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Back Cove 32: Best Under 35 Feet at Newport

The Back Cove 32 was just named Best Powerboat Under 35 Feet at the Newport International Boat Show, a major honor for the Maine-built classic couple’s cruiser. I’ve been a fan of Back Coves since I tested the very first one they made, a 26, ten years ago, and I’ve tested every model since then. The single-diesel, fuel-efficient, user-friendly themes of the brand, combined with their iconic Downeast lines, make them very appealing, and the new 32 lives up to the company’s reputation. You walk on the boat through a centerline door in the transom, and then the deck is…

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Leader 46: An Innovative Flagship with French Flair

The flagship of the Leader fleet, the new 46 has lots of innovative touches, French lines, and Volvo performance (either with sterndrives or IPS), which all combine to make it an appealing contemporary cruiser. No wonder the Leader 46 by Jeanneau has been nominated for the European Boat of the Year award. When I was on the boat, I particularly liked the cockpit galley with the grill opening aft; you stand on the wide teak swim platform, facing your guests, and fire up the barbeque. (There’s also a traditional galley below.) Another appealing touch: The forward-facing mate’s bench seat to…

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Aquila 44: All the Makings of a Great Vacation

With its 21’6” draft carried all the way forward, the Aquila 44 catamaran has space – and more space – just about everywhere. The three-stateroom, three-head boat also has a lot of privacy. The master stateroom is forward with a king-sized bed, a small settee in a separate seating area and a large head and shower. The two separate hulls, meanwhile, mean the two more staterooms, one on the port side and one to starboard, are totally private, a major advantage during cruise with family or friends. In the salon, the galley is aft, with a dining/sitting area forward; it’s…

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Coming Soon: MJM 35Z

Watch for this – the new MJM 35Z, the latest collaboration of Doug Zurn, the famed designer, and Bob Johnstone, the famed builder. The 35Z will be an outboard version of an MJM, with either twin 300-hp Yamahas or twin 300-hp Mercury Verados; either brand should power the boat into the 44-knot range. Outboards themselves are becoming more popular, as they become ever more powerful, fuel-efficient and quiet. The new 35Z will have the low profile, gentle tumblehome and long sheer line of other MJMs, plus a large cockpit and a protected helm deck. Designed as a couple’s cruising boat,…

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Bruckmann Abaco 40: A Salty Weekender

With its proud bow, classic Downeast lines and elegant fit and finish, the Mark Ellis-designed Bruckmann Abaco 40 offers a combination of traditional appeal with modern performance. Designed as a single-diesel weekender, the Bruckmann 40 is a master of salty understatement, although it tops out at about 30 knots and only sips about a gallon a mile at cruising speed of 24 knots. Based in Toronto, Canada, Bruckmann Yachts is a high-end sailboat builder, and that heritage shows in the Abaco 40; there’s nothing fancy here, just everything you need in just the right place. From the cockpit, you enter…

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True North 38: Still the Downeast SUV of the Water

The original SUV of the water, the True North 38 made by USWatercraft in Warren, RI, combines its signature Downeast looks with 25-knot performance and a unique use of space. The True North’s sharp plumb bow parts the waves, its tumblehome suggests a lobster-boat heritage, and its long sheer line mirrors the classic appeal of Alerion sailboats that USWatercraft also makes. What further sets the True North apart is the spacious cockpit and transom doors that open so you can slide in a dinghy, a small sailboat or simply enjoy diving and watersports. With the transom doors open, it’s one…

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Sabre 42: Maine-Built Beauty

With its classic Downeast looks, state-of-the-art performance and luxurious touches, the Sabre 42 is a popular built-in-Maine cruising boat. Living on board is easy, with light all around from large side and aft windows, and the American cherry wood provides a traditional nautical theme throughout. The Zeus pod drives with joystick controls make docking fingertip easy, while the 425-hp Cummins diesels power the boat into the low 30-knot range. One outstanding feature, attesting to Sabre’s quest for quality, is the sound level – only 77 dB(A) at top speed – which is exceptionally low, particularly for a large cruiser. Visibility…

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Reliant 40: A Classic Downeast Newcomer with a Rich Heritage

The Reliant 40 is the first boat launched by two familiar faces in Newport and two of the most respected names in the business: David MacFarlane, the former president and CEO of Alden, plus Cal, Ranger and Rampage, and Jim Ewing, the former executive VP of Alden and president of Trumpy. Their new Reliant Yachts company is based in Newport, although the boats are made by Su Marine in Turkey. They know that things have changed in their 40 or so years in business, but MacFarlane says that “What hasn’t changed is the boating public’s passion for a beautiful boat.”…

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Ranger Tugs 31 CB: A Trailerable Cruising Flagship

The flagship of the Ranger Tugs fleet, starting at 21 feet, the new Ranger R-31 CB (for Command Bridge) is trailerable, meaning you could cruise one part of the Great Loop, say, this summer, bring the boat back home and start off where you left off next year. And you probably won’t have to worry too much about highway bridges. The flybridge folds down to reduce air draft on a trailer to 13’2”; you just unlock the canvas cowling, drop the inner supports and fold it flat. Ranger Tugs are run by the father-son team of David and John Livingston…

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Palm Beach 65: Stunning Looks – and Performance

The Newport show will be the U.S. debut of the Palm Beach 65, which is made in the joint Palm Beach/Grand Banks factory in Malaysia. A luxurious – and beautiful – three-stateroom, three-head boat designed by world champion sailor Mark Richards, the Palm Beach 65 can be ordered with Volvo IPS pod drives or with straight shafts. This particular boat is powered by Volvo D-13 900-hp diesels with shaft drives; bow and stern thrusters make maneuvering easy. I tested this boat recently on Long Island Sound and it topped out at 30.2 knots; the ride was remarkable with the bow…

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