Bavaria Yachts 42

It was supposed to be a genteel cruise to assess the Bavaria 42 but Lawrence Schaffler says his test sail became a duel with the elements that underscored the boat's robust handling and rapid-reefing capabilities.

Bavaria Yachts 42
Bavaria Yachts 42

Alegria is New Zealand's second Bavaria 42 (there's another in the Marlborough Sounds). She arrived earlier this year and is part owned by Al McInnes, who says the name has nothing to do with circuses. "It's a musical name that evokes the rhythm of sailing, the sea and its motion."

Alegria sleeps six in three private cabins - a forepeak master cabin (with en suite bathroom) and two mirror image stern cabins under the cockpit. A large-volume boat, the Bavaria 42 floats high on her marks and has relatively high freeboard. The result is plenty of headroom and this is a major plus for Al. He's 1.85m and can walk everywhere without stooping.

Running and broad-reaching before a 25 - 30 knot south-westerly, Alegria romped along at eight knots - the single-reefed main and half-furled jib notwithstanding. She thrived in the conditions, responding to the lightest touch of the helm - so light, in fact, that accidental gybes could be an issue for an unwary helmsman.

Once the photographer had collected his shots we ruefully turned Alegria into the wind to begin the pounding beat back to Westhaven. With the wind gusting close to 40 knots and the leeward turnbuckles underwater, the decision to opt for a second reef and a much-reduced jib was unanimous. And reefing in those conditions was a pleasant surprise because, with all lines leading aft, reefing is accomplished from the comfort of the cockpit. The fully battened main uses a slab-reefing system (two reefs) and the single line of each reef pulls the clew and tack to the boom simultaneously. The cars on the main track are fitted with ball races, so the sail drops quickly and easily. A few healthy tugs on the roller furling system reduced the jib smartly and we sailed back with our dignity intact.

In the calm provided by the Westhaven breakwater, we were able to inspect the boat in more comfort and detail. Sweeping teak decks complement a generous topside layout and plenty of thoughtful touches reflect a very pragmatic approach to the Bavaria's design.

For example, the slim, stainless steel strips on the teak toerail prevent the mooring lines from chafing it. The wash down hose fitted into the anchor locker allows you to keep the bottom in the bay when the anchor is lifted.

The colour-coded water and diesel filler points in the transom help to keep your motor running sweetly and the water tasting even better.

Other features include the radio/CD player's remote control (mounted in the helm station) and the folding cockpit table. Remote music control means no more yelling at someone to turn down the volume or abandoning the helm to dive below in search of a more soothing station. Unlike most cockpit tables, this one folds up completely and clicks into chocks against the helm pedestal. That creates lots of space in the cockpit for tacking, trimming and reefing sails. But the fold-up table is particularly useful for reversing the boat into tight spots. Al, for example, likes to stand forward of the helm station, facing backwards, to steer the boat into its berth and he couldn't do that with a fixed table.

The boat responds remarkably well to this steering technique and it tracks and turns well going astern. The 50hp Volvo Penta diesel engine drives through a sail drive fitted with a folding, three-blade prop.

The Bavaria 41's 7/8 rig and is set up for easy sailing. The particularly well-organised cockpit has two self-tailing Harken 40s mounted on either side of the companionway for the various sheets and lines. All are colour-coded and run through labelled jam-cleats.

Trimming the boat is a simple job (even the genoa's leech can be set with cockpit-adjusted fairleads). A set of baskets or bags mounted on either side of the companionway to contain the lines would be a useful enhancement.

The backstay splits just above the cockpit and the rake of the Seldon rig can be adjusted with a Hasselfors tensioner incorporated into the starboard leg of the backstay. Two self-tailing Harken 48 primary winches control the genoa (and a 130 percent MPS).

A Doyle Sails dodger and bimini keep the cockpit dry (it's a particularly roomy cockpit) and a large plastic window in the dodger provides good visibility. Two cockpit seat lockers offer ample storage space, even after an anchor, mooring lines, fenders and a 5hp Yamaha outboard have been placed inside.

The centre section of the aft cockpit seat hinges back onto the dive platform, revealing a convenient walk-through and easy access to the dive platform or jetty (when moored stern on). A pullout shower in the transom offers hot and cold water.

The helm station is fitted with a robust grab rail - an excellent aid for steadying yourself nonchalantly as the boat responds to the waves.

Instruments include the usual array of engine gauges (RPM, oil pressure, and temperature) as well as a Raytheon tri-data, autohelm and GPS. There is also a Raytheon wind speed and direction indicator on the forward cockpit bulkhead.

Like most models from the Bavaria stable, the 42 is finished throughout with mahogany. Even the compression strut under the mast is clad in mahogany. Some might find the rich, dark timber a little sombre, but it combines well with the white ceilings, white curtains and blue upholstery.

The forepeak's double berth runs down the centerline, but does not fill the full width of the cabin. An open bedside shelf runs down either side. The bed's width is generous and no doubt very comfortable at anchorage.

The en suite bathroom is quite a bit larger than the aft head (forward of the port stern cabin), but otherwise they're similar - an elegant blend of mahogany, mirrors and continuous white surfaces. Both are easy to keep clean. The basins are fitted with combo tap/shower units and the heads are connected to a holding tank.

The Bavaria 42's stern cabins follow a layout that's become fairly standard on many production boats. But the berths are surprisingly wide - especially at the aft end. In keeping with the easy maintenance philosophy, the stern cabins also provide access to the engine (removable panels) and the companionway stairs lift for additional engine access.

The galley offers plenty of space for creative cuisine. It runs the length of the saloon (port side) and is directly opposite the U-shaped settee, island seat and table, and makes for convenient serving. Galley features include a flush-fitting, lift-out hatch to access the counter top fridge, a gimbaled cooker (three burners and oven) and a twin sink. The hot water is heated off the engine. Crockery, cutlery, pots and pans are stowed snugly behind mahogany lockers, each fitted with a gleaming, silver catch.

Aft of the saloon table is the boat's nerve centre - the navigation table and electrical distribution board with the standard array of volt/amp meters and battery testers.

All in all, it's a very comfortable vessel that is reassuringly resilient in a blow.

Despite all that, the Bavaria 42 is being phased out later in the year and replaced by the Bavaria 44 which will sell for a similar NZ$399,000 price tag. The first 44 arrives in October and three more are on order. We'll keep you posted about how she sails - but will pick the test day more carefully.

Bavaria 42
LOA: 13.4m
LWL: 11.15m
Beam: 3.95m
Displacement: 8400kg
Ballast: 2500kg
Draft: 1.95m
Engine: 50hp Volvo Penta saildrive
Fuel: 230l
Water: 380l
Sail Area
Mainsail: 40.3 sq m
Genoa: 51.5 sq m
Price $NZ425,000 incl GST subject to exchange rate
For further information, contact: International Marine Brokers Ph (09) 366 6165 Fax 09 366 6170 E-mail:


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