We've had a 2003 Bene 50 for three years .. living on board for a year and then summering on it for 2 summers .. it is an excellent sailing boat. in addition to the far greater space on the 50 it is a dry boat and good in heavy weather
. When a 25 footer is fighting to survive, we're comfortable ... when 40 footers are wet and overpowered ... we're still fine.
It is a relatively fast boat ... a Farr design .. it's way faster than a friend of mine's 47 clipper. We can power at 8, fastest crossing we averaged 7.8 over 20 hours from Italy
Sailing with two is not a problem at all. The winches on the boat are Lewmar
66's 2 speed that have lots of power. It is a handful to short-tack but if you're crossing distances you're not tacking every 5 minutes anyway.
We have a roller-furling genny & mainsail
. As a racer
I was anti-roller main but have become a bit of a convert -- it makes it easy to use the main -- just roll it in and out ... it's a jib-driven boat anyway .. if we didn't have a roller main we might not use the mainsail
much. The main us useful for up-wind work to help with point and speed. We've found using our full-sized gennaker
with a snuffer makes it quite fast on a reach -- basically 8 knots boat speed in 10 knots of breeze. The key to staying safe is to always stay ahead of the wind
... we start reefing the main (roll it in 1/3 or so) at 15, Genny starts to get wound in at 20, then continue to get smaller as the wind
thing is that the boat doesn't seem to lose much speed ... maybe 2 or 3 tenths ... from 8.2 to 7.9 when you do this.
Another thing to consider is the engine
. We have a 4JH3-HTE that is about 100HP -- and can power us at 8 knots for 48 hours before refuel or 96 hours at 7 knots. A good cruising sailboat must also be a good powerboat (unfortunately).
We've done a 400 miler and several 200 mile trips -- the boat is in the Med, with no trouble as a family
-- 2 adults, 2 kids
under 14. We've been in 35-40 knots with 3-5 meter seas on one of the passages -- no problems, the boat tracks well and behaves the way it should. In 8,000 miles we have never lost
and broached .. we're safe but not overly cautious so we believe it is a great family
The comment about loads is true ... the loads on a 50 are much greater than a 40 ... I caution anyone coming aboard that they must be careful not to get inbetween the jib
sheet and anything. Also coming into a dock
there is no way anyone can hold the boat off the dock
-- use a fender
or let it hit .. you'll get crushed. We have a max-prop so propwalk is minimal and the thruster makes it very manoeverable .. but you have a lot of windage so know where you're going and have an escape route
Hope that helps ..