When a renowned superyacht yard builds a 67-footer for short-handed cruising you can be sure the result will be something special
Were money no object and you wanted the ultimate yacht for long-term cruising, what would you choose? How large could you go without needing a paid crew? What do you really need length and space for and how important is displacement and potential speed to you?
These were the sort of questions crowding into my head on first viewing the sensational new Baltic 67 at the Cannes Yachting Festival. It is truly striking. The quality of the yacht is undeniably world class, but it’s the precision of design and engineering that soon absorbs you.
The owner of this first boat is a highly experienced cruising sailor, boat owner and navigator, so joining him for a 24-hour trial from Mallorca proved the ideal way to get under the gleaming composite skin of this athletic new model.
The concept is about combining the pleasure of pure sailing with ease of handling for long-distance cruising at high average speeds. It is the alternative to a full custom yacht – all the engineering is already calculated – but a great deal of flexibility has been worked into the design, with options including single or twin rudders, a fixed or telescopic keel, multiple cabin layouts, and a carbon or epoxy sandwich hull.
Wanting to return to its mid-size fast cruiser roots, Baltic Yachts teamed up with designers and fellow in-demand superyacht specialists Judel Vrolijk and Design Unlimited. The result is this exceedingly attractive, modern-looking sloop, with a powerful hull shape, a flush foredeck and a low-profile coachroof.
The Baltic 67 is very much at the luxury and custom end of the production yacht scale, so our light wind trial of the boat focused more on the various choices and details aboard and how they might be relevant to sailors in general. Hull number one in particular had a lot of owner input.
Manyeleti, the first 67, belongs to Erik Lindgren. It is his fifth yacht from Baltic after a string of upgrades that started with a used 39 in 1989. “It’s very different to design and build your own boat – in my case using nearly 30 years of offshore sailing experience,” Lindgren explains.
Swede Lindgren travelled to the yard once a month and was in daily contact with the project manager, Kjell Vesto.
The Lindgrens’ plan is to head off on another world cruise in a couple of years time, when Erik’s teenage children have finished school. His shakedown sail involved a 5,000-mile trip from Finland to and around the Mediterranean.
“Not a single thing broke,” he reports, saluting Baltic’s build quality. “I could literally go to El Corte Inglés, stock up, fuel up and sail across the Atlantic.”
Start date: Monday 22nd February 2016 Course: Approx. 600nm non-stop around 11 Caribbean Islands Organised by: The Royal Ocean Racing…
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The Baltic 67 is as big as you can go without needing a pro crew, argues Erik Lindgren. “I’ve spent a lot of time on World ARC boats… it’s the details that make living on board easier. This is a technical boat, but is less dependent on systems than our old Baltic 56. On the other hand it’s great to have aircon and a lifting keel.
“Half the time spent aboard will be for long distance stuff and holidays for the two of us, but a lot of the time will be spent with friends and family too.”
Privacy at this size is a big benefit. “I have no need to have a big boat for show,” says Lindgren, “but I wanted to have the things I need.”
The most important features he wanted, which help explain the jump in size from his previous 56, were a furling boom, a large, practical galley, four cabins and a tender garage large enough to house a forward-facing dinghy. While his yachts have grown and become more complex, Lindgren maintains that the methodical way Baltic builds boats results in a lot fewer problems.
A carbon furling boom is an eye-watering investment, but it does make the hoisting, reefing and lowering of sails a quick and largely hassle-free procedure. It can make the difference to whether you go sailing or not. Within minutes of leaving Palma’s breakwaters, we had main and jib unfurled and were matching the 8 knot wind speeds.
The Hall carbon boom uses an electric mandrel motor that is synchronised with the halyard to avoid too much sail spilling out during a hoist. The traveller is also electric, while the sheet car pullers, backstay, vang and furlers are hydraulically-operated. The result is the ease of push-button sailing typically used on modern performance superyachts.
We spent the first few hours reaching across Palma Bay. Despite having 24 hours aboard, the most breeze we found was 11 knots, which translated to 9.5 knots boatspeed – very respectable under white sails only (fully battened main and non-overlapping jib). The majority of the time was spent close-hauled, matching the single-figure wind, even exceeding it when it dropped below 6 knots.
I found myself gravitating to the side deck to sit and steer, instinctively wanting to sail the Baltic 67 like a cruiser-racer. There are good views over the low coachroof and flush foredeck, but nothing except freeboard height to prevent a wet backside if the decks ship green water.
