by BWS Staff
Blue Water Sailing
Bavaria launches new 40VISION
Every year Bavaria Yachts builds more than 1,000 cruising boats from 33 to 50 feet in their factories in eastern Germany. In 2007 Bavaria will have the ability to build close to 3,000 boats annually, if their order book warrants the effort.
Given the buying power of a builder with that capacity, it is no wonder that Bavaria is able to bring their boats to market at very competitive prices.
The balance we as sailors look for in a production boat always comes down to value, which in our book is a combination of aesthetics, quality, pricing and the overall reputation (i.e., resale value) of a given boat. Every boat is the net sum of a series of compromises, and most enduring brands always seem to get those compromises in the right balance.
With the continuing success of the Bavaria production process and the introduction this year of the new Vision series (40, 44 and 50 feet), the German builder has established itself as a longterm and major player in the cruising market.
Bavaria 40 Vision Engine
With the sail drive pushing us ahead, we rolled out some mainsail and motorsailed from Back Creek into Annapolis Harbor and Chesapeake Bay. We found a pleasant 12 knots of breeze on the bay and the usual fairly flat water to sail in.
With twin wheels and linked rack-and-pinion mechanisms driving the rudder, the feel on the helm was very sure and light. We rolled out the 135-percent genoa and trimmed for a pleasant broad reach across the bay. With 12 knots true breeze, the boat accelerated well until it was cruising along at seven knots.
In the middle of the bay we hardened up to close hauled and found that the 40 was happy sailing at 45 degrees to the true wind and could be pinched up to 40 degrees without slowing her down much.
The boat tacked surely and efficiently. With almost 19,000 pounds of displacement and the ballast concentrated in the keel's bulb, the 40 stood up nicely to the gusts and puffs coming off the headland south of the Chesapeake Bay bridge. We saw gusts of 18 or so while still close hauled - giving the wind an apparent speed of 24 - and we were still only just on the edge of wanting to reef.
We spent the morning sailing back and forth across the bay, trying various sailing angles and sail combinations. The rollerfurling main was well cut so we were able to tweak the outhaul, vang and traveler to give it some reasonable shape. The headsail could be flattened or given more shape with the adjustable genoa cars, so we could see whether the boat sailed better with more power or with flatter sails.
In the breeze that morning, we found that the 40 sailed best with sheets slightly eased and the sails given plenty of shape. Trim too flat or trim out the drive in the genoa and the boat became slightly sluggish. Give it some power in the sails and it really moved nicely.
On the homeward tack we got the main and genoa balanced, locked the wheel with about three degrees of weather helm and then walked away. The 40 steered itself through a series of gusts without a hand on the wheel and each time fell back into the groove like an old pro. In our view, a boat that can be easily trimmed to sail itself has good natural balance, good directional stability and the rig and hull shape have been designed to work extremely well together.
DECK LAYOUT AND ACCOMMODATIONS
The cockpit will seat six comfortably with four at the folding table and two more behind the twin wheels. The steering stations have been set up so the headsail sheets can be trimmed or tailed by the person at the helm. The main sheet leads to a winch on the cabintop, where a battery of line stoppers have been installed to handle halyards, reefing lines and the boom vang.
Bavaria 40 Vision Stern
The stern platform is accessed through a folding seat between the twin wheels. The platform aft is not large, but will be fine for swimming and accessing the dinghy. A stainless steel swimming ladder is built into the platform. Down below the 40 has a conventional cruising layout with twin quarter cabins on either side of the companionway. The double berths are wide enough at the shoulders for normal-sized couples and will be excellent sea berths.
The boat's lone head has been neatly designed to fit under the starboard side deck so it does not intrude too much into the saloon yet still has good headroom. The fiberglass moldings are well designed, and there is plenty of storage for the usual toiletries. It has a separate stall shower that can double as a good wet locker.
The L-shaped galley is compact but useful with the twin stainless steel sinks positioned nearly on the centerline where they will drain on both tacks. A frontloading fridge will be useful as a day fridge while the top-loading unit can be used for longterm storage of cool items. Enough cabinet space has been built-in for cutlery, dishes and the usual supplies that you like to have handy when cooking.
