Many of those who live aboard or sail long distances hold deck saloon yachts in high regard, thanks to their bright and spacious accommodation, including the excellent view you get from the saloon table. While most designs are large yachts from the more expensive manufacturers, there are a number of well designed smaller or older boats that can be bought on a more modest budget.

If you're thinking of living aboard or sailing offshore make sure to look at the features: How to choose an offshore cruising yacht and How to choose a yacht for ocean cruising.

Moody Eclipse

This range from the late 1980s and early 1990s was designed to provide easy handling along with an inside steering position in a spacious deck saloon.

Moody Eclipse 33: deck saloon yacht

Moody Eclipse 33: a 25-year-old deck saloon yacht that sells for under £50,000.

Three versions from 33-43ft were offered, with the smaller boat outselling the others by a wide margin. This offered six berth accommodation, including two double cabins, the forward of which is very spacious. There’s also an unusually large heads compartment with a separate shower stall – probably a first for a boat of this size.

The saloon has long u-shaped raised settee around a folding table and offers a panoramic view of the surroundings. To starboard early boats had an inside steering position to starboard, but later models were equipped with an autopilot as standard and this area was freed up for a larger and more open plan galley. Standard equipment included an all-furling sail plan, which was of an adequate size for reasonable performance under sail. There was a choice of fin or bilge keels and of a 28hp standard engine, or an oversized 43hp model. Prices typically range from around £40-45,000.


Colvic Victor 34

The Victor 34 was one of a range of three similar boats – there were also 40/41 and 51ft models – that were designed in the late 1970s. The 34 is one of the few yachts of its size and era with a genuine deck saloon and was available with a choice of sloop or ketch rigs.

Colvic Victor 34: deck saloon yacht

The Colvic Victor 34 is an early deck saloon model and one of the most affordable.

Two accommodation plans were offered, both with a large u-shape settee and inside steering position in the deck saloon and a spacious double forecabin. Beyond that, there was the option of locating a compact galley in the deck saloon, with a further dinette that converted to a double bunk in a smaller second saloon, or locating the galley, plus two sea berths in this area.

Many boats were home completed, so the quality of the original fit out varied considerably, although today the attention given to maintenance, refitting and other updates are likely to be more important than each boat’s original specification. Depending on condition and equipment, most examples today change hands for around £20-30,000.


Oyster 406 and 435

While some of the earlier deck saloon designs drew inspiration, at least in part, out of the motorsailer concept, it was not long before the benefits were applied to ocean-going yachts with first class sailing credentials.

Oyster 406: deck saloon yacht

The Oyster 406 offers a deck saloon format in a comfortable long-distance cruiser.

Oyster Marine was one of the pioneers that help to boost the desirability of deck saloon yachts for serious sailing and remains one of the prime builders in this sector..

Two of the older and smaller Oysters, the 406 and 435, frequently change hands at prices below £100,000, although a comprehensively refitted 435 can fetch rather more. Both are strong and well proven designs that have completed numerous circumnavigations. In addition, when buying any Oyster you’re purchasing more than just a yacht – it’s also an exclusive ticket into the Oyster family of rallies, regattas and other events around the world.

Built from 1986 to 1990, the 406 is a centre cockpit design available with either a conventional coachroof or a deck saloon. The spacious accommodation, which uses almost the full length of the hull, is arranged to give two couples excellent privacy, with en suite double cabins at each end of the boat. There’s also a proper navigation station and an excellent galley, however, although the bright saloon has excellent headroom the seating was not raised to give a view of the outside world.

The 435 enjoyed a longer production run, from 1983 to the early 1994, and almost twice as many were built, making it the company’s most popular model for a long period. A number of different rig and accommodation options were offered, but most owners specified the deck saloon model with a ketch rig.


Southerly yachts

Although in the past few years this recently-demised boat builder concentrated mostly on larger and more expensive yachts a number of the older and smaller models can be picked up at good prices.

Southerly 32: deck saloon yacht

The Southerly 32 is one of the few older designs from the company that still changes hands for over £100,000.

As well as the lifting keel and shallow draught for which Southerly is best known, right from the original Southerly 28 in the early 1970s all boats featured an inside steering position and many benefitted from having a very good deck saloon.

For instance 31ft 95 and 37ft 115 models both have exceptionally well lit interiors, with the galley, navigation station and inside steering position located under the doghouse, which offers excellent all-rough visibility thanks to the big windows. This area is open-plan onto the saloon, which although lower in the boat, so you can’t see out when sitting at the table, is still a very bright and airy area. Prices range upwards from as little as £25,000.

Later Southerlys are more oriented towards performance, with more powerful rigs, greater stability and twin rudders for improved control. However, they are significantly more expensive, with asking prices for even the 32 still well above £100,000.


Other options

There are a number of other deck saloon models such as the Westerly Konsort Duo that are also well worth considering. Although this 29-footer was designed primarily as a motorsailer, it has a larger rig than most and a combined saloon/wheelhouse. Similarly the company’s 35ft Vulcan and Riviera models benefited from excellent deck saloons.

Hunter Boats, based in Rochford in Essex, produced what were in effect deck saloon versions of a couple of its models, notably the Hunter Pilot 27. The Horizon 32 was dubbed as a wheelhouse cruiser and benefited from an inside steering position that was open-plan onto the saloon, although this was not a genuine deck saloon yacht.

Written by: Rupert Holmes
Rupert Holmes has more than 70,000 miles of offshore cruising and racing experience, in waters ranging from the North Sea to the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular new boat and gear tests. He currently sails around 5,000 miles per year and in the past couple of seasons has cruised from the UK to the Azores, as well as winning his class in the 2014 two-handed Round Britain and Ireland Race. He also owns two yachts, one based in the Mediterranean and the other in the UK.