At first sight Bavaria Yachtbau's location, almost 400 miles from the nearest sea and 300m above sea level in the small southern German town of Giebelstadt, is an unlikely position for one of the world's biggest boatbuilders. However, this site enables the company to access its main markets, in the Mediterranean and in northern Europe, with equal ease.
Bavaria was among the first European boat builders to invest heavily in creating the capacity to build yachts on a true production line basis. As a result its boats are competitively priced, both new and on the second-hand market, and are of a generally consistent quality.
One of the company's earlier models, from the mid 1980s, the Bavaria 30 nevertheless incorporates many of the features that would go on to make the brand a success and helped to lay the foundations for its very rapid expansion a decade later. Although the hull shape with its raked stem is more old-fashioned than later designs, there's still space for a modern layout with two separate double cabins and the heads compartment located aft near the companionway. On the downside, the navigation station and galley areas are relatively cramped and the forecabin lacks the standing space and twin hanging lockers of the mid-2000 era Bavaria 30.
The 30 benefits from a fractional rig that can be tweaked to easily depower the mainsail as the wind builds. However, it doesn't have the bulbed keel of later Bavaria models that lowers the centre of effort and improves stability without increasing displacement. Sensibly, for a boat of this size, it was offered with tiller steering, which reduces weight, complexity and maintenance for an older boat.
The original 31, launched in the late 1990s, had a relatively narrow beam of just 3.0m and as a result has a slightly better balanced and more easily driven hull shape, as well as a more comfortable motion at sea than a wider-beamed vessel. However, all the Bavaria hallmarks are present and, although this boat would be easily steered with a tiller, wheel steering was fitted as standard.
Interior accommodation features a double aft cabin, forecabin with a small standing area, a small dedicated navigation station and L-shape galley. This design also benefits from a low centre of gravity bulb keel and a modern style 9/10ths fractional rig.
Another model launched in the late 1990s when Bavaria was going through a period of rapid expansion, the 34 offered more spacious family-sized accommodation than the models it replaced. There was a choice of two or three double cabins, the former including a very large forecabin with class-leading stowage.
The Bavaria 34 was offered with both deep and shallow keels, with the former having noticeably better windward performance, and in any case is not that deep by current standards, but the shoal draught model is an ideal option for those who sail from harbours with depth restrictions, but who nevertheless are still looking for a spacious boat.
By this stage, many Bavaria's were being sold into big charter fleets, predominately in the Mediterranean, with feedback from the charter operators incorporated in each new design, particularly with regards to ease of servicing. Shower sump pump filters, for instance, were placed behind a locker door, where they could easily be reached, rather than hidden away in the bilge.
This model dates from the early 1990s, before Bavaria’s rapid expansion, and is therefore, harder to find than some of the other models listed here. In keeping with design thinking at the time, it has a narrower transom and more steeply raked stem than later models. While this reduces interior volume, the 370 still has space for three large double cabins and two heads compartments, although the aft heads is on the small side.
The saloon has distinctive almost circular seating around a large table, while there’s a well-appointed linear galley on the port side, with excellent worktop and stowage space. On deck there’s a single wheel, substantial cockpit table, and a double spreader rig.
Bavaria 40 Ocean
This boat, one of Bavaria’s few centre cockpit models, set new standards in terms of value for money – providing a 40ft boat with a list price of less than £100,000 when launched in 2000. Granted once ‘essential’ extras were factored in the price escalated considerably, but it still marked a new milestone.
Yet this wasn’t a pared-down design that would be ultra-cheap to produce. It featured extremely spacious accommodation in a two-cabin arrangement that was designed to offer the potential to live on board in comfort. The owner’s aft cabin has a walk-around queen-size double berth, with sofas each side, and easy access to the large heads compartment, which benefits from a separate shower stall.
Theres ample seating and lounging space in the saloon, which has settees each side, as well as a large central table. However, after the aft cabin, the aspect that’s most likely to impress about the accommodation is the galley, which rivals that of many significantly larger yachts, including more than three metres of worktop space. The stowage space throughout the interior is impressive – it’s significantly better than that of boats in which the number of berths is maximised at the expense of practical space elsewhere.
Launched in the late 1990s, this was the largest model in the range at the time and now offers a route into owning a modern big boat for considerably less than £100,000, including a contingency to update systems to modern standards. Interior options provide up to an impressive five cabins, with three doubles, plus two mirror-image twin cabins with bunk beds. In addition, there are three heads compartments, plus a spacious saloon and galley with close to two metres of headroom.
On deck, there's a modern twin-wheel layout, walk-though transom and a large central table that's ideal for entertaining al fresco. The sail plan is optimised for ease of handling and a big diesel engine of up to 100hp ensures plenty of power can be called on when needed. Most 50s were sold to Mediterranean based buyers, although the Bavaria 49 that replaced the 50 can also be found in significant numbers in northern Europe.
If one of the models mentioned above has caught your eye, stay up to date with all the second-hand Bavaria yachts for sale on boats.com. You might also try our features on 10 of the best Beneteau yachts, our feature Choosing the right family cruising boat or our round-up of 5 of the top classic cruisers