The author found the versatile, performance-minded Delta 400 to be a perfect fit as he cruised Sweden’s largest Archipelago.
Late in November 2015 I found myself in the enviable position of whipping the Delta 400 around the waters off Sandhamn, Sweden—a resort town near Stockholm that plays a key role in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (The protagonist in that book is a journalist, although he does his writing at his summer home in Sandhamn.) As I twirled the boat through tight circles and tested her admirable rate of acceleration and 42-knot top speed, Delta cofounder Kalle Wessel, a 6-foot-5-inch Swede piped up over my shoulder, “Over there you can see the Swedish dream.” I looked to see what he was pointing at. It was a simple boathouse, painted the traditional Swedish colors of Fula red, trimmed with white. The house behind it was painted the same, and was not overly large by any means. The setup was as idyllic as it was modest. And yet it encapsulated an important Swedish ideal—that of lagom, which translates literally to “enough” or “efficient,” but also to “perfect-simple.” The twist is that since lagom is subjective, everyone’s lagom is their own. What’s right for you may not be right for others.
Which brings us to the Delta 400. This boat is a lot of things. She’s quirky, she’s nichey—one part work boat, two parts sporty screamer. Is she an express cruiser? Is she a long-range cruiser? The key is in how you perceive her. She certainly stands out aesthetically, and with twin Volvo Penta stern drives (either the 300-horsepower D4s or the 370-horsepower D6s), she’s a hell of a lot of fun to drive. For a lot of people, I suspect these two traits alone may constitute lagom.
The first thing that pops out about the Delta 400 are her unorthodox lines, reminiscent of her big sister, the 54 IPS. A reverse-pilothouse windshield immediately draws the eye, and takes a cue from workboats that need clear lines of sight in bad conditions. While the boat may look a bit boxier than most Americans are used to, her design is no detriment to performance. And I can attest, she’ll grow on you, or at least she did on me.
Another feature I liked about this boat was the interior layout, particularly the accommodations. At first glance, the stateroom setup seems pretty standard. A sizable forepeak master has ample headroom and lots of stowage, and a starboard-side guest is about par for the course for a boat of this size, i.e., somewhat tight, but manageable for an overnight. However, the 400 has a surprise. Aft and to port in the saloon is a wooden sliding door that, once pushed aside, reveals what is essentially a second master, down a few steps. The berth here is actually larger than the forepeak master’s, and Wessel says that when he uses the boat with his family, this is where he sleeps, as it affords the kids their own privacy forward.
Wessel is as familiar with the 400 as he is with his hometown of Stockholm, an area that Delta is currently promoting as a cruising ground for its customers, and with good reason. Stockholm proper is nothing short of wondrous. And while many may prefer the Stockholm summer and the images of fair maidens bathed in eternal light that the season evokes, the colder months have charms of their own. In the uber-fashionable Norrmalm district where I stayed, the streets glowed warmly throughout the nocturnal hours, courtesy of all the Christmas lights and decorations. Stuffed gnomes and elves peered out from brightly lit shop displays, half buried in cotton snow, hinting at the magic and mystery that permeates the long Nordic nights.
On the last day of my time in Sweden, I had all the numbers and material on the 400 that I needed. So I was now crunching around on the icy docks surrounding Delta’s yurt-like sales office with three Delta employees, including Wessel. The lanky Wessel, with his shoulder-length, silver mane and deep baritone, is a two-time world sailing champion and the descendant of a notorious Swedish pirate. He is not the type of man who brooks indecision. So when he piped up unexpectedly, motioned to the small fleet of Deltas docked outside the office, and said, “We need to take these boats to the yard. Four men, four boats, off we go,” I knew I had my work cut out for me.
What I didn’t know was where the yard was, how far away it lay, and what water we’d be traveling over. Oh, and the sun was fleeing, fast. The sun is always fleeing fast during Sweden’s frozen months. And while I’m a confident and capable boat handler, it’s not all that common for a manufacturer to leave a journalist on board a relatively unfamiliar boat by himself. And while we like to think of boats as toys, they’re not, ya know, actual toys.
This was a 40-foot-long (unsold) boat, capable of easily cresting 40 knots and selling for just shy of a million dollars. Nevertheless, there were four men, and four boats, and so, off we went.
What most Americans don’t realize about Stockholm is that it is such a water-based city. There are myriad waterways looping through and around center city, all the way out through the 35,000 islands that make up the Stockholm Archipelago. Our little fleet formed a V, and we followed Wessel through the growing darkness up one of these passageways. As we whizzed over the icy waters at cruise speeds in the upper-30-knot range, it felt a bit surreal. But any traces of self doubt were erased by the boat’s smooth handling, excellent lines of sight, and a sturdy resin-infused, deep-V, monocoque hull with a single step. That hull fairly gripped the water even as I played around in Wessel’s wake, testing, unsuccessfully, to see if I could coax a creak out of the joinery.
Shortly, the yellows and pinks of dusk fled into deep purples and finally, blackness, as the young night rapidly matured. Now alone in the dark, I kept my eye trained intently on Wessel’s transom as we sped across the dark surface, tracing a rippling mangata—the themes of water and night being so prevalent in Swedish culture that they have a word for the reflection of the moon on the water. We pushed on for probably about an hour—I lost track of time concentrating on the task at hand. Finally an aria of light reached out from around a densely wooded bend. We had arrived at the yard, a tight little harbor studded with all manner of bulkheads and pilings. The four boats slowly swirled around each other like leaves in a late Autumn wind. Presently, one of the dockhands called to me in Swedish, waved toward one particular dock, and pointed forcefully at an empty space. The slip was about 43 feet long, and smack dab in between a large sailing yacht and a pristinely restored Bertram 31 that lay alongside. It was going to be a tight fit.
I took a deep breath, palmed the split controls, and began walking the 400 sideways into her berth. Thankfully, the boat was very responsive at slow speeds, and I was able to put her ever so gently right between her two stately neighbors. I killed the motors and exited the wheelhouse. Stepping out into the chilly night air, I took another deep breath and surveyed my handiwork as I exhaled. Ahhhh ... a perfect fit. Lagom.
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Generator: 3.5-kW Fischer Panda, Warranty: 2 years standard, up to 5 years with Volvo’s extended plan.
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 25°F; humidity: 30%; Seas: 0-1'.
Load During Boat Test
3 persons, 400 lb. of gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Price as Tested: $596,000
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.