|The new CR385DS|
The Deck Saloon cruiser is an interesting concept that has been losing prominence over the last decades. In the past, many sailboat brands had smaller than 45ft deck saloons in their line: Jeanneau, Hanse, Dehler, Arcona, Southerly, Fantasi, and Wauquiez were some of them, and there were famous brands that produced mostly deck saloons, like Nauticat.
|2002 – Nauticat 37, above and below|
First, we saw many deck saloons, maintaining the same cabin configuration, be transformed into false deck saloons, using the bigger interior height only to increase interior space and volume, but having not a raised saloon that allowed outside views.
The best example was Jeanneau, which for some years maintained a line of false deck saloons yachts, that they called DS anyway. But other brands, including Bavaria, followed this trend, which is today used by many brands, including Contest.
The true deck-saloon concept offers advantages and disadvantages, the more obvious advantage being allowing an all-around outside view, which is only possible on this type of boat, or on a catamaran.
With an outside view, when it is cold or raining, you will not only be able to sail protected, sailing the boat from the interior but will also continue to enjoy the scenery, while at anchor.
With the evolution of automatic pilots, modern DS, to be sailed from the interior, don’t need an interior steering wheel anymore, just a joystick.
1996 – Above and below, Dehler 41DS
The most obvious DS disadvantage is an increased price in production, making this type of sailboat more expensive. There are other disadvantages like the need to cover most window surfaces from the outside in hot climates, not to increase the interior temperature too much. For this reason, this type of sailboat was never very popular in the Caribbean or Med, where people tend to sail mostly in the spring or summer, when the temperatures are already high.
Sure, in the Med or the Caribbean, it still offers a big advantage in night passages, or while sailing out of the main season, but the ones that do that are few, and in the end, the superior production costs and the more marginal market are the main reason why this type of configuration was abandoned by big brands, even if Hanse, through Moody, still proposes a line of deck-saloons, that is a bit a cross-over between a catamaran and a monohull.
That’s because of the temperature problem in hot climates that most of the surviving deck-saloon brands are from the North of Europe, where the temperatures in summer are a lot lower than in the South. This problem is not a relevant one for bigger yachts, that use air conditioning full-time. Even so, not even in them the true deck saloon configuration is today the dominant one, being the false deck saloon much more popular.
The three main brands that today produce relatively small deck saloons are all in the North of Europe, CR in Sweeden, Nordship in Denmark, and Sirius in North Germany. Sirius’s main model was for many years a 38 ft boat but now they have only a 35 and a 40ft boat, and that leaves them out of this comparison.
You may ask why I have chosen 38ft and not 40ft, or bigger, for this comparison. Well, these are already very expensive sailboats and cost a lot of money, but, due to their configuration, they offer at least as much interior space as “normal” 40fters, a space that I find enough for a couple, or even two, to live in the sailboat. These 38fters can offer two cabins, two heads and more than enough storage space, and that is enough for most.
|Above, 2003 Southerly 35RS|
They are also heavier than most “normal” cruisers and have a good B/D offering good overall stability, good safety stability, and a bluewater ability. So, why bigger and more expensive, if this size seems more than enough to most? To be completely true I have chosen these two also because I like them a lot more than the Moody or Sirius, both very beamy boats that are not a sailing match for these two.
Regarding sailing, a boat of this type is at a disadvantage in regards to “normal” type of sailboats, they have more windage and they are not designed for performance. But all is relative and these two are good sailing boats. On the comparative sail test below, by Yacht.de, you can see that the smaller Nordship 380DS had no difficulty in beating clearly the bigger Moody 41DS or the Sirius 40DS, in all points of sail and all wind conditions.
The testers say that this is not important in this type of boat, and I disagree. A sailing boat is a sailing boat and it is not because you chose a DS configuration that you will want a slower boat, or that you will not appreciate a bigger speed sailing potential while cruising, not to mention, that being a lot less beamy the Nordship will have a much more comfortable motion upwind.
