Beneteau Swift Trawler 34
Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 34 offers a lot in a compact package, with a sensible space layout that makes for an affordable way to enjoy comfortable cruising
This latest addition to the Beneteau range of trawler yachts is a quite remarkable boat. At just 34 feet in length, it is the smallest in their range and quite probably it is the smallest trawler yacht in the world. Yet, it is perfectly formed and looks every inch a serious sea-going trawler. Here is the perfect trawler yacht for a couple and the Swift 34 can stand alongside its larger sisters without shame. Indeed there is something very appealing about the 34 just because of its compact size.
You have a lot of design latitude when building larger yachts, but trying to make a boat of this size be proportional is a considerable challenge. From the outside the 34 looks great and commands attention while inside, there is generous headroom and interior space – you can comfortably stand in all areas. The interior does not feel cramped in any way and you have to ask how has Beneteau managed to achieve this miracle of motor yacht design.
The secret lies in just focusing on good sensible design – no gimmicks, no tricks, just utilising the available space to create comfortable living areas. On the outside, they must have worked hard to get the balance right but it looks purposeful. On the inside, there is a practical layout that works.
The hull is a semi-displacement design based around a hard chine shape that allows it to lift partially onto the plane. At the bow, the entry is fine below the chine so that it cuts cleanly through the waves and above that pronounced chine, the topsides flare out to keep the spray under control. Flared topsides and the near vertical stem help to generate the traditional trawler look. These topsides run aft to a squared-off transom that sports a narrow swim platform.
Below the water, there is a skeg to give directional stability to the hull that has only a shallow vee at the stern. Because this is a single-engined boat, the skeg tapers away to allow clear water to enter the propeller. Spray rails running aft also help the directional stability and generate lift. A spade rudder is mounted close to the transom and does its job very effectively.
Getting on-board the 34 is easy, with the option of stepping onto the swim platform and then through a transom door, or by using the bulwark door on the starboard side. There is only the door to starboard because the 34 has an asymmetrical superstructure, with the deck staying low on the starboard side right up to the foredeck but rising up directly from the cockpit on the port side. The low deck line on the starboard side matches to the wheelhouse door on this side making starboard the favored side for movement.
Aft there is a plain cockpit that can be connected with the saloon by opening up the double sliding doors. The saloon is almost square in shape and once again simplicity rules, with a settee and table with extra seating for dining available in the form of folding director chairs. Forward from here is the helm on the starboard side and the galley to port. This layout works well in practice, with an outside door alongside the helm and a window by the galley allowing fresh air to flow through.
The galley has everything you need for meal preparation: a double sink, a two-ring hob, an oven and even a small dishwasher, which is available as an option. You need to get down on your hands and knees to use the oven and dishwasher but that seems a small price to pay for such convenience on a 34-foot boat.
The helm is perhaps the one weakness in this design. It has all the requirements for navigation and control. But apart from the central navigation display, the layout of the dash has little logic and the adjustable bench seat is uncomfortable and likely to irritate on a long passage. However, the visibility is excellent, with thin metal framing of the windscreen and vertical windows in the saloon.
Stairs lead down to a small vestibule with the main cabin forward, a two-bunk cabin to port and the single bathroom to starboard, with the master cabin forward. It is down here that you do become aware of the compact size of the hull. However, the cabins look comfortable and there is good stowage, and even a TV in the forward cabin. If you need extra sleeping space for temporary guests, then the saloon settee can fold out to create a narrow double bed. It is therefore possible to sleep six people on this 34, but it would be crowded and put a strain on the facilities.
Tradition rules for the interior finish, which is mainly stained hardwood to give a warm inviting atmosphere. There is a choice in the furnishings, but in general these are subdued with the accent on comfort rather than style.
When a yacht is limited in length, one way to expand is upwards and on the 34 this is achieved with a large flybridge that the designers have incorporated without compromising the appearance. Alongside the single seat of the helm is an L-settee surrounding a small table, leaving an open space aft that could be used for sunbathing but is primarily designed for stowing a tender (2.75m x 1.5m). This tender is launched and recovered with a derrick boom attached to the tall mast in traditional style.
It is this mast and boom that gives character to the 34, creating a practical and no-nonsense look that delights the eye. This compact trawler yacht really does look the part and during the sea trial it became very evident that it can also act the part. The performance lived up to every expectation and this would make cruising in the 34 a real pleasure.
The 34 used for the sea trial was a high specification version, fitted with bow and stern thrusters so you did not feel any handicap by just having a single propeller. The stern thruster is not standard, but even without it, it should be possible to handle this yacht easily in tight spaces. The rudder is very effective at slow speeds and a quick touch on the throttles can be used to adjust the heading.
Out at sea, the performance is lively with good acceleration from the 425-horsepower engine. One of the joys of the 34 is that it can operate comfortably at any chosen speed up to the 20-knot maximum, allowing you to choose between performance and economy in the knowledge that you will be offered a comfortable ride. This hull cuts cleanly through the waves heading into the seas and you feel very much in control in following seas, aided by the large rudder. At full speed, the steering does feel a little over-sensitive, although the autopilot manages to control the heading very effectively.
If you push the 34 hard into head seas, there is some slamming from the flat hull surfaces but adjusting the speed to the conditions can soon relieve this. There is a lot of pleasure in driving the 34, particularly in the way that it responds to your demands and it feels like a very willing partner for long distance cruising as well as short trips out fishing in the bay.
That willing engine is a Cummins diesel, which is installed under the saloon floor. To gain access means moving the table and lifting the carpet. But once there, all of the service points are readily accessible. If you go for the generator option then this is installed in the after locker under the cockpit floor where it still leaves plenty of space for fender and rope stowage.
This 34 Trawler ticks all the right boxes and it is a remarkable little boat and a fine design achievement. For a couple it would make an excellent cruising yacht but it could also cope with a family on board. It looks good, it feels good and it is one of the most practical boats that I have come across for a long time.
Technical Specifications – Beneteau Swift Trawler 34
Length overall 36.55 feet
Hull length 32.78 feet
Beam 13.12 feet
Draft 3.28 feet
Displacement 14424 lbs
Air draft (mast down) 11.88 feet
Fuel capacity 211 gals
Water capacity 85 gals
Engine 1 x 425 hp Cummins diesel
Propulsion Shaft and propeller
Design Joubert and Nivelt
Builder Chantiers Beneteau
Guide price $270,000