If you’re looking for your first coastal cruiser, this boat should be on your list. Duncan Kent takes a 15-year-old Bavaria 34 out for a blustery spin and explains why
Bavaria 34 review
See the March 2016 issue of Yachting Monthly for the full test
What’s she like to sail?
The Bavaria 34 is a comparatively light boat with the typical ballast ratio of a modern production cruiser with a bulbed, cast-iron fin keel. She’s acceptably stiff under normal cruising conditions, but wants the first reef put in at around 15 knots.
She is reasonably quick through the water, although her shallow forefoot can lead to her slamming a little in rough seas, which slows progress unless you bear off and sail her slightly free.
On deck she’s well laid-out and the gear quality is above average. Her cockpit works well short-handed, but with the primary winches so far aft it can be a little tricky for anyone other than the helmsman to use them. She has good quality two-speed Harken 48ST primaries and single-speed size 16ST halyard winches. Although the majority of 34s had in-mast mainsail furling, she’s probably a bit quicker with the greater area of a slab-reefed mainsail. Her steering is light and positive, with very little signs of weather helm, even when pushed hard as we did. The rudder does lose grip, however, if you over-canvas her in gusty conditions.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
I confess I’m a traditionalist when it comes to yacht interiors. I like plenty of dark wood as it gives the boat a snug feel when it’s howling outside. I also like a practical, no-frills layout, such as straight settees that you can use as decent sea berths, a forward-facing chart table, a heads at the foot of the companionway (especially with a wet locker inside) to keep crew drips to a minimum and a galley that works at sea. This boat has all of that and more. Headroom is good, ventilation and natural light is also plentiful, and stowage is much better than in many yachts of this era. She sleeps six easily – I like the lifting seatbacks, which make the berths wider and are great for hiding bedding during the day.
Probably the only let-down is her galley, which is a tad too narrow. It’s well-equipped and has what you’d need to produce a hearty meal for six hungry crew, but you can’t grab another bottle of tonic from the fridge when the chef’s preparing supper!
Would she suit you and your crew?
She is an ideal starter boat for a young family, as well as an easy-to-handle cruiser for a mature couple often cruising alone. She is well behaved, predictable and undramatic under sail, neither does she require a gorilla to control her sails or steering.
She’s also quite pretty, looks woody and well built below, has (or can be fitted with) most mod cons and is easily maintained.
What she wouldn’t be suited to without considerable upgrading is long offshore passages – not because she couldn’t handle the open ocean conditions with the right crew, but mainly because she doesn’t quite have the space for the extra gear and machinery most sailors want, especially the three-cabin model that only has two shallow cockpit lockers.
If you’re mainly a coastal cruiser with the occasional Channel crossing and nights at anchor, then the 34 should fit the bill perfectly. Furthermore, they’re excellent value for money and, being so prolific, there are a good number on the used boat market to from which to choose.
Facts and figures
Guide price (2016) £37,500-£45,000
LOA 10.34m (33ft 11in)
LWL 8.45m (27ft 9in)
Beam 3.47m (11ft 5in)
Draught 1.83m (6ft 0in)
Displacement 4,500kg (9,900 lb)
Ballast 1,400kg (3,080 lb)
Ballast ratio 31%
Sail area 56.2m2 (604sq ft)
SA/D ratio 20.96
Diesel 90 litres (20gal)
Water 150 litres (33gal)
Engine 29hp Volvo Penta
RCD category A-Ocean
Designer J & J
Builder Bavaria Yachtbau
Owners Association www.bavariaowners.co.uk