BOAT TEST: HANSE 345
Hanse’s new baby offers simple sailing at an attractive price. Tim Thomas took to the water to find out if the Hanse 345 delivers on its promise.
It wasn't that long ago a yacht around the 32-foot mark was considered perfectly adequate for most inshore and offshore sailing ambitions, and if you wanted an around-the-world shorthander you would have been looking for something around the 40-foot mark - any bigger than that and the yacht would have been deemed too big to handle. How things have changed.
Whether it's through modern production techniques lowering prices, advances in design, an ever-increasing spiral of size or simply augmented expectations of the boat-buying public, the "average" yacht has grown beyond all proportion. Thirty-something-footers are the new entry level and for singlehanding, accomplished sailors can easily stretch toward 60 feet.
Ah, you might be thinking - this is but the ranting of a near-middle-aged boat tester, who clings to his old-hat paper charts like a cider-soaked tramp clutches his brown paper bag. But bear with me.
Last month, I tested the new Hanse 575 and discovered a large, comfortable yacht that was so easy to sail singlehanded I nearly didn't return her to her slip. It's just as well I did, as later that day I got to play with the new 345, which joined the Hanse range at the back end of 2012 as a replacement for the 355.
Although slightly shorter overall, the 345's Judel/Vrolijk designed hull carries the same waterline length as the 355, suggesting similar performance in a lighter-weight package. Her vertical stem and stern certainly give her a modern look and her coachroof line - which in spite of carrying a little height to allow decent headroom below - is a vast improvement on the older 355. The cockpit is large for a 34-footer, with a drop-leaf central table offering good alfresco dining options, while the twin wheels give the helmsman good views on either tack. Her hull features good beam carried aft from the mast, suggesting she will offer plenty of space below - a fact that was borne out when I stepped on board.
When I think back to my coveted Contessa, I also think back to the days where interior-space on a yacht of this size was an oxymoron. No more - the 345 offers two layout options, one with two double cabins (one forward, and one aft) and one with three double cabins. Our test yacht had the latter layout, with two double cabins aft. Each aft cabin offers standing headroom at its forward end and sitting headroom on the formost end of the berth. The cabins may not be palatial suites but they're comparable with many larger yachts and, moreover, they are close to unique on a yacht of this size. Twin aft cabins are not an option on any of the 345's near rivals - the Oceanis 34, Dufour 335 or Sun Odyssey 33i - and in Bavaria's range it's not until the Cruiser 36 that you get a similar layout.
The rest is fairly standard - a C-shaped settee/dinette to starboard (which can also serve as an occasional berth), banquette to port with an aft-facing chart table, galley aft and to starboard and a head/shower to port. Twin overhead opening hatches - one either side of the centreline - offer plenty of light and good ventilation, while a wide array of interior wood and fabric finishes offer scope for customisation. Opting for the lighter Italian oak or maple finishes does make this interior feel spacious.
The galley area is reasonable, with a fair amount of stowage and a fridge/freezer that offers both top and front access. The sink unit is set into the transverse countertop, which also houses decent cupboards, a soft-close drawer and a pivot bin.
With the twin-aft-cabin layout, stowage (not surprisingly) is a little limited, with the main storage spaces being the under-seat lockers in the saloon and overhead cupboards and a bookshelf either side. There is tankage under the forward and aft starboard berths, and the water heater under the aft port berth. Access to the bilge in the saloon is only an inspection hatch around the keel bolts, although one suspects the rest of the bilge area is pretty shallow - a side effect of dropping the saloon sole to maximise headroom - and the table, which opens out to allow those seated on the banquette to port to join the party, offers some stowage for bottles.
The forward cabin's berth is reasonable - perhaps a little snug for two pairs of feet at the forward end - and two cupboards either side, one with shelves and one with limited-drop hanging space, do afford the chance to unpack. The overhead outboard lockers running forward provide additional space. The deck hatch can be blanked off with a sliding blind for privacy, or with a bug screen that shares the same track should you wish to keep some airflow coming into the cabin.
There are a couple of niggles with the interior that may not be of particular importance to most potential buyers, but which still irk an old seadog like me. First, while I realise that the chart table these days is generally relegated to occasional use, perching on the aft end of the port banquette and a lack of chart table fiddles means that you haven't got a hope of navigating from here on port tack. Second, there are no strop points around the gimballed stove to starboard, meaning an off-watch cuppa will be a challenge to brew while on starboard tack. There is a splash screen on the counter top forward of the sink but this is bonded to the worktop and might not take a knock if you were to reach for it in a lively sea. Thankfully, there are good grabrails throughout that make moving about below a safe prospect. Of course both of these issues can be rectified easily, and would be by any serious sailor wanting to get the most out of this capable vessel.
The fit and finish is equitable and reflects the fact that the 345 is a great boat on a budget. You can hardly expect mitre joints and marble at this price point.
The engine - a Volvo Penta D1-20 (the D1-30 is available as an option) - is accessed from three sides, through a side inspection hatch in each of the aft cabins and from the front under the lifting companionway steps.
All up the interior is a pleasant place to be both underway and in harbour, and the addition of that second aft double cabin will make the 345 a killer proposition for anyone who likes to cruise with extended family or friends.
