Bluewater Sailboat Gunfleet 43 has a lot of appealing qualities, especially the kind of ergonomics, quality, and attention to detail that come from in-depth research, sound design, and an unwillingness to take shortcuts.
Tony Castro, formerly of the Barracuda 46, Challenge 72, and Laser SB3 renown, drew the hull; she has a solid pedigree. Castro collaborated with the Gunfleet team to improve the deck’s design for cruising with less crew members. Greater UV resistance is provided by iso/NPG gelcoat, and water resistance is guaranteed by vinylester skin resin. She is constructed of solid GRP laminate with isophthalic resin up to a height of 20 cm (8 in), at which point an end-grain balsa core sandwich is added.
The hull is reinforced with Kevlar forward of the keel, and the rig loads are reinforced with carbon fibre. She has a cast iron fin keel, a lead bulb on a composite floor, laminated marine ply bulkheads for stiffness, and a stainless steel rudder stock.
For many years, Gunfleet Marine has been one of the most intriguing new boat builders. This British yard is supported by Richard Matthews’ financial clout and expert industry experience, whose understanding of this market segment is unmatched.
The manufacturer promises cutting-edge, opulent, serious cruising yachts with excellent sailing characteristics.
The first Gunfleet 43, which is a part of a line that also includes a 58-footer and an approaching 74, was introduced in September 2011. The experienced sailors who intend to sail largely as a pair and don’t want to give up the conveniences they take for granted at home are Gunfleet’s target market for the 43.
To develop this cutting-edge, yet rather conventional, cruiser, Gunfleet designers collaborated with naval architect Tony Castro. Her hull is constructed by hand in a female mould using bi-directional glass that is strengthened with Kevlar fabric on the centerline front of the keel. The hull is solid below the water’s surface and has an integrated structural grid made of carbon fibre and E-glass.
Twin rudders and a fixed fin that measures 6 feet, four inches wide make up the Gunfleet’s typical underwater design. However, there is also a variable-draft version that can offer up to 8 feet 10 inches of draught for sailing upwind and consists of a shoal-draft fin drawing 4 feet 6 inches and a 280-pound cast iron hydraulically actuated centerboard.
A twin anchor roller that protrudes from the bow is almost parallel. A modest swim platform and a three-step ladder leading to the deck are built into the reverse transom. With a wraparound windscreen that tapers as it extends aft toward the cockpit, the coachroof is low. The overall design has a good low profile and is contemporary.
The expansive aft deck area of the Gunfleet 43’s center-cockpit design, which features dual sunbathing zones, is its most noticeable feature. A hatch and skylight that lead down into the master suite below divide them. There is also a sizable lazarette where you may store fenders, lines, a rolled-up tender, and other essentials for sailing.
A small cockpit is located directly forward. The majority of this cockpit is devoted to a large centre console, or “flight deck,” which houses a single Garmin display and is surrounded by other switches and controls, including the autopilot. It can be particularly frustrating when docking to have to bend over to reach the engine throttles, which are located below the console but attached. This console has a basket wheel that wraps around it to save space, however, getting past it without getting on the couches is a little difficult.
All the lines are controlled by six Lewmar winches. As for the controls for the wide traveller and German mainsheet system, there are two on the cabintop beside the companionway, two primary controls on the coaming, and two more aft. Shorthanded mariners may easily control this powerful boat thanks to end-boom sheeting located just behind the helm.
An 11/12ths fractional rig with a conventional mainsail and a slightly overlapping (113 percent) genoa on a manual Furlex furler is supported by the Seldén deck-stepped, double-spreader mast. The optional electronic in-mast furling main was installed on our test yacht, enabling quick on-the-spot reefing.
You will come to an undivided anchor locker with a Lewmar windlass as you continue further. For offshore work, the side decks are small and the lifelines are a little low, but the pulpit is beautifully separated and offers easy access when working with the anchor. As befits a yacht of this high quality, teak decks are standard. Overall, the craftsmanship is excellent.
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First impressions are of a yacht with luxuriously furnished quarters that are brightly lit and designed to maximise the comfort of the owners. Only a small number of yachts that are 50 feet or even larger can compare to the aft cabin, its spacious ensuite, galley, and saloon. The compromise is that the guest accommodations are less luxurious than those of some competitors, but visitors staying on board for up to a few weeks shouldn’t have any cause for complaint.
