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  #1  
Old 03-20-2005
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BeneteauOceanis350

As my wife gets more involved in looking at boats (shoal draft, over 25'' LWL, over 10,000 lbs disp, under $50K, offshore ability, comfortable motion) I find it expedient to add the Beneteau Oceanis 350 and/or similar boats to the list. She is of course attracted to the accomodation.
So, I would appreciate comments regarding sailing ability, motion and security in heavy weather, and overall construction.
Thank you, Gary
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Old 03-20-2005
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BeneteauOceanis350

Gary, a big variable in your requirements is what you mean by ''offshore ability''. If you mean offshore coastal runs along the East or Gulf Coast or island hopping down into the Caribbean, that''s a very different thing than sailing offshore in the USA''s NW coastal waters or offshore to Bermuda. These differences don''t relate just to the structural integrity of the monocoque hull-deck structure, the integrity of the rudder & steering system, or the functionality of the rig, either. What might seem functional when daysailing, or making due when sailing an overnight, might not seem functional when you are at sea for some days. Real sea berths, a functional at-sea galley, a head you don''t mind using in a big lump of a sea, and most especially a bullet-proof self-steering system (or systems!) are all examples of this.

Perhaps you could outline your firm ''offshore'' cruising plans for us. Be careful NOT to include all the ''possible'' or ''our dreams include'' destinations unless you really want to be working to a much higher standard.

Jack
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Old 03-22-2005
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BeneteauOceanis350

Jack,
We definitely plan to island hop down the Caribbean and hope to cross to the Yucatan/Belize. I would like a boat capable of crossing to Bermuda with reasonable upgrades, certainly a boat I don''t need to be afraid of the Gulf Stream in. All of the offshore needs you mention would be pertinant.
Thanks for your time,
Gary
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Old 03-22-2005
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Gary, I''m not a big fan of smallish Beneteaus for the offshore plans you hold altho'' I think they provide good value for what they are. Primarily, my reservations stem from the fact that plans like yours, encompassing long-term liveaboard cruising with offshore destinations, ask a great deal from a boat...while Beneteau is instead in the business of providing as much volume in a boat for the widest possible audience for a given price point. So right away, we have to be a bit wary about one goal fitting the other.

I''m sure you''ve already done this but for the sake of the thread followers, here are two reviews that popped up near the top of the Google list. I think they are worth reading and reflecting on, as I think they say much of what is good & bad about this model:
Bob Perry''s review: www.boats.com/content/default_detail.jsp?contentid=7752
Jack Horner''s review: www.boatus.com/jackhornor/sail/BeneteauOcean350.htm
(It might also be worth the small cost of purchasing the Practical Sailor review on this boat, which you can find at www.boatus.com/reviews/sail/reviews/1130-1.asp)

Perry''s is the more positive review but, typical of his design reviews, his focus is more about what one of his peers has been able to accomplish with the design brief in terms of style, space, shape and potential (aka: assumed) sailing ability. His is more about the art of design and less about the grit under the fingernails that we sailors have to sometimes endure. E.g. notice his statement that he''d probably opt for the winged keel because of little performance difference. Someone who has to live with their boat might have a different view, since wings make good anchors and the winglets are bolted onto the fin rather than a cast piece. I also notice he fails to acknowledge the light ballast, iron ballast and medium draft (for the fin; shallow for the wing), all of which suggest to me that the design depends a lot on initial form stability but will be pretty active and easily overpowered in heavier airs when out on the ocean. Still, he points out that the designer did a lot with less than 34'' of length, and you will find this layout on a wide range of 34''+/- boats including high end H-R 34''s, Najad 331''s and older Malo 34''s.

Horner''s been a Bay surveyor for decades now, and so you''ll notice his review is more about what holds up and what works on the water. Since most owners won''t ask nearly as much of a 350 as you potentially will, you have to read some of his comments thoughtfully to grasp their significance for you. E.g. notice his description of the hull-deck joint, which will apparently also be your rub rail in this boat. How will that hold up - and how can it be repaired when it is damaged - when a gust of beam wind gets ahold of all that freeboard and prangs the hull''s side into a steel piling at a fuel dock? Is 28 gals of diesel enough if enjoying the Outer Islands of the Bahamas for several months, knowing you might be charging your batteries every day and doing some motoring, as well? When you read his description of storage spaces - or when you look at the layout and imagine all those horizontal spaces inside an essentially canoe-bodied hull - does that sound adequate for your needs? Just how feasible is it to add the amount & type of ventilation this boat needs?