And besides all that the CR 385DS is a new model, not yet in the water, and a nice-looking sailboat. Some don’t care about that, but I do, and I would be incapable of buying a sailboat if I did not find it good-looking, and designing a nice-looking 38ft deck saloon is not easy, due to proportionally higher cabin height on a relatively small length boat, but in this case, Ben Rogerson, a British naval designer, managed an elegant design that looks good.
On the CR site, they mix pictures of the older CR380 with the presentation of the new boat, and that seems to me counter-productive and inadequate, given the idea that the 385 is just a new version of the older boat, when in reality it is a completely new model, with a different hull, and a better-looking cabin, finishing with all that black cabin look that makes the previous model not as nice as it could be. The new 385 HL is slightly longer than the older model, 11.70m to 11.50m but the LWL is much bigger, 11.20m to 9.75m partially due to a less raked bow.
The new one is also much beamier, 3.85m to 3.63m it has a bit more draft 1.80m to 1.72 (with an option to 2.10m) on a similar L bulbed keel, it is slightly heavier, 7800kg to 7700kg and it has a bigger B/D, 38.5% to 37.7%.
It has a bigger overall stability, due to the bigger beam, more displacement, and to the bigger B/D on a keel with a bigger draft. Even if it is slightly heavier, due to the much bigger LWL, the D/L is much smaller 155.3 to 232.4. Even if they have standard the same sail area, the SA/Ds are very similar, 20.2 to 20.4.
The 385 is a more powerful boat and will be faster in most conditions, needing to reef later. In lighter winds, it will be slower than the older model and maybe also upwind, due to the increase in beam that generates more drag. But this boat, with more stability than the previous one, with the shrouds near the cabin, will have no problems in having a 135% genoa, as a standard sail, and that will match in lighter winds the performance with the previous model, or can even give it a better one, except upwind with stronger winds. Let me also point out that because the boat is light, the sail area does not need to be big, and that is a big advantage in what concerns handling sails.
|Above CR 380DS, below CR 385DS: two cabins, two heads.|
It is especially important regarding the size of the code 0 and the gennaker. The smaller size and displacement means that, sailing alone or in a couple, you will be able to use them a lot more often, and with a lot more wind than you would if you were using much bigger ones, on a much heavier boat. In fact, the code 0 has here the same area as a 135% genoa on a 46ft fast sailboat (70m2).
As the previous model, the CR 385DS is a fast boat, even if we compare it with other types of sailboats that look faster, and will surprise many sailors, even if having a simplified running rigging with only two winches near the wheel, another one over the cabin and one at the mast. This configuration implies a standard self-tacking jib. It comes also with a traveler for the main mounted over the cabin.
The CR 385DS is not only fast as it is seaworthy, but it also has a lot of stability, and very good safety stability and AVS, due to a big ballast. However, let me point out that in extreme situations the large glass surfaces of a deck saloon may constitute a liability, and in strong storm situations, at least the lateral ones should be protected from the outside with covers, even if they are made from very strong insulated double glass, mounted in stainless steel frames, and are not particularly big.
And if you think that the problem is really a big one, one that cannot be solved with technical solutions, remember that rescue boats have also glass windows, some of bigger size, also mounted in steel frames. To make them strong the glass should be very resistant (remember that glass can be bullet-proof) and having the proper glass is not a problem.
The way they are fixed into the cabin is even more important and it has to be very solid, which means costly. Contrary to what many think, if the boat is not very well built, having the windows covered from the outside, is not enough, as an accident with a DS showed some years ago when, in a storm, a widow was popped out (not in) due to the flexion in the cabin wall. That’s one of the reasons why these boats, if well-built, have to be more expensive.
|CR 380DS, a big rig narrow boat that sails fast with considerable heel|
In the Yacht.de magazine video covering the test on the CR380, you can see how well the boat sails, even if over-canvassed, more like a performance cruiser than a boat of this type. You can also see how well the deep single rudder is able to control the yacht, even with too much sail, and under gusts.
The new one is beamier, has more stability, a different hull in the aft sections, and will sail with less heel. Normally I do not appreciate the increase in the beam on the new models, which is a generalized tendency these days, for giving them more interior volume at the cost of sailing performance, but the 380DS was not a beamy boat and the increase in beam, even if big, does not make the 385DS a very beamy boat. For instance, the Dufour 390, almost 2 feet shorter, has a 3.99m beam, which compares with 3.85m on the CR 385, and with a DS configuration, limiting heel makes sense, much more than in the Dufour.
