Bavaria's Cruiser 32, 36, 40, and 45: A German-American Alliance
Under new management, Bavaria USA introduces a quartet of Farr-designed yachts.
We’ll work backward from the largest to the smallest: When sailing upwind with the boat slightly heeled, the dual rudders on the Cruiser 45 provided exceptional control. My favorite place to steer was outboard, to windward and leeward of the matching wheels, where the views of the jib telltales were clear and unobstructed. As with the other U.S. imports, the 45 was equipped with the standard shoal keel, though it didn’t seem to affect the pointing ability, as the angle between tacks was only about 75 degrees. Schmicker said that performance to windward wasn’t an issue with the shallower configuration, though it did have a small effect on boat speed in certain conditions.
“In general, shallow-draft keels will be a bit slower in light airs just because they have a little more displacement and a little bit more wetted surface, mostly through that displacement increase, to get the stability up where it needs to be,” he said.
The interior of the 45 we sailed didn’t include the double cabins in the bow but instead was laid out with a spacious forward stateroom with a private head and basin to starboard and a separate shower cubicle to port; the double cabins aft also have their own en suite heads and showers. Thanks to a 14-foot beam, the accommodations felt voluminous.
Like its bigger sister, the shoal version of the Cruiser 40 also has a wing keel (the 32 and 36 have ballast bulbs) and a pair of wheels, but they’re linked to a single rudder, and the response to small helm adjustments isn’t as immediate. Still, it’s a fine-sailing boat, and upwind, as the breeze freshened to around 10 knots, the boat registered over 6 knots of speed when hard on the breeze. And under power, at 2,800 rpm, the 38-horsepower Volvo Penta engine (with saildrive, like the four other boats in this round-up) knocked off a startling 8.4 knots.
The 40 has two accommodations plans: three double cabins, with two heads and showers, or two double cabins, with a single head/shower configuration. Each has a straight-line galley to port that opposes a wraparound, U-shaped settee and dining table to starboard, just forward of a good-sized navigation station. Proportionately, though it’s still a very comfortable cruising boat, the 40 doesn’t have the “XXL” feel of the 45.
Down below on the Bavaria Cruiser 40, the straight-line galley is to port. On all of the models, owners can choose from a variety of woods for the floors and furniture, and from 11 different upholstery options.
The same can’t be said of the Cruiser 36, where the expansive theme is repeated down below. There’s more than generous headroom throughout, even forward in the double cabin, which isn’t always the case in a 36-foot boat. Once again, there are two interior options, one with a pair of double cabins aft, the other with a sole double aft to starboard. In both versions, the centerpiece of the interior layout is a good-sized, L-shaped settee/dining table in the central saloon.
For a 36-footer, the spacious interior layout and accommodations plan of the Bavaria Cruiser 36 is especially inviting.
Under sail, the single wheel of the 36 seemed a little sticky, though it’s entirely possible I was just spoiled after enjoying the double wheels in the two larger boats. Still, though the breeze was back down into single digits, the boat clicked off nearly 5 knots upwind. And with the 27-horsepower engine ticking over at 2,600 rpm, the boat registered an even 7 knots motoring.
By the time we set sail on the Cruiser 32, the breeze had kicked up to a solid 12 to 14 knots, which proved ideal. Perhaps it was because there was more wind, but the 32 seemed a bit peppier and more fun to drive than the 36. Unlike the other boats, where the mainsheet was forward of the companionway, on the 32 it was close at hand, anchored to a stainless-steel base just forward of the wheel, around which was stationed the central cockpit table. It was a nifty arrangement, and I prefer it when the driver can control the main. Upwind, while the breeze was on, the 32 topped 6 knots, and even when it moderated to around 10 knots, the boat still recorded numbers in the high 5s.
Down below, there’s one interior layout available, with a pair of double cabins in the ends of the boat. The central saloon, however, makes the absolute most of the available space.
There’s a drop-down central table amidships, with a long, straight settee to port (the aft end of it also serves as the seat for the aft-facing navigation table), and another L-shaped settee to starboard. The large head and a nice galley are at the foot of the companionway, to port and starboard, respectively. The 32 may be the little sister in the series, but there’s no doubt that it’s a member of the same family.
All in all, from the business model to the Farr/BMW collaboration to the boats themselves, there’s a lot going on with Bavaria USA. The company’s new line of boats may not have been born here, but they’ve found a good home.
Herb McCormick is CW’s senior editor and Boat of the Year director.