- “Dock & Go” joystick
- Standard mast SELDEN 9/10 electro-polished aluminium installed on the deck, 2 levels of advanced cross trees – MDS roller slides
- Discontinuous stainless steel standing rigging
- 2 genoa tracks with piston adjusted traveller cars – 2 genoa sheet return blocks
- Rigging run back to cockpit (except boom topping lift)
- Self-draining cockpit
- Natural solid wood slatted cockpit benches
- Wooden cockpit table with leaf to starboard which can be transformed into sun-bathing area
- Fixed composite arch
- Retractable transom to cockpit
- Fruitwood Apli joinery or Alpi Fruitwood / lacquered white – salon / galley (optional)
|Length Overall||56′ 5”
|Hull Length||55′ 1”
|Shallow Ballast Weight||12,122 lbs.
|Deep Ballast Weight||10,800 lbs.
|Fuel Cap||110 gal.
|Draft (Deep Keel)||7′ 9”
|Water Cap||169 gal.
|Shallow Draft (Shallow Keel)||5′ 11”
|Bridge Clearance||78′ 5”
|Air Draught (max)||78′ 5”
|Mainsail (classic)||796 sq ft
|Deadrise/Transom||N/A||Genoa (105 %)||845 sq ft
|Max Headroom||6′ 6”
|Asymmetric Spinnaker||2,242 sq ft
|Dry Weight||40,906 lbs.
|Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder’s website for the latest information available on this boat model.|
|Std. Power||1 x 75-hp Yanmar POD 120 Diesel|
|Tested Power||1 x 75-hp Yanmar POD 120 Diesel|
|Opt. Power||Not Available|
Beneteau Sense 55 (2013-) Captain’s Report
The Beneteau Sense 55 may well be one of the easiest 55’ sailboats on earth to handle — virtually everything on her can be done with the push of a button or by turning a joystick.
The Sense 55 has a 16’4” beam that permits the vessel to have huge spaces below for the salon, galley and three guest staterooms each with en suite heads. Note the optional crew cabin on the portside, aft.
Beneteau designed the Sense 55 to appeal to a wide range of boaters — not just sailors — who would like to do serious cruising as well as partake in local club activities in a large and elegant yacht. We think the Sense 55 should appeal to baby boomers who have enjoyed 30 to 40 years of sailing but are thinking that it is now time to switch to power. She is also designed to attract powerboaters who would like the low operating costs and low maintenance requirements of a sailboat – without giving up their creature comforts.
By building in easy sail-handling, simple systems, and a joystick docking control system, boaters can have the confidence of being able to single-hand the Sense 55 if need be…or, lavishly entertain a large party.
Captain John steers from windward. Note the room on the helm seat, and there is another one the same size to leeward. The back rest makes steering comfortable on a long tack.
She’s A New, Exciting Breed
Sailboat design has been going through a major revolution since the late eighties, in large part because of the innovating thinking at Beneteau. Beneteau’s hull shapes, interiors and on-deck layouts are nothing like sailboats were when I was a kid. This is not your father’s sailboat…
With the Sense 55 Beneteau’s designers have virtually eliminated all of the hard chores of sailing and effectively eliminated most of the objections people might have to owning a large sailboat. By making the boat beamy she has the room of a powerboat. By putting lots of hatches and windows in her topsides she is bright and airy below. And most importantly, by not trying to squeeze out every last knot of speed possible under sail, her owners do not have to struggle with large, unruly sails — which is the biggest objection most older boaters have with sailing.
Viewed from the port side. The U-shaped settee is to starboard and the table is in cocktail mode in this picture. The stainless steel railing in the middle is for guests to brace their feet when heeling as well as for holding onto when moving around in a seaway.
With the cushions on the cockpit seats the Sense 55 is converted into an idyllic venue for relaxation afloat.
Comfort First. The main focus of any sailboat is its cockpit. That is not only where the steering and line handling takes place, but it is also where a family and guests want to enjoy their day on the water. The cockpit should be a comfortable place to sit — or lounge — to experience the thrill of sailing and the Sense 55 is about as comfortable as it gets.
The cockpit table here is in cocktail party mode, by twisting it around and lifting, it transforms into a dining table.
Now in dinner mode, Captain John is ready to eat.
