Bavaria Cruiser 34

Ev­ery­thing you need in less LOA

SAIL - - Under Sail - By Zuzana Proc­hazka

Big­ger is bet­ter, ex­cept when it’s not. Sure, big boats at­tract big crowds at boat shows, but a pocket cruiser that of­fers the ameni­ties and sail­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of a larger ves­sel and also fits a smaller slip and wal­let, may be the bet­ter an­swer for some. The ques­tion then is, how to fit big-boat fun into a tidy com­pact pack­age? To solve this rid­dle, Bavaria Yachts tapped into the magic of Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing to build the Cruiser 34, a ves­sel that packs in up to three cab­ins, has a func­tional cock­pit and can sail at 7-plus knots, all with a wa­ter­line length of just 30ft.


The new Farr de­sign re­places the com­pany’s pre­vi­ous 33-footer and adds a bit sportier pro­file. The foam core sand­wich hull and deck are in­fused, mak­ing for a lighter struc­ture and keep­ing the boat’s light­weight dis­place­ment un­der 12,000lb. It’s the first in the Bavaria line to be in­fused ,and other mod­els are set to fol­low.

The Cruiser 34’s dou­ble-spreader, deck-stepped Seldén rig comes with a rigid boom­vang, so there is no need for a top­ping lift. The sailplan is rel­a­tively sim­ple, with a tra­di­tional Dacron main­sail, lazy­jacks and a sail bag. In-mast furl­ing is op­tional as are tri-ra­dial sails. The short jib tracks are on the cab­in­top for tighter sheet­ing an­gles, while the shrouds are set all the way out­board, mak­ing for a clear run for­ward along the side decks.


The drop-down swim plat­form makes com­ing aboard easy. The sys­tem is a man­ual one, but the plat­form is so well counter bal­anced that it can be lifted and closed with one hand. A choice of one or two helms is avail­able. In the sin­gle-helm ver­sion, a large wheel is mounted on a pedestal abaft the cock­pit ta­ble that holds a Garmin 721 mul­ti­func­tion dis­play, wind in­stru­ments and a com­pass. With the twin-helm ver­sion, like the one aboard our test boat (which also had car­bon wheels and Jefa steer­ing) the MFD is mounted at the aft end of the ta­ble on the cen­ter­line, and the wind in­stru­ments and au­topi­lot are mounted by the star­board wheel. This makes the chart­plot­ter a lit­tle harder to see while steer­ing.

The two Lew­mar pri­mary winches on the cock­pit coam­ing are a bit of a reach from the wheel(s), and two more Lew­mar 15 winches are lo­cated on the cab­in­top along with rope clutches to man­age the hal­yards and reef­ing lines. It’s a pretty stan­dard setup that also in­cludes a Ger­man main­sheet sys­tem.

The life­lines are a bit low (es­pe­cially for taller sailors), but the side gates are wide for load­ing cool­ers and other pro­vi­sions from the dock or a dinghy. For­ward, an elec­tric hor­i­zon­tal wind­lass with a re­mote con­trol is tucked in a locker be­hind the roller furler. Bavaria does an ex­cel­lent job of pro­vid­ing plenty of grab rails, so it’s al­ways easy to find some­thing to hold onto in the cock­pit or be­low.

With three cab­ins, cock­pit stowage is lim­ited to two small lock­ers aft.

In the two-cabin ver­sion, the port­side cock­pit bench opens to re­veal a deep lazarette. The ta­ble has in­te­grated stowage, cup hold­ers and a socket for a light. A nice touch is the stan­dard teak deck­ing on the cock­pit sole and benches as well as on the swim plat­form. Teak side decks are op­tional.


For own­ers who must have three cab­ins, this may be the small­est ves­sel on the mar­ket of­fer­ing such an ar­range­ment. High-ca­pac­ity in­te­ri­ors are pop­u­lar in Europe, but it’s a lot to pack in. North Amer­i­can sailors may pre­fer the two-state­room lay­out, in which the star­board cabin, which shares the aft end of the hull with the port­side lazarette, gains a bit of width. The head, also to port, moves far­ther aft and be­comes larger as well, al­though there is no sep­a­rate shower stall in ei­ther lay­out. As the head moves aft, this makes room for a small aft-fac­ing nav sta­tion that shares a seat with the port set­tee.

The L-shaped gal­ley op­po­site has a sin­gle sink, a two-burner stove and a top-load­ing re­frig­er­a­tor. It’s not large, but it is com­pletely work­able and fully up to the task of turn­ing out good meals for a weekend or longer. The place­ment of the gal­ley, saloon and for­ward state­room re­mains the same in both the two and three-cabin lay­outs.

Two hatches over the drop-leaf ta­ble bring lots of light into the saloon, and with the door to the owner’s cabin open, the boat seems es­pe­cially spa­cious and invit­ing. Qual­ity de­tails in­clude dove­tailed join­ery, solid wood door­frames and counter fid­dles, a choice of wood fin­ishes and in­te­grated hatch and port­light shades. Another wel­come qual­ity is the lack of creak­ing—the boat was silent in­side even as we bashed about dur­ing what proved to be an un­com­monly rough test sail.


As a change of pace from typ­i­cal test days, 20 knots ma­te­ri­al­ized in Bis­cayne Bay and higher gusts bat­tered us reglu­arly. Even with a reef in the fully-bat­tened tra­di­tional main­sail, the lit­tle boat spent much of its time on its ear in the flat wa­ters of the har­bor. At a sig­nif­i­cant heel­ing an­gle, good foot brac­ing wasn’t easy for me to find at the wheel, but the real chal­lenge for the crew was tack­ing and man­ag­ing the head­sail sheets as we be­came ac­cus­tomed to the boat’s lay­out. Once we got the hang of it, though, we ap­pre­ci­ated how even a short wa­ter­line could turn out good speed.

With her 549ft2 of up­wind sail area, the Cruiser 34 re­ally put her shoul­der down and cut through the small chop. In 18-20 knots of true wind, we sailed 6.6 knots at a 45 de­gree ap­par­ent wind an­gle. As we eased off to 60 de­grees, the boat sped up to 7.3 knots, and as we turned down­wind, ev­ery­thing smoothed out, and we came back up on our feet still reel­ing off 6.2 knots at 150 de­grees.

The stan­dard 6ft 6in keel would be my pref­er­ence over the op­tional 5ft 2in ver­sion to help keep the boat up­right in bois­ter­ous con­di­tions. How­ever, draft will be dic­tated by your lo­cal cruis­ing grounds. The shal­low wa­ters found along much of the East Coast can be es­pe­cially un­for­giv­ing of any­thing over 6ft.


The Bavaria Cruiser 34 is spry with the sails down and mo­tor­ing with her Volvo Penta 20hp diesel and three-bladed fold­ing pro­pel­ler. (An up­grade to 30hp is avail­able.) At wide-open-throt­tle, we reached 7.3 knots at 3,050 rpm. A nice cruis­ing speed is 6.2 knots at 2,500 rpm. Tank­age is 33 gal for both fuel and wa­ter.


A larger boat with more bal­last and a longer wa­ter­line may have rid­den out the gusts bet­ter dur­ing our test sail. How­ever, those con­di­tions are fairly rare, and in the end, we did have a zip­ping-good ride at ev­ery point of sail. This boat can def­i­nitely go. Bavaria’s tag line for this de­sign is, “The smaller yacht for mas­sive fun,” and they’re onto some­thing there. The Cruiser 34 is a tidy pack­age with enough stowage space, sleep­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions and gal­ley ameni­ties for ex­tended cruis­ing, but she’ll still be com­fort­able in a 33ft slip—no mean feat. s


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