Bavaria 43 Cruiser Boat Review

Bavaria 43 Cruiser Boat Review

Reviewed: March 2009

Author: Barry Tranter


This big cruising yacht from Bavaria yachts has a classic layout and rig and is a breeze to sail.

Main Features:

The lasting impression of the interior of the boat is of space, light and air.  The helmsman can reach the mainsheet winch from the helm position and there’s good foot support for when the boat heels.  The settee caters for as many people as can sleep on board and the navigation station is a good size.

“Bavaria 43 Cruiser – Roomy with a view” 

I like the idea that popular sayings (axioms, home truths, call them what you like) can make their way from English into other languages.

For instance, the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”, translates directly into French; presumably the French couldn’t improve the sentiment.  German probably includes the term too, but I don’t know what it is; probably one word as long as the list of defrocked NSW Cabinet Ministers.

The German reference is appropriate because the Bavaria 43 starts life as a barrel of resin in Bavaria.  I have used the above quotation as an example because, although the latest Bavaria cruisers bear a strong family resemblance to the first Bavarias, things have moved on.  Quite a long way.  I know, that’s the reverse of the quote’s literal intent, but I used it because I like it.

Bavaria’s reputation was founded on low prices made possible by a sophisticated production line.  They also tended to make standard as many features as possible and keep the options list short.  But the market has changed and these days Bavaria offer the buyer a serious range of choices. 

If you label a boat a cruiser, you don’t need to compromise your design, and as a result this hull has tremendous interior volume.  The forward berth can accommodate tall people—Two-Metre Tom from Bavaria Yachts Australia can stretch out there—and the berth is so wide it would probably accommodate Two-Metre Tom sideways.  This is a big, big area.

The 43’s fibreglass is hand laid, solid below the waterline, foam cored above.  Jamie Millar from Bavaria Yachts Australia tells me the hull is 35mm thick around the keelbolts; he has the cutouts to prove it because hulls are mated with keels in Australia.  The bow area is reinforced with Kevlar.

Rigging loads are fed into the hull grid by tie-rods connecting the chainplates to a stainless steel ring frame which girds the hull.  The grid is ’glassed in.  Steel backing plates for the keelbolts are epoxied in place to help spread the load into the hull.  There are 10 keelbolts, locknutted.

The standard keel draws 1.85m, as on this boat, or you can have a lead keel drawing 2.1m.

The Bavaria 43 Interior

The forward cabin is for the owner, with an ensuite bathroom, and aft are the two guest cabins.  But there’s a trick; the longitudinal bulkhead which divides the aft cabins is moveable, so you can have one big cabin and one small, or you can remove the bulkhead altogether to make a vast room spanning the hull.

The main head aft is big; there’s a separate stall with a seat for showering, or you can add a door to make it a discrete cubicle.

Cruisers need proper navigation so Bavaria has given the 43 a full-sized navigation area.  Here’s another trick; a moveable stool slots into holes set in the cabin floor.  The stool can be stored out of the way, or used for the navigation area, or fitted adjacent to the saloon table.  The stool has no back or sides; Jamie suggests a bucket seat could be added if more support is needed, or a strap, a traditional feature often forgotten.  The stool may also provide support for the cook (my suggestion) as the galley is in straight-line arrangement down the port side.  It all depends on how you use your boat.

The settee is huge and an optional pedestal for the table will allow it to lower to form a vast double berth.  There is storage everywhere, in the saloon, galley and all the cabins, as much as you could possibly need.  One of the sliding drawers under the settee can house a fridge. Jamie says, “I’m a bit of a geek about these things but drawer action has been improved and the catches are more expensive, high-grade units.  All the fittings have gone up-market”.

Ventilation is terrific.  The saloon has five opening ports and three hatches.  Our test day was 27º Celsius and the boat was at a comfortable temperature with one hatch open.

I have to mention the headliner.  While other builders move towards complex moulded overheads, Bavaria has introduced a car-style fabric headliner which looks great.

The lasting impression of the interior is of great space, light and air.  This boat will happily accommodate the number of people it can sleep; that is a rare skill.

On Deck of the Yacht

Our boat had an in-mast furling main and roller-furling jib.  The main has vertical battens to help its shape but the sail doesn’t have a pronounced roach (the trailing edge of the sail).

The headsail has foam padding in the leading edge to give a more powerful shape while retaining roll-ability.  This is a powerful sail which pulls the boat like Kylie Minogue pulls a crowd.

The boat has the German mainsheet system, where the two-part sheet is led down both sidedecks to a winch immediately ahead of the helm stations so the helmsman can control the main if he wants to.

The genoa cars have control lines so they can be adjusted from the cockpit, a racing feature (like the mainsheet system) adapted for cruising and absolutely vital to maintain sail shape while furling or unfurling the headsail.

Teak in the cockpit is standard.

Sailing the Bavaria 43 Cruiser

This boat was stripped for action when her owner raced her with a huge crew in the Bavaria Regatta.  But for cruising, she has a good bimini with windows so you can see the masthead, vital for me as I am easily disoriented on a new boat in gusty conditions unless I can see what’s going on.  I always resort to instruments last, like reading the instruction manual on a new gizmo.

The engine control is mounted on top of the gunwale, the most logical place; all boats should carry them here.  The 55hp volvo Penta (40hp is standard) is quiet, so quiet we forget to switch it off when we start sailing.  At 2500rpm, a relaxed engine reaches 7.3 knots over ground.  The volvo has a Saildrive and on this boat the optional folding prop.

You can winch out the main from its hidey-hole in the mast or you can steer the boat’s nose off the wind and let the breeze do the unrolling.  Same with the headsail.

We see 6.4 knots of boatspeed beating into 19 knots of true wind.  There’s quite a lot of pressure but in the gusts she needs only a spoke or two of wheel to keep her tracking straight. We bear away to a deep reach and she takes off; at 100º True, we see a top of 8.5 knots in 15-20 knots of true breeze, sailing with main and jib.  There are no quirks to the Bavaria’s handling; she goes where she is pointed in a breeze gusting well over 20 knots.  The gear is straightforward, the winches up to the task of handling a big headsail towards the top end of its wind range.

You roll away the mainsail using the winch on the mast, which has a ratchet to control the main during the reefing process.

What I like about Bavarias is that they’re straightforward; the builders don’t gallop off following fashionable trends unless they’re worthwhile.  An example of this is the external styling, which is classical, so it doesn’t date.  The same is true of the interiors; Bavaria have used stylists to update these later boats, but they haven’t gone too far.

The 43 Cruiser has a big hull and sails well, particularly off the wind when she flies.

The boat we sailed is an all-rounder; used for social sailing (sometimes with many people on board), occasional twilight racing, and long-distance cruising with a family.

Externally, the 43 is unmistakeably a Bavaria but in equipment and in character she has moved the game forward while remaining within the philosophy Bavaria has made its own.

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

Boat Specifications

Length overall : 13.10m

Beam : 3.99m

Draught (std) : 1.85m

Draught (lead option) : 2.10m

Displacement : 9400kg

Ballast : 3100kg

Engine (std) : Volvo Penta 40hp

Engine as tested : Volvo Penta 55hp(Aus std)

Fuel : 210L

Water : 210L (Aus std 360L)

Cabins : 3

Std. mainsail : 43m2

Std. genoa : 53m2

Price (as tested) : $448,317 including bimini, mainsail furler, battery charger, microwave, Raymarine electronics package, high-tech sails, folding prop, bigger batteries, television and barbecue.