Bavaria 36


At a scratch under $280,000, the new Bavaria 36 is a lot of boat for your buck, especially considering Bavarias sold in New Zealand carry a list of after-market goodies that make them more suited to local conditions.

Bavaria 36
Bavaria 36

Kiwi sailors are, in the main, suspicious of imported production boats. And it's not surprising. Why, they ask, should they consider an import when New Zealanders are recognised as among the best boat builders in the world?

While this might be true, it is time that Kiwis faced reality. New Zealand does not build production yachts. We once did, but Muldoon and the '87 stock market crash killed off what had once been a thriving production yacht industry. Although there is still a smattering of locally built yachts being launched, you can be sure that none of them got anywhere near the water for less than about $500,000. The cost of raw materials, tooling, lay-up and production means a new Kiwi-built yacht is realistically beyond the means of all but the very well heeled or ownership syndicates. Hence the rise and rise of imported yachts on local waters.

The new Bavaria 36 represents excellent value, particularly considering the Bavaria 36 is actually 37ft5in, and that is one reason why they're being well received in New Zealand. New Zealand importers, International Marine Brokers Ltd, have landed three new 36s and have deposits for two more. That's not bad considering Bavaria only released the new 36 to the international market earlier this year. The Bavaria 36 replaces the Bavaria 34, which was discontinued in favour of its bigger sister ship. Although the two boats are almost identical down below, with an option of two or three double cabins, the new 36 benefits from a more powerful hull shape and a taller rig. The changes have produced a boat that not only looks good, but one that sails very well. But perhaps the most surprising feature of the 36 over the 34 is that it retails for exactly the same price.

How then can Bavaria produce a yacht that sells for about half what it would cost to manufacturer in New Zealand? The answer lies in economics.

Bavaria, Germany's largest boat builder, was established in 1978 and invested heavily in plant from the outset. It is now recognised as a world-leader in modern construction methods. With a staff of 500 boat builders, the company now produces more than 2000 boats a year across 10 models ranging from 32ft to 50ft.

The company is currently commissioning another factory that will see production increase by a third.

So what then does your money buy? The 36 is available in a two or three cabin layout. The twin cabin design features a large V berth forward with an aft cabin in the port quarter and the head to starboard. The three cabin layout has the head up forward and a smaller double V berth with double cabins in the port and starboard quarters. The galley is located to port with the navigation station opposite. The saloon features full-length settees with hinged backs that fold up for overnight accommodation and a drop leaf mahogany table. The saloon is bright and airy with overhead Lewmar hatches and opening side windows. The joinery is all mahogany which, when combined with the teak and holly sole, might look a bit oppressive to some, but nothing that can't be fixed with a colourful print or two. The boats have smart moulded headliners with halogen spotlights set within. Bavaria knows about fruit and the 36 has plenty of it. The galley features twin sinks, electric refrigeration and a good sized stove and two burner hob. The boats have both 230 and 12-volt water heating and shore power. The head and shower unit has a fully moulded liner and a decent sized wet weather gear locker. There is also a fold down seat over the head to sit on when showering. The nav station is traditionally laid out with a half bench seat behind and a timber cabinet overhead for mounting instruments. The electrical switch panel is set in against the side of the hull. The kitset joinery is of a good standard and is glued and screwed to internal marine ply bulkheads.

Construction is standard Bavaria with solid fibreglass to the waterline and GRP/foam sandwich topsides and cabintop. The hull laminate is strengthened and reinforced around the keel to hull join and there are Kevlar pockets in the bow for improved impact resistance. A structural grid is glassed into the boat to support keel loads. Floor timbers, stringers and bulkheads are also glassed in. The chainplates are thru-bolted to oversized knees. Bavaria offers a five-year limited warranty against osmosis on all their hulls.

Up top the Bavaria 36 has a deck-stepped twin-spreader rig from Selden with slightly swept-back spreaders to avoid the need for runners. The standard genoa and fully battened main are from Europe's Elvstrom loft. The deck hardware is all quality stuff with a Harken roller-furler, Lewmar clutches and Harken self-tailing primary and halyard winches. All halyards are led aft and the mainsheet traveller is set on top of the coach roof.

Cockpit size is limited and the combings are high - providing headroom in the twin cabins aft - but there's plenty of room for four sailors to tweak the sheets or bat the breeze. The 36 has wheel steering and a substantial fibreglass pedestal, which houses the steering compass and Raymarine tridata instruments. Bavaria includes an emergency tiller as standard and fit a fold-out cockpit table that hinges back against the pedestal. The cockpit sole and helm station seat are laid in teak. The cockpit seat is hinged and can be lifted out to give access to the stern boarding platform and dive ladder. Bavaria understands about cockpit storage and has built in two large cockpit lockers that will gobble up most cruising inventories.

The standard factory 36 is fitted with a Volvo 18hp saildrive, but this is upgraded to the Volvo 29hp engine for New Zealand clients. Kiwi buyers also get an electric anchor winch, ground tackle, gas boom vang, spray dodger, boom cover and a charger/inverter thrown in free of charge. The boats are also fully commissioned and anti-fouled before final delivery. Add up the extras and the Bavaria stacks up as excellent value.

Performance-wise, there is nothing shabby about the new 36. European designers, J @ J Design, have an enviable reputation with brands such as Dufour and Gran Soleil to their credit.

This was Pundit's first outing and conditions were near perfect for sailing with a 15 to 20 knot northerly breeze blowing down Tamaki Strait. After some time sorting out sheeting angles, reefing lines and the like, the crew got down to business and were impressed with the boat's windward performance, logging an easy six to seven knots with a full main and a sniff of furler. The boat was light on the helm and responsive, if not a little overpowered by the main. Off the wind, the Bavaria really impressed, pushing through eight knots at times on a shy reach. It is worth noting that several European boat tests on the new 36 concluded that the boat was genuinely quick for a moderate displacement cruising keeler.

Overall, the Bavaria 36 is a competent and good looking yacht that should give years of trouble-free yachting and owner satisfaction, particularly given its price tag. While saloon volume may not be quite what Kiwis are used to, its worth remembering that there are few boats of this size that provide three genuine double cabins. And while the 36 is not a race boat, its performance suggests that it will be more than competitive on PHRF for social round-the-cans racing.

Words and pictures: Steve Raea.

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