Bavaria 36

By Rob MacLeod

When Len Baronit of Yacht Sales West in Vancouver went to Europe to source a new sailboat to import, Bavaria Yachtbau wasn’t even on his list. After looking at a number of builders, Len went to see Bavaria. Being familiar with J& J Designs of Slovenia, Len was interested in how the German boat builder would stack up against some the better known competition.

When he got back to his hotel, Len compared the specs of the Bavaria to the other boats on his shopping list; the Bavaria came up as a great value. Added to the attention to detail and quality construction, Len decided to go with the Bavaria and started importing the boat in 1997. He has just brought in the lOOth boat.

Bavaria Yachtbau builds a cruising line from 32 to 49 feet and a new racing line available this spring – starting with the Match 38. In fact, few realize that it was a Bavaria 46 that Ashley Judd sailed in the movie Double Jeopardy which was shot in Vancouver. But I digress.


All Bavaria’s are constructed with hand laid fiberglass to the waterline and divinycell from the waterline up. This insulates the hull and reduces sweating and that clammy feeling so often found in colder northern waters. The Bavaria is not only built to Lloyds of London’s specifications, but actually has two Lloyd’s inspectors on site who certify each boat at various stages of production. One of the Lloyd’s requirements is an overlap seam at the hull keel joint. Many boat builders simply have the glass meet leaving a seam that is not as strong.

Bavaria Yachtbau invested over $350 million in upgrading its factory and continues to make improvements in construction, production and the environment. The factory has been building sailboats for 30 years and now produces over 2,000 boats annually.

The Bavaria 36 has nice lines. On the transom is a vinyl rub rail for friendlier docking. Other features include a rudder with a KC3 bearing assembly where the lower third is a shear off section. That means that if the rudder comes into contact with something hard, the lower portion will breakaway, leaving some portion  of the blade to help get to safety.

With the helm seat removed, the step through transom comes into a roomy cockpit with teach seats and sole. All winches, lead blocks, and line locks are backed with an aluminum plate molded into the deck.

The interior is an S-glass structure rather than a liner. This structure, hand laminated into the hull, gives the boat greater rigidity and is especially important in case of a collision or hitting a hard submerged object. Having seen the results of someone running aground at six knots, I can attest to the importance of this feature. The grid prevents hull damage and disburses the energy of the impact and protects the hull integrity. Bavaria has a promotional video showing them running a boat into a breakwater three times. They show the scratches and impact areas, but with no hull breach. They do not show the stringers, but I suspect the impact was borne by the grid – as it is designed to do.

Bavaria 36 - Aerial viewON DECK

Lazarette storage is plentiful. There are some nice touches in the propane storage in the vertical wall of the transom – accessible with the helm seat removed. Opposite is a Plastimo bilge pump with an integrated handle. This overcomes the problem of having to search for a handle when you want to pump a little errant water out of the bilge.

The Bavaria has a Whitlock steering system – chain to cable – with a single lever engine control. The engine gauges are located on the aft side of the pedestal base. This is convenient for starting and stopping the engine, but somewhat difficult for monitoring the gauges while underway. The covered wheel is standard.

The Bavaria 36 comes standard with Harken primary winches and optional spinnaker winches. The reinforced pads for the spinnaker winches are built into every boat so adding a second set of winches after the fact is no problem. An electric anchor windlass with 165 feet of all chain ground-tackle is also standard.

Yacht Sales West has found the majority of its clients are second time boat buyers. Although the choice of in mast furling or full batten is offered, 95% choose fully battened main. It seems they are willing to give up convenience for performance – especially for light wind conditions found in the summer on the West Coast. A lazy guy system is standard.


All boats come with adjustable genoa cars, Seldon rigid boom vangs and adjustable backstays. The traveler is mounted forward of the companion way with controls led to the coach top winches.

