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June 30, 2010

Beneteau Cyclades 43 Review: Moorings Charter Boat

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , — Richard Jordan @ 1:40 pm

Beneteau Cyclades 43 Brochure (Click to Download)

When I hear of Beneteau, I think of their Oceanis and First series as well as Lagooon catamarans. But the Cyclades series is a bit of a mystery. It is named after a set of Greek Islands and the correct pronunciation is “Kee-klar-dees” if you want to sound like a know it all. Beneteau introduced the series to compete directly with Bavaria. They do not have the racing focus of the First or the offshore focus of Oceanis. Instead, the focus is simply on mass production. She takes everything we like and dislike about Beneteaus to the extreme.

The Cyclades 43 is a Berret and Racoupeau design. Beneteau Yachts built them in Vendee, France unlike the Oceanis series built in North Carolina, USA. The 43 is also known as the Mooring 44.3 and one of the finest charter boats around. Moorings operates on a purchase and charter basis with 5 year term lease agreements. According to brokerage records, Beneteau started production of the Cyclades 43 in 2005 and produced them until 2007. A mass of Cyclades are flooding the brokerage market as they get out of charter in 2010. Moorings has no less than 13 at the moment for sale. There are 39, 43, 50 foot sisterships.

First Impressions
The Cyclades 43 has the classic French style sloping coachroof paired with a horizontal stripe along the sides. The bow is nearly plum for a 38′ waterline length. The sheer is straight from stem to the sugar scoop stern. There are 6 portholes along the trunk somewhat boringly identical. The freeboard is above average and decorated with a thin cove stripe. She is a plump mid-size cruiser with a 2.9 length to beam ratio which allows for voluminous accommodations. This beam is carried far aft for a very wide stern. Underneath, the 5′ 9″ bulb keel and spade rudder combination makes her easily Bahamable. The forefoot is deep and sharp with a good knuckle giving her a tremendous traction underway. The prop is mounted off a small skeg. The rig has 61′ clearance which is a pretty tall rig for excellent sail power. The mainsail is large and combines with a small fractionally rigged headsail on this true sloop. A whisker pole is a great upgrade for downwind sailing.

Sailplan

Construction
The hull construction is hand laid fiberglass with glass roving and polyester resin. To stiffen the outer hull, Beneteau inserts a molded liner with a built-in grid network. The hull is balsa cored. The deck is balsa cored and bonded to the hull with an elastomer sealant. The joint is an interesting take on the bulwark style. It consists of a U-shaped aluminum caprail fitted over the upward turned edges of the hull and deck. This type of joint is super efficient to build and one of the ways Beneteau has kept down the price. As the edge turns toward the fully integrated sugar scoop stern aft, a rubber U-shaped slip on takes the place of the aluminum caprail. The keel is cast iron, and the mast is deck stepped with a large compression post below.

She was produced at the French yard of Beneteau in Vendee which is thought of as higher quality, but I do not think so with these Cyclades. When people disparage Beneteau, this is exactly the type of boat they are referring calling them “bleach bottles” or “disposable boats.” The construction is as inexpensive as possible in every facet from stem to stern, masthead to ballast tip, from gudgeon to gunwale to gooseneck. And while that may sound harsh, there is an important trade-off at play here. Her value as a liveaboard, coastal cruiser, and island hopper is exceptional. For a first time liveaboard for trips to the Bahamas and Caribbean, I would recommend without question a Cyclades 43. The Cyclades fits an important market, and my comments are meant to further define that market not to disparage it.

What To Look For
Marketed as the Mooring 44.3, the Cyclades 43 is a popular charterboat both in Tortola and St. Vincent. She is specially designed with the durability, reliability, and swiftness that characterizes charterboats. Moorings maintains the yachts in their fleet, and it is important to ask how closely and forcefully the owner has oversaw and held them accountable. Yachts can leave the charter trade pristine or loosely held together with duct tape and dental floss. It depends on the teamwork of the owner and charter organization. Specifically, look for broken tabbing and shifting bulkheads.

A saving grace is that the deep recession has hurt the charter businesses. Fewer people are running charters, especially fewer of the riff raff, party charters that can really damage a yacht. Cyclades are coming out of Sunsail and Moorings with 2,500 engine hours instead of the 5,000 you usually see after a 5-year charter contract. They are surprisingly fresh and well maintained though poorly equipped. All of them are virtually identical in equipment. They do not come with whisker poles. If you want to install air conditioning, Beneteau does have diagrams to show how the factory would do it. There is not enough room for a generator.

On Deck
The deck is easy to walk around with outboard mounted chainplates and minimal hardware and a nice non skid. The Profurl roller furling is all the way forward and the chainplate of the forestay ties outboard into the blunt bow. The bow is equipped with a dual roller chock. Directly behind is an electric vertical Quick windlass mounted at deck level in front of the chainlocker. This allows easy access to the hatch without messing around with the chain or windlass. The railings slip over the stanchions and give way a bit when you lean against them. The cabin trunk quickly slopes up with room for the dinghy. Four stainless steel handrails decorate the cabintrunk along with two Lewmar hatches. There are no dorades which is becoming another French style statement. Six boring, identical portholes line each trunk cabin side. Both the upper and lower shrouds tie outboard which combines with the short, side deck mounted genoa tracks, swept spreaders, and a very small J dimension. More on the sailing implications of this orientation later. The main is the standard rig with internal halyards and all lines running to the cockpit. There is no traveler standard though one could easily be installed in front of the dodger and would be a nice upgrade. There is not a cover either for the cockpit leading lines. She is equipped with a topping lift and no boom vang.

