Boat of the Year
Best Inshore Cruiser
Cruising World magazine announced today the winners of the 20th Annual Boat of the Year Awards. Decisions on the winners were based on extensive dockside inspections and sea trials of the boats.
The Catalina 315 won the Award for Best Inshore Cruiser, proving a point that the New 5 Series is a great success. The 315 joins two other models in the 5 Series that have won similar awards. 2011 saw the Catalina 355 win "Best Midsize Cruiser" and "Domestic Boat of the Year". 2010, the Catalina 445 won "Best Full Size Cruiser".
Congratulations to all at Catalina that made this award possible, and thank you to the Catalina dealer for your continued support of the New Catalina 5 Series.
Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 48
This handsome full-size yacht boasts an expansive cockpit and wide open interior. Boat Review from our August 2012 issue.
by Herb McCormick
Biscayne Bay was flat and glassy, with nary a zephyr rippling the waters, when we boarded the latest Beneteau in the company’s Oceanis line, the 48, the next morning. But the Miami show had been a successful one for the 48-footer, which the week before had won a National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award for the clever electric fold-down transom, which adds another 3 feet of “floor space” to the already expansive cockpit when the boat’s anchored or moored.
Having sailed the other two latest Oceanis offerings—the 41 and the 45—on Chesapeake Bay last fall, I experienced a strong sense of déjà-vu as we got under way on the 48. All three boats share the same style, philosophy, looks, and characteristics, notably the huge cockpit and twin helms as well as the distinctive cockpit arch that serves several purposes: the anchor point for the mainsheet, the framework for a big dodger and bimini, and well-placed handholds for making your way forward or moving about the topsides.
Yacht designer Sean Brown, a Beneteau consultant, was on board for the test sail, and he referred to the 48 as a “mono-maran,” which I think is a very apt and succinct description. Its ample, 15-foot-7-inch beam represents almost a 3-to-1 beam-to-length ratio, which is similar to the figures that French designers aim for when creating the powerful Open 60s that are raced solo around the world. However, those boats are basically flat planing hulls with minimalistic interior layouts. Thanks to the hull chine that Beneteau has incorporated into all of its latest Oceanis yachts, the 48’s interior volume is especially wide and vast (again bringing to mind the catamaran theme), and there’s nothing at all about it that’s spartan or minimal.
There are several different accommodation plans available, including a four-cabin layout with twin staterooms all the way forward and aft, and the three-cabin/two-head version that we sailed. In the owner’s cabin in the bow, along with the munificent berth and the enclosed head, a rather prominent shower stall was situated to starboard, more or less in the center of everything, which was unlike any I could remember on a production boat. The main cabin, with its low, sleek furnishings, was fresh and modern, with a large settee/dining table to starboard and a very clever settee with a sliding modular table to port, which could be adjusted to serve as a work area or a little nook for breakfast or entertaining.
Back on deck, Brown noted that the beautiful cockpit was “what you’d have seen on a 65-foot yacht 10 years ago.” Space-wise, I had to agree; it was a little disorienting to realize that we were aboard a 48-footer. To the south, a faint breeze line was darkening the waters, so we kicked over the standard 75-horsepower Yanmar and made a beeline for it, ticking off 8.3 knots at 2,500 rpm. Once we’d motored into the 5- to 6-knot breeze and shut down the engine, the 48 displayed fine light-air prowess, making 4 to 4.5 knots hard on the wind. Not bad.
Like all the boats we’d sailed in Miami, the Oceanis 48 left us itching for more. I would’ve been more than happy to carry onward aboard this Beneteau.
