Moorings 43.3: 2009 Best Special-Purpose Cruiser

This charter-optimized cruiser sails well and features a cockpit that's laid out for lounging and entertaining.

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Billy Black

In viewing the Special-Purpose Cruiser category, BOTY judges were asked to look at how well very different boats met the design intent of each builder. This apples-to-oranges-to-melons comparison isn't easy, but, hey, that's why our pros get paid the big bucks. So off to work they went, and when the fruit salad was complete, our panel agreed that the Moorings 43.3 best serves the purpose for which it was built: chartering.

Chartering puts specific demands on a sailboat. First and foremost, the boat must be able to sail, and it must do so safely in a variety of venues. Moreover, a successful charter boat must be attractive to owners, offer a layout that charter guests want, and be rugged enough to endure a quantity of usage hours that few boats see in a year, all the while providing the charter company with revenue.

The Moorings' boat is built by Beneteau and comes in a three-cabin/three-head (the 43.3) and a four-cabin/two-head (the 44.4) layout, with double bunks in place of the forward head. Like its sister ships in the Berret Racoupeau-designed Beneteau line, the 43.3 we sailed in Annapolis has a pleasant Alpi-wood interior. This boat has an ample dinette to starboard, a midships bench seat, and an in-line galley to port.

Judges thought that the finish of the boat would attract those interested in a more upscale look and that its construction would withstand the rigors of near-constant use, giving the owner comfort as to the longevity of his or her investment. And the versatile layout means that it can appeal to both American and European charterers, who often have divergent likes and needs.

Under way, the boat sailed well in the light conditions we had, and the roomy cockpit, with its solid table, was well laid out for lounging and entertaining. Aren't those the main things we want when we head to the islands for a week in the sun?

JUDGES' NOTES

  • Using feedback from charterers, Beneteau has built a boat for The Moorings with spaces where people can relax.
  • Twin wheels on the Moorings 43.3 provide easy access to the cockpit from the dinghy and swim platform.
  • The galley counters on the 43.3 are well set up for cooking.

To access CW's complete 2009 Sailboat Show and Boat of the Year contest coverage, click here.