Bavaria 36 - SalonINTERIOR

The headroom in the Bavaria 36 is just 6’2″. That may seem a little less than other comparable boats on the market, but it does keep the windage down and leads to improved upwind pe1formance. The cabinetry is clean and functional. Woodwork is a little dark but has an elegance to it. Locker fronts are curved mahogany, which adds to the openness below. The gel in the interior is stained brown to harmonize better with the wood. Although it was something I don’t think I would have gone looking for, it does keep the woodwork from being broken up by intrusions of the more typical painted white surface of boats, not totally encased in wood.

Starting forward, the owner’s cabin has a large V-berth, with a two piece foam mattress, giving ample access to the storage below. Although the covers come loose, Yachts Sales West installs hinges locally to facilitate access to the below berth area. In fact, Len Baronit and his crew make a number of modifications when it arrives. The dodger is local, as is the Novakool refrigeration system. Not satisfied with the factory installed cooler, Len sourced a Canadian system that is better and easier to find parts for.

The galley is situated directly across from the navigation station and is quite functional with a two-burner stove, top loading cooler and a reasonably sized sink. The boat we reviewed was part of a west coast charter fleet and we found no lack of storage. Access to the engine compartment was plentiful. A nice touch is the hydraulic strut on the companionway stairs. Checking the oil and status of the seacocks was as easy as opening the tailgate on a mini van. (SUV for the more performance minded readers.)

It seems the German builders take their basic comforts seriously. The integrated head and shower sports the most water tight compartment I have ever seen for keep keeping the TP (toilet paper) dry. With a seal that would not look out of place on a submarine – no errant water will invade the cabinet in the head. Lest you think I am overreacting, there is nothing less pleasant than damp toilet paper first thing in the morning. Good work guys!


We sailed the boat on a cool February morning in English Bay. (fhat is a lot better than the -30∞C I experienced in Calgary the week before.) The Bavaria was able move well in the light morning air. The Elvstrom battened main had excellent shape and the roller furling genoa gave the boat excellent upwind performance. With all the controls lead to the coach roof – boat handling, short-handed, is relatively easy. Many may choose to install and use spinnaker winches to facilitate genoa handling in closer quarters.

The lazy jack system works well for catching the sail as it is lowered, again precluding the need to venture forward of the cockpit in rough seas or when short-handed.


The 29 hp Volvo Penta saildrive, with three point attachment, is smooth and reliable. The standard, two-bladed prop stopped the boat quickly upwind and downwind. The tight turning radius of the boat means excellent maneuverability in tight quarters. The single lever throttle and gear selector made it possible to maneuver the Bavaria in tight docking situations in and out of the Yacht Sales West location on Granville Island.


All in all, I was impressed with the Bavaria 36. After giving up just a bit of headroom below, the rest of the boat gave me room for storage, excellent access for maintenance and a feeling I was in a quality boat. Reviewing a boat that had been in charter for a year, allowed me to see how the boat stood up to wear and tear of every day use. The synthetic floor material kept its look and the quality of the upholstery withstood the test of regular use. There are currently over a dozen Bavarias in charter in various West Coast charter companies. A trip to BC and a week in the Gulf Islands is a wonderful way to try out a new boat and to sail in one of Canada’s best cruising grounds. If you cannot get to Vancouver, get in touch with Rob Mclachlan of South Shore Yachts, the new dealer for Bavaria in Ontario.

With  a  landed  sailaway  price  of $179,900 (Ontario, 2004) or $189,900 (BC, 2004), the Bavaria 36 is worth consideration for a cruising sailor who wants performance as well. As Len Baronit found on his first trip to Europe to find a new boat, the Bavaria is a quality product for a reasonable price. The extensive list of standard equipment is too long to mention. For more information go to

Originally printed in Canadian Yachting’s April 2004 issue.


LOA 37.4′

Beam 11.8′

Draft – std 6.3′

Draft – shoal 5.0′

Displacement 10,361lbs

Ballast 3,439 lbs

Sail Area 720 sq. ft

Power 19 hp Volvo Penta

Fuel 40 gallons

Water 79 gallons

Waste 21gallons

Hot Water 6 gallons

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