With the table all the way down the area becomes a great place to lounge.
The deck and seats are covered in teak. This standard teak treatment extends out onto the integral swim platform which is another focal point of the boat. The transom retracts into her hull which means there is nothing to climb over to reach the swim platform and it becomes one with the cockpit.
Our test boat had the optional powered cockpit table which moves up for dining, down to be a cocktail table, and even further down to provide a platform for cushions to make a huge and luxurious lounging area. The standard table goes the same places, only manually.
Sailing in a 9-knot breeze the Sense 55 hardly heels thanks to her keel and 16’4” beam, most of which is carried to the transom.
Here Captain John is lowering the transom board, something that is really only needed when sailing in following, sloppy seas.
Under the swim platform are port and starboard lockers, ideal for keeping diving gear, shore power cords and other gear. The standard shower wand is behind the open lid.
The swim ladder of the Beneteau Sense 55 is on a track which allows it to slide out and then swing down. It has five teak treads.
Both helm seats swing up out of the way with gas-assist struts. Now the cockpit is ready for entertaining or watersports action.
While this aft storage bin contains a washdown hose, it is intended to hold a life raft.
The Sense 55 has port and starboard leather-wrapped destroyer wheels, each with full instrumentation on their pedestals making sailing easier than ever before. The wheels have 1-1/2 turns from lock-to-lock and control twin rudders.
Big Wheels. The Sense 55 comes standard with two wheels and two binnacles each with a large compass. Two wheels provide more comfort and better visibility no matter if the skipper likes to sail from windward or leeward. And a companion can sit in the opposite forward-facing seat (with comfortable seatback cushions) to help with piloting and stay part of the action.
Captain John activates the Yanmar diesel engine with the push of a button. Note the expert binnacle design that has a place for wind and boat speed instruments plus a chart plotter outboard, just where the skipper will be seated.
No Helm Hogs Here. Because the bench seats are so wide behind each wheel two adults (or one adult and two children) can sit behind each of them. This is an ideal place to teach someone how to sail. It is also a way to let guests enjoy steering while the skipper keeps an eye on things from the other helm.
When at dock or at anchor, the cockpit can be converted into a huge open deck for sun bathing or a cocktail party. This is made possible by a drop-transom and lift-away helm seats. A five-step swim ladder and a cockpit shower makes the stern of the Sense 55 nothing short of a moveable teak beach.
The standard arch in this photo holds an optional dodger. Not only does the dodger keep cool wind and spray from hitting the forward side of the cockpit, but it also becomes the place to affix a full Bimini top over the cockpit. Note the hand holds to aid going forward.
The Composite Arch and Dodger
Every sailboat that does any serious cruising should have a dodger and the Sense 55 has an optional one that has been carefully designed for the boat. It is supported by a standard composite arch which serves several other purposes as well. The main sheet blocks are affixed to the top and below it are housed cockpit lights and two stereo speakers.
By having the main sheet blocks on top of the arch rather than on the coach roof or in the cockpit several potential problems are solved. When tacking the blocks and sheets are kept out of the cockpit and away from everything, which eliminates something to trip over. The mainsheet is led to the base of the mast and then back through the channels under the deck to the starboard brace of cam cleats and the self-tailing winch.
Isinglass is in front and on the sides of the optional dodger to allow good visibility forward and keep passengers cozy when there is a chill in the air.
Important Cockpit “Lockers”
By carrying most of the beam of the Sense 55 back to the transom, its designers have created not only a huge cockpit, but also two very large compartments below the seating, coamings and side decks. In traditional cruiser/racers of this size the space is used for cramped cabins for the owner and navigator. In the Sense 55 the space is used for critical storage. Access is under the cockpit seats.
The compartment under the port cockpit seat on the port side can house an optional crew berth. Air and light is provided by two ports. Note the opening portlight in this photo.
The Lazzerette. To starboard is the sail locker. Since most owners’ do not need anything more than a small, emergency back-up headsail, most of the room in this locker is free to use for other purposes. One function is to give access to the starboard side of the engine which sits on the centerline just below the cockpit deck. The second is to store the cushions for the cockpit. A third might be to house a rolled up inflatable used as the yacht’s tender. It’s large enough for a bicycle or two. In all respects, this is the ship’s lazerette.