I have always been impressed by the quality of the CR interiors, and even if I haven’t seen one in several years, I believe that the standard of quality is maintained. They manage to look traditional and modern at the same time, modern in the layout and general clean look, and traditional in the craftwork and detail.
|Three cabin version|
The older 380 offered two different layouts, both so good that I never understood why they did not choose only one and lower production costs, and the same happens with the 385 that offers 4! different layouts. The logical choice on both boats would be to have two cabins, two heads, and managing that on a not hugely beamy 38ft sailboat, without limiting the storage (outside or inside), neither the size of the galley, and offering a good elevated pilot chart table (with an all-around view), it is an incredible achievement, only possible in a very well-designed Deck Saloon layout configuration.
|You can see the two optional winches|
In the interior, the main difference between the 380 and 385 has mostly to do with having a bigger saloon and a bigger galley, as well as more space for equipment and storage, so much space that I wonder why they choose to maintain a relatively small aft head when they have the space to make it bigger, but with so much possible customization it should not be a problem to modify that.
The forward head is a very good-sized one with a separate shower cabin, the two cabins are adequately dimensioned and, contrary to most boats, the saloon berth that you can have using the seats is not only wide but also a raised one, which will be optimal to keep a watch at night, while solo sailing, between small naps. However, the layout that they offer as standard does not make much sense, because it takes away the possibility of sailing the boat from the chart table, one of the advantages of the DS configuration.
Sure you can also do it from the main interior table, but it is not the same thing because all navigation instruments are on the chart table.
They have another configuration without a chart table and a huge galley, and two more, that are the ones that seem to make more sense to me, offering both the raised chart table, one with two cabins with plenty of storage space and two heads, and the other with three cabins, only one head, offering limited storage space, but still space for a generator.
If one does not cruise for several months and has a large family the three-cabin configuration, which still offers four cockpit lockers (two of them deep) may turn out to be the best option.
If one will cruise and live aboard extensively the layout that makes more sense is the one with two cabins, but it makes no sense to have a small aft head when you have the space to make it bigger, and if we look at the standard layout we will see that the head goes far aft in the hull, so it is possible (I mean, does not pose a problem with bulkheads).
The outside storage, contrary to most modern cruising boats, is excellent (on the versions with two cabins), with a dedicated space for liferaft, two very deep lookers under the aft seats (ideal for fenders and ropes), and two under the cockpit seats, one of them huge, giving access to the main storage space, that can also be accessed from the interior.
One of the more interesting solutions is the cockpit table, which disappears under the cockpit floor, allowing for a big table and for an uncluttered space while sailing. But if that is a plus I find it a pity to have a boat with a fast hull and a good sail area, without the means to explore its full sailing potential.
Yes I know, for many it will be more than enough to have a cruiser that is already faster than most of the cruisers of that size, and I know that most don’t have this compulsion of having the boat always perfectly trimmed to get just those extras decimals of knots in speed, but there are also some like me, that would not know what to do in a sailboat while sailing if they were not doing that. Time passes slowly if you are doing nothing and trimming correctly a sailboat is a pleasure for the ones that like to sail.
The simplified rigging with almost all lines going to two winches and with the halyards going to another (that is over the cabin), will only work well with the self-tacking jib, and if you want to use as standard a 135% genoa or use a code 0 or gennaker, you will not only need genoa travelers, but also two extra winches, that can be mounted as an option. It comes already with a Selden rodkicker but a backstay tensioner is an option.
I don’t like the position where they have put the optional winches, because they interfere with the best place to be seated at the wheel, but I am sure they can be moved forward. Anyway, one of the shipyard trademarks is the high degree of customization, and I have no doubt that I could figure out with them all the changes needed to turn this deck saloon into a true performance cruiser, with all that is necessary to give a perfect shape to the sails.
