Beneteau’s intentions for the Oceanis 38.1 are easy to define: the company offers enough accommodations choices below decks to suit almost any buyer. Her modern lines produce good performance under sail, twin rudders and steering wheels maintain precise control and her wide beam carried well aft provides not only speed off the wind, but a large, comfortable cockpit suitable for both sailing and entertaining at anchor.
The Oceanis 38.1 is an improved version of Beneteau's Oceanis 38, with changes that seem minor at first but make a big difference once you analyze the boat. The biggest change is the redesign of the galley: the new one is L-shaped and should be more cook-friendly than the Oceanis 38's long galley, especially underway (the long galley is still available). On deck, the Oceanis 38.1 is virtually identical to the 38 in appearance and function -- which, in our estimation, is a good thing.
Choices Below Decks
Two- and three-stateroom layouts; a new L-shaped galley or a long galley; a wet head or a separate stall shower -- all these options are on the list. Mixing and matching stateroom, head, and galley options makes for a number of possible arrangement plans. The interior layout and design is by Nauta Design.
In what we suspect will be the most popular layout of the boat, the area beneath the cockpit is divided roughly two thirds into a very large sleeping cabin to port, and one-third storage locker accessed through a typical cockpit locker hatch.
The other option back here divides the same space into two equal cabins with fore-and-aft oriented quarter berths. The cockpit locker seat becomes much shallower in order to add headroom in the starboard-side cabin.
Head and Shower
Aft Shower Stall
Boats with the two-cabin layout can have a shower stall that’s entered through its own door from the salon. The shower has a seat with storage beneath, cubbies for soap, shampoo and the like, and an opening portlight. With three cabins, this optional separate shower can move across the boat, eliminating the hanging locker.
The Oceanis 38.1's comfort isn't limited to the cabin. Her large cockpit proves equally useful for daysailing or entertaining on the hook overnight. An optional foldout transom makes for easy boarding from the dock, a convenient step into a dinghy for a night ashore, or an ideal snorkeling platform.
The Oceanis 38.1 accommodates shorthanded sailing with jib winches aft, adjacent to the dual helms, while the boat is equally well suited to a crowded cockpit with the mainsheet well out of the way atop an optional arch above the companionway. An optional self-tacking headsail makes short-handed sailing even easier.
Designed by Finot-Conq Naval Architects, the Oceanis 38.1's hull carries its wide 13’1” (3.99 m) beam all the way aft, which lets the boat sail with only minimal heel even in strong wind. Hard chines immerse at low heel angles, adding stiffness. It's always better to sail at lower heel angles, and it's more comfortable, too. Twin rudders ensure full control when she does heel, and two keel choices tailor her draft to local waters.
Helm and Cockpit Seating
Long seats down either side of the cockpit are separated by a permanently affixed folding table with storage within and handrails for safe passage in rough water. A removable folding table is another option here that leaves the cockpit sole completely unimpeded when not needed.
The helmsperson sits on teak seats outboard of the helm or on twin bench seats that fold out of the way when using the full width of the stern swim and boarding platform. Each helm also includes an additional handrail and compass as well as space for electronics. The downside to having two helms is that some might opt for duplicate port and starboard electronics. The upside is that today’s networking of navigation and radar displays syncs port and starboard units or allows independent usage. Duplicated displays also provide redundancy if one fails.
Visibility is Excellent
Two helms located outboard are particularly convenient when maneuvering alongside a dock. Engine controls are located inboard on the port helm pedestal. Reaching the shift lever from behind the starboard wheel requires a half a step inboard, but not more than the required step outboard from a centerline helm to look over the side at a low floating dock. Depending on interior cabin configuration, the cockpit also includes a huge storage locker accessed through the starboard cockpit seat, or a shallower locker here when the third sleeping cabin is below.