The helmsman can also sit forward of the wheel and reach the two winches. I like the way the primary is mounted inboard, though the positioning of the turning block for the jib sheet creates an obstacle on the side deck. Baltic reasons that it helps provide the option to use either winch for the sheet.
Speed for oceans
A flying sail would have helped to get the most out of the conditions, but Lindgren was still awaiting delivery of a Code 0 and A3, both on top-down furlers. However, even when the evening breeze died to around 4-5 knots, the Baltic 67 still provided an enjoyable experience on the helm. It’s rare that you can say such a thing while only using main and jib.
The 67 is designed for potent offwind performance, to limit engine use on transocean voyages. The aggressive sail area to displacement ratio of 30.9 is possibly taking things too far: the boat has so much power to weight that it will need to be treated as a real performance cruiser and tamed accordingly (i.e. reefed early). But what our trial sail did show was how well the Baltic 67 fulfils its brief of being able to offer enjoyable sailing in light wind.
“Bluewater boats don’t usually sail in 10-15 knots downwind – and we had a lot of that,” Lindgren points out, with reference to their previous Pacific crossing. “At 150º true, this boat is sailing at 8-9 knots, which is a big difference. As long as you are over 8 knots you are properly moving through the water,” he reasons. “Below that you’re in the swell and not in control.”
With the relatively low coachroof and cockpit backrests and aft positioning of the helms, protection from the elements may be a concern. When you look at Baltic’s large new designs in build, the 142 and 146, both have lengthy deckhouses that provide plenty of protection. But it chose the more in-vogue deck design for this semi-custom size, so its solutions for cockpit protection depend largely on a retractable sprayhood and bimini. These can remain in place while sailing and have already been tested in up to 40 knots.
The cockpit area on this first Baltic 67 has been adapted according to the owners’ wishes, including a narrower space between benches and no fixed table. The Lindgrens like to be able to brace feet between benches and to be able to sleep on the sole between them when offshore. The table and carbon legs stow beneath the central saloon soleboards.
We anchored at dusk at Es Trenc beach, 25 miles to the south-east of Palma, in water so clear we could pick the spot to drop the hook between weed patches. The ability to anchor in less than 4m amply demonstrated the appeal of a lifting keel. The keel system, from the highly reputable Italian brand APM, raises the T-keel hydraulically up to 2.5m.
The anchor arrangement is another fine piece of engineering: the arm is concealed in a shallow locker and rotates over and into place at the push of a button. The roller then extends out to keep it clear of the stem. The second Baltic 67 will have a fixed roller incorporated into the bowsprit.
Open transom choice
The garage houses a 3.2m dinghy stowed longitudinally, with the engine mounted, between the dual rudders. Lindgren chose an AB tender with aluminium hull (53kg). It has a 20hp outboard so can plane with four adults yet is light enough to be dragged up the beach. He also opted for an open transom that, although an unconventional choice for ocean cruising, gives easy access to the swim platform and dinghy.
There is copious stowage space throughout the Baltic 67. In addition to the tall sail locker in the forepeak, the aft quarter lockers easily swallow electric bikes, inflatable paddleboards, snorkel gear, waterskis, spare fuel and a liferaft valise. Here there’s also access to the steering gear with independent autopilots used on both quadrants.
I particularly like the way multiple Antal T-lock fittings are flush-mounted along the toerail and in the cockpit. These enable quick and easy swivelling toggles to be inserted for loops and blocks, or for harness attachments.
Weight versus noise
The following morning was windless, leaving us with a three-hour motor back to Palma. The 150hp six-cylinder Steyr was specified for its low noise and emissions, and drives a four-blade Bruntons prop via a standard shaft.
E-glass was chosen over the standard carbon hull. Lindgren’s previous Baltic 56 was carbon and he wanted the better noise insulation over the weight difference (up to one tonne). The 67 is a very quiet, relaxing boat under motor, with no need to raise voices under power.
Down below the Baltic is an aircon-cooled haven of charm and exquisite quality. The more time I spent aboard and the more I learned of the systems and engineering, the more I began to appreciate what sets this boat apart.