They are an old shipyard and they have made many classic performance cruisers, so they know what to do, and what is needed. In fact, I like a lot this boat, with its good sailing potential, allowing to do night watches comfortably from the interior, permitting to extend the sailing season, with the possibility of taking shelter inside when it rains, or when it is disagreeably cold. The bigger problem is price. As I have explained this type of boat, if well built (and this one is) is necessarily expensive.
The main competitor is the Nordship 380DS, even if in fact they are very different boats, and I would say that only by mistake someone that is interested in one will buy the other. If my wife chose our cruising boat, the Nordship would be the one. In every boat show where the 380DS is exposed, she wants to see it again, so I have seen the 380DS plenty of times because it is a model that has already been around for some years.
Above and below, Nordship 380DS
My wife is an experienced cruiser and knows more about cruising boats than most, I mean about interiors, that is the thing that mostly interests her, and not only about nice interiors but about functional ones, so, you can be sure that in what regards that, this is a very well designed sailboat.
Of course, the possibility of making night watches from inside the boat ranks high even if I bet that if we had one she would pass more time outside than inside, to see better.
She hates doing night watches and is always afraid of misinterpreting ship lights and the direction ships are moving, and in the med there are plenty of them, mostly fast ferries.
Having a nice view from the inside of the boat is also an important advantage, but the thing she really likes most about this sailboat are the two very good comfortable interior seats, on the small but very cozy semi-open open space that she would use for reading, and that most would use to watch TV, a kind of space that we can only find in much bigger yachts, and that is amazing to find in a boat of this size.
Of course, she loves also the aft big king-size cabin and the big storage that comes with it, only possible because besides being a DS this is a central cockpit yacht, and not a typical one because it has the steering and sailing working space separated from the one for the “passengers”.
All the rest is very similar to the CR380DS, even if the galley is smaller, the space for instruments and chart table bigger, and the standing height bigger, due to the bigger freeboard and higher cabin (on the CR varies between 1.85 and 1.90m).
|Above, Nordship 380 cockpit|
The interior storage space is bigger, in what concerns small cabinets, but smaller in the bigger storage space, which can also be accessed from the cockpit. But most of all, the CR 385DS can have two cabins and two heads while the Nordship can have only one head, a good one, at the bow near the cabin.
Even if they have only one layout, they can make you a boat with two cabins and two heads, but that would occupy practically the whole of the bigger storage compartment, and the boat would end with very little storage and would be inadequate for extensive cruising.
That’s the price for that nice little cabin to read or watch TV. It is a bit odd because being the king’s cabin the main cabin (the bigger and the one with more storage), the head is on the other side of the boat, near the other cabin, and if the aft cabin ventilation may work in the Baltic, in the hot Med or Caribbean you would need AC, because even at anchor you would not have a way of making enough air flow into the cabin. On the forward cabin, while at anchor, the wind is canalized by the big zenithal open hatch, but on the king-size cabin you don’t have a hatch on the ceiling, only relatively small side hatches.
So, if you don’t like and don’t use AC, and you sail in the Med or Caribbean, that big cabin would not be your main cabin, but the smaller one at the bow. In compensation, you will have the head closer. If there are differences in what regards the interior, both are incredibly well finished and of very high quality, in what regards sailing, the differences are huge.
If the hull length and the beam are not very different, with the Nordship with 11.60m and 3.75m, respectively of LOA and Beam, and the CR with 11.70, and 3.85m, the LWL of the CR is much bigger, 11.20 to 10.30, indicating a more modern hull, and that is evident if we look at them with attention.
Both hulls have relatively fine entries, and more so on the beamier hull of the CR, which has the max beam not all pulled to the transom, but much more than on the Nordship.
But the main difference is displacement, being the Nordship much heavier, with 9000kg to 7800 and having a smaller B/D, 35.5% to 38.5%, in a keel with the same draft (2.80m), the one of the Nordship (a kind of torpedo keel) a bit more efficient into bringing the CG down, being that compensated by the superior B/D on the CR.
In the end not very different results in regards to AVS or safety stability that is good in both cases, even if the Nordship’s overall stability will be bigger due to the bigger displacement.
Regarding sail performance, even if the Nordship is not a slow sailing boat, the difference to the CR will be huge, and we can see that by the SA/D, 16.8 for the Nordship, 20.2 for the CR, and by the D/L, 228.2 to 155.3.
