Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 449 Times in 379 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Of the big three boat companies, I also personally prefer Beneteaus for all of the reasons that you mention. But there are a huge number of really good 42 foot or so cruisers that can be purchased for $200-250K that would be way more suitable for your cruising goals. While there is a lot to like about the Beneteau 423, these are really not constructed to take the kind of abuse implied in a circumnavigation.
For example, like almost all of the high volume boat builders the 423 glues the bulkheads into place rather than tabbing them in. These glues have tremendous strength and so the builders rightly state that the fiberglass or bulkhead will fail before the glue joint. But that statement is largely true because the contact area betwen the glue and the bulkhead and glue and the hull is very small and so concentrate the loads in a very small area compared to tabbing. Over time these concentrated loads take a toll in dislodged bulkheads and torn laminate. You can go through these boats an item at a time and come to a similar conclusion. Whether it is the lack of backing plates, access to key areas of the hull and systems from the interior, whether it is adequate storage low in the boat, whether it is internal framing systems in the bow area, whether it is the construction of the hull todeck joint, in normal duty these kinds of construction details are fine, but for sheer amount of the kind of prolonged punishment that the offshore work that a circumnavigation involves, they are just not up to the task.
My best best recommendation is to look for a used boat that began life built to a more robust construction standard. I would also agree with Simerl that Beneteaus First series would make a better choice as they are more robustly constructed. Beneteau has a new First 44.7 that might be a better choice on all counts if you are committed to Beneteau.
With all due respect, when I look at your short list Beneteau, Hunter, Catalina, Cabo Rico, and Island Packet, these are boats that represent very extreme corners of the boat buying spectrum. I would think that you might take some time and research the desirable traits for a boat being purchased to make a circumnavigation. You might conclude that none of these boats belong on your list. I know that I would.