ON THE WA­TER

With the Minorca 34 Jonathan Cooper

Passage Maker - - Contents - BY JONATHAN COOPER

Built in the Balearic Is­lands’ sec­ond-largest—though con­sid­er­ably lessr-known is­land be­hind Mal­lorca and party haven Ibiza—Minorca is a 271-square-mile is­land sur­rounded by see-through blue-green wa­ter and arid cliffs. On the south­ern tip of Minorca you will find Sasga Yachts, a builder who has been sell­ing fam­ily-size cruis­ing yachts into Europe since 1978. Now, thanks to owner Jose Luís Sas­tre and a new part­ner­ship with Sara­sota Yacht Sales (SYS) in Florida, the line of fiber­glass boats is com­ing to the United States un­der the Minorca Yachts badge.

ABOUT THE LINE

Pro­duc­tion boats in the Minorca line (called Mi­norchino if you hap­pen to cross paths with one in Europe) start at 34 feet, which also hap­pens to be the first model in­tro­duced to the States at this year’s Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Boat Show. Mov­ing up, there are 42and 54-foot­ers, of­fered in ei­ther sedan or fly­bridge ver­sions. To cap it off, Sasga has draw­ings on­line for a sporty 68 fly.

Though the pro­por­tions are dif­fer­ent model to model, they all share a sim­i­lar ge­netic makeup. Each sports a heav­ily flared bow on a rounded fore­deck, a near-ver­ti­cal stem and fine en­try, and hard chines on a semi-dis­place­ment hull. The defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of the look is a dou­ble-ended stern, which some may not like on the small­est model, though I find that it gives the boat an en­dear­ing qual­ity that is un­com­mon on most of to­day’s pro­duc­tion yachts. On the larger boats, the ef­fect of the dou­bleended stern is less no­tice­able and prob­a­bly fits with the aes­thetic bet­ter if you don’t find the 34 as cute as I do.

ON DECK

We met Paul Flan­nery and Rob Welling of SYS for a tour of the 34 dur­ing the 2017 TrawlerFest in Stu­art, Florida.

Step­ping aboard, the first thing that strikes you is the gen­er­ous room. This is a small cruiser that still some­how fea­tures walka­round side decks that are pro­tected by bul­warks, and yet the sac­ri­fice in­side doesn’t seem like a bad trade-off. Due to her dou­bleended shape and lack of ta­per, the fore­deck and af­ter­deck are spa­cious, giv­ing plenty of room for a modest group of peo­ple. The semi-cov­ered af­ter­deck sports a dou­ble-door en­try to the saloon, where the doors ac­cor­dion out of the way to cre­ate con­ti­nu­ity through­out the main level, from helm to tran­som seat­ing. This de­sign in­creases the over­all per­cep­tion of on­board vol­ume.

An­other in­ter­est­ing fea­ture of the teak af­ter­deck is the hatch en­try to the engine room. With a clev­erly nested de­sign, the engine room can be ac­cessed by a large, gas-as­sisted hatch mea­sur­ing 6’ x 4’. Once open, the owner can eas­ily get to any­thing in the engine room for ser­vice on ei­ther one of the mo­tors. For a quick look, though, there is an­other square hatch nested in­side the larger one that can be used for the pur­pose of quick in­spec­tion of the space.

IN­SIDE

Like many Euro­pean de­signs, the in­te­rior is de­fined by el­e­gant sim­plic­ity, with flat-faced cab­i­nets and very lit­tle trim to speak of. The saloon, gal­ley, and helm are on the same level as the af­ter­deck; the straight gal­ley to port and the four-per­son saloon din­ing ta­ble to star­board, just abaft the helm. The back­rest on the bench helm seat—much like you’d find on a Ranger or Cut­wa­ter—flips for­ward to com­plete the din­ing ta­ble four-top. Seats are er­gonom­i­cally com­fort­able and head­room is plen­ti­ful at 6’ 4”.

The helm is beau­ti­fully con­structed and adorned by Sasga’s sig­na­ture wheel, retro-look di­als, and equipped with a Ray­ma­rine

elec­tron­ics pack­age. My only qualm here is that a tall cap­tain (ex­ceed­ing 6 feet or so) may need to scrunch down for full vis­i­bil­ity. This is bet­ter than the op­po­site prob­lem as the fix would be sim­ple enough. Oth­er­wise vis­i­bil­ity un­der­way is clear and with­out is­sue.

Belowdecks you’ll find a dual-twin-berth sec­ond stateroom that lives di­rectly un­der the helm and gal­ley, run­ning trans­verse to the hull, and ac­cessed just be­fore the en­trance to the for­ward, main cabin. Thanks to oval port­lights on both sides, the cabin feels light and sur­pris­ingly spa­cious de­spite the nec­es­sar­ily com­pro­mised head­room.

The for­ward cabin sports an is­land queen berth, and it, too, ben­e­fits from great nat­u­ral light ingress through trunk cabin port­lights as well as hull-side ones to port and star­board. Since she is built in Europe, all the strin­gent CE rat­ings ap­ply for safety egress and se­cu­rity on board.

ON THE WA­TER

The Minorca 34 is an ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tor at a range of speeds on her twin, 225-horse Yan­mar en­gines. Run­ning 2,000 rpm yielded a pleas­ant, slow cruise of about 7.75 knots. At this speed, to­tal fuel burn was around five gal­lons per hour and cabin noise was pre­dictably low at 68 deci­bels. Our top speed dur­ing test­ing was 16 knots, though that was not wide-open throt­tle. At 16, the engine rpm hit 3000, and sur­pris­ingly, sound lev­els only in­creased to 70 deci­bels with the af­ter doors closed. The man­u­fac­turer’s sea tri­als in open wa­ter point to a top speed of 21 knots, achieved by throt­tling up to 3800 rpm. At 16 knots, the fuel burn climbs to a still man­age­able 12.6 gph.

At only 17,000 pounds of light dis­place­ment, the boat drives eas­ily through the wa­ter. With her shal­low draft of just over three feet, and fine en­try into the wa­ter, she skimmed through the shal­low wa­ter eas­ily. The aft po­si­tion of the en­gines is achieved by pair­ing a V-drive with a ZF trans­mis­sion (as men­tioned, the en­gines sit in­side the laz­erette be­hind the af­ter bulk­head), keep­ing the noise well at­ten­u­ated. The Minorca’s on-wa­ter per­for­mance and sta­bil­ity un­der­way ben­e­fit from a skeg keel that runs far aft, giv­ing the boat solid track­ing at speed and con­fi­dent ma­neu­ver­ing in tighter spa­ces. While the cabin got louder cruis­ing with the doors open, open­ing the saloon to the af­ter­deck felt very nat­u­ral un­der­way.

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Above: Dou­ble-fold­ing doors and a con­tin­u­ous level lead to a spa­cious feel­ing on board, even with walka­round side decks. Be­low: Show­ing the 34’s gen­er­ous hard­top over­hang, and the op­tional pas­sarelle for Med-style board­ing. Partially vis­i­ble is the “hatch-within- a-hatch” de­sign to ac­cess the engine room space.

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