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Old 25-04-2007, 16:29   #1
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Boat: Broadblue 385
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Broadblue 385 - One Owner's Pros & Cons

A couple of forumites were interested in the pro's and con's of the Broadblue 385, I thought it made sense as a separate post, rather than hijacking the original thread.

We bought hull #1, the show boat, at the Southampton Boat Show 2005. It was used again at the London show in January 2006, It is now based in Gosport and last year we cruised it around the Solent and over to France and the Channel Islands.

It has a Prout style rig with both genoa and gennaker & twin Volvo 2020's. It is the 3 cabin layout, with a storeroom.

My comments below assume the comparison is with similar sized cats and it is all just my opinion <g>. There is no order, just as it came to me.

Pro's
#1
The set up of the cockpit means there is a very safe and secure feel to sailing it. We are not hardened sailors yet 25knt to 30knt winds do not put us off sailing. We have seen 40+knts over the deck, and on an English Channel trip we did 3 days in F6 to F7 with no concern about the boats ability to cope, some of it in rough'ish seas. It is not a wet boat.
#2
A large bimini with windscreens and side panels means the weather isn't an issue (and in the UK it could be). The deep cockpit and location of the helm means we sail in a thin fleece when we are passing folks in mono's in
full oilies. Visibility is good from the helm.
#3
There are always 4 to 6 of us onboard. Last year 3 weeks was our maximum in one stay (France and Channel Islands). We had no issue with storage, space, comfort or privacy. See below for caveats.
#4
It isn't fast, but it is easy to do a steady 7 to 8knts without any tweaking. Our trip across the Channel, in F3 to F4, averaged above 7knts. That was a loaded boat. There will be faster boats, but with a family sailing casually it was OK. I doubt you will ever see double figures in normal conditions.
#5
Build strength. Solid GRP hulls (maybe overweight by cat standards). For example while in a marina last year the port hull was t-boned by a Contest's anchor. Huge thump, boat rocked. I went for the insurance documents, the marina staff went to hold the Contest owner, son went to look at the hole. We struggled to find a mark on the gelcoat.
#6
Somewhat old fashioned build methods. You can get at almost everything. Roof linings come down and go back up. Furniture is fitted. You can get into the void under the raised saloon table. I even like the wasted space that is taken up by the double skin of the fore and aft bulkheads of the saloon. I'm sure I won't explain this well, but there is a gap between the apparent walls of the saloon and actual bulkhead. So, you can climb in and stand up inside the gap behind the steering wheel. This gives you access to the back of all nav station instruments, all the morse controls and wheel, the cockpit instruments and the base of the mast.
#7
The feel. It feels like a boat when you are on it. There is enough wood to avoid that practical, but plastic, ambiance of some cats.
#8
The rig. The mast is very well stayed to the point of over-engineering. The small fully battened main is very easy to raise and lower by hand, no winches needed. In fact I can raise or furl all sails without a winch and I am not strong. The main barely needs reefing, even up to 30knts, it is already the same size as a reefed main on most cats <g>. The genoa is of course very big by contrast, but easily furled if you need to reef, and easily 'let go' in a hurry. The gennaker is, to us, huge. We only use it up to F4/5, despite it being heavyweight material. You have a built in twin headsail set-up.
#9
If you ignore the associated con (see below) the solid deck is great when accessing the lockers or anchoring or sunbathing or entertaining.
#10
Loading. We are not blue water live aboards, but we are careless cruisers. We carry 6 people, 100 gallons of fuel and 100 gallons of fresh water, a portable generator, spare propellers, bikes etc. etc. There has been room for all this and it hasn't moved on it's marks, we're a good inch above.
#12
Robust. It has done quite a few miles in its short life, and has been abused through two boat shows. There is little sign of wear and tear on decks, floors, furniture or furnishings. It would still clean up nicely.
#13
The storeroom. How do those of you without a storeroom manage? It holds wet weather gear, wet suits, dehumidifier, dirty clothes basket, spare everything etc etc.

