Sturdy and secure, motor sailers appeal to those who value a big engine that takes the effort out of fighting a headwind and the sheltered wheelhouse that offers protection from the all too frequently inclement British weather. Here are five designs that have stood the test of time…

Fisher 34 : Five of the best motor sailers

Fisher 34 - still available new and very popular on the list of desirable motor sailers.

Fisher 34

The Fisher range is seen by many as the best of their type, combining high build quality with a robust design based on heavy displacement traditional Danish fishing boats with a rounded stern.

The 34 slotted in towards the middle of a line up of seven models ranging from 25-46ft, all with the trademark reverse slope on the forward wheelhouse windows to shed water more easily in bad weather.

The interior layout includes a very spacious forecabin, main saloon with a linear galley to starboard and ample seating around a table to port. Next to the steps leading up to the wheelhouse is a spacious heads compartment, with an additional small double cabin opposite. The wheelhouse doubles as a second saloon area, as well as housing the inside steering position.

Such is the enthusiasm for this boat among fans of motor sailors that it’s still available as a new build today, although the cost of producing such a substantial vessel is such that they are only built in small numbers. There have naturally been many developments since the design was first launched in 1978, including a sloop rig option that allows for a pair of wide double doors to be fitted between the wheelhouse and the cockpit in place of the standard single door.

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Moody Carbineer 44 : 5 of the best motor sailers

Moody Carbineer 44/46 : semi-custom built motor sailers offering light and space down below and a good turn of speed downwind.

Moody Carbineer 44/46

Unlike the smaller models in the Moody range at this time, the Laurent Giles designed Carbineer was built on a semi-custom basis, with each boat fitted out individually to a very high standard by Moody's own shipwrights at its Swanwick yard on the River Hamble. In all, 32 boats were built over a 10 year period, ending in 1979.

By the standards of its era the accommodation was huge, while compared to today's designs it gives the feeling of providing much more privacy than the majority of modern yachts. In addition to the large owner’s cabin behind the central raised saloon, there are four berths in two cabins forward of the main mast. The saloon offers a level of light and space that was almost unparalleled until deck saloon yachts became popular two decades later and includes an inside steering position.

The ketch rig is of a modest size, with each individual element easy to handle, although there’s scope to set an appreciable sail area on reaching and broad reaching courses, when the boat can show a good turn of speed under sail.

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Nauticat 331 sailplan : 5 of the best motor sailers

Nauticat 331 sailplan : This 1997 update to the 1966 Nauticat 33 include a shorter fin keel and more powerful rig to improve performance under sail.

Nauticat 33/331

This was the first model from the yard near Turku in south-west Finland that has since become synonymous with high quality motor sailers. Launched in 1966, the 33 is a heavy displacement long-keel ketch with a wooden superstructure, including a central wheelhouse. It also features safe, high bulwarks, an easily handled low aspect ratio rig and a powerful diesel engine driving a big three big bladed prop.

The design was updated in 1977 with a raised aft deck incorporating a seating area and outside steering position, which solved perhaps the biggest disadvantage of the original design, namely the lack of anywhere to sit outside. The following year this superstructure was changed to a fibreglass moulding, which gives a more modern appearance and significantly reduced the maintenance requirements.

Subsequent changes with the introduction of the 331 in 1997 include a more modern under water profile, with a shorter fin keel, skeg hung rudder, and a larger more powerful rig. These modifications significantly improved performance under sail, as well as handling in a confined space under power. The boat is still in production, with almost 1,300 having been built in almost half a century.

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Seafinn 411 : 5 of the best motor sailers

Seafinn 411 : featuring two impressively spacious saloons down below, the shallow draught somewhat limits upwind performance.

Seafinn 411

Another Scandinavian design, the 411 was again built to a high standard and offers extremely spacious accommodation, even for a 41-footer.

The en suite owners cabin aft has plenty of stowage and room to move around and there's a second large two berth cabin in the forepeak, again with a heads compartment, plus good stowage and floor space. In addition there is a further small cabin with two bunk beds.

This is another boat that benefits from effectively two saloons, but what's impressive in this instance is that both are very spacious. The lower one, just ahead of the galley, is the full width of the boat, offering ample space to seat the entire crew in comfort. The upper saloon, which incorporates the inside steering position, has a further large seating area with space for 5-6 people.

The Seafinn has a good sized ketch rig that’s sufficient to make quick passages under sail on a reach in a decent breeze, although the relatively shallow draught hinders windward performance.

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Westerly Konsort Duo : 5 of the best motor sailers

Based on the popular Laurent Giles designed Konsort, the Westerly Konsort Duo sports bilge keels for drying out upright and offers better sailing performance than many other motor sailers.

Westerly Konsort Duo

Although only built for a few years in the mid to late 1980s, this proved to be a popular concept, with more than 100 boats sold. It used the same hull as the already popular 29ft Laurent Giles designed Konsort cruiser, but with the addition of a boxy deck saloon/wheelhouse and accommodation configured around the needs of a couple, plus occasional guests.

The result is a very different interior layout to the majority of conventional yachts, in which the number of berths is maximised at the expense of other considerations. The forecabin, for example, is palatial for a boat of this size, with an offset double berth, ample hanging space and room to walk around. In the centre of the accommodation there's a spacious heads and shower compartment, plus a single berth opposite. The wheelhouse accommodates a large and well-appointed galley on the port side, plus the inside steering position and a dining area that converts to a further double berth on the starboard side.

The Konsort Duo retained the underwater arrangement of the bilge keel version of the original design and has the same sail area. As a result, even though the boat is almost 20 per cent heavier than the original Konsort, sailing performance is considerably better than that of many motor sailers. The bilge keels also have the advantage of shallow draught and the ability to dry out upright at low water in tidal harbours. See more Westerly models in our feature on the best Westerlys, or search all Westerly Konsort Duo for sale on

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.