take More Training to Operate

Operating a motor yacht isn’t much different than operating other types of motor vehicles.

You’ll have to learn the rules of the water, but as far as driving goes, you won’t have a whole lot to learn.

Someone with car driving experience can learn the basics of driving a motorboat in just a few minutes.

Sailing a boat is much more intense.  In fact, most new sailors will spend a couple of weeks learning the ins and outs of sailing.

However, just because one person has learned how to sail, it doesn’t mean that the yacht can be sailed out to sea.  Larger yachts will need a larger crew.  This means that multiple people will need to learn how to sail before the yacht can embark on its journey.

Super Mega Sailing Yacht A

The largest and most expensive sailing yacht in the world is the super mega sailing yacht “A.”  This sailing yacht was built for a Russian billionaire named Andrey Meinichenko.

Sailing yacht A is over 142 meters long or 466 feet in length.  The mainmast is over 100 meters higher than the water.  This puts it at the height of 328 feet.  The cruising speed is 16 knots, top speed of 21 knots.

It took over four years to build the vessel, and the ship needs a crew of 54 people.  This crew is necessary to operate the ship and serve the guests of the ship as well.

Sailing yacht A’s size isn’t the only thing that makes it stand out.  The ship has a very modern look to it that makes it look more like a naval destroyer rather than a typical yacht.

Not only this, but there is a glass room underneath the boat that can be used as an underwater observatory.

You Don’t Have to Be A Sailor To Own A Sailing Yacht

One thought to keep in mind when buying a sailing yacht is that you don’t actually have to learn how to sail it.

Technically, you could hire a crew to sail your boat for you.

In this case, you get to sit back and enjoy the journey while someone else does the work for you.

Keep in mind that the size of your crew will depend on the size of your boat as well as the types of voyages you’ll be making in your sailing yacht.  A smaller sailing yacht might get by with a small crew of three people, while a larger yacht might need up to forty people to operate effectively.

Of course, even a motor yacht could make use of a crew.

However, motor yacht crews can be smaller, and the crew will not need quite as much training.  This means that a motor yacht captain and crew is usually less expensive to hire versus a sailing yacht captain and crew.

Names Change Based On Size

A sailing yacht isn’t always just a sailing yacht.

Sailing yachts can be known as a mega sailing yacht and Giga sailing yachts.  The different names come at different lengths.

Standard sailing yachts are vessels that are under 24 meters or approximately 79 feet in length.  A mega yacht is typically a vessel that is larger than 24 meters in length.  These yachts may also be called superyachts instead of mega yachts.

Giga yachts are ships that are over 67 meters or approximately 220 feet in length.  Some people refer to these boats as super mega yachts.  These ships are well out of the price ranges of all but the most wealthy people globally, and they are custom-built based on the buyer’s preferences.

In Summary

Yachts can indeed have sails.

However, a sailing yacht has many differences compared to a motor yacht, and potential yacht buyers should consider these differences carefully before deciding what type of yacht to purchase.

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