TAKE TWO

Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 34 was a proven off­shore cruiser. We go aboard its re­place­ment, the new 35, to see how it mea­sures up to the orig­i­nal.

Soundings - - Walking The Plank - By Gary Re­ich

It was a pris­tine spring morn­ing in Nor­folk, Vir­ginia, as we slipped the dock lines and mo­tored into the glassy Eliz­a­beth River. By the time 7 a.m. rolled around, Naval Sta­tion Nor­folk’s air­craft car­ri­ers, guided-mis­sile frigates and other sup­port craft were pass­ing our star­board side, the ris­ing sun back­light­ing their jagged out­lines. It was the kind of morn­ing every boater dreams of, but we knew it wouldn’t last.

A stat­icky, syn­thetic voice barked gale warn­ings over the VHF ra­dio as we passed Hamp­ton, Vir­ginia, in a brand-new Beneteau Swift Trawler 34. We were on a de­liv­ery timetable, so we pushed into the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. A few hours later, sheets of wind-driven wa­ter washed over the pi­lot­house as we mo­tored across the ex­posed mouth of the Po­tomac River at 13 knots. Every fourth wave or so, we’d crash into a men­ac­ing 6-footer, launch­ing a wall of spray over the top of the fly­bridge. (I have the video to prove it.)

Af­ter five hours in the wash and spin cy­cle, we ar­rived in An­napo­lis, Mary­land, safe and rel­a­tively un­shaken, in time for happy hour. We av­er­aged just un­der 13 knots in truly wretched con­di­tions, but none of us felt as if we’d taken a beat­ing. The Swift Trawler 34 ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions. The boat was so en­joy­able on that trip that I told my spouse I’d found our per­fect cruis­ing boat.

A lot of peo­ple agree with me. Beneteau sold more than 450 of the hulls, and could have con­tin­ued build­ing the Swift Trawler 34 with small tweaks and im­prove­ments. In­stead, the French builder de­cided to start over with a new ver­sion.The re­sult is the Swift Trawler 35, which I re­cently ran near my home on the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

One thing I liked about the Swift Trawler 34 was its salty good looks, which Beneteau soft­ened and raked back in the new 35—es­pe­cially on the fly­bridge. For­tu­nately, the 35 still looks the trawler part. From a nearly ver­ti­cal three­p­anel pi­lot­house wind­shield to round port­lights in the hull and cabin house, this boat is not go­ing to be mis­taken for a cabin cruiser.

The 35’s ex­tra length is most vis­i­ble in the cock­pit and swim plat­form, which are larger than the 34’s and blended into a sin­gle level. Most note­wor­thy is the 35’s tran­som, which is hinged in three places so it can swing open like an ac­cor­dion to ex­pand the cock­pit’s space. In­side, the sa­loon’s teak ta­ble is por­ta­ble, so it can be moved to the cock­pit with chairs for al­fresco din­ing. An­other nice change from the 34 to the 35 is the op­tion of two tele­scop­ing dinghy davits, which can haul and stow a dinghy and mo­tor as heavy as 400 pounds.

Side decks lead for­ward from the cock­pit. The one to star­board is re­cessed well be­low the gun­wales and un­der an ex­tended fly­bridge deck, pro­vid­ing pas­sage that’s mostly out of the weather. A door near the lower helm should make it easy for the skip­per to step out onto the side deck and com­mu­ni­cate with crew when dock­ing.

Ac­cess to the 35’s fly­bridge, as with the 34, is from the cock­pit via teak steps with stain­less-steel rails that lead to a hatch. Open­ing the hatch ex­poses the fly­bridge, which has the up­per helm and a C-shaped lounge that feels

more spa­cious than the 34’s. Stain­less-steel rails give the area a se­cure feel­ing. The 34’s steady­ing sail and mast are un­for­tu­nately gone; the 35 has a radar arch. Also on the fly­bridge is room for a dinghy, or a teak ta­ble and chairs.

Walk­ing through the 35’s cock­pit slid­ing doors to the sa­loon re­veals vir­tu­ally the same lay­out that was aboard the 34. A couch that ex­pands into a bed sits be­hind a por­ta­ble teak ta­ble and op­po­site a bank of cab­i­nets that are be­low a bulk­head-mounted, flat-screen tele­vi­sion. Sole-to-ceil­ing glass be­hind the couch re­places the square win­dow found on the 34, and while the couch cov­ers some of that glass, the pane does im­part sig­nif­i­cant light into the sa­loon.

For­ward, the U-shaped gal­ley has a two-burner stove with pot hold­ers and deep fid­dles; a knee-level, stand­alone oven; a dou­ble sink with a fresh­wa­ter mixer; and a re­frig­er­a­tor be­neath the ad­ja­cent helm seat.

An op­tional pull­out freezer/ ice maker is in the sa­loon, close enough for con­ve­nience. An im­prove­ment from the 34 is a side gal­ley counter that con­verts to com­pan­ion seat­ing for the helm.

That lower helm has the same ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity as the 34’ s did, but with a few neat tweaks. The helm dash is now hinged and flips to pro­vide ac­cess to the back sides of the in­stru­ments, elec­tron­ics and con­trol switches. Ad­di­tion­ally, Beneteau im­proved the helm seat, which slides for­ward and aft and has a flip-up bol­ster. Per­haps most clever is a panel be­neath the steer­ing wheel that flips down to cre­ate an el­e­vated stand­ing plat­form; it also stows ver­ti­cally to form a small footrest. Still on board is the same large, ver­ti­cally mounted ship’s wheel that I loved on the 34.

Be­low is a two-state­room, sin­gle-head lay­out. The mas­ter is in the bow with an is­land berth, hull-side win­dows and enough hang­in­glocker and un­der-berth stowage for live­aboard cruis­ing. Abaft the mas­ter state­room to port is a dou­ble-bunk guest state­room. Across from the guest state­room to star­board is the head with shower.

Be­neath the sa­loon’s teak-and-holly sole on the 35 is the same 425hp Cum­mins QSB6.7 diesel mated to a 24-inch, five-bladed prop that’s found in the 34. Bow and stern thrusters on the 35 should make get­ting in and out of nar­row ma­rina slips a breeze.

We had a much more tran­quil day run­ning the 35 out of Bay Bridge Ma­rina in Stevensville, Mary­land, than I did run­ning the 34 back in 2012. En­gine per­for­mance was nearly iden­ti­cal. Top speed at wideopen throt­tle on the 35 was just un­der 18 knots, and she set­tled into an ef­fi­cient cruise around 13 knots with a 14gph fuel burn. Most folks will likely run the 35 be­tween 10 and 13 knots on ex­tended pas­sages. Run­ning at just un­der 10 knots re­duces fuel burn to 11.7 gph.

I ran the 35 through her own wake a few times af­ter mak­ing a se­ries of S- turns. The con­di­tions weren’t the gnarly 6- foot­ers we ex­pe­ri­enced six years ago, but the 35 sliced through the 2- to 3-foot wakes with­out a fuss. I told Justin Joyner, the power­boat sales man­ager for Beneteau, “Call me when it’s blow­ing 30 so we can have some fun.”

Vir­tu­ally every area of the Swift Trawler 35 re­ceived an up­grade from the 34 it re­places, im­prov­ing on a ca­pa­ble cruis­ing boat that was al­ready a solid value.

When I got home from test­ing the 35, my spouse asked, “Well, is it still the boat we’ll buy to cruise away from it all?” I re­sponded, “It’s as much a con­tender as the first.”

The two-state­room lay­out pro­vides a large mas­ter and a dou­ble-bunk state­room for guests (be­low).

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