A 33ft yacht sporting a large cockpit, twin helms, wet bar and grill, and down below she has nine berths – surely there must be some mistake?
Dufour 360. A large cockpit, twin helms, a wet bar and grill and nine berths? Has this 33ft yacht got everything?
The Dufour Grand Large 360 is aimed squarely at the summer cruiser; someone who, with their family and friends, port hops along the coast from anchorage to anchorage or harbour to harbour. After all, there’s not much need for a wet bar and grill located on the bathing platform in the winter months. Take her to the West Country or cruise northern France and relax in the cockpit while dinner sizzles and the sun sets. The 360 offers the deck space to make this dream a reality – that’s not something many 9.99m (32ft 9in) yachts can do.
The 360 is an improvement in many areas on her predecessor, the 350, especially around the helm, and is designed to be easy to sail and offer good accommodation filled with natural light. After 54 years of building yachts, Dufour has the knowledge and experience to make the 360 a perfect cruising yacht for UK and European waters. But did they?
The wind during the test increased from a relaxing Force 4 to an energetic Force 5. Under full sail, close hauled, the apparent wind was in the high teens so we tucked in one reef to the mainsail. Then, as it reached 20-25 knots, we rolled a reef into the genoa – shortening sail was easy as all lines are led aft to the cockpit. Bearing away past a beam reach, we were able to unfurl the genoa and keep her powered up.
When overpowered, she showed no tendency to round up and even with the rudder stalled, she tracked in a straight line. Releasing the mainsheet brought her under the control of the helm again.
There was a fair weight to the helm but given the conditions, it was not surprising. Even when she was pushed hard, the helm was still manageable. As the wind picked up, forestay sag became more noticeable. This would have affected her pointing ability but without a backstay to tension or the means or time to adjust the rig, we made do. Reefing her at the right time paid off; she was a joy to helm and took all the chop the Solent could throw at her.
The fold-down transom makes boarding a breeze when you’re moored stern-to. It also extends the cockpit when anchored; the wet bar and grill both open towards the stern and are used while standing on this platform. Under the grill is the dedicated liferaft locker. This is the threecabin version, so locker space in the cockpit is reduced. Worry not; the two-cabin version has an abundance of deck stowage and is a better layout all round, but more on that later. The cockpit has a good fixed cockpit table, although I would have liked to see rounded ends to the handles on it instead of the catch-all T-bars.
At the bows, in the moulded anchor locker, the drop on the chain from the windlass is slightly short. The large deck windows have a generous surround of non-slip to them. It was good to see the handrails come aft, past the forward end of the large protective sprayhood, keeping the no man’s land between cockpit and handholds to a minimum.
Lines are led under the coachroof from the mast to Lewmar 30ST winches that, like the rope clutches, are recessed into the coachroof deck level. Lewmar 40 genoa winches control the genoa. The low cockpit coamings have comfortable rounded tops so they’re comfortable to sit on.
AT THE HELM
It’s best to helm sitting on the slightly raised side deck as space behind the helm is limited. The central unit that houses the grill comes forward a foot’s width and provides good bracing. There is seating on the lids that cover the grill and gas locker lids aft.
There’s no back-stay to get in the way when helming and the handholds on the front of the pedestal make moving around the helm easier.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The hull is a slight extension of the 350, solid hand-laminated GRP with isophthalic gelcoat and resin in the first layer of cloth. The hollow inner grid reinforcement is laminated in place. The deck is foam cored and Resin Transfer Moulded (RTM), using both male and female moulds to give a one-piece deck structure that is finished on the inside and out. It gives a lovely finish but it does mean that any through-deck bolts are visible, hidden only by plastic nut covers.
RIG & SAILPLAN
Without a backstay, the 9/10ths fractional rig is fuss free, but if you find her forestay sagging away, there is little one can do to rectify the problem while sailing.
A fixed bowsprit for an asymmetric spinnaker or Code 0 is an option, as is the possibility for her to be rigged with a German mainsheet system which gives control of the mainsail to the helm to help you bear away if you find yourself overpowered. The mainsheet is set on a bridle forward of the companionway and led forward along the boom before coming aft. She has the option of a self-tacking jib or a genoa.
