Salona 45

The rakish Salona 45 is a swift, weatherly, and uncannily stable cruising boat.

ARISTARCHOScharterworld.com

One stormy day last October during CW's Boat of the Year contest, we sailed the Salona 45 under full main and rolled-out 110-percent jib in 20 to 25 knots of wind, broad-reaching at 9 knots in a sloppy sea. This was the Croatian plant's first offering to the U.S. sailboat market, and it was clear the company had done its homework.

With its high initial stability, an 8-foot-4-inch-deep "race keel" that has most of the ballast in the lead bulb (the standard draft is just under 7 feet), and a 34 percent ballast/displacement ratio, the boat was as stiff as a church.

The wide decks were uncluttered, and the footing on the wet teak was excellent. I strolled aft to the cockpit while the rakish, dark-blue hull screamed along on a reach, and not until we headed upwind did I wish the stainless-steel handrails extended farther forward than the halyard organizers aft of the mast. I also wanted the nonskid pattern on the cabin top to be extended inboard of the rails.

The spacious cockpit, with its twin wheels and teak sole, seat, and locker tops, is a wide and wondrous working area. The traveler, mounted on the sole forward of the pedestal, and the primary winches are handy to the helmsman, and the secondaries are within reach on the cabin top.

The companionway has four wide, curved steps for security in a seaway, with stout grabrails port and starboard. The steps, which swing up on gas springs for engine access, lead to a saloon glowing with the mellow golden brown of satin-varnished cherry. Ten opening ports, six hatches, and two solar vents keep it airy below. To port is the door to the aft head with separate shower stall-a great spot to leave wet oilies and boots.

The galley is straight-line, but there's just enough of an indentation in front of the double sinks to facilitate a washup. The countertops, with drawers, a locker, and a bin under, are made of Kerrock, a Slovenian version of Corian. The counters have integral fiddles that seemed a tad sharp-edged to comfortably rest bare arms and elbows upon.

To starboard of the companionway is the nav station, with three drawers beneath a fiddled lift-top desk. On its inboard side is a grabrail to help one move forward to the dinette, whose table cries out for fiddles; the dinette's inboard seat doubles as a locker. The handrails around the saloon at shoulder level are too shallow to be efficient, and much of their length is filled with curtain track, minimizing the rails' effectiveness, but the builder has the right idea.

The forward and both aft cabins have solid cherry doors with heavy-duty, positive-locking latches. The bulkheads and furniture throughout are stout enough to hold when crewmembers are thrown against them by a sea. And the chamfered edges will minimize the effect of a blow.

The boat I sailed had twin aft cabins, each with a double sea berth (fuel and water tanks are under), seat with shoe locker under, hanging locker, and a shelf with deep fiddles. The forward cabin had a near-queen-size berth to starboard, opposite a settee, with lockers and drawers forward, aft, and above. The forward head in this model was right in the peak, so of limited use while going to weather in a chop.

When I took the helm, the Whitlock steering was sweet, despite our being overcanvased at the time. I ached to put in a couple of reefs, take a big tuck in the jib, and amble along downwind in 20-plus knots for the rest of the day. But that's not what this boat is all about.

Salona 45 Specs:

LOA: 44' 6" (13.55 m.)
LWL: 40' 6" (12.35 m.)
Beam: 13' 9" (4.20 m.)
Draft (standard/racing): 6' 11"/8' 4" (2.11/2.54 m.)
Sail Area (working): 1,345 sq. ft. (125 sq. m.)
Displacement: 22,046 lb. (10,000 kg.)
Water: 106 gal. (400 l.)
Fuel: 71 gal. (270 l.)
Engine: 54-hp. Yanmar
Designer: J&J Design
Sailaway Price: $380,000
Salona Yachts North America, (800) 819-1646, www.salonayachts.com