Cons
#1
Finish. Some areas show signs of shortcuts. For example the cabling to the windlass is crude and has failed and the roof linings were fixed with effective industrial velcro, which was glued, but it was not stapled. It sagged in very hot weather. Easily fixed, but clumsy.
#2
Rig. You can't reach the gooseneck from the cockpit, if you need to to reef the main you need to go up onto the coachroof. Once there, because you have the bimini, deep cockpit and sheltered wheel, you can neither see nor hear the helmsman. This would be solved by doing away with a full bimini. Then how do you get along the boom to furl sail? Some of the lines (main, topping lift etc) cleat off with cams as they exit the mast. I'd prefer them to be separate and lower down.
#3
Cats struggle to look attractive vs the sexier mono's and mobo's. Versus even other cats the BB385 isn't one of the best lookers, IMHO.
#4
Broadblue themselves. Nothing serious has gone wrong, but there are quite small things Broadblue were supposed to sort. They haven't, despite being asked by our dealer.
#5
There is only a small amount of storage in the cockpit.
#6
Our boat has the higher bunks, now lowered on newer models. Ours are clumsy, though bearable. The forecabin bunk narrows sharply at the bow. It is a squeeze for two, you'd need to be friends!
#7
Layout. You have to walk through the starboard heads to get to the s'board cabin. This actually turns out not to be an issue in itself, but we find everyone instinctively treats those heads as "en-suite" and so uses the owner's heads on the port side all of the time. A pain if you wanted an "owners hull".
#8
The chart table is aft facing and a clumsy shape. We use it for electronic planning and PC use, but paper charts have to go on the saloon table. Upside is almost limitless space for electronics.
#9
Contrary to the wishful thinking of some mono sailors it does tack quite readily, but it is a steady and stately business. The large head sail is balanced by the small main because the mast is set so well aft, and that main can do a fine job of weathercocking the boat once the genoa goes slack if you lose momentum. So we tend not to sheet the main hard in and we briefly back the genoa as we go around. You can get away with not doing it, but don't even think of short tacking!
#10
BB did not think through blinds on the round hatches. In the aft cabins there is no way to attach sensible blinds. They have not come up with a solution.

Finally bridgedeck clearance and that hard foredeck. Neither a pro or con. We don't sail in open oceans, just coastal passages and we have occassional slaps. However would we trade less headroom, less security, less saloon space, a higher centre of gravity or more windage to give us more clearance? Nope, but others may have different priorities.

Summary - if you are thinking safe, solid, reliable and capable, then the BB385 could be on your list. If your words are exciting, nimble and quick, well, maybe there is another boat out there!
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Old 25-04-2007, 18:35   #2
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Thanks for the great summary Kcrane. It's nice to hear a well-reasoned report from an actual owner rather than useless fluff from a magazine review or bash from a non-owner.

Mike
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Old 25-04-2007, 22:01   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrane
A couple of forumites were interested in the pro's and con's of the Broadblue 385, I thought it made sense as a separate post, rather than hijacking the original thread.
Thank you very much for the post. I'm comparing the Broadblue and the Manta, and like Mike said it's nice to read a good review.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrane
Pro's.
#2
A large bimini with windscreens and side panels means the weather isn't an issue (and in the UK it could be).
Do you have any pictures, where I could see how your set-up looks?
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrane
#4
It isn't fast, but it is easy to do a steady 7 to 8knts without any tweaking. Our trip across the Channel, in F3 to F4, averaged above 7knts. That was a loaded boat. There will be faster boats, but with a family sailing casually it was OK. I doubt you will ever see double figures in normal conditions.
It's always on sailing performance that non-owners bash the BB. Since you're not doing long distance sailing, you probably don't have daily averages, ... or do you?
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrane
#10
Loading. We are not blue water live aboards, but we are careless cruisers. We carry 6 people, 100 gallons of fuel and 100 gallons of fresh water, a portable generator, spare propellers, bikes etc. etc. There has been room for all this and it hasn't moved on it's marks, we're a good inch above.
Do you know the load capacity for the 385? (How much gear can you put on board before you notice reduced performance?)
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrane
Cons
#7
Layout. You have to walk through the starboard heads to get to the s'board cabin. This actually turns out not to be an issue in itself, but we find everyone instinctively treats those heads as "en-suite" and so uses the owner's heads on the port side all of the time. A pain if you wanted an "owners hull".
This was interesting to read, because that part of the lay-out is one of the biggest things I don't like about the 385.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrane
Finally bridgedeck clearance and that hard foredeck. Neither a pro or con. We don't sail in open oceans, just coastal passages and we have occasional slaps.
In your opinion how would it perform as an offshore cruiser? ... I'm looking for a cat to circumnavigate with. Both low BD clearance and hard foredeck is something I view with concern. Out of curiosity: How high is the BD clearance?
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Old 26-04-2007, 03:45   #4
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Pictures etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by SettingSail2009
Thank you very much for the post. I'm comparing the Broadblue and the Manta, and like Mike said it's nice to read a good review. Do you have any pictures, where I could see how your set-up looks?
I have a small website from when we bought the boat, so I will update that with some up-to-date photos and then provide a link.

