PRICE £60,000-£125,000 YEAR 1987-2006
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