The class of boats that can be easily trailer transported includes day sailers and small cabin cruisers, suitable for living on. The primary advantages of this class of boats is that they can be kept at home in a garage, thus saving mooring fees and that they can be easily taken by road to new destinations from which to sail.
The trailer cabin sailboats appeared on the market in 1970 and were sailed on small lakes and rivers. A large number were initially sold in North America in areas such as Arizona, New Mexico and the Great Lakes region.
To make them easy to load and transport by trailer, most boats in the class have swing keel centreboards or daggerboards. Due to the limitations of trailer capacity, towing vehicle size and weight, as well as highway width limitations, most trailer sailboats are limited in size to about 22 to 26 ft (6.71 to 7.92 m) in length.
Some sailboat designs for trailering incorporate special features. The MacGregor 26S, for example is a boat 25.82 ft (7.87 m) in length, but that weighs 1,650 lb (748 kg) empty and dry and carries 1,200 lb (544 kg) of flooding water ballast in tanks which are filled when the boat is launched and drained when the boat is removed from the water, thus making the boat lighter to transport than if it used more traditional iron or lead ballast. The design also has a pivoting centreboard, plus a pivoting rudder and easily rigged mast to make getting the boat from the trailer to the water easy to accomplish. It also has a beam of 7.82 ft (2.38 m), under the 8.00 ft (2.44 m) width limit for highway trailers.
On the design limitations of trailerable boats with flooding water ballast, Cruising World writer Bill Lee said in 1996:
The geometry required to make a trailerable flooding-ballast boat function is such that they are a little awkward in appearance. This is accentuated by the high freeboard and narrow beam required to meet highway trailering limits ... Such boats almost always score poorly relative to their fixed keel counterparts in both sailing performance and power to carry sail. Apart from issues of portability and low cost, the more conventional fixed-keel boats ... are superior ... in most respects. Certainly if one is on a limited budget but wants a refined, good sailing, capable boat, one should consider a previously owned ... fixed-keel vessel.
- Burgess, Bob (14 July 2011). "The Zen of Trailer-Sailing". Sail Magazine. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- Royce, Patrick M.: Royces Sailing Illustrated, pages 52-57. Delta Lithograph, 1993. ISBN 0-911284-00-1
- Browning, Randy (2016). "MacGregor 26S sailboat specifications and details". sailboatdata.com. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- Lee, Bill: Catalina 250 Cruising World magazine, February 1996, pages 126-127. New York Times Publishing