I'm not very technical, so I'm not sure what the load limits are, only that we never think twice about putting yet more weight aboard and the only thing I check is that we are above the marks and sitting level. It has always sat high and level in the water.

I don't have daily runs... our longest journey has been 12 hours, but on any non-local trip I keep a log, so I will see what that says about average speeds. We usually assume we can do 50% of wind speed from F2 up to F5 or so. In light airs we motor (far too impatient to drift along!) and as we have Autoprops we will run one motor to add a knot or two if we fall below say 4knts. So we can pretty much assume we will do 5knts to 8knts through the water in any conditions we are likely to be out in.

I did do some measurement of how well it went to windward. It does do it. In fact it is a point of sail I like, obviously I'm no gentleman. I have forgotten what the angles were however I'll ask Moby Dick to comment as I bet he can remember. Moby?

Would I go long distance in a BB385? Yep, we have complete confidence in the boat as a platform. The Prout heritage is of boats that quietly and effectively get everywhere! Would I set off in ours tomorrow? Nope. We have no generator, no watermaker, no SSB, no storm sails, only two anchors, no drogues etc. If we get around to going long distance, will I swap boats first? Nope, I would just add a generator, watermaker, etc etc. to the 385 and then go.

I do wonder sometimes whether we agonised over which boat to buy for too long, I suspect all have pro's and con's, but most are certainly good enough. At first the testing and reviewing was good fun, but eventually I lost the family's interest. I let it become painful. I was happy to hand over a deposit 'cos it meant the decision was made! Had we bought say, a Lagoon 380, I think we would also be happy, so long as we were out on the water.
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Old 26-04-2007, 05:34   #5
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Broadblue 42 - Owners Comments

Hi all,

Following on from kcrane's review of the 385 above and also SettingSail's question about the 42 in the "circumnavigating Cat" thread I thought it would be helpful to all if I gave you a similar review of the 42 from an owners point of view.

We own "Nimrod" she was the first 42 that Broadblue built and she was displayed at Southampton Show in Sept 2003. We bought her in Sept 2005 when she had about 1300 miles on the log and about 100hrs on each engine. We had originaly put a deposit down on a new 385 (pre-production), however when we went to view the 385 Nimrod was on brokerage very near by and after weighing up our options we decided to buy a 2yr old 42 in preference to a new 385. We intend to depart for long term liveaboard and long distance cruising so this was also a factor in our decision. Do not take this decision as implying we did not like the 385, if Nimrod had not been for sale we would have bought a 385 and probably been very happy with our decision.

As I have said in the other thread the BB42, BB435 and BB415 are all produced from the same moulds, the 435 has a longer last step / bathing platform to the transoms to give the extra length. I assume the 415 will not be fitted out as well as the 435 and hence will be more of a "budget" version - although still quite expensive in comparison to some.

Consequently most of my comments will apply equally to the 415 and 435.
Also where I make comparisons with the 385, I have been on board the 385 for a test sail so hopefully my comparisons are quite valid.

General:

Nimrod is the 4 cabin layout with 2 heads, because she was the first boat built she is very well specified with most of the extras you would need. She has 55hp engines, davits, gennaker, blinds to all windows, folding props, mast steps, elctric halyard winch, full electronics pack etc etc.

