BENETEAU ANTARES 30

Why this clever fam­ily cruiser makes a great used buy

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents -

There is al­ways a huge list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘de­sir­ables’ when choos­ing a sec­ond­hand boat. But right at the top of ev­ery­one’s list, writ­ten in big red let­ters, is ‘bud­get’. Can I af­ford to buy it? And cru­cially, can I af­ford to run it? Those con­cerns, par­tic­u­larly the lat­ter, are per­haps even more cru­cial if you’re running the boat com­mer­cially, where ev­ery penny spent on re­pairs and main­te­nance comes di­rectly off the bot­tom line, yet you still need a fast and at­trac­tive ves­sel. So it was in­ter­est­ing to dis­cover that Pure Lat­i­tude, a boat-share club based at Port Ham­ble in Southamp­ton, has run a Beneteau Antares 30 for many years as part of its five-strong fleet of mo­tor boats shared by a mem­ber­ship that pay an an­nual fee to ac­cess a range of craft that in­cludes a fast RIB through to an aft cabin steel river cruiser on the Thames.

“Running costs was one of the key rea­sons for choos­ing the Antares 30,” Martin Gray, owner of Pure Lat­i­tude, tells me. “Our boats are used reg­u­larly, clock higher than typ­i­cal hours and have to be fully main­tained. We don’t have the lux­ury of not fix­ing some­thing un­til the end of the sea­son, it all has to work. And the great thing with the Antares 30 is that it’s such a sim­ple drive sys­tem, just a sin­gle en­gine, which is a solid re­li­able Volvo Penta D6 con­nected to a con­ven­tional shaft drive, so no ex­pen­sive and com­pli­cated stern­drive to ser­vice and main­tain.”

When Beneteau launched the Antares 30 at the Paris Boat Show in 2009 it was fit­ted with a Yan­mar 6LY3 380hp en­gine, the com­pany only switch­ing to the Volvo

Penta D6 370 when Yan­mar stopped pro­duc­ing the 6LY3. At launch, it was some­thing of a unique propo­si­tion. Many boats 30ft and be­low are stern­drive and most com­pact fly­bridge boats are twin en­gined. In fact, iron­i­cally, about the only boat to pro­vide that com­bi­na­tion of sin­gle-shaft drive with two cab­ins and a fly­bridge at the time was the Swift Trawler 34, also made by Beneteau, al­though it was clearly a larger and more ex­pen­sive propo­si­tion. More re­cently the smaller Swift Trawler 30 has en­croached fur­ther on the Antares 30.

Tech­ni­cally there is a twin-en­gined ver­sion of the Antares 30 as well, but it’s rare – the Antares 32 is the same boat but with two engines, also on shafts. Beneteau also launched a coupé ver­sion, the same boat with­out a fly­bridge, but again the stan­dard ver­sion wins out. Nick Hat­field, Beneteau Power brand man­ager for UK dealer An­casta says that 90% of the boats they have sold in the UK have been the fly­bridge ver­sion, with per­haps three quar­ters of buy­ers world­wide opt­ing for the ad­van­tages of an up­per helm.

But the big news, lit­er­ally, is just how much ac­com­mo­da­tion Beneteau fit­ted into this com­pact craft. On the lower deck for­ward, the master cabin has a proper cen­tre­line is­land bed in­stead of a space-sav­ing an­gled berth squashed into the cor­ner. The sec­ond cabin to port has bunk beds and al­though floor space is nec­es­sar­ily min­i­mal, the beds are a full 6ft 6in long, per­fectly ca­pa­ble of sleep­ing two adults. The heads op­po­site is a de­cent size too.

Beneteau ‘cheated’ slightly by not in­clud­ing a gal­ley on this level – it’s up on the main deck in the saloon on the star­board side be­hind the sin­gle helm seat. But with aft gal­ley lay­outs be­com­ing ever more pop­u­lar it’s a lay­out that is still very much in vogue. The large dinette op­po­site is a great size, yet there’s still space ahead of it for a for­ward-fac­ing nav­i­ga­tor’s bench along­side the helm, some­thing sorely lack­ing in many boats of this type. In fact the only ob­vi­ous com­pro­mise of the lay­out is en­gine ac­cess. There’s a slim sec­tion of floor that lifts eas­ily to ac­cess ser­vice points like fuel fil­ters, but for more ex­ten­sive ac­cess there’s a small amount of fur­ni­ture dis­man­tling needed be­fore a sec­ond sec­tion of floor can be lifted. How­ever, the stand-out fea­ture of this main deck liv­ing area is the amount of nat­u­ral light and ter­rific view out af­forded by the huge win­dows, with the large open­ing sec­tions adding superb ven­ti­la­tion.

EYE-CATCH­ING

That last point is one that caught Con­rad Lake­man’s eye. He’d owned a Fair­line Cor­niche back in the 90s but had been out of boat­ing for 20 years due to fam­ily com­mit­ments. With time pres­sures eas­ing, it was time to get back into boat­ing. “At 31ft and with a fly­bridge, the

Cor­niche was per­fect for us,” says Con­rad, “So I was look­ing to achieve a sim­i­lar size and style of boat. I’d ac­tu­ally nar­rowed it down ini­tially to a Jeanneau Pres­tige 32 as it seemed the clos­est modern match for the Cor­niche, but when I looked at one in Corn­wall I dis­cov­ered that when I sat in the saloon I found it hard to see out, I had to crane my neck and peer over the win­dow sills. The Antares 30 feels to­tally dif­fer­ent, the deck feels higher and the win­dow line is lower and with more glass gen­er­ally you are far less hid­den in the boat. I was com­pletely sold on it.”

