Last winter, right after the Strictly Sail Miami show, we had the chance to test a few of the new boats that premiered there. The brand new Jeanneau 349 had been a real crowd pleaser at the show and was packed with interested sailors day after day. It was good to see so many younger couples and families with children at the show and spending time aboard the 349. While not intended just for young families getting into their first cruising boat, the 349 certainly fills that description well.
Out on Biscayne Bay just south of Miami, we had a pleasant 10 knot easterly breeze and flat water to sail on. Once aboard, we hoisted the full battened mainsail and rolled out the 110 percent genoa. A roller furling mast and mainsail is available for the 349 but the added weight aloft, complexity and expense hardly seem worthwhile in a boat of this size. Plus, with a slab reefing main you can build a really sweet mainsail that will optimize your sailing performance.
The boat was designed by Marc Lombard to be a true performance cruiser that will be manageable by a couple or even a singlehander. For couples with children, often one of the parents is tied up with childcare while the other solo sails the boat. The mainsheet has been setup as a doublended sheet with tails running on both sides of the cabin top and through line organizers to the cockpit winches that are positioned next to each of the twin wheels so the helmsman can trim the main from both of the helms while steering.
The jib sheets use a sheeting system that was developed for high performance boats like the Volvo fleet. The sheets run through an eye that floats above the deck and is controlled by a downhaul that doubles as a barber hauler. You can control the shape of the jib—fullness in the foot or tension in the leech—with the sheet and this second control line. It is basically like having a three-dimensional sheet lead car that allows for excellent sail trim.
The 349 is a big 35 footer but it is still quite light and nimble. And, it is fast. We were out on Biscayne Bay with several other boats that were being tested by boating writers so we had to give chase whenever we got close enough to another boat to make it a race. Yes, the conditions were absolutely perfect for this moderately light, slippery sloop that was sailed by reasonably good sailors. But, that said, the 349 showed her transom to a modern 50 foot sloop, a 45 foot cruising cat and a 40 foot, displacement cruising boat.
Upwind, the 349 is quite close winded. We were able to sail at about 33 degrees to the apparent wind and the boat tacked in under 85 degrees true. The ability to adjust the sheeting angles was key to good sailing performance.
Off the wind, the small jib begins to lose efficiency at about 150 degrees to the true wind so it makes sense to carry a Code 0, or a flat cut asymmetrical cruising chute for off-the-wind sailing. The 349 has an optional spinnaker package that include a fixed sprit on which you tack down the big headsails.
The 349 comes with either the standard or a shoal draft fixed keel with a bulb. Also, there is a swing keel version. With the swing keel all the way down, the boat draws almost eight feet. With the board raised, the 349 will sit out of the water balanced on the keel and the twin rudders.
Suffice it to say, those aboard the 349 that afternoon were very pleasantly surprised by the boat’s sailing performance and by the innovative sheeting systems that made it possible. You can get a square top, laminated mainsail and a performance, laminated headsail as options and these would be very tempting since they would boost performance even more.
The 349 packs a lot in a small package. Forward there is a small anchor locker where a windlass can be mounted. The halyards and control lines at the mast all run aft on the cabin top to winches there and to the winches aft at each helm. The boom vang and backstay are adjusted with simple block and tackle systems.
There is no traveler for the main sheet. Instead, the sheet runs along the boom to two blocks, one of which is attached to two Dyneema strops that hold the sheet block amidships. This is a really simple system and for those who want to trim the boom as you would with a traveler, you could exchange the strops for adjustable leads controlled from the cockpit.
The cockpit is large and comfortable. There were three men sailing that day and we all fit into the cockpit easily as we threw the boat through tacks and jibes. The cockpit lockers on the three-cabin version we were sailing are not huge but ample for dock lines, fenders and sundry deck gear. On the two-cabin version, the port cockpit locker is huge. Aft, there is a dedicated compartment for a life raft. The stern transom folds down quite easily and makes for a wide surface for lounging and for boarding the dinghy. The 349 cockpit and deck arrangement have been very carefully designed for comfort and performance.
COMFORTS OF HOME
Thirty-five feet, by today’s standards, is a small cruising boat. But with a very long waterline, plenty of beam and a lot of hull volume in the after sections, the 349 offers a remarkably spacious interior and plenty of room for two couples or a family of four or five to cruise comfortably. As noted above, the interior has two-cabin and three-cabin versions. The three-cabin layout has a small V-berth forward and two quarter cabins aft, each with a fairly spacious double berth.
The two-cabin version has one quarter cabin to starboard while the port cabin becomes a huge storage area accessible from the cockpit. With the port cabin gone, there is now room in the head compartment, also to port, for a separate shower stall. The saloon is traditional and comfortable. The L-shaped galley to starboard has a two-burner stove and oven, a single stainless steel sink and a small but useful refrigerator. There is storage outboard of the counter and beneath the stove and sink.
On the centerline, there is a drop-leaf table with bench settees on both sides. This is a classic saloon layout and it happens to work very well. The port settee has a chart table at its after end where you can use a laptop and monitor electronics and the electrical system. The forward cabin has a V-berth that will fit two normal-size Americans and will be best used as a large single for an extra-large person. All three cabins have hanging lockers and cabinets for storage.
The ambiance of the 349’s interior is right in line with Jeanneau’s modern trend of making their interior spaces bright, well ventilated and accented with handsome teak trim and golden oak flooring. Jeanneau has splurged and fitted the 349 with LED lights that will help reduce onboard energy use. The 349 is a fine sailing small cruiser that has a truly comfortable and spacious interior. Whether you are downsizing from a larger cruising boat or getting into a first boat for a young family, the newest Jeanneau offers a lot of quality, performance and plain fun in an affordable package.
Hull length 32’8”
Displ. 11,773 lbs.
Draft 6’5” (keel)
Draft 4’10” (shoal)
Draft 3’6”/7’8” (SK)
Sail area 595 sq. ft.
Fuel 34 Gals.
Water 54 Gals.
105 Eastern Ave., Ste. 202
Annapolis, MD , 21403