Common Issues With Beneteau Sailboats

Common Issues With Beneteau Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

Beneteau sailboats are well-made and durable, but these vessels have a few common issues that are exacerbated by age and poor maintenance.

The most common issues with used Beneteau sailboats are strange creaking sounds, fiberglass cracking or delamination, deck core rot, corrosion, keel separation, interior wear, and various wiring and electrical problems.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the issues that you may encounter on older Beneteau sailboats. We’ll go over why these issues occur, how to spot them, and a brief overview of how to repair them. Additionally, we’ll explain why Beneteau sailboats have slightly fewer problems than similar production sailboats.

We sourced the information used in this article from careful research. We also drew off the collective knowledge of the sailing community and the testimony of past and current Beneteau owners.


Table of contents

Are Beneteau Sailboats Well-Made?

Yes, Beneteau sailboats are just as well-made as any other popular production fiberglass boat. The company has produced thousands of affordable boats over the years, and the vast majority of them enjoy years or decades of trouble-free sailing—with regular maintenance, of course.

Former sailboat salesmen sometimes describe Beneteau as “the Ford of the sailboat industry,” alluding that they’re a bit nicer than the other entry-level brands but not quite top-of-the-line. However, modern Beneteau sailboats are much more premium.

Newer Beneteau sailboats are just as high-quality as the old ones—and sometimes better. These vessels have a reputation for quality parts, and few sailors regard them as cheaply-built boats. The cabinet materials, hull glassing, and fittings are generally good from the factory.

Why do Beneteau Sailboats Have Problems?

Beneteau sailboats are some of the better-built production fiberglass boats on the used market. They’re usually stronger than other similarly-priced sailboats due to their hull reinforcements, and many of their fittings are the same as similar vessels and manufactured by third-party companies.

The main reason why we see problems with Beneteau sailboats is due to their age and lower price point. People don’t always take care of their stuff, and most Beneteau sailboats fall victim to time and varying levels of natural deterioration.

Beneteau sailboats aren’t any more or less prone to problems. That said, there are some common issues found on older Beneteau boats that you’re likely to encounter on other sailboats as well.

Common Beneteau Sailboat Problems

Beneteau sailboats are generally well-made and long-lasting, even if previous owners haven’t been 100% on top of maintenance. However, Beneteau sailboats have some generational problems that are common enough to discuss.

Additionally, as the older boats age, the sailing community is becoming aware of potential shortcomings in their construction and design. Luckily, most of these issues can be repaired—if caught early and dealt with promptly. Here are seven of the most common problems with Beneteau sailboats.

1. Strange Noises

Ever heard an old house start to complain on a windy day? The same issue is known to occur on older Beneteau sailboats, but it’s usually not a huge cause for concern. Nonetheless, it’s nerve-wracking for sailors and sometimes a sign of a more serious problem.

When sailing, some Beneteau sailboats will creak and moan—especially in rough seas or high winds. This is likely due to stress on the chainplates, stays, and rigging as pressures are exerted on them. Boats naturally have a certain amount of flex, and sometimes it produces noise.

What’s more concerning is when the noises are a sign of wear on key components or a weakening of the vessel’s structure. This is apparent if you notice cracks around chainplates in the fiberglass or if you see any critical components flexing under normal strain.

2. Fiberglass Delamination

Delamination occurs when fiberglass is exposed to sunlight and weather for extended periods, and the process is worsened by poor or non-existent hull and deck maintenance. Beneteau sailboats are made from multiple layers of fiberglass and a laminate, which can separate from each other over time and weaken the boat.

Delamination can also expose the core to moisture, which can spell disaster for the boat. Luckily, delamination is easy to spot and somewhat easy for amateurs to repair with a kit from West Marine. Any delamination, especially on the deck, should be repaired as soon as you notice it.

3. Weakened or Soft Decks

Deck weakening is caused by moisture which rots the organic core that supports the fiberglass. Not all boats are built this way, but the vast majority of Beneteau sailboats are constructed with a cored deck.

This is a problem that occurs on most fiberglass boats and is not disproportionately common on Beneteau sailboats. So, how do decks go soft, and why is it such a big problem?

Beneteau decks go soft when moisture gets behind the fiberglass. Eventually, once the core has turned to rotten goo, the deck will feel springy or spongy when you step on it. If the problem persists, you could (quite literally) fall through the deck.

Rotten decks can be a nightmare to fix. Usually, the rotted section must be completely cut out and redone with fiberglass and plywood or another structural material. If the rot is isolated, the repair can be completed without too much of a headache.

Beneteau boats with teak decks can also experience rot, as unmaintained wood can weaken and become a splintery mess over years or decades of neglect. A rotted teak deck can be repaired piece by piece. But more often than not, an entirely new deck must be cut and installed.

4. Corrosion

Corrosion is common on Beneteau sailboats, especially the older vessels that have been exposed to the weather for decades. This is why it’s important to cover your winches and keep valuable parts out of the sun and rain.

Corrosion occurs most often on chainplates, rigging, winches, and other metal parts. It can also happen on the mast and boom, especially if the wrong kind of bolts and washers are used. Again, this is a problem that’s due primarily to the age and condition of the vessel.

5. Keel Failure

The dreaded keel failure is one of the most severe problems that can occur on a Beneteau sailboat without sinking it. This occurs because of the design of Beneteau sailboats, which commonly use fin keels of some sort that are laden with heavy ballast.

The keel is mounted to the hull using heavy-duty bolts. It’s not part of the hull—but an additional piece that can separate under the right circumstances. This is usually the result of running aground or bolt corrosion, but there are numerous ways it can happen.

So, how often do keels fall off Beneteau sailboats? Hardly ever—what’s more common is a loosening of the keel, which can rock back and forth and progressively increase the severity of the problem and possibly cause flooding.

If the keel separates, you should have it repaired immediately. This can be done by any competent boatyard, but it isn’t a cheap repair. You can spot a loose keel by looking for cracks or obvious lines around the point where the keel meets the bottom of the hull.

Thankfully, keel separation and failure is relatively rare on Beneteau boats and less common than on other less expensive brands. Vessels should be inspected out of the water if keel separation is suspected.

6. Interior Wear

Beneteau sailboat interiors have always been pretty good, but over time things begin to get loose and worn out. Common points of failure are hinges, which sometimes pull their screws out of wooden cabinets and doors.

Drawers can sometimes become jammed, as early models were built without modern metal sliders. Leaks around hatches and portlights can also occur, especially towards the front of the boat over the V-berth and around ventilation cowls.

This allows rainwater to enter the cabin and cause mold and sometimes leads to deck rot. If water gets into the cabin, even for a short time, there’s a good chance it’ll ruin the upholstery, which must be replaced.

7. Wiring and Electrical Issues

Beneteau sailboats have a pretty good writing layout, but there are a few annoying design decisions that can be difficult to repair. Wiring can corrode if exposed to moisture, and the boat may need to be extensively rewired to get lights and other systems to work.

It may be worth it to disconnect the source and leave old wiring in place, as it can be impossible to locate or remove old cables or re-thread new ones. This would be a bigger issue if the previous owner jerry-rigged anything into the original wiring, as diagrams won’t show it.

Common Issues With Beneteau Sailboats
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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