On a cool afternoon following last fall’s Annapolis sailboat show, we met up with Bavaria USA’s president and founder Kenny Feld aboard the new Bavaria Cruiser 46 out on Chesapeake Bay. The sky was gray, the bay the color of ash and the breeze blowing a mild 10 knots.
As the 46 sailed up to the powerboat that was transferring us from one boat to another, it was easy to see the 46’s full hull shape and modest but powerful rig. She was sailing well and making a very good turn of speed. With twin rudders, the leeward rudder always stays down in the water while the windward rudder looses some of its bite as the boat heels. As the 46 sailed by us, we noted its distinctive transom with the wide swim platform folded neatly away.
Once aboard and with sails rolled out and drawing, we gave the 46 a good test of her sailing qualities and were not disappointed. BWS has sailed and reviewed all of the new Bavarias that have been introduced to the North American market in the last five years. Without exception, we have found the boats to be fast, close winded and fun to sail.
Trimmed in hard, the 46 was able to sail at close to 40 degrees to the true wind. The small genoa sheets inside the side stays so the sheeting angles are quite narrow. The in-mast furling mainsail, built by Elvstrom, was cut quite flat but was drawing nicely. The main sheet uses what is being called the “German sheeting system” since all of the Bavarias are set up this way; the sheeting involves two independent main sheets, port and starboard, that replace the sliding traveler. You use the windward sheet to trim the sail and the leeward sheet to trim the leech in much the same way you would with a conventional traveler. When it comes time to jibe the main, you can maintain complete control of the boom through the jibe by handling both sheets at the same time, a job easily managed by one person.
After a few tacks, we eased sheets and power reached into the bay for a while. With the apparent wind at 90 degrees, we were able to sail at 7.5 knots in 10 knots of true wind. For a family cruiser, this is a pleasant turn of speed. Cracking off to about 125 degrees to the apparent wind, an angle that still kept the genoa drawing well, we found that the 46 was giving us just under 8 knots.
The feel on the helm as you maneuver and then settle the 46 into her groove is sure and positive. The twin rudders make her feel as though she is sailing on rails and we found that she had very little weather helm. On all angles, she felt nicely balanced so the boat will be a cinch for the autopilot to steer.
Under power the 75-horsepower Volvo with a sail drive unit pushed the 46 with ease. At cruising revs of 2200 rpms and fairly flat water, the boat settled down at 6.5 knots. At full revs we hit a maximum speed of 8.5 knots. The 46 carried 56 gallons of fuel. At cruising revs the engine will burn about three quarters of a gallon of diesel an hour which will give you a powering range of approximately 500 miles.
Like a lot of modern boats, the 46 is quite high sided and has a lot of windage that affects her handling around the docks. You have to anticipate the effects of a cross breeze and use the windage to help you maneuver. With twin rudders, the boat turns very smartly. In forward, since you do not get any steering benefit on the rudders from prop wash, you need to add a bit of speed to allow the twin rudders to bite the water. Once you grow accustomed to the windage and the required reverse speeds, the 46 will be as simple to dock and maneuver as any modern cruising boat.
Modern cruising boats have evolved very quickly in the last two decades with the almost universal acceptance of voluminous hulls, large stern platforms, beamy aft sections, twin wheels and giant cockpits. The emphasis on comfort and convenience has never been stronger. The old adage that a cruising boat should “drink eight, feed six and sleep four” is way out of date. Today’s family cruisers need to “drink 12, feed eight and sleep six.”
The new Cruiser 46 provides these modern attributes with room to spare. The cockpit is truly your outdoor living room. With the stern platform down, the space is huge. You can easily seat eight around the table and if you have a gang over for sundowners, you could host a dozen warm bodies in the cockpit. On the folding platform, three or four adults can relax, swim, shower and sunbathe.
The 46 has plenty of cockpit storage for lines and safety gear. Forward, just aft of the chain locker, there is a large garage where you can stow downwind sails, fenders, spare anchors and more. The bulkhead that separates the garage from the chain locker is essentially a collision bulkhead that will protect the boat should you hit a container.
Down below, the boat we sailed had the three-cabin owner’s layout. The master cabin lies forward and has a queen-size double berth on the centerline that you can walk around. There is tons of storage for clothes and spare parts and ample hanging space. The head and shower are in their own compartments, port and starboard.
The two quarter cabins are large and spacious. The hull’s beam flows quite far aft and this allows the double bunks to be position well aft. This opens up floor space for standing, under full headroom, and plenty of locker space for clothes and foul weather gear. Each cabin has its own en suite head and shower. The 46 carries 95 gallons of fresh water that should last a family of four about a week when cruising.
The galley lies along the port side of the saloon and is slightly L-shaped. The 46 comes with two fridge boxes, double stainless steel sinks and a three burner propane stove. There is storage in cabinets above the counter and in large lockers beneath it. In the middle of the saloon there is a galley-island with additional counter space and bottle storage. The island faces the U-shaped dinette and has a folding seat that will be comfortable for two. All together, the dinette will seat eight for dinner. The saloon table has a chart locker built into it so you can sit in the dinette to navigate, use the radio or monitor ship’s systems.
The finish of the boat we sailed was in the optional teak with synthetic teak and holly flooring. The ambiance below is bright and the whole interior has a very solid and traditional feel. With double hatches overhead, large windows in the cabin sides and in-hull ports there is ample daylight and ventilation.
THE BAVARIA WAY
Bavaria is one of the world’s largest yacht builders with the capability of turning out a thousand or more sailboats annually. Yet, the company also has the capability to build each of its yachts to a custom order that combines all of the many choices and options that appeal to a new buyer. The delivery times between placing the order and taking your first sail will be about two months.
In North America, Bavaria USA is the sole dealer for the line and runs its own proprietary stores in Mystic, CT, Annapolis, MD, Atlanta, GA and San Diego, CA. More stores are in the works for 2015. By selling direct, Bavaria USA is able to pass along significant savings to new owners and has the ability of running its own charter operations at each location. This makes it easy for prospective owners to test sail a Bavaria and for owners to defray some of the operating costs by offering their boats for charter.
Bavaria-built cruising boats are a great combination of comfort, quality and impressive sailing characteristics. The new 46 is just right for a couple who likes to cruise with friends and family and who entertains aboard frequently. And, the boat will satisfy even the fussiest sailors when it some to sailing and motoring performance.
by George Day
BAVARIA CRUISER 46
Sail area 1,151 sq. ft.
Water 95 gals.
Fuel 56 gals.
Engine (opt.) 75-hp.