Hanse 388

A smart, el­e­gantly sim­ple de­sign from Ger­many

SAIL - - Front Page - By Sam Fortes­cue

Hanse Yachts is cur­rently up­dat­ing its en­tire line, and the lat­est model to get the treat­ment is its mid-range 388, pre­vi­ously known as the 385. As you might guess, the hull of the new boat is very sim­i­lar to its pre­de­ces­sor, be­ing built in the same mold. How­ever, the im­prove­ments that have gone into cre­at­ing the 388 are more than just skin-deep.


Although Hanse is based in Ger­many, its hulls are built at a ded­i­cated fac­tory just over the border in Poland. Layup there is much as it has al­ways been—good old-fash­ioned man­ual work with a roller in one hand and a lam­i­nate plan in the other. That said, Hanse’s ex­tremely ef­fi­cient pro­duc­tion line sys­tem has got this process down to a fine art, with boats typ­i­cally need­ing around 10 days in the mold be­fore they are shipped to Ger­many, where the rest of the boat is as­sem­bled.

The hull of the 388 has a first layer of more ex­pen­sive vinylester resin, in the in­ter­est of blis­ter re­sis­tance, as well as a balsa foam core for supe-


rior stiff­ness and lighter weight. Around the chain­plates, there is some car­bon re­in­forc­ing, and an in­ter­gral bul­wark/to­erail both stiff­ens the hull-to-deck joint and pro­vides ad­di­tional safety when go­ing for­ward.

Although the boat’s plumb bow and stern re­main the same—the bet­ter to scrape ev­ery avail­able inch of wa­ter­line length out of the de­sign—naval ar­chi­tects Judel/Vrolijk have also made a few tweaks. For ex­am­ple, they have re­placed the bulky helm seats that pre­vi­ously closed off most of the tran­som with fold­ing thwarts that can be clipped up ver­ti­cally when­ever you want full ac­cess to the wa­ter. The drop-down tran­som also now in­cludes a built-in tele­scopic bathing lad­der in gleam­ing stain­less.

Up at the bow, the stem fit­ting in­cludes a pair of twin rollers, as well as a use­ful teak step (handy for Scan­di­na­vian-style moor­ing) and an in­te­gral tack point for a Code 0 reach­ing sail. Keep­ing the boat up­right is a hefty 5,247lb L-shaped keel, which is 400lb heav­ier and 3in deeper than the pre­vi­ous model to help coun­ter­bal­ance the 13in taller mast. There is also a shoal-draft op­tion. The sheer acreage of glass in this new boat is im­me­di­ately no­tice­able. For what is—let’s face it—a smaller de­sign by to­day’s lav­ish stan­dards, this boat has packed in six hull lights, three flush hatches and, in a ma­jor up­date to the 385, glass pan­els on ei­ther side of the com­pan­ion­way. It all gives the boat a very mod­ern look and lets the light sim­ply flood in be­low, a key part of the boat’s ap­peal.

Beyond that, the con­fig­u­ra­tion has changed lit­tle since the 385. The

main choices be­low are whether you want two or three cab­ins, and a short or ex­tended L-shaped gal­ley to star­board. You sac­ri­fice a hang­ing locker with the big­ger gal­ley, but both ver­sions of­fer a good-sized re­frig­er­a­tor, with top and side ac­cess, plus a two-burner cook­top and oven. Whether you choose two or three cab­ins, there is a sin­gle head with a shower to port just aft of the chart ta­ble.

The main cabin is in the fore­peak, where Hanse has brought the head of the V-berth slightly out from the hull, to give a hint of it be­ing an is­land with some side ac­cess. All berths are good and deep, with the sa­loon set­tees of­fer­ing two ad­di­tional sea berths if nec­es­sary.

Fin­ish qual­ity through­out is good, and Hanse re­cently ex­panded the num­ber of op­tions avail­able for in­ter­nal join­ery and up­hol­stery, so that there are now four wood and three car­pet choices for the sole, five woods for cab­i­nets, 22 fabrics and nine leathers—surely enough to keep even the most finicky owner happy.

The de­sign team has also been busy with the in­te­rior light­ing and the in­stal­la­tion of dig­i­tal switch­ing through­out the boat, which al­lows you to con­trol things via a pro­pri­etary touch­screen. Se­lect from dif­fer­ent moods in each cabin, or re­pro­gram the sys­tem to suit your own par­tic­u­lar pref­er­ences. Hanse also specs some good-qual­ity red/white light­ing to help pre­serve night vi­sion while on pas­sage.


Like all Hanses, ease of han­dling is part of this boat’s DNA. With that in mind, all sail con­trols come back to the helm, with a Ger­man main­sheet sys­tem pro­vid­ing stress-free trim­ming on ei­ther tack. For once on a pro­duc­tion boat, the helms­man can also get a good purc­ahse on the twin Lew­mar 40 pri­maries from be­hind the wheel for trim­ming the head­sail.

Our test boat came equipped with the “per­for­mance pack,” which in­cludes sec­ondary winches on the cock­pit coam­ing, po­si­tioned with a clear run aft to the spin­naker blocks on the quar­ter. You won’t find any spare hal­yards or bar­ber-haulers on this boat, since the rig, with its self­tack­ing jib, is de­signed to be a min­i­mal one. How­ever, the boat works well in its sim­plic­ity, and “Fast Cruis­ing” lam­i­nated sails are avail­able for those in search of a speed edge.

With a top breeze of around 6 knots, the boat fell into an easy slot around 40-45 de­grees off the true wind, keep­ing up an ef­fort­less 4 to 5 knots. The po­lars sug­gest she can cruise up­wind at 6.5 knots, and broad reach at close to 8.5 knots, but we weren’t able to ver­ify this. That said, when I sailed her larger sis­ter, the 418, she man­aged an easy 6.5 knots in sim­i­lar reach­ing con­di­tions un­der gen­naker. Since the hulls be­tween these two boats are al­most iden­ti­cal, my ex­pec­ta­tion is that the 388 would prove a de­cent pas­sage­maker, and very much to­ward the faster end of the cruis­ing spec­trum.


The 27hp Yan­mar en­gine is am­ple for ev­ery­day re­quire­ments. There is also an op­tion for a larger 38hp en­gine, which would make a de­cent in­vest­ment if you are plan­ning to cruise in­ten­sively. In our chop-free wa­ters, the boat man­aged an easy 6 knots un­der power, with some throt­tle to spare. The saildrive, com­bined with a nice deep sin­gle rud­der, means that she re­sponds quickly ahead and astern, with­out dis­cernible prop­walk. That same nice big rud­der makes back­ing into a tight berth about as easy as par­al­lel park­ing. Ac­cess to the en­gine is good.


Hanses are built with lim­ited op­tions us­ing a very ef­fi­cient in­dus­trial tech­nique. The fin­ish be­low is good, with some re­ally stylish de­sign touches and great func­tion­al­ity, borne of years of solid sea­man­ship. The 388’s hull is slip­pery enough for good pas­sage times, while han­dling is fan­tas­ti­cally sim­ple, with sails easy to launch, trim and re­cover. She would make a great boat for fam­ily cruis­ing.


Plen­ti­ful ports and hatches let in lots of light; fin­ish is good

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