Your Boat Review

General discussion, questions and comments about the Grand Large series
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Sailingman
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Joined:Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:46 am
Location:USA, WA, Bellingham
Your Boat Review

Post by Sailingman » Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:43 am

Hello D-385 Owners! My wife and I are seriously considering this boat for our next major purchase. I would greatly appreciate it if you would reply to this topic with a few comments.
1) How do you feel about the boat's light air performance?
2) What is the best thing about the boat?
3) What would you change about the boat if you could?
4) Anything else you would like to share.


Thank you for your comments! Sailingman

Alyssa
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Joined:Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:35 pm
Location:England, Camberley

Boat Review

Post by Alyssa » Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:56 pm

I will try to summarise my thoughts on the Dufour 385.

Background -

1) Purchased ours in Aug 2005
2) Never previously exclusively owned a boat although did have a share in a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 34.2
3) In the previous 10 years or so had chartered many different boats....mostly from the Beneteau/Jeanneau range.....in the size range 32-40 foot
4) Planned to cruise for extended periods (May-Oct) each year in the Mediterannean..... after spending a year or so in home waters (S. England) to get everything sorted out.

Based on the above we felt that something in the 36-38 foot size range would be appropriate. And we wanted the impossible......namely excellent sailing performance combined with space/storage/comfort for day-to-day living purposes.

Because we wanted to minimise maintainance in the first 5-6 years or so, we decided we wanted to buy new (even though from a depreciation aspect this is not the ideal!). Our budget was not unlimited, so expensive boats Malo/Najad/H-R, etc were not considered. To minimise depreciation we decided to avoid Bavaria.

We probably spent nearly a year researching the market and decided that the D385 was easily the best fit for our needs. Difficult now looking back to say why....but every other alternative we considered had one or two aspects which we really did not like. I realise that all boats are a compromise....but the D385 seemed to offer the best compromise.

Based now on 2.5 years ownership and approx 2500nm cruising S.England/N.France (2005/6) and France/Spain/Portugal (2007) we have been very very pleased with our decision.

Normally we sail two handed (my wife and I) but occasionally we are joined by a number of colleagues who are all very experienced sailors and most of them race fairly seriously. Without exception they have all been extremely impressed with the performance....so it's not just my natural bias!!!

For what is, after all, a cruiser rather than a racer I would say the light airs performance is excellent....although would stronly recommend you buy a cruising chute (assymetric spinnaker). On the RYA Channel cruise in 2006 (approx 18 boats) the winds were generally fairly light. I reckon we spent a very signicant proportion of the cruise sailing, whereas most of the others mostly motored.......... and we invariably kept up with them.

Best things about boat......
- Performance
- Crossing the Bay of Biscay we had some seriously bad weather. Never felt concerned about the boat
- Reliability....so far! (no major problems encountered)
- We have the two cabins/one heads version... so lots of storage space in the huge port locker, spacious heads/shower and forecabin.
- Cockpit space....yet still feel secure
..........I could go on and on.

What would we change......??
Struggling a bit here...
- Maybe have the galley aft rather than along the port side.... would allow a better sea berth amidships.
- A better designed bow roller which would allow bowsprit and anchor (Delta) to be carried at the same time.

Nothing really which has caused us any significant problems.

As you may have guessed from the above we are big fans of the Dufour 385!

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if you have any specific questions.

Dave

Caj Svensson
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Joined:Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:32 am
Location:Finland
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Re: Your Boat Review

Post by Caj Svensson » Fri Jan 11, 2008 10:02 am

Sailingman wrote:Hello D-385 Owners! My wife and I are seriously considering this boat for our next major purchase. I would greatly appreciate it if you would reply to this topic with a few comments.
1) How do you feel about the boat's light air performance?
2) What is the best thing about the boat?
3) What would you change about the boat if you could?
4) Anything else you would like to share.


Thank you for your comments! Sailingman
Answers to your questions:
1. Reasonable good.
2. Double steering wheels and the boat feels bigger than 40".
3. ?!Change the main sale.

4. We bought our D385 last year and have sailed it for one summer. We are very surprised about the boat performance specially from 5 m/s up.
We have a furling "common" main sail so the performance in light wind is not as it could be but rather good compared to other family sailing boats.
We have the "German" reefing sytem (skotningssytem) so it is easy to sail singel-handed. Because of that we have two extra main winches to handle the system.
We think that the "twin helm" system is great because you have much space to move on specially when you have to change the helmsman. The table outside is really big and useful because we like to sit out when we have our dinners.
We like the layout of the saloon, pentry, cabins and toilet because they are big and practical.
The boat feels very modern and we have not have any problems with it.
Pls call me if you have any further questions. +358 50 592 50 40[/img]
Caj Svensson
Espoo, Finland

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vandevyver
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Location:Belgium, Antwerp
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Re: Your Boat Review

Post by vandevyver » Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:05 pm

Sailingman wrote:Hello D-385 Owners! My wife and I are seriously considering this boat for our next major purchase. I would greatly appreciate it if you would reply to this topic with a few comments.
1) How do you feel about the boat's light air performance?
2) What is the best thing about the boat?
3) What would you change about the boat if you could?
4) Anything else you would like to share.


Thank you for your comments! Sailingman
Aahhh, we could sit in the pub and discuss this for hours and hours ... (do I hear someone suggesting a gathering :wink: )

I can agree with both answers above ... here is my personal touch :
We bought our boat (new) last year (maidentrip on april 1st 2007).
Replace a Dehler 34 in order to broaden the sailing area in short term, and to prepare for longer trips (months) in the longer term.

