Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Fort Lauderdale
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After much consultation with this board (painkiller helped a ton) I bought a Beneteau 343 for sailing around S. Florida. So far, she's been exactly the boat we've needed, wanted, dreamed about...the times we've gotten out on her have been just magical. Although we haven't been on her near as much as I'd have desired, but thats the subject of another thread...literally.
I have to agree about the odd layout on the new 34. Having the microwave at the Nav Station, those super long port windows, the centerline galley sink (some would say thats better engineering), the raked coachroof. Its a very modern/Euro design...and an acquired taste to say the least. I love the more traditional look of our 343.
The 34 is a better performer on paper, but the truth is, no one has done a true apples to apples test of the two against each other. The tests/reviews I've read online of the 34 include all sorts of "optional" equipment that tend to stack the results for the glossies. For example, Cruising Worlds test had the feathering Max Prop...most boats wont come with that configuration. Another boat test called the 34 very very stiff...well, it had the optional high aspect 6 foot keel vs the shoal draft that 90% of the boats will be shipped with.
Both boats "feel" large for their size, but the 34 is a true 34 foot boat. The 343 is actually over 35'. Overall, I'd say that the 34 feels like a smaller vessel than the 343 when seen in profile.
Some great points of our 343. Starts with the head. Its *HUGE* and is a great storage area. The aft berth, also HUGE and great for storage for foul weather gear, life jackets, etc. The lazarette...also *HUGE*. I cant believe how much stuff I've crammed into there. The cockpit is perfect for socializing and the swing up transom seat is great for having people come on and off the boat easily off a dinghy or after time swimming.
That being said, our 343 does have some warts that drive me a bit nuts. But what boat doesn't! The zinc (singular) is *TINY* and will get eaten up extremely fast, especially in brackish water like where my home is in. Most people get several months...I've been lucky to get 2 months. I've added a collar zinc and a grouper, which has helped, but it is what it is. Also, the fixed 3 blade prop on our 343 is like towing a bucket. The windlass plug has a very poor design...resulting in 2 replacements for me already...the Marinco plug is just cheap, I've contemplated cutting a hold in the anchor locker and putting in a proper backing plate to it then reglassing, but thats just work. The teak is maintenance. I've finally caved in and bought Cetol, but have yet to apply it. Oocker storage/shelving/cabinetry is a bit lacking in our 343...why Beneteau didn't put drawers or cabinets UNDER the starboard settee...beyond me, or bookshelves for that matter. Bracing yourself behind the helm is a bit tough too. A bubble cushion is a must have...seated at the helm you cant see too well.
Also, those iron keels will rust...so there is maintenance there. But that is on all Beneteaus in general.
There are a surprising number of 343's on the market right now, I've seen some spectacular deals on the secondary market on "trade-in" 2008 models. They all helped me get a super deal on my 343 "new" from dealer. Negotiate hard, there is blood in the water right now in the boating market.
Last edited by night0wl; 10-26-2009 at 04:00 PM.