All boats are compromises, and all 10,000# boats are going to be wanting for space & features when the demands on long-term cruising are placed on them. In that sense, the 350 belongs to a large club and may be better than many. E.g. it''s ''Euro'' layout is relatively functional; the head is accessible & relatively safe to use at sea, the galley and chart table are in the right part of the boat tho'' small, and opposing settes are IMO a good choice for a cruising boat - flexible for social occasions, when the sewing machine is out, and potentially a decent sea berth when off the wind. And I like e.g. the anchor roller assembly; far beefier than latter-day Jeanneaus, e.g. However, the size of all these interior spaces & surfaces are going to better fit smaller bodies than larger ones, and if you plan to cruise in sub-tropical regions like the Caribbean, it''s fair to ask if you''ve slept in a quarter cabin, next to the engine, on a warm night.

And finally, you''ve asked about overall construction. These boats are being sailed everywhere (the Med, Down Under, the Caribbean and around coastal North America) but they aren''t often sailed across oceans to get to those places. These boats are intended for chartering & for family use, and in that sense they aren''t directed at folks like you and I. Could you sail one in season to Bermuda, safely. That''s more about seamanship than about this boat, and the answer is ''sure''. Does it fit into a small niche of boats that, for your purposes, could fairly be labeled ''optimum choices''? I wouldn''t think so.

Good luck on the search. Remember that each time you dig deeply into a boat, you insure that the next boat to catch your eye will be even closer to what you want.

Jack
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Old 03-23-2005
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BeneteauOceanis350

Jacl,
Thanks for your extensive reply. In case you wish to comment further, other boats I have considered include: Pearson 35, Pearson 34 (series 1, K/CB) Pearson 33-1, Tartan 37 and 34 (both K/CB) Morgan 38-1, Bristol 35, 35.5, and 34CB, Sabre 34CB, and Watkins 33. Also C&C, Columbia and Soveral had some centerboard models ranging from 34 to 37 ft.
I am curious about the Freedom 33CB, and started an offshore catamaran thread with my curiosity about Geminis.
The Bristol 35.5 and Tartan 37 tend to range above my budget, but both seem to be fine boats for my needs, and could be worth the stretch.
We are leaving interior Alaska next week (after 35 years) for the NC coast, so our search will escalate. My wife spent a few weeks recently in NC and looked at a few boats, Including a Morgan 38 and the Beneteau. She found the Morgan cramped, hence the origin of this post.
I have sailed all my life, most recently a 22'' sharpie, cat-schooner rig, of my own design and build, but at this point my offshore experiences are limited.
We will be based on Pamlico Sound, hence the desire for shoal draft.
Fair winds,
Gary
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Old 03-24-2005
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BeneteauOceanis350

Gary, your last post left me with mixed reactions. Selecting from boats like the Bristol 35.5, Sabre 34 and Tartan 37 leaves me thinking you are on firmer ground and have found boats who''s build quality, for production boats, are worthy of your consideration. OTOH if your wife was turned off by how cramped a Morgan 38 felt, certainly as roomy if not moreso, then I wonder if she will have the same reaction to the above choices. It could be that she reacted to that claustrophic forward cabin and too much wood gathered in and around the head, which leaves things feeling dark and small up there.

Since you''ve blended together two sailing venues - Pamlico Sound as a home base, but regional cruising in the Caribbean and Atlantic - I would encourage you to use a Tartan 37 as a good benchmark. It is now an old boat, by which I mean its systems, rig and hardware will all need to have been replaced one or more times. Also keep in mind it has a cored hull; Tartan did a good job on those hulls from what I''ve heard, but a given boat may have some issues there. And finally, the boat works well down below when it is being sailed and being cruised...which means it doesn''t have the open plan you see on the boat show Catalinas these days. Whether that suits your wife or not, we''ll have to wait and see.

I''ve spoken to two owners who''ve done Atlantic Circles in T37''s and they were very pleased both with how the boat handled the job and the condition she returned in. In one case, the owner bought the boat new and solicited paid advice from S&S about how the boat should be modified by the builder for Atlantic crossings. The answer was to beef up the transom a bit if installing a steering windvane; otherwise, ''no worries''...which is just as it turned out, despite some nasty storms.

You might also see some nifty ideas on mods by visiting www.ourdotcom.com/index.htm - about a T37 that was sailed to New Zealand - and/or reading the book of a T37 being circumnavigated (www.geocities.com/theoceansarewaiting/oceans.html). A T37, properly upgraded and serviced, will do all that you are wanting to and offer you that shallow draft, as well.

Good luck!

Jack
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