Theo Stocker sails a Dehler 31 from the Blackwater to the Colne and enjoys a fast sail in unseasonably fine weather
What’s she like to sail?
At just over 3,000kg, the Dehler 31 isn’t heavy for her size. Like all Dehlers, the deck and hull are fully bonded, making for a strong hull that is still light enough to be a performance cruiser. Her tapered keel and deep elliptical rudder, an update to the later 31s, keeps ballast weight low and improves grip in the water when heeled and her hull slips nicely through the water. With a good ballast ratio, she is a stiff boat and can be pushed for an extra knot without becoming unmanageable.
That said, her light displacement can make her a physical boat to sail when it’s rough. On the short test sail in flat water she was responsive and exact on the helm, although the tiller felt slightly heavy, possibly attributable to the rig being set too far forwards.
The cockpit isn’t enormously deep but with a closed transom it felt secure and was narrow enough to brace against the opposite side when heeled over. There is plenty of space to work the sheets and halyards. The moulded cockpit coamings make for a very comfortable seat on the windward side. Dehler fitted good quality deck gear when she was new and she still feels like a quality boat.
Given that she is a family cruising boat, she is fast for her size. She’s forgiving enough for relaxed cruising, but offers plenty of oomph for racer-types to play with.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Despite being over 20 years old, the test boat was showing very few signs of ageing. The engine was immaculate, with not a drop of oil out of place, let alone corrosion. The plastic moulded headlining, though lacking a little in refinement, was free from sagging or stains. The wooden floorboards, usually hidden under a Dehler fitted carpet, gleamed as brightly as the day they were first varnished. The shallow bilges were bone dry and no Dehler has ever had an issue with osmosis, thanks to top-quality resins.
The test boat was sailed on fresh water lakes when first launched, but she has been used extensively on the sea in recent years and seems to be relishing it.
The heads have a sliding door which overlaps with the chart table at the aft end of the starboard saloon berth. It’s slightly unusual but it does make good use of the space. There’s a generous wet locker in the heads, aft of the toilet, which is nice to see.
There is plenty of headroom in the saloon, but the coachroof tapers quickly in the forecabin, and the cockpit moulding takes up a chunk of the standing space in the aft cabin. The bunks themselves are large and comfortable. Thoughtful placement of the water tank forwards and the fuel tank aft leave the space under all the bunks free for storage, with shelf storage in both cabins and lockers outboard of the saloon berths.
Would she suit you and your crew?
A 31 foot performance cruiser with great sailing credentials for under £35,000 isn’t to be sniffed at. Most Dehler 31s will be at least 20 years old by now, but the quality of construction means that they will hide their age well.
For sailors from a dinghy background, or for cruisers who like getting stuck into the sailing, this boat has a lot to offer. She offers comfortable living on board for a week or two’s family holiday and she has the range and seaworthiness for trips abroad. While the smaller cabins might put some off, the prospect of fast passage making potential will appeal to others.
Facts and figures
Guide price – £25 – £32,000
LOA – 9.40m (30ft 10in)
LWL – 7.40m (24ft 3in)
Beam – 3.05m (10ft)
Draught – 1.45m (4ft 9 in) / shoal draught 1.1m (3ft 6in)
Genoa – 27.5m2 (296ft2)
Mainsail – 26.2m2 (282ft2)
Engine – Yanmar GM20 (20 hp)
Displacement – 3200 kg (7055 lb)
Ballast – 1400 kg (3086 lb)
Ballast ratio – 43.75%
Designer – E. G. van de Stadt
Builder – Dehler, Germany
Class Association – www.dehlerowners.co.uk
For sailors from a dinghy background, or for cruisers who like getting stuck into the sailing, this boat has a lot to offer. She offers comfortable living on board for a week or two's family holiday and she has the range and seaworthiness for trips abroad. While the smaller cabins might put some off, the prospect of fast passage making potential will appeal to others.