Removable hatches in the crew compartment and in the sail locker on the opposite side of the boat permit access to the single Yanmar diesel engine. The steps make access for fluid checks easy.
Crew Quarters. To port is an equally large compartment that as an option can be fitted with a single berth. A hinged plexiglass window has been thoughtfully placed under the lip of the cockpit seat to provide ambient light and air into this space. In addition there is an opening portlight. If this space is not used for crew, then it provides even more storage for water toys, gear and optional equipment.
The plexiglass window under the seat lip folds down to provide more air when the space is used by crew.
The standard Yanmar POD 120 diesel engine can be accessed from three locations: port, starboard and from beneath the companionway steps.
Looking forward with the salon to the left, galley to the right and the owner’s stateroom forward.
Let There Be Light. Going down below was a new experience for an old sailor like me. On conventional sailboats one would normally have a long climb down into a dark cavern. On the Sense 55, it’s just three easy steps down to a huge, bright salon. What a breath of fresh air!
Three easy steps lead from the cockpit to the salon. Note how the steps are raised slightly on each side to provide better footing when heeled. The bottom two steps rise to allow access to the front of the engine room.
Leather covered hand rails flank the companionway. Once “below” it seemed as if I was surrounded by glass. There are five hatches in the 6’6″ (1.98 m) overhead, long windows in the sides of the coach roof port and starboard, and there are even large windows in the aft bulkhead facing the cockpit with opening portlights. (What a great place for windows on a sailboat — the crew below can easily see what is going on in the cockpit and vice versa.)
In this picture of the salon the table is in “coffee/cocktail” mode, something that can be changed with a push of an optional power button.
More Light. Innovative glass panels on the top of the salon’s forward bulkheads, port and starboard, allow natural light into the salon and galley from the guest staterooms forward. In the hull side there is a large portlight, port and starboard, letting in even more light and allowing seated guests to see outside. Light comes in from five of the six sides of the salon and galley.
Captain John sits at the nav station on a part of the settee that performs double duty. The table has three positions and folds out to provide plenty of space for six people for dinner.
Décor. Adding to the open, bright effect is the Fruitwood Alpi joinery, lacquered white cabinets, and the light-colored vinyl coverings on bulkheads and the overhead. The cabin sole is covered in a light oak wood laminate. In short there are no dark woods or fabrics to soak up light, rather every surface reflects it.
There is never enough storage space on any boat no matter how large, but Beneteau has worked hard to provide access to every bit of space possible. All bulkheads have cabinets, and even little spaces have sliding doors so that small items can be stowed.
Opening portlights in the windows on three sides let a breeze in as do the overhead hatches which all have screens.
On the salon side of the galley island is a fold-away seat that can be deployed when six people need to be seated around the table. This island provides support for the chef when heeling and for guests when moving around in a seaway.
Settee. The U-shaped settee to port seats four or five people. The table has a high-low adjustment as standard. Across the aisle is an island for the galley which also contains a fold-out bench seat for dining. With this seat sprung open six people can be comfortably seated for dinner. In the lowest position it makes a platform for a filler cushion turning this settee into another double bed. (Which means four couples have berths in a pinch.) Our test vessel had the optional powered table which moved up and down at the touch of a button.
The sliding panel has been moved to the right revealing a VHF radio and breaker switches. More electrical switches are to the right. The seat has supports to angle it 15-degrees to port or starboard when heeling.
Let There Be A Galley.
The ship’s chef will appreciate the 8′ (2.4 m) long galley counter stretching along the starboard side of the salon, plus nearly 3′ (.9 m) of working counter along the aft bulkhead. Add in the 3’6″ (1.06 m) of counter space on the “island” amidships and the galley with covers on the stove top has a total of over 14′ (4.26 m) of linear working counter space.
On the starboard side is one of the largest galleys we have ever seen in a 55-footer. Note the incredible amount of counter space. The counters can act as a side board for food and drinks when entertaining below. The cook top is under the counter next to the large window.
The 200 liter refrigerator can be accessed both from the top and from the side. To the right in the corner is the top-loading 100-liter ice box.
The three-burner gas stove top shown here is an option. The oven below is standard. Below that, Captain John can be seen opening a locker for pots and pans.
