As Bavaria’s Daniel Kohl and I walked down the dock toward the new Bavaria Cruiser 41 that we were going to take out for a test sail, it became increasingly apparent that our afternoon of sailing was going to be either very short or very long.
The surface of Spa Creek in Annapolis, MD, was glassy. Not a ripple. At the tops of the masts in the marinas, the wind cups were spinning slowly so there was a little hope. Daniel is the head of product development for Bavaria’s sailboat division and responsible for the design and styling of all of the cruising boats that Bavaria builds, which includes six Cruiser models from 33 to 56 feet and the Vision 42 and 46.
Working with Farr Yacht Design in Annapolis and interior designers and stylists Design Unlimited, both lines are notable for their great sailing characteristics. Daniel sailed on the German Olympic sailing team so he knows a thing or two about how a boat should sail. And even though the Cruiser and Vision lines are production built, family cruisers, with lots of interior volume, there is no reason why the boats shouldn’t also be close winded, fast on all points of sail and laid out for easy, efficient sailing.
Over the last two years, BWS has sailed on all of the new Bavarias and come away impressed every time. We unmoored and motored from the slip and into Spa Creek. I took the helm and put the boat through her paces under power. With a 38-horsepower Volvo and sail-drive unit, the 41 managed 8.3 knots wide open and can cruise efficiently at 6 knots while burning about half a gallon of fuel an hour. The 41 carries 56 gallons of diesel, so at a conservative cruising speed it has a motoring range of 500 or more miles.
There was no vibration on the Jefa twin steering wheels and the boat was easy to keep on course even at maximum revs. Once in the Chesapeake Bay, we rolled out the in-mast furling mainsail and the 107 percent jib and went searching for the breeze. I steered and whistled and scratched the backstay. Daniel trimmed the sails in an effort to get the maximum out of the light breeze. There were a few wind shadows on the water around us, which we tried to sail to only to have them flit away as we approached. Still, we got the 41 going and, like her sisterships, the boat sailed very close to the wind due to the tight sheeting angles and seemed to make her own wind as we worked into the zephyrs.
We sailed upwind for a half hour and put the 41 through a few tacks as the wind shifted back and forth 30 degrees at a time. Finally we fell off the wind and headed back to the dock on a broad reach. In an hour we had sailed about three miles but it was fun and I always enjoy having an Olympian trim sails for me.
Back at the marina, I backed the 41 slowly but surely through an S-curve of boats, docks and pilings and then neatly into her slip. It was tight going but the 41 was a cinch to back and responded quickly and nimbly to helm corrections. With a little practice, any owner will find this boat easy to handle in close quarters and great to sail in a wide range of conditions.
The Cruiser 41 has a three cabin, two head layout that manages to fit a lot of accommodations into the 41-foot hull. As you descend the companionway, your first impression is of space and light. In the saloon, there are five opening overhead hatches, Lewmar flush mounted, as well as the long cabin side windows and the fixed ports in the sides of the hull.
In warm weather the interior will be airy and well ventilated. The next thing you notice is that this is a modern cruising boat that also embraces tradition. The boat we sailed had a teak interior with teak and holly soles. The doors and cabinet corners were solid teak and the finish is a rubbed effect varnish.
The two quarter cabins fit neatly under the cockpit and aft side decks and have standing headroom forward of the bunks. The aft head will be the day-head and has a shower that would work well as a wet locker when sailing in wet or rainy conditions. The chart table faces forward on the starboard side and is large enough for standard chart books. The galley is along the port side in the European style. There is a three burner stove and oven, a side loading fridge and huge sinks. The galley has tons of storage space. On the boat we sailed, a two-compartment freezer was installed under the forward dinette seat. The dinette has seats on all four sides so you can seat six comfortably and eight in a pinch. There is plenty of storage beneath the dinette seats. As an option, you can have the table configured as a low coffee table that can be raised to form the dining table. The master cabin forward has a V-berth, plenty of storage lockers and its own head compartment.
With three opening hatches and the side windows in the hull, this cabin has lots of light and will ventilate nicely. The Cruiser 41 is a big boat for its size. The long waterline, ample beam at the waterline and full hull sections altogether contrive to offer a maximum amount of living space. A family of four will fit aboard easily and a couple will have plenty of room for two other couples to join them. Bavaria has managed to create a bright, useful interior that is elegant and just traditional enough to really appeal to the North American market
Over the last few years, Bavaria has revamped and seriously upgraded the engineering and materials that go into the Cruiser and Vision lines. The boats are built in one of the most modern boat building facilities in the world that employs up to date manufacturing techniques and engineering, including the use of advanced robotics.
Unlike most of the boats in the mass production fleet, Bavaria’s have cored hulls with vinylester outer and inner skins and Divinycell cores. Cored hulls have a higher strength to weight ratio than solid fiberglass hulls and create stiffer panels. Divinycell is closed cell foam, so even if water were to penetrate the outer skin it will not absorb or spread the dampness. Cored hulls are quiet and inhibit condensation that leads to mildew and other problems.
Inside the hull, Bavaria uses a modern grid system to stiffen the hull and provide a base for the structural bulkheads and furniture. This is a common technique among production builders. Bavaria has re-engineered the grids on the new Cruisers to be almost twice as strong as in early boats.
The keel attachment is as robust as you will see anywhere since the new keel bolt attachment system takes all of the load and distributes it evenly to the whole grid. The deck is laid up in the same way as the hulls and are light but very stiff underfoot. The coring dampens sound and insulates the hulls from the heat of the sun. Bavaria has re-engineered the overhead deck liner and transformed it into an integral structural piece that increases the deck’s strength and stiffness while giving the interior a bright white ceiling.
The new Bavaria management team of which Daniel is a key player set out to rethink how the boats are built and how to get maximum strength and quality in the high volume production boat environment.
Given the consolidation that has gone on in the sailboat world recently, innovation and quality are vital to a brand’s success. The new Cruiser 41, which is part of the redesigned and re-engineered Bavaria fleet, shows just how far the company has come.
In the U.S., Bavaria has a unique distribution system through the national distributor Bavaria Yachts U.S.A. that is designed to allow new boat buyers to buy directly from the national company instead of through regional dealers. Bavaria Yachts U.S.A. has recently opened their third wholly owned facility in San Diego.
The first base is in Annapolis and the second in Mystic, CT. Each base is stocked with several boats that are used for demonstrations and for charters. As the bases have grown, the number of boats in charter has grown, too, as some new owners see the financial advantages of having their personal boats earning cash. Buying direct gives the customers the opportunity to design and fit out their boats from scratch, have it built in Germany and get it delivered in a remarkably short turn around time.
The Cruiser 41, like the rest of the Bavaria fleet, is a unique production cruising boat that is built to a high standard of strength, quality and finish by a unique manufacturing company and sold in the U.S. by a unique national distributor. Having worked with this team in the U.S. and Germany for several years, BWS is happy to report that this uniqueness culminates in great modern cruising boats that also make excellent floating homes.
Bavaria Cruiser 41
Displ: 19,135 lbs.
Sail area: 883 sq. ft.
Water: 96 gals
Fuel: 56 gas.
Engine: Volvo 38-hp.
Designer: Farr Yacht Design
Bavaria Yachts U.S.A.