Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beneteau 423 First Impressions

We took possession of our new 423 last weekend and renamed it 'Finisterra'. Yesterday we went for our first sail and finally had an opportunity to try the boat on all points of sail under power and under working sails. Here is a brief summary of what we discovered.

We left the slip in the downtown marina and took advantage of the flat water and light air in the turning basin to see how the boat maneuvers in forward and reverse. Finisterra is equipped with a Slipstream 3 bladed folding prop. We found that it operates smoothly when going from neutral into forward or reverse and provides plenty of thrust in forward. Outside the marina we saw 7 knots with the Yanmar diesel running at 2,200 RPM. Since it's a folding prop, it takes some throttle to get the boat moving when backing down, but overall performance is good. We had a three blade feathering prop on our last boat and it would occasionally snag some seaweed, so I think this prop is a good compromise for our purposes.

Sailing conditions were excellent with about 12 knots of breeze that built to about 16 in the afternoon. I unfurled the mainsail and I have to admit that it's awfully easy to operate the in-mast furling system. We puttered around under the mainsail only for half an hour. It's a tiny thing with a hollow leach and no battens but it has fairly good shape and pushed the boat along at about 5 knots in 15 knots of wind on a beam reach. I was pleased to see that it is in nearly new condition. With the 140% jib set, the boat came alive and we drove upwind with the apparent wind angle at about 40 degrees and about 7.5 knots of speed. Later, as we bore off to a close reach, the speed increased to about 8. Easing sheets a bit more, we put the boat on a beam reach and saw 8.5 on the knotmeter. Bearing off further brought the wind on the port quarter and our speed dropped as we expected. At all times the helm was light and well balanced, and perfectly responsive. Sailing back toward the marina the wind fell to about 5 knots as we approached the marina entrance and the boat ghosted along very nicely. I rolled up the jib and fired up the engine, then furled the mainsail just before entering the marina. All almost too easy. Our berth is near the head of the gangway and the fairway is narrow so it's a tight turn into our downwind slip but the boat maneuvered easily and we made our first landfall perfectly.

Having designed, built and sailed a number of racing yachts, I expect my boats to perform well. There is no need for a cruising boat to be a slug in terms of performance or handling and the B423 meets my expectations. I struggle with the idea of in-mast furling. I prefer the strength and simplicity of a full battened main and slab reefing and will likely convert this rig. Other than that, we're very pleased with the boat.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! Very happy for you two. We will enjoy reading more about Finisterra and sharing a similar name on our IF38C ExTerra. Take care. Pam and Carl.