OVNI 345

PRICE £60,000-£125,000 YEAR 1987-2006

Yachting Monthly - - BOOK CLUB -

De­signed by Jou­bert/nivelt and built at Alu­bat in Les Sable d’olonne, alu­minium Ov­nis have a rep­u­ta­tion as tough and sta­ble blue wa­ter cruis­ing yachts. Alu­minium hulls ex­hibit a high strength-to-weight ra­tio and the ab­sence of struc­tural bulk­heads means they’re eas­ily cus­tomised.

Eight full-length hull plates are handwelded over a strong in­fra­struc­ture of frames, stringers and floor beams.

Ov­nis all sport lift­ing keels, al­low­ing them to sneak up shal­low chan­nels and take the ground safely.

Most of the bal­last is in­ter­nal but the metal cen­tre­board pro­vides an ad­di­tional 400kg.

Below, it’s sur­pris­ingly roomy and the light oak wood­work, white deck­heads and large port­lights keep it bright and airy. The cen­tre­board case forms the sa­loon ta­ble base while a hol­low pole feeds the con­trol lines up to the deck. The 2m-long straight set­tees make good sea berths and stowage is plen­ti­ful in lock­ers above and be­neath the seat­ing. The gal­ley has a full-size gim­balled cooker, fridge, sink and drainer, dry food bin, fold-down work­top ex­ten­sion and nu­mer­ous vented lock­ers.

The navs­ta­tion has a for­ward-fac­ing chart ta­ble and an in­stru­ment pod view­able from the cock­pit. The spa­cious head in­cludes a shower stall and wet locker and the aft cabin has good head­room, use­ful floor space and three open­ing ports. The 2.0m x 1.7m berth has the bat­ter­ies un­der­neath, but stowage is still plen­ti­ful. Head­room is even bet­ter in the fore­cabin and there’s sim­i­lar stowage, only with more in bins un­der­neath the 2.4m x 1.6m vee-berth.

On deck are ob­vi­ous in­di­ca­tions of her blue wa­ter cruis­ing qual­i­ties. Stoutly made an­chor rollers, a huge chain locker with elec­tric wind­lass and

chunky moor­ing cleats. Back aft there’s a stern an­chor roller, cleat and chain locker on the swim­ming plat­form and grab han­dles to fa­cil­i­tate board­ing from the wa­ter. A cock­pit arch pro­vides a dinghy gantry and mount­ings for an­ten­nae, so­lar pan­els and wind gen­er­a­tor.

The cock­pit is spa­cious and the wheel small enough to reach around to the pow­er­ful Lew­mar 48ST pri­mary winches. Coachroof-mounted 30STS deal with the hal­yards and other sail con­trols. The main­sheet track is for­ward of the spray hood with the sheet lead­ing di­rectly into the cock­pit.

Ac­cess to the tran­som plat­form is good, where there are lock­ers for gas, spare fuel and the lif­er­aft.

The 345 is mast­head rigged with a deck­stepped mast and twin straight spread­ers. Head­sail furl­ing and slab-reefed main­sail are stan­dard, with a rigid kicker. Her cen­tre­board is man­u­ally con­trolled us­ing a 4:1 rope tackle led through rope clutches in the cock­pit, en­abling it to be locked down, but ‘kick up’ should it hit any­thing.

Cruis­ing speed un­der en­gine is around 6 knots and un­der sail she av­er­ages be­tween 6 and 7 knots on a close reach. De­spite hav­ing in­board bal­last, she re­mains stiff due to her wide hull, low cen­tre of grav­ity and hull chines. She usu­ally needs a first reef at 18 knots of ap­par­ent wind, with a sec­ond at 24.

Her helm is light yet pos­i­tive and she makes lit­tle more lee­way than the av­er­age fin-keeled yacht. Off the wind she tracks well and the straight spread­ers al­low the boom to be set well out.

Known as rugged boats, Ov­nis are among the most pop­u­lar lift-keel cruis­ers

The hard-chined hull is disct­inc­tive of the French­built Ovni’s alu­minium hull

Below deck, there’s plenty of light and the keel box is neatly hidden by the ta­ble

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