Dehler 46: Stylish Sailing

The 46 is a new edition to the Dehler range and the big sister to the 38. Designed by Judel/Vrolijk & Co, the new 46 falls into the cruiser/racer market and with the option of a competition package, she offers a range of possibilities.

With all the amenties needed to impress, including a teak deck, swim platform and a espresso machine, it is a great yacht to show off to your friends and family, while competing in twilight races and regattas on the weekends.

Having been invited to the launch of the new Dehler 46 I was very keen to take her for a spin after seeing her at the dock. We headed out to Port Hacking to the Royal Motor Yacht Club to do just that on a beautiful Wednesday morning in the middle of Sydney’s so called “Polar Vortex” – there was not much ice around here. I had not been to this club since the JOG national last century, and things seem to be going well.

Deck Layout

We met Ric from Windcraft at the boat and I was pleased to see that the 46 has a great swim platform (which can be removed for racing), when down it is an easy step on board from the standard low marina berths. I noticed the enclosed swim ladder, simply pull it out and you have a great swimming area with a handy shower in the nearby locker.

The walk through the boat is nice and spacious with plenty of room between the wheels and around the cockpit table. The first thing I noticed is the retractable deck cleats. These seem to be standard now, but it is great to have a solid strong cleat then be able to pop it away and save the sheets from getting caught.

Engine controls are on the starboard side and are simple. Both steering stations have a B&G Zeus plotter. This was very handy getting in and out of Port Hacking with its narrow channel. The starboard side also has the controls for the retractable bow thruster, which is nice and convenient in a cross current/wind. Motoring out was a good time to look at the deck layout. The halyards and ropes are all going to a bank of jammers on the deck head, set to both port and starboard. Both sides are the same except to starboard is a power winch. This is a must for pulling sails up, manoeuvring your dinghy onto the foredeck and going up the rig.

Looking around there are two spacious cockpit lockers for ropes and handles, etc. plus good storage aft in the cockpit lockers. The lockers also have a well-designed spring lock to prevent the inevitable injury from a falling locker lid. Up the pointy end is a good anchor prod which also takes the geneckers tack line. A simple to use low profile anchor winch system makes short handed cruising a breeze. The jib furler is below deck, which makes for a clean foredeck and added performance. The jib sheets lead to deck tracks (may need a barber-hauler system) back through offset blocks to adequate primaries. The main sheet is powered and has a traveller just in front of the steering pedestals.

The rig and spars we used were Selden but the optional carbon rig would reduce the weight and combined with the deep keel would increase the boat's performance. The sails are from Elvstrom and you have the option of the fast cruising laminate or HPM sails made from vectran/polyester. These are lighter and more stable allowing the boat to sail higher and faster.

Interior Comforts

Heading down the well-angled companionway steps leads to a clean and well-styled interior. For a cruiser/racer the 46 has a lot of comfort details. The galley would delight any cruising couple, with the fridge opening from above and below. There is also a well placed microwave and a good-sized gas cooker. The sink and cooker both have covers to create a sizeable food preparation area and the storage is more than adequate.

Then of course there is a slide-out espresso machine, a must have on every cruiser/racer. The saloon area has many nifty ideas to supplement the incredible finish. There is a pop-up mini bar, large table with integrated bar, the classic Dehler radius lockers with lots of storage and comfortable seating for the whole crew.

The port side nav table was fit out well and a good size. Although I would like to see a sizable screen, probably on the bulkhead, to support the entertainment system, but most of all a chart plotter with AIS. The two heads both have the classic Dehler uni-door system. Both have a superb finish with huge washbasins, storage and mirrors. There is also plenty of room to hang the wet weather gear.

The staterooms, as you would expect, are superbly finished with excellent natural light, storage and space. The stand out feature is the flush hatches with their screens for darkness and insects.

The 46 comes standard with two double and a single stateroom but there is the option to upgrade to the three double rooms, this does not affect the overall layout of the interior or make the staterooms any smaller.

Performance

Time for a sail. We were just off Cronulla, it was sunny with about a 5 to 7 knot breeze. Setting the sails is pretty easy with the furling jib and the lazy jack mainsail system. In no time we were off sailing. The 46, like her smaller sister is quick to respond. She is light on the helm with good acceleration in the puffs. In the 7-8 knot wind range we were starting to get a good angle of heel and liven up. For the displacement of around 11,200kg we were clicking along nicely with our plumb bow slicing through the beautiful Port Hacking waters.

We did a bit of reaching and upwind work and got close to the airport approach. It was great to have the power winches on the main and starboard deck head. Performance seems very good in this wind, and light on the helm, with good acceleration in the variable pressure.

Ric suggested we set the genecker, we were not ready for this. The sail was down in the huge bow storage locker. Ric ran the ropes, connected the halyard and just when I thought I would have to tail the sock up, I found a button for the halyard at the starboard steering column.

So trying not to get a sore finger I hoisted the genecker while Ric guided it. It took up to five minutes trying to figure out the tangle of the up and down ropes, but once untangled we were off doing around 7 knots of boat speed in 7 knots of wind heading to Lord Howe.

Construction

The 46 is built using the latest vacuum infusion technology making it up to 20% stiffer than conventional construction. The carbon cage transmits the keel and rig loads together with the unique Dehler hull and deck bonding system makes for a solid cruiser/racer platform.

Conclusion

Another fine addition to the Dehler family and a wonderful big sister to the 38. The exceptional quality is very consistent with all Dehler products. It will make any cruising owner very happy and when optimised should be very competitive on IRC.

This is the sort of yacht I would like to deliver up to the Whitsunday Islands for the various race weeks and a cruise around the islands. It is comfortable so spending a week on board is not a problem and with enough storage for food and water and those fishing rods you wouldn't need to head ashore if the weather permits you to keep sailing.

We settled in, with the genecker trimmed nicely, a good course on a beautiful day. But then we fired up the espresso machine and cruised around with a beautiful coffee in hand. It was a great way to spend a winters morning in sunny Sydney. All in all, I think it is another great boat from Dehler and look forward to seeing her out on the water this summer. 

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