Below decks, the saloon is a light space thanks to overhead windows and hatches, as well as the long coach-roof windows. This boat has the oak Alpi interior. For those unfamiliar with Alpi, it’s a wood veneer made up from 2mm-thick strips bonded together. On the Dufour, however, the width of the strips in the Alpi varies from wide to narrow and back to wide down the panel, which give a more realistic grain effect. In places though, like the lid inset for the table, the ‘grain’ doesn’t match up, which would have been nice. The table has the option a semi-fixed leaf to port. It doesn’t fold down; instead, it lifts out to be attached level with the seat base. A fold-out panel from under the seat makes a roomy 1.09m (3 ft 7in) wide single berth or a cosy double. It might not be the easiest method, but it works. The seat to starboard is 1.50m (4ft 11in) long until the chart table is lowered and cushions added so that it matches the port seat at 1.92m (6ft 4in). With a lack of headlining, the interior is punctuated by the visible circles of stainless-steel washers used for all the through-deck fittings. These stand out against the clean white headlining, though it does make some maintenance jobs easier.
There are lines of lockers outboard in the saloon. They have deep fiddles but no shelves. Stowage is good for a boat aimed squarely at coastal cruisers and there are handy areas like the drawer and cupboard
She was a joy to helm and took all the chop the Solent could throw at her
in the aft end of the saloon table as well, as the optional 11-bottle wine rack under the sole at the companionway.
The forecabin is through a pair of doors in the forward bulkhead. These can both be opened to increase the feeling of space. The finish on this boat isn’t the tidiest I’ve seen and while it might be styling, there were large gaps around the forward end of the joinery covering of the anchor locker.
There’s stowage under the bunk, and a separate aft cushion and hinged bunk board make it really easy to access. Forward of the stowage is the water tank.
Lighting is minimal except in the saloon where there are LED strip lights under the lockers under the deck. The overhead lights are individually switched. There is one switch at the switch panel to turn all the lights off; a cabin switch would have been nicer.
The heads doesn’t have a separate shower compartment. It does, however, have a separate showerhead and controls. The mirror on this boat, like most modern Dufours, has a slide bolt to adjust the angle of the mirror to see yourself, something many other manufacturers could learn from. The compartment is a fair size and with the single aft cabin version, it gets even bigger.
Now to the aft cabins; the port cabin is a really good space, with plenty of room over the bunk. Although this reduces at the far end, it only becomes an issue if you’re 2.0m (6ft 7in) tall and sleep arrow straight. On a 34-footer, having three cabins clearly means there will be compromises. The starboard aft cabin didn’t work so well – fine for children or shorter adults but it didn’t work as a full-sized berth. There’s good space over the first 1.45m (4ft 9in) of the berth but at the feet end, the cockpit locker intrudes into the space above the bunk. Although it leaves 52cm (1ft 9in) initially, the final half-metre has just 21cm (8in) clearance. For me, at 5ft 10in tall, this didn’t leave quite enough space to get my feet in without twisting them, and risked catching my shins. My preference would be to do without this cabin.
The two-cabin layout, by contrast, gives you one double cabin aft, a vast cockpit locker, a bigger heads
The L-shaped galley has some really neat stowage ideas and for its size, works well
and a forward-facing chart table, which is win, win, win as far as life on board goes. Both aftcabin berths, at 1.42m (4ft 8in), are a good width.
The boat on show at Boot Düsseldorf had a forward-facing chart table with a very neat, smaller laptop-sized lid inset into the larger standard-sized one that can be lifted up independently. This boat, because of the twin aft-cabin layout, had the smaller aft-facing chart table. Outboard is a leather-covered handle, to raise and lower the table and extend the saloon seating. It’s not the deepest or biggest chart table but it’s nice to have one. It’s partitioned inside; that’s fine, except the divider blocks the finger hole in the lid and trapped my finger as I closed it.
The L-shaped galley has some really smart uses of space. The sink can be used either facing forward or outboard. There’s stowage for the stove cover in a slot against the aft bulkhead and forward of the stove is a deep locker that is great for chopping boards, trays and placemats. Under the deck are lockers with pegged stowage. There’s pot stowage under the stove. The fridge is top opening and has lots of handy compartments and dividers. The cutlery drawer is in the aft end of the saloon table.
The window styling minimises any view for the cook as the wide mullions block most of the galley’s windows, but there is an opening port light to provide ventilation. Strangely though, there’s no overhead lighting, only two lights outboard, so finding things in the fridge and washing up at night could be a bit hit and miss.
Thankfully, Dufour has done away with the shoehorn-the-engine-in approach I found on its 310, and even for the larger 29hp option, there’s space to access the filters on the engine. The primary fuel filter, however, is only fully accessible by unscrewing panels next to the starboard aft berth.
There is loads of space at the forward end of the engine compartment, so it’s a shame Dufour didn’t use this for the primary fuel filter.
Coachroof winches are recessed in the deck. The cockpit is comfortable, as are rounded coamings
Space at the helm is a bit limited but it’s comfortable to helm while sitting on the side deck
The chart table slides down. A larger fixed forward-facing table is also an option