by George Day
Blue Water Sailing
THE TARTAN 4400 IN ITS ELEMENT
BWS’s 250-mile sea trial of the new Tartan 4400 proves that the boat is an elegant new player in the world of liveaboard cruisers
We had been looking forward to sailing the new Tartan 4400 from New York Harbor to Annapolis, Md., for several months. The new design had caught our attention two years ago when the preliminary drawings were released, and then in our February 2003 edition of BWS we ran an in-depth Design Forum based on the final detailed drawings. So we had an idea of what we had in store for this 250-mile run down the East Coast and looked forward eagerly to seeing if the extrapolations we had drawn from the two-dimensional drawings would prove to be true when we actually sailed the boat.
We met the 4400 at the docks of New York Sail Expo at Liberty Landing, directly across the Hudson River from the World Financial Center and the small marina notched into the Manhattan shore. It was a clear September morning with barely a breath of wind. The 4400 was jilling around off Liberty Landing when we arrived by ferry from the city so we had a good look at her lines and proportions.
At first glance, the dark green hull and crisp lines of the deck and raised saloon looked stylish and distinctive. Although we have seen a proliferation of raised deck saloon designs in the past few years, the 4400 was decidedly original. When we had inspected the drawings for the design review we had wondered how the large doghouse aft would appear in the flesh; to our eyes it looked just right. We took off from Liberty landing in a building sea breeze from the south-southwest and sailed close-hauled under the Verrazano Narrows bridge and on toward the Sandy Hook channel that would lead us seaward. In puffs of 18 knots or more, the 4400 was sure footed and stiff. When we slacked sheets and ran off eastward to round Sandy Hook, she picked up her skirts and flew.
Through the night the breeze continued to pipe at 15-plus knots from the west-northwest so we had a broad reach on a lumpy sea. We shaped a course fairly close to the New Jersey beaches to minimize the fetch and thus the chop that the northwester would kick up, but we still had square four-footers running after us that picked us up and shot us along with small bursts of speed. The autopilot had quit a few days earlier so we hand steered through the night and got a good feel for how the big balanced rudder felt in a range of conditions. This was of particular interest because the new 4400 has a truly broad transom—with fold down steps in the middle—and we wondered how all that buoyancy aft would affect the boat’s motion in a quartering sea. With a bit of mainsail rolled away and the full genoa, the boat handled beautifully requiring only fingertip adjustments at the wheel.
We were sailing with Jim and Heidi Egansperger. Jim is Tartan’s customer service coordinator and responsible for seeing that the new boat arrived at the Annapolis sailboat show in good order. He and Heidi had done a lot of sailing in the Great Lakes and along the northeast coast, including two stints of cruising aboard a J/44 in Newfoundland. Good hands and cheerful company, it was a pleasure to be on a short voyage with sailors who were completely at ease with the sea. No doubt part of that ease flowed from the confidence that the 4400 inspired as it surged at eight to 10 knots without breaking a sweat.
Jim fixed the evening meal, and we took turns at the helm while the others ate below at the big oval dinette. The galley, which is forward and down two steps from the raised saloon, is positioned right over the boat’s center of gravity and quite low in the boat so the motion was minimal. The twin sinks are positioned just off the centerline and drained well even when hard over on the starboard tack. Sitting at the dinette we could pass plates to and from the galley without getting up and could converse with whomever was still in the cockpit.
Through the night we stood rotating three-on, three-off watches so that we would always have two in the cockpit. Had we had the autopilot to tend the helm we would most likely have sailed with the more comfortable three-on, six-off system and a lone watchstander. At the helm for long stints, we found that we liked sitting to leeward and sighting down the leeward deck. Or we stood behind the wheel. With such a distinctive raised-deck section—not quite a doghouse and not quite a raised-deck saloon—we wondered at first if visibility would be impaired from behind the wheel. At five-feet, 11-inches, we had no problem seeing everything ahead us. Heidi, who is smaller, also reported that she could see most of what she needed to see but would have benefited from a box to stand on. (Tartan can supply a raised wedge and a higher helmsman’s seat for those who require them.)
We turned up Delaware Bay at sunrise and sailed and then motor-sailed into the dying northerly breeze to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. We turned into the canal exactly 24 hours from Liberty Landing, and after some fine work with the dividers Jim announced with pleasure that we had traveled exactly 208 miles with some assist from the ebbing tide in New York Harbor and a flooding tide up the Delaware. Rough calculations gave us an average speed of 7.8 knots—sailing and motorsailing.
