|LOA||45 ft., 5 in.|
|Beam||5 ft., 9 in.|
|Draft||7 ft., 1 in. or 5 ft., 9 in.|
|Engines||Auxiliary Power 54 hp Yanmar with POD 90 Saildrive Sail Area Main: 538 sq. ft. Genoa: 538 sq. ft.|
|In-mast furling, 104-degree genoa, Harken self-tailing winches, drop-down stern platform, electric windlass, mainsheet arch, dual leather-wrapped steering wheels, cockpit shower, cockpit seating inlaid w/teak, refrigerator/freezer, microwave, 2-burner propane stove, LED lighting, Alpi wood interior and more.|
|Simrad electronics package, 26-in. flat-screen TV/DVD, 3-burner stove, VacuFlush freshwater heads, 3-blade folding prop, electric winches, upgrade to AGM batteries, inverter, bow thruster, cockpit windlass control and more.|
|Beneteau, Saint Hilaire de Riez, France; beneteauusa.com|
|West Coast Dealer|
|South Coast Yachts, San Diego; (619) 224-7784, scyachts.com
Passage Yachts, Point Richmond, CA; (510) 236-2633; passageyachts.com
Signature Yachts, Seattle; (206) 284-9004; signature-yachts.com
Westerly Yacht Sales, Vancouver, B.C.; (604) 685-2211; westerlyacht.com
Posted: November 1, 2012 | Boat Type: Sailboat
A trick transom is ready for its close-upI first saw the Beneteau Oceanis 45 sailboat at a boat show, where crowds were lining up to see the nearly full-width transom drop down electrically and form a swim platform, thereby adding almost 3 feet to the cockpit. Everyone was recording the transom’s repeated progress up and down, and although I didn’t know where anyone would post this kind of video, I watched — and then fumbled for my smartphone to record what would soon become an award-winning feature.
Cockpit, Deck & Rigging
The Oceanis 45 is the middle sister in the new Beneteau line that includes a 41 and a 48. The Finot-Conq design has kept the plumb bow and sleek profile that are signature Beneteau features, but it has turned the concept of an accessible cockpit on its ear. The push-button transom transforms the aft bench seat into a playground that opens up the cockpit and creates a clean flow from the companionway, past the dual helms, all the way aft and into the water.
It has good feng shui and will work well for people donning their dive gear or stepping aboard from a dock. There are sheet boxes built into the coaming at each wheel, a centerline drop-leaf table with built-in, self-draining iceboxes and a swivel mount for a Simrad multifunction display that will face either of the helms. It’s a cockpit that will be comfortable at anchor and workable under sail, especially if you add electric winches for the primaries and an electric halyard winch on the cabin top.
Like its sisters, the 45 has a large arch over the cockpit that serves as the attachment point for the dodger and lifts the mainsheet up and out of the cockpit but still provides the enhanced control of end-boom sheeting. There is no traveller, as the mainsheet connects directly to the arch, but since it attaches so high, most of the fine-tuning of the mainsail is done with the mainsheet.
The fractional rig supports double aft-swept spreaders and a total sail area of 1,076 square feet, which splits evenly between the 104-percent genoa and mainsail. The deck-stepped mast on all the new Oceanis models has been moved aft and is centered over the keel. The mast compression post below moves with it, of course, which is no problem in the 45, since it’s up against the salon bulkhead and out of the way of the traffic flow. In-mast furling is standard and all lines are led aft, so no one needs to leave the cockpit in order to reef in a blow.
The deck is easy to maneuver from the cockpit all the way forward to a large anchor locker that also holds the electric windlass. There are relatively few level changes or toe-stubbers, and the decks are wide and clear. A dual anchor roller forward shows that Beneteau was thinking about distance cruisers who like to carry two anchors and two sets of rode.
Design & Construction
Beneteau hulls are solid fiberglass with a deck cored with end-grain balsa. The noticeable feature on the new Oceanis models is the hard chine of the hull. They carry their beam well aft, which provides more volume in the interior below but also creates a flatter bottom than traditional designs. The Oceanis 45 will heel 5 degrees less than other boats of its size, and for boaters who’ve had to brace themselves in a gust, that makes a difference. The flat bottom, deep spade rudder and a keel that is available in a deep- or shoal-draft version are all elements that say this boat was built to move fast and point high.
