Tartan 3700 – New England Performance Cruiser

I am on delivery from Fort Lauderdale to Savannah, Georgia at the moment and will respond to comments as my broadband availability allows. Sea stories, a navigation guide, an updated review of the Taswell 49 All Season are to come.

I know the Tartan 3700 well after representing a 2004 model for the last year and a half. Built out of Fairport Harbor, Ohio, Tartan Yachts is one of the few American sailboat builders still in production along with Sabre, Catalina, and Island Packet. This group of brands encompasses a niche market while also spans the spectrum of low to high quality and performance. The closest in comparison to the 3700 are the Sabre 362 and 386 models. Her highlights include incredible performance and beautiful cherry woodwork. You can purchase a new 3700 in 2013 in the 300k USD range.

In the Armchair
The Tartan 3700 herself is one of the longest in production, most popular models out there featured in such lists as 5 Top Affordable Bluewater Cruising Sailboats. First introduced in 1999, Tim Jackett’s 3700 quickly achieved fame, winning Cruising World’s Best Midsize Cruiser award for 2000. Sure there have been some issues, but overall, and with over 100 hulls on the water, the 3700 has claimed her spot in the cruising sailboat pantheon. Many confuse the 3700 with the old Sparkman & Stephens 37-footer built in the 70’s and 80’s. The 3700 is another animal with a ultra-modern underbody that can move – and I mean move – in light air.

At the Design Board
The underbody features a shallow bilge, low freeboard. She comes in three keel configurations: deep (7′ 3″), beavertail (5′), and centerboard (4′ board up, 7′ 3″ down). The beavertail is like a scheel shoal keel. She has a simple spade rudder and slightly offset shaft.

Beam is more at 12′ 8″ to 12′ than her Sabre 362 comparable and is carried well aft to increase interior space. Headroom is good; at 6′ tall I only need to duck in the aft cabin. One interior layout difference is the sink forward. The standard layout features a starboardside sink in the master forward stateroom. An alternative layout swaps that sink for a large hanging locker mirroring that of the portside. Tartan produces semi-custom yachts, so you will find all kinds of differences in construction. On one brokerage boat, the owner had eliminated the salon table and refrigeration to fit out his 3700 like a large day sailor. Bridge clearance is 56′. Bob Perry has a Sailing Magazine review.

The 3700 is a handsome design with down right sexy lines. While floating at anchor, underway, or parked along a pier dock, she turns heads. Looks may seem superficial, but it is an endearing fact that a good looking yacht, despite all her other flaws, has made many a happy sailor. She has a traditional raked bow, a relatively flat sheerline, and a rocket ship stern. The stern features the infamous electrically lowered platform. This feature was swapped out for a manual tie off sometime post-2004. Tim Jackett decided for a flush transom instead of the sugar scoop stern or the glassed on ledge of Sabres soley because of looks.

On Deck
Starting forward she has a large, separate anchor locker and optional washdown. Recent models have come with a Solent rig and are specified by Tartan as CCR 3700’s. High quality hardware, a refreshing change from the junk most production builders use, is generously sprinkled about deck. Walking aft, dorades along the cabin top provide ventilation and accompanying handrails security. A carbon fiber rig was originally an option, but in 2004, Tartan made the double spreader, 56′ carbon fiber standard – realistically a must have for any club racer. The masthead, keel stepped rig setup is simple with tie ins below deck through mid sidedeck attachment points. The speader are slightly swept with a split backstay aft and optional hydraulic adjuster.

The cockpit is one area that Tartan changed tremendously on the larger 4000 model. The 3700 still has a centerline wheel instead of the twins you’ll see on the latest designs. There is a gigantic portside cockpit locker that houses the holding tank, power suppy, and provides access to the steering aft. Under the helm, there are two more opening lockers to the steering, autopilot, emergency tiller, and electric transom door equipment. Somewhere in this area is a good location for a generator.

Down Below
Interiors sell yachts – even racing sailboats. And by interiors, I mean not only space but finish. Tartan has held her margin for 40-odd years because of the fantastic interior finish. Let’s face it. Their molded construction techniques are not the pinnacle of quality construction, but their light cherry woodwork is. Stem to stern, the 3700 is fitted out with masterful American craftmanship.

Tartan 3700 Layout

I think the layout’s strongest point is the head. Compared to the Sabre 362, the head and separate shower is immmense and a function of the additional beam that is carried well aft. The head is portside aft as you walk down the companionway. The forward facing nav station is next opposite the galley. Moving forward, water and fuel tanks are under the salon settees. You can order your new 3700 with optional faux leather upholstry. The master stateroom is in the bow. An air conditioning unit is likely beneath this berth along with storage. There is a peak-a-boo door in the starboardside, forward bulkhead. All the way aft is the garage. This aft berth is a great place to sleep in while offshore and an incredible inside storage area while dockside.

A 3700 review would not be complete without a note on Blue Heron, a 2005 model that nearly sank due to a hull fracture in 2006. Tartan in the following year did not do a great job of communicating (the company has had its fair share of financial issue in the last decade). A January 2009 article in Boat U.S. magazine outlines the story. Blue Heron was repaired, and a massive callback was endured. During that inspection period of all 3700 built from 2003 until 2005, not a single another one was found with a defect. Nonetheless, the event quickly turns up in google search results for “tartan 3700 problems” and the like.

A quick breeze, and the 3700 is up and going. That’s what true sailors love about this model. I seatrialed twice, once in some inclement weather, and also motored from Lauderdale to Miami aboard the 3700. While I wish I had more to draw on, she showed potential and getty up at every turn. Standard equipment features a 130% genoa and full batten main. A spinnaker is a worthwile optional upgrade. Newer models have the aforementioned CCR (Solent) rig for additional headsail versatility.

If you are considering American sailboats such as Sabres, Catalinas, and Island Packets in this size range, no doubt the Tartan 3700 is on your shortlist. With the ever lengthening and complicating of sailing design, a purchase of a yacht such as the 3700 has additional benefits. Slips are more easily found, at least here in the Biscayne Bay area, and for a more reasonable rate too. The 3700 is a fantastic little yacht that appeals to wide audience and will continue to for many years to come.

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