The Beneteau 361 features a revolution in design both above and belowdecks. Exemplary features include a large head with separate shower, a huge galley with loads of counter space, a forward-facing nav station, and an expansive main salon with 6'4 headroom.
This particular example is a Mexico vet (though you wouldn't know it to look at her!) with a fully enclosed cockpit and the only 361 currently for sale on the west coast (actually, one of relatively few later model 36-footers PERIOD--there are only a couple Catalina 36s for sale out here now, for example). Vessel shows very nicely inside and out, last hauled in late 2015 with regularly scheduled diver down since, Yanmar diesel recently serviced.
Triangle-shaped double forward, step aft to salon with straight settee and aft-facing nav table port side with big C-shaped settee and dinette starboard.
Continue aft to U-shaped galley port side, head across to starboard with aft stateroom with a HUGE berth far aft starboard.
Note interior shows nicely, it's bright and spacious with 6'4 through most of the boat.
L-shaped galley with double stainless sinks with hot/cold pressure water (six gallon hot water heater, AC and engine fired), Force 10 dual burner LPG stainless steel gimballed stove with oven, GE microwave oven, top and front loading icebox with Adler Barbour 12V reefer. Great workable galley with ample storage.
Hot/cold shower at swimstep.
Furuno 1623 radar with alarm, Standard Horizon GPS Chart 155C chartplotter with chips for US, BC and Mexico, Raytheon ST4000+ autopilot, Raytheon ST60 wind speed/direction indicator, Raytheon ST60 Tri-Data (depth/speed/log, new paddle wheel in 2016), Standard Horizon VHF radio, Plastimo magnetic compass. EPIRB (2015). AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo.
110V AC / 12V DC. Thirty amp shorepower service, two batteries in separate banks with parallel switch, 20 amp battery charger with Xantrex Link 30 monitor, three Sieman solar panels (205 total watts) with Blue Sky controller, Hi Power alternator (and two sophisticated multi-stage marine voltage regulators and two complete wiring harnesses that will come with the boat).
Aluminum deck-stepped double spreader mast with compression post, aluminum boom with in-mast mainsail (re stitched and new UV cloth, 2015) and Lewmar mainsheet with traveller, genoa (re stitched and new UV cloth, also 2015) on Profurl roller furler with all lines lead aft thru six Spinlock rope clutches, 1x19 stainless steel wire standing rigging, genoa track, extruded aluminum toerail, two Lewmar #44 self-tailing winches, single Lewmar #30 self-tailing winch.
Walk-thru transom with swim platform, stainless steel swim ladder and cockpit shower, teak inlaid cockpit seats. Stainless steel cabintop handrails, stainless steel stanchions with double lifelines. Six cleats, bow anchor locker with 36 lb CQR anchor on roller with 150' 5/16" chain rode, 25 lb Danforth with 30' chain/150' line rode, Lewmar electric anchor windlass.
400 lb stainless steel dingy davits with side mount for outboard motor.
Yanmar 3GM30F fresh water cooled diesel engine with Racor fuel filter, stainless steel shft thru bronze strut to three-bladed Max Prop folding prop (and standard three blade prop as a spare). Two electric bilge pumps.
I've heard the story a hundred times. Parents love sailing and buy a boat for family cruising. Kids love sailing on the boat, so the parents put them in sailing school. Kids become great sailors, but suddenly cruising is not cool anymore. They aren't content to bob about on the solid, steady family cruiser any longer. They want something that 's exciting to sail, something that can go fast. Meanwhile, an aging mom and dad have gone the opposite direction. They begin wishing that sailing was a bit less work and their weekends onboard a bit more comfortable.
It 's a common scenario that usually ends in separate sailboats and on-water agendas for the young and the old. With two teenage sons that are teaching and racing, Farokh Pavri knows of which I speak, but he decided that when it came time to start looking for a new boat he was going to try to find a compromise. "If we were going to continue to sail as a family, we needed a boat that has some performance," says Pavri. His extensive search for sailing and familial bliss came to a happy end when he discovered Beneteau's new 361.