Moorings outfits the aft cockpit with a nice wide awning for shade. It is loosing bound and not a secure handhold. The cockpit has long benches and a large companionway sill forward. The ergonomics are perfect, and this cockpit is really what the design is all about. You spend most of your time here, and this is especially important to charter guests. Under the benches are deep lockers port and starboard. The molded cockpit table is not a work of art but functional and durable. It is the same as you will see on Jeanneaus. The 43 has twin helms of course sharing the same steering. This trait opens up access to the swim platform. The emergency steering is in the centerline here between the helms. The master helm is starboard side with the ignition controls. The swim platform has one step with storage port and starboard for diving gear. A swim ladder is starboard side as well as a cockpit shower locker.

Layout

Down Below
The interior is roomy and takes full advantage of her beam. Not only is she beamy but has a wide stern which allows for two large cabins aft. There are actually two variations of the layout. The 43.3 has a three cabin and head layout while the 43.4 lacks the starboardside head aft. It shuffles around the accommodations to make way for a bunk berth portside forward. The 43.4 has a 4 cabin and 2 head layout. The floor is a composite wood mixture while the upholstry is white faux leather fabric also on Jeanneaus. The V-berth forward on both has a small settee and locker space. The head forward and all the heads do not have separate showers. The shower space shares the toilet area. The portside galley is not that seaworthy or comfortable for entertainment. It has a white Formica counter top. Across is the dinette arrangement that converts to a berth. The headroom is 6’6″ throughout the cabins and saloon. Only aftmost where the cockpit lockers dig in does the headroom shrink. The molded headliner is white with molded inward stripes which give it a distinct flair. This touch is one of the few in the interior.

Down below, the Cyclades has all the touches of a lower cost production boat. Most of the fixtures inside like the doors and storage openings are rectangular wood pieces. There is a lack of attention to detail and a disregard for the usual aesthetics. It does not look as sophisticated, but the cookie cutter joinery is functional and one the best places for saving cost. The lack of interior workmanship does not make her less safe or less functional, just less commercially attractive. But even the generic interior is much better than the dark, walnut Formica seen on so called quality designs such as old CSYs or early Gulfstars. It is a nice modern interior with warm teak veneers that balances cost and comfort in equal measure and takes full advantage of the design.

Engine
The engine is a Yanmar 56 HP with excellent access via both the aft cabins and the companionway. This is the classical Beneteau way as seen on their 50 Oceanises. The companionway access while excellent is kind of clumsy. The ladder swings upward and has no obvious way to secure it unlike the clever fixture on a Passport 40. I would of preferred that they had the ladder hinge downward for safety and easiness. The upward swing is limited in clearance to about horizontal which forces you to crawl under the ladder for access. The standard prop is a fixed three bladed one off the small skeg.

Underway
The helms are comfortable and the benches ergonomic. Beneteau really has perfected cockpit design. Upwind with her large main and small jib, she races 7 knots while exceeds 8 knots downwind. Both the upper and lower shrouds tie outboard which combined with the short, side deck mounted genea tracks, swept spreaders, and fractional rig leads to a very small J dimension. The headsail on this sloop sheets inside the shrouds and is limited downwind. This makes little difference for shorthanding as the large main is easier to control and you just forget about much of a headsail. But there is a way around the restricted sail area forward. If you install a track on the mast and get a whisker pole, you can sheet the headsail and avoid the shrouds. If you are going to do any downwind sailing which is a must in the Caribbean, you will need to upgrade the Cyclades 43 with a whisker pole arrangement.

The Cyclades 43 is absolutely not a bluewater boat. Other Beneteaus such as the Oceanis series are rated for offshore work. The Cyclades series is not. It is a great coastline sailor. She would be perfect to hop back and forth from the Bahamas and sail around the Caribbean.

Conclusion
The Cyclades 43 is a nice design that was perfected for the charter trade but is an excellent inexpensive option for any type of Caribbean cruising. It is meant as competition for recent Bavaria offering. The prices are reasonable with many available. Current Yachtworld listings range from $170,000 to $120,000 with 32 on the market. Cyclades 43’s are tremendous values considering the condition and equipment.

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  • Vaughn Filmore

    Is it reasonable to say it would be an ok boat for SAn Francisco Bay…staying inside the Bay 🙂

  • Vaughn, She would be a great choice for the bay and outside too, especially if you want to do any racing. You’ll have tremendous fun. RJ
    Sent from my iPad

  • Vaughngo

    Thanks Richard, I’ll go look at one, but I still like the 41s5…I love that white Stark interior, while not practical. 

  • Chashop38

    For a starting live aboard (on a retred veteran’s budget) spending most of it’s time south of Jacksonville in the St John’s River with the hopeful cruise to Bimini and such would you prefer the 43′ Cyclades or the Gib’Sea?  Thank you for the excellent report!

  • Thanks for the comment. I don’t have personal experience with the Gib’Sea. I really like the Cyclades. RJ

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  • John kino

    Is the Cyclades 50 a blue water
    boat ?. Any strength comparison between 42 and 50?

    John B. 

  • Guardian G

    sailing la vagabonde youtube just crossed the atlantic with 43 foot cyclade

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