The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Powerboat vs. a Sailboat

The decision between owning a sailboat vs. owning a powerboat can be a tough choice. The marina costs for both will be the same (depending on their size), and they both will have maintenance expenses related to their motors and other equipment. The real differences lie in how you intend to use it and what kind of experience you hope to have on the water.  


If you want to fish and relax on the water, then the powerboat is the right choice for you. If you feel a sense of pride in navigating the water and weather with your own bare hands, then a sailboat will be more your style.

We've put together a list of pros and cons in owning and operating a powerboat vs. a sailboat to help you make your decision between the two lifestyles.


A powerboat is an ultimate Bay and ocean boat and is great transport for bays or short fishing trips into the wide-open water. Whenever you get the urge, you can hop in, turn the key, and go wherever your heart desires.



  • Speed. If you have the need for speed, then a powerboat is the right choice for you. Sailboats will never compete with the speed of the dual engines of a powerboat. Most sailboats tap out at 7 knots, but power boats typically travel at speeds of around 15 to 20 knots on a calm day.

  • Space. Powerboats have more space—more deck space and more interior space. There are also more amenities in a powerboat including more cabins, stand-up galleys, etc.

  • Convenience. Powerboats don't rely on anything as fickle as the wind. When you want to travel somewhere, you just get in and go.

  • Less Training. Sailboats require a lot of training. Powerboats rely on their engines to overcome almost any environmental factors that may delay or alter the trip. Once you understand the rules of the water, the rest is pretty simple.

  • Shallow Drafts. Powerboats sit fairly shallow in the water, so you can easily dock in shallow waters, allowing closer access to beaches and other waterways.

  • Low Clearance. If you have bridges between you and many of your planned destinations, you'll want to get a powerboat. No need to worry about mast height preventing you from taking a trip.

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  • Fuel Reliant. Your powerboat can only go as far as your fuel tank will carry you. And unfortunately, that fuel tank will be costly to keep filled. Fuel prices are notoriously unstable and unpredictable.

  • Expensive Engines. Whether you have one engine or two, repairing a boat engine is going to be costly. Like a car, it's best to set up regular checkups to keep your engine running smoothly as long as possible.

  • Unsteady in the Wind. Because powerboats have shallower drafts and a higher center of gravity, they don't handle wind as well as sailboats, so taking a trip in windy weather can be less fun than it is scary.

  • Motor Sound. If you don't like the constant noise of a powerful engine, then the loud motor on the powerboat will be a con for you.


A sailboat is the perfect boat for people who want to connect to the water and weather on a primal level and understand how to navigate the world on their own power. If you want to live the ultimate boating adventure and explore the world by boat, then a sailboat is the boat you want.



  • Environmentally Friendly. Sailboats are the ultimate in environmentally friendly travel. They literally use the wind for power. Most sailboats have small motors for docking purposes, but some owners pride themselves on their ability to sail and dock, relying only on the tide and the wind.

  • No Limit on Travel Time. If you want to travel long distances—even overseas—then the only boat for you is a sailboat. Your sails can take you anywhere in the world, as long as you don't mind waiting for the right conditions.

  • Cheaper Engine. The sailboat engine is much smaller than that of a powerboat, and not used nearly as often, so fuel and upkeep costs are much lower.

  • Easier Socializing for the Captain. It's easier to socialize on a sailboat because it's quieter and the captain controls the boat from the stern allowing them to converse with everyone easily.

  • Adventurous. Though it may seem like the powerboat would be geared toward the adventurous souls, it's the sailboat that offers the most adventure. Mapping your trip to the weather and tides, planning the ultimate experience that only limited by your imagination and stamina. No reliance on fuel, just manpower.

  • Sense of Satisfaction. There is a sense of satisfaction you get from a good day on the water in a sailboat that you can't get from a powerboat. It comes from harnessing the power of nature and your own body to travel to your chosen destination and back.

  • Quiet. Because sailboats rely on wind instead of the power of a motor, the ride is quiet. Only the sounds of the surrounding water, the whistling wind and the snapping of the sails to keep you company.


  • Less Space. Because of the shape of the hull and the requirements of the masts and sails, sailboats have less space on and below deck. To get a comparable amount of free space and amenities to a powerboat, you have to buy a larger sailboat.

  • Wind Reliant. If the wind isn't cooperating, you can't sail, which means your trips may not go as planned. Life with a sailboat often means planning your adventures around the whims of nature.

  • Less Sun Cover. While powerboats can have several levels and shelter from the sun, the masts, sails, and rigging on a sailboat mean that there is less shelter from the sun when you're on the deck.

  • Deeper Drafts. The shape of a sailboat's hull means that it sits lower in the water, so you can't sail in shallow waters easily or get too close to beaches when anchoring.

  • More Training. It will take you longer to understand how to sail your boat because you can't just turn a key and go. You have to understand how to work the equipment onboard, and how wind direction, speed, tides, and other factors will affect your journey.

  • Expensive Equipment. When it comes to the expense of maintaining different boats, it's often six of one, half a dozen of the other. The most significant expense for sailboats are the sails and rigging. As with everything, the wear on sails depends on how much use they get, but sails should typically be replaced after about 3,500-4,000 hours of use, and the rigging replaced every ten years or so.

  • Time-Consuming. Sailing is a time-consuming pastime. It requires a lot of training, a lot of planning based on tides, winds, obstacles and destinations, and a lot of attention to details during the trip.

  • Energy-Consuming. Sailing is a very hands-on lifestyle. It is often said that those with powerboats live for the destination, while those with sailboats live for the journey. A journey in a sailboat requires constant adjustment of the sails, steering, and sometimes even adjusting your plans if the weather turns.

Whether you decide on a powerboat or a sailboat, Atomic Tuna Yachts has the perfect boat for you. Contact us to find out what boat is right for you and your lifestyle.  

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