This is coming out very late… I simply thought I had issued my reply! I found it in a Word document on my hard drive.. Here goes..
It sure is winter now! Navigo is still in the water, which has transformed to its useless solid state in the harbour. Long gone are the Caribbean beaches and I must say they are sadly missed, when I on my bike going to work fight the large amounts of snow and ice we currently experience in Denmark.
I will try to give a few opinions on how the 385 coped with the more than 12.000 NM we sailed during our North Atlantic circuit described on http://blog.mailasail.com/navigo
. It is highly subjective and suffers clearly from the fact that I have little to compare with. One thing professional testers should have going for them, provided they are not biased for some reason or another. I do read tests with great care. I remember reading a test in the largest German windsurfing magazine of a Bic slalomboard. It received a quite favorable test and it was described as easily sailed. I raced the same board and had to build a special fin to make it more easily controllable, because otherwise I struggled to constantly go 100% in overpowered conditions. I was at the time Danish champion and knew how to windsurf. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Bic ran large and no doubt costly advertisement campaigns in the magazine. So for what it is worth… Here is my very personal notes on the 385..
I can’t help myself.. She’s fast and fun to sail. Being a cruiser the 385 carries too little sail for effective light condition sailing, but when powered up sails well. We sailed a lot of the time with an X-412, and when powered up did not loose out so very much. In the Trades on route to Barbados we lost 16 hours on a 16 day passage to the X-412 and we would go dead downwind in style and comfort, no doubt thanks to the large beam astern. More surprisingly we were not beaten too badly going upwind (if powered up), and we have the 385 version with only 1.76m draft.
We have sailed Navigo upwind in close to 30 knots of wind - mostly to test it out, and she can then be sailed with double main reef and a tiny bit of furler genoa or with furled genoa alone. Boat balance and steering is fine in both causes, which for the latter case has amazed me. Going upwind the flat bottom in the bow section causes some annoying and structurally stressfull hammering in large or steep waves. Bearing a few degrees away helps (hey it’s not a race..), and more importantly load her up so she heels over. Pointing high, going slow and to upright (too reduced sail surface) does not work in my view. Being an ex-racer I do miss the racy high pointing ability going upwind. However, for a cruising year like the one we had this has little practical impact.
We haven’t sailed Navigo in really big conditions. In the Atlantic in developed following seas we sailed in conditions up to 26-28 knots, still with the autopilot taking care of business. We would then average 7.5 knots and surfed 12.9 knots at the top. I was starting to feel a limit coming up, where manual driving was going to be needed. The rudder has a commanding grip, and we have only lost her a few times beam reaching in sizeable conditions. It’s a mistake to take it there when cruising but I think there is plenty of margin to stay out.
We are big fans of the cockpit layout with two steering wheels. Sailing and at anchor it works well. We seldom get much spray in the cockpit and the “primary area” behind the sprayhood and in front of the wheels, are dry and secure. We find that it is possible to find a comfortable position resting at all points of sail.
Buy a gennaker (asymmetrical spinnaker)! We have a bowsprit and a snuffer for the gennaker. It’s sweet. More than 8 knots can be averaged in the right conditions. As always with the “balloon sails” the boat motions are stabilized.
Navigo did not suffer any damages to the standing rigging, hull and various structural parts constituting the “sailing apparatus”. Note that I kept the loads down, especially avoiding hammering in the waves. Go down below and listen – way worse in the cabin than in the cockpit, especially when you are many days away from a shoreline.
We have the 29 HP engine, which I find works well and has a decent fuel economy. It’s a bit too small for really challenging conditions, so that must factored in.
As for the boat as a living space for 4 people, it’s a thumps up. It worked really well for us. Oh, there are places where Dufour should have spent the extra dollar, and for which we all would have happily have paid two dollars. Like smelly holding tank hoses, and hot water hoses that at working pressure can’t sustain the high water temperature and start leaking. Generally I think Dufour offers as much value for money as you may expect.
She’s not perfect, but she’s ours and deserves much affection!