Space: The amount of room is quite amazing when compared to the 385, the extra 4ft length makes a huge difference to the available space. All 4 cabins are comfortable doubles with the aft cabins being king size bunks. The heads are large enough with a seperate shower area and are excellent in port or at sea. The cockpit area is much larger yet still quite deep and secure. Storage space on deck and cockpit is much bigger than the 385 with one decent cockpit locker and 3 further lockers on the aft deck. The 3 foredeck lockers are huge. Internally the saloon / galley area is very spacious and has plenty of natural light and headroom. (Headroom is excellent throughout the boat and should be fine for anyone up to about 6'4" without problems)

Cockpit layout: A large twin helm seat is a good vantage point and there is good visibility from the helm for docking etc. The table in the cockpit provides room for 6 easily, with enough seating in the cockpit for 8 -10. Almost all lines are led to the stbd coachroof where there is an electric halyard winch. The standing area for operating the winch is a bit on the small side and could be a bit insecure in rougher conditions - but it has not yet caused us any problems. I may add a good solid handhold to this area for extra safety and security. The electric winch means raising and reefing the main is a doddle. The genoa and gennaker sheets lead to their own manual winches. Mainsheet traveller is across the back of the cockpit and has its own winch - again very user friendly. The bimini is much higher than the 385 meaning that getting out of the cockpit onto the side decks is much easier - it is easy to bash your head on the 385, almost impossible on the 42. The 385 has a walkway in the aft centre out to the aft walkway that is meant to be used in preference to going straight from cockpit to side decks. Cockpit is a very secure place in rough weather and visibility is good.

Performance : Much the same as the comments on the 385. She is not a sparkling performer but she does cover the ground in comfort. 7 to 9 knts to windward at 40 deg apprnt is normal in a decent breeze. She is quite a heavy boat so does not perform well in light winds below 10 knts - she is much better with 15knts +. Once you get off the wind she is very easy to handle and can do about 1/2 wind speed quite easily. We have managed to cover about 20 miles at 10 - 12 knts on a broad reach without even trying with top speed of over 14. So she will perform well when you have a good wind. Spinnaker is dead easy with the wide spaced bows used for the two corners. We can easily use the spinnaker with only two of us on board.

Build strength : Nimrod was built in the UK and I would agree with kcrane about the solidity of the hulls and mouldings. The 385's are currently built in Poland, I am not sure about the 415 / 435 - last I heard they were being moulded in the UK.

Looks : I think the 42 looks better than the 385 (probably biased!!!). She is a large boat from any perspective and the high bows do look impressive. Everyone comments that she looks stunning when out on the water. Nimrod has the optional blue hulls that make her stand out even more. Internally she is also very impressively finished.

Interior Fitting: Almost all wood interior - no large areas of plastic mouldings. Furniture is made by a specialist sister company (Broadblue furniture) and is generally high quality, solidly made and well fitted. We have American Cherry finish but I think they now use light oak veneer. The cherry is quite soft and can be easily marked, the oak is probably a bit harder wearing. I have also spent quite alot of time on BB435, hull 12 and I would say that although the finishing is still pretty good it is not quite the same quality as Nimrod. I think BB have tried to minimise costs wherever possible and it has started to show if you look carefully. Ther has also been some minor changes to the interior design but nothing significant.
The saloon table and seating is OK for 6 at a squeeze because the seating is only really on two sides of the table. The 415 layout does give more seating around the table but at the expense of galley space. The folding design of the table is great and gives a nice open saloon area when folded, the drawer unit under the table is also very good.
The galley is huge with plenty of work surface, a full size fridge and a big freezer, four burner hob, double sink and loads of storage. You really could not ask for better.
The chart table is on the aft bulkhead and is similar to the 385, ie an odd shape as kcrane says. Loads of room for extra electronics etc and a very comprehensive switch panel. Drawer to chart table is not big enough to store charts and BB do not provide anywhere. I have added a drawer beneath the raised saloon table area for this purpose and it works very well.

