How Far Can a Yacht Sail in a Day? (You’d Be Surprised!)

How Far Can a Yacht Sail in a Day

Is it your lifelong dream to travel the world on a yacht? Cruising may not be the preferred mode of transportation for many but for those who appreciate the luxury and adventure of exploring the world through the seas, yachting is the best way to go. But, how far can a yacht travel in a day?

Sailing on a yacht is definitely a stylish way of going to places you’ve never been before. There is nothing more glorious and luxurious than traveling across the vast oceans as you watch the sun rise and set on the horizon from the deck of your very own yacht.

A yacht can typically travel around 150-200 nautical miles in a day, depending on various factors such as weather conditions, fuel efficiency, and cruising speed. However, it is important to note that longer journeys may require refueling and crew rotations to ensure safety and comfort.

If you own the right type of yacht, your travel possibilities are virtually endless. Navigating your way through channels, straits, canals, and the like can be very intimidating especially if you have no foundational knowledge about sailing.

According to yacht industry statistics, the global luxury yacht market size was USD 10860 million in 2021, and the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.3% over the period to reach USD 16680 million in 2028 so yachting as a hobby will only get bigger

For you to truly appreciate the lean but elegant boat that is the yacht, it’s always best to start off learning about its essential components. And of course, before you start planning for a multi-day trip, Let’s find out how far can you really sail aboard a yacht…

DID YOU KNOW The fastest yacht in the world is the World Is Not Enough, which set a speed record of 70.86 knots (81.6 mph) in 2004. It was built for the James Bond movie of the same name. 

An Overview of Different Sailing Yacht Categories

An Overview of Different Sailing Yacht Categories

To ensure a successful trip, it’s essential to have a good understanding of whether your yacht is in top condition for long-distance traveling or ideal for shorter trips. This way, it will be easier for you to plan and prepare for a trip accordingly.

Category A

Category A yachts, more popularly known explorer vessels, are designed for long, self-sustainable open ocean travel. A Category A yacht is not longer than 40 feet and is characterized by a bigger hull that can withstand waves up to 23 feet in height. In terms of power and durability, these vessels can handle vicious winds up to 47 knots (50 miles per hour).

Category B

A Category B is an average mid sized sailboat that may also be used for open ocean explorations. Due to their smaller size, they are not suited to sail vast oceans. Additionally, they do not have the capability to handle strong winds and can only handle waves up to 13 feet high. Unlike a Category A yacht, a sailing yacht under Category B is not crewed to sustain long-haul journeys.

Category C

Category C yachts are typically used inshore and are great vessels for shorter passages along larger freshwater bodies, including lakes and bays. When we say inshore, a Category C vessel can sail away from protected harbors for a few nautical miles (NM), with the ability to handle waves 7 feet high. Looking at their design and size, they are not ideal for cross-ocean travels.

Category D

Category D yachts are small boats designed to sail along smaller lakes, protected harbors, and rivers. It is ideal for cruising in areas where waves reach 4 feet in height. Just like Category C yachts, sailing vessels under Category D are not suitable for cross-ocean voyages.

What factors are considered in calculating a yacht’s average sailing distance in a day?

What factors are considered in calculating a yacht's average sailing distance in a day

Several important factors are taken into consideration in determining how many nautical miles a vessel can sail in a day. If you’re planning to go on a long-distance voyage without sleeping onboard, it’s essential to know its distance capability. Here are the main factors that you should closely look into:

Boat Size and Sails

By rule, a bigger sailing yacht can cover more distance than a smaller sailboat. If you are preparing for long voyages wherein sleeping onboard is included in the plan, longer and larger yachts are the best as they travel faster than those with a shorter hull of the same weight. Here is a quick rundown of boat hull lengths and their corresponding cruising speeds:

  • 24’ in length – 5 knots
  • 32’ in length– 5.5 knots
  • 40’ in length– 6.5 knots
  • 48’ in length– 7 knots
  • 54’ in length– 7.5 knots

How far can a 60-foot yacht travel?

Sleek and luxurious super yachts or expedition yachts with a hull length of 60 to 100 feet are designed with speed in mind. On average, they can sail up to 300 NM at a cruising speed of about 30 knots. They are the perfect day cruisers and can handle very long voyages, too.

The sails are also a crucial factor in the maximum hull speed that a boat can cover in a day. In essence, average large yachts are designed to run downwind, as it determines the rate by which your boat can sail.

On the other hand, yachts that utilize larger Spinnakers showcase impressive maximum speed than those outfitted with jibs and main on a downwind run.


Suppose you’re planning passages that entail taking a straight course with a few challenging obstacles along the way. In that case, you are guaranteed to cover more distance instead of re-adjusting frequently or changing course very often.

Experienced sailors take extra measures when traveling long distances in a day, wherein their course does not permit staying at a marina or anchoring out. For multiple days in the open sea, the best course of action is to remain in a straight line.

If you’re firm on traveling great distances with a general sense that your course will not be as straight nor clear, be sure to prepare beforehand to ensure a safe and long voyage.

Wind Conditions

Traveling downwind is the easiest and fastest way to cover a considerable distance. The strength or intensity of the wind is not so crucial during your yacht adventures. Extreme conditions will limit you from optimizing your sails. Consequently, lighter winds won’t make impressive time in terms of average sailing distance.