Beneteau Sense 55: Ready for a Blow
Fresh from France, the new queen of the Beneteau line proves that it can get up and go when conditions get rough. Boat Review from our November 2012 issue.
by Mark Pillsbury
When Beneteau introduced the Sense sailboat series two years ago, I recall climbing aboard the sleek-looking 50-footer at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, and thinking, “Great boat for a party.” With nearly 16 feet of beam, a wide-open cockpit, and a companionway with only three shallow steps leading into an airy and spacious saloon, the then-flagship of the line just oozed creature comforts. Right away I liked the boat’s looks: plumb stem, slightly reversed transom, wedge-shaped cabin top, the tinted windows looking out into the cockpit, the hard chine carried aft from amidships. I’d have to wait awhile, though, to see how one would actually sail. (See “A Cruising Boat Dons Its Sprinting Shoes,” page 54 of our November 2012 issue.)
And then early this summer, along came the 50’s big sister—same good looks but in a bigger package—and an offer to sail the newly introduced Sense 55 north from Palm Beach, Florida, to Charleston, South Carolina, with Beneteau USA’s president, Wayne Burdick, his wife, Joyce, and their friend Barry Carroll. Right off, my first impression of the Sense line, designed by the French naval architecture firm Berret Racoupeau, with an interior drawn by Nauta Design, was confirmed. It took no time for us to find comfortable spots in which to nest as we pointed the bow toward blue water. Because there are no traditional aft cabins in the accommodations below, the cockpit spans the entire beam aft of the cabin house. At its aft end, a pop-up transom prevents following seas from boarding but allows quick access to the stern swim platform. The twin helms with instrument pods just forward give the skipper plenty of room to work unimpeded by the guests. And they, in turn, can enjoy the ride without toil in the cockpit proper. Wayne joked that around the shop, they describe the design as a “monomaran”—with the space of a catamaran on the footprint of a monohull.
We at first motorsailed into light winds off the starboard bow, the 75-horsepower turbo Yanmar with Dock-and-Go rotating saildrive pushing us along at 7 knots in calm seas. The readout on our Raymarine chart plotter jumped to 9 and better once we hit the Gulf Stream. It would be the next day before the wind freshened enough to kill the engine for any length of time and reach along under main and 105-percent genoa (a self-tacking jib is also available). But when we did, the boat steered like a dream with its twin rudders; the hard chine kept us upright; and from there we just accelerated. Our speed over the ground, in about 11 knots of breeze, hovered consistently in the 9s.
In addition to the signature archway over the companionway, which doubles as an anchor for the mainsheet and a support for a dodger, this model sported a second overhead arch aft, on which were mounted davits, the aft edge of the bimini, as well as solar panels and a pair of wind generators. The shade of the bimini was greatly appreciated.
Toward dinnertime, Joyce retreated to the saloon and starboard-side galley, where she tossed a fine salad and warmed California-style pizza. We dined around the large cockpit table—it easily could’ve handled twice our number—and shortly after dark, tucked a single reef into the main (it’s mounted with lazy jacks and a boom pouch) for the night.
With all the hatches closed, it was warm below, and I found it hard to settle into the motion in the centerline queen island berth far forward in the owners cabin. At anchor, though, this would be a very comfortable retreat, with lots of storage and a private head and shower. Instead, I found the port bench in the cockpit to be a stellar sea berth, and that’s where I got comfortable until it was my turn to take the late-night watch. My mates, meanwhile, found good sleeping below in the midships cabins, each with double queen bunks and their own heads.
Morning coffee was brewed in an electric coffeemaker held on the gimbaled stovetop by secure fiddles and powered by the inverter. Other electrical luxuries included air-conditioning, a dishwasher, washer and dryer, a 9-kilowatt generator, electric blinds and washboards, a microwave, three electric heads, and a fine Pioneer entertainment system.
The Sense hulls are hand-laid solid glass and polyester resin, with a layer of vinylester resin sandwiched under the gelcoat to prevent blistering. The deck is a glass-and-balsa laminate (solid glass where hardware is mounted) that’s bonded to the hull. The cast-iron keel (shallow draft on this boat) is bolted and bonded with stainless-steel bolts and counter plate.
