Biscayne Bay was flat and glassy, with nary a zephyr rippling the waters, when we boarded the latest Beneteau in the company’s Oceanis line, the 48, the next morning. But the Miami show had been a successful one for the 48-footer, which the week before had won a National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award for the clever electric fold-down transom, which adds another 3 feet of “floor space” to the already expansive cockpit when the boat’s anchored or moored.
Having sailed the other two latest Oceanis offerings—the 41 and the 45—on Chesapeake Bay last fall, I experienced a strong sense of déjà-vu as we got under way on the 48. All three boats share the same style, philosophy, looks, and characteristics, notably the huge cockpit and twin helms as well as the distinctive cockpit arch that serves several purposes: the anchor point for the mainsheet, the framework for a big dodger and bimini, and well-placed handholds for making your way forward or moving about the topsides.
Yacht designer Sean Brown, a Beneteau consultant, was on board for the test sail, and he referred to the 48 as a “mono-maran,” which I think is a very apt and succinct description. Its ample, 15-foot-7-inch beam represents almost a 3-to-1 beam-to-length ratio, which is similar to the figures that French designers aim for when creating the powerful Open 60s that are raced solo around the world. However, those boats are basically flat planing hulls with minimalistic interior layouts. Thanks to the hull chine that Beneteau has incorporated into all of its latest Oceanis yachts, the 48’s interior volume is especially wide and vast (again bringing to mind the catamaran theme), and there’s nothing at all about it that’s spartan or minimal.
There are several different accommodation plans available, including a four-cabin layout with twin staterooms all the way forward and aft, and the three-cabin/two-head version that we sailed. In the owner’s cabin in the bow, along with the munificent berth and the enclosed head, a rather prominent shower stall was situated to starboard, more or less in the center of everything, which was unlike any I could remember on a production boat. The main cabin, with its low, sleek furnishings, was fresh and modern, with a large settee/dining table to starboard and a very clever settee with a sliding modular table to port, which could be adjusted to serve as a work area or a little nook for breakfast or entertaining.
Back on deck, Brown noted that the beautiful cockpit was “what you’d have seen on a 65-foot yacht 10 years ago.” Space-wise, I had to agree; it was a little disorienting to realize that we were aboard a 48-footer. To the south, a faint breeze line was darkening the waters, so we kicked over the standard 75-horsepower Yanmar and made a beeline for it, ticking off 8.3 knots at 2,500 rpm. Once we’d motored into the 5- to 6-knot breeze and shut down the engine, the 48 displayed fine light-air prowess, making 4 to 4.5 knots hard on the wind. Not bad.
Like all the boats we’d sailed in Miami, the Oceanis 48 left us itching for more. I would’ve been more than happy to carry onward aboard this Beneteau.
Herb McCormick is CW’s senior editor.
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