Baltic 61

2007 January 6
January 2007

Performance cruiserr

I look for a common theme for the reviews each month. This month I think the theme for these four boats is that there is no way to define "cruising boat" other than "a boat you go cruising in." Take this Judel/Vrolijk design for Baltic. This boat was designed and built as a fast cruising yacht. But even a cursory glance at the sailplan will indicate that there is a very fine line between this design and a racing design. Are there cruising compromises involved with a design like this? Probably fewer than you think once you get used to restricting your cruising to areas that can accommodate 11 feet, 4 inches feet of draft.

With a D/L of 95.93 this is a very light cruising boat. There is very little fore and aft rocker to the hull so this boat will be a pounder from time to time. A much heavier boat would give you a softer ride to weather but not at the same speed. The L/B is 3.92 so this design is on the narrow side of moderate beam. The stern is very broad and there is little overhang aft. Note that the sheer is a straight line with no spring to it whatsoever that I can tell. This does work, as the sheer is only a straight line when viewed in a two-dimensional image. In the real world, when you add perspective, beam and any degree of heel this sheer will appear to have spring. By eliminating sheer spring volume is added to the interior. I suspect this boat will be very fast.

There are staterooms for three couples and the quarter staterooms can accommodate upper berths for more crew if needed. There is a large fo'c'sle with a head and crew's berth. The saloon is a bit different in that the galley is spread out all along the starboard side. It's not the best layout for offshore but it will be ideal when the boat is at rest. There is a large dinette to port with additional bench seating. This is certainly enough seating so the entire crew of this boat can dine together. There are three large heads all with showers but no separate shower stalls. I'd rather have one big combination head/shower area than two pinched spaces. A good shower curtain will keep the head area relatively dry and when you retract the curtain you will have a spacious area where you can dry off without bashing your elbows. My only complaint with this layout is that there is no sit-down nav station. I think I see a chart table immediately aft of the dinette. No seat is indicated but a swing out seat could be used there.

Look at that huge rig with its SA/D of 31.5. Maybe your wife is an Ellen MacArthur type. Well, good for you. She'd love this rig. My own wife is very athletic but she would be intimidated by this rig. I'd be intimidated by this rig. I would guess that an electric halyard winch will get the mainsail up and one would hope a Leisure Furl system has been fitted to aid with dousing the huge main. As long as everything is working fine there should be no problem handling this big rig. But, the moment that things get sideways this is a lot of rig to handle. The mainsail is 1,180 square feet. Is this a compromise for cruising comfort? I say yes. This rig will drive this boat quickly under all conditions. It will require careful attention to keep the mast tuned while sailing. Note the babystay. The loads on this rig will be huge. If you have two friends who sail very well you could have fun cruising this boat. But for a husband and a wife it will be a real handful. I'd love to be wrong. But without Leisure Furl just furling this main on the boom could be a four-man job.

The deck is laid out with twin wheels aft. The huge cockpit opens up at the transom and a deep swim platform hinges down. There are cheek Finnegans cut into the coaming adjacent to the wheels to make it comfortable to steer when heeled. There is a large hatch right over the fo'c'sle so you can drop a spinnaker down easily. There is another hatch forward of this big hatch for ground tackle deployment. Roller furling drums are buried in the deck. There are eleven deck hatches for light and ventilation.

This is a great looking boat. I can see it doing very well on the race course even with that retracting bow thruster.