The category of performance cruiser is one that has accommodated everything from stripped-down racers masquerading as weekenders to ice-breakers pretending to be competitive with the help of a generous PHRF rating. The Tartan 4000, though, is a performance cruiser in the truest and best sense of the word—a boat that does well on all points of sail and takes good care of its crew, whether underway or at anchor.
Like the rest of the Tartan line, the 4000’s hull is vacuum-infused with a foam core and epoxy resin, which yields a strong, yet light glass-resin ratio of 65 percent glass and 35 percent resin (compared to 25 percent glass and 75 percent resin in many non-infused boats). The deck is also resin-infused, with an end-grain balsa core and aluminum backing plates that are inserted into the mold before the resin is added to provide a strong base for winches and other hardware.
The rudder is E-glass wrapped around a carbon-fiber rudderpost. The rig is also carbon fiber—another Tartan standard. The deck is attached to the hull on an inward-turning flange, where it is through-bolted and bonded with 5200 adhesive. A series of molded fiberglass floors are laminated to the hull to help carry rig and keel loads. Three different keels are available, including a deep fin, a shoal-draft fin with a “beavertail” bulb (as on our test boat) and a keel-centerboard combination.
Tartan prides itself on its build quality, which is evident throughout the boat. The company selects choice hardware and the workmanship is first-rate. The result is a boat that is both strong and light at the same time.
The twin helm stations aft are cozy without being restrictive, a perfect combination for watch standing at night or relaxing during a daysail. The Tartan 4000 features a drop-down swim step that is raised and lowered with a hefty block and tackle. I’ve been aboard other boats where the gear for raising and lowering a hinged swim step is a bit on the skimpy side, but not on the 4000. The cockpit benches are longer than they look—just long enough for a 6-footer like me to stretch out on—thanks to the boat’s custom-molded carbon steering pedestals, which are open to provide additional legroom.
Moving forward, the 4000’s molded bulwarks, excellent side decks, sturdy handholds, molded nonskid and guardrails protecting a pair of Dorade vents provide a nice sense of security. The foredeck is a good size for working up near the bow, and a beefy anchor roller carries the hook far enough forward to keep the stem safe from the chain and hook.
There’s nothing revolutionary about the deck arrangement; it’s a plan that has been well thought out and well executed. Coupled with the boat’s build quality and the muscular hardware Tartan has specified, the deck is aesthetically pleasing as well.
Belowdecks is more of the same: a good plan well executed. An abundance of varnished cherry results in a “shippy” feel that is both comfortable and attractive: you’d never mistake this saloon for a condo, as you might with some boats currently coming over from Europe. There are handrails everywhere you need them, the wraparound galley has good spots to wedge yourself in when cooking underway, engine access is excellent, and there is plenty of stowage space, including several large hanging lockers.
Tartan goes out of its way to help owners personalize their boats and hull #1 is no exception. According to Tartan’s chief designer, Tim Jackett, who was aboard sea-trialing the new design, the owner of the test boat has a large family. To accommodate them, Tartan installed an extra set of ingenious flip-down sea berths in the saloon. The result is a 40-footer with room not just for four kids, but their friends as well. Talking with Jackett, it’s obvious he welcomes such design challenges and that they are a big part of what makes his job interesting.