When you look further, it does not disappoint; you can immediately see how much attention has gone into creating a superb long-distance cruiser. There are handholds and bracing points conveniently located throughout the lodging despite its light and airy vibe. Even the master cabin’s substantially sized en suite was obviously designed to function just as well at sea as it would in a harbour.
The navigation station, saloon table, and galley worktops all have plenty of storage, and admirably deep fiddles will hold everything in place even in bad weather.
The Gunfleet 43 has two cabins and two bathrooms, making it a yacht for couples. It is possible to squeeze in a third custom stateroom amidships to starboard, but doing so eliminates the forward-facing nav station, which is essential on lengthy trips.
You enter a luxury interior of glistening wood and plenty of natural light, which pours in via the windscreen and a number of small hull openings, after descending the fairly high companionway steps.
A guest V-berth cabin and a wet head that also doubles as the day head are located forward. The salon includes a fold-out table in the middle and straight settees on either side as you move aft. The walkthrough to the master cabin is where you’ll find the galley. The walkthrough to the master cabin is where you’ll find the galley. The chef won’t lack anything thanks to the ample countertop space, several cubbies for food and dishes, a three-burner GN Espace stove, and double sinks.
With a big island berth surrounded by plenty of drawers and hanging lockers to store a lot of clothing, the master suite aft is really stunning. The master bathroom boasts a stylish vessel sink and a separate shower stall. The skylight and hatch above, along with a number of opening hull ports, provide the impression that the cabin is spacious and light. The lee cloth integrated into the master berth is a lovely addition that allows for comfortable passage sleeping even while sailing at a significant degree of heel.
Although cherry, teak, and oak are also available, our test boat had a finish of maple. The exquisite joinery and ample lighting heighten the elegance. Almost every system on board is managed and displayed by a C-Zone digital switching system, which provides some upscale functionality. Nobody will be living in squalor on a Gunfleet.
Don’t let this Bluewater sailboat’s spacious accommodations fool you into thinking that the underwater contour has been excessively sacrificed in order to maximize volume. The relatively thin forward portions contribute to the boat’s easily driven shape, as evidenced by the scant wash produced while cruising in flat water at speeds of more than seven knots. Additionally, a balanced spade rudder and an effective low-centre-of-gravity keel with a sizable lead bulb beneath the cast-iron fin are included.
In test sailing she tacked through 65 degrees in a 14 mph wind and maintained 7.1 knots of boatspeed even when conditions became a little lighter. She moved ahead at 5.3 knots as the apparent wind angle dropped to 120 degrees with 12 knots of genuine wind.
The helm was responsive on all points of sail, and the boat also accelerated well out of the tacks. In addition, the Gunfleet 43 has a sturdy feel that will give cruising couples stuck offshore in choppy weather more confidence.
A Volvo-Penta D2 60hp diesel with saildrive provides auxiliary power. The four-bladed foldable propeller is directly below the engine and has been turned aft to lessen the sound of the prop wash. An 8 kW Fischer Panda genset is located roughly where the engine would typically be, and it can be accessed from the galley. The availability of all engine dip sticks and filters will make maintenance operations considerably simpler.
The 600 Ah worth of house batteries and fuel tanks are all located on centerline below the cabin sole, reducing weight.
Underway she does 7.2 knots motoring at 2,100 rpm on flat water. 100 gal. of water and 100 gal. of fuel are included in the tankage. The boat’s retractable bow thruster makes manoeuvring in confined spaces easier.
The sixth hull of this design, which was first launched in 2011, was the one we sailed, and it was the first Gunfleet 43 to arrive at American shores. You won’t find the boats supplied by dealers because they are semi-custom, highly personalized, and manufactured to order. Nevertheless, visits during the construction process are welcomed, and the Gunfleet 43 might be exactly the thing for couples wishing to long-distance cruise on a high-quality vessel.
There is no getting around the fact that a yacht like the Gunfleet is a complex craft with the comfort and amenities it has. The unique C-Zone electrical bus system, which was initially created for superyachts, includes integrated fault-finding, so despite the initial impression of opulence, all services were planned with ease of maintenance in mind.
It’s also comforting to know that the business wants to establish enduring connections with equipment manufacturers. Gunfleet looks to be more dedicated to providing excellent customer service than most, preferring to retain a close relationship with owners over a disorganised network of dealers.
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