1) How do you feel about the boat's light air performance?
Not bad, but it depends from which boat you're coming from. Our previous one was a Dehler 34 ... a racer/cruiser I know, but compared to that boat the light air performance is not so good. I did not participate in a race yet.

I agree with Alyssa, you want to buy a gennaker.

I do not use a bowsprit to fix the gennaker (assymetric spi), I fix a block on the achor-roller. The tackline goes through the block, all the way back to the cockpit.

2) What is the best thing about the boat?
Imo there is no single-best thing ... may I mention a few good things?
- my wife likes sailing a lot (thank God), but does not like 6bft (or more). Nevertheless she is more relaxed on the Dufour than on the Dehler when the wind blows. The boat is very stable, does not break-out easily when beating windward. Once on course and properly trimmed, there is little you must do. No (over)active steering is needed.
If you looking for a very lively boat to sail actively, the 385 is not a good choice. If you are looking for a cruiser ... good choice.
- space! We have the version with 2 aft-cabins and 2 heads. Holiday sailing with 6 people on board is no problem. With 4 people very comfortable. With 2 people very luxuous. The outside lockers are not to big, but big enough to store 2 extra sails (small gib and gennaker), all ropes, and numerous other things. The fenders go in the achor locker.
- easy sailing. No problem to sail solo; and I even don't have an autopilot (yet)
- Easy to build in options such as heater, extra instruments, extra lights, ...
- Easy manoeuvres. We always put her 'reversed' in the berth. Going backwards is a piece of cake.
- well ventilated
- very very very spacy cockpit. Thanks to the dual steeringwheels a lot of space is created. Three to four people sitting on the bench after the steering wheels is not a problem (if not tacking ;-)
The helmsman is never isolated from the cockpit.
- ...

3) What would you change about the boat if you could?
I is not a real problem, but if I could I would change the steering system.
Dufour uses 'gaines' instead of pulleys to connect the rudder with the steeringwheels. This gives some friction. 4x /year I spray it with teflon-spray... I would prefer pulleys, of even better hydraulic steering.

4) Anything else you would like to share.
It is a boat build by Frenchmen ... there is a cultural difference between Danish/Swedish boatbuilders and French.
Although the overall quality is much better than e.g. a Bavaria, it stays behind Dehler, HR, ...
There is a certain negligence in the finishing. Screws, wood, polyester ...
Nothing serious, nothing that endanger the construction, but just annoying
things such as screws that are too long, or too short, locker pushbuttons, ...
On the other hand, the French are easier to negotiate with. If you buy the boat new, inspect it in detail, make a list of all the remarks, you will be rewarded with 'compensations'.
------
Would I buy it again??
NEVER if I had the budget to buy a Malo, Island Packet, Ovni, ... with comparable living space.
YES for the same budget.

Specific questions ... do ask!

Luc

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Michael Boe
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Post by Michael Boe » Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:08 am

I have held back giving my personal review of the 385. I came to realize that my basis for rating it was a bit slim, since I have not looked at in detail and not at all sailed the alternative cruising boats.

Taking a step back to explain my entry into the Dufour 385 will be necessary. I have sailed since 9 years of age. My parents had a smaller sailing boat, and I started sailing the optimist. Soon this would be all I wanted to do. I became a very dedicated racer from the very start. I continued in Yngling and sailed regattas on bigger boats for owners not so fast at the helm as I. At the same time I crossed over to windsurfing, which eventually took over completely, and years later I left racing at international top level to finish my studies. My parents family cruiser had very little (read none) appeal in these years, and only much later when my wife and I had kids ourselves did cruising pop up. One short summer vacation in the little boat (27 feet) and the potential was clear. My wife stated that more space would be a necessity, to take on longer cruises. Very quickly things evolved from there and together with my parents a secondhand Dufour 385 was bought. Selecting the boat was a desk job - really not the way I normally do things, but suddenly time had become an issue.

Enough said.. Here are the most decisive issues which for us made the 385 win "on paper".

1. We were looking for a cruiser, but she needed to sail well. Reviews were “more than normally” positive, and from racing results I could see that she could move.

2. We wanted a shallow keel to be able to visit the lovely small harbors. Challenging decision for an ex hardcore racer.

3. I'm 1.94 m tall. I needed sufficient height in the cabin (This ruled out the 365, but on the other hand more height is not achieved in the 425)

4. My wife wanted as big as possible and my parents were pulling at the other end. Clearly the boat type we were looking for should be built with plenty of space below.

Having sailed the boat now we are very happy with our choice.

Trying to answer your questionnaire, Sailingman, here goes..

1. Light air performance is ok, I think. I have mostly been able to rate her against other boats in windier conditions and here I am impressed.

2. That would be all the space below and in the cockpit - in combination with good sailing abilities.

3. Nothing major. The small French details as described by Luc above. Also an intelligent system for lowering the salon table to give a 2-person bed here would be nice. Performance sails too - did not have that option buying secondhand (racing blood is rolling..).

4. I agree to the description given by Luc on how the Dufour 385 sails. I am very impressed by the balance of the boat under sail. Sailing fairly closed hauled in 16 m/s with just a little bit of the genoa out she is still balanced. Maneurability in harbors is superb, also when going backwards – easy sailing.

Summing up we are very happy with the choice of boat, when the price is factored in. It has met our hopes and expectations.

Menhir
Posts:1
Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:13 am
Location:France, Pessac

I'm happy to enter on this Dufour 385 community

Post by Menhir » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:21 am

Our boat will be delivered at the beginning of May and we did not obviously navigate with still. What you indicate confirms me in our choice.

Thank you for these encouraging comments :D

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