The Beneteau 445's are a mixed bag. They have a nice hull
design by Bruce Farr and offer a lot of room for a 44 footer. Their side galley
layout works well on the anchor
but is less than ideal for use underway. They offer excellent ventilation. They had good tankage (although not as much fuel
as some might want for long passages). The three cabin
versions (which is the configuration of most if not all of the M-445's) had a lot of reasonably comfortable places to sleep for three couples, at the expense of the kinds of storage
that is necessary for distance cruising. Most had conventional mainsails with slab reefing (rather than in-mast furling), which is definitely the way to go as far as I am concerned, but which requires a bit of strength and stamina to haul up. They sail reasonably well. They are not terribly slow, but they are also not what I would consider race
On the down side, the 'M' in M445 means that the boat was built for the Moorings Charter Service
and that means the boat was in the charter trade
. Chartering is hell on a boat. These boats get many times the amoount of use of a normal boat and it is generally much harder use, by people who know less about the boat (or boats in general) with less maintenance
, in a tougher venue than is typical of a privately owned boat as well. Depending on whose analysis you buy into, every year in charter is the equivilient of 2 to 4 years of normal useage. In other words a typical M445 will have the equivilient of 14 to 28 years of normal use more wear and tear than the average 445 of the same model year that had not been in charter.
Moorings ordered these boats by the dozen. They were spec'd out to meet their needs. While I don't know the specifics of the M445 this generally meant a different, rig, keel
layout. It generally meant a different equipage, and it may mean a different structural design and tankage layout. All of which would not be beneficial.
The topic of used charter boats comes up quite frequently on the sailing BB’s. From reading posts and from talking to people who have done the purchase lease
back or bought ex- charter boats I have come to the following conclusions. While not every boat that comes out of livery is trashed most come out with defects, some minor, some major, some visible and some simply a product of wear or neglect that is waiting to fail.
You have to understand how these boats are used. First off, they are out of their slips, almost day in and day out. They are being used in the Caribbean
, which is not an easy environment
on boats; lots of sun, high salinity, lots of breeze which all take a toll.
They are being used by people who in the best case are well meaning and careful but are not completely familiar with the operation of the particular boat they have chartered. In the worse case, are not competent and frankly don’t care. Charterers run the gamut from people who are a bit timid and spend a lot of time at the dock
, perhaps not all that well tied up and protected. To the other extreme, the people who feel they have rented this thing and by golly they will sail it or slog it at full throttle no matter how much wind
is out there, to every type of personality in between.
Adding to the problem is that charter boats are often ordered with fairly minimal equipment
, such as slightly undersized winches, travelers with almost no purchase
, the smallest self furler
that can be expected to make it through the lifespan in livery, cheap
sails made of heavy cloth, and so on.
From talking to people who have bought ex-charter boats, you might expect to have to upgrade, replace or repair items such as: engines, sails, deck hardware
, upholstery, running and standing rigging
, instruments, ground tackle, galley equipment
, as well as, the need to address cosmetic issues. In the worse cases that I heard, there were keel
attachment and frame structure problems from a probable hard groundings, and in one case a major electrolysis
problems leading to a sinking when a bronze thru-hull have up the ghost.
Now then, not every boat is going to have every one of these problems but even if there is a minor mix of some of these, it can result in a lot of long term, high deferred maintenance
costs. In the end you have to ask yourself whether you couldn’t buy a solid boat, that was not in charter which has better gear
and less use, for less money
and a lot less effort than it would cost to buy an ex-charter boat and put it in shape.
There was one fellow that I knew who had gone the ex-charter boat route
and had replaced an engine
, sails, awlgripped the hull
and refinished the interior
and replaced instruments and a lot of deck hardware
that I knew of. He once said, ”You know the guy who buys this boat from me is going to get a great deal.” He was probably right. The fact that the boat had been in charter will always limit its price
and the fact that this guy had done a great job fixing it up meant that he had far more in the boat than he could sell her for. Perhaps, the right answer is to look for the ex-charter boat that some guy just restored but in the big picture the boat is still a lot more tired than a privately owned sistership.