We tested the Bavaria Cruiser 46 this weekend and it was a revelation. Our experience with chartering Bavarias in the past was of clunky yachts with agricultural performance. Although I knew that the latest designs have received high praise from the yachting press, my expectations were low. So what did we find out?
It was, like seems to be our plight whenever we test a boat, a day with light winds. The location was once again the Pittwater north of Sydney. Stepping onto the yacht, we immediately recognised the solid yet refined build. The cockpit is large, with seats large enough to lie down our full 6 foot length. The pedestals in front of the helm, apart from being a handy location for the Garmin chart plotter, also provide sturdy handholds. The 4 winches down the side are solid, with the two forward ones nicely oversized compared to what you typically get in this size range. The German main sheeting runs to the twin winches either side of the companionway. The bimini is huge and overlaps the sprayhood. While some may appreciate the complete sun cover, we’d opt for a smaller bimini to provide better visibility of the headsail.
The biggest differentiator to the other 46-foot yachts was the huge, and I mean huge! drop down transom. We couldn’t figure our how Bavaria have fitted in such a large transom, seems to be at least half a foot longer than it’s competition. It would make a great waterfront terrace when on anchor! And one thing I’ve realised with drop down transoms, on a 46′ yacht, with it down, you essentially have the usable space of a 50′ yacht (in fact that of an old 54′ yacht, as the typical old-design yachts lost the last 4′ to steps and platform…).
Down below, while the living area seems on the slightly small side, with the galley taking up the whole length of the port side, the cabins are huge. The forward owners cabin has a huge amount of floor area, even with the separate shower and head. The aft cabins have a remarkable amount of headroom all the way to the far reaches – no bumping of your head when you get up at night.
The one thing we would change if we could is remove one of the two heads next to the companionway. We would rather have the space for additional storage or to at least make the living area roomier. But it’s something we could live with and would probably use as the wet locker.
How did she sail? Very well, as you would expect from a Farr-designed hull. She was easy to balance and felt relatively light on the helm. There was a little bit of resistance on the helm, which was due to the twin rudders. But the advantage of having twin rudders, in particular the redundancy (something we’d appreciate in the far reaches of the Pacific), outweighs any slight helm resistance. In 6 knots of wind she close reached at 3 knots – not bad. Downwind she felt very solid. Our seven year old son had no problems steering her up or down wind.
In conclusion, a revelation for us, a far better built and better performing than Bavarias of past. She now makes our shortlist of yachts alongside the Hanse 455 and Dufour 460.