The Dufour 350 Grand Large (GL) was designed for cruising, using lessons from her “bigger brothers” and input from customers in what they wanted in a “smaller” boat. Designed by Umberto FELCI, at just over 33’, it’s a very attractive boat with lots of innovative features above and below deck.
Talk about right out of the box, the interior of the Dufour 350 GL was still covered in plastic. Luckily the boat had been rigged, so Aaron Holmes from Windworks, 48° North Editor Joe Cline, and I were able to take her for a tryout. It was an overcast day with the promise of rain as we headed out from Shilshole Bay Marina into a shifty 12-16 knot southeasterly.
The mainsail is in an integrated cover with lazyjacks and went up smoothly and easily. With no backstay to get in the way, the 371f2 fully battened main is large and provides lots of power. We rolled out the genoa and were off. The boat settled in nicely, the hard chines putting us in a stable groove. Close-hauled, we did just under six knots. We were a bit overpowered but the boat felt solid and handled it well. We didn’t have the smaller self-tacking headsail rigged to the track on the foredeck, which would have been nice going to weather in that breeze.
Cracking off, we reached comfortably at 7.5 knots with, as Joe put it, “just enough weather helm to keep you honest.” We found the boat easy to steer and responsive on all points of sail.
The boat is set up for short handed sailing with the German system, which has mainsheet and jib sheets run back to stoppers and winches by the helm. I would prefer one size up on the winches, but then I always want bigger winches. There is no mainsheet traveler – the mainsheets run to a bridle on the cabin top. Fine for cruising.
At the bow is a combination sprit and bow roller. With a Code 0 or light asymetrical on the furler, it will be ready and easy to use in lighter airs.
With the width of the boat run aft, long, swept back spreaders (remember there’s no backstay) and outboard shrouds, the sidedecks are wide, making movement easy and safer. Multiple blocks lead lines to the cockpit, with spares for later additions.
There is one shallow lazerette on the starboard side which was enough to hold our six fenders.
The cockpit is large with a table in the middle. Twin wheels aft provide easy steering from either side, with enough room between them to allow easy coming and going at the stern. This is where you really appreciate having no backstay. The helmsman seats on either side fold up against the lifelines.
The transom can be lowered manually to make a swimstep. Now the whole back of the boat is open to loading and unloading dinghies. There’s also a washdown/shower built in to the side so you can hose down the kids when they return from the beach – really a nice feature to keep the cockpit clean. There are also two lockers under the aft cockpit for a life raft or whatever you need to store.
Going down below, you’re greeted with a Maobi wood interior which, coupled with the large portlights, makes for a nice bright interior. Oak is also an option. There’s even a small opening port by the galley to let in light and vent whatever’s cooking.
The Dufour 350 GL comes in either a two or three cabin layout. Our boat had the three cabins: two double berths in the back with a double berth up front. The L-shaped galley is on the port side and head to starboard. With the two berth layout there is a shower added to the head with added storage aft.
One innovation is the hidden chart table that, after removing a cushion on the settee, rises on a track to lock in place. Quite handy to convert sailing mode to hosting mode.
Another interesting feature is the double doors to the forward berth. When open they really open up the interior. At 6’ I hit my head up forward, but with double doors it was easy to take one step to more headroom.
All in all, we really enjoyed the Dufour 350 Grande Large. It sailed easily, even with a bit more sail up than needed. With the three cabin set up, it would be a nice Salish Sea cruiser. The two cabin version would be our choice for longer voyages.