Nice innovative high performance cruising sailboat needs better beds
Reviewed Mar 2018
We recently chartered a 2016 build Beneau Oceanis 41.1 in the three-cabin, two-head configuration. It sailed well and had many good points which are all well covered in other more erudite and professional reviews, but in my view there are five things Beneteau gets wrong with this boat.
First is the sleeping accommodation. The forward cabin was in v-berth configuration and very narrow at the point of the vee, such that you constantly woke your partner because every time you moved you could not avoid kicking them. The two aft quarter berths were nice and wide and reasonably spacious, but lacked a grab rail above them to enable easy access without kicking your sleeping partner. I’m a reasonably agile 6’1 and my wife a very agile 5’6 and we both finished up with bruises where we’d been accidentally whacked by the other getting in and out of bed!
Second was the absense of dorade style ventilation for wet conditions. We happened to experience several rainy periods during our charter and the boat very quickly became a soggy humid mess, as the only means of ventilation was to open hatches, which also let the rain in.
Third is the galley where the double sinks and the stove need to be switched positions as the only flat area for draining wet dishes was beyond the stove from the sink, which made it very easy to drip water into the burners of the stove whilst washing up. This is a really simple basic thing to fix and I’m a bit amazed such an obvious design fault gets through Beneteau’s usually very thorough system.
The fourth thing relates to the mainsail and the high sheeting position on the cockpit arch, which generally is not a bad idea, but the problem is the boom is very high and getting the sail down was really difficult. The mast had steps built into the bottom starboard side of it to enable you to clamber up to get to the sail to be able to pull it down to stow it in the lazy jacks and to throw a sail tie over it and retrieve the halyard, etc. But both steps were on the same side of the mast and consequently really difficult to climb, particularly in a seaway. If they are going to use this arrangement, it would really be much better with in-mast furling. I also have my doubts as to whether the arch needed to be quite so high.
Fifth is the bilge draining arrangement. We had a problem with a loose clamp on the exhaust with filled the bilge with water. That problem was very easily fixed but pumping the boat out was no simple process. The boat was equipped with a really quick electric bilge pump and a similarly quich diaphram pump that could pump about 20 litres a minute, from memory, but they both pumped from the same sump and the drains to the bilge sections either side of the sump were so tiny they could only drain about 2 litres a minute maybe. We had to bail water with a saucepan and the dinghy bailer from the fore and aft sections into the central sump to enable the pump to get rid of it quick enough which just seemed like a really bizarre design fault. All bilge sections fore and aft up to the section one removed from the pump sump had two drains 25 or 30mm in diameter between them, but those into the sump were more like 6 or 8 mm.
But let me finish on a few positives. The boat sails like a dream, it really goes well and is just beautifully balanced and has the ideal rig with the mast almost on the centrepoint of the boat. I loved sailing it.
The cockpit is to die for. I’ve never sailed a boat with a more comfortable, spacious and functional cockpit.
The aft head is the best designed shower/toilet I’ve ever seen in a sailboat. Brilliant shower section with a folding clear plastic door between it and the vanity and toilet section to confine the splashes and give you security to lean against whilst using it underway. In comparison the more normal sized forward head was so cramped that no-one ever used it a second time so it might as well never have been there.
The standard of joinery and finish was also exceptional, but then we are used to this with Beneteau boats. The only exception to this was the fold-down transom, the electric/hydraulic machinery of which had been hugely problematic for the charter company so had been replaced with a rope to a halyard winch!