A tour of the Bavaria 38 Cruiser reveals a philosophical difference between Bavaria Yachts and the other major European builders of cruising sailboats: Bavaria hasn’t adapted the Ikea style of furniture to its boat’s interiors. Further, the company has held on to some of the traditional features associated with sailboats, such as accented trim, integrated grabrails on joinery components, and deep, sturdy fiddles around work surfaces and shelves-all in varnished African mahogany. While fashionistas might consider this approach quaint, sailors will find it reassuring, especially when trying to move about the cabin in a seaway.
Keen sailors will also find some on-deck features to their liking. Bavaria calls the 38 a “performance-oriented cruiser,” and it backs that up by providing tackles for adjusting the genoa-sheet leads, a four-part tackle on one leg of the split backstay (redundant, perhaps, on the tested boat with its in-mast furling mainsail), deck padeyes for converting the standard mainsheet to the German-style double-ended system, and six winches.
Conditions on the day of our trial sail were hardly testing, unfortunately, but when the wind gusted to 4.5 knots true, a boat speed (measured by GPS) of 2.7 knots showed considerable promise for breezier days. A little more wind might’ve enabled us to get a better measure of the shoal-draft tandem keel, which Bavaria offers as standard on U.S.-bound boats.
Under power, the Volvo saildrive drove the boat at speeds from 5 knots at 1,500 rpm to 7.2 knots at 2,500 rpm and at perfectly acceptable noise levels on deck and below.
In both style and substance, the Bavaria 38 appears to be a product of a builder that’s looking forward while not leaving behind what matters most in a cruising sailboat.
LOA 38′ 6″
LWL 32′ 6″
Beam 12′ 10″
Draft 5′ 3″
Sail Area 745 sq. ft.
Displacement 15,840 lb.
Water 55 gal.
Fuel 40 gal.
Engine Volvo 40-hp. saildrive
Designer J&J Design