Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Beneteau Oceanis 40 and 46

9th May 2008

Ocean’s alive!

Beneteau has just released two new boats in its Oceanis range – the 40 and 46 – onto the Irish market though BJ Marine. Afloat doubled up on testing the two boats, and sent Graham Smith to compare notes.



We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, that boatbuilders’ design and construction flair worldwide has improved immensely over the years to the point where there really is no such thing as a ‘bad’ boat.

At the top of the heap for more years than they probably care to remember, Beneteau have been producing boats that are not only easy on the eye but are also built to exacting standards of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

The new Oceanis 46 and its smaller sister the 40 are no exception to the Beneteau rule of aesthetically pleasing yachts with top class sea-going qualities.

First impressions

Side-by-side in Dun Laoghaire Marina, there is absolutely no doubt that you are looking at boats from the same family, yet for all that there are enough differences to set them apart.

46 – is a mighty piece of boat, and by being moored stern-to, she seemed even beamier across the aft section. Side-on, she has a high freeboard and a level deck surface the full length of the boat, which adds to the feeling of size.

40 – it may be six feet shorter and smaller in other dimensions than its ‘big sister’, but the 40 could hardly be described a small boat, by any standards. With a lower freeboard and a slight sheer on the deckline, she gives the impression of being that little bit sleeker on the water.

On Top

46 – the renowned talents of the Berret Racoupeau team have combined an attractive hull shape with a deck that features smooth curves to the coachroof and cockpit combing so there are no sharp edges to catch on legs and arms and so add to the comfortable cruising experience.

A gently sweeping coachroof with a distinctive side window panel about a third of its length adds to the visual effect of elegance while three rectangular port-holes inset into each topside also contributes to the handsome lines. There’s even an electric socket on the cockpit table in which to insert a cockpit lamp while docked!

40 – the coachroof window is marginally different and there are less hatches and ports than on the bigger boat but the twin helm positions, the ease of movement through the cockpit area from over the stern, the cockpit table with fold-away sections are all similar, just smaller.

Like the 46, it has a neat two-door hatchcover that hinges away flush into the companionway (rather than being dropped into slots) and a multi-function screen (with GPS, plotter and chart reader) fitted to the rear of the cockpit table that can swivel left or right to suit the helm’s position.

Down Below

46 – you want plush, the 46 delivers it and it also offers acres of space that makes the saloon a very comfortable place in which to relax. You can even cater for around 8 ample-sized adults around the table that features a folding top. A dozen ports or hatches flood light in to give that extra airy feel while the richness of the wood finishings accentuates the ambience.
Three double-berth cabins – the forward one (with en-suite) is definitely the master’s with its angled bed that can be accessed on almost three sides – is likely to be the preferred layout option although some owners may opt for one larger cabin to replace the two aft ones.
Soundproofing of the engine (accessed under the hinged steps into the saloon) is exemplary and the stainless steel grab handles on the ceiling from the foot of the steps to half way up the saloon adds to the feeling of security in a big sea.
40 – like the 46, the interior design has been handled by Nauta Design, the Italian creative team whose raison d’etre appears to be the provision of contemporary lines, loads of light, comfort and well-being. The choice of fittings is symptomatic of their approach and they have a knack in utilising even the smallest nook and cranny into a useful storage space.
It features a linear galley along the port side, unlike the 46’s more expansive version between the companionway steps and one of the two aft cabins. The 40’s layout naturally reduces the living space in the saloon but that isn’t to say that it is cramped – far from it!
A saloon seat and back-rest that curves round the exterior curved wall of the head/shower on the 40 is used on the 46 as part of the chart table arrangement.

Under Sail

46 – this is a perfect example of how technologically advanced sailing has become when even setting sail can be done at the push of a button. Hauling a mainsail on a 46-footer would be a daunting task at the best times but an electrically-powered winch makes it an effortless exercise on the Oceanis.
Unfortunately, the wind dropped off as our test started so we didn’t have the best conditions to try out the 46. As you would expect from a big boat, acceleration in light winds is not its outstanding characteristic but when the breeze freshened she did perform more than adequately. This is, after all, a cruising boat, and you don’t buy it for performance – you invest in the ability to travel in comfort and style and the minimum of fuss.
The twin helming position is ideal, each with compass and instrumentation to hand, and a well in the floor under each wheel allows the helm to brace his/her legs to suit the conditions.
40 – perhaps unsurprisingly, the 40 is more responsive on the helm than its bigger sister and as a result gives that bit more on the performance front to make it a more rewarding ‘sailing’ experience.
No push-button assistance here, though! This is muscle power territory and requires a little more effort but it’s worth it in a breeze. The 40 accelerated well when wind strength increased and with the genoa winches led well aft (just in front of the steering wheels), tacking and gybing can be handled without interfering with anyone relaxing in the cockpit.
The twin wheels is again a bonus, giving the flexibility of helming to windward or to leeward without putting a crick in your neck.

Under Power

46 – this is a big boat so the Yanmar 75HP diesel is ideal to push it along with ease forward or in reverse. Of just as much importance was the bow-thruster, almost a pre-requisite if you want to ‘park’ more easily in a crowded marina.
40 – the Yanmar 40HP diesel is more than adequate for the Oceanis 40 and the optional extra of the bow-thruster is well worth considering, just as it is with the bigger 46.

To Buy For

46 – style, comfort, quality fixtures and fittings, space – just some of the reasons why you would buy the Oceanis 46.
40 – the above, in smaller proportions, but with more performance.
The pivoting base multi-function screen in the cockpit in both boats is a clever touch.

To Cry For

Not a lot – although the lines led from the mast to the cockpit look like they have the potential to allow a breaking wave to make its way into the cockpit (other boats are now hiding the lines under a channel along the top of the coachroof to avoid this possibility).

Go For More

The standard specification on both the 40 and 46 is top drawer but there’s nothing stopping you going for the added extras like flat-screen TV/DVD player, air-conditioning etc.

How Much?

46 – standard boat from E202,675 and with all the trimmings (and delivery, commissioning, etc), our blue-hulled test boat was E255,366.
40 – standard boat from E137,819 and with various extras, our blue-hulled test boat was E189,677.

Afloat Verdict

If you want plush and comfort, go for the 46. If size doesn’t really matter to you but performance is a more important criterion, then the 40 will be more rewarding to sail.

Image Team

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