The 361, which was introduced this year, is similar to the earlier Beneteau 352, but in response to owner comments, Beneteau has made a few distinct changes. The 361 has a separate shower stall in its enormous head, more working area in the galley and the primary winches have been moved aft to the coamings, to put them in close reach of the helmsperson. Beneteau's tried and true building methods remain the same, however. A grid system is fitted into the hull during the layup procedure to improve hull integrity and offer some extra resistance to structural damage should a grounding occur. Beneteau's dominance of the charter boat market is a testament to its boats' seaworthiness. The 361 does not deviate from this tradition; it is built and designed for cruising. Owners can sail into the sunset with the knowledge that there is likely to be a dealer close at hand wherever they wander and their hull is backed by a fiveyear transferable warranty.
Sit down, relax
The beam of the boat is carried all the way back to the transom, which means the cockpit is built for entertaining. There is plenty of seating in the cockpit. The teak drink holders, table and inlays in the cockpit benches add just enough rich wood texture to break the glare of the white gelcoat, without takin g away from the low-maintenance virtues of the exterior. Stern rail seats with drink holders are located in each of the aft corners, and because they are made from a smooth plastic material, they can double as small tables. Guests can lift up the helmsman 's seat and walk out through the transom for a swim or shower if they choose.
The helmsperson has a Plastimo Compass to guide him or her. Our test boat also had a Raytheon ST 4000 electronics package. These electronics are protected by a Plexiglass cover that flips up. With the standard main and jib furling and all lines led aft, single-handing is a safe and easy option.
There is a deep cockpit locker on t he portside of the boat that will appeal to anyone with off shore aspirations. It is huge. Perhaps even a little too deep for those who don’t have long arms, but there is a shelf to help keep things organised and a hydraulic hinge to keep the lid from bouncing around while you rifle through supplies. Besides, you can easily hop right in if you can't reach. ln addition to this locker, there is a propane locker that holds two bottles.
Lewmar deck gear is used throughout - hatches, lead tracks and traveller. The two selftailing primary winches, which are also Lewmar, are located at the mid-point of the cockpit length and there is a secondary winch on the coach house roof. Spinlock stoppers are also standard equipment. Stainless steel grab rails run along the coach roof, and the side decks are wide enough to accommodate easy movement fore and aft. Overall the deck has clean, uncluttered look.
Just like home
The cook for your crew will like the look of the galley. There is plenty of counter space in the U-shaped galley for food preparation. The deep aft counter forms a large square surface and houses the lid for the freezer. Just behind this counter there is a microwave embedded in bulkhead, and underneath, the fridge door swings open for front loading. The cane inserts in the fronts of two of the galley cabinets will be excellent for keeping dry goods dry. A storage area for canned goods and other supplies is located below another panel in the counter beside the sink. Cabinets under the sink and drawers on the end of the sink counter complete the list of storage spaces. A gimballed two-burner stove and oven and double sink with cutting board inserts are standard equipment.
Moulded fibreglass stairs lead down into a cabin warmed by cherry-stained mahogany. The finish is a rich shade wit h a bit of gloss, and lends a touch of elegance to t his practical cruiser. Ports, opening and fastened, are distributed along the length of the cabin, and there is an over head port directly in front of the clear opening hatch of the companion way, which extends a band of natural lighting well into the salon.
Cherry accent strips run lengthwise on the white headliner and there are also cherry grab rails. The oval salon table, situated to starboard of the centreline, has one flip-up panel and can be converted into a berth. The settees are deep and comfortable, and the usual storage areas are beneath. The forward-facing navigation station is directly in front of galley on the port side. There is a small storage bin beside the seat and the instrument panel here also houses the stereo.
The boat has only one head, but it is a biggie. Located directly across from the galley, the head has a separate shower compartment with a teak seat, a sink with good counter space and a toilet. Cherry accents, such as the grab rail/towel rack in front of the sink are an attractive, although impractical, addition to the head. There is only one door into the head, which mean s reduced privacy when guests are on board, but I have a feeling that many cruisers won 't mind when they see the space and amenities the layout offers.
