BOAT TEST BAVARIA 43 HT
A cruise in good company proves the best way to get a feel for Bavaria’s new chief entertainer. JEFF STRANG reports.
If first impressions count for anything, Andy Howden of Bavaria Power in Sydney was off to a good start. I first met Andy at a function late last year during a whirlwind introductory tour of the industry's key people.
I was feeling slightly overwhelmed in a room of industry heavyweights when Andy introduced himself. His unassuming and friendly approach hit a chord that assured he was one of the first people I called when it came time to arrange the first batch of boat tests in my new role at <I>Trade-A-Boat</I>. As we ironed out the details over next few weeks it became clear that a "no drama" approach was his modus operandi.
Even diehard Sydneysiders, would be hard-pushed to deny that the weather has been somewhat "unusual" this summer. A rain-bearing storm (the one that would eventually cause havoc in northern NSW and southern QLD) was forecast to make its present felt on the first afternoon of our three-day boat testing expedition in the city. The pressure was on to pack at least two full day's photography into a morning. "No drama," said Andy.
"Its highly social layout and large volume, along with a few neat tricks, make this oversized sportsboat ideal for entertaining a host of guests on those glorious sunny days and balmy evenings"
To tell the truth there were a couple incidents involving locks, keys, hammers and windows that were all greeted with the same "no problem, let's just get the job done" approach that I was really starting to appreciate.
ON THE BOAT - AT LAST
It would be fair to say that I knew what to expect when we did finally step aboard the Bavaria 43 HT. The German builder's powerboats have been developed in collaboration with BMW group's DesignworksUSA, so it was unlikely we were going to discover any dated upholstery or DIY cabinetry. DesignworksUSA are considered the go-to company for brands looking to develop ergonomic products with that touch of class one has come to expect from the parent company's offerings. Clients of DesignworksUSA include Sennheiser audio equipment, Embraer private jets and Rolls-Royce no less.
What did surprise me was the space. This is a very large-volume boat. It is my usual view that a boat does not cross the line from a mid-sized family cruiser to a capable entertainer until it gets to 50ft in length. With a LOA of 45ft, the Bavaria 43 HT made me reconsider that position.
The saloon is classic sportscruiser, only bigger. Three separate seating areas: the helm station and its adjacent "wellness lounge", the U-shaped dinette, and the massive aft lounger, comfortably allow a cushioned location for at least 14 happy backsides - glass in hand. Add in the handy drinks fridge, a barbecue, a serious sound system and the massive retractable sunroof (it comes in a soft top or a hardened glass option) and the party has pretty much started before you have even left the dock. No wonder it's called the Sun and Fun package.
LOOKING FOR PEACE AND QUIET
Head down below and you enter a surprisingly roomy enclave for the host family. The mid cabin houses a four-seat dining table and a small, but perfectly serviceable, galley. The finishing is contemporary, with tasteful timber joinery and white upholstery. I was impressed with the LED lighting, which extends to a couple of elegant lamps.
The stateroom is the usual V-berth arrangement with a large island-style queen-sized bed. There is loads of storage in this cabin and it is nicely complemented by a full-sized en suite - one of two on this boat.
A second cabin accessed via a door adjacent to the galley sits under the saloon floor. This style of full-beam cabin amidships is becoming the norm in IPS or sterndrive launches. The twin single arrangement in this example makes it the ideal children's room, especially as it is well isolated from the rest of the boat allowing the young ones a sense of privacy and independence. The second bathroom is located in this cabin, which adds to that feeling of privacy. I also thought the comfortable chair in the corner added a nice touch - perhaps it's a good place to read bedtime stories.
When I asked Andy Howden what he likes most about the boat his answer was not surprising. He views the Bavaria 43 HT as an entertainer's dream. Its highly social layout and large volume, along with a few neat tricks, make this oversized sportsboat ideal for entertaining a host of guests on those glorious sunny days and balmy evenings. If swimming is your thing then the fully submersible electric swimplatform will be a favourite. If you're all about the sun then look no farther than the massive lounger on the bow, it's sure to consume much of your time.
I am probably being overly critical but that sunbed was the source of one of my few criticisms. As good as this feature is I found setting it up an overly convoluted process. An extensive array of cushions lives in a huge boot under the aft lounger, where they probably take up more room than is necessary. Perhaps Bavaria could consider a fixed option with a button-down weather cover. There would be less faffing about when one's partner wishes to partake in a little sun-worshiping and some value space would be freed-up in the rear locker - lots of easily accessed storage is the key to keeping the entertaining area clutter free.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Although the Bavaria 43 HT is offered in IPS500 and IPS600 versions, Andy favours the twin Volvo Penta D6-370 diesel sterndrive option. A petrol MerCruiser can be selected at a slightly cheaper price for those wanting to save on the initial outlay.
