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post #3 of Old 03-26-2010
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Location: West Chester, PA
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Beneteau 351

For the last two seasons, we have sailed the northern Chesapeake in a 1998 Beneteau 352, the nearly identical successor to the 351 you are considering. Our boat has a Yanmar 3GM, not the Perkins, and it is a very reliable and economical engine. Look for one with a Yanmar. The in-mast furler can get jammed if you try to furl it with the boom on the starboard side of the boad (ie: on port tack), but it furls nearly effortlessly if the boom is on the port side. This is due to the rotational direction of the furler. The previous comments about a spacious cockpit are accurate. Dining al-fresco is a pleasure. Also, the galley is well laid out and, for a 35 footer, the two cabins are relatively spacious, with good privacy. Sailing performance is good and backing into a slip is easy once you get the feel of the boat. All in all, I would recommend either the 351 or the 352.
Cruising World August 1994 has a review of the 351 by Ted Brewer and a sea trial by Hal Sutphen. Sorry I can't figure out how to attach a copy, but you can get an e-mail copy from Cruising World for $10.00. It is a generally favorable review with a few notes of caution. The first is that Brewer says the ballast ratio is below par and he recommends adding a few hundred pounds of lead in the bilge. We have added two 8D house batteries at 150lbs each, so we have taken care of that issue. Next is his opinion that the deck is excessively sloped for walking forward, but we have not felt this was a problem. Finally, Sutphen gives his opinion that the large prop slows the boat in light air, but we have a Max-Prop, so that doesn't bother us either. Get a survey by a competent surveyor and if it is favorable, go for it.
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