John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.
Gib Sea 43
JUNE 2002

Length overall  42'8"
Length waterline  35'9"
Beam 14'
Draft  5'7"
Displacement  22,763 lb
Ballast  6,188 lbs (iron)
Engine  57 HP Yanmar diesel
Sail Area  969 Sail Area
Fuel Capacity  66 gals

The bright, modern interior of the Gib'Sea 43 is set up for accommodating a crowd -- everyone on board can dine together with the settees surrounding the table in the main saloon.

Your first impression of the Gib'Sea 43 at the dock is striking - twin wheels at the helm, plumb bow with 'dolphin nose' pulpit protecting the anchor, low-profile deck house, wide side decks with lots of stainless steel hand rails and hatch protectors,details you wouldn't expect to find on a sailboat that sells itself as a 'family cruiser.' And while the optional roller-furled jib and main sails make it easy to sail as a couple, there's loads of room down below for family and friends.

The Gib'Sea series of cruising sloops is the affordably-priced line built by Dufour Yachts in La Rochelle, France. They introduced the Gib'Sea 43 in 2000, along with a 33-foot model, followed by the 37 and 51.

The cockpit of the 43 is nice and roomy with comfortable teak-topped benches on either side, with lockers underneath thebenches deep enough for big fenders and other bulky items. A center table with folding side leaves has a cooler underneath that can hold up to three cases of beer.

The twin steering stations allow for good visibility on either port or starboard tack, and provide the additional benefit of leaving a clear centerline entry into the cockpit through the transom from the integral swim platform. The wheel on the starboard side has the throttle controls, while the compass and the Raytheon ST60 instrumentation are inset into the binnacle set into the table base, easily visible from either side. A locker in the port side of the transom is fitted for a five-gallon propane tank with overboard drains, and the other side has a deep locker for stowing the shore power cable.

My hosts were Don Walsh of Dufour USA, who set up offices in Annapolis in 1996 to represent Dufour Yachts, and Dick Lean, Vice President of Crusader Yachts, the Annapolis-based dealer. We dropped the lines and motored away from the Port Annapolis docks on a cool spring day with hardly a breath of air. It wasn't until we were well into the middle of the Chesapeake before it was worth bothering to set the sails.

This we did easily. The running rigging is thoughtfully designed to be easy to control from the cockpit, with all lines leading aft. The standard main is a semi-full battened main with a lazy bag and lazy jacks. The roller-furled main on the model we were sailing is a $1,200 option.

The jib sheets lead aft to self-tailing Lewmar winches placed with easy reach of the helmsman. The control line for the roller-furling jib is likewise handy, and it goes through a sheet stopper, which is a nice touch. The main sheet leads to another self-tailing Lewmar winch mounted on the coach roof, and the Lewmar traveler runs across the roof just forward of the companionway hatch.

The helm is quite responsive, both under power and under sail. The dual wheels are independently cable driven, so that if one should fail, the other will still work. With a light spring breeze wafting off the Eastern shore, we were doing a good four knots in about eight knots of apparent wind close hauled, and got to pointing about 42 degrees into the wind, which is pretty good for such a beamy cruiser. While the light air we encountered on our pleasant afternoon's sail did not provide ideal test conditions, it's obvious that the boat can be sailed easily with a short-handed crew.

Even so, there's still plenty of room below for a large number of guests. Twin aft cabins have double berths tucked back underneath the cockpit, but port lights through the transom open up to provide plenty of light and ventilation. The companionway hatch is neatly stowed behind the port cabin door. The starboard cabin has a little settee in front of the hanging locker.

The owner's cabin forward has a V-berth with a fold-down settee. In an ingenious use of space, that settee can be enclosed with temporary bulkheads, and the backrest of the settee flips up and locks in place to form a top bunk. The moveable bulkheads store neatly behind the hanging locker.

In the forward head, the sink faucet pulls out to serve as a hand-held shower, and the fiberglass finish on the walls makes for easy clean-up. A door has the holding tank right handy for pump-outs from the deck. The second head opens onto the main saloon, and also has a hand-held shower.

The spacious interior is paneled throughout with a brilliantly grained 'Light Tola' exotic African teak. The main saloon with the table has L-shaped settees on both sides. The settee amidships has an upholstered stainless rail as a back rest, and underneath the settee is ready access to all the pumps. Directional halogen lighting recessed into the ceiling adds to the appeal. The aft starboard corner is devoted to a chart table and the electrical distribution panel, which folds down for easy access to all the electronics.

The galley is a shallow 'U' shape with deep double stainless sinks, a gimbaled two-burner propane stove and oven, a sizable refrigeration unit under part of the counter, and lots of storage under the counter and in cupboards. There are nice, thoughtful touches, like the dust bin built into the teak-and-holly sole under a little hatch.

The molded fiberglass steps leading down the companionway lift and are held up with the help of a stainless-steel prop to provide ample access to the Yanmar 57 HP diesel. Side panels in the aft cabins provide additional access. The sound insulation is ample.