I have just returned from a 2 week charter in Croatia with 1 week spent on a Jeanneau 36i and the other on a Dufour 34e booked via Ban Tours. I decided to charter a cruiser and then a performance cruiser so that I could compare the sailing experience. Before I describe my personal experience, let me immediately say that the 2 yachts in question were not directly comparable.
The Jeanneau 36 i came with a furling main and Dacron genoa with no go fast accessories as in taller mast, more sail area, folding prop, adjustable backstay etc. The Dufour 34e on the other hand was fitted with a classic main, folding prop, adjustable backstay and Evestrom mylar sails that were in good condition.
…. Thanks Paulo for trying to arrange the Salona 34 for me at late notice. The Gods were obviously smiling on us as we were able to charter the D34e last minute without any problems from Ban Touring - Sino and Jelena really looked after us.
Hi, and thanks for posting
Well, not really a performance cruiser. What you had in what regards that particular Dufour 34e is a detuned boat if compared with the really performance Dufour 34e , the one that is really fast:
Dufour and Benetau (on the First) have this policy. They sell at affordable prices a very detuned version of its performance boat, a boat that in some cases makes not a big difference in what regarding a fast modern cruiser like the Jeanneau ( but even so it will make some noticeable difference).
Just to give you an idea, the real performance Dufour 34e has a bigger mast, more 4 m2 of sail and an expensive lead keel with the same draft but with more 177kg. That increases the D/B ratio from 0.276 to 0.309 giving it a lot more power and stiffness.
The Salona 34 I have unsuccessfully tryed to find to you (all charted for that period) was a performance version, corresponding to the real performance version of the Dufour 34e, not the one you have sailed.
Besides there are a big difference between the two boats you have sailed
: one is a 34ft the other a 36ft, meaning in this case a 71cm on the LWL.
The J36i feels more stable than the D34e possibly on account of better form stability and weight. The beam on the J36i is 3.59m whilst on the D34e it is 3.49m but the width is taken further back on the J36i. Light displacement is 5,700 kgs on the J36i versus 5,400kg on the D34e but I suspect the difference would be greater when fuel and water is taken into account with the J36i having more capacity on both.
The D34e also felt more tender in the gusts with the heel angle quickly approaching 25 degrees. Both yachts have the same B/D ratio (27.6%) and similar draughts - (J36i – 1.95m; D34e – 1.9 m) and the keels are a spade with similar weight distribution. The better form stability on the J36i must be the reason for this. The D34e felt like it needed to be reefed at around 18 knots true whereas the J36i didn’t. Both boats reacted well when over-sheeted by gently heading up into wind when the boat was a little overpowered – no dramas….
…. We had fantastic sailing weather with winds ranging from force 3 to force 6 most of the time. The J36i can sail itself once the sails have been set correctly. We were able to sail for 5 minutes without having to touch the helm. Whilst the D34e was similar in this respect, it felt twitchier and required more adjustment to the helm to keep a straight course.
I mostly agree but even if the superior form stability (more 10cm of beam on the Jeanneau) may have something to do with it the main reason why the Dufour is tenderer and need to reef earlier it is because for a same D/B and similar keels, he has a bigger sail area.
Off course the 400kg difference in weight (including tankage) on the Jeanneau will also contribute for that. Even with an approximately similar GS curve the Jeanneau will have a big righting moment because it is heavier. The Jeanneau 36i has 56.4m2 of sail area and the Dufour has 63m2, a considerable difference.
The smaller displacement and superior sail area will make the Dufour a faster boat in light winds. The better quality sails and the finer entries in the Dufour will gave it also a better close to the wind performance, making it able to point higher.
You didn’t mention these two points regarding sailing performance. Maybe those strong winds did not permit you to notice that.
The only way to truly compare the performance of two sailboats is testing them side by side on the same sea and conditions, otherwise is better to resource to the values on the ORC certificate that give a much better idea.
The superior sails, better deck gear, a bigger traveler and a backstay tuner will also permit the Dufour a much better sail shape and that also will be important to the performance.
The “twitchier” feel of the Dufour is related to this. The boat is much more sensitive at the wheel and permits you to read better the boat and perform further and finer adjustments to trim the boat better. I would call it more nervous, like a sports car compared with a turing car.
Although the J36i performed creditably considering the sails that were used, theD34e was more fun to sail with the main traveller and sheet being located in the cockpit as opposed to the coach roof. The small adjustment block and tackle for the mainsheet was an absolute pleasure to use without ever needing to resort to coach roof winches.
If the boat is reasonably fast, unless you want to race it, I think that pleasure and the fun factor are much more important to a cruiser.
Besides, unless you are already a good racing sailor, a boat that permits its sails to be fully controlled in what regards shape will give you the added pleasure of continuing learning and be occupied with that while you sail.
Of course that depends on the sailor. For many the simpler the best and that’s why most modern cruiser boats don’t even have a traveler.
Close quarter manoeuvring in both yachts was quite simple and easily managed by two people. What I did find surprising was the amount of prop walk experienced on the D34e which is fitted with a sail drive compared to the prop walk on the J36i which is fitted with a shaft drive. Apart from the direction of prop walk – to starboard on the D34e when going astern versus to port on the J36i – I expected the prop walk to be more pronounced on the shaft drive given the position of the prop relative to the rudder. This was not the case – the prop walk on the D34e when going astern was a lot more pronounced than for the J36i. Easy enough to handle though when you got used to it and made it work for you.