The dinette is large and can seat four at the centerline table. Two more people can eat at the table with the starboard leaf raised.
Bavaria 40 Vision Saloon
The master cabin forward has a large double berth that is built on an island to enable you to get on and off the bed without having to climb over your mate. Plenty of hanging and locker space has been built-in.
The fit and finish of the interior is pleasant, light and airy. There are fixed ports in the hull for each cabin so you always have light and can see out. The furniture is varnished mahogany, and the joinery work has been completed to a high standard considering the boats are built on a high-volume production line.
The 40 carries 120 gallons of water and 55 gallons of diesel. With a watermaker installed you will always have plenty of freshwater. For long-haul sailing, a second 50-gallon diesel tank could prove useful; 105 gallons of diesel will give the 40 a cruising range under power of 500 miles or more.
The 40 Vision's deck layout and accommodations plan works well and will be comfortable both at sea and in harbor.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
The hull shows a fairly narrow Bavaria 40 Vision Specs entry at the bow, which will help the boat cut through chop and eek out miles upwind. The middle sections of the hull are parabolic curves and have no hard spots or sudden turns to disturb water. The 40 should not pound too much in chop, although all fin keelers will pound to a certain extent in short, square seas. The hull shape remains fair as it runs aft to the broad transom, which makes the hull slippery and gives it power to carry sail on a blustery broad reach. The rudder is a large cruising spade supported on two bearings in the hull; the rudder has enough surface area to really control the boat in rough downwind running and is deep enough to maintain bite on the water even when the boat is heeled suddenly by a gust.
The boat's non-dimentional numbers - the ratios derived from the hull and rig's dimensions - show a design that is modern without being too sporty. The unloaded displacement of 18,060 gives the boat a displacementlength ratio of 205, which is moderately light but still in the mid-range for modern cruisers.
When the boat is loaded with water, fuel and cruising equipment, that ratio will climb to approximately 225, which is well within the comfort zone. The sail areaâ€“displacement ratio, which measures the amount of power in the rig as compared to the weight of the boat, is nominally 20.5. This is high for a traditional cruising boat but falls within the tolerances of sound, modern cruisers. During sail trials we found the boat did not need to be reefed until the apparent wind rose to over 20 knots, which indicated that the high SAD is more than offset by the DL and by the 2.5 ballast-todisplacement ratio.
The boat is constructed of hand-laid unidirectional glass fiber in a vinylester resin. Although Bavaria uses robots for many functions, the creation of the hulls is still a matter for careful craftsmen.
Bavaria 40 Vision Assembly
Bavaria uses robots to streamline the manufacturing process and has pioneered efficiencies that are reflected in the uniformity of their boats and the costs involved in manufacturing. Both add benefit to their owners. Portholes and other cut outs in the deck and hull are performed automatically, while winches are prepped, drilled and installed by robotic arms. The process calls for elaborate computer modeling to keep the process smooth and efficient, so Bavaria has invested heavily in state-of-the-art software and hardware.
The final boats are produced with as few man hours as possible, yet quality has not been sacrificed in the process. In fact, because the manufacturing process has been so carefully and thoroughly planned and executed, the finished boats are uniformly well built and all built to exactly the same tolerances and standards.
The company delivers boats that provide a lot of quality at very fair prices. Bavaria Yachts are not semi-custom personal yachts; instead they are sound cruising boats built in series that will serve their owners well.
The 40 Vision we sailed in Annapolis performed well under both power and sail and will be a lot of fun to live aboard and cruise.
As it comes from the factory, the 40 Vision is not a ready-to-go offshore cruising boat. But it is a great platform on which a knowledgeable owner can fit out to make it a proper offshore boat. In our inspection of the 40, we did not see any structural or rigging issues that would bar us from sailing the boat far and wide, once well fit out and prepared. With appropriate gear aboard, the 40 will make an excellent floating home, will be safe and stable and could make a fine boat to sail to Mexico or the Caribbean for a winter under the tropical sun.