Boat Review: Dehler 38

One of the more notable victims of the Great Recession in Europe was the German firm Dehler, which for many years built highly respected cruiser-racers at one of the continent’s larger production yards.
Author:
Publish date:
dehler38_978_BEARBEITET-556aa

One of the more notable victims of the Great Recession in Europe was the German firm Dehler, which for many years built highly respected cruiser-racers at one of the continent’s larger production yards. Fortunately, the German-based conglomerate Hanse Group, which now encompasses five different brands, salvaged the insolvent company and has launched it into its fifth decade of existence. The new Dehler 38, introduced this past year both here and in Europe, is the first new Dehler model produced entirely by Hanse at its mass-production facility in Griefswald. Though Hanse now owns and runs the company, Karl Dehler, son of the founder, is still involved in the business and played an integral role in developing this new design.

Construction

The hull and deck are both hand laid fiberglass cored with end-grain balsa. The outer layer of the hull laminate is set in vinylester resin to resist blistering, while the interior is reinforced by an internal grid which is incorporated into the laminate. Supporting bulkheads bonded in place. Deck hardware is supported by aluminum backing plates set in the laminate. There are three different keels available in various depths and shapes, all with cast-iron ballast. Overall finish quality is good for a mass-production boat.

On Deck

The deck layout is user-friendly, with an emphasis on performance. The double-ended mainsheet is led from a full-width traveler that spans the cockpit just in front of the twin wheels to winches that are easily reached from either helm. The traveler controls and the cascade tackle for the adjustable fiber backstay can also be easily reached by the helmsperson, so that the driver, if necessary, can control all aspects of mainsail trim while steering. The jib sheets, which run through adjustable cars set on a deck track, can be controlled from the forward cockpit winches or from the aft winches by the helm stations. In addition to the four cockpit winches, there are two coachroof winches for handling lines led aft from the mast.

Cockpit ergonomics are good. The helmsperson can steer comfortably from both the windward and leeward sides of the boat, and crew can move easily fore and aft between the cockpit and deck, particularly on the windward side, as the coachroof side near the cockpit is perfectly pitched to provide secure footing when the boat is heeled. A fold-down transom allows for easy access to the water.

The boat I sailed was not equipped with the optional fixed cockpit table, so there was no place to mount an on-deck chartplotter and nothing to brace feet against in the middle of the very wide cockpit space. This may not bother a large crew running short races around the buoys, but if you plan on doing some cruising or distance racing, you’ll probably want that table. Also, there’s no place to easily stash line tails, so you’ll need to watch that stray tails don’t get caught in the recessed traveler track.

Another small quibble: the anchor well is small—it’s OK for racing, but not so good for cruising.

Accommodations 

Curved headrests emphasize the boat’'s modern look

Curved headrests emphasize the boat’'s modern look

Our test boat featured the three-cabin layout with twin staterooms under the cockpit and one stateroom forward. Given the size of the boat, the aft staterooms have good vertical clearance (including standing headroom by the door) with good light and reasonable ventilation. The port-side stateroom is accessed through the one head compartment on the boat, which isn’t as awkward as you might expect. 

The head itself is divided into a vanity section aft, with a sink and mirror, and a “business” section forward, with a segregated toilet/shower compartment, the door of which is cleverly configured so that it can close off either just the toilet and shower or the entire head from the saloon. This allows you to achieve privacy in any given area and allows access to the stateroom when the toilet or shower is in use. You will, however, be cut off from or shut into the stateroom when others want privacy at the sink.

The saloon has a centerline fixed table with folding leaves and a dinette settee/berth to starboard. The straight settee to port incorporates a convertible nav desk that can be slid out of the way when you want to stretch out and sleep. The desk itself is a mite undersized, in the modern fashion, with electronics stashed inside a locker alongside. 

The settees on both sides feature headrests that fit neatly over the curved cupboard lockers, giving the interior the look of a swank private jet. The galley, to starboard aft, is small, but perfectly serviceable. Counter space is limited, but there is a dedicated work area right by the stove. 

Under Sail 

I sailed the standard “cruising” version of the boat, with a 6ft 7in T-keel and an aluminum 9/10ths Seldén rig, in 12-14 knots of true wind in flat water on Chesapeake Bay. A “competition” version of the boat, with a deeper T-keel and a taller carbon rig, is also available, or you can order the standard boat with an L-shaped shoal-draft keel.

Performance was excellent—just as good as, if not better than, the “old” Dehlers I remember sailing years ago. Under main alone this boat sailed easily at about 5 knots at a 45-degree apparent wind angle, could pinch to about 40 degrees while still maintaining 4.2 knots of speed, and tacked easily. Once we rolled out the 105 percent jib, our best close-hauled angle improved to inside 30 degrees and our speed increased to just over 8 knots in an apparent wind of 16-18 knots. 

Bearing away, our speed shot up to peaks of over 9 knots at a 50 degree AWA. At 90 degrees we were making high 8s, and even at 120 degrees were still in the mid-8s. As deep as 150 degrees—still with no downwind sails—we easily maintained an average of 7 knots.

Helm feel throughout was superb. The boat fell easily into a narrow groove, and though it needed some attention to keep it there, the deep well-formed rudder never lost its grip. Going upwind we never had to play the main to keep the boat on its feet; going downwind steering was smooth and positive.

UNDER POWER

Our boat was equipped with the standard 28hp Volvo diesel turning an optional two-blade folding propeller. A 40hp engine is available but hardly seems necessary. We made 7.2 knots at 2,100 rmp and 8.8 with the throttle wide open at 2,900 rpm. The boat turned easily inside its own length. Backing down it took some time for the folding prop to bite the water, but the boat was easy to control once moving. 

Specifications

Dehler38

Related

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more