Just got turned onto this forum by RClarke.(Thanks Richard)!
Our home port is in San Francisco although she's currently in Marina Del Rey as we scored a slip there after our last trip down the California coast from SF to San Diego and we're loving discovering the cruising grounds there.
We've owned our Beneteau ST44 since May 2013. Since purchasing her she has gone up and down the California coast twice, with numerous coastal trips to Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterrey and many day trips out and inside of "The Gate". We LOVE her! We can say that with at least 2000 miles of offshore cruising under her keel and probably 100 day trips in the SF Bay which as you probably know is not the kindest body of water in the world.
I have started a list of upgrades and findings that we have made during our adventures with her and will publish them at some point. You can find some of them in our previous posts. My wife also did a blog on our first trip down the coast. (Link below)
As you can imagine we have seen a lot of different sea states offshore, many strong ebbs across the SF Bar and through the Golden Gate and she has taken them in style and safely. I would not hesitate to recommend the boat. Our biggest complaint is the dealer we purchased her from which I would not recommend. (You can PM me for info)
The design, comfort, power plant, electronics, gen set, are all top shelf. Yes Beneteau is the largest boat manufacturer in the world but with that also comes deep pockets for R&D that frankly other builders can't afford.
Yes there are some items where they cut corners but none that effect the seaworthiness or safety. If you look at the way the wiring and electronics are installed, the way the engines and Gen Set are mounted, the way the Lazerettes are constructed and the drainage, Lewmar anchor windlass and mounting, all solid.
The little shit is the fact they use automation to make the woodwork (which we had a couple of cabinet doors replaced), the latches on the drawers and cabinets could be from Ikea. The gray water system is cheap. The stock anchor is a joke. The system using the boom rather than a real hoist for getting the dingy down is a drama.
Overall; solid, fun, reliable boat that has taken us on some amazing adventures with very little mechanical issues. (Knock on Teak)
Here is a link to our comments from our most recent trip down the California coast (SF to San Diego via Catalina)
SF to LA in 30 Hours -
And my wifes blog from our first trip down.
Alameda to Catalina- A Coastal Journey: Gettin' Ship Shaped
Hope this info helps.