I think Beneteaus make great coastal cruisers, are well laid out, provide a lot of room for the size of the boat and are relatively fast and nimble. Despite the fact that many have been sailed across the Atlantic for use as Moorings boats, I am not as comfortable with a Beneteau as a blue water cruiser.
I was in Grenada for Hurricane Ivan and saw all of the devastation it caused to all kinds of boats. One memory will always stand out. A 47 foot Beneteau was at the dock floating upright with four feet of its bow cut clean off by the forestay of a holed neighbor that was lying on its side. The hull thickness at the waterline appeared to be about a nickel’s width. I was surprised by this - I thought the hulls were more substantial. For ocean sailing, I would rather have a more substantial hull.
I cannot speak about the exact specifications of hull construction for the Bristols; ie, balsa cores or solid glass, however, they have a great reputation. I have sailed on the 35.5 many times and it’s a fine boat.
When I was looking for a blue water cruiser, I ultimately decided to consider only cored hulls. I was looking exclusively at fiberglass boats - I don't know enough about aluminum and steel - and preferred cored hulls because even if the outer skin is punctured, the core may absorb enough impact to allow the inner skin to remain watertight. That, combined with the added strength achieved by sandwiching the core between the glass skins, makes this my choice. I am sure you’ll find a lot of other opinions from very knowledgeable people and it will be worth your time to listen so you can make your own informed decision.
For the amount of money you’re willing to spend, I would seriously look at Shannons. They are cored with Airex and truly are bulletproof. Shannons are also fast, not necessarily nimble, moderate displacement boats with a very sea-kindly motion.
Last edited by Sialia; 04-28-2006 at 08:42 AM.