Appliances. The galley comes standard with a two burner gas cook top and oven below. With the addition of an optional generator an electric stove top and oven can be installed. Forward are two rectangular sinks, which are a Beneteau signature feature. One has an optional garbage disposal. The counter top is made of a special resin material that has an attractive grey color. Overhead is indirect LED lighting behind the cupboards. There are places for both an optional dishwasher and microwave.
Designed for Sailing. By laying out the galley this way instead of a more traditional U-shape, two or even three people can work at the same time on food prep or clean-up. This is an important feature of this boat both for entertaining and for cruising. The island has been carefully placed opposite the stove top and oven so when on starboard tack the cook will have support. This is a feature not possible with a conventional U-shaped galley which typically can only handle one cook at a time.
Above the galley and the settee are long windows in the coach roof with an opening portlight and shades. On our test boat the shades were activated by an optional power device.
Beneteau seems to have thought of everything. A hatch in the sole makes it easy to sweep up without having to use a vacuum cleaner.
Cabinets and cupboards all around provide room for a full compliment of china for six, plus storage for the ship’s provisions. Sliding panels under the white cabinets utilize space for condiments, matches and the like.
There is access to the sides of the double bed both port and starboard until about the mid point. Note the cabinets forward flanking the mirror above the headboard.
Forward Stateroom – The Master. There is a long passageway with headroom that we measured at 6’8” (2.03 m) from the salon to the forward cabin. Here we find a diamond-shaped double bed nestled in the bow. Because the stem of the Sense 55 is nearly plumb there are no long overhangs forward that waste interior space. Headroom is 6’4”(1.94 m).
Large portlights bring in light as does the overhead opening hatch. There are two large storage drawers under the bed and there is even a shoe locker under the two hanging lockers. The widest part of the bed is 5’7” (1.7 m), the narrowest is at the foot where it is 3’10” (1.17 m) and it is 6’8” (2.03 m) from head to foot.
There are his and hers hanging lockers with four shelves adjacent. More shelves may be added for folded garments.
Below the hanging locker is a swing-out bin for shoes.
Vanity/Desk. To port is a desk/vanity covered in optional leather. A seat comes standard, something that will prove handy when putting on shoes and socks. Aft is a split head which couples like because it permits them both to get ready at the same time. To port is a good-sized shower stall with 6’4” (1.97 m) headroom. To starboard is the water closet with toilet and sink.
The stool is standard and tucks under the vanity/desk when underway. Note the cubbies outboard.
Just forward of the salon and galley are port and starboard guest staterooms with en suite heads. These cabins are virtually identical. Both are entered through pocket doors that save room, by requiring no deck space to open. Both have 6’6” (1.97 m) head room, both have large portlights and opening hatches overhead. The heads have a toilet, sink, and faucet that doubles as a shower wand for the wet head.
Looking aft in the portside stateroom. The pocket door is at left. The window above the headboard allows light into the salon and there is a shade that can be pulled up on the window for privacy. The tray at right can be used for breakfast in bed or as a small desk. It is removable.
These staterooms have double beds that are 6’7” (2 m) long, 5’1” (1.56 m) wide at the head and 3’3” (1 m) wide at the foot. There is a single hanging locker, storage under the bed and cubbies in each of these staterooms.
Captain John opens the hanging locker door in the port stateroom. It has shelves for folded garments just like the master. Note the cabinets to the left for more storage. The head is in the background.
These staterooms are obviously a bit tight, but that is because of the double beds. Every boat is a compromise, and this is that place on the Sense 55 for one – but it is the preferred sleeping arrangement of most cruising couples who plan to be on the hook by night fall. Nevertheless the cabins are comfortable – and private. The most important thing is that Beneteau was able to fit three en suite staterooms in a 55’ sailboat.
The sink faucet doubles as a shower wand. In addition to the mirror seen here there is a full length one in the cabin.
In 10 – 12 knots of wind and with the standard rig, our test boat was able to show her capabilities.
“Dock & Go”
When it comes to getting underway in the Sense 55, she’s yet again, not your father’s sailboat. The 55 I tested had the optional Yanmar “Dock & Go” joystick and software. The Yanmar “Dock & Go” propulsion system connects a diesel pod drive unit with a bow thruster through a black box and it’s all controlled by a joystick. The “dock committee” isn’t going to like this little option because it eliminates those panicked docking situations that keep them amused when the fleet is returning to their slips. With “Dock & Go” skippers can make the boat go sideways, turn in its own length, and thread through tight marinas and into narrow slips. I think it is the best thing to hit the sailing world since the invention of the roller-furling jib.