Being an IPS fan I found Andy's comments interesting. It is his well-founded belief that in this size of vessel the sterndrive option offers virtually all of the advantages of IPS: manoeuvrability, fuel efficiency, performance, and cabin space; with significant savings in outlay and maintenance. He presents a fair argument and I certainly found the boat beautifully responsive to drive with its BMW-like helm station and the joystick system, which uses a computer to control the main engines and bowthruster making the boat child's-play to dock.
FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH
Whenever the opportunity arises I like to talk to test the boat's owners in private. Sometimes, even when they are saying all the right things you can tell from the tone of their voice when things aren't going so well. Paul Long was more than happy to have a frank discussion on the phone a few days later.
Paul and his wife Trish had originally been looking without much success for a great buy in the second-hand market. At the time a boat that was a good value proposition both in terms of price and useability was a scarce resource. Before they spoke to Andy neither had given the new-boat option much thought.
However, after a relatively short spin on the new Bavaria 43 HT it was clear to both of them that the vessel's considerable volume and lifestyle-orientated configuration was appealing. The Euro performing as badly as it has been against the Aussie dollar was the clincher in the end. A newly imported European hull was a value proposition that could not be ignored and after all, a new boat has much more certainty about it than an older model.
Paul rates his Bavaria 43 HT as the ideal Sydney Harbour sportscruiser. With the sunroof open it's a delightful boat to take in the sights in pleasant company, and it's fast enough for a run up or down the coast for an extended adventure to destinations like Pittwater. If the weather closes in on the return journey it is warm and dry closed-up and has the sea-keeping ability to handle most conditions in relative comfort.
When asked about his favourite feature Paul was torn between the boat's large volume and its ultimate accessory, Andy Howden, at his beck and call. Every new Bavaria sold by Andy comes with his full support for 12 months. This includes boat handling training and a comprehensive overview of its features. Paul says this benefit has already paid for itself in spades with Andy taking the time to make regular checks on the boat ensuring it was safe and secure during a recent violent Sydney storm.
Skiboat-like handling at speed
Joystick control for docking
The sunlounge on bow could benefit from a rethink
BAVARIA 43 HT
AT THE WHEEL
Even though the test boat was fitted with horsepower at the lower end of the scale, twin 370s rather than the 400s available, blasting about Sydney Harbour gave me the impression of an oversized skiboat. It leaps out of the hole quickly with no perceptible transition onto the plane and handles tight turns without fuss. I have it on good authority that it is a pretty handy sea boat as well - perhaps we will have put that one to the test another day. At speed the hull is very dry, in fact the combination of joystick technology, power and a very well behaved hull would do a nice job of making many inexperienced skippers look pretty flash.
Sun & Fun package, and more
TYPE: Planing monohull
PEOPLE (NIGHT): 6 + 2
MAKE/MODEL: 2 X Volvo Penta D6-370
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 370
DISPLACEMENT: 5.5lt 336 cu in
BMB Powerboats/Ensign Ship Brokers
2/81 Parriwi Road
Mosman NSW 2088
Phone: (02) 9960 2799
Fax: (02) 9960 2911
The Bavaria 43 HT is a production boat at the high end of the scale in terms of detail and finishing. The influence of BWM Group's DesignworksUSA is obvious from the moment you step on board. Features like the ergonomic wellness lounge add the touch of style and comfort discerning buyers have come to expect when they from refined European products. All the furnishings are to a very high quality and thought has been put in to ensure they are both luxurious and hardwearing enough to stand up the rigours of recreational boating.
As an entertainer the Bavaria 43 HT makes a strong case for being as good as gets in this class of sports boat. With seating room for at least 15 guests, loads of refrigeration, a bbq, a sun-lounger on the bow and the enormous fully submergible swim platform, there is no excuse for not making the most a destination like Sydney harbour has to offer.
It also worth noting the while those new boating might find a 43 foot plus vessel somewhat daunting, there is no reason to be. The joystick docking system is highly intuitive and with Andy's support and training a few hours practice is all it will take to become competent around the dock.
In summary I thoroughly enjoyed my morning on the Bavaria 43 HT. It is superbly comfortable, child's play to drive, and at current exchange rates, is very good value for money.
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 424, Mar 2012.
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