Join Date: Jul 2002
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Catalina, Beneteau, or What ?
Let me add an anecdotal illustration of Jeff''s comment about build quality of the B number series and also his comment that they are intended for coastal cruising.
A friend hired on with a Med broker to deliver a 39'' Beneteau to the Caribbean from Gib; I''m sorry but don''t have the exact model but am sure of the length. They had serious rig problems and had to divert to the Cape Verdes (where they were treated wonderfully, BTW) to obtain the needed repairs. Basically, the hardware was just not up to the offshore use. They then sailed to St. Lucia, noticing on the last few days that the galley counter kept growing in height - it simply had not been adequately secured originally, given the racking and torque that the hull/pan structure sees when a boat works at sea. This was an in-season transit without unusual weather, but it was typically a robust passage in trade winds with that obnoxious swell coming down from the storms marching across the N Atlantic, further north. How a boat works offshore, day in/day out, is something most owners simply are not familiar with...but which is a norm off soundings.
I can''t say this would be typical of all Beneteaus and suspect no one can. There are simply too many variables. I also notice we''re off on ''ultimate voyages'' (even a normal ocean crossing is a ''big deal'' when compared with how 99% of all boats are used today, especially in the USA) when talking about model choices that may mostly remain in a marina slip, and even on extended vacations may only see a few hundred miles of estuary and/or coastal sailing. The odds alone would suggest that any Catalina 350 or Beneteau 393 will satisfy most novice owners simply because the owners a) don''t really know what ''good'' is (solely due to their limited experience) and b) because the boats will mostly be untaxed during the ownership period.
Just to offer balance, I''d like to add that while the structural assembly of a First series boat might be more robust, they still appear to me to be a lousy choice for any serious cruising. Ice rink decks with their sloping, smooth gelcoat surfaces, limited anchor handling structures, cockpit designs that service large crews well but aren''t especially compatible with the cockpit being a veranda/living room/protected work space when the boat is cruised long-distance...I think you''d have to value the sailing pleasure such a boat brings you very highly to accept the compromises the design brings to meaningful cruising. And of course, once again we''re off on an application - ''serious cruising'' - that is way wide of the mark for most boat buyers.