On our test boat the joystick and throttle were located on the starboard side next to the wheel. Software translates the movements of the joystick into coordinated commands to the three-bladed prop on a swiveling pod and the fixed bow thruster. The result is a boat that is easy to dock most anywhere.
Once underway, the next step is to get her sailing. Our test boat was equipped with the standard full-batten mainsail with lazy jacks and a roller furling headsail with 105% overlap. The Sense 55 is intended to be sailed with this rig and a large genoa will probably not make her go much faster in anything other than very light winds. (In which case most sailors use their engine in any case, particularly when going to windward.)
An asymmetrical spinnaker is an option and the boat is rigged for a spinnaker pole and topping lift. There is a tang on the stem for the tack. I suspect that most Sense 55 owners will not go with the spinnaker unless they do club racing.
The control for the Yanmar POD 120 diesel has one lever for both the throttle and gear. We recorded a top speed of 10 knots under power alone, which was pushing the boat beyond its theoretical hull speed. We would travel at about 8 knots in most conditions under power simply not to be wasting fuel for an extra two knots.
Hardware. Standard deck hardware includes two H60.2 STC genoa self-tailing winches within easy reach of either helm and two general purpose self-tailing winches (H46.2 STC to starboard, H50.2 STC to port) mounted forward on the combing for halyards and other controls. All lines and halyards are led back to the cockpit to cam cleats except the topping lift.
This set-up means that only one crew is needed. (And he could be the skipper!) Because the winches are self-tailing and because the halyards are run back to the cockpit one person can manage all of the string pulling. This is all standard on the 55. The optional equipment we had on the test boat included four powered self-tailing winches, all with two buttons for two speeds – fast and slow. With this equipment the mainsail could be raised and trimmed, and the headsail could be unfurled and sheeted home by the touch of a button. Almost anyone can do it.
Our test boat was equipped with the optional Bimini arch which matched the dodger arch in rake and design. It provides an ideal location for Sat TV dome or the twin power generators seen here. On this boat the radar dome was on the mast above the first spreaders.
Beneteau offers two different keels for the Sense 55: the “deep draft” one draws 7’9″ (2.35 m) and weighs 10,800 lbs. (4,900 kgs.); and the “shallow draft” one draws 5’11” (1.80 m) and weighs 12,122 lbs. (5,500 kgs.). Since we were sailing on the Chesapeake Bay it is no surprise that our boat was fitted with the “shallow draft” keel.
On test day the water was flat and the winds started off very light. Thankfully as the day progressed the breeze slowly built up until we had about 10 to 13 knots of true wind. She sailed along at a respectable 6 to 7 knots when we were on a beam reach to close reach. But when we hardened up she picked up speed, hitting 9 knots at one point when close-hauled and the wind freshened.
Performance. As seen in the photos and our video her angle of heel when beating to windward was not at all excessive and she was quite comfortable on all points of sail.
Could I have made her go faster? Sure. There is no substitute for spending lots of time on a boat getting to know her, and this was my first time on the boat. Overall, I was quite happy with her performance on our test day.
Ghosting along in light air our test boat made its way back to Annapolis where we sailed by the Naval Academy.
The Sense 55 likes being hard on the wind. Note the angle of heel which is about optimum for this boat.
Heeling. We have all met people who as guests on boats don’t like much heel, and others who are not happy until the rail is awash. The Sense 55 was designed to perform best when heeling about 10-12 degrees, and that is where she should be sailed. This is also close to the edge where she is most comfortable from the standpoint of guests aboard except the most salty. On the other hand, her twin rudders assure that steering is never compromised even by excessive angles of heel.
I found her to be a pleasure under motor, which is the way a lot of cruising sailors get around in the light stuff anyway. And in a fresh breeze dead to windward it is nice to know that she has a 75-hp diesel engine and a three-bladed prop to drive into wind and waves. Under full power I recorded 10 knots wide open throttle which is slightly beyond her theoretical hull speed. We did not measure her fuel burn. As mentioned above, depending on conditions, I would run her at about 8 knots under power which should be fairly efficient.
