As I drove by scenic Mystic Seaport on my way to the marina where we were to set off for a test of the new Bavaria Vision 42, I noticed that the big flags on the classic ships were standing out dead straight in the breeze. Yes, there was going to be plenty of wind that afternoon.
I met up with Fletcher Ryan who runs the Mystic, Connecticut base for Bavaria USA and we soon were aboard the V42 and getting her ready to sail. I had sailed the new Vision 46 about a year ago when the first boat was delivered to the U.S. so the new styling for Bavaria was not a surprise. Unlike the Cruiser Line from Bavaria, the Vision 46 and 42 have raised salon cabin tops with sleek cat-eye windows that evoke the design styling of an Audi TT sports car.
Like the 46, the cockpit of the 42 is large and commodious, with a slightly off center companionway that makes room for an L-shaped bench settee to port. The boat has twin helms and the stern folds down to make a huge swim platform. The cockpit table can be raised and lower electronically and when in the lowered position, a filler cushion turns the settee into a larger lounge bed perfect for sunning and napping.
Right from the start I could see that this was a thoroughly modern cruiser that was designed for comfortable living. We’d see how she sailed.
The marina was up the river and fairly well protected by trees on both banks so it didn’t seem too windy as we motored downstream toward Fishers Island Sound, but the tops of the trees were certainly thrashing about.
Under power and around the marina docks, the V42 handed very easily with a sure feel on the helm and tight turning circles. The boat comes with a 40-horsepower diesel and a sail drive unit below the water. Later, as we were docking, Fletcher got the V42 to back effortlessly without any prop walk about six boat lengths to the slip and then made a smart ninety degree backwards turn into the slip without banging either piling, and this was in a brisk cross wind.
By the time we got to the mouth of the river, the wind was piping at 20 to 25. We rolled out about half of the mainsail and all of the small jib and shut down the motor. Trimming for close hauled sailing we cleared the first headland of the river and soon were in the very choppy waters of Fishers Island Sound and sailing hard on the wind.
We got the reef right the first time so the boat stood up well to the breeze and could make about seven knots at 40 degrees off the true wind, which was now blowing at over 30 knots apparent in our faces. We carried on close hauled for three or so miles and the boat handled the chop well. In fact, we both remarked that the 42 felt like a bigger boat in the strong winds.
We didn’t have sea room to tack and were concerned about the continually rising breeze, so after sailing up wind, we fell off onto a broad reach and aimed to make a circle off an old lighthouse on an island that once marked the entrance to the sound. It is something of a curiosity since it was bought by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, among many things, and has been tricked out with big arrays of solar panels and a large windmill. The lighthouse looked like a perfect place for an inventor to cook up new ideas without interruption.
The current was flowing hard against strong gusts of wind as we rounded the island so we had a very disturbed sea, yet the boat was loving it and steering as if on rails. We had to jibe to make our course back to the river, which was going to be interesting with just the two of us and the wind pegged at 30 knots. That said, the 42 has a twin main sheet system with independent sheets that allows you to trim from either side of the boat. The beauty of this arrangement is that it allows you to use the leeward sheet as a preventer while you jibe the boom across the boat and take control of it with the new leeward sheet. That is how we jibed the 42 in the strong breeze with no fuss or bother and the boat never got out of control.
We were power reaching back into the sound toward the river and we kept getting hit with gusts that knocked us over a bit and shot us forward. Eight knots was about our average, but we certainly saw 10s a few times. Again, the 42 felt like a bigger boat as we steered through the puffs; she held her ground instead of rounding up or broaching as might have happened on some lighter weight production boats.
To say that Fletcher and I were having fun was an understatement. In fact, when we got back to the mouth of the river and the narrow channel that leads through sand flats upstream to the marina, we decided to keep sailing. The headsail on the 42, like all Bavarias, sheets inside the shrouds mounted outboard at the gunnel. This creates a very close sheeting angle that in turn allows the boat to point higher than most cruising boats.
Shivering the jib as closely as possible, we buoy-skimmed our way past one red nun after another. Several times we seemed to be caught too far to leeward to make the channel, but each time the wind gusted and we were able to ride the puffs higher and clear the buoys. And, like the overgrown boys that we are, both Fletcher and I hooted with pleasure each time this happened.
The good news is that we took the V42 out in more wind than one normally would and didn’t break anything or hurt anyone. The better news is that the V42 handled the challenge with poise, safety and performance. This is the kind of test of a boat that really builds confidence in the designers, Farr Yacht design, and Bavaria.
The boat we sailed is the two-cabin version with one head that is designed for couples who cruise on their own and have friends join them from time to time. You can have the 42 with three cabins and two heads or two cabins and two heads. Each Bavaria is built to order so you can select the layout that works best for you as well as the interior wood panels, fabrics and floor style. The two cabin version gives you a large cockpit locker while the three cabin version gives you berths for six.
As you climb down the companionway, you find the galley to port with a large fridge, a two-burner propane stove and oven, and ample storage lockers. Access to the after cabin is via the galley.
Across from the galley is the aft head with a separate shower stall; Bavaria makes a point of including at least one shower in most of their boats.
The living areas include an L-shaped dinette that will seat three and two moveable stools that will allow five adults to sit comfortably around the table. To port, there are two single seats on either side of a small table. The table is set up to house a laptop and the bulkhead next to it provides space to mount a VHF radio, sailing and navigation instruments, and other visual displays. The small electrical breaker panel is at this seat as well. So, the boat doesn’t have a separate nav station but it does have a useful seat and table where the navigator can work.
The forward cabin has a centerline double berth that is easy to make and climb in and out of. To port there is a large hanging locker while to starboard there is a small vanity with a mirror and storage locker. This will be a very comfortable cabin with lots of light and ventilation.
The 42 is finished with wood and veneers called Sipo wood, which can be finished in several different colors. Our understanding is that it is a sustainable product that does not require the cutting of old-growth trees.
The ambiance inside the Vision 42 is all about creating an attractive floating home in modern European styling that is bright, airy and eminently comfortable.
It is not often that we get to test a new boat in a strong breeze and then close tack it up a narrow, twisting channel between sand banks, but that’s how we put the Vision 42 through its paces and why we came away impressed. Under sail it did not seem to have any vices and was simple and easy to handle. A couple will have fun cruising this boat and can do so with a lot of confidence.
The V42’s cockpit is quite large for a boat of this size so the builders acknowledged that we all spend most of our cruising time during the day on deck whether sailing or lounging in some pleasant anchorage. So, the interior of the 42 may be slightly smaller than some other boats in this size range but the way it is laid out and the thought that has been given to the ergonomics makes it work very well. There is plenty of room to swing a cat.
We liked the 46 when we first sailed it but unfortunately that day we had almost no wind so we spent our time drifting in circles and poking around down below to see how the boat was put together. Now that we have sailed the 42 in some wind, we think this new series from Bavaria has a lot going for it and is going to make sailors very happy no matter what Neptune throws at them.
By George Day
Bavaria Vision 42
Sail Area947 sq. ft.