Back Cove 37By Capt. Richard Thiel
Photography by Billy Black
Timing is Everything
Back Cove introduced the right boat at just the right time.
The current recession or economic slowdown or stagnation or whatever you care to call the mess we’re in has been hard on a lot of industries. But few have been hit harder than production boatbuilding. You don’t need to be Ben Bernanke to see why. Who’s going to splurge on an expensive luxury like a boat when he feels the economic future is uncertain? And if you’re a boatbuilder, why on earth would you introduce a new model when it’s highly debatable whether anyone will be in a frame of mind to buy it?
Of course some builders dared to defy those odds and many paid dearly for their audacity. But one succeeded—convincingly. Early in 2008, even as it saw storm clouds gathering on the economic horizon, Back Cove Yachts, a division of Sabre Yachts, decided to design and build a brand new 37-footer, its largest boat ever. The ominous portents proved accurate, to say the least. Yet by the time the boat debuted in the spring of 2009 the company had already sold eight, in a climate in which buyers had evaporated like water on hot asphalt.
Back Cove continued to sell 37s, and today, as I write this in early June, the next available Back Cove 37 is hull 50. Ponder that. Fifty boats of a brand-new line that was introduced in the darkest moment of the worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression. How did this boat defy such daunting odds?
The answer to that question is, like the boat itself, simple. From the start the Back Cove 37 was conceived and designed as an ideal option for boaters who, for a variety of reasons, want to cut back on the cost and hassle of boating but are still dedicated to it. They are typically looking for a vessel that’s less costly to operate and maintain than their current boat, yet is attractive, well priced, nicely equipped, and perhaps most important, a pleasure to run. The 37 scores on all points.
For a base price of $435,000, the Back Cove 37 provides two staterooms, a head with an enclosed shower, and premium standard equipment like twin Stidd helm seats, a 9 kW Onan generator, a bow thruster, and three-zone air conditioning. Because she’s powered by a single diesel, her owner won’t feel compelled to check the price at the fuel dock before he heads out. Our test boat, equipped with the optional ($20,800) top-of-the-line 600-mhp Cummins QSC 8.3, evinced a nice wide sweet spot between 1750 and 2250 rpm where she produced cruising speeds ranging from 13.4 to 20.6 knots and ranges of better than 375 miles from her modest fuel capacity of 300 gallons.
And she is a pleasure to run. Her big rudder provided good helm response from the SeaStar hydraulic steering. The effect of propeller torque common to single-engine boats, while detectable, was minimal. There was neither vibration nor excessive feedback, which often reveal themselves on boats like this with a propeller tunnel when you put the helm hard over at speed. Tracking was excellent, and since running angles never exceeded three degrees, so were sightlines at all times. Despite the fact that as helmsman you’re standing just forward of the engine, sound levels were moderate.
As mentioned before, Back Cove is owned by Sabre Yachts, which also builds high-end sailing and powerboats. This lineage shows up in a number of ways, such as the attention to ventilation evidenced by six opening ports, an opening center windshield panel, and a sunroof in the hardtop. Open these and the double saloon doors that lead onto the 42-inch-long cockpit and you may not need to fire up that A/C—and more important, the diesel generator that powers it.
Also serving as evidence of a solid cruising heritage is the 37’s accessibility. The entire saloon sole lifts electrically to expose the engine, as well as the batteries, two freshwater tanks, engine and generator raw-water strainers, filters, etc. It’s easy to climb down into the compartment and sidle up to any component.
Equally important is access to the foredeck, especially since the 37 is likely to be run by a couple. Her side decks are not only a foot wide but the house is structured to provide plenty of shoulder room so you don’t have to sidestep going forward. Nonskid is aggressive here and everywhere, the foredeck is flat, and everything is protected by a 25-inch-high bowrail that’s rock solid. A forepeak compartment can be used to stow fenders, although at 42 inches deep, it might be hard to reach anything that drops to the bottom. Its forward section is partitioned off as a chain locker, which keeps things clean, but I couldn’t figure out how I’d access the rode if it should be fouled.
But the best example of this boat’s solid bloodlines is the way her designers have managed to create so much interior space. Every compartment is so roomy that I had to keep reminding myself this was a 37. (Length overall is actually 38 feet.) Even the cockpit, which is where I would have expected the designer to cheat a bit, has plenty of room for a table.
After three hours aboard the 37, the reasons for her success were obvious to me. She’s a pleasure to run, offers plenty of room for two, as well as occasional guests, is an excellent value, and she’ll turn heads when you bring her in. If you’re thinking of switching to a boat that’s a little more practical but don’t want to give up those things that make boating so pleasurable, you couldn’t do better than the Back Cove 37. She’s the right boat for our times.
This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.