Owners / 4 cabin layout: Nimrod is the 4 cabin version and had we bought a new boat we would almost certainly have gone for the owners layout. However having lived with our layout for 18 months I am sure it is much better for our needs. Hull 12 (mentioned above) is the owners layout and the large heads and shower area fwd in the stbd hull is very impressive, however it does use up an awful lot of space. This heads area is not really practical at sea because it is such a large area you are likely to get thrown off in rough conditions !!!!, especially since it is in the bows which tend to be the most lively part of the boat in a seaway. The owners heads is great for anchor / marina use, but when all is said and done you only go in there for a sh*t and a shower so you do not really spend much time in there. The heads and showers on Nimrod are plenty roomy enough for our needs. Also I have converted one fwd cabin to a workshop for our liveaboard needs, so we now have 3 cabins, 2 heads and 1 workshop. If you wanted a workshop with the owners version you would then end up with only 2 cabins. Obviously this is very much dictated by personal taste - but don't automatically think the owners layout is the way to go.

Load Carrying - the 42 has a carrying capacity of about 3000kgs and because of the storage space it is probably very easy to put this amount of weight on board. She does seem to carry whatever you put on board without it seeming to make any difference to performance etc. I am sure that it does slow her down a bit but is nice to have the capacity for liveaboard life.

Bridgedeck Clearance - not sure exactly what the clearance is but waves slamming underneath are not something we have noticed. You will always get the odd slap when going to windward or from a rogue wave and I am sure this is true for all cats. However we have not had any slamming issues and this is in the Irish Sea up to F8.

Broadblue - we bought Nimrod from a broker so did not buy her new from BB. The few dealings I have had with BB relating to Nimrod have been handled reasonably well although they have all been more informational rather than asking BB to do anything physically. I am aware that they have been very slow sorting out problems on a sister boat - although I am not sure of all the details. If buying in the US then I assume you will deal with Broadblue USA so things might be better or worse.

Value for Money - we got a very good deal when we bought Nimrod so I am more than happy with this aspect of things. Current pricing for the 435 is certainly on the expensive side and I am not sure if I would consider it to be a realistic price for what you are getting.

Long Distance etc - Nimrod is great for what we want to do, she has all the storage space you could wish for, ample deck space and very safe in all conditions.

I hope this gives you all a bit of an overview and helps in your decision making
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Old 26-04-2007, 07:23   #6
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It is interesting to get an owners view. I remember Nimrod from the adverts, and think we both then were lucky with our buying (I hestitate to say skilled) in that we got relatively little used boats with high levels of spec for used prices.

"The bimini is much higher than the 385 meaning that getting out of the cockpit onto the side decks is much easier - it is easy to bash your head on the 385"
Our bimini is very high from the cockpit sole, being just under the boom, but from the side deck you do have to remember to duck slightly if you are going out that way! Our bimini is not standard however and is larger and higher than the normal one. I also notice that a few UK boats don't have bimini's at all.

"385 built in Poland"
Yep that is right, they're designed in UK, moulded in Poland, main items (engines etc) fitted and then brought over to the UK for final fit out.

I'm encouraged that Nimrod hasn't had any significant issues that would require BB attention, that now applies to 100% of the boats we have discussed in this thread.
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Old 26-04-2007, 11:47   #7
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Kcrane and Llamedos, many thanks for your genuine, honest and very informative owners reviews of their own bosts, I wish more owners could post good genuine information on their own long term experiences of their own boats, as this would certainly help imminent cat buyers like myself and others decision making a lot easier.
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Old 26-04-2007, 12:37   #8
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BB385 Pointing

On Kevin's boat, she points to 40 degrees to apparent wind without a problem, and will go to 35 degrees if you pay attention. Go to anything more and she will stop.

Load carrying

The sign on the bulkhead says 2000Kg total (broken down into 6 people totaling 600Kg, and 1400Kg of 'luggage'). How this affects performance I dont know.

Head sails

Both head sails can be poled out (I am told anyway, as I have not tried) for a pretty big sail area for downwind sailing on the trades. As Maxingout says, he puts away the main and uses twin headsails for risk/trouble/chafe free sailing, but on the BB they are a) larger and b) both furling.
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Old 26-04-2007, 13:11   #9
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BB42 Windward Ability

A bit more info on the windward capability of the BB42.

We find Nimrod will point to about 40 deg app. Any higher than that and you will lose speed rapidly. She is happier still a few more degrees off especially if punching into the seas. Using the autopilot to steer to wind angle is far easier than actually helming yourself and this is what I have used when trying to determine the best angle to steer.

