I never delivered one on a long passage
. But, we sailed our ‘83 Hunter 34 throughout the Bahamas
and Eastern Caribbean
for 2+ years. All of our "passages" were less than 24 hours.
Our experience was that in light sub-10kt. winds, it was indeed difficult to maintain a close hauled course. In such winds we would generally have full sails
up. However, under those conditions, we would also frequently motor
or motorsail and that more or less eliminated the problem.
In moderate winds of 12-15 kts. we would frequently have a reef or two in the mainsail
and a full head sail for close hauled sailing. Under those conditions the boat pointed fairly well. I couldn’t tell you exactly how close to the wind, and yes - there was leeway. I would not say that this was appreciably different from many other popular boats such as a Catalina 36
- we delivered one from FL to St. Thomas, but again this was a series of leisurely daysails. Obviously sea state also makes a difference. We generally avoided being at sea when wind and waves would make the trip uncomfortable. With the Hunter 34s it may also make a difference whether you have the shoal (4'3") draft
or the deep (5'6") draft
. We had the deep draft and of course, the boat was fully loaded with cruising gear
. Also, these boats are tender
- when cruising you always have a partially or fully reefed main at 18+ kts regardless of point of sail. For the same reason, they are quite fast when reaching in light to moderate winds under full sail.