Neither of the sleeping cabins are particularly luxurious, nor is there a substantial amount of storage space, but they are both practical and laid out in such a manner that they will be comfortable for those who use them for their main purpose – a place for sleeping. In the forward cabin there i s full standing headroom. The bunk is situated fairly low, which reduces the amount of storage space underneath, but opens up the cabin itself. There is a hanging locker on the starboard side with a quick - stash cubby hole below and a shelf runs along the hull. Natural light enters the cabin through an overhead opening hatch and two opening portholes.
The aft cabin is similarly styled. The wide bunk will sleep two very comfortably and there is a modest hanging locker for storage. The majority of the bunk lies underneath the cockpit floor, so it has the close and somewhat dark appearance of traditional aft cabins, but a good deal of natural light and ventilation in the standing area immediately in front of the bunk makes the best of the small space.
Back up on deck, we decide it is time to start sailing and do so within a few minutes. With both jib and main furling units, you can truly pull the sails out and go. There was probably about 10 to 12 knot s of wind for our test sail, and that drove us up wind at a bout 5.5 to 6.0 knots. A l though we didn't have conditions that really tested the stiffness of the boat, those who have been on board in stronger winds report that they have tried unsuccessfully to bury the toerail and that the boat is very forgiving - reassuring in formation for novice sailors and those planning offshore ad ventures. The boat feels quite lively in the light breeze and points fairly well.
There is a good line of vision from the helm position and plenty of room in the cockpit for both working crew and passengers. Headroom, in particular, is in abundance, because the boom is quite high. This will comfortably allow for the addition of a dodger and bimini. Bearing off to a beam reach in about seven knots, the boat speed was in the 3.5 to 3.7-knot range.
The helm feels well-balanced and quite responsive. Once we decided to head back to the dock, our helms person did a tight U-turn, and the boat spun around quickly and easily. Under power, the boat is also simple to handle. Our test boat was located in a tight slip, but manoeuvring in and out was not a problem with the Yanmar three cylinder, 27-horsepower engine.
The basic package is available for $169,280. It should have more than enough toys to keep you happily afloat as is. The only extras you might want to add are an autopilot, dodger, bimini and, perhaps, a windlass.
Like so many other customers, Pavri has future plans to do some cruising in the south with his new boat, but for now he is happy enough to cruise Lake Ontario, picking up a few sailing tips from his boys and enjoying family cruising at it s best.
Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s Summer 1999 issue.
Beneteau's humble beginnings date back to 1884, when Benjamin Beneteau began building wood fishing trawlers in Croix-de-Vie, a small town on the Brittany coast. He launched his first engine driven boat in 1912. Sixteen years later Benjamin turned over control of the shop to his son Andre on his 16th birthday, but André wasn't wildly successful. In fact, it was not until 1964, when the baton was again passed to the next generation that Beneteau's fortunes perked up. Andre's daughter Annette and her son Andre Jr., a naval architect, made two key decisions: first, they decided to build recreational boats instead of workboats and second, they would build them in fiberglass, not wood.
These first boats were runabouts and popular enough that the company felt confident enough to, in 1972, launch their first cruising sailboats. Soon after, Annette convinced Andre that the firm needed fresh deign talent, so they went out-of-house to Francois Chalain and Andre Mauric, which resulted in the "First" line of performance-oriented sailboats. As the story goes, Anette chose the name First after visiting a California Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership that displayed the slogan "Numero Uno".
By 1982 Beneteau laid claim to being the world's largest builder of sailboats, both in terms of units and dollars, eclipsing US leaders Catalina and Hunter. Two years later, in 1984, the company celebrated its centennial by selling shares to the public on the Paris Stock Exchange (the Beneteau family retains 57% ownership). And two years after that, in 1986, Beneteau opened a manufacturing facility in Marion, South Carolina, shouldering its way into the North American market.