Layout & Accommodations
The Oceanis 45 layout is versatile and will fit a couple, a growing family or even an eight-person charter. Two cabins and two heads are standard, but up to three heads and four cabins are available. The selling feature of the 45 is the master stateroom in the bow, which has a centerline queen, its own head and a separate shower. Due to an added fender locker forward, the entire cabin was pushed farther aft into the wider portion of the hull, providing good shoulder room for two when they are sleeping head-forward.
Five companionway steps, set at a nicely manageable angle, lead from the cockpit to the salon, which has a U-shaped dinette to starboard and a straight settee to port. That settee does triple duty thanks to the sliding table, which can move forward or aft reconfiguring the area into:
- An aft-facing navigation station with a seat
- Double seats with a cocktail table in between
- An end table forward with a love seat aft
A small wine locker is nestled between the galley and the settee, which is a nice French touch.
In the standard layout, the L-shaped galley is to port, with twin sinks and a two-burner propane stove/oven combination. In the three-head layout, the settee is replaced by a straight-line galley up the port side. The Oceanis 45 shares much of its design in the midsection of the salon, head and galley areas with the 41, but it differs in the ends because it has more length.
The headliner and the forward salon bulkhead are white, which is bright and nicely offsets the rich Alpi wood. The effect is European chic with clean lines but without being too angular or futuristic.
I joined South Coast Yachts’ owner Barrett Canfield in San Diego for the test sail, and when I announced I was conducting the sea trial for Sea Magazine, he looked at me funny, as if to say, “You know these boats have sticks, don’t you?” I told him this was going to be the first sailboat review for Sea in a long time and that Beneteau, the world’s largest production sailboat builder, was leading the way.
At the marina, we walked down what felt like Beneteau Alley, where every other slip held one of these French sail or power models. Canfield has been selling Beneteau for 17 years, so he knows them well. We first walked through the 41, and mentally I began to move in. But it was the 45 I was there to test, so we switched boats and motored out onto flat San Diego Bay waters that provided less breeze than usual. Like many of the other recent Beneteau designs, the 45 is powered by a Yanmar with a Saildrive. Only the 54 hp model is offered, but it has plenty of power to keep this 21,048-pound-displacement boat moving. A new feature is the pump to facilitate oil changes in the lower drive, to minimize what some like to call deferred maintenance.
We unfurled both sails in a minute and hunted for wind. At first, we had only 5 to 8 knots, which showed the boat’s ability to move in light air. At a 60-degree apparent wind angle, we squeezed out 5 knots in 8.3 knots of wind. When we jibed and put the wind aft of the beam at 120 degrees, speed dropped to 4.1 knots in 5.7 knots of wind. We were about to give up and go home when the wind suddenly picked up, as if summoned by Canfield’s whistling. At 40 degrees, we reached 5.7 knots in 9 knots of breeze and then went to 7.2 knots in 12 knots of wind. We even pinched up to 30 degrees, and the boat still sliced along nicely.
I finally got what I came to experience. I felt the boat heel slightly, then sit on that hard chine, find its groove and accelerate. It was noticeable. I let go of the wheel — nothing — the boat just kept on tracking, perfectly balanced by its sails. These new designs sail flatter, faster and easier. There’s just no fuss when tacking the smaller genoa, and everything is sized so it’s easy even for a single-hander. Sign me up.
I like this boat. For my personal use, I’d opt for the two-cabin, single-head 41, which is perfectly couple-sized, but for anyone who wants a luxurious master cabin or needs the extra room for family and friends, the Oceanis 45 will not disappoint. The model line’s positioning is as “go-farther” boats — a design that will deliver a good turn of speed but be able to get offshore and go distance cruising in comfort. The base price for the Oceanis 45 is $325,000; fully loaded with what Beneteau calls the Elegance Package, which includes most available options, it is closer to $385,000. It is, by any calculation, a bargain for a new boat of this size with so many innovative features. The transom design won a National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award, and it in itself is worth a trip to the broker, because YouTube just doesn’t do it justice.