She carries 110 gallons (415 L) of fuel and an optional 110 gallon (415 L) fuel tank is available.
The Sense 55 has 2” (50 cm) teak toe rails and a clean deck which makes getting around easier and it also lowers windage.
Going from the cockpit forward there are the hand holds on the aft edge of the dodger arch to help one to the side deck. Once there, the deck forward is as clean and uncluttered as any. Stainless steel hand holds are recessed into the outboard edge of the coach roof nearly until it reaches the waist of the vessel.
All halyards, the topping lift, pole controls, down haul and reefing lines are expertly directed under the deck in dedicated tubes that emerge to a row of labeled cam cleats forward of the self-tailing winches. All hatches are in-set flush with the deck. In other words there is virtually nothing to trip over or on which to stub a toe.
The deck of the Sense 55 is remarkably clean and uncluttered. Halyards disappear into tubes under the deck. The athwartship traveler forward of the mast is for an optional self-tending jib. Note the hand holds in-set in the coach roof.
Outboard there is a teak toe rail the length of the boat and a double stainless steel lifeline that runs to the bow pulpit. About the only things protruding from the deck are the block for the jib sheet lead and track for the optional self-tending jib forward of the mast.
The split bow pulpit makes working forward easier plus means that an asymmetrical spinnaker is not encumbered. Control for the windlass is by a wand stored in the bow locker.
At the Bow
At the stem there is an anchor davit with twin rollers for two anchors. Our boat was fitted with one plow anchor and its chain was run back to a standard 1500 W windlass with chain pipe. Abaft the windlass is a sizable hatch which opens with a gas-assisted strut. Below is a stainless steel ladder and locker that is large enough for a crewman to work. This is an important compartment because it is large enough to house fenders, lines and the optional asymmetrical spinnaker. Most important it provides access to the chain locker to sort out any tangles.
Channels around the forward hatch drain forward and overboard, as does the chain locker.
The forward locker is surprisingly large and has enough room for a crewman to work untangling chain if required. We would recommend that a second anchor use line rather than chain (except for its first 15’ or so) to minimize confusion in the anchor locker.
A double-spreader rig provides adequate support for the 55’s relatively high stick. The Windex at the masthead is optional and highly recommended even though most owners will load the boat up with electronics.
Her masthead is 78’5” (23.91 m) high, creating a high-aspect ratio, which is one of the factors contributing to her good up-wind performance with a 105% headsail and a fully-battened main. Snowbirds will be happy to learn that most fixed bridges on the ICW have 85’ (37 m) of clearance.
The mast is stepped on deck which eliminates problems of leaks below to say nothing of the room lost. It is supported by twin spreaders, a bridle backstay and conventional standing wire rigging which is tightened by open turnbuckles. Upper and lower shrouds attached together to chainplates at the rail. A forestay and chainplate is optional for those who might want to rig a staysail.
Halyards, down-hauls, vangs, and everything except the topping lift lead to blocks at the mast step that direct the lines to dedicated tubes under the deck and back to the cockpit.
Boom. The boom is 20’10” (6.35 m) long and comes equipped with lazy jacks and a lazy bag that takes virtually all of the work out of dousing the mainsail and packing it away. An optional roller-furling main in the mast is available and makes handling the main even easier; however, this is another compromise of ease over speed and one I’m not sure I would make. I like supporting the main on the foot and I like the full battens which can’t be used with a furling mainsail.
There is an aluminum boom vang, which like virtually everything about this rig, is controlled from the cockpit.
Lines are all color-coded and all cam cleats are labeled making sail evolutions easy from the cockpit rather than at the waste of the vessel.
Keel Options. The Sense 55 displaces 40,906 lbs. (18,560 kgs.) when light. Her stability comes not only from the weight and depth of her cast iron keels, but also from the tremendous form stability she gets from her considerable beam and canoe hull shape. This is why Beneteau is able to offer the 55 with a “shallow draft” keel that draws 5’11” (1.8 m) and weighs 12,122 lbs. (5,500 kgs.) That makes cruising in many places around the world – such as the eastern Baltic, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Bahamas – easier. (The deep keel version draws 7’9” (2.35 m) and weighs 10,800 lbs. (4,900 kgs.)