Then Beneteau began a period of expansion and diversification. In 1992, it bought a company in Bordeaux specializing in large FRP sailboats and fast passenger-carrying power craft, with acquisition of major competitor Jeanneau soon to follow. Jeanneau was a longtime builder of composite sailboats and the Lagoon line of cruising catamarans. Then in 1997 Beneteau bought Wauquiez, another well established French sailboat builder, and by the year 2000 the combined entity was by far the largest producer of sailboats in the world.
Groupe Beneteau's 2003 annual report shows consolidated sales of $811 million U.S. Its profits of $74 million put Beneteau in roughly the same financial bracket as West Marine and not far behind Brunswick and Genmar. Despite maintaining 25%-plus market share, Beneteau's sailboat sales decline by 3% while its powerboat sales increased a whopping 37%, largely attributed to the launch of their 42' Swift Trawler, their first foray into the fast-growing US motor yacht market. To handle increased powerboat construction, a new 1,076,000 sq ft has been opened to take on more sailboats, including a new cruising-oriented line (name not finalized) starting with a 43 footer in early 2005 and a 38' and 50' later. Sixty five percent of Beneteau's sales are exports, to 250 dealers worldwide.
The February 2004 issue of International Boating Industry reported that Beneteau's current sailboat:powerboat worldwide split is 75/25, with 2,000 Beneteau-brand sailboats built last year, 1,300 Jeanneau-brand sailboats, 1,250 Beneteau powerboats, 100 Lagoon catamarans and 55 Wauquiez sailboats. Sailboat models are in two product lines: seven in the performance-oriented First line and eight in the more cruise-oriented Oceanis line. The powerboat model lines include eight in the Flyer runabout line, two in the sport cruiser Ombtrine line and eight in the Antares line of flybridge cruisers.
This admittedly hard to follow summary doesn't even include the Jeanneau brand of monohulls, Lagoon cruising catamarans and powercats but you get the idea: Beneteau makes as many models as General Motors and changes them as often.
My principal interest in visiting Beneteau was to see firsthand how the company is able to achieve the efficiencies of construction--and hence good value--for which it's known. Obviously, size enables Beneteau to leverage certain economies of scale such as bulk purchase of resin, reinforcements, cores, engines and other components. But surely Beneteau must be doing something innovative on the production line as well?
My visit began at Beneteau's administrative headquarters in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez on the Brittany coast of France. I would see just two of Groupe Beneteau's 19--count 'em, nineteen--plants occupying some 3,000,000 square feet and employing 4,300 workers. Serge Paillar, head of marketing, was my host, introducing me first to Paul Rampini, who is in charge of production. They report to Bruno Cathelinai, managing director of the group. The word corporate was prominent in my thoughts, as there is much emphasis on market research, customer relations and the pursuit of efficiency. Paillard then pulled out a flip chart that listed the various functions I would see: Design, Methods, Prototypes, Purchase/Logistics, R&D, Quality Control, and Customer Service.
Representatives from each of these sections have input on all new projects and there is pressure to make each model a success right out of the blocks. As a project progresses, each section signs off; when four weeks remain before production is scheduled to commence, no further changes are allowed. In Rampini's words, "quality, flexibility, efficiency." Consistent with a corporate environment, there are a lot of maxims by which the workforce is mobilized. As if on cue, Rampini adds, "From market, to market," meaning, essentially, that the company pays close attention to what customers want and endeavors to give it to them.
Key, of course, is the work force. Rampini says that training is critical and with each new employee, that's an opportunity. "We help them learn the culture," he says, "because there is a culture in every company and in Beneteau there is a certain spirit. Everyone wants to do well, not because someone is telling you to but because you want to. We're very sensitive to customers.
Beneteau, unlike its chief American competitors Catalina and Hunter, retains independent designers. Farr Yacht Design of Annapolis, Maryland has designed a number of the First line, as has Group Finot, based in nearby Vannes. A third firm, Berret-Racoupeau Yacht Design in La Rochelle accounts for the remainder of Beneteau's current sailboat models. Whereas many production sailboat builders have brought the design function in house (Catalina, Hunter, Island Packet and Caliber to name a few), Beneteau has stayed with name outside firms. This would seem to have obvious benefits to the end product, if only because established independent designers presumably have more room to exercise their imagination and creative spirit than do salaried employees.
