It´s no exaggeration to say that Bali, part of the Catana Catamarans Group, have completely disrupted the catamaran cruising market over the last couple of years with their innovative designs . The range has been so successful, that focus and resource have continued to shift from the Catana performance cats to the Bali cruising range. The 4.3 was launched shortly after the 4.5.
If you are looking for a cat that delivers the maximum useable living space per square metre, then the Bali range is streets ahead of everyone else. The 4.3 sits one rung up from entry level boats like the Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 and the Lagoon. Read our Lagoon 40 review for a deeper insight into these entry level boats
Photo credit: bali-catamarans.com
– Forward cockpit lounge? ✓
– Flybridge? ✓
– Open aft cockpit/salon? ✓
– Large cabins with island berths? ✓
– American style fridge? ✓
– Protection in bad weather ✓
The bottom line is, if you are shopping for a performance catamaran with slender hulls and less living space, don´t show your other half this range of boats, as you won´t get that cat back in the bag. They have taken the charter market by storm.
- All that space! The main deck layout is really innovative. The huge “garage door” swings up to the roof of the cabin either electrically or manually which gives you a huge open space for entertaining. That gives you enough room for a full sized fridge and freezer, dining area, lounger area, nav station and large galley. The lot, in other words.
- If the weather turns, or you feel like some privacy, just swing the big door down and you have a fully enclosed saloon. Very neat!
- The foredeck is solid, and while this does have drawbacks (see below), it gives you even more lounging space in a forward cockpit you normally expect to see on a larger Leopard, and plenty of working space for your light wind sails. It also results in a very stiff structure and means you have plenty of buoyancy forward without the slamming you would experience on a Prout.
- The forward part of the saloon is all windows: the big central window opens right up so you can pass cool drinks out to anyone lounging in the forward cockpit area.
- We like that forward facing nav station on the starboard side.
- The flybridge helm looks like it would be exposed in bad weather. The visibility is excellent, of course, and you would be helming from the nav station below in really bad weather, but remember- you have to reef and manage the ropes from up there.
- The flipside of having all of that space down in the saloon is that the boom is very high. It´s very hard to access and it also means that the centre of effort of the mainsail is high.
- I have had many conversations about that solid foredeck. It has been sculpted like a ski to dissipate wave energy, but even so, there is more weight up front and that means more bouncing around in heavy seas. I like nets, personally, and it would worry me in a heavy sea. Having said that, Prouts did this for years and they are very seaworthy boats.
- The huge glass panels upfront are superb at anchor, but they would worry me in a storm offshore.
- Lack of hand holds moving up to the foredeck.
Image Credit: Sailing Dreams
All lines come aft to the flybridge helm. The mast is stepped back like a Prout (you´ll see the support pole in the saloon), and so the Bali 4.1 is powered with a relatively small mainsail and a large, self-tacking jib. That flybridge means a high boom: the jib is where a lot of the pull comes from when you are under way.
It´s a short few steps up either side from the aft cockpit area, to the flybridge. As well as the helm seat, , there´s a sun lounge and some solar to keep your batteries charged.
Bali builds the boat in 3 pieces, in a PVC foam sandwich and polyester resin, covered with an anti-osmosis gelcoat. The decks are built with plywood and monolithic resin and the bulkheads are in glued or laminated plywood.
Well, this is where the Bali excceds all expectations isn´t it? I can´t think of another cat that gets close to this amount of space, certainly not in the performance category compared to the Outremer 45, for example, and not even in the cruising category. Maybe the Leopards come close with their forward cockpit that is accessible through the saloon. And the Nautitechs with their Open concept, but Bali has really gone “all in” here.
It reminds me of a McConaghy catamaran but those boats are in an entirely different price bracket. But the basic feeling is the same – that of being in a spacious apartment.
Bali call this the “Loft” concept. The galley is forward, with a full size fridge and microwave to starboard and aft. There´s working space everywhere, and it looks like a great layout for entertaining.
The visibility is excellent all around with big windows that fully open to the sides and forward. You are not going to have a problem with ventilation at anchor on this boat. And down below, the accomodation is spacious and light. They have used that old Catana trick of flaring the hulls so that you get decent living space and acceptable performance underway. The hulls flare to chines just above the waterline, just like a Catana: you can definitely spot the family DNA there.
She´s certainly at the top of her class when it comes to space down below. I wouldn´t call the finish high end, but it is comparable to the competitors (principally Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot). Choose between the 3 cabin Owners version or the 4 cabin charter.
The Bali moves along quite respectably under sail with that big foresail (37.5m²), and she is easy to manage short-handed (although with such a high boom, the square topped mainsail is smaller than many boats in the same class and is not easy to get to if you have problems with the reefing lines, for example).
With a SA/D (Sail Area to Displacement) of around 19, she´s in the same bracket as a Lagoon, although I think she would accelerate faster with those sculpted hulls and would get going quicker in a light breeze as long as you don´t overload her with kit. You´ll be tacking through 100 degrees upwind and cruising along at 6-7 knots in most conditions. It´s worth having gennaker in your locker to get the best out of the boat!
The Bali 4.3 comes with twin 40HP (upgradable to 50s) engines aft which should push you along at 8 knots at 2500 RPM. Or alternate the engines and motor at 6. She´s easy to manouevre in the marina.
The Bali 4.3 is a really innovative design and it is easy to see how this catamaran has done so well in the charter market. She offers an unbeatable platform for enjoying a week or 2 of coastal sailing around the Med or the Carribbean Islands. For longer passages, I am not so sure. I would be drifting back towards Catana in that scenario. I have no problem with the solid foredeck (Prout proved this concept many times over), but I would worry about the height of that boom and the helm position.
How much is a Bali 4.3?
As always, this will depend the the options you go for, but a guide sail away price would be around €450k, which is in line with the main competition in this size.
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