The Beneteau 331 was a popular couples and family cruiser of which about 100 hulls were built from 1999 to around 2005. Today, many of these classic cruisers are sought out by first-time buyers as well as seasoned sailors.
A spacious cockpit and a walk-thru transom offer great outdoor living with lots of lounge space as well as stowage lockers. Two cabins, a full galley and a surprisingly large and open saloon make the interior comfortable as well. Since this model was used in charter (as a Moorings 332), some can be found with a third cabin aft. In this configuration, the galley to port loses some space to make room for the third door. Most Americans will likely opt for the standard two-cabin version as it’s less cramped and more reflective of how this market likes to go boating.
The master stateroom is in the V-berth forward, with a sliding door for privacy, and a hanging locker. The compact head (minus a stall shower) is aft of the saloon and to starboard. The large L-shaped settee, also to starboard, converts into a double berth with the help of the drop-leaf table so six to nine people may be accommodated on overnight cruises. The straight portside settee shares a seat with the aft-facing nav desk, which provides a dedicated space for basic ship’s business, though the navigation instruments are mounted in a pod up top at the single helm station.
The Beneteau 331 is deceptively large both inside and out, with a beam of 11’ 3” and a length overall of nearly 34’. This model was offered with two keel configurations: a standard bulb at 5’2” and a shallow draft bulb at 3’ 4”. There was a third option with a lifting keel and twin rudders, but that would be a rare find today. This is a light displacement boat (11,000 pounds) with a ballast/displacement ratio of 31-percent. This masthead sloop, with 500 square feet of sail area and a deck-stepped spar, had an option of in-mast furling, further enhancing its simplicity. It makes a good club racer as well as solid coastal cruiser even for those who wish to single-hand.
Most models offered a 30 HP Volvo diesel although today, there are a few to be found with a 27 HP Westerbeke engine as well. A battery was located just ahead of the engine under the companionway, which is a unique placement since most batteries don’t tolerate heat well. Eighteen gallons of fuel and 48 gallons of water offered a decent cruising range and enough fresh water for a couple to be comfortable on an extended weekend outing.
Lightly used in many cases, there are a number of these boats being brokered and available for sale around the United States which generally list for between $60,000 and $80,000. Because they are a French boat, designed by the renowned Groupe Finot, many of these models are also available in Europe, specifically the United Kingdom and France.
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