Boat test: Beneteau Oceanis 48

By: Kevin Green, Photography by: Supplied


beneteau oceanis 48 Beneteau’s 40-58ft range designed for both coastal cruising and offshore passage making beneteau oceanis 48
beneteau oceanis 48 Galley has a three-burner lpg stove and adequate overhead locker space, a top-opening 85-litre icebox and front-opening fridge/freezer. island bench houses twin sinks beneteau oceanis 48
beneteau oceanis 48 Conventional dinette; additional bench seat adds to the useful family space. aft chart area has limited bulkhead space for electronics beneteau oceanis 48
beneteau oceanis 48 Hotel-like features and appointments; large sink area and roomy shower make for comfortable cruising beneteau oceanis 48
beneteau oceanis 48 Owner’s bed has plenty of headroom, abundant surrounding shelf space, wardrobes and good storage beneteau oceanis 48

Beneteau’s fleet of Oceanis cruisers represents a major revamp of the company’s bestselling range. Kevin Green hops aboard the smart, nimble and versatile 48.

Boat test: Beneteau Oceanis 48
Beneteau’s fleet of Oceanis cruisers represents a major revamp of the company’s bestselling range.

Accounting for 70 percent of Beneteau's production, the Oceanis range is crucial to the company's success, so it's not surprising the latest craft bristles with new design. The mainsheet arch, shallow companionways and the enlarged cockpit with separate steering area are features shared with the company's newest cruising range, Sense. Down below, the single-level interior also generally follows the Sense standard. These commonalities are not surprising when you consider the Sense models  and the Oceanis 48 (although not the smaller 41 and 45) also share a designer, Berret Racoupeau.

The Racoupeau office works on Beneteau's 40-58ft range of boats conceived for coastal cruising as well as offshore passage making. The fifth generation of the marque continues this heritage, albeit with around 10 percent better performance and a larger internal volume gained from the increased beam.

First impressions

Having sailed the two smaller yachts, there was a definite sense of déjà vu aboard the Oceanis 48. It shares many similarities with the flagship 58, another Berret Racoupeau design I'd sailed - namely its relatively large cockpit, the twin wheels and the mast located farther aft to allow for a more even spread of the jib and mainsail.

Looking around the 48's cockpit, the most striking feature is the new mainsail arch. This GRP structure runs the mainsheet on blocks and allows the sheeting to be further down the boom for greater control. The other big plus is it supports a sturdy sprayhood, able to become a cockpit tent. Sensible design has always been a characteristic of the Oceanis range, and the fifth generation is no different thanks to a deep iroko timber-clad cockpit. The foldup table is strongly built and is a good bracing position when heeled. It also houses the Simrad plotter.

The twin helm binnacles are integrated into the cockpit aft bulkheads and include a prominent compass on each, with plenty of space for crew to pass to the electric fold-down transom/swim platform. This latter feature won Beneteau an award and I can see why, as it adds some three feet to the deck space and cleverly deploys the ladder when down.

Electronics are by Simrad, with a centralised NSS 12 plotter on the table end and readouts on either helm, while the deck gear is by Harken, the primary H60.2ST close to the helmsman's hand. Halyard controls on our review boat were handled by an electric H46.2ST on the cabin top and an adjoining manual one. The cockpit layout felt functional and should work for both cruising and regattas.

The timber decks give good grip underfoot,  the outboard shrouds clearing the way to the wide foredeck - an ideal sunbathing area at anchor. The anchoring system itself uses a vertical 1500W windlass with capstan - the latter an essential addition on a large cruising boat - while dual bowrollers  allow a second set of rode to be used. Other good features on the deck include midship cleats, hardwood toerails and a large sail locker.

Spacious saloon

The Oceanis 48 offers a wide range of cabin options. In fact, an owner can have anywhere between two and five cabins and even a bunk in place of the fourth toilet. The owner's suite is forward in all layouts. Other features borrowed from the Sense range include the shallow-angled steps leading to a single-level floor-plan below decks. Not to my liking, however, are the saloon-style doors on the main hatch, although they undoubtedly make entry easy, both for crew and saltwater. 

Natural light is plentiful in the saloon thanks to large overhead hatches, with the cockpit-facing windows illuminating the rear cabins and providing extra light to the portside galley. The L-shaped galley has a three-burner LPG stove and adequate overhead locker space, a top-opening 85-litre icebox and front-opening fridge/freezer. An island bench adjoins the companionway and provides a home for the twin sinks.

In front of the galley is the lounge and navigation area. Similar in layout to the 45, it may not suit traditional navigators as the aft chart area has limited bulkhead space for electronics and is not ideal on a large bluewater yacht like this. However, on the plus side the area has plenty of versatility. Opposite, the dinette is conventionally laid out and, with the additional bench seat, becomes a useful family space.

