Solidly built, spacious and fast, the Dufour 425 GL was one of the most popular boats in Dufour’s Grand Large range, as Duncan Kent discovers
Dufour 425 GL: solid, spacious & ocean capable
Review of the Dufour 425 GL
All of Dufour’s Grand Large (GL) range of cruising yachts were designed to maximise internal volume and therefore carry their ample beam all the way from midships to transom.
That said, they also offered a good turn of speed and a stable, well-balanced sailing performance in most conditions.
Design & construction of the Dufour 426 GL
The Dufour 425 GL was never classed as a blue water cruising yacht, but is steadfast enough to cross oceans with the right gear and was built solidly enough to easily withstand heavy seas and high winds.
Her fine bows, plumb stem and long waterline made her quick and slam-free to windward, while her shallow bilge sections and broad stern made her slippery off the wind.
The hand-built hull and deck was robustly constructed using waterproof resins for integrity and durability.
With substantial Twaron-reinforced longitudinal hull stringers and a hefty, moulded floor framework, she is stiff and strong.
Her deck is a vacuum-infused polyester resin moulding with a balsa core for insulation and extra stiffness.
She sports a deep fin keel with a cast iron ballast bulb at the foot, which means she’s stiff in a blow.
An equally deep, semi-balanced spade rudder ensures she tracks well and doesn’t lose her grip on the water when heavily heeled.
A spacious and practical deck layout ensures ease of handling for short-handed crews, with the running rigging kept simple and convenient.
Her side decks are wide and uncluttered, thanks to inboard genoa tracks and narrow shroud base.
This allows easy and safe access forward to where an equally clear foredeck allows the crew to work at the ground tackle and headsails.
A below-deck windlass and deep, deck-accessible anchor chain locker make anchoring simple, as do the chunky twin bow rollers, which enable a second anchor to be deployed in bad weather.
The Dufour 425 GL has twin wheels, which open the cockpit up and, along with the wide, drop-down helm seat, allow excellent access through the transom gate and onto the boarding platform and folding ladder.
In the centre is a stout, twin-leaf table with grab bar, compass and instrument console.
In the three-cabin model both seat lockers are shallow, whereas with only two cabins one is full-depth and positively cavernous.
The liferaft even has its own dedicated locker.
All sheets, reefing lines and the kicker are led aft.
The genoa winches are immediately beside the helms, but the mainsheet terminates on the coachroof and can be annoying to use if you are single-handing in gusty conditions.
Rig & sails
Her rig is 15/16ths fractional, with twin swept spreaders, 135% furling genoa and a two-reef, semi-battened mainsail.
The cap shrouds and lowers terminate on a single chainplate each side, but this is massively reinforced below with sturdy backing fillets moulded into the hull sides.
The backstay is bifurcated with chainplates low on the transom and no quick adjustment possible.
The 425GL is spacious down below and headroom is a lofty 2m/6ft 6in.
The dinette, with linear galley, is the nautical equivalent of the popular domestic kitchen-diner.
Some love it, others loathe it, but in general it works well for a family cruising boat at anchor.
Cooking at sea can be precarious, but not impossible and the cook is aided by using the seatback as a bum rest.
The galley is well equipped with plenty of stowage, though the fridge is small.
For long-term cruising, I would convert the bench seat into a fridge-freezer.
Worktop lighting is excellent.
There is an abundance of sturdy handholds all round, including a full length one above the galley.
The saloon seating comprises a large, U-shaped settee with thick, contoured cushions and an equally well-padded bench seat opposite.
If the convertible saloon option was chosen, the table drops down to create an additional double berth.
There is good stowage under the cushions, except aft where the hot water tank sits, and more in cave lockers behind the seat backs.
There are also two good lockers above and a decent bookshelf with fiddle rail.
Ventilation is good, with plenty of opening ports and hatches keeping it bright and cheerful.
The large, forward-facing navigation station is great for those into full-size paper charts and wide-ranging below deck instrumentation.
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Extra photographs from Yacxhting Monthly’s test of the Dufour 385
There’s ample console space, some of which is angled to allow a radar-chart plotter to be seen through the companionway, as well as a decent circuit breaker panel with voltmeter and tank gauge.
There is stowage in the seat and in the table support and another useful stowage bin alongside.
A choice between two or three cabins, and two or three heads was offered.
The 3/3 version was primarily for chartering and can feel cramped.
