Introduced in 2016, the 34 is the newest of the range. Her big sisters are the 42 and 54, with a 68 due to hit the water next year. Sasga realised the importance of offering a boat of a size that would introduce new owners to the range, even if a 34-footer costing around £300,000 might not be everyone’s idea of a starter boat.
Then again, it’s a lot smaller than the 42 and more abstemious in its running costs too – a consideration if you’re switching from sail to power. The 34 is harnessed to a pair of 225hp Volvo D4s, giving a top speed of around 22 knots. At a comfortable cruising speed of 13 knots they will be drinking around 45lt (10gal) per hour. Yanmar’s 6-cylinder, 220hp alternative is due to be discontinued in a year or so pending a replacement. In the meantime it remains an option and still comes with a fuel-consumption gauge as standard. Volvo charge an extra £1,000.
While owners can choose a single Volvo 300hp, every owner has so far has opted for twins. Each engine has its own fuel tank and batteries, and the boat’s generous beam (12ft 6in/3.80m) combined with the full-sectioned hull provides ample space in the engine room. In fact it’s one of the roomiest engine rooms I have seen, with the tanks in the wings and excellent access all round. Day-to-day access is via a hatch in the cockpit; otherwise you can hinge up the sole almost in its entirety. The engines, tanks and everything else could be removed if necessary (and it’s the same on the 42, though the tanks are in a separate compartment beneath the saloon). That’s reassuring to know. José says that after 40 years of building, the yard has experienced most of the things that can go wrong.
It might seem strange to start a test of a motorboat by diving into the engine compartment and wondering what happens if you ever need to change one (or both). Apparently no one else bothers but, having heard about a yard that had to cut a large hole into the side of a wellknown production motorboat to change a fridge, I think it’s no bad idea to check these things out.
What most people are interested in is the accommodation. For a 34-footer the Menorquin is commodious to say the least, with 1.9m (6ft 3in) of headroom anywhere you would expect to be able to stand up. There’s ample stowage (even if you find the odd tank or bow-thruster under some of the bunks), berths are a decent length and the finish throughout, in teak or oak, is hard to fault. In fact, the attention to detail is impressive. Doors shut positively, magnetic catches hold them open, sole boards are a precise fit and nothing rattles under way.
The master cabin is in the bow, with a berth 2m by 1.5m (6ft 6in x 5ft). It shares a well-appointed heads with the twin-berth guest cabin further aft that runs across the full beam of the hull.
Inevitably, the central feature of the accommodation is the wheelhouse, with the helm station to starboard opposite the galley. Two bi-fold doors open up its full width to the cockpit which, with the shelter
provided by the substantial overhang on the back of the wheelhouse and the optional stowage/seating units in the stern, becomes an extension of the interior. Or, thanks to its large window areas and generous height, you could say the saloon becomes an extension of the cockpit.
If you didn’t know the Menorquin’s size, you would probably guess you were on a boat of at least 11m (36ft). Calling her a 34 might be stretching the truth a little, because the hull is 9m (30ft) long and the bathing platform takes the overall length to 10m (32ft 10in). Nonetheless, it’s easy to understand the builder’s reasoning because she feels so big, and calling her anything smaller might make her sound rather pricey.
Whatever the size and nomenclature, the ergonomics work: every cubic inch of space is put to good use and practical touches abound.
All too often, moving forward on a powerboat means shuffling gingerly along a precariously narrow ledge while clinging on to grabrails. One slip and you’re in the ‘oggin. Not so on the Menorquins. Not only are the side decks wide enough to walk along, but they’re also protected outboard by teak-capped bulwarks of knee height topped with stainless guardrails. It makes a change to be able to go forward without feeling like a mountaineer scaling a ledge. When you reach the bow you find a sun-lounging area on the cabin top, an anchor windlass and a bow roller.
Having hopped on to the wheelhouse roof of the 42 to take photos of the 34 at sea and found a smooth surface underfoot, I was pleased to note the non-slip finish on the 34. Few details seem to escape the team at Sasga.
sasga in a seaway
To people familiar with planing powerboats of this size, the Menorquin’s top speed of 21 knots might sound rather pedestrian. With many planing hulls, however, you can only achieve anything like top speed on a millpond, whereas boats like the Menorquin will still maintain a respectable lick when conditions kick up. She also has a Category A rating under the RCD. Whatever you think of the RCD (see PBO July 2017), this separates her from most motorboats of similar size.
While conditions on our test didn’t exactly test her to the limits, the 15-18 knots of wind we encountered off Menorca’s east coast kicked up a fair seaway. We made directly into it at 13 knots in reasonable comfort; only at 15 knots did we start slamming occasionally. For a high-volume 30ft boat in such conditions, that’s not bad going.
A little steering was needed to keep her on track with the seas on the beam – perhaps a consequence of the relatively beamy hull. Down the waves, however, she demonstrated good directional stability and was less prone than many to ‘bow steering’, partly because the keel is cut away forward rather than running the full length of the hull as it often does on more traditional semi-displacement designs.
A noticeable feature of her performance is the constant fore-and-aft trim as speed increases. She’s in full displacement mode up to 8 knots (2,000rpm) before the bow starts to rise almost imperceptibly as she breaks through the displacement barrier, with 2,500rpm taking her to 11 knots. The high helm seat means you never lose visibility over the bow. Another 500rpm brings up 15 knots on the log, and full chat is 3,500rpm.
Consumption with the twin 225s ranges from 15lt per hour at 8 knots, giving a range of 340 miles from the 650lt (143gal) in the tanks, to 43lt per hour (200 miles) at 13 knots. All these figures are approximate, and our own revs and speeds varied slightly from those published.
Across the rev range, noise and vibrations levels were pleasantly subdued. Until you start asking too much and experiencing the occasional thud, it’s a very comfortable ride. But then is it really fair to expect to make 15 knots into waves of 3-4ft on top of a rolling swell in a boat that’s only 9m (30ft) long? Throttling back to 13 knots is no great hardship, and for sailors it seems a speedy and civilised way to get home. Many a whizz-bang 40-knotsin-flat-water motorboat would have to limit its speed even further and would still be breaking your spine in such conditions.
A boat with this much space in such a short hull will inevitably look a little chunky, but the Menorquin carries it off surprisingly well. While she’s not inexpensive, you can see where the money goes. What she achieves in just 9m (30ft) is remarkable.
Blue-water motorboating – but the Menorquins are not only for the Mediterranean
A high helming position and large window area give excellent visibility from the wheelhouse
The wheelhouse/deck saloon is the central feature of the accommodation… …and beneath it is the twin-berth guest cabin running across the full beam
A roomy and well-protected foredeck