Strong winds can mean rough waves ahead, making sailing more difficult and less comfortable for you and your passengers. This is true even when the wind is blowing in the same direction as the waves. If your yacht is moving up and down the waves, this does not help you reach high speeds and cover a considerable distance altogether.

It’s also worth noting that even when you are sailing with the air movements, you need to factor in the direction of waves. When the tide is moving in the opposite direction of the wind, chances are you will encounter standing waves that can reduce the distance and time you make.

As sailors usually overlook the behavior of tides, even the most carefully planned trips can face delays and challenges along the way. A slow-moving tide may not impact the speed at which you travel on large boats, but it’s yet another thing to fight strong currents such as those in the Gulf Stream. Strong currents can significantly impact your speed and may potentially throw you off course, too.

What covers more nautical miles – a sailing yacht or a motor yacht?

What covers more nautical miles - a sailing yacht or a motor yacht

Traveling on a sailboat is a more adventurous way of seeing the world. You can practically go anywhere you wish with a skilled kipper who can help you during your voyage. To make the best out of your yacht trips, make sure that your yacht is well maintained and in good condition before leaving the harbor.

Unlike sailing yachts that depend on their sails, motorized yachts rely on their fuel source. The distance covered by a motorized yacht will depend on the size of the boat and its fuel tank capacity.

By rule, larger vessels such as 75-foot yachts feature large fuel tanks that can carry up to 11,00 liters of fuel achieve an average sailing distance of 1,500 nautical miles in a day. Smaller yachts ranging between 35 and 45 feet with 100-liter tank capacity can cover up to 400 NM.

Despite a larger fuel tank, larger boats can only travel a certain distance given they are heavier and accommodate larger crew and carry more items altogether.

Exactly how far can a yacht sail in a day?

Exactly how far can a yacht sail in a day

There are many variables when computing the average distance a yacht can cover from sunrise to sunset. It is the quality of the voyage that matters more than the nautical mile, speed or distance covered.

For many sailors, switching off the engine and relying on the wind to do all the work is the best way to sail in a day. Sailors can reach an average speed of 5 to 6 knots. When floating through the water at 1 to 2 knots while going with the tide, a yacht can easily cover 10 to 15 miles in just 5 hours.

How long does it take to travel at least 100 nautical miles by boat?

How long does it take to travel at least 100 nautical miles by boat

A well-maintained and fully-stocked 30-foot sailing yacht has an average cruising speed of 100 NM in a day. In this instance, the yacht can go sailing everywhere without having to stop at a marina or anchor out.

With the perfect wind condition, sailing yachts can sail around at an average speed of 5 knots per hour. On the other hand, longer yachts with larger hulls can cover more distance and cruise at faster average speeds than small to mid sized yachts.

What is the size of a fuel tank on a yacht?

What is the size of a fuel tank on a yacht

As yachts come in different sizes, their fuel tank sizes differ as well. A motorized yacht needs one full tank to traverse long-distance passages successfully. Several factors influence the average distance a motorized yacht can sail in a day. Ideally, a power boat should have one and a half times the amount of fuel you will need for a specific trip.

Weather forecast is also factored in when measuring the amount of fuel you will need for a voyage. Shorter passages tend to require frequent fuel gauge checks under fair weather conditions. Your engine is forced to fight against choppy waters and strong winds during bad weather, thus requiring more fuel.

Even the sailing distance of a boat will be slower during bad weather conditions. On the other hand, sailing yachts powered by the winds on the sea will cover more distance under ideal weather conditions.

On average, a 130-foot superyacht with a fuel tank capacity of 22,240 liters can achieve a cruising speed of around 20 knots and travel up to 1500 NM on one tank.

In essence, the distance that a yacht can travel will depend on its fuel tank size and fuel consumption. There is, of course, a big difference when sailing on a motorized yacht that can take advantage of the fuel capacity and the wind compared to a sailboat that largely depends on the wind and tide.

Can a yacht travel across the Atlantic Ocean?

Can a yacht travel across the Atlantic Ocean

Using a motorized yacht to pull off a voyage across the Atlantic successfully will require a tank that can accommodate up to 5,000 liters of fuel with a guaranteed fuel efficiency rate of 2.5 nautical miles per gallon. A larger boat with a fuel rate of 4 gallons per hour at a cruising speed of 4 knots will allow you a safe and efficient journey through the Atlantic Ocean.

It is rather impossible to increase speed for longer periods of time regardless of engine power. Sailors maintain lower averages when crossing vast oceans to conserve fuel and take advantage of wind power.

At an average of 10 knots, a 3,000 mile trip across the Atlantic will take roughly about 12.5 days or 300 hours. Sailing yachts with the ability to make annual voyages across the Atlantic use generators to power appliances onboard. Fuel is also spent on powering appliances and other items under bad weather conditions.

When traveling on a super boat with an average speed of 25 knots, crossing the Atlantic takes about 4 to 5 days only. On the other hand, Sailing yachts takes a longer while since their speed largely relies on the strength and direction of the wind over the ocean.

When taking long-distance journeys, it’s always best to take extra precautions. Whether you plan on crossing the Atlantic or Pacific ocean, it’s best to cruise on a Category A vessel or expedition yacht.

Take an experienced crew on your journey, so you can always be prepared to handle different variables along the way. A team with extensive experience in crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean is your best company during extra-long adventures on a yacht.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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