Designed as a base for everything from a dayboat to a three-cabin cruiser, is she jack-of-all-trades? Chris Beeson finds out
What’s she like to sail?
The Océanis 38’s performance is respectable. I would expect half a knot more upwind but otherwise she doesn’t let herself down, and the furling gennaker makes a big difference to performance, particularly in lighter winds. You can reach the Harken 46 primary winches, optionally electric on this boat, to handle the jib sheets but the mainsheet is managed from the port Harken 35 coachroof winch rather than being led back to the wheel, so you wouldn’t be able to gybe singlehanded with any great ease.
The cockpit is comfortable enough for the crew, with decent coamings and good bracing against the table, but one of the crew will have to be tasked with mainsheet duties.
She responds well to the wheel, manoeuvring in a spritely way. The steering system on the test boat was so stiff that I had to check several times that the wheel lock wasn’t on (it wasn’t) and the helm position fails to provide the sort of comfortable slouching position I’ve become used to on most of the boats I’ve tested. These elements are pretty central to one’s enjoyment of sailing a boat, so I’m surprised to find them wanting.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
This is her strongest suit by a nautical mile, and how she’ll spend most of her time. With the helm seats flipped up and the transom flipped down you’ve got a clear walk through from the cockpit to the water. Fit a bimini aft of the arch and you”d have a great shady spot for lolling about after lunch.
I was hoping to see the cockpit layout Bénéteau developed for its Sense range, with an offset table that lowers to form a double sun lounger, but perhaps 38ft is just too small for that.
She makes a tremendous first impression down below. The light and space are an absolute joy and the design is very tasteful indeed to my eye. That brilliant first impression doesn’t last forever, though. On the Bénéteau Sense 46 I tested, there were devilishly bright innovations everywhere, very impressive. On the Océanis 38, by contrast, technical flair of any sort is gone. The table has neither leaves nor stowage; the chart table doesn’t move or convert into anything; for stowage she offers bags instead of lockers – one is left wondering whether cost-cutting was the primary aim rather than an incidental plus.
Would she suit you and your crew?
With all the high-volume boat builders targeting this day-sailing sector, there’s no doubt the market exists so I’m sure she’ll do well. The base-boat price (£95,000) is extremely low for a 38-footer, she looks great, cuts quite a modern dash on the water, and you’ll warm to her the moment you step below for the first time.
She’ll appeal to couples with a chunk of disposable cash, and an eye for clean lines and natural light, looking for a budget boat with the ‘wow’ factor, and who want to buy a boat to keep in the sun for weekends and holidays, bay-hopping between short passages.
Clearly, she’s not designed for challenging offshore work. Nor is she likely ever to see any, post-delivery, and she won’t satisfy twitchy sail-trimmers who relish feeling the results of each tweak through the helm. But for a daysailing couple, perhaps new to sailing or for ‘point-and-go’ cruisers, who occasionally invite family or friends to join them as they nip from anchorage to turquoise anchorage for a few days, she makes a very convincing case.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Price €226,090 (about £186,000)
LOA 11.5m (37ft 9in)
LWL 10.72m (35ft 2in)
Beam 3.99m (13ft 1in)
Draught 2.05m (6ft 9in)
Displ 6,774kg (14,930 lb)
Ballast 1,790kg (3,945 lb)
Sail area 66.25m2 (713sq ft) (Gennaker 65m2/700sq ft)
Diesel 130 litres (28.6 gal)
Water 130 litres (28.6 gal)
D/L ratio 154.1
SA/D ratio 18.8
Ballast ratio 26.4%
RCD Category A
Designer Finot-Conq and Nauta
Dealers See website
Clearly, the Océanis 38 is not designed for challenging offshore work. Nor is she likely ever to see any, post-delivery, and she won’t satisfy twitchy sail-trimmers who relish feeling the results of each tweak through the helm. But for a daysailing couple, perhaps new to sailing or for ‘point-and-go’ cruisers, who occasionally invite family or friends to join them as they nip from anchorage to turquoise anchorage for a few days, she makes a very convincing case.