Sailing evokes thoughts of traveling with nothing but the wind, free from workday life and the fumes of a diesel—a sort of return to the simple life. Unfortunately, though, it’s often not that easy. First, there’s either not enough or too much wind for most boats. Second, there’s all the maintenance that every boat demands. And finally, there’s the hassle of finding someone to sail with. So much for freedom.

The new 33-foot baby of the Salona fleet tries to minimize all three of these issues, so you can sail independently and with peace of mind.

A photo of the Salona 33 underway.

The Salona 33 is a Croatia-built cruiser/racer that isn't only good-looking, it's also easy to sail and a good performer, too.

The Salona 33 is a perfectly sized boat for both weekend cruising and club racing, which is one way it makes sailing easy. The loads on the rig are manageable; the deck equipment is laid out smartly; and the sail plan is straightforward and traditional, with an overlapping genoa and a fully battened mainsail. The boat’s low profile is attractive with a plumb bow, no hard chines, and an open transom. Those good looks come with minimum windage, so the boat should be easy to manage in tight docking situations.

The nine-tenths fractional rig carries a total sail area of 747 square feet. The mast is keel-stepped and is available in aluminum or carbon fiber. Rigging is discontinuous wire with a split, cascading backstay. Four Harken winches manage the lines, and there is a below-decks Harken furler for taming the genoa. About the only way sailing this boat could be easier is with a self-tacking jib, but that means no sail overlap and potentially less power.

Another way Salona makes things easy is with low-maintenance surfaces. Exterior teak is kept to a minimum, with only a teak toe rail on deck. Handholds on the cabin top are made of stainless-steel, and interior surfaces are mostly synthetic and easy to care for.

A photo of the interior on the Salona 33.

The Salona 33 has a "simple is better" theme when it comes to interior finishes, but that doesn't mean it looks bleak down below.

A unique feature of this design is the integral stainless-steel grid below the cabin sole. It ties together the loads of the keel, rig, and hull. It certainly adds weight to the boat, which displaces almost 11,000 pounds in total, but it’s a neat way to create strength and stiffness.

I’m a bit concerned about having a metal structure in the damp space just above the keel because stainless-steel isn't always rust-free, but Salona has been building boats for a decade now, and reportedly, so far, so good.

Below the waterline, the Salona 33 offers a T-shaped keel with a bulb and available drafts of five feet, nine inches or seven feet, one inch. The keel can even be optimized to IRC or ORC standards.

The standard configuration includes tiller steering, but you can specify twin wheels, which makes the Salona 33 among the smallest sailing vessels with dual helms. The good news is that it opens up the walk-through to the open transom. However, it does add a bit of complexity and expense. Cruisers will want to opt for the folding cockpit table, while racers will not miss it as they move about the cockpit.

Despite the Salona’s sleek exterior, there were quite a few amenities packed below. The layout includes two cabins and one head with a compact galley to port and a forward-facing navigation desk to starboard. Navigation stations have almost become a thing of the past, due to the advent of multifunction displays at the helm, so it’s refreshing to see the builder provided a space for the captain/navigator. Of course, if the navigation desk were removed, the head could gain a stall shower, so it might behoove Salona to do a little research and see which the market values more.

A photo of the Yanmar diesel on the Salona 33.

A 21-horsepower Yanmar diesel is nestled between the aft berth and head, just underneath the companionway steps.

The main saloon has two straight settees separated by a drop-leaf table, with wine bottle stowage inside. The galley has a two-burner gimbaled stove/oven combination, a sink, and a top-loading fridge that's more than adequate for a week-long cruise. The forward stateroom berth is a bit tight – it’s great for one, or really cozy for two. The aft cabin berth is bigger, but the light and ventilation aren’t as good as in the V-berth (which is no surprise on an aft cockpit boat).

The heavily textured interior finish on our test boat was called “bleached oak.” It’s a color people will either love, or not love at all. No worries either way; a traditional mahogany veneer finish is standard.
Draft5'9" or 7'1"
Sail Area747 sq. ft.
Displacement10,890 lbs
Fuel capacity24 gal.
Water capacity26 gal.

We motored out of the marina at 5.7 knots with the 21-horsepower Yanmar diesel (with optional Saildrive) quietly purring below. A Gori folding propeller is standard. The Salona feels as if it has plenty of power, although we didn’t experience anything but a one foot chop. Fuel tankage is light with 24 gallons of fuel, but the water supply is even sparser with only 26 gallons. I’d prefer to see the builder find a place for another 20 gallons of water, to ensure a comfortable weekend cruise for two.

I sailed this boat in Biscayne Bay near Miami, FL. With 8 to 12 knots of breeze, we tacked through 80 to 90 degrees at five to six knots of boat speed. On a beam reach in 12 knots of wind, we hovered around six and a half knots. The boat is very responsive and feels light on the helm. It inspires a kind of confidence that would lead one to enter club races or take her out for a weekend singlehanded. And of course, not having to plan for crew is an added bonus: the third freedom that makes sailing this boat what it was meant to be.

Other Choices: For another racer/cruiser in this size range, consider the Jeanneau Sun Odyseey 349. If you're looking for something a little bit larger, consider the Benetaeu Oceanis 38 or Bavaria Cruiser 37.

For more information, visit Salona Yachts.

Browse listings for Salona 33 sailboats.

Written by: Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to and, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site,