In light air off the wind the Sense ghosts along quietly. Note the crease in her stern quarters for added initial stability.
Because of her robust beam and because nearly all of it is carried right back to the transom, the Sense 55 has two moderately deep rudders canted outward from her buttocks, port and starboard, rather than one very deep rudder on the centerline. One of the rudders is able to stay fully submerged at even the most extreme angles of heel. For years ocean racing sailboats have proven the desirability of this approach. An added advantage is better controllability at low speeds under power.
The Disappearing Companionway Hatch
The plexiglass slatted companionway door is clever. Captain John is pushing the button to lower the hatch. Its standard operation is manual.
Under the teak cockpit sole the plexy companionway hatch is stowed, utilizing space that otherwise would go to waste.
Push Button Sailing
Step #1: With the boat on the optional autopilot Captain John steps 3’ forward of the wheel and pushes the “fast” button to bring in the mainsail halyard.
Captain John checks to see that the main is fully raised.
Step #2: The captain steps to the opposite side of the cockpit and uses the starboard power winch to trim in the main sheet.
Captain John opens a hatch in the top of the port cockpit coaming and quickly stows 70’ (21 m) of main halyard, thereby clearing the deck. (Later he will coil it up so that it runs smoothly on the douse.)
Step #3: Captain John steps back behind the wheel and releases the roller-furling line with his left hand as he pushes the “slow” button with his right hand on the power winch to pull home the jib sheet.
Beneteau has carefully placed winches, buttons, and cam cleats so that they are within easy reach of the helm. Once the jib is fully unfurled the cam cleat at right will be closed to secure the furling line. When it needs to be brought home at the end of the sail the turning block aft will direct it to the same which will be used for the jib sheet.
Now under sail (and off the autopilot) Captain John brings home the starboard jib sheet after a tack.
With all halyards and control lines set they are stopped off with the cam cleats and their tails are put in the starboard combing locker to keep the deck tidy.
Captain John pumps up the backstay with his right hand to take a bit of sag out of the headstay — all while steering with his left hand.
The Headsail. Sailors have also benefited from advances in headsail design for cruising boats over the years. Gone are the days of giant genoas, overlapping the mast, covering 150% of the fore triangle. Across the board, sails are easier to handle, but the Sense 55 has taken full advantage of the available design trends and equipment to make it even easier. On our test boat was a 105% headsail on a roller-furling drum. This jib is 845 sq. ft. (78.5 sq. m).
The Mainsail. The mainsail on our test boat had a slightly rounded leech and kept a productive sail shape throughout our test thanks to the full battens. When we doused the main, lazy jacks caught the sail and it fell easily into the lazy bag except for the last few feet of the head. Integral sail ties on the lazy bag made securing it an easy one-person job. The sail area of the main is 796 sq. ft. (74 sq. m).
The Sense 55 in this publicity image appears to be going pretty close to her hull speed yet look how comfortable the passenger is to windward. This is about as much as the boat should be heeled in order to keep her at peak performance.
From out on deck, or down below; underway or at anchor, the Beneteau Sense 55 has something for everybody. Beneteau has the experience and expertise – along with brilliant business savvy – to add a lot of value to the boats it builds. Traditional-minded old salts might not understand the utility and functional beauty of the Sense 55, but I invite them to look long and hard and perhaps the light bulb will go on.
As far as how far to go with the options, it is simply a matter of matching the intended use and geography to the option list. I personally would recommend going with power winches, the “Dock & Go” joystick, autopilot, and chartplotters. These four options take the stress and work out of boat handling, and allow anyone with even a minimum amount of experience to easily handle this 55-footer.
The time to enjoy life is now and it doesn’t get much better than this.
Beneteau Sense 55 (2013-) Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Beneteau Sense 55 (2013-) is 9.1 Knots.
- Tested power is 1 x 75-hp Yanmar POD 120 Diesel.
For complete test results go to our Test Results section.
Standard and Optional Equipment
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc|
|Boats More Than 30 Feet|
= Standard = Optional
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Murray Yacht Sales is your Gulf Coast Platinum Beneteau & J/Boats Dealer and has been serving the Gulf Coast Boating Community since 1974