The Tartan 400 is an American-designed, American-built performance cruiser with a great pedigree and a bright future. Forty feet is one of the sweet spots in cruising boat design. There are more famous production boats at 40 than at just about any other length. Just think of the boats on the list: Hinckley Bermuda 40, Block Island 40, Bristol 40, Tartan 40, Valiant 40, Pacific Seacraft 40, Nordic 40, Sabre 402, Catalina 400, Baba 40, J/40, Freedom 40, Island Packet 40, Pearson 40, and the list goes on.
The combined blue water miles racked up by 40s over the last generation would add up to millions. Even today, when giantism has swept the cruising fleets and it is common for couples to choose boats in the 50-foot range as their first cruiser, boats of 40 feet offer enough interior space, storage, sailing ability and speed to be practical, sensible cruising boats. So it is no surprise that Tim Jackett’s latest design—following in the wake of the elegant Tartan 53—is the new Tartan 400. This may be the signature boat for the new practical, sensible age that is following the busted boomtown bubble of the last decade.
THE DESIGN: The new 400 is a masthead sloop with a Solent-style, double headsail rig that couples a self-tacking working jib with a roller furling reacher up front. Sailing to windward, the rig is self-tending through the tacks; off the wind, you roll up the jib and roll out as much reacher as you need. Dead downwind, you can either pole out the reacher or set a spinnaker. The slab-reefed mainsail is controlled with lazy jacks and rests when furled in an innovative pocket boom. This is a simple, efficient and easy rig to manage.
The hull and deck designs have a classic Tartan look—not too racy, but hardly dowdy. The bow has a slight overhang and the stern rakes forward in harmony with the bow and sheer. The cabin top sits up above the deck line so the side ports are exposed to light and breeze; and, having the cabin top at this height means you can reach the handrails on it without doubling over or brace a knee when working with both hands.
Under the water, the 400 can be had with three keel configurations. The deep seven-foot, six-inch fin version will be the racer-cruiser’s choice if the depth of local waters permits deep draft; the Tartan Beavertail winged keel at five-foot, 10-inch draft will be the most popular compromise keel for all around performance; and, the keel-centerboard option will appeal to gunkholers who habitually cruise in regions with extra thin water such as the Chesapeake Bay, Bahamas and Southern New England.
All of the versions have high aspect, balanced spade rudders that are operated by twin wheels in the cockpit. Looking at the hull lines, the 400 has a moderate displacement hull shape with fairly narrow sections, a generous beam of 13 feet, and broad, powerful stern sections that will help the boat stand up to strong reaching breezes (and add volume to the interior for living and storage spaces).
The deck layout follows the modern theme of a large, open cockpit with two wheels, a centerline table and a passage aft to the swim platform. The 400 was not given a sugar scoop stern, but instead has a neat folding aft platform that tucks away when under sail. The cockpit will seat six for a meal and can accommodate twice that many for sundowners. The mainsheet traveler has been positioned forward of the companionway, where it is out of the way of the crew but can be adjusted with control lines that lead aft on the cabin top. The mainsheet is shown leading forward to the boom vang and then down to a turning block and aft to a winch on the cabin top next to the companionway. A canvas dodger attaches to the cabin top aft of the main traveler and will provide protection for the crew in wet weather.
The bow is equipped with double anchor rollers, so you will be able to easily deploy a second hook whenever the wind picks up during the night. The anchor locker and windlass will handle an all-chain rode plus a second chain-to-rope rode. The second anchor can be stowed in the locker as well.An evolutionary design, the 400 has a lot of qualities that have emerged in the modern Tartan line over the last few years that make it modern but not trendy and certain to be relevant for many years ahead—just like the Tartan 40 or 37.
LIVING SPACES: The 400 has been created for couples who will often be cruising with other couples and occasionally entering point-to-point events with a larger crew. The boat has two good double cabins and a single large head with a separate shower stall.
The master cabin forward has a center-line double that can be accessed from the sides so you don’t have to climb over your partner to slip out during the night. The plan shows two hanging lockers, a small bench sofa, and lockers and shelf space for clothing and personals. The after cabin has a double berth that you climb in from the forward end. There is a hanging locker and built-in cabinets for storage. The cabin has full headroom and ventilation from port holes that vent to the cockpit. This quarter cabin will be the best sea berth on the boat.