The 2/2 and 3/2 were more popular with cruisers, and with only two aft cabins there was more room for blue water kit and stowage for extra deck gear.
The forecabin is the largest cabin and has a large, comfy island berth, ample stowage, a small seat and a compact heads with a shower.
The aft cabin berths were equally generous, although head clearance above the berth was more limited.
Each had good clothes stowage, ample dressing area and two opening ports for cross ventilation.
The standard, naturally aspirated 40hp Volvo is easily accessed for maintenance, both via the companionway steps, which raise on a top hinge, and/or by removing the quarter panels in each of the aft cabins.
The 425’s limited wetted surfaces and lengthy waterline give her an impressive turn of speed both in light and heavy airs.
Thanks to her fine bows and plumb stem, she also slices through the chop, rather than slamming and dumping spray on the decks.
The Dufour 425 GL also has a deep, balanced rudder for maximum bite, but effortless helm, and for increased stability the bulk of her cast iron ballast is in a large bulb on the bottom of the hydrodynamically designed foil keel.
She is close-winded on a beat, keeping up momentum until just below 35° off the apparent wind.
Freeing off to a close reach nudges the log closer to 8 knots in 16-20 knots apparent, and she remains stiff, well-balanced and predictable even in strong gusts.
Off the wind, she flies with the right sails and is well capable of 8-9 knots with a full gennaker in 16-18 knots of true wind.
Swept spreaders do limit the boom angle, though, so gybing downwind is the safer option.
A comfortable point for the first reef is around 20 knots apparent, although she’ll hang on in there confidently up to 24 knots if you don’t mind risking your tea!
Under power, the engine is powerful enough to push this easily driven hull through a chop at a steady 6 knots cruising speed.
She handles well and bites quickly astern, although some will have had the optional bow thruster fitted for easy close-quarter manoeuvring in tight marinas.
S/Y Olieta (2008)
Mike and Carol Perry bought Olieta in October 2019 and currently keep her in the UK, although they plan to move out to Greece soon.
She is a three-cabin two-heads model launched in 2008.
Asked how she has been so far, Mike said: ‘I have not had sufficient opportunity to sail her much just yet, but the construction appears to be of good quality. However, the previous owner had severely neglected her and much time has been spent on repairs and renewals. So far, I have had to fit new running and standing rigging, have the Webasto heater and the bilge pump rebuilt, fix a domestic water leak (filter fitted after the pump, strangely, causing it to jam with debris), remake all the electrical connections and fully service the sails and furling systems.
‘The windlass also disintegrated on first use,’ Mike added, ‘and the engine, with only 950 hours use, now requires a full overhaul of its fuel system.
‘Our first big purchase was a bespoke cockpit enclosure. I have also fitted carpets and a new sprung mattress in the master cabin while we lived on her during the first lockdown.’
Mike started sailing 60 years ago in dinghies with his father.
He then spent the next 45 years racing dinghies throughout Europe, starting with National 12s and then graduating to trapezing asymmetrics.
For the past 20 years, he has cruised Greek waters, crewing for friends and family.
In the 2000s he had a share in a Beneteau 321 in the Ionian, before purchasing a Bavaria 38 in the same area in 2011.
Mike continued: ‘Carol, my wife, is my regular sailing partner (not crew, because she is more than that to me). We are often joined by family, including grandchildren and friends. We cruise the Ionian if our guests are less experienced and further afield for the more adventurous.
‘My reason for choosing Olieta is perhaps curious. Late in 2018, I came across a Dufour 425GL for sale and I was struck by her lines. Moving forward to May 2019, I was sailing in the Ionian and met up with sailing friends at a favourite mooring-restaurant. With them was Alan, the owner of a Dufour 425 GL. In conversation it transpired that Alan had also competed in National 12s in the 1970s and we must have competed against each other. He had gone on to be a professional sailmaker. So, if a professional sailmaker chose the Dufour 425 GL, that was a pretty good endorsement for me.
‘Olieta is presently in the UK and was our home while we were between houses. Subject to circumstances, we will sail her out to Greece in 2021 or 2022. I have only properly sailed her on my delivery trip from Ipswich to Brighton, but I was extremely pleased with the performance, which was balanced and responsive.
