Timeless elegance

David Toyer | VOLUME 25, ISSUE 2

Back Cove’s new 37 harks back to a simpler time, but still boasts many mod cons and impressive performance.

Jed Elderton of Emarine Australia is very passionate about the Back Cove, and the lifestyle that these boats personify. As the importer and representative of Back Cove in Australia, you would expect this enthusiasm, but having now tested three different Back Cove models with Jed, I have come to understand that this passion – this enthusiasm – is genuine and goes far beyond a sales pitch. He’s particularly taken with these boats for their traditional ‘Maine lobster boat lines’ and the way they are built and finished. The relaxed boating lifestyle they represent is a big attraction, as are all the little extra things that are fitted into a boat that is very efficient, smooth and easy riding, and so simple to handle for a single-engine shaft-drive.

With many imported brands and most local builders now providing a selection of cabriolet, hardtop or similar single-level-style boats, there is a lot of competition in the market. However, the Back Cove is a little unique and, consequently, has locked into a smaller and more discerning niche market.

The Back Cove is designed solely for a single shaft-drive engine and, according to Back Cove, the 37 that was released in February 2009 – and is reviewed here – is the largest it feels this hull design can be stretched to operate efficiently with one engine. It is, therefore, the largest Back Cove model – at the moment, at least.

The hull is based on a simple planing vee, using down-turned chines to aid lift and acceleration and deflect spray down and away, thereby providing as dry a ride as possible. The fine vee entry flattens off as it extends aft, finishing with a 16-degree deadrise at the transom. The prop and drive shaft are housed up inside a shallow pocket, reducing the shaft angle and draft.

POPULAR RESURGENCE

With the advent of bow and stern thrusters, and improved planing hull designs, single-screw boats have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. A single-engine boat is no longer seen as a ‘slug’, struggling to get up on the plane and lacking any sort of a decent cruise speed or close quarters manoeuvrability.

With a single 530hp Yanmar under the saloon floor, the Back Cove 37 has a top speed of 27 knots (50km/h) and a continuous cruise speed of 24 knots (45km/h) at 2800rpm. This, at a fuel consumption of around 75lt per hour, gives a cruising range of over 330 nautical miles (610km).

The pleasing thing about this boat’s performance is just how smooth and quick it is in acceleration and getting onto the plane. It doesn’t struggle or need a heap of power to get up – it just glides nice and level onto the plane and maintains a good level trim that affords the skipper excellent vision all round, no matter the speed. The performance brings a whole new pleasure to single-engine boating, and with both bow and stern thrusters fitted, manoeuvring in and out of a marina berth is no longer a challenge.

The spoon-shaped bow reflects the Maine lobster boat influence to which the Back Cove aligns its heritage and, while those boats may have been timber, the Back Cove has been built on a principle of absolute minimum maintenance – “just a quick hose down and chamois”, according to the factory.

Consequently, on the outside there is a notable absence of anything other than beautifully moulded gel-coated fibreglass, with stainless steel hardware. The strikingly striped cockpit seat cushions are clipons, so they can be stored below deck or inside the cabin when the boat is not being used.

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY

The simple but elegant lines – a slightly raised foredeck over the lower cabins, stepping up to an open and extensively glazed main saloon structure – has been very well handled by the designers, and brings a touch of modern materials and design to a traditional working boat concept.

What is so impressive about being aboard this boat is the fresh, open feel that the saloon generates. There is an abundance of glass used to create this sense of space, with the fully-glazed rear bulkhead working superbly. A combination of folding and swing doors open up the back of the saloon, producing an almost uninterrupted interplay between saloon and cockpit.

During the relatively (and unfortunate) short time we were out on the water, I had to keep reminding myself that this is still only an 11.5m boat, such is the generous, spatial flow and the light, open feel of the Back Cove.

The saloon fits a lot into such a limited space – an L-shaped lounge around a dining table immediately inside the bulkhead, with a two person lounge opposite (on the port side). This ‘love seat’, as the Back Cove brochure likes to call it, sits immediately aft of the L-shaped galley that is set down two steps, and opposite the twin-seat helm station to starboard.

Two double-berth cabins and a shared bathroom with enclosed shower recess occupy the lower level, the main forward cabin having a queen-size island berth, while the second cabin squeezes in a double berth against the starboard side.

OLD CHARM

Though the boat is constructed fully of GRP and the interior built via a number of complex moulded liners, the interior finish is far from ‘plastic’ in feel or appearance. Through an extensive use of timber and veneer inlays, much of the traditional old boat charm has been maintained, but in a modern manner. Planked wall linings, veneered bulkhead linings, some solid timber joinery (including a very impressive and highly-polished main dining table), and timber floor inlays combine with a clever use of overhead lighting to create an inviting feeling of warmth and comfort throughout the interior.

But for those cold, wet days or hot, balmy nights, there are two air-conditioning units to make conditions just right in the saloon and cabins.

There are many other delights to be found, along with some smart use of space. I couldn’t find the TV, until curiosity got the better of me and I eventually figured out what the dropped moulding over the galley was for – a hinged hatch drops down, allowing the flat screen TV to pivot out and be viewed from any of the lounge seating, or from out in the cockpit.

The floor hatch at the foot of the helm chairs hinges up on air struts to reveal a vast storage space below the helm station for bulky goods. Getting in and out is made easy with the small ladder steps, while access to and servicing of the engine and other accessories has been made a bit easier by the sheer size of the hinged cockpit floor hatch.

Operated by a switch on the side of the lounge, the floor under the dining table and lounge hinges open from the rear, revealing all in the engine bay.

And finally, for electronics servicing or even adding new electronics or gauges, the dash and helm console moulding hinges down to expose all of the wiring.

I must admit that I share Jed Elderton’s passion for the Back Cove. They epitomise an easy-going, relaxed boating lifestyle, be that for short-term cruising with a small or young family, a day out at some secluded anchorage with friends, or just for a couple wanting to cruise at will.

When stacked up against a lot of other 11 to 12m boats, the Back Cove, at face value, is not a cheap boat. However, put it into perspective and look at the range of standard inclusions, the finishes, as well as what this boat has to offer in terms of space, and then you can understand why there is a nice little market for the Back Cove 37 – and its smaller predecessors.

SPECIFICATIONS: BACK COVE 37

Length: 11.46m

Beam: 3.97m

Draft: 1.0m

Deadrise: 16 degrees

Displacement: 9.97 tonnes

Fuel: 1136lt

Water: 454lt

Hold tank: 189lt

Engine: Yanmar 6CXM-GTE (530hp)

Price: $649,900 as tested (base price from $600,000)

For more information visit Emarine Australia, Roseville Bridge Marina, Sydney.

Web: www.emarine.com.au.


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