Things were different the next day. We overnighted at Schaefer’s marina in the C&D Canal and then headed south toward Annapolis. The wind had flown the coop so we motored for six hours and then in a zephyr raised the big cruising chute and jibed slowly downstream for a few more hours until Annapolis was in sight. In the light air the 4400 gathered momentum and then glided along well making the best use of the long waterline and moderate displacement.
We arrived in Annapolis well rested, well fed and in very good time. The 4400 proved to be easy to sail and very comfortable to live-aboard with huge cabins, ample storage, a spacious galley, large heads and an open and appealing saloon.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
In recent years, Fairport Yachts Ltd., which builds the Tartan and C&C lines, has made a commitment to all-epoxy hull construction. Epoxy is not the easiest or least expensive material to use and requires a high degree of expertise to take the best advantage of the material. The hull and deck have NPG isophthalic gel coats to resist the ingress of water. The hull is cored with Corecell and the entire laminate is laid up in the “one-shot” vacuum bag process. The deck is cored with end-grain balsa wood to provide an extra degree of stiffness. With the lay up complete, the hull is baked at 145 degrees for 24 hours to cure the epoxy laminate. Once the engineering and interior furniture have been installed—with all furniture bonded to the hull—the deck is joined to the hull with 3M 5200 and stainless steel bolts sized and spaced to meet ABS Offshore requirements. For strength, durability and lightness, this advanced construction technique enables Tartan to offer owners a prorated 15-year guarantee against structural defects and osmotic blistering.
As we noted in our design review last February, the 4400’s overall design is of a modern cruiser with moderate to fast performance numbers. The ballast to displacement ratio of 38 percent is quite high among production cruisers indicating that the hull is stiff and capable of carrying full sail after others have reefed. To complement this, designer Tim Jackett has specified a relatively tall rig that provides the boat with a sail area to displacement ratio of 18. The mast is positioned just aft of station five so the boat can fly relatively smaller headsails and rely on the high roach main for power; this makes the boat easy to tack and handy when working upwind in tight quarters. The displacement-length ratio is 203, which today is just about in the middle of the fin-keel cruising fleet.
Designed for living aboard and long-haul sailing, the 4400 has been built with multiple watertight bulkheads and collision chambers beneath the forward anchor and sail lockers. The combination of a massively strong epoxy hull, three watertight compartments and the collision chambers inspires a huge amount of confidence as you bash through the waves along a coastline—New Jersey, in this case—known for its flotsam and jetsam.
We spent three days sailing the 4400 and two nights onboard. Jim and Heidi were settled in the after cabin, and I took the forward cabin. Both cabins have large double berths that are divided to allow the rigging of lee cloths. And both cabins have access to separate heads.
The 4400 is quite beamy and has a lot of interior volume. Yet the sleeping cabins are larger than you will find on many boats with 10 feet more waterline. The forward cabin has a lot of floor space and plenty of room for two adults to get dressed at the same time. The berth has large drawers beneath it, and we counted seven more drawers in the built-in “bureau” on the port side. Two cedar-lined closets provide ample space for even the most earnest clotheshorse. For light and ventilation there are two Bomar deck hatches and four opening ports. The forward head has a shower stall large enough for two good friends, a VacuFlush head and ample storage for personal toiletries.
The large U-shaped galley has plenty of counter space over the huge refrigerator compartment
The galley will make gourmets and sea cooks happy. The fridge/freezer has been broken into three compartments so that each space is compact and easy to cool. All the lids are securely hinged so even when we fell off waves they did not leap out of place. The fridge top counter is the main working space but additional counter space next to the three-burner Force 10 stove/oven and near the sinks means that two people can work together at mealtime. The counter and sinks are formed from a hard plastic laminate (very like Corian but not as heavy), so there are no seams to collect crumbs. The sinks, as noted above, are almost on centerline so they drain on both tacks and won’t flood if the boat slews sideways off a wave. The galley ventilates through two opening ports and a small deck hatch. All of the main freshwater pumps are beneath the sinks and can be maintained easily.
