Menorquin 34

Practical Boat Owner - - Boat Test -

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.

Cabin com­forts

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.

sen­si­ble de­sign

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.

pBo ver­dicT

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

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