The 103% genoa includes roller furling. Genoa winches are just a bit of a stretch forward from the helm, though definitely reachable. If the winches were mounted farther aft, however, they wouldn’t be as comfortable when trimming the jib from the cockpit seat ahead of the helm -- an excellent compromise in our mind.
The mainsail is lowered and flaked between lazy jacks from the port-side cabin top (or, as an option, furled within the mast). The mainsheet ends here as well, a few steps forward from the helm. An optional, removable inner forestay carries a staysail sheeted to a self-tacking track forward of the mast, so tacking to windward in tight quarters requires just a turn of the helm. An asymmetrical spinnaker and Code 0 headsail with furler round out the sail choices.
Mainsail Sheet Arch and Dodger
The mainsail sheet arch frees the cockpit or cabin top from being divided by a mainsheet traveler. This allows unhindered movement within the cockpit and from cockpit to deck. Equally important, by having the boom over 7' (2.13 m) above the cockpit deck the boat's owner mitigates worries of crew injury in the event of an unexpected jibe. This means that less experienced guests or family can be put on the helm in most conditions without concern about potentially catastrophic results. Beneteau provides two handrails on each side of the arch and another farther forward on the cabin top. Cruisers will appreciate the arch as a stout place to secure the spray dodger, and the dodger’s forward end is not hindered by a traveler across the front of the companionway.
Stern Boarding Platform/Teak Beach
The wide transom opening is made secure by three stainless steel lifelines. The folding platform also extends a few inches above the cockpit sole, keeping loose items aboard.
The entire assembly lowers using the swim ladder as a handle, but this was much easier than it might seem. Anyone able to trim a sail in moderate wind can certainly handle this task. Once lowered, this platform is the perfect height for boarding from most floating docks or dinghies, and it’s ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Note that solid wood on cockpit floor and swim platform pictured above are optional.
PerformanceWe tested the Oceanis 38 before the 38.1 was available. Both boats are virtually identical in hull design, specs, sailplan, and deck layout, so we expect the Oceanis 38.1's performance and handling would be the same as the 38's.
On our day aboard the Oceanis 38, the waters off St. Petersburg, Florida, proved challenging. As is common here, winds were quite light and variable. In typically five knots of wind (when we were lucky), the boat did find the wind and sailed well, with good response from the helm, but we couldn’t perform any meaningful performance evaluations.
Winches mounted just forward of the split helms, a rig designed for a large main and smallish, self-furling jib, as well as lazy jacks or an in-mast furling mainsail, combine to make this Oceanis 38 easy to sail either with minimal crew, alone, or without affecting a cockpit full of guests.
Beneath the Waves
While we couldn’t verify it -- because our test occurred on a very light air day -- stability from the wide beam should keep the Oceanis 38 quite level even in a breeze. Twin rudders provide sure steering when the boat does heel. Beneteau offers a choice of 6’9” (2.05 m) draft with the deep keel option or 5'3'' (1.60 m) draft with the shallow keel.
DockingOur test boat wasn’t equipped with the optional bow thruster, nor the optional joystick controlled propulsion pod, but we didn’t miss either. With twin rudders, putting the helm hard one way or the other and giving just a touch of reverse power swung the stern smartly in the desired directly, essentially eliminating the single-engine propeller side walk that most boats experience when placed in reverse.
Engine maintenance has been planned for, with access to belts and the seawater pump on the front of the engine as well as the fuel filter beneath the companionway. A hatch in the shower accesses the side of the engine where we find the oil dipstick, cooling reservoir, secondary fuel filter and seawater strainer. Hatches in the port aft cabin also access the engine and sail drive.
While it isn’t uncommon for builders to offer an array of options to further tailor a boat to an owner’s needs, Beneteau has really taken the concept well beyond what’s common. Rather than a menu of options to select from, the Oceanis 38.1 can be built virtually a la carte -- from accommodations to outfitting. This means the Oceanis 38.1 can truly be fitted to the owner’s intended use, rather than vice versa. We think Beneteau completed the mission with the Oceanis 38.1.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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