Bluewater Sailboat – Swan 46 (MKI and MKII)


Nautor’s Swan reinvents its blue-water cruising character with the Swan 46 (MKI and MKII) following a decade of focusing on fully crewed racing boats. One of Nautor’s most popular models was the Swan 46, was created by Germán Frers Jr. and released in 1983. It established a reputation as a cruiser/racer in numerous Swan Cup competitions.

With 109 boats constructed between 1983 and 1997, the Swan 46 is the second most produced boat model at the Finnish shipyard Nautor Swan. With these details, it can be said that the collaboration between shipyard and designer German Frers was a great success. In addition to being a great cruiser, the Swan 46 has won the coveted Rolex Swan European Regatta and Rolex Swan World Cup, the toughest competition for any Swan boat.

Swan 46
Swan 46
  • LOA 46′
  • Draft:2.50 (m)
  • Beam 14′
  • DSPL 36,800 lbs.
  • SA (u/d) 1,201 sq. ft./ 2,854 sq. ft.
  • Design German Frers
  • Builder:Nautor Swan
  • Yacht Model:Nautor Swan 46 MK I
  • Built:1984


Nautor’s Swan has been a household brand in high-end racer/cruisers ever since the business made its debut with the Swan 36 in 1967. Their designs have shifted more and more in recent years toward the racing end of the compromise, where they have amassed a number of noteworthy successes, not the least of which is the Bluewater Sailboat Swan 45 class’s popularity or their partnership with the New York Yacht Club for a 42-foot onedesign class. As devoted Swan sailors, however, get older, many of them broaden their racing campaigns by doing more doublehanded cruising.

Although most owners will choose bow thrusters, hull number eight Fierce Pride only used her 75-horsepower Volvo saildrive. And to watch Keith Yeoman of Nautor’s Swan USA’s Annapolis office skillfully manoeuvre her out of the busy marina was a welcome sight.

In order to avoid sweating when cruising, Fierce Pride has been modified with electric winches in place of the original manual ones. All lines are led to the cockpit, and sail handling was a breeze. The 107-percent genoa was unfolded, the main was raised with the push of a button, and sailed away.


Swan boats are known for their distinctive lines, which always ensure outstanding quality, thoughtful design, safety, and sailing enjoyment. The layout of the deck is well-proportioned, and the sail and hull are perfectly balanced, making the boat simple to sail with a small crew. Similar to previous Swan models, her design and workmanship are superior to those of other production boats, something you notice and value in rough seas.

The Bluewater Swan 46 is the 33rd rendition of Nautor’s Swan by Germán Frers. The 46 was created with shorthanded cruisers in mind, in contrast to the double cockpit Swans created for full racing crews. It may be comfortably and easily sailed either offshore or along the coast.

Although it is clear that performance was the main consideration in the design brief, provisions for difficulties with comfort and simplicity on deck were included. The Swan 46 has a roughly similar beam to Swan’s earlier cruisers but carries it farther forward for a roomier interior and cockpit. Tapping is made simple by the 15/16 fractional rig, non-overlapping headsail, and lack of a staysail. A code zero or similar device can likewise be used to rig the 46.

The hull is solid fibreglass, reinforced with isopolyester laminate with vinylester skincoat. In some applications, multiaxial or unidirectional fibres are employed. The deck is made of a sandwich of low density closed cell foam core and multiaxial fiber-reinforced isopolyester laminate.

The 46’s basic mast has two sets of swept spreaders and is built of IRC-friendly aluminium. When anchored stern to a dock, the cockpit’s two wheels make it simple to move from the companionway to the drop-down transom door, which also serves as a gangway.

A gas piston allows the helmsman’s seat to be readily raised out of the way. The lack of a traveler is another concession to comfort, but Swan has strengthened the boom and the vang, so vang-sheeting helps make up for the traveler’s absence. The main is reefed with a single-line system that leads to the cockpit in order to retain shorthanded skippers in the cockpit. The deckhouse is low and long, and it has the distinctive dark-blue stripe that the four portlights are set in.

Above Deck

The terrace of this Bluewater Sailboat is remarkably spacious, and every effort has been made to remove unnecessary fixtures and reduce clutter. The foredeck is kept free by the installation of the windlass and roller furler in recesses beneath the deck. The roller furler has its own compartment, whereas the windlass is accessible from the forepeak. Running backstays are not required when using sweptback spreaders. Between the twin wheels, the backstay splits to make it simple to go from the companionway to the swim platform.

Inner shrouds are absent, and instead of extending across the deck, chainplates extend all the way to the sheer. The only lines that cross the deck are the jib sheets. All lines at the mast are led under the cabin roof via a tidy collection of fair leads. The German main system is rigged on the main sheet. The line travels through the boom end, splits at the mast, and then returns through the boom to a single block in the cockpit. The two bitter ends of the line are then run back to winches on either side of the cockpit.

She is a bluewater cruiser after all, thus there is no traveler on the main, forfeiting the capacity to windward sheet. However, the 46’s simple design is furthered by the lack of a traveller and the mainsheet coils in the cockpit’s middle. To completely expose the cockpit in port, the mainsheet block in the middle of the space can be relocated to a stanchion’s base. The 46 is equipped with an extra-large hydraulic vang that can be controlled from the helm to supplement the mainsheet system.

Fully battened with lazy jacks, the main has a considerably better sail form than would be achievable with a furling main and makes setting and striking a neat process. There is no need to think about a furling system when combined with the single line reefing system that runs back to the cockpit. The dodger may be folded down into a cabin top recess and zip closed when sailing in calm circumstances. According to the plans for the day, a series of fittings in the cockpit floor can accommodate a table, a foot brace, or they can be kept empty to maximise space and options.