For additional guests and crew, the bench seats in the saloon can be rigged as single berths; if you add lee cloths, both will make good sea berths when making offshore runs. The starboard bench is six feet long, but the forward backrest cushion can be removed to open up another 13 inches of length for taller crew. Since you rarely sleep forward of the mast at sea, the 400 has three good sea berths that will accommodate a crew of six on passage. The saloon has a modern, open layout. The G-shaped galley to port has a large fridge aft that is both top and front loading, a three-burner Force 10 stove and twin stainless steel sinks that are not far off the centerline so they will drain on both tacks.
The galley is near the companionway and has an opening hatch and nearby opening ports so it will ventilate well. Cabinets are built in above the counters aft and outboard and below the sinks and counters.Across from the galley in its traditional position, Jackett has drawn in a proper forward-facing chart table with a table big enough for a paper chart, a seat wide enough for two and instrument cabinets that face aft so all the digital information you need is right in front of you. The electrical panel is outboard of the chart table, so all of the on-off lights are visible throughout the saloon.
The 400 comes standard with a 12-volt and an inverter charger for 110-volt appliances. These controls are also in plain view.It is sensible to have only one head on a 40-foot boat. The trend these days is to build in en suite heads with each sleeping cabin, which is fine on charter boats, but wastes a lot of interior space aboard a cruising boat. The 400’s head has entry doors from the saloon and the forward cabin so the sink and vanity are quite small. But, the shower is huge, so you can save water by showering with a friend or swing a loofah around with abandon while singing shanties.The interior of the 400 is in varnished, hand-rubbed cherry and white laminates. Because of the many side ports and the six large deck hatches, the cabin will be woody, but bright and warm. The floors are traditional teak and holly.
The recent Tartans all have the feel of finely finished custom furniture.Inside the confines of 40 feet overall and 13 feet of beam, Jackett has laid out living spaces that will stylishly suit a couple’s sailing lifestyle while providing all the room they need for guests and crew sailing offshore.
THE BOAT: The modern Tartans are different from almost all other production boats, and that difference lies in two words: epoxy and carbon. The boats are not the classic plastics of the past; they are built in the space age with space-age materials.The hulls are all epoxy and glass-fiber laminates with inert foam cores that are molded in one piece using the vacuum-infusion method. The result is the strongest, most durable hull possible.
A normal fiberglass hull assembled with polyester and vinylester resins in a hand lay-up process will be 25% glass and 75% resin; the Tartan epoxy infusion systems creates hulls that are 65% glass and 35% epoxy resin. The result of using this method is a much higher strength to weight ratio than is possible with traditional lay-ups. Also, epoxy does not blister or become porous over time.While the hulls and decks are molded in epoxy and fiber glass, the masts and booms are molded from carbon fibers fused with epoxy. The masts are lighter and more durable than aluminum spars, while the new pocket booms Jackett designed are both much easier to use than oval booms and much lighter.By applying the latest in composite and custom building technologies to the production boat building process, Tartan (and C&C) has really advanced the ball for owners who value the performance, safety, longevity, and durability of epoxy hulls and carbon rigs.
BWS THOUGHTS: The new Tartan 400 is a very appealing boat for cruisers looking for a practical, innovative boat for coastal and offshore cruising. The design is modern and promises to be fast. The boat is built with the latest materials and techniques. The rig is innovative and very practical for a couple or a singlehander—or for a racing crew headed offshore. And the layout and interior spaces are both elegant and well thought out for extended cruising. Tartan is a venerable American brand, so it is gratifying to see the company launch into the new economic age with a cruising boat that will be a signature of these less rambunctious times.
Tartan 400LOA 40’7”LWL 36’4”Beam 13’0”Draft (fin) 7’5”Draft (wing) 5’10”Draft (k/cb) 4’8” (up)Displ. (stnd.) 20,104 lbs.Ballast (stnd.) 8,000 lbs.Sail Area (100%) 893 sq. ft.Sail Area (reacher) 814 sq. ft.Fuel 50 gals.Water 100 gals.Engine 55-hp. DieselBridge Clearance 64’1”SA/D 20.5D/L 172B/D 38%
Designer Tim Jackett