I have a 2003 B32 with a Volvo 2020D 18 hp sail drive. I, too, spend 11 months a year afloat.
When I bought the boat it had the fixed aluminium prop, two-bladed, and it must have caused terrible drag. I could certainly hear the transmission whirring when I was sailing and the gearbox was in neutral.
I did a huge amount of research and, in the end, went for a Bruntons VARIFOLD, 2-blade. Here are the exact details from the order:
15″” x 10″” 2 Blade Varifold Propeller
to suit Bavaria 32 with Volvo Penta MD2020-D Engine 19hp @ 3600rpm, with a 2.47:1 Gearbox Ratio
Volvo Penta SD Saildrive, with LH Rotation.
It cost £756.60 + VAT in 2017.
I went for this one chiefly because I wanted the minimum possible drag (I do a bit of club racing!) and, at the time, I was not awash with spare money. If I were doing the change again I think I might have considered the more expensive (about 50% more) Autoprop (the one which behaves identically in forward and reverse) because I am not a confident berther in the marina and I always like to reverse into my berth. So I do a lot of reversing. There is no doubt that the Varifold takes a while to ‘bite’ when engaging reverse, this is noticeable when compared with the old fixed prop, and it is long enough for the lightweight B32 to catch the wind. That said, the Varifold is outstanding in forward and, of course, on a long trip that is what you need.
It was very easy to install and it is easy to service.
Things to note:
1. it absolutely DEVOURS prop anodes. The two-part anode is quite expensive from Bruntons although I think it might be possible to get a pattern set and I might try that next year. Certainly after 11 months you’ll be down to the bolts. It is worth having at least one spare set when you do a change because as the sectors of the anode are half-circles (not thirds as on some props) if there is any inaccuracy in the casting then the anode will break when tightened. I always have two spare sets, having had one break the day before launch which led to a very long journey to get replacements.
2. I don’t advise bothering to replace the plastic bumpers. They are near impossible to remove in order to make the change.
In conclusion the Varifold is a decent, good value choice, as long as you remember to rev up when going into reverse. Bruntons were helpful and knowledgeable people to deal with. Consider the Autoprop if you have the money but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one on a saildrive. I wonder if they might be very heavy and therefore wear the seals and bearings in the sail drive.
Probably for the likes of the B32 or B34, the Varifold is the one to go for.