Legend has it that back in the day, Charlie Britton, founder of Tartan Yachts, once fired a .45 at one of his boats to show that it was "bulletproof." Designed by Sparkman & Stephens, the first Tartans were popular boats early in the fiberglass era. Tim Jackett, fresh out of school, came to work on the factory floor in 1974. Today he's CEO and in-house designer at Tartan (and at companion firm C&C), and Tartan's traditions of quality construction and intelligent design still govern his creation of contemporary cruisers. The new 4300 emphasizes "timeless" styling, modern performance, and versatile accommodations.
Tartan's hulls and decks have been made with epoxy resin since 2002. "The process has evolved," says Jackett, "so that instead of baking hulls in an autoclave, we now cure them at ambient temperature. It's a safer, cleaner process, and the parts reach higher heat resistance." For durability, impact and blister resistance, sheer strength, and cosmetic properties, epoxy has long been the choice of custom builders. Tartan, however, pioneered its use on the production line. The company also equips its boats with carbon-fiber masts and "pocket" booms that are lighter and stiffer than aluminum, and interchangeable (keel/centerboard, shoal-draft, and deep) keel configurations that suit the boat to a variety of cruising areas.
DECK AND COCKPIT
Traditional elements include a straight coachroof, noticeable sheer, proportionally squared-away opening ports, shippy dorade ventilators, teak toerails and coamings, a generous stem angle, and a nicely countered reverse transom. The modified-T cockpit is deep and secure with wide, high coamings and an optional hard dodger is available (see drawing). A walk-through transom engineered for easy boarding is sited well, as are winches and stoppers, of which there are enough to justify the company's description of the rig as "cruise control." Introduced first on the 3400, the carbon-fiber "pocket" boom (with integral lazyjacks) has proven a practical solution for simplifying mainsail stowage. The mainsheet is led quite far from the helm, but Jackett says that "any customer who wants the setup we provided on the 4400 [with the mainsheet closer to the helm] can have it just by asking."
The solid-plank teak cabin sole and solid-stock cherry locker doors and signature saloon table help lift Tartan's joinery to the top of the ranks of production builders. Both two- and three-cabin layouts offer a forward master cabin, midships saloon, portside galley, starboard-side nav station, and two large heads. As practical as cubbies, bins, and lockers may be, there's nothing quite like your own drawer if you're going to spend some time aboard a boat. The 4300 provides them in abundance.
Sailing a new 4300 on a blustery day off Miami, I found the benefits of a carbon spar and lowered center of gravity were very evident. The boat stood up nicely to the 14-to-18-knot puffs. As advertised, the 4300 is a stiff sailer. She is also close-winded and during our test sailed at a 38- to 42-degree apparent-wind angle under blade jib and full main. I sensed power enough to deal with waves even bigger than the Biscayne Bay chop we were slicing through. Balance, sensitivity, and control were exceptional. The 4300 is every inch a pleasing and capable modern sailboat with numbers (sail area-displacement, 19.3; displacement-length, 195) that suggest a rewarding combination of speed and seakindliness.
With the rudder well separated from the saildrive, there isn't much prop wash to aid low-speed maneuvering. On the other hand, the 4300 backs down straight and steers easily in reverse. Her 55-horsepower diesel is acceptably smooth and quiet (but not exceptionally so). At 2,000 RPM we had little trouble maintaining 6 knots; full revs brought us just above 8. The diesel is located below the companionway stairs with superb all-round access.
HEADROOM: Saloon 6'6", aft cabin 6'5", forward cabin 6'5" » BUNKS: Aft 7'4×5'3", forward 6'7"×5', Settee(s) starboard 7'5"×2'6", port (opens to a double) 7'5"×4'10", cockpit seats 6'×1'10"
Price: $450,000 (sailaway FOB Fairport Harbor, OH) includes carbon-fiber rig, epoxy hull, main and jib, basic electronics, ground tackle
Builder: Tartan Yachts, Fairport Harbor, OH; 440-357-7777, www.tartanyachts.com
LOA: 43'1" LWL: 32'10" » Beam: 13'7"
Draft: (fin/beavertail/keel-centerboard) 8'3"/5'10"/4'10"
Displacement: 21,800/23,800/24,075 lbs
Ballast: 6,750/8,775/9,000 lbs
Sail Area: 994 sq ft (main and jib)
Power: 55-hp diesel
Tankage Fuel/Water/Waste: 60/120/40 gal
Electrical: (house) 2@8D batteries, 410-Ah total;
1×group 27 starting battery
Displacement-Length ratio: 195 (shoal)
Sail Area-Displacement ratio: 19.3
Ballast-Displacement ratio: 37%
Certification: CE Category A (Ocean)
- Carbon and epoxy used to excellent advantage
- True sailing ease with exceptional performance
- Innovation and tradition balance nicely
- Handsome appearance
- Forward cabin clearly
superior to aft
- Traveler large and
- Exterior teak requires
Crisp, salty, and well-
proportioned, the 4300 is
elegant and sinfully easy to sail. Tim Jackett has designed some good boats; the 4300 deserves to be celebrated as one of the best.