The chart table lies to starboard in the saloon and is the command center for all the boat’s major electrical and electronic systems. A curved pod over the table houses the main navigation screens while radios and sat-phone systems are mounted on a bulkhead outboard of the table. The compartments for electronics are hinged so access to the nether wiring is easy. Although we live in the days of electronic charting, the table is large enough for a ChartKit to lie flat or for a paper chart that has been folded once.
In the saloon, those seated at the chart table or nav station cannot see readily out of the large saloon windows. But a person five-feet, 10-inches or more can see 360 degrees while standing next to the chart table, so it is possible to maintain a watch belowdecks—with the radar on—in bad weather.
The aft cabin is huge by the standards of most 44-footers. It has a cathedral ceiling that must be eight feet from the sole, which makes it feel even larger, and is bright and airy—not something one usually says about quarter cabins. There is enough floor space for dressing and ample storage in six drawers and the large hanging locker. This is a guest cabin that could easily become the owner’s cabin for those who don’t like to sleep forward.
For living aboard, the accommo-dations plan in the 4400 works extremely well for a couple with occasional guests and offshore crew. Even better, at sea it works the way a proper cruising boat should, with handholds placed strategically, plenty of places to brace a hip to maintain balance and the storage you need for the gear that accumulates on a seagoing voyage. It should be noted, also, that all lockers, floorboards and hatches are fitted with positive latches so that nothing moves when the boat pitches or
The engine room lies beneath the saloon floor. Access is via a large hatch that involves dismantling a section of the dinette. This seemed awkward at first, but once we got the hang of it the arrangement worked fine and provided excellent access to the engine, batteries, filters and all the other systems. The 75-horsepower turbo Yanmar has been fitted with a well-designed drip pan; the flexible coupling and dripless shaft seal keep the engine quiet and the engine room dry. The boat we sailed had a three-blade MaxProp that drove it at hull speed. There is space in the engine room for just about any device you may want to install.
To minimize thru-hull fittings—which are all Marelon and therefore immune to corrosion—the saltwater ingress flows through one seacock via a seachest to the engine, generator, watermaker, deck wash and so forth. With the flip of one readily accessible handle, the whole saltwater system can be shut down should a leak appear in any of the plumbing.
The boat we sailed was fitted with an extensive electrical system for both house 12-volt and dockside 110-volt systems as well as a modern battery charging and inverter system. The main 12-volt panel is in the after cabin while the 12-volt and 110-volt distribution panels are at the chart table. The inverter was installed under the navigator’s seat.
We have to admit that the new Tartan 4400 lived up to our expectations and exceeded them in many ways. Tartan has been building boats for more than 40 years and we grew up sailing a Tartan 27 that 40 years later is still in our family. With a long tradition of building solid and well-conceived cruising boats, the 4400 carries with it a lot of tradition.
The boat is handsome and distinctive. The raised saloon and the broad transom will make her stand out in any crowded harbor, while the balanced rig and fine sailing characteristics will make her shine in any rally or cruising race.
The fit and finish of the boat—all cherry down below—have been executed well without cutting corners. Systems have been thought through carefully and then installed to withstand the rigors of the sea. The sleeping cabins will double as really comfortable floating bedrooms while the main saloon and galley offer commodious living and working spaces.
On deck, a lone watchstander can handle the boat from the cockpit. The side decks are wide enough to move about easily, and everywhere you will find something to hold on to. With a dodger rigged over the cockpit—and possibly a Bimini—the sailing crew will be safe and dry.
Finally, having an all epoxy hull, watertight bulkheads and collision chambers, the boat will endure hard sailing, long use and many miles of voyaging while keeping the crew safe and confident. After 250 miles of sailing and three days on board, we would be happy to sail the new Tartan 4400 anywhere.
LOA 44’0” (13.4 m.)
LWL 37’6” (12.0 m.)
Beam 14’2” (4.37 m.)
Draft 5’6” (2.72 m.)
Displ. 24,000 lbs. (10,886 kg.)
Ballast 9,000 lbs. (3855 kg.)
Sail Area 943 sq. ft. (86.58 sq. m.)
Auxiliary 75-hp Yanmar (turbo)
Fuel 80 gals. (294 l.)
Water 200 gals. (727 l.)
Mast height 63’0” (19.2 m.)
Base Price $373,175
1920 Fairport Nursery Rd.
Fairport Harbor, OH 44077
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