Boats

Beneteau 46

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Beneteau boats keep getting better looking while retaining the consistent quality and good finish that keep owners coming back as they move up in size. The new 46 could be an “ultimate boat” for many sailors who have experience in smaller vessels and are now looking for a stylish, fast, spacious boat that they can continue to sail into their retirement years.

Construction The 46 is built in a conventional, proven way. The hull is solid hand-laid fiberglass, and the deck has a core except where deck fittings are mounted. The outer surface is vinylester to resist osmotic blistering. The bulkheads are bonded all around to the deck and hull to form a strong, rigid structure.

Deck and cockpit The low cabintop, which makes it easy to scamper anywhere on deck, also ensures excellent visibility for the helmsman. If you look around, you’ll find plenty of grab points; molded-in teak rails blend neatly with the cabin, while more-obvious stainless handholds carry the crew’s security forward. The standard windlass has a handy remote control, and the chain locker is quite large. It’s not divided for dual rodes, but the bow fitting is set up for two anchors.

The roomy cockpit has excellent bracing points, thanks to the well-designed, sturdy table that incorporates a chartplotter in just the right place for the helmsman to see it easily from either station. All the lines from the mast lead aft under cover to stoppers and dual Lewmar 40 winches on either side of the companionway, while a pair of well-placed Lewmar 46s handle the genoa sheets. The port sail locker is vast in this two-cabin version; it’s shallower in the three-cabin model.

Accommodation Besides the attractive, bright, clean look belowdeck, the most striking feature of the 46 is its unique aft cabin. The diagonal berth, is easy to reach from three sides and adds headroom where it’s most needed. This arrangement will be very comfortable in port. A three-cabin layout is available. The saloon is a pleasant gathering spot for the crew and guests, and the nav station is handy to the companionway. The sizable shower compartment in the main head can also serve as a wet locker for dripping clothes, and there’s a smaller shower for the forward cabin. The galley is well equipped and easy to brace in while under way.

Under sail The big Beneteau was lively and fast in our test sail on Biscayne Bay in the 12-to-15-knot winds of an approaching cold front. The dual-wheel trade-off appeared quickly: excellent visibility and convenience come at the expense of some extra friction that’s inevitable with most dual-wheel systems.

The mid-boom traveler keeps the cockpit clear, and the stoppers and winches are in convenient positions. Primary winches mounted directly adjacent to each helm station allow for easy singlehanded jib trim. The mainsheet, halyards, and reefing lines are led through a bank of stoppers to smaller cabintop winches. Under sail, the boat rushed along with authority, tacking through less than 90 degrees, accelerating quickly, and feeling racy. During my test we learned the sailplan will provide plenty of horsepower in light air, but will need a reef in the main to maintain control when whitecaps form.

Under Power Our test boat had the optional bow thruster, an accessory that anyone planning to sail shorthanded in a vessel this size will want. I measured a turning circle of 1.5 boatlengths and excellent stopping and backing control with the standard three-blade fixed prop. Cruise setting of 2,400 RPM yielded 7.6 knots and a moderate noise level in the saloon. The engine is easy to reach for maintenance, and the standard shaft drive should provide years of reliable service.

Conclusion The Beneteau 46 has style, space, and powerful performance. When sailed properly, it promises to be a fine, fast cruiser for a couple or a small family.

Specifications Price $247,900 (base, FOB Marion, SC) includes sails, in mast furling, windlass

Builder Beneteau USA, Marion, SC; 843-629-5300

Designer Berret-Racoupeau (boat), Nauta(interior)

LOA: 47’3”

LWL: 40’

Beam: 13’11”

Draft: 5’9”

Displacement: 23,292 lbs

Ballast: 7,145 lbs

Sail Area: 1,055 sq ft (actual, with furling jib)

Power: 54-hp Yanmar 4JH4AE

Tankage Fuel/water/waste: 63/150/44 gal

Electrical: (house), 200 aH

plus 105 aH (engine)

Displacement-Length ratio: 162

Sail Area-Displacement ratio: 17

BALLAST-DISPLACEMENT RATIO: 31%

Certification: CE Category A (Ocean)

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