‘So far Carol and I have only had one opportunity to take her out this summer and this was a long weekend to Chichester with no wind. We are both pleased with her but still need more time to adjust to her extra size. I was a little surprised at the amount of prop walk going astern, by comparison with our Bavaria, which had effectively the same saildrive. Having twin wheels makes access to the dockside so much easier, particularly when Med mooring, and allows Carol to see more easily from the helm.’
When asked if Olieta is comfortable to live on for extended periods, Mike exclaimed, ‘Very! We were liveaboards during the lockdown. She has a very similar layout to our Bavaria 38, but the additional space makes it so much more comfortable. Now that we are retired, we will be making an extended cruise in the next year or two. But before we depart, we shall be adding radar, AIS, solar charging and perhaps a wind generator.’
S/Y Cdream (2010)
Cdream is owned by Derek and Glynis Beaumont and kept on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
She has the three-cabin layout with two heads, plus reversible air conditioning throughout, LED lighting, carpets for the winter, a full bimini and Tek-Dek in the cockpit.
They have been sailing for 50 years, their previous boats being a Westerly Konsort and a Westerly Vulcan.
‘Under sail, the Dufour 425 performs extremely well and she is surprisingly fast,’ says Derek.
‘We sail mainly as a couple and find her easy to handle thanks to everything being controlled from the cockpit. Her only fault is she doesn’t like to reverse to starboard under power.
‘She is very comfortable living aboard and we also have the conversion for an extra double berth in the main saloon.’
What the experts say
Nick Vass, Marine Surveyor B,Sc B,Ed HND FRINA MCMS DipMarSur YS
The Dufour 425 GL’s beamy stern requires twin steering wheels, which might require attention in 20 years time, but Dufour deck hardware and steering gear is generic, well tested and no different to that found on twin-wheel Beneteau Oceanis and Jeanneau Sun Odyssey yachts.
Dufours are a joy to survey as everything is easily accessible.
They were designed with the charter market in mind, where access to steering gear, keel bolts, seacocks and engine is important.
Two problems that I encounter on the Dufour 425 GL are the toilet holding tank hoses, which can degrade and begin to perish, and some flexing on the deck.
Creaking decks are a bit of a feature on Dufours and not normally a problem, but check that the teak slats bonded onto the deck, cockpit seats and cockpit sole are not coming away as they will one day become a liability and are expensive to replace.
This problem, however, is common to all moderately priced cruising yachts.
The Volvo Penta diesel engine is excellent.
You might need to flush the coolant system and replace the exhaust elbow as they can clog up with limescale and salt.
Like most other modestly-priced and even high-priced yachts, Dufour fitted cheap and nasty nickel-plated brass seacocks.
Be prepared to replace them with plastic, DZR or bronze seacocks that are less susceptible to corrosion.
I have found fewer issues with keels and rudders on Dufours, compared to other reasonably priced yachts, and the hull stiffening around the keel is definitely better.
I consider the 1966 designed Arpège to be the grandmother of modern yachts.
It was such a departure from the narrow beamed GRP yachts of the time, many derived from the classic Folkboat lines, mostly wet boats with deep, long keels.
The beamy Arpège with her spacious, well-designed modern interior must have come as a shock as they were fast.
Stability was provided by beam buoyancy, not just by a heavy keel, and this trend prevails to this day with Beneteau, Jeanneau, Bavaria and Dufour.
Dufour began as builders of fast mid-range cruisers and has kept that standing despite a few ups and downs.
Under the ownership of Olivier Poncin, Dufour bought Gib’Sea in 1998 and continued some of the Gib’Sea range under the Dufour name.
Ben Sutcliffe-Davies, Marine Surveyor, member of the Yacht Brokers Designers & Surveyors Association (YDSA)
The Dufour 425 Grand Large was a reasonably well put together vessel from Dufour.
Many went into the charter market, so I would recommend finding out the history of the boat before purchase as charter work adds years of wear and tear.
All of the wiring on the Dufour 425 GLs I’ve surveyed has been tin coated to American specifications which reduces corrosion.
The sail drive was a compact fit — check the service history.
Some manufacturers recommended that the main gasket rubber be replaced every five to seven years, others prefer seasonal checks.
Look out for corrosion, and for signs of water in the oil, especially if the boat was used commercially.
The working deck could have more grab rails and locations to clip on.
I surveyed one Dufour 425 GL where the saloon deck vent had become caught in the genoa sheet, which is believed to be a common issue if the vent is left open.
Lastly, if you do a lot of anchoring I recommend fitting a stem shield as the bow roller is quite upright.
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