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By John Armstrong

The Beneteau Oceanis 55 was unveiled at the Paris Boat Show in December 2012.  We had the pleasure of sailing the Oceanis 55 immediately following the North American debut at Strictly Sail – the Miami Boat Show in February.   Conceived by Berret Racoupeau Yacht Design with its interior by Nauta Design, this is an elegant vessel, with modern clean lines.  It is bright, spacious and comfortable.   At 55 feet  LOA , 1431 square feet of  main and jib and 36800 lbs of displacement  this is a lot of boat; a lot of boat that was designed to be sailed comfortably by cruisers.  

What immediately struck us getting on board was the clear deck space.  All lines are led through covered channels.  There are no coach top lines or winches.   All surfaces are clear and lines are led aft to the rear of the cockpit.  All sheets, halyards, and travelers and furling lines lead to just forward of the twin helm stations.   Electric primary winches are positioned inboard (close to the centerline) keeping most of the trimming comfortably and safely in the middle of the cockpit.  Secondary winches are located outboard but still easily within reach of the helmsperson if sailing shorthanded.   Full instrumentation at each helm station provides easy and immediate access to information.   The mast is set back and the main and 105 %Genoa are almost equal in size to provide better balance and performance to the boat.  The composite arch provides boom-end sheeting for superior control of the main while keeping the main traveler out of the way of the cockpit.  The hull is designed with its chine carried fully aft to improve stability.   The twin rudders provide superior steering response compared to a single rudder even at a moderate heel.   Our boat had in mast main furling and genoa furling.  Deploying sails, as opposed to raising them, was an easy one person job.  We sailed the very shallow draft (4’9”) version of the Oceanis 55 in 15 knots of breeze and 5-8’ seas in absolute comfort  at 10 degrees of heel with about 25% of our genoa furled and a full main.  We effortlessly sailed in those seas at about 8 to 9 knots.  This boat was designed for cruising and the shallow draft allows this Oceanis 55 to go where boats 20 shorter can venture but the average 50 footer cannot.   The shallow waters of the Bahamas or some parts of the North Channel of Georgian Bay are easily accessible for this vessel.   Lower water levels on the Great Lakes are now a lesser concern.

Comfort is the hallmark of the Oceanis 55.  On deck there is a large roomy cockpit with plenty of seating.  On deck sun beds, cockpit cushion and backs make lounging comfortable.  The centre foldout cockpit table includes storage and a cool box.  The transom and helm seat combine using an electric lift system to form a water level platform with a very useable bathing ladder.  Wide decks and the shrouds positioned outboard to the rail allow for ease of mobility on deck.  A sail locker forward keeps the forward cabin uncluttered, clean and dry.

If the topside were impressive the interior has wow factor.  The clean lines of the cabinetry, extensive use of mahogany including, carefully placed mirrors, white cushions, and hatches, coach top lights and large fixed hull ports produce a bright, spacious and warm feel.  Salon headroom is 6’6”.   For layout selection there are several options; choose from 3 cabin 2 toilet, 3 cabin 3 toilet, 4 cabin 4 toilet, and 4 cabin 3 toilet + forepeak crew berth layouts.   The charter market is a definite target for the Oceanis 55.  Our Oceanis 55 was a 3-cabin layout with 2 toilets.  The two aft cabins each were complete with double beds, cupboards, shelves and a hanging locker.  Both have large fixed hull ports and opening deck and cockpit hatches.   Next forward to Starboard is a toilet with ample space with a separate shower.  To port is the u-shaped galley equipped with a microwave, 2 burner stove / oven, ice box and fridge, Kerrock countertop and moulded sink, and lots of storage space.  The main salon area has a 2 seat settee to port and outboard of that a hidden 32” flat screen TV.  To starboard is the salon table with u-shaped seating.  The aft section of the U pivots to provide seating for the adjacent Navigation table.   Optionally this salon table can be equipped to be another double berth.   The Hull and coach top side lights along with two deck hatches provide exceptional natural light into the salon.   Our layout included an optional wine cooler forward of the port settee.    

Finally to the forward state room as a description of the cabin really does not do it justice.   Beneteau has moved the forward berth aft by placing the sail locker / crew cabin in the forepeak.   This allows the traditional V-berth to have far more width.  Gone is the V.  The hexagonal island berth is 6’11” by 6’, no more playing early morning footsy with your partner.   The fore washroom and toilet are fully contained within this stateroom.  To port is the toilet and a basin with Kerrock counter.  To starboard is another basin and a fully enclosed shower.   Storage is plentiful in upper and lower cupboards, hanger closets and a 4 drawer chest of drawers.  The top of the chest of drawers incorporates a sliding top to act as a dressing table or desk with both a power socket and a mirror.   The removable seat has a floor fixing mechanism when under way.  Natural light is again provided through fixed hull ports, coach roof lights and 2 flush deck hatches.  

Whether a couple, a family, or a charter group, this boat will allow you to enjoy your time on the water in comfort and style.  The Beneteau Oceanis 55 has been designed for comfortable cruising.

Full Specifications:
LOA: 16,78 m - 55'1
Hull length: 15,99 m - 52'6''
Length waterline: 15,16 m - 49'9''
Hull beam: 4,96 m - 16'3''
Light displacement: 16 700 kg / 36,807 Lbs
Ballast weight: 5 298 - 4 390- 4 960 kg / 11,677 - 10 932 - 9,676 Lbs
Draft: 1,45 - 1,80 - 2,20 M / 4’9” - 5’11” - 7’3”
Fuel tank capacity: 400(S) + 200(O) L / 106(S) + 53(O) Gal
Fresh water capacity: 694(S) + 324(O) L / 183(S) + 86 )(O) Gal
Max Engine Power: SD 75CV - SD 75HP
Interior design: Nauta Design

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 - Beneteau has done it again with the new 55, well designed for very comfortable cruising and with the various configurations it can meet any Skippers and or family requirements.
Photo 2 - The cockpit like the rest of this magnificent boat is very practical and functional.