Yeoman adds that the teak deck is vacuum-bagged before being cooked, which will make it last a lot longer than the “screw and glue” procedure and give the fibreglass underneath better security. In contrast to earlier Swans, the cabin top is devoid of teak for aesthetic purposes and to reduce weight. The deck is extremely wide and uncomplicated from stem to stern, and everything is controllable from the cockpit.

Below Deck

The comfort of aboard living was immediately obvious while descending below, but closer examination showed that it was not at the expense of seaworthiness. The Swan sturdiness is the cornerstone of the look and practicality, even if it is obviously intended for extended periods of comfortable cruising. Both a three-cabin and a two-cabin layout are offered for the Swan 46. In either arrangement the front cabin will be the owner’s stateroom with private head, vanity and adequate storage space. In order to reduce motion, the double berth is kept farther aft and the head is located entirely front.

While the two-cabin version makes use of the space on the starboard side for more galley counters and lockers, an optional washer/dryer, an optional second freezer, and a sizable deck storage, the three-cabin version contains twin quarter berths.

The Bluewater Sailboat 46 has a nav station front of the galley, which is unique to this new generation of cruising Swans. It is a genuinely versatile navigation station that can show a DVD or communicate the most recent navigational information with the entire crew. It is located across from the dinette and equipped with a flat screen on the bulkhead. With benches on either side, the chart table is designed like a booth. The most up-to-date navigational package with a screen that can transition between useful displays was made possible by the Swan 46’s design.

The chart table is large enough to hold a chart kit and has lots of storage underneath, but it will likely be used as a breakfast or cocktail booth instead because the crucial navigational data will be shown on the screen above. There is space for a full complement of navigation and communications equipment on the bulkhead behind the flat screen.

On many yachts meals with a full crew require at least someone to do an uncivilised shimmy between a bulkhead and the corner of the table. With the movable dinette top that makes space to move in between the sofa and daggerboard trunk and then locks back into position, Swan has restored crew dignity. Extra places at the table are supplied with free chairs that lock into place when underway with fast pins.

Burmese wood is used to attractively finish the interior. The grain is constant throughout, and Nautor keeps a reserve of the teak used on each boat so that future interior work will match. The lockers are all ventilated to encourage air flow and drying. If necessary, access to the hull is provided through false floors.

There are very few joints or corners to be found along the 46. To reduce creaking and shifting and maintain door operability, teak laminates are moulded into all of the corners of the structure. Traditional handholds on the overhead are stylishly replaced by fiddles and laminate trim that are both tightly fastened and shaped for comfort.

All of the tanks have hooks and straps built into their construction so they can be taken out and fitted into the companionway.


Given her moderate displacement and considerable wetted surface area, the sailboat made four through the water while travelling at five knots of real wind, which is an outstanding number. Swan’s 46 can be ordered with either a daggerboard or the regular 7.5-foot draught. The daggerboard option, which has two rudders, draws 4.3 feet when the board is up and 11.1 feet when it is down. A hydraulic pump and electric motor are used to lower the board. There is a manual backup in the event of a failure. She was given Fierce Pride through her paces after taking the board down. The Swan 46 is unquestionably a heavy boat.

She weighs in at 39,000 pounds with the normal hull and 41,900 pounds with the daggerboard option when fully loaded. The 46 has a displacement/length of 221 on the basic hull and is built to Nautor’s Swan’s seaworthy standards. It is intended to feel sturdy underfoot and maintain directional stability in severe seas. However, the 46 seemed nimble and sensitive in the modest zephyrs given by the afternoon. Even Yeoman was taken aback by how expertly she handled the slender breeze.

She got sailed from a close reach to a broad reach at a pace of more than 4.5 knots despite the wind’s pitiful 5.5 knots. She didn’t slow down as gybed and tacked deftly. The genuine test was then observed.

To lessen the impact of the wind shadow, the boat was passed in front of her and positioned well to windward. It was shocking that how rapidly she moved ahead, perhaps too quickly as after a few hundred yards the Bluewater Sailboat Morgan 44 furled her sails and turned on the iron genny.

A 53-horsepower Volvo Penta with saildrive and a Flex-O-Fold three-blade folding propeller is standard equipment on the Swan 46. Once more, Fierce Pride was fitted with the improved Volvo that produced 75 horsepower. She worked the way up to 2,400 rpms of power and made 7.75 through the water. When she made each turn within a sailboat length while still maintaining better than five knots, it was full speed and a hard turn to port followed by a hard turn to starboard that had me grabbing for the compass pedestal. It took 15 to 20 seconds and fewer than five boat lengths to go from full-ahead to full-stop.

Even when listening in the quarter berth, the well-insulated engine room confined the noise in the cockpit to a hum and was better than tolerable. There was easy access to the engine from every angle. The 240-amp/hour, 24-volt house battery bank is powered by a 110-amp alternator in the usual configuration. The starter battery has its own 115-amp alternator fitted. The metal mast serves as the vent for the common gelcell batteries. A generator, air conditioning and watermaker are possibilities that make life on Fierce Pride a little more luxurious.

Quick Notes

Frers and Swan are aware of how navigation has mostly transitioned to the digital age and transformed a largely useless area into a marvel of dual functionality.

It’s clear that the most recent Swan isn’t a pure racer; in fact, it’s rather opulent. However, for those that straddle the cruiser/racer line, it’s a boat that will expertly meet both needs. The Swan 46 will get you there with style and speed, whether it’s a doublehanded race to Bermuda or just a friendly sprint to the finest mooring after a day of ocean cruising.

Now you can also precisely calculate the expenses related to boat ownership so that you can make smart choices based on your budget and sailing needs. Use this bluewater Sailboat Calculator to explore different options and make the best decision.

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