Beneteau started life in France, building quality sailboats. Sailors in France enjoy the same status as NBA stars here. But since the 1980s, the market for sailboats has declined precipitously. In 2013, sales of new boats in the U.S. hit $7.55 billion. Of that number, new and used sailboats accounted for $256 million.
Beneteau vu l’écriture sur le mur (saw the writing on the wall). It also noticed a distinct trend that as sailboat owners aged and no longer felt compelled to spend lots of energy driving their boats, the style of vessel they invariably turned to next was trawlers. So, the company designed a line of trawlers, faster than most but certainly not in a league with speedboats.
The new new Beneteau Swift 30 Trawler proposes a solution to a couple who wants a weekend getaway, perhaps with friends, and not be limited to 30 miles from their homeport. Both in speed and fuel economy, the Swift 30 delivers a comfortable and sophisticated design in a scaled-down version of the company’s successful 34-footer. And you’ll have difficulty finding a comfortable trawler-style yacht in this size range.
The Swift 30 boasts several unique design elements: A wonderfully wide starboard deck runs the length of the vessel and makes for easy access to the bow, aft deck and dock via a midship opening gate in the bulwark. In counterpoint, the cabin house offsets to port, narrowing the portside deck to just enough room to set fenders and handle docklines. I admit it makes for dramatically more interior living space without a noticeable sacrifice.
Speaking of the aft deck, Beneteau has again included some noteworthy elements here: The sliding doors between the salon and the aft deck open almost to the full width of the cabin, making dining al fresco a breeze even when inside the salon. Additionally, the transom opens to almost the full width of the hull, turning the optional 65-square-foot swim platform into a patio-like extension to the cockpit. The cockpit itself sports a pair of foldaway seats, a receiver for the salon dining table and a ladder to the flybridge that folds up against the aft bulkhead.
The Swift 30 makes an ideal gunkholer, too, thanks to its 3-foot, 5-inch draft and a keel that extends below the propeller.
Beneteau shows equal creativity in the living spaces. The master stateroom forward provides full headroom and steps up each side of the raised double berth. Aft to one side you’ll find the head, but rather than combining the head and shower in one space as you most commonly see, Beneteau has assigned the space opposite the head as a dedicated shower stall. No more wet toilet seat!
Should you want to take children or another couple along on your adventure, a foldout double berth in the salon accommodates them most comfortably. Though the master boasts large portlight windows in the hull on both sides, the salon berth practically has you sleeping on the aft deck, with the cool breezes and the sound of lapping waves. I also appreciate that the backrest on the sofa simply folds down to make up half of the bed rather than needing to adjust the table and pull a fitted cushion out of storage somewhere.
The forward end of the salon houses the starboard-side lower helm station with a cozy bench seat for two whose back flips over to face the salon when entertaining. Also here is the port-side galley.
Having lower and flybridge helm stations provides the best of both worlds. Drive from inside in inclement weather and enjoy the outdoors when it’s nice. You can also gaze down upon your loved one(s) basking on the foredeck sun pad from there.
Our top speed touched just over 23 knots (27 mph). Optimum cruising speed was around 17 knots (almost 20 mph) with a single 370-hp Volvo D6 diesel.
I can hear you now: “I can’t run a single screw boat!” Wrong! The Swift 30 sports an excellent bow thruster to augment your maneuvering — and there’s nothing you can’t do with a single screw and a bow thruster. Another interesting idiosyncrasy of the Swift 30 is that it backs straight or in either direction, even without the thruster. So, give it a chance.
At speed, the Swift 30 turns like a chased rabbit. It runs dry and comfortable in normal cruising conditions. However, this boat wasn’t designed for long-range sea voyages. The almost vertical bow provides increased internal living space, but is wetter in a substantial head sea. At rest in a beam sea, the Swift 30 exhibits a very short roll moment with gentle transitions.
Beneteau’s Swift 30 Trawler gives you all the comforts of a trawler but takes it into the next generation. But not too far.
Beneteau Swift Trawler 30
Length Overall: 32’9” (34’1” w/swim platform)
Dry Weight: 13,224 lbs.
Water Capacity: 80 gals.
Fuel Capacity: 190 gals.
Base Price: $278,400
Price as Tested: $364,975
Author: Dean Travis Clarke is a regular contributor to HeartLand Boating magazine