That is why it makes sense, for someone that wants a performance cruiser, to better the CR 385DS running rigging, while on the Nordship 380DS it does not make sense to do that.
Even if it sails well the Nordship 380DS is the wrong boat for someone that wants a performance cruiser, and the running rigging is perfectly adapted for the ones that want a DS cruiser, with a sail performance similar to main market cruisers.
In some aspects the standard Nordship running rigging is better than the one on CR, having a very nice direct purchase system for the main on a travel car, near the wheel and two winches near the single wheel, while on the CR 385DS the traveler is over the cabin and the main is controlled with the help of the two single winches aft, as almost everything else.
I wonder if it would not make sense to have a similar mainsheet system on the CR385 DS, which probably can be installed on demand.
|Above, king-sized aft cabin, below, the only head|
However, I wonder if that system is not under-dimensioned for the 43.2m2 main sail area. Like on the CR the Nordship uses a jib mounted on a self-tacking rail. All the rest, in regards to running rigging, is as basic as on the CR385 and while curiously the Nordship comes standard with a single line furling the CR comes with a furling mast. I have never seen a Nordship 380 equipped with a one-line reefing, but I have seen plenty CR380 equipped with them.
The Nordship comes equipped standard with a sprayhood, and a cockpit table that can be easily taken away and stored, leaving a structure that serves as a holding bar.
It comes standard with a pod for instruments and two winches near the wheel, a small one at the mast a mechanical backstay tensioner, a self-tacking rail for the jib, a traveler for the main as well as a direct purchase system for the main.
The tankage is good on both boats, with the CR385 having 400L water, 250 fuel and 77L in the holding tank. The Norship has 370L of water, 200L of fuel and 110L in the holding tank. The lighter CR comes with a 40hp Yanmar engine and the Nordship with a 48hp Volvo Penta. Both can have as option more powerful engines.
Regarding the way they are built, the CR is equipped with a keel-stepped mast and the Nordship with a deck-steeped mast. A kell-stepped mast has more stability than a deck-stepped mast but this one allows for an interior without a mast intrusion even if on the Nordship a strong steel bar connects it to the steel frame.
Both use hand-laminated sandwich construction using good-quality polyester resins. The core on Nordship is Dyvinicel foam and they use a steel backbone for the keel as structure, and the structure and bulkheads are laminated to the hull.
CR hull structure (410)
CR uses as core PVC foam and a big and very strong GRP structure that is laminated to the hull. In both boats, the building quality is high, but being the techniques and materials similar, it is to be expected the much heavier Nordship to be a stronger boat.
But this does not mean the CR will be weak or not very solid. In fact, for a 38ft boat, it is as heavy as some 40ft yachts from big brands, that have no sandwich hulls (should be heavier with a monolithic hull), have inferior quality structures, are only bonded together and have a much less labor-work-intensive construction.
These boats have to be expensive, and expensive they are, costing the Nordship 380DS, standard without VAT, 462 364 euros while the CR 385DS cost 395 402 standard and 401 758 with two heads.
But in fact, the difference in price between the two boats is much bigger, because if the Nordship comes better equipped than most boats, the CR is a sail away boat, and as that, a very well equipped boat, with everything, from Pentex sails to electronics, autopilot, cockpit table, sprayhood, windlass, stainless steel anchor, heating, they even included synthetic teak decks, that you may not want.
The hull steel structure on the Nordship (360DS)
In the end, the Swedish yacht (CR) fully equipped, even with more equipment than what is standard (code 0, bow thruster, two more winches) with European VAT will cost less than 500 000 euros, versus over 650 000 euros for the Danish Nordship (with similar equipment) and that makes the CR price an interesting one, for the ones that can afford it. Two very interesting sailboats, in their own way, survivors of an almost dying species, one of small pilothouse/deck saloon sailboats.
These two manage to have nice looks, to sail much better than their ancestors and I really hope they have the success they deserve because I would hate to see them disappearing and becoming a memory. The CR is the last descendent of performance-fast DS, like the Dehler 41DS or the Arcona 40DS and the Nordship more on the main DS branch.
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