The Bluewater Sailboat Tartan 37 is considered a classic cruising yacht today. The yacht was introduced in 1976, and designed by Sparkman and Stephens with a lot of direct input from Tartan Yachts. Originally designed as a boat that could be sold as both a racer and a cruiser, it was the shoal draught centerboard cruiser that truly took off, with 486 boats produced.
The boat is well-known for its sturdy build, astute sailing ability, and reasonable pricing. Tartans are universally adored by their owners.
Tartan Yachts founder Charlie Britton commissioned Sparkman and Stephens to design a new 37-footer in the spring of 1975, which would become the Tartan 37. This was not the first effort between the two businesses; there had previously been a succession of successful cooperation dating back to 1961 with the Tartan 27.
The Bluewater Sailboat 37 was originally intended to be a yacht that could be sold as a sloop or a ketch, with leisure and racing versions. The ketch was deleted as the design advanced, and the racer with its deep fin keel and the tall rig was dubbed the Tartan 38, while the Tartan 37 became the cruising variant, available in both fin keel and shoal draught centerboard configurations.
The Tartan 38 racer was the first boat off the mold when it debuted in 1976. They were generally favorably accepted by the market. According to reports, the racer did not do as well as Britton had intended, but the cruising version was extremely popular.
Later boats included a Scheel keel option as well as a tall rig akin to the racer. It is estimated that 10% of the boats were deep keel. Between 1976 and 1988, 486 hulls were built.
To improve rigidity without compromising weight, the hull is hand-laid fiberglass with end-grain balsa coring. Coring is tapered into solid fiberglass in high-stress regions such as the mast step, through-hull fittings, chainplate terminals, engine supports, and keel sections. The deck is built in the same way, with a good non-skid surface molded into all flat surfaces. An interior flange bedded with butyle and polysulfide and bolted to the deck on 8-inch centers makes up the hull-to-deck join. This joint has shown to be sturdy and dry over the years. In general, the construction quality is exceptional, ranking among the highest found in production yachts.
The hull appears extremely modern for a boat designed in the mid-1970s. The bow has a large rake, and the sheer line is relatively straight, sweeping back to a reverse transom. The hull has a diamond form from above and is quite beamy for its age.
Most boats have a centerboard option below the waterline, which entails a long and shallow fin keel with a centerboard that swings up from 7′ 9″ to a usable 4′ 2″ of draught in shoal conditions. A deep fin keel draws 6′ 7″ and a Scheel keel draws 4′ 7″. The rudder is hung from its protective skeg as far back as it can go below the reverse transom.
The rig is inspired by IOR races of the past, with a large foresail and a tiny mainsail, a configuration that has shown to be easy to single hand. The rigs were available in regular 52′ 0″ and tall 53′ 8″ sizes.
The interior is classic below, but with over 12 feet of beam, the Tartan 37 is larger than you may anticipate. Teak veneer and trim are prevalent, and white Formica is used throughout. Overall, the quality of the joinery work is excellent.
The two single cabins in the forepeak can be transformed into a double using an addition. Moving back, the head is to port and has a built-in shower; the arrangement is compact but effective. The settees in the salon are offset, with the starboard one serving well as a sea-going sleeper and the port settee converting to a double. Aft on the port is the nav station, which is next to the companionway, and a double quarter-berth, which is a luxury in a boat this size. A functional U-shaped galley is located opposite.
Nobody should expect a shallow draught centerboard cruiser to break any records, but part of the original spec’s race objective shines through every now and then. Steve Pettingill, for example, set a record in the Port Huron to Mackinac Island single-handed race with his fin-keel-equipped Ambergris. When making a passage, the boat is likely capable of swift and pleasant 24-hour runs.
The Bluewater Sailboat Tartan 37 is known for its stability and acceptable upwind performance, but it really shines downwind on a reach. The rudder is efficient and provides plenty of control, and the boat is quite dry, particularly when equipped with a good dodger. The boat is recognized for being simple to sail and enjoyable to sail.
The Tartan 37s are reasonably priced and provide good value. They have kept their values because of their high-quality constructions, good reputation, and devoted owner base.
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