A quick look at the drawings for the Oceanis 440 will tell you that this boat was designed with chartering in mind. Beneteau has combined its extensive experience in the charter boat field with the talents of Bruce Farr to produce a boat that appears to be the universal answer to chartering.

The Beneteau Oceanis 440.

The Beneteau Oceanis 440.

I know from my own chartering experience that your appreciation of a boat changes in that environment. You no longer have a summer to equip the boat to your family's requirements. The charter boat must be right as it comes out of the box. There is minimal room for art in this endeavor. It's almost like composing and arranging elevator music. There is a strict formula to follow.

Maybe we are seeing a trend this month. Have you noticed how clunky the drafting is on these four designs? The designing of yachts has always been an art/science with some of the past's best designers being master draftsmen.

Oh yes, AutoCAD, I almost forgot. I have AutoCAD. I use it for the basic bones of all my hull, keel and rudder drawings. I embellish the drawings by hand, adding detail, dimensions and subtleties in line weight to make the drawing come alive. I like doing it. The AutoCAD does the drudgery part, then I take over for the fun parts.

Don't be mislead into thinking that the computer makes fewer mistakes than a human draftsman. I can think of some very notable mistakes that were done on AutoCAD. Accurate? Perhaps. Certainly accurately wrong. I prefer to hear violins, violas and cellos as opposed to a simulated string section from a synthesizer. There is more richness to the sound. In the same way I prefer to see the intricate differences and personal signatures of drawings done by hand. My two sons, aged 11 and 14, draw on AutoCAD. It's the coming thing. I know the day will come when I will get a client who wants all the drawings on a floppy disk. Will hand drafting go the way of wooden boatbuilding to become a skill demonstrated by old men at antique boatbuilding fairs?

Even when chartering, you want a boat that is good-looking, and the 440 is certainly that. The sail plan shows a clean profile with a raised wedge cabintrunk. This shape blends well with the businesslike lines of the Farr hull. The spar is well forward, and the rig is big enough to give a SA/D ratio of 22.92. This is based upon a light ship displacement of 20,460 pounds and strikes me as a rather high SA/D ratio for a charter boat. The mainsheet traveler is well forward. The mast is stayed with fore and aft lowers and sweptback spreaders. This gives the benefits of fore and aft lowers and avoids the need for three separate chain plates. The Bimini and radar arch look a little awkward but shelter from the sun is not an option in the Caribbean.

The hull form shows short ends and a beam-to-length ratio of 3.21. The stern is broad and the run appears to be flat. A shoal draft keel is available combining fin, bulb and wings. The rudder is a typical large modern-shaped semi-balanced spade. I can't see anything to prevent this boat from being a fast sailer.

The deck layout features a big, wide cockpit made possible by a big, wide stern. There is a spacious swim step, a feature that is a must on any cruising boat for warm weather. The cockpit is big enough to hold a big table for outside dining. The cabintrunk is quite wide and this pushes the genoa tracks up on top of the coachroof. There's nothing wrong with this, and, in fact, it provides a very convenient lead angle back to the primaries located on the aft corner of the coachroof. Halyards are tucked under fairing pieces in order to clean up the deck, and they also lead aft to winches and jammers alongside the companionway.

The 440 comes in two interior configurations aimed at sleeping cabin variations. There are mirror-image staterooms aft with double berths. You can also have a single cabin aft. The forward stateroom features an on-center double berth. Neither head has a shower stall. If you go with the single stateroom aft model, you can have a nice U-shaped galley and a more luxurious main cabin arrangement. The double stateroom aft model moves the galley to a longitudinal position in the main cabin. It is interesting that the single aft stateroom model is not available in Europe, and several of the European arrangements are not available in the United States.

I was very impressed with the general condition of the Caribbean charter fleets. These boats have evolved into very specialized machines perfectly suited to the job at hand. I'd be very comfortable cruising an Oceanis 440.

Boat Specifications
Displacement20460 lbs.
Ballast7055 lbs.
Sail Area1075 sq. ft.
SA/D ratio22.92
D/L ratio189.23
Fuel53 gals.
Water145 gals.
AuxiliaryYanmar 72 hp 4JH 2TE


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.