Hanse is making a big thing of the shorthanded sailing characteristics of its yachts and the 345 is no exception - the lines-led-aft and self-tacker philosophies have been brought all the way down to this model. With a German mainsheet system and sheets and halyards concealed beneath the coamings, both cockpit and sidedecks are clean and free of trip and hit hazards - perfect for family cruising.
Rope bins outboard of each helm keep the worst of the spaghetti at bay and the primaries (which can be electrically powered if desired) are within easy reach of the helm. This is a singlehander's dream.
The Elvstrom sails include a fully battened main and a self-tacker with a great cut (enhanced performance radials are also an option), although if you want a bit more oomph you can opt for sidedeck tracks for a 105 per cent genoa.
The view from the helm is good, with a large Simrad screen mounted on the aft end of the cockpit table and twin IS40 repeaters on the aft ends of each of the coamings. Cockpit stowage is reasonable but does suffer from having the twin aft cabins. The grabrail on the cockpit table is solid and falls naturally to hand, making this an incredibly safe environment even when the seas get a bit lively.
While not the rocket ship of the Hanse fleet the 345 puts in a surprising turn of speed thanks to an excellent hull and good sailplan. At a slightly pinched 25 degrees apparent wind angle she cantered along at 5.5kts, accelerating easily to 6.1kts at 30 degrees AWA. Crack off another five degrees (to 35 AWA / 50 degrees true) and she was happy at around 6.5kts - a good turn of speed for a small yacht with a self-tacker. On a close reach she hovered in the high sixes, and as we bore away the gennaker was pulled from the bag for a hoist.
With the snuffer, flying the gennaker was an easy task for us sailing shorthanded as we were, although as with the 575 I tested last month the tackline is a fixed strop that attaches to the bowroller. With no scope for running an adjustable tackline aft, this does limit your trim possibilities if you feel the urge to sail hot or deep. Having said that, she trucked along nicely at 6.5kts in 10kts true wind on a slight close reach, and maintained speeds between 5 and 6kts when running deeper. Moreover, she was a real doddle to trim and to helm and having an adjustable backstay on a 4:1 reduction just by the starboard helm gives you good, additional trim options.
If I have one grumble about the 345's otherwise excellent sailing characteristics, it is that there is a lack of feel through the wheels. During the day it is easy to spot the visual clues of being overpressed, but sailing in gusty conditions at night it's nice to be able to feel what the yacht is about to do when visual cues are gone.
In reality the 345 remains poised and responsive on all points of sail and would certainly offer pleasing sailing performance for all but the hardcore racers. She'd happily overhaul many of her competitors, too…
After a happy afternoon with the 345, I will concede that my desire for an old-school boat like my beloved Contessa 32 has been diminished. The interior space is a world away from the 30-something-footers of yesterday, and I have to say that from the dock or on the water she is a looker - far more appealing to my eye than the majority of her competitors.
Offered at a competitive price, the 345 will appeal to those looking for good cruising performance, ample accommodation and a safe environment either for family cruising or for shorthanded sailing or both. Sorry Contessa, I think I'm finally over you.
Hanse US reports 20 per cent growth in sales. The US subsidiary for the Greifswald-based German boatbuilder Hanse is reporting a 20 per cent growth in sales in first two quarters of 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Advancements in design and introduction of new models are said to be the driving forces behind the growth.
Douglas Brophy, MD of Hanse US explained the new models are better geared towards the North American market. "Our boats are for the sailing purist, the consumers are responding to our efforts," he says.
Hanse US began importing boats to North America in January of 2005. Hanse US, located in Newburyport, Massachusetts, is currently marketing Hanse, Moody, and Dehler through a network of 12 dealers.
› Great accommodation space, particularly with the three-cabin layout option
› Good looks and a great hull
› Solid sailing performance
› Big cockpit
› Wide choice of interior woods and fabrics
› Lack of feel through the wheel upwind when powered up
› Some elements of fitout and trim could be better finished
[TRADE-A-BOAT SAYS… ]
Good sailing performance, good looks, a good options list and good news for your bank manager with her price tag make this yacht a very attractive proposition. Throw in a sociable and safe cockpit, easy shorthanded sailing and the addition of that third double cabin and, minor foibles aside, Hanse looks to have created another winner.
Specifications: Hanse 345
Simrad Navigation Package, with NSS8 touchscreen GPS plotter in cockpit and IS40 displays; Cruising Package, including teak cockpit, electric anchor windlass, upgraded battery pack, cockpit shower and fenders/warps; Performance Package, including gennaker; Comfort Package, including drop-leaf cockpit table, cushions, Scenario light system with controller and dimmer; Entertainment Package, including Fusion MS-IP600 radio and iPod dock plus cockpit speakers
LENGTH 10.4m (overall); 9.99m (hull); 9.55m (waterline)
DRAFT 1.87m (T-speed, standard); 1.55m (L-shaped, optional)
WEIGHT Approx 6200kg
BALLAST Approx 2030kg (standard keel); approx 2200kg (optional keel)
MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta D1-20 (standard); Volvo Penta D1-30 (optional)
TYPE Diesel saildrive
RATED HP 18 (standard); 27 (optional)
AREA 32.5m² (main); 22.5m² (self-tacking jib)
RIG I 13.4m; J 3.88m; P 12.7m; E 4.35m
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Bayview Anchorage Marina,
Waterfront Office 2,
1714 Pittwater Road,
Bayview, 2104, NSW
Phone: (02) 9979 1709
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #435, January 2013
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