The owner's suite is voluminous with open-plan en suite. The master cabin is well lit thanks to large rectangular portlights ensuring it is airy with sea views. The island bed has plenty of headroom, abundant surrounding shelf space and wardrobes.

In the aft section, the twin cabins are symmetrical and gather natural light from the cockpit-facing hatches, although the head space is impinged upon slightly by the deep cockpit. Usefully, both cabins allow access to the 75hp Yanmar diesel.

The POD 120 Dock & Go gearbox takes up less space than a traditional transmission. The Yanmar sits high on its GRP engine mounts and allows all the basic service points to be reached. The starting battery is an 110amp/h model, while two 140amp/h house batteries run the services and are charged via the Yanmar's 80amp/h alternator. For running air-con and other white goods at sea the optional 6kVa Onan genset can be installed.

Rig and hull

The Sparcraft rig is noticeably taller than the Z Spars fitted on the 45, while a simpler single-roller-furling genoa was fitted on the larger yacht instead of the 45's staysail setup. The Sparcraft alloy mast is supported by twin outboard wire shrouds and double backstays (with screw adjustment). One preproduction niggle shared with the 45 is the tall boom height - beyond eye level for most sailors, so difficult to douse the mainsail even with the mast steps. For production models this has been lowered by 20cm.

The hull is built using solid polyester layup with similar inner moulding bonded for rigidity, while the deck is injection moulded GRP/balsa sandwich. I noticed deep bilges - a welcome feature for dealing with heavy water ingress, plus it keeps the wine at a reasonable temperature. Outside, a chine maximises the beam as well as minimising wetted area when heeled, and the beam is continued aft to ensure enough volume for carrying the sailplan further back. The keel is a cast iron fin with bulbed foot and a large spade rudder is connected to the twin helms.

Under sail

A mistral had gone through a day before, leaving an oily swell with a strong breeze that lessened to moderate during our afternoon sail - typical conditions for the French Mediterranean coast and a good test for the large cruiser. Another good test was our crew of eight, all of whom spread out comfortably in the cockpit leaving plenty of room for me to roam behind the twin helms.

Hoisting the slab-reefed mainsail was easy thanks to the optional electric Harken 46 halyard winch, the factory-fitted Code Zero unfurling similarly without dramas. The slatted-wood gunwales provide the helmsman with a comfortable perch to see forward clearly while one hand easily manages the wheel. The binnacle is well laid out with throttle, pod joystick, Simrad instrumentation and a compass all to hand. Trimming the primaries wasn't a stretch either thanks to the Harken 60s close to both stations.

Beamy hulls don't often benefit from excessive heel. The nearly 3:1 beam/length ratio is similar to the Open 60 race boats so in the gusty 17 to 20kts we had one tuck in the mainsail, managing to push the 13.3-tonne hull along at 7.2kts hard on the wind. Not as sparkling upwind as the 45, I scribbled in my notepad, but a smoother ride thanks to the extra  LOA. Slightly off the wind felt more natural for the 48, and most cruising sailors would opt for this setting. Running with a big cruising chute flying would also appeal, as this is a boat suited for bluewater and tropical climes.

The boat proved surprisingly nimble under sail, its short keel allowing easy tacking. My next urge was to switch on the Simrad autopilot before retiring forward to the shelter of the deep cockpit. However, with the 45 nipping at my heels I had to press on and coax the heavier hull upwind.

Dock & Go

Hoving-to beside the old stone port of La Ciotat, France, I invited one of our guests to use the Dock & Go joystick. Her initial reticence turned to glee as she pushed the joystick over, the big hull obediently following the request. Pulling the joystick back, the Oceanis 48 tracked astern, and with a twist the speed increased to its rev limit. Underwater, the pod drives had spun around 180 degrees, powered by an electric motor linked to ZF's SmartCommand system using the NMEA2000 connectivity protocol. Oblivious to all these smarts, my novice skipper handled this 48-footer with aplomb, which says a lot for the user-friendliness of this yacht.

Highs

  • Versatile below decks
  • Easily sailed
  • Good value for money

Lows

  • High boom
  • Main hatch doors

SPECIFICATIONS

Oceanis 48

MATERIAL:

GRP

TYPE:

Keelboat

LENGTH:

14.6m (overall), 13.9m (waterline)

BEAM:

4.74m

DRAFT:

2.15m (deep), 1.8m (shallow)

BALLAST:

3550kg (deep), 4060kg (shallow)

WEIGHT:

13,300kg

FUEL:

400L

WATER:

690L

ENGINE:

Yanmar diesel

RATED HP:

75

DRIVE POD:

120 Dock & Go

SAILS:

480 (each)

AREA:

56m² (mainsail); 56m² Genoa (105%); 130m² (asymmetric)

PLAN:

I 18.75m; J 6.06m; P 17.09m; E 5.55m

PRICED FROM:

$542,000

For more information visit yachtfindersglobal.com

 

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