Boat Review: Bavaria Vision 46
According to Bavaria, the new Vision 46 is: “designed, from the start, to embody the cruising sailor’s wish list.” I have to admit, though, that I wasn’t paying too much attention to this wish list as we cast off lines prior to a recent delivery from Mystic, Connecticut, to the Newport International Boat Show.
Bavaria Vision 46
The forecast called for steady east-southeast winds with occasional squalls. As a result, I was far more curious as to how the boat would do if and when the wind piped up. Like the Cruiser line, which Bavaria first unveiled and then brought across the Atlantic over the past couple of years, the Vision 46 is a beamy boat with plenty of lounging space aft and accommodations below. This is all well and good, until the boat starts to heel dramatically in a heavy breeze. At that point, all too many modern cruising boats start rounding up into the wind, as the rudder loses control. I was particularly concerned since unlike its cousin the Bavaria Cruiser 45, the Vision 46 has only a single rudder.
Making our way along the Connecticut coast, though, it didn’t take long to realize my concerns were completely unfounded. Sailing out from behind the lee of Long Island, the wind picked up to 15 and then 20 knots, with gusts of 25 knots and more—all the while shifting back and forth so that we alternately found ourselves on anything from a close to broad reach.
A few hours later, rounding Point Judith we were also treated to some pretty impressive swells coming on our starboard quarter. But the Vision 46 handled it all with little if any problem.
I’m not sure how the Farr Design Office did it—chalk it up to a nice big rudder and well balanced canoe body?—but the boat remained under control the entire time, even when we pushed the boat under too much canvas. As the wind started cranking up into the high teens, I could certainly feel the helm beginning to load up, but it never once lost its grip. It was more a case of the boat letting us know how it felt, telling us it was time to reef and giving us plenty of time do to so without scaring us in the process. When we did roll in a bit of our in-mast furling main, the boat promptly settled back down, as did the helm. Once again the message was loud and clear, without ever once becoming hysterical. Check one very big box on this sailor’s wish list!
As for the other boxes, Bavaria did a pretty good job with them as well. Belowdecks, the boat is well built and well laid out with a whole host of details that are both practical and well executed. Among my favorites are the deep centerline sinks set in a kind of “island” in the galley space; a retractable nav table that slides down to create a nice long sea berth in the port settee; a retractable saloon table that creates a double to starboard; and excellent engine access via the companionway steps and quarterberths.
Topsides, the arrangement is as practical as it is comfortable. Sybarites will love the trademark Bavaria drop-down swim platform and the way the cockpit table can be lowered to bench level to create and open-air double berth. Hard-nosed sailors will appreciate the twin helm stations, which include a roughly oval-shaped cushion where you can wedge yourself in while on watch and the cut-out in the hinged seat that allows you to swing your leg through and straddle the helm when beating.
Of particular interest is the boat’s offset companionway, with all control lines leading to a single winch to port, à la the latest generation of TP 52s and the Farr 400. By moving the companionway to port, Bavaria was able to free up more space belowdecks for the galley and centerline sink. It was also able to streamline the topsides layout and construction processes by eliminating a second winch. If it sounds strange putting together a boat this way, it’s not. In fact, it didn’t take long to not only get used to the arrangement, but wonder why more boat’s aren’t put together this way.
Finally, with its Vision line, Bavaria decided to push the envelope aesthetically, creating a look more in keeping with its Gallic competitors, in contrast to the very conservative lines of its Cruiser series. The result is a boat that is thoroughly modern and very good looking. As a practical matter, the large, deck-saloon-style windows combine with a wealth of hatches to admit plenty of ambient light. Wide side decks, good molded-in antiskid, flush hatches and a wooden toerail make moving about a breeze. Jib sheets, and Bavaria’s double mainsheet arrangement run back to the helm for easy tending.
I was surprised to discover that the “teak” cockpit sole and cockpit benches were, in fact, a synthetic material recently brought to market by a German manufacturer. The result is more than just acceptable, it’s excellent. The only reason I even noticed was because the seams were too good to be actually, mathematically precise to a degree that would simply be impossible when laying individual planks. The advantage to a synthetic deck, of course, is that fact that they require, in essence, zero maintenance and never splinter or go gray. I hope the market embraces this bold move on the part of Bavaria.
All in all, a great boat—and a memorable delivery. If only they could all be that much fun!
LOA: 45ft 10in
LWL: 42ft 2in
Beam: 13ft 8in
Draft: 5ft 6in (draft)
Sail Area: 1,109 ft2