Buy an Etap Sailboat

Resources for Buying a Used Etap Sailboat

Etap sailboats have been manufactured in Belgium since 1970, when the company was founded. In 2008, German yacht producer Dehler bought them out but then went out of business in 2009. The Etap line was subsequently purchased by MIC, another Belgium company, and their stated plans are to restart the manufacture of the full line of Etap yachts, perhaps from a facility in Poland.

Etap’s goal, widely publicized, has been to produce the “safest yachts in the world.”

If you ask most sailors what they know about Etap sailboats, they will probably say “unsinkable.” This seems an extravagant claim. So is it true?

The “unsinkability” lies in the unique design of the hull structure. All Etap sailboats are fitted with a double hull construction that is filled with non-absorbent foam between the cavity space. This means that even if the hull is breached, there should be sufficient buoyancy to keep the craft afloat. Think of a cork bobbing about in the ocean and you have the idea.

Tested extensively, one publicized test featured crossing the English Channel with eight journalists on board. The yacht was flooded to the bunk rails but reached the other side safely, much to the journalists’ relief. An additional benefit to the double hull system is that it provides insulation from noise, reduces condensation and increases stability.

Etap sailboats have been built in all sizes between 20 feet to 46 feet (LOA), ranging from trailer sailors to ocean going cruisers. However, it was a smaller trailerable model that really launched the company: the original Etap 22 produced in 1970. Once the company was established, they moved on to building larger cruisers.

The original models were fitted with either a lifting keel or fin keel. The lifting keel was abandoned in the 1990s and replaced with a shallow draft tandem keel, making it ideal for estuary or shallow water sailing. However, there are still plenty of lifting keel Etaps for sale on the secondhand market.

The smaller length Etap sailboats are designed as trailer sailors and offer the option of cruising or racing. These include the Etap 20, 21, 21i, 22, 23, 24, and 26. These compact sailboats would be a good option for a family who want to buy a sailboat for racing or for the occasional vacation but do not want to commit to a marina berth or mooring. All of these models can be towed by a medium sized vehicle.

The safety and convenience aspect makes the Etap attractive for family sailing. These small cruisers sleep four people, maximize the available space, and generally feature one double fore cabin and two single berths. Unsurprisingly, there is limited headroom of around 5 feet 3 inches, but there is plenty of storage space and the living space is comfortable when seated. A head, galley, and wet locker are also included.

Some trailer sailor Etaps feature an inboard engine but generally they are powered by an outboard of around 8hp. Etap sailboats over 28 feet feature accommodation that is more luxurious, with added berths, head room, and an inboard engine as standard.

All Etap sailboats have the same Bermuda rig and basic design, making it ideal for single-handed sailing. Fast, responsive, and easy-to-handle with just the mainsail and foresail to deal with, their sailing performance is great for cruising or racing. Roller reefing is standard and if you want to have fun and reach impressive speeds, a cruising chute or spinnaker can be used.

Tiller steering has been standard across the range for all lengths of Etap sailboats. However, the new range of sailboats over 28 feet are fitted with a new type of steering gear: the Etap Vertical Steering (EVS) system. This is a cross between a tiller and a wheel and is still under development.

Etap uses innovative design that constantly seeks to refine and introduce new features and then fit them as standard on all models. These include anti-skid decks and twin rudder steering. With constant development, the specifications and features vary so greatly among used Etaps that you will want to make a checklist and keep thorough notes when evaluating a used Etap for sale.

Where Etap really scores over their competitors is at the smaller end of the market, and if you were looking to buy a small family cruiser, an Etap would be a great choice. They are well constructed, can handle heavy seas, and offer a lot of sailboat for your money.

As a European make, the major customer base has been mainly the UK, Ireland, France, and Northern Europe. There is a wide choice of used Etaps for sale in these countries. Prices vary according to age, condition, and specifications, but on average a ten-year-old Etap 21 is on offer for around $20,000 in the UK.

Interestingly, Etap has aims of moving directly into the US market (though this outcome is unclear with the change of ownership) and has included the trailerable Etap 22 and Etap 26 among their intended US offerings, in addition to their larger cruising yachts. Also, the builder maintains a listing of used Etap boats for sale around the world, which they will share with you upon request. Visit the Etap website to make this request.

If you are in the market to buy an Etap or other sailboat in the near future, pick up a copy of How to Buy a Sailboat and find a great boat at a bargain price. Clicking on the link will apply a $5 discount off the guide, courtesy of iBuySailboats.