Launched in 1995, and d Cruising World’s ‘Boat of the Year’ in the ‘Best Pocket Cruiser’ category just a few months later, the Oceanis 281 still has a strong following amongst blue water yacht enthusiasts over a decade later.
The Oceanis 281 was designed by Groupe Finot to be a safe yet exciting family cruiser and she remains a popular family yacht and charter boat thanks to her easy, stable handling and comfortable accommodation. Constructed by Beneteau in GRP, it was heralded as a marvel of naval engineering thanks to its solid reinforced monohull, which was based on a glued and laminated inner moulding to create an internal frame. Groupe Finot (who may not have heard what the builders of the Titanic said about theirs) describe the Oceanis 281 as ‘unsinkable’ and it is certainly the case that this yacht has a sturdy feel to it and offers stable sailing in the harshest weather conditions. The ‘sandwich’ design of the fibreglass deck gives a similar double layer of protection against ocean mishaps above board, including those of a ‘winch handle on teak deck’ nature. The roller furling genoa and semi-battened main make for relatively easy rigging and this is a yacht that offers relaxed blue water cruising.
The deck design certainly makes the accommodation well-insulated and the Oceanis 281 provides snug cruising in colder waters, with sufficiently good ventilation for warmer climes. The U-shaped saloon comfortably seats six around the table and the yacht has good natural lighting from the fixed port lights on either side of the hull. The L-shaped galley is well laid out and there are thoughtful touches such as the opening porthole above the gimballed stove. It is not hard to see why the Oceanis 281’s calm comfortable cruising makes it a firm favourite at sea and in port with serious sailors, families and charter firms alike.