Beneteau is also unusual in its hiring of well known interior stylists such as Philippe Starck. Thus, Beneteau's overall approach to design, plus its industrial manufacturing mentality set the company apart from much of its competition. More women than one might expect are employed at Beneteau. Florence Gouby, for example, manages the woodshop, located adjacent to the administrative building in St-Hilaire-de-Riez. Her operation runs three production lines: one for plywood, another for molded wood and another for solid wood. A good illustration of how Beneteau has reduced man-hours by means of automated equipment is the way this shop handles okoume plywood for bulkheads and cabinets. the 4'x8' sheets are stacked at one end of a mechanical finishing system, whose conveyor belt runs the length of the shop. Beneteau in fact owns two of these state-of-the-art systems: one 82' long the other 164'. An overhead gantry with suction cups picks up each panel and sets it on the conveyor belt. the panel then passes under spray hoods that apply varnish. Color is adjustable, and between each of the three spray hoods are ultraviolet lights that cure the varnish. Depending on the panel's end use in the boat, it may be returned to the beginning of the conveyor belt for additional passes. By the time a panel is picked off the end of the line for the last time--again by gantry and suction cups--it most likely has received three coats of varnish and is dry to the touch
In the next room, computer numerically controlled machines cut various pieces from the finished panels for a particular model. Each piece is hand trimmed, and, depending on where the piece is destined, edges may be hand sealed to prevent water intrusion, or left as is for bonding.
Solid wood parts and laminated frames are hand varnished, mostly in a spray booth. As I saw elsewhere, all of the required wood pieces for a given boat are packaged in a kit and, in this case, wrapped in plastic for protection. Each kit is then shipped to the appropriate plant where that boat will be built, and brought to the assembly line from inventory on the required day.
Most Beneteau sailboats are comprised of four principal molds: hull, deck, overhead liner and structural grid. Tooling is prepared at a new plant dedicated to plug and mold production. A five axis CNC milling machine gets out small and medium-0sized parts such as cockpits and instrument consoles. Some larger parts are assembled from smaller parts, but not--as of yet--hulls and decks. Hull laminates are E-glass, and reinforcements can be unidirectional, biaxial, roving or mat depending on location. The structural grid is nonwoven StitchMat and unidirectional rovings. Reinforcements are hand cut and bundled into kits for each hull. Most of the molds are two part. Vinylester resin is applied as a skincoat, with low styrene polyester elsewhere. Deck coring is balsa, manually applied; hulls are handlaid solid FRP laminate.
The company lab conducts regular gelcoat tests for durability and adhesion by placing samples in boiling water for 1,000 hours. Core samples from each hull and structural grid are burned to determine glass/resin ratios, and the data recorded. The customer service department maintains complete records of each boat for future reference.
On leaving the glass shop, hulls are loaded onto trailers and sent to what Beneteau calls prepping booths. Here the hull cavities are sanded to receive the complex structural grids--with foam stringers-- that serve as stiffeners and double as furniture foundations and engine beds. These are bonded to the hull with a proprietary polyester adhesive compound. Bootops, scribed in the hull during molding, are either applied vinyl or painted
From the prepping booths the hulls are queued into assembly lines. There, elevated work floors feature permanent central aisles for tools and parts. Temporary staging closes in around each hull so no one and no tools can fall to the main floor below. Electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems are installed early and bulkheads get fitted before the deck goes on. Next, plywood fits fabricated in the woodshop are brought to the designated hull and assembled alongside the boat in jigs, then lowered into place and secured with screws and a two-part polyurethane adhesive. Plastic sheeting is then applied to protect finished joinerwork, and scrap foam is taped to exposed corners.
Each hull moves forward every two days to a new crew specializing in another function.
Professional Boatbuilder magazine, Dan Spurr, February/March 2005 (pg. 46-61).