2012 Boat of the Year: The Consumers Pick Their Favorites
Readers bring their own unique views to CW’s Boat of the Year program. From our January 2012 issue.
Thad Kubis is an experienced sailor and a licensed captain, and although he doesn’t presently own his own boat, he maintains a 33-foot Beneteau and will someday soon be in the market for another sailboat. He looked at the Midsize Cruisers, 36 to 40 Feet. After visiting his five boats, he came away with two conclusions: Nav stations are getting smaller, and builders are bringing more homelike features aboard.
Getting down to specifics, he termed the new Catalina 385 the “People’s Boat” because of the value he found in its accommodations and its sailaway price of less than $200,000. “It had a beautiful galley area,” he said.
The Bavaria Cruiser 36, he said, had its fine points, too, including opening ports that delivered lots of fresh air to the V-berth and saloon. But though he found amenities throughout, he missed the personality that he said he encountered on some of the other boats on the list.
The well-equipped cockpit and the swim-platform area on the Island Packet 360 caught Thad’s attention, as did the well-organized deck layout and the anchor-roller and anchor-locker setup. Thad is a good-sized guy, and his one concern was that the boat below felt a little cramped.
His favorites? Well, Thad was charmed by the Hallberg-Rassy 372, which he termed the most beautiful boat that he looked at, except for its head; he found this area of the boat to be a little too utilitarian.
The most user-friendly boat to his eye was the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379. “It was entertainment from stern to V-berth,” he said, noting that the interior was both comfortable and practical.
Mike Smith, who, with his wife, Amy, circumnavigated aboard their Island Packet, came to the show in part to find their next escape module, which will most likely be a catamaran.
“I love that boat,” Mike said of the Outremer 49 catamaran. Amy added, “I loved the windows. There was so much light.” The couple was so smitten by this cat’s details, from the cockpit to the helm station to the cozy feeling below, that it was difficult to get them to turn their attention to the other Compact Cruisers, 30 to 35 feet.
Though it wouldn’t suit their sailing style or cruising plans, they acknowledged the advantages of the fold-down transom on the Bavaria Cruiser 32, and they thought the boat’s systems were well installed.
Amy found that the cockpit on the Hunter e33 was inviting, and she remarked on the amount of light that streamed into the well-laid-out saloon below. Both concluded that for the price, the boat offered a good value.
The J/108, meanwhile, just looked like fun to them. “You could cruise on that boat,” they said, mentioning the Bahamas as a possible destination. “It’s very livable.”
Asked about their final boat, the Mystery 35, the Smiths immediately mentioned its tiller, a rarity on boats this size. Mike is tall, and he found the boat’s traditional styling and narrow beam made it feel small to him, but he did think its price tag was reasonable for the quality he saw.
Our final couple, Cliff Selover and Nancy Binder, are frequent charterers and former Pearson 30 owners. They focused their attention on the Midsize Cruisers, 40 to 45 Feet. “Impressive” was the word they used to describe the room aboard the Bavaria Cruiser 40, which they thought would make a good family boat. But they were more taken, to be honest, with the Dufour Grand’ Large 445, which Cliff found to be a “beautiful” design, right down to the built-in wine locker under the cabin sole.
Of the two Jeanneaus, the Sun Odyssey 439 and the Sun Odyssey 44 Deck Saloon, they preferred the more traditional 439 because of its light-colored interior woodwork, simple cabin
forward, and well-laid-out deck.
She liked the Beneteau Oceanis 41 “a lot” because of the room below, the light-filled owner’s cabin forward, and the Dock and Go boat-handling system.
He liked the Tartan 4000 because of its fit and finish. “I guess I’m a traditionalist. I loved the Tartan all around.”
And so our consumers have spoken, and once again they’ve underscored the point that all boats represent a series of compromises between what you want, what you need, and what you can afford. The only way that any of us can narrow down the choices to a single special favorite is to hit the docks and have a look.