The Design Unlimited styling is elegant and tasteful, with a mahogany finish on this first boat. With four different layout configurations plenty of scope is allowed for owner customisation. But behind the scenes is what you really pay for with the Baltic. It’s the telling result of what happens when a yard goes down in model size – this 67 is built like a superyacht.
For example, the engine room, used for hot items like engine, genset and water-heater, links through to a proper mechanical/utility room abaft the galley, where equipment is mounted on three walls for easy access (including chargers, inverters, pumps, watermaker and compressors).
“The thinking is that everything should be in reach and that you should be able to maintain it easily,” says Lindgren, pointing to the Spectra watermaker (his fourth) mounted on one bulkhead.
Stowage throughout has been brilliantly conceived. The 2,000lt of water and diesel tanks, plus the batteries, are all mounted centrally, under the saloon, leaving cavernous practical stowage under the berths. Custom-made fabric bags are used under the saloon seats to maximise useable volume.
Lifting the carbon sandwich soleboards at the base of the companionway reveals the sea chests and main manifolds for fuel and water, a prime example of the meticulous and practical systems layout. The 1,440Ah of lithium gel batteries further forward have a reservoir surrounding them, which can cool the cells if necessary without flooding them. And there are custom-made drip trays below any filters to prevent mess or corrosion.
The keel uses a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) to activate the hydraulics, the cylinders for which can be replaced from within the boat. All other electrics are on manual relays. The fuse locker is a work of art and opens out for full access to the wiring, with every wire and fuse numbered and labelled.
Smart cabin choice
Manyeleti’s owner’s cabin, with adjoining heads and shower in the forwardmost section, has an offset double berth positioned aft by the main bulkhead, a relatively central area of the boat to sleep. However, on passage, Lindgren says he sleeps on deck, or in the single cabin amidships. There are also leecloths on the saloon berths, a comfortable option if guests don’t want to share the twins.
There is a good reason why there is only one double bed. Lindgren often sails with male friends, hence twin and single berths are a pragmatic choice. The use of a split heads and shower shared between the twin and single cabins is also sensible.
The central section of the interior is superb, with a traditional lower saloon, a navstation beside the companionway and a formidable U-shaped galley. It was important to the Lindgrens that the galley was large enough for two to work in yet still be seamanlike. The result is a very practical area with superb chilled, dried goods and crockery stowage. Ventilation ducts keep it nice and cool, though personally I’d want to have a hatch through to the cockpit.
Lindgren swears by the dishwasher, reasoning that it uses less water than washing up and helps keep the galley tidy. This and an induction cooker would be sensible options if you had sufficient power, and would avoid the need for gas.
The exemplary finish and smaller details help furnish the boat with a top quality feel. From the hinges, light switches and showerheads to the gas sprung hatches and overall joiner work, the Baltic 67 oozes quality.
Baltic 67: the verdict
Baltic has spent the last decade building some of the finest performance superyachts. You don’t receive commissions for yachts such as Hetairos, Pink Gin VI, or My Song without a top reputation, and to get that sort of quality on a 67-footer is truly special. Attention to detail and class of engineering and finish are hallmarks of this new model.
The Baltic 67 has the performance in light airs to match her on-trend looks and is a joy to helm. The choice of a comparatively unprotected cockpit and an open transom may not sit well with conventional bluewater sailors, but times are changing and this design is aimed as much at port-hopping from Portofino as at Pacific passagemaking. It is the solutions, stowage and systems employed throughout that help make it a valid option for distance cruising.
The Baltic 67 has the legs to outrun virtually any other cruising monohull and to keep sailing fast in light apparent winds. To know you’re buying the best in terms of design and composite build – and created by the same team involved in a yacht that costs tens of millions – must help compensate for the significant initial outlay. For the rest of us, we can but dream.
LOA: 20.52m (67ft 4in)
LWL: 19.20m (62ft 12in)
Beam (max): 5.45m (17ft 11in)
Draught (max): 3.90m (12ft 10in)
Draught (telescopic): 2.50m (8ft 2in)
Displacement (lightship): 24,400kg (53,792lb)
Ballast: 9,000kg (19,841lb)
Sail Area: 255.6m2 (2,751ft2)
Water: 1,000lt (220gal)
Fuel: 900lt (198gal)
Sail Area/disp ratio: 30.9
Disp/LWL ratio: 96
Price: €3.95 million (ex. VAT)
Design: Judel/Vrolijk & Co and Design Unlimited