Value for money boats
I was delighted to see your article on the seven year old Bavaria 32. Despite the fact that there are so many of these yachts owned in the UK sailing magazines have, for some reason, managed to ignore their popularity and continue to write more articles about less popular, more expensive boats. All boat tests written on Bavaria’s find very little wrong and all agree that you get a lot of boat for your money, but when it comes to the For and Against or the Verdict, the reporters comments never reflects the actual boat test, but the opinion of what might be bad about the boat in the minds of your staff. They just cannot accept that a budget boat might do as good a job as an expensive one.
We have a Bavaria 34 of similar vintage, which we have owned from new. We cruise extensively throughout the UK including West Coast of Scotland, Ireland, Channel Islands etc. I would expect the 32, properly equipped and sailed, to be capable of far more than Jeremy Evans has concluded.
If he had got to know the boat properly he would have found out, as most Bavaria owners already know, that Minna needs a third reef in the mainsail. She can then be sailed, using the standard Genoa, furled to jib size, in winds of force 6 in relative comfort. Force 7 gets uncomfortable, just as it does on a Hallberg – Rassy 352, the underwater lines of which have grown more like the Bavaria over recent years, in the interest of performance.
The following would be a more accurate verdict for the Bavaria 32.
‘The Bavaria 32 was clearly produced to a tight budget, evident in the interior finish, which could be better fitted into a hull that handles well under sail and or engine. The yacht sails very sweetly in a light, moderate or fresh breeze, but needs a third reef in the mainsail before tackling any long passage. With reduced sail area, she will handle well on all points of sail. There is good storage in the cockpit lockers and below. The galley and Chart table are a good size for a 32 and work well on passage. There are three good sea berths in the main saloon and the aft cabin, a prime consideration in this traditional layout which has stood the test of time. The traditional mahogany finish is a bit dark for my taste and the finish is a bit glossy, but that will not stop the boat from working well and providing excellent sailing at an affordable price.
If Jeremy Evans would like to experience the performance of a Bavaria 34 in a quartering sea in heavy weather, he would be welcome to sail with us in the Irish Sea. At the end of our cruise in late June 2008 we left New Biggin Sound, Tresco, a day earlier than was wise after the Atlantic SW gales and arrived at Holyhead some 34 hours later. My son and I had been kept busy as we were on our own, but our Autohelm ST5000 steered all the way home, with the rig properly balanced, 3 reefs in the main and the Genoa set as working jib size. Saloma did all the hard work, as any good boat will, when being sailed to her capability. We carry a drogue for the day the weather gets too much for her, but we have never had to deploy it yet and we have seen 40 knots on many occasions.
We should be grateful to Bavaria for making all of today’s manufacturers work harder to produce value for money boats that encourage more people to enjoy the wonders of sailing.
Alan Burns. SALOMA Bavaria 34.
Cutty Sark cash could be better spent
It was Libby Purves who, several years ago, brought the Tall Ships to our attention. Tom Cunliffes article forcefully reminds me of what was, for my oldest son, a formative experience. No need to go into details, but it was there at the right time for him. Shook him up, gave him a passion for sailing and adventure but also for an ordered and principled life and he discovered in himself qualities he may have doubted existed.
As I write the Prince William brig is lying, unused, waiting for a purchaser. For whatever reason the Sail Training association cannot run two large Tall Ships. What a shame. For the obscene cost of recovering a new build from the ashes of the Cutty Sark so much could be achieved. Is there some way of mobilising support to get the Prince William back in action?
As a parent of two children fortunate enough to experience life at sea in this fashion is seems just wrong to ignore an obvious and valuable resource. Perhaps the Sail Training Association cannot run the Prince William, others could. With bursaries and crucially, a real function – could it be adapted to carry goods, to trade? – this could provide experience for many presently excluded from the ‘luxury’ world of yachting. I speak as one who for years stood at harbour sides with my Dad on occasional seaside holidays watching other people messing about in boats. I’m sure you know that for most of the population sailing is still a spectator sport out of reach of most and beyond comprehension to many.
With the active promotion of ships like Prince William for the most unlikely inner city sailors, needing a break, or the vision of a different way, its utility and that of other old boats and ships could be of far more value than the essentially phony excercise of replicating the past with the Cutty Sark project.
I do not in any way undervalue the seafaring history of this country. I hold a couple of history degrees including an MA in Naval History and one of my great friends was the naval architect and historian, David Mcgregor who, during his lifetime, wrote passionately about Tea Clippers and the age of merchant sail.
I am not writing to you hoping to find a slot in your letters column – please don’t even think it – but in the hope that someone on your staff could take up the cause. Not just of the Prince William but of the notion that ships can be relevant in offering opportunity to a generation with to little to ‘do’ and too many chances to fail.
If we can gather together a strong enough body of opinion surely something could be done.