Tacking is not a problem provided you have enough way on - 5knts is fine, 4knts a bit less certain. She tacks easily via the auto tack, with this set to an angle of 100deg, you can then point her back up once she has accelerated. We do not bother backing the genoa because she has more than enough momentum to get through the wind herself.

Bear in mind that there are generally just Sue and myself sailing so we do tend to make alot of use of the autopilot, auto tack etc - it is not that I am really lazy it just makes things very easy with two onboard.

We have a spinnaker pole mounted on the mast and we have used this to pole out the genoa to wind with the gennaker set normally. This seems to work very well although we have not used it extensively yet - more practice this summer. Also very easy to reduce sail with this set up if the wind increases. The twin headsail rig is best suited for stronger winds, for lighter winds we have a spinnaker that we are happy to use up to about 16/18knts true.

If wind is light or more on the nose than we would like then motorsailing with the leeward engine makes a dramatic difference to speed. With one engine at about 1800rpm we will normally motorsail at 7/8knts and can then get to about 30/35deg.

As I have said before we are lucky that Nimrod was fully kitted with all these extras so we have plenty of options to try out - I am sure we can still find out more ways of getting from A-B with more experience.

One comment I would make about the extras is to think long and hard about what you must buy with the boat from the builder and what you can retrofit later. Most builders charge silly prices for the extras and Broadblue are as bad as anyone. You can save alot of money by sorting these things out yourself later.

The one thing that we do not have is the gyro option on the Raymarine course computer although I plan to upgrade very soon. Having spoken to people who have tried both they are highly complimentary about the vastly improved course keeping and steering response with the gyro equipped autopilot. It is also pretty much essential to have the gyro version to get the most accurate info out of the MARPA system on the radar - we have radar fitted from new so I am not sure why Nimrod was only fitted with the non gyro course computer.
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Old 26-04-2007, 13:20   #10
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I was thinking of getting a lightweight pole, not for a spinnaker, but just to pole out the headsails for wing&wing stuff. Does any one have any advice and are the telescopic poles OK, or a gimmick?
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Old 26-04-2007, 13:25   #11
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Oh, sorry - Moby Dick is right, those were the figures for windward sailing. He was helming, and he is better at it than I am, so 35 degrees is within his capability, but beyond me. I remember he followed in the wake of a reasonably well sailed mono, westerward up the Solent. Wind was quite helpful, high teens if I recall, and steady.

I would tend to do the same as Llamedos, use the autopilot on "sail to the set wind angle" at about 40 degrees.
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Old 15-05-2007, 09:47   #12
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"My" 385 should be arriving very soon. For what it's worth on the test sail we short-tacked out of Chichester marina (well, to be exact we motored out then started short tacking ). With me helming (so not brilliant then), Mark & Mike handling the sheets we were able to keep moving about 30deg to the apparent wind. I was so impressed that after we hit 12.2 kts on a reach on the way back from Portsmouth harbour entrance (about 17kts true w/speed and OK, the boat was light) I went ahead and confirmed my order.
The plan is to get the boat set up in the Channel Isles this year then head off in summer 08. I have friends in NZ so maybe a BB will make it across.
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Old 15-05-2007, 12:23   #13
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Test Sail

How long ago was your test sail? Quite a few were done on our boat, then called "Splash Out", but in last 12 months they would have been on "Water Margin"
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Old 16-05-2007, 03:04   #14
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Water Margin. I had a test sail a couple of weeks after last years Southampton boat show. Apparently there have been a few 'tweaks' to the boats, but nothing too major as far as I know. The biggest change on mine will be the relocation of the stbd black water holding tank. On WM it is next to the engine (!) on mine it will be in the hull. I'm impressed by the finish of the boats (obviously, I suppose) but there's still a couple of areas I find intruiging...still, the perfect boat does not exist and even if it did after a couple of months you'd find something you want to change!!
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Old 31-05-2007, 15:14   #15
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Boat: Woods/Coplan Boats (SA) Ocean Spirit 34
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Wondering if Rob's team started a Owners association and annual newsletters for Broadblue? Prout Catamarans, that he ran for years had a very good owners assn. and their newsletters were very informative and inspiring, and it was obvious that Prouts did get around, Yet waiting to see a BB in NZ, anyone heading this way? Pacific crossing to NZ is the ultimate test of boats build quality.
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