The Mal 40 is the latest gem from a highly regarded Swedish builder of cruising boats from 36 to 46 feet. Like all Mals, this one can be customized extensively, an appealing feature for the sailor who has been around enough to have strong opinions.
It’s not a racing boat, but it is exactly the sort of vessel you’d want for extended coastal cruising or ocean voyaging. Not that it’s slow; the performance is there. There’s just been no emphasis on reducing scantlings to lighten the boat for racing or optimizing the lines to meet a rating rule. On the contrary, strength and durability are foremost. This is a sturdy vessel that will carry a couple or a family long distances with good speed, comfort, and safety.
I inspected the Mal 40 dockside in a pouring autumn rainstorm, ideal for finding little drips, testing interior comfort, and sensing overall livability in a boat. I saw quickly that this will be a pleasant space during those occasional gray cruising days. The cabin has comfortable, well-lit seating and lounging areas, the cabin heat is effective and uniform, and the cockpit enclosure provides bright, dry living space outdoors. The standard windshield will be a pleasure in any conditions.
This is, in fact, a very refined design on deck and below, despite being a new model. The hull and deck are molded and joined together with the main bulkhead and watertight forward compartment in place; this shell then goes to a separate facility for completion. This means that everything inside the boat came through the companionway (and can go out that way later, if necessary) and that no wires or pipes are buried inaccessibly inside the structure. Experienced sailors know how important these things are when repair or renovation time comes.
All the beautiful joinery and upholstery is custom-fitted, and the interior wood is nonstructural. Chainplates and other deck fittings have their own fiberglass reinforcements to take stresses, and these are also concealed by joinery.
Interior arrangements are up to the buyer, so each boat will be different. I would listen to the builder’s suggestions, though. The boat I tested evidenced plenty of the factory’s good ideas, from the hanging locker accessible from both the head and the cockpit, to the gravity-drain holding tank, to the well-placed access panels for the drivetrain. Cabinet hinges separate to allow complete removal of the doors, and removable locker shelves and bottoms open up access to the hull’s interior. Even the routing of lines to the cockpit shows exceptional attention to detail.
There are two choices of transom design. The straight Classic transom makes the boat 2 feet longer inside and can have an hydraulic boarding platform. Our test boat had the other, more contemporary-looking transom, with wide integral steps for water access.
Sailing journalist Nigel Calder owns a Mal (and is buying another one), and he has had a strong influence on the design and installation of the builder’s electrical, water, and propulsion systems. That’s reflected in this 40-footer, where all the systems are Nigel-ized and proper, down to the last detail. You won’t find a better battery installation or wiring layout anywhere. Mal uses U.S. standards and equipment for the boats that come to this country, so there’s no problem finding local parts or repairs.
We test-sailed the boat on a bright fall day with 8 to 10 knots of wind. Motoring out of Annapolis, I found that the steering was positive and smooth, the turning circle was about 11/2 boatlengths, and stopping and backing were easy, linear, and predictable. The sound level under power is quite low, which will make a huge contribution to crew comfort at the end of a long day of motoring through flat calms. Part of that is due to a substantial mounting and thick insulation and part to the new low-revving Yanmar diesel, which hums along about 2,000 rpm at cruise setting, driving the boat easily at 71/2 knots, nearly hull speed.
The Mal 40 was equally pleasant under sail, for both working the deck and at the wheel. It returned boatspeeds of half the wind velocity and tacked through substantially less than 90 degrees. The boat turned and gybed with perfect control, and I truly enjoyed the feel of the helm with its Danish-made rod steering; it returned just the right amount of feedback to let me know precisely what the boat was doing. Helm feel and boat response are hard to define, but I’d say this boat gives the sensation of a performance-oriented European luxury car.
This isn’t a boat for the masses and is not meant to compete with standard production vessels. For one, the price is fairly high, especially with the current euro exchange rate. Also, its custom nature calls for a skipper who knows exactly what he or she wants. If you meet those two prerequisites and this is the size boat you want, there are few choices better than a Mal 40.
Price: $369,545 (as of 6/06; varies with exchange rate) includes roller-furling, Raymarine basic instruments and VHF, refrigeration, manual windlass, spray hood.
Builder: Mal Yachts AB, Kungsviken, Henan, Sweden; log on to www.maloyachts.com for a dealer in your area.
Designer: Leif Angermark
Construction: Hull and deck are cored with end-grain balsa above the waterline. Hull is solid glass below, deck is solid glass where fittings are attached. Three layers of epoxy are applied to the bottom to prevent osmosis. NGA gelcoat and vinylester resin are used in the layup. The rudder is solid glass. The lead keel bolts on with oversized stainless-steel bolts. Chainplates attach to solid-fiberglass bulkheads, and the hull-to-deck joint is an inward-facing flange that is bonded, bolted, and fiberglassed on the inside.
Pros: Construction and systems, attention to detail, helm feel.
LOA - 40'6"
LWL - 34'5"
Beam - 12'7"
Draft - 6'6"
Displacement (shoal) - 18,595 lbs
Ballast -7,870 lbs
Sail Area (100% foretriangle) - 837 sq ft
Fuel/water/waste - 150/200/52 gals
Power - Yanmar 4JH4 56-hp
Electrical - (1) 75-Ah start battery,
(2) 115-Ah house batteries,
Displacement-Length ratio - 202
Sail Area-Displacement ratio - 19
Ballast ratio - 42%