Text by Carly Sisson & Barry Thompson
The Back Cove 39O is the second outboard model from Back Cove and follows the successful 34O, which has achieved world-wide acclaim. It is also the fastest and quietest Back Cove model yet.
There is a growing trend, especially in the US, for multiple outboards on cruising style sedan boats and the Back Cove 39O is one of the new breed. Built by Maine based Back Cove Yachts, the 39O is an outstanding example of this new boating genre.
While Kiwis and Aussies are not fully in-tune with running triple or quadruple outboards, in the US it is commonplace. Plus if your transom is wide enough for, five or even six outboards, then why not. The just released Mercury V12/600 and the Cox and OXE 300hp diesel outboards are prime candidates for the transoms of larger and heavier boats.
Back Cove have been represented in Australia and New Zealand since 2006 when E-Marine Motor Yachts, headed by Sydney-based Jed Elderkin showed off a Back Cove 29 at the SIBS. This was followed by a Back Cove 26 as those were the only two models built at that time. The 26 sold at the 2007 Sanctuary Cove Show and Back Cove then introduced the new 33 and followed with the 37. All models sold well in Australia and continue to have high demand and command exceptional resale values on the pre-owned market to this day.
In 2009, the Sabre brand was added and between the two brands E-Marine Motor Yachts have delivered over 55 new boats in the Aus/NZ market.
“The addition of an outboard model in 2019 by Back Cove has resulted in a changed buyer demographic for the brand to a degree. Given the traditional Down East style of all Back Cove models, many buyers have mistakenly slotted the brand into the slow boat, displacement style cruiser fold, despite the single shaft drive models all having continuous efficient cruise speeds in excess of 20 knots”, says Jed.
Now, with outboard power and completely new hull form beneath the waterline, cruising in excess of 30 knots is comfortable and quiet with sports car like handling and remarkable efficiency. The first Back Cove 34O into Australia will be on display at the 2021 SCIBS.
Their signature Downeast style and built in Maine by more than 200 of the most accomplished craftspeople in the industry. Our Design Team is committed to the concept of the owner-as-operator and thoughtfully creates yachts that fulfill the discerning boater’s need for independence, reliability, and comfort. The results are undeniable; classically beautiful boats that are both practical and elegant.
The current range of Back Cove yachts spans from 9m to 12.5m feet in length, and have won awards and acclaim the world over. While individually unique, the Back Cove range shares key features that set them above the pack: practical designs that give owners confidence on the water, elegant living spaces for maximized comfort, energetic yet fuel efficient performance, and a quiet ride.
The 39O is the second outboard model from Back Cove, following the 34O, which debuted in 2018. With around 50 34O on the water, Back Cove has gathered extensive feedback from its customers that it incorporated into the larger model, and while both the 34- and 39-foot models feature entirely new hull designs specific to outboard propulsion, the 39O is truly a new build.
On the 34O, Back Cove utilised a lot of the same tooling from the Back Cove 32, which is an inboard model, in order to accelerate bringing that boat to market, but with the 39O, everything from the keel to the hardtop is brand new.
BIG IS BETTER
Perhaps the most significant change is the sheer increase in space; with only 1.52m of additional length, the 39O has added a second stateroom with twin berths, as well as a lower saloon safe from prying eyes. A family of four should have no trouble spending a weekend aboard.
The cockpit also feels exceptionally spacious, with fore- and aft-facing bench seats making this an ideal space for entertaining. Among the other new design elements is a fully enclosable, climate-controlled saloon helm with lounge seating, dinette and a compact galley. On our finger-numbing sea trial, we were particularly thankful for this space.
Rolling through no wake zones at 5 knots, the 39O is near silent, allowing us to fully appreciate the scenery. We quickly accelerate into the 40-knot range. Even at speed, she is remarkably quiet, a trait that did not occur by accident.
Standard power is triple Suzuki DF350, with our test boat running the optional triple Mercury 400 Verado package. These gave the 39O a top speed of an impressive and ultra-quiet 44 knots and range of around 200nm. Best cruise was at 5000 rpm which saw figures of 33.9 knots, using 185 lph/5.5nmpl and a range of approximately 320 nm.
“It’s the fastest and the quietest Back Cove we’ve ever built because of how we have the outboards so far aft and the enclosed helm,” says Jamie Bloomquist, national sales manager at Back Cove. From inside the helm station, it is easy to tune out the roar from the triple 400-hp Mercury Verados. The hull is also remarkably stable, and combined with the sound mitigation, you’d nearly forget you are sitting on a boat if it weren’t for the passing scenery.
The Back Cove proves easy to maneuver at low speeds and is a breeze to moor and bring into a dock. On an open boat, this would be an abridged cruising day at best, but the enclosed helm allows us to extend the day in an already extended season.
Jumping off the boat onto a floating dock to grab some drone footage allows us to utilise one of the other new features on the 39O: port and starboard transom gates, which diverge from the centerline transom door on the 34O and all other Back Cove models. Disembarking and boarding the boat is easy, even with the outboards lifted out of the water. And if the dock is too tall to board from the swim platform, there is a vertical grab rail at the aft end of the hardtop that makes it easy to board amidships. These considerations make the vessel even more family-friendly, as has the added space in the interior.
With the sun beginning to rapidly set, we board the boat once again and turn back for home, more appreciative than ever for the enclosed helm now that any semblance of warmth has been swept away by the breeze. Once out of the cove and into the river, we comfortably push the Back Cove to a top end speed of just over 40 knots, more than zippy enough to reach the dock before the last light disappears.
And the boat made quite an impression along the way; Back Cove had already sold 16 models when we went to press. “When we came out with the 34O, that was new territory for us. We didn’t have a lot of information about what the potential was for a cruising model with an enclosed helm deck,” says Bloomquist. “We gathered a ton of feedback from that first owner group.” The 39O attracted the attention of boaters moving up from smaller models, downsizing from larger cruising yachts and even considering Back Cove for the first time now that the builder offers outboard propulsion. So, with all of this newfound interest, will the builder be expanding the line in the future?
“There are several different sketches for additional outboard models,” Bloomquist says. “I would not rule it out.” Right now, there are no concrete plans or timelines, as the 39O seemingly falls into a sweet spot in the balance between speed and fuel consumption. That is not to say that there will never be a larger outboard model, and if the upgrades made to the 39O based on feedback from the 34O are any indication, future models should only continue to improve.
I am envious of our captain for getting to spend the night aboard. The climate-controlled helm station having proven itself against the elements, I would be happy to settle onto a berth for the night, even as the temperature continues to fall. But this is only a brief visit to my hometown, where normally I would be preparing to spend more time with the approaching holiday season.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise and forcing us all to hunker down in our homes, however, the Back Cove provided a brief excuse to return, if only for a day. Selfishly, there is nowhere I would rather enjoy the newest model in what has already become a standout line. She may be the last remaining boat at the dock tonight, but in such a tumultuous year, when the water provides the only true escape from the grim realities ashore, why stop now?
- Model: Back Cove 39O
- Priced From: $USD675,000
- Price As Tested: $USD696100
- Type: Hardtop
- Construction: Alloy 5mm/3mm
- Displacement: 12000 kgs
- LOA: 13.12m
- LOH: 11.96m
- Beam: 4.14m
- Draft: 0.91m
- Power: 3 x Mercury Verado 400
- Power Options: Outboard Only
- Propellers: Merc 14.6 X 16″ Rev. 4
- Tabs: Zipwake Interceptors
- Fuel Capacity: 1968 litres