They say the easier something is to do, the more likely you are to do it. And so one fine late September day I seized upon an opportunity to test that maxim on a sail of the new Hanse 345. My first observation? I relished just how simple it could be to get under way and sail up Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay compared with getting under way in my 44-foot ketch with its big overlapping genoa.
The 345 falls at the smaller end of Hanse‘s lineup, which spans from 32 to 68 feet. The boat will, I think, appeal to a cruising couple perhaps looking to downsize, or even a family with young children who need a little more room for coastal cruising.
Hanse Yachts puts a lot of thought into making the most of interior volume below, as well as on deck, arranging things so that its boats are simple to sail. A self-tacking blade jib is standard, and all control and reefing lines are led aft to the helm in covered deck channels, keeping the area clear. While this setup is great for shorthanded sailing, it does mean there are a lot of lines for the helmsman to organize and keep track of.
Taking the wheel at one of the two helm stations, I found the 345 to be very easily driven and responsive. The double-ended mainsheet could be reached from either side of the wide transom, and tacking is as simple as turning the wheel. As we headed up the Bay from Newport to Portsmouth, I kept thinking to myself that this is a boat that is very unintimidating to sail; sailors new to the sport could hop aboard and likely get the hang of things pretty quickly.
The 345 bears the distinctive Hanse look that includes a plumb bow, high freeboard and low coach roof. Visibility from the helms is excellent all around. Under way, the cockpit table provides sturdy handholds and doubles as a mount for the centralized multifunction display and compass. At anchor, put up the table leaves for outdoor dining and fold down the transom swim platform for easy access to the water. Clever covered storage bins on either side of the sliding hatch are a handy place to keep personal items.
For a production sailboat, Hanse offers a fair amount of customization: Owners can specify not just upholstery and joinery, but can choose from several options for each area of the boat. The 345 has a standard layout with the owners cabin forward followed aft by a comfortable saloon with an L-shaped settee to starboard and a bench settee to port. The centerline table has fold-up leaves and can easily seat six. The starboard settee also converts into a double bunk. Moving aft, the galley to starboard features a sink, two-burner gas range, fridge with top and front access, and adequate cabinet space for dishes and provisions.
The 345 has two options for the head and aft-cabin configuration. A single cabin is to starboard of the companionway and a head with separate shower is to port, with access to a large storage area situated underneath the cockpit seat. Alternatively, owners can choose two aft cabins and forgo the separate shower stall and the storage area. Ventilation throughout is excellent, with five overhead hatches and opening ports on either side of the cabin house. Overall, the bright interior is roomy enough for a couple with young children or occasional guests, and the furniture, lighting and fixtures give it a modern, European look.
The 345 comes standard with an 18-horsepower Volvo with saildrive, which felt adequate, though if extensive cruising were in my plans, I’d probably go for the optional 27-horsepower engine. A B&G chart plotter and wind instruments come standard, and an autopilot is an option, as are a Fusion marine stereo system and Wi-Fi network.
Other options such as indirect LED lighting, water heater, anchor windlass, cockpit shower and laminate sails are bundled into packages for cruising, comfort and performance, or are available individually.
All in all, this is a boat that would be fun for weekend adventures, coastal cruising, or just an evening sail when the mood hits you. Really, sailing it is that simple.
Jen Brett is a CW associate editor. This article first appeared in Cruising World, April 2014.