The morning we set off from Miamarina at Miami’s Bayside after the Strictly Sail Miami boat show in February, the trade winds were blowing a steady 10 to 12 knots and white puffy clouds were trundling in from the Bahamas. It was a perfect morning to go sailing and to put the brand new Beneteau 60 through her paces.
We folded up the huge swim platform aft and then backed out of the slip. The big boat backed easily and turned sharply in reverse. The bow thruster helped us maneuver the bow in tight spaces and to make the turn departing the marina. Once underway, the 60 powered at eight knots at cruising revs and maxed out at 9.8 knots at full revs.
The 60’s cockpit is huge, as you can imagine. The boat has almost 17 feet of beam and the maximum beam is carried well aft so the cockpit gets to make use of that acreage. The twin helms have seats that are wide enough for two people. It is quite a distance between the two wheels so you have to let go of one before grasping the other. Aft of the helm seats is the afterdeck where floor cushions can be arranged for lounging. Under the after deck, there is a huge garage where you can store a small RIB. With the swim platform folded down, you have a large area for sunning, swimming or getting in and out of the dinghy.
The cockpit benches are long enough to lie down on and the table, with its leaves folded out, will seat eight for lunch or dinner under the stars. The cockpit arch over the companionway, where the mainsheet blocks are nicely out of the way, acts as the aft frame for a cockpit dodger. If you mount a Bimini top over the helms, you can then add an insert between the Bimini and the arch to provide full sun and rain protection for the whole cockpit.
All sheets, halyards and control lines run aft to the cockpit in conduits in the cabin top so the decks are uncluttered and all sailing functions can be handled from the cockpit. The cockpit is equipped with four winches, two primaries for the headsail sheets and two smaller winches for the mainsheet and all of the control lines. The mainsheet runs to the winch on the port side.
As we motored out the cut into the ocean, we rolled out the mainsail and then unfurled the genoa. The headsail we had aboard was a 120 percent genoa that was fairly high cut and suitable as an all-purpose headsail. With the sails full and drawing, we close reached seaward and were delightfully surprised by how fast the big sloop sailed in the moderate breeze. In 10 knots of true wind, the 60 slipped along at seven plus knots with the wind at 50 degrees apparent angle.
The 60 can be rigged with a self-tacking, 90 percent blade jib that will make windward work and close quarter sailing simple. The jib sheet runs aft through the mast and the deck conduit to the cockpit. For running and reaching while rigged with the self-tacking jib, a reacher on a roller furling unit can be set up on the bow sprit. With this configuration, you can beat to weather with the jib and then roll it up and roll out the reacher when you fall off the wind.
The 60 is a pleasure to sail. A lone helmsman can trim while at the wheel and with the autopilot steering will have no problem singlehanding for long periods. A couple will find the boat a cinch to cruise and sail. And with her long waterline and moderate displacement, the 60 will provide them with fast passages whether along the coast or offshore.
The 60 we sailed off Miami was an owners version with three primary sleeping cabins, and three heads. The master cabin forward lies just forward of the middle of the boat, so it has plenty of beam and thus an amazing amount of space. The double berth on the centerline is a standard queen. You can climb into the bed easily from both sides so you won’t disturb your partner when you get up in the night. The berth will also be easy to make.
The forward cabin has large hull ports that bring in a lot of light and give you a good view of the world around you from your bed. Adjustable crane reading lights are mounted on both sides of the bed and small side tables or night stands are conveniently placed for glasses, books and other personal items.
The forward cabin has a small vanity that can be used as a desk or a make-up table. It has a folding top and there are bookshelves handy. The bulkhead above the vanity is the place to mount the cabin’s flat screen TV. There is plenty of storage room in the cabin’s cabinets and in the huge bins under the double mattress.
The quarter cabins are also huge and will be very comfortable for family and friends visiting for a while. The 60’s sheer size allows Beneteau’s designers to make maximum use of the beam. The double berths are large and the hanging and storage lockers huge. There are opening ports and large overhead hatches to facilitate both natural light and ventilation.
The saloon is vast. The U-shaped galley to port has an acre of counter space and lots of storage room. There are two fridges; one top loading that can be used as a freezer, and one side loading for daily use. This will be a good seagoing galley since there are plenty of handholds and places to brace a hip while cooking in bouncy conditions.
The chart table is to starboard and integrated into the big dinette with an extended cushion arrangement. The chart table is large enough for a standard chart kit or a folded paper chart. A multifunction display, VHF radio, sat-phone and SSB radio can all be mounted in the compartment above the chart table and a laptop can be stowed in the table.
The dinette is U-shaped and has a moveable, backless bench to provide full seating for eight. To port there is a bench settee. Both the settee and the long side of the dinette will make good sea berths on passage when it is too bouncy to sleep in the forward cabin, which is most of the time, it seems. The after cabins will be great sea berths, too.
The three heads in the owner’s version are large and all equipped with a separate shower so each cabin’s occupants will have their own en suite heads.
The 60 carries 187 gallons of fresh water and with the optional extra water tank can carry 275 gallons. For a crew of two, this will last a long time. And for a crew of six who are showering everyday, the extra water tank will be much appreciated.
Fuel capacity in the standard boat is 127 gallons and with the optional extra tank is boosted to 157 gallons. Burning a gallon an hour at conservative cruising revs, the 60 will power at 6.5 knots so 157 gallons will give a cruising range of 1,000 miles. For extended voyaging and long-term living aboard, this extra margin of both water and fuel will be cherished by the crew.
Not so long ago, the idea of a couple cruising in a 60 footer on their own was a stretch for the imagination. For a couple of decades, 55 feet has been deemed by builders and the world of cruisers to be about the maximum size that can be comfortably handled by a couple. Even that was considered by many experienced sailors to be on the large side.
With Hylas coming out with a 63 footer, Jeanneau launching a new 64 footer and Beneteau introducing their 60, the paradigm has once again shifted to even larger boat sizes. The Beneteau 60 that we sailed was big but it never felt unmanageable or difficult to run.
The sailing systems are so simple and well thought out that a single watchstander can run the boat in almost all situations. Around the docks, a bow thruster makes docking and maneuvering straight forward.
The boat we sailed had the optional crew cabin in the forepeak with a bunk and head. No doubt there will be owners who will want to have a professional crew aboard to manage the boat and help with coastal sailing and deliveries so it may make sense to have a dedicated crew cabin.
The new Beneteau 60 is a true floating home that is also a proper cruising yacht with the capability of taking her crew anywhere they choose to sail.
Beneteau Oceanis 60
Beam 16’ 9”
Ballast 14,187 lbs.
Displacement 48,600 lbs.
Fuel 127 gals.
Water 187 gals.
Engine 140 hp. diesel
Sail area 2,010 sq. ft.