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
& 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
If you ignore the associated con (see below) the solid deck
is great when accessing the lockers or anchoring
or sunbathing or entertaining.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is only a small amount of storage
in the cockpit.
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!
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".
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
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!
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 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!