I have also felt that on other Dufour equipped with a folding propeller that I have Charted on the same company and that does not make sense unless the “problem” is related with that type of folding propeller that in reverse has a lot of prop walk and I thik it is just the case.
I am used to having folding propellers and I have to say that on the Dufour that I had charted I never felt that he was folding. No matter what I was doing , engaging forward, or reverse (as I was used to), the speed remained the same. I don’t think it was folding (too much fouling I guess). The one in your boat was folding?
Living aboard experience:
We really missed not having a bimini on the D34e on account of the traveller being in the cockpit. The adjustable backstay on the D34e runs quite close to the helm and so it is probably not practical to fit a narrower bimini over the helm on the D34e as is the custom on larger boats.
The J36i came fitted with a bimini which was adjustable so that you could have it covering the helm position giving clear sight of the sails for trimming whilst sailing. . It is a lot more hassle having to fit a boom tent versus extending the bimini in the afternoon when we had reached our destination.
IMHO, if you are going to be sailing during the heat of the day, a bimini is a must have, even if it is only a small bimini over the helm.
I think that having a bimini with German sheeting where the mainsheet can be adjusted by the helmsman is the way to go even if it means moving the traveller to the coachroof. This is a personal preference and not an easy one to make as I really enjoyed sailing the yacht with the traveller in the cockpit. Compromise, compromise ...
I agree on the bimini and disagree with the traveler on the cockpit. The traveler has a huge importance to the ones that enjoy sailing and for that, if you sail solo it has to be at hand. Of course to the ones that put it on the auto pilot and don’t mind to have a less than perfect sail trim the traveler is not that important and that’s why it is a specie in extinction between the pure cruisers.
Regarding the bimini, Dufour as most similar typed boats, has as an option for a small one . Probably it was not equipped with it because the type of sailors that charter that kind of boat don’t find it that important, but I do.
The better option for me is a small bimini while sailing and a tent over the cockpit while at anchor. A tent will make a lot more shade than a bimini.
Both yachts for a week was a breeze for 2 people. This obviously depends on one ‘s size and your creature comfort requirements but we found both yachts really comfortable to live on…
Below decks, the J36i was definitely more spacious particularly in the V berth upfront where I was able to stand without bending my head. I am around 5 foot 11 or 1.78 metres tall. I need to stoop over in the V-berth on the D34e. Stowage in D34e in the V-berth was surprisingly better than on the J36i.
The galley on both yachts were similar in many ways. Practical, well laid out, top-loading fridges, plenty of space.
Heads on both yachts were small but adequate – we found the mirror on the J36i interferes a little with the basin. The D34e was better designed in this respect.
The D34e came with 2 berths which I feel is right for this size of yacht. The quarter berth was quite spacious and there was a huge storage locker to starboard accessible from the cockpit or via a door in the heads. Even though the J36i had 3 berths, I believe that having 2 berths would be more optimal as the 1 quarter berth is then made larger and is less cave like on account of the lazarettes in the cockpit and you would also benefit from more storage space as well as having a separate shower stall.
The J36i has a forward facing chart table (same as on the D34e) with a sliding desk top that makes the saloon larger when you don’t need it – I thought this was a really good idea.
Both yachts had the chartplotter at the chart table which I would definitely move to the helm even if it is better to have them below decks for night sailing.
Quality wise, I would agree with BB74 who commented that the quality on the Jeanneau was possibly better than on the Dufour - certainly not the opposite on the 2 yachts we sailed on.
You are making here a huge praise to the Dufour. Not only it is 2ft smaller as it has less beam and more fine entries forward and it seems that it is not very noticeable on the interior space and storage space, aside from that height in the forward cabin being slightly small.
Regarding finish I agree that the difference is not big and I cannot say anything about those two particular boats, but my experience from being inside many boats, Dufour and Jeanneau, is that the Dufour has a slightly better finish but perhaps we value different things in what regards finish.
In summary, we had 2 diverse experiences which I am pleased we were able to compare. The biggest decision to make seems to be where to locate the mainsheet traveller. There is no doubt that having it to hand in the cockpit is the way to go from a sailing point of view. On the other hand, getting roasted in the sun – even if only Med sun – is not going to do much for the ageing process.
Here I disagree. It seems to me that the main thing are those two different experiences that you have talked about
One is a relatively easy to sail boat that sails relatively well while the other boat can go a bit faster in light wind, can go faster and point better close to the wind, but most of all it is a boat that you can fully exploit in what regards sail trim and sail shape.
It is not only a question of the place where is the traveler (even if that is important) but also about the size of that traveler, the backstay adjuster, the superior deck hardware and the superior feeling at the wheel. A no thrills boat versus a more complicated and more fun boat to sail. There are sailors for both types of sailboats.
Regarding the Bimini, these boats with travelers near the wheel can have a bimini, a smaller one that’s true but one that will protect the one that is at the wheel. The Dufour 34 has one as an option.
You seem to forget that you have sailed two diferently sized boats, a 34 and a 36ft. Dufour is making a new 36 for its performance line, this one will be more suited to directly compare with the 36ft Jeanneu