Opening overhead hatches provide good airflow below, and the interior of the boat has a bright aura thanks to light-colored upholstery, white wall panels, and joinery in an Alpi product called fruitwood.
As comfortable as the ride up the coast was, it was our second night that proved the most memorable. All evening we watched lightning pummel the coast 20 miles or better to the west. We motorsailed most of the evening, but by the midnight watch change, the wind had died to the point where with three of us on deck, we doused the main to save it from slatting. Joyce already had lowered the electric-powered cockpit table and spread out the cushions to make a comfortable outside double berth. With three hours to my trick at the wheel, that’s where I chose to nap, and I’d just drifted off to sleep when the first raindrops fell. By the time I’d run below and donned my foul-weather gear, gusts hit, and all 55 feet and 40,000 pounds of boat lurched onto its side. Wayne, on the wheel, eventually brought the boat back nearly into the wind, and with the throttle opened wide, managed to maintain headway—barely—and steerage. Steep waves soon engulfed us as 50 knots plus of sustained wind ripped the tops from the waves. Lightning crashed all around us in a grizzly show that lasted well over an hour. Tethered as I was to the sturdy stainless-steel handrail running the length of the cockpit, and somewhat protected by the dodger, my first impressions of the Sense as a party boat quickly vanished. “Great boat for a blow,” I concluded.
Boat Review: Catalina 315
This nifty pocket cruiser raises the Catalina quality bar with more comfort and better performance. Boat Review from our August 2012 issue.
by Herb McCormick
In the last three years, Catalina Yachts has revamped and redesigned its entire line under the collective banner of the 5 Series, which includes the 355, the 385, and the 445. The fourth and most recent member of the clan is the 315, and as the late-afternoon shadows lengthened on Biscayne Bay, we stepped aboard the boat and shook hands with the architect of these changes, Catalina’s chief designer, Gerry Douglas.
Douglas readily admitted that for many years, Catalina’s corporate philosophy was to be the “price leader” in the new-sailboat marketplace, but with the introduction of the 5 Series, the company has made a conscious effort to maintain good value while also loosening the purse strings a bit to provide a level of standards and features that some might not expect from the brand. Douglas cited bigger engines, larger battery banks, generous electrical panels, increased tankage, and all-teak interiors—in a package that’s better built, more comfortable, and performs better—as examples of what Catalina is trying to achieve.
Yes, that sounds like a tall order bordering on hyperbole. But over the years I’ve sailed many a Catalina, and in my opinion, with the 315, at the very least, Douglas and his team have significantly raised the quality bar.
At just under 32 feet, the 315 feels like a much bigger boat. Little touches make significant differences. Take the split backstays for the lofty, double-spreader rig, which open up the space in a cockpit that’s already wide, workable, and ergonomically balanced. Or the extended settee in the main saloon—to starboard, opposite a spacious U-shaped settee, dining table, and galley—which wouldn’t be out of place on a boat 8 feet longer and which maximizes the interior space by doubling as the seat for the aft-facing navigation station.
On the 315, the little things keep adding up, and as the old adage goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Take the curved handrails strategically placed from the cockpit going forward, so you have something to grasp on to while moving about the boat. Or the dual companionway closures, a folding door on hinges for everyday use and traditional slots for offshore work. Or the little sprit for the asymmetric sail, so the tack is set forward of the bow for utility and efficiency. Or the huge anchor locker, the aft side of which doubles as a collision bulkhead.
Of course, all this would be moot if the boat sailed poorly, but the 315 had that base covered as well. Again, with the breeze still less than 10 knots, the frisky little sloop registered 6.8 to 7.0 knots with the easily set asymmetric cruising kite sheeted in on a tight reach. By the time we doused it, the wind, unfortunately, had vanished completely, but under power, the 315 still moved well, just topping 7 knots at 2,800 rpm.
Before we’d gotten under way, I’d received the subtle impression that Gerry Douglas was quite pleased with his latest work. After testing the boat, now I realized why.
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