Con­rad bought his boat in Novem­ber last year af­ter a four-month search that even in­cluded leav­ing notes un­der the canopies of boats that he saw in mari­nas, ask­ing if they wanted to sell. He keeps his boat in Wey­mouth and uses it along the south coast up to Poole and the So­lent. In fact, the only draw­back he finds is the sin­gle en­gine, which lacks the reas- sur­ing back up of twins, al­though he’s quick to ac­knowl­edge the running cost ad­van­tages – his first full ser­vice from a main dealer cost­ing just £750. The other po­ten­tial draw­back he cites is ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, par­tic­u­larly astern, some­thing over­come on his boat by having both bow and stern thrusters, which he con­sid­ers es­sen­tial.

NAT­U­RAL PROGRESSION

It’s a view shared by Peter Spencer, who owned an Antares 30 from new for seven years, only re­cently trad­ing it for a Fair­line Phan­tom 40. “We’d had a Beneteau Antares eight pre­vi­ously, so the Antares 30 was a nat­u­ral progression and a boat that we were ex­tremely pleased with. We kept the boat in Poole and used it as far as Port­land Bill in one di­rec­tion and Chich­ester in the other. It was an ex­tremely sea­wor­thy boat for its size, helped by the fact that shaft drive puts the en­gine to­ward the mid­dle of the ves­sel. For a 30ft boat, it did ev­ery­thing we wanted. I added a stern thruster to it, which cer­tainly helped in close quar­ters ma­noeu­vres and I fit­ted a gen­er­a­tor, which was great for overnights an­chored be­hind Brownsea Is­land. We clocked up over 300 hours in that boat and it was pretty trou­ble free”.

That last experience is echoed by Martin Gray; de­spite the ex­tra use that the boat club puts the boat to, he’s found it a mostly pain­less own­er­ship experience. “We had a strange fault early on with en­gine oil blow­ing out of the breather. It turned out to be too much oil in the en­gine, de­spite what the dip­stick was telling us. In the end we sim­ply drained all of the oil from the en­gine, re­filled it with the pre­cise amount that Volvo Penta spec­ify and then re­cal­i­brated the dip­stick – it’s been fine ever since. The other is­sue we had was with the stern thruster. The hull is com­par­a­tively flat at the aft end, so any wa­ter in the bilge quickly pen­e­trates the thruster con­trol box. We gave up af­ter the

third and the boat now runs with just a bow thruster but ev­ery­one man­ages per­fectly fine with that. Beyond that it’s just been rou­tine items, stress cracks at the stan­chion bases and we had to mod­ify the slid­ing door mech­a­nism for the fore cabin. The Beneteau has a fairly func­tional build qual­ity. In­ter­est­ingly, we had an Aquador 32 pre­vi­ously, which is a sim­i­lar size and con­cept, al­beit with­out the fly­bridge but what we find with the Beneteau is that it is far more pop­u­lar with members and gets far more book­ings. Peo­ple re­ally like the fly­bridge and the boat feels big­ger and looks more stylish.”

PRAC­TI­CAL PUR­POSES

And that re­ally is the key to the Antares 30. For all its prac­ti­cal lay­out, slightly pro­saic build qual­ity and func­tional sin­gle-shaft drive op­tion, it’s a modern stylish-look­ing boat that feels great to be aboard. And that ex­tends to the way it drives. A sin­gle en­gine in a fly­bridge plan­ing boat might feel a lit­tle light, but on the wa­ter you never feel short changed. Pick up onto the plane is strong and the boat tops out in the mid-20 knots, mak­ing a 20-knot cruise (which, let’s be hon­est, is the speed most of us travel at even if we can do 30) en­tirely com­fort­able. And de­spite its com­pact di­men­sions and tall sides, it han­dles sur­pris­ingly well. Sea keep­ing is good, it doesn’t roll ex­ces­sively and there are plenty of op­tions for the crew – up on the fly­bridge en­joy­ing the view, in the aft cock­pit closer to the wa­ter or in­side if a lit­tle shel­ter is re­quired. It’s an im­pres­sive and unique boat, ap­peal­ing to both heart and head, or more ac­cu­rately wal­let; a boat that you si­mul­ta­ne­ously want to own, but are also happy to bear the running costs of, which is why, al­most a decade into pro­duc­tion, Beneteau is still mak­ing it.

A lad­der (rather than stairs) is one of the few com­pro­mises of the com­pact di­men­sions... … but the fly­bridge is a very de­cent size with a helm seat that can face both ways

The for­ward cabin has a proper cen­tre­line is­land bed rather than an an­gled berth For­ward-fac­ing seat­ing next to the helm is a nice touch and some­thing many boats lack

The sec­ond cabin lacks floor space but, to com­pen­sate, the berths are full adult length The heads is el­e­gantly fin­ished in wood and a de­cent size for a two-cabin 30ft boat

OIL LEVEL En­gine oil es­cap­ing the breather may be as sim­ple as too much oil in the sump. Not all dip­sticks are cal­i­brated cor­rectly EN­GINE AC­CESS En­gine ac­cess not the most gen­er­ous, so worth check­ing that ev­ery­thing that should have been done, has been WIN­DOW LEAKS Win­dows are bonded, but can oc­ca­sion­ally suf­fer from leaks STERN THRUSTER Some own­ers re­gard this as es­sen­tial – cer­tainly a worth­while op­tion on a used boat

En­gine ac­cess is fine for quick checks but fur­ni­ture needs shift­ing for any­thing more

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