Schooner Buying Guide 2024

COLUMBIA 2014 141' 2" EASTERN SHIPBUILDING GROUP Schooner, schooner guide

Schooners are a timeless symbol of maritime elegance and adventure. These iconic vessels, characterized by their multiple masts and traditional rigging, offer a unique and exhilarating sailing experience. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a newcomer to the world of yachting, understanding the allure of schooners can enhance your appreciation for these magnificent ships. Our comprehensive Schooner Guide covers everything from their rich history and distinctive design to practical tips for chartering or owning one. Dive into the fascinating world of schooners and embark on your next adventure with confidence. Read more to explore the beauty and charm of schooners today!

Image Credit: COLUMBIA 2014 141′ 2″ EASTERN SHIPBUILDING GROUP Schooner

What is a Schooner?

A schooner is a sailing vessel with two or more masts, typically with a foremast smaller than the mainmast with gaff-rigged lower masts. The most common of these is a two masted schooner, while as others grow in number of masts, adopt the name relative to their masts (i.e. three masted schooner). The largest schooner ever built was the Thomas Lawson, featuring an impressive seven masts!

GWEILO 2009 155' 7" MENGI YAY Schooner
GWEILO 2009 155′ 7″ MENGI YAY Schooner

Is a Schooner a ship or a boat?

It can be classified as either a ship or a boat depending on the size of the yacht. Most will classify a ship as anything over 100 feet, and a boat, anything under 99 feet. The newly launched in 2023, 416-foot KORU by Oceanco is currently the largest three masted schooner sailing yacht on the water, while the smallest one can be as small as 18 feet and is classified as a day sailer only.

How big is a Schooner boat?

As shipyards continue to push the limits of what is possible in boat building, the size of a this type of boat truly knows no limits. The world’s largest sail-assisted motor yacht, A, was completed by Nobiskrug in 2017 and is 469 feet. While not purely a sailing yacht, this design marvel features three carbon fiber masts, technically meeting the threshold for a schooner. While KORU and A may be the largest schooners on the water today, this isn’t to say they won’t lose these world-record titles one day to another new build.

How fast can a Schooner go?

How fast it can go will depend on the draft and efficiency of the yacht. For example, BLACK PEARL is 350-feet and can reach a top speed of 30 knots, while her cruising speed is closer to 12 knots. While most traditional sailing yachts may have a cruising speed closer to 8 knots, schooners are helped here by the multiple sails to gain a quicker pace while under sail.


How much is a Schooner?

The price of a schooner will have a range as big as your budget! From the smaller end, you could consider a schooner day sailer that you can take across the bay for a little sail, or a large superyacht schooner with multiple decks over hundreds of feet!

If you’re looking to be able to sleep on your boat, you will likely be looking at something 40-50 feet or above with a price tag of around $80,000 on average. This can grow rapidly when considering some of the yachts mentioned above (for example, KORU has a rumored price tag of $500 million!).

Things that will affect the sale price of your boat: 

  • Size 
  • Year 
  • Condition 
  • Crew Salaries (if required) 
  • Maintenance/Running costs
GWEILO 2009 155' 7" MENGI YAY Schooner
GWEILO 2009 155′ 7″ MENGI YAY Schooner

What is the difference between a Schooner and a Sailboat?

There isn’t necessarily a difference between a schooner and a sailboat per se. A schooner is actually a type of sailboat. A sailboat is any vessel that is propelled mainly by sail power. While you can get motor sailers, a true sailboat is one that can navigate completely on wind power. A schooner is a type of sailboat or sailing yacht in that it is mainly powered by their sails. The only difference is, a schooner sailboat for sale will have a minimum of two masts, with the after masts being taller than the foremasts (as opposed to a traditional sailboat which may just have the one mast).

Can a Schooner cross the Atlantic?

Yes, a schooner can cross the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, you may even get more range out of using a schooner to cross the Atlantic Ocean than some motor yachts since you have the added advantage of using your sails, and not relying completely on fuel supply. Before you plan a trans-Atlantic crossing, you’ll want to consider a few things: 

  • Size – Most experts will agree that to comfortably cross the ocean, you should consider a boat that is a minimum of 35-40 feet.  
  • Fuel – While taking a schooner across the ocean will mean you’ll likely be using less fuel; you’ll still want to have enough storage onboard for extra fuel for your journey should you run into any issues or be at sea for longer than intended. 
  • Storage – Choosing a schooner with enough storage space to pack extra food, provisions and safety supplies is important to make sure you can keep your most essential items stocked. 
  • Spare Parts – Packing spare parts for all your mechanical and electrical equipment (and knowing how to fix these items) is even more important when at sea and away from facilities.

For a complete guide to ocean going yachts, please refer to our article here. 

Can you sail a Schooner alone?

You can sail it alone if you are adequately skilled and prepared. The exact size that one may be able to navigate solo will depend on your experience and level of confidence. It’s important to bear in mind that with two or more masts, you will be working harder than a standard sailboat with main and jib sails, so you’ll want to think about this decision carefully.

What is the benefit of a Schooner?

There are a few benefits to sailing a schooner: 

  • Three sails of equal size to help propel you while being easy to handle. 
  • Graceful and classic styling. 
  • Greater speed capabilities thanks to the design and number of sails. 
  • Easy to balance with the multiple sails. 
  • Greater deck and cockpit space thanks to the main sheet led far aft.

Are Schooners still used today?

While a very popular style of boat in the 19th and 20th centuries, some may say the schooner has fallen further in popularity thanks to an abundance of options when it comes to purchasing a new yacht today. However, thanks to advancements in naval architecture and design, schooners are enjoying a bit of a renaissance thanks to modern schooners like S/Y A, KORU and BLACK PEARL. 

They are a classic and stylish type of a sailboat for sale or sailing yacht still making waves on the water today. While they may come in several different sizes, as long as they have at least two masts, with the foremast being shorter than the after masts, they are classified as a schooner.  

For a list of sailing yachts currently for sale on, please click here

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