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Our March 2017 cover story featured the history, inspiration, and development of Downeast-style yachts that were born from iconic lobster boat designs of the early 20th century. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the lobster boat style should be flattered indeed. By the middle of the 20th century, and bustling through to today’s modern yet classic yachts, the Downeast-segment of the market is alive and flourishing. If you haven’t picked up a copy, we suggest you check out this fascinating article by Peter Janssen, entitled, “Lobster Boat Legacy.” What you will find below is an overview, also compiled by Janssen, of the current fleet of Downeast yachts between 20 and 70-plus feet, broken down in ten-foot segments. To be sure, there are plenty more that were left off the list that are also excellent, reputable cruising boats.



A Hinckley is arguably the quintessential Downeast boat. It even gets Kevin Burns’ extra bonus points for being built in Maine—Southwest Harbor, to be exact, where Hinckley has been building boats since 1928. Known for their low profile, sweeping sheerline, gorgeous tumblehome, exquisite workmanship, and classic good looks, Hinckleys have also proven to be industry leaders over the years. Indeed, the company was one of the first builders to use fiberglass (in 1956) and was the first production builder to use jet propulsion.

The appeal of Hinckley’s Downeast aesthetic extends around the world. A few years ago, for example, my wife and I were running a Hinckley T29R (the “T” stands for Talaria, the “R” for Runabout) on Lake Como in Northern Italy and we stopped at a waterfront restaurant for a late lunch. The owner came down to the dock and asked if we could leave the Hinckley there overnight, for free, “Because it’s such a beautiful boat.”

Designed by Bruce King, the T29R is built in the spirit of a gentleman’s runabout. It has a small cuddy cabin with a V-berth, a satin-varnished interior, and even a Vacu-Flush toilet. But this boat iis meant to be enjoyed for the day; indeed, it can hold up to ten people for watersports, a cruise around the bay, or evening cocktails at the dock. And its proportions are just right, particularly if viewed from the stern quarter, where the pronounced tumblehome, graceful sheerline, and flare of the topsides translate into a nautical form of eye candy. The varnished teak caprail and instrument panel (with carbon fiber accents) along with the Nardi steering wheel are just icing on the cake.

But the T29R is more than just another pretty face from Southwest Harbor. With a Volvo 370-horsepower diesel and Hamilton waterjet drive, it tops out at 34 knots and cruises easily at 26 or so. The hull has a fine entry and 19 degrees at the transom, but there’s a delta-shape flat on the centerline aft to deliver solid water to the waterjet. Jets, of course, have a tremendous advantage over props in the lobster pot-filled waters of Maine, but also in skinny depths of the Chesapeake or the Bahamas. They’re also much safer when anyone is engaging in water sports. Hinkley’s patented fingertip JetStick control and standard bow thruster make low-speed maneuvering and docking easy. The hull is laid up with an outer skin of Kevlar and E-glass, a foam core and inner layer of carbon fiber, fused with a vacuum resin transfer process.

All of this adds up to a popular boat that has helped define the classic Downeast aesthetic. In fact, Hinckley has already sold more than 170 of the T29Rs around the world.

  • LOA:29’ 2”
  • BEAM:9’ 1”
  • DRAFT:1’ 9”
  • DISPL:8,200 lbs.
  • FUEL:100 gals.
  • WATER:20 gals.
  • POWER:370-hp Volvo diesel
  • CRUISE:26 knots
  • WOT:34 knots
  • PRICE:$469,900

CONTACT:Hinckley YachtsOne Little Harbor LandingPortsmouth, RI 02871Tel: (401)

Other leading boats in this size range include:

30-39 FEET: BACK COVE 32

Back Cove 32

Ever since they built their first boat, a 29-footer in 2003, Back Cove Yachts in Rockland, Maine, has become quite a success story. They’ve sold 600 boats since then, in a lineup that now stretches to 41 feet, but all Back Cove models share the same Downeast styling. The new Back Cove 32 is true to that heritage, and it was named Best New Powerboat Under 35 Feet at the Newport, Rhode Island, boat show last September.

The 32 is designed as a couple’s cruiser, but as I found on a cruise last summer through mid-coast Maine from Rockland to Portland, it’s much more than that. In fact, there were four of us on board, all grownups, and the boat seemed to absorb us with room to spare. In addition to the helm to starboard and a mate’s seat to port, at least two people at any time seemed to congregate on the large, comfortable, U-shape settee on the port side. Its high-gloss, inlaid table converts to a berth.

You board the boat through a large centerline transom door leading from the external swim platform to the cockpit, where two L-shape settees, each with its own highly varnished cherry table, fit into the after corners. An optional center filler fits between them to make one large seat all the way across the transom.

It’s easy to move around the boat, even underway with four people, because it’s all one level from the transom forward to the companionway leading to the cabin. The galley is up, on the starboard side, with the basics: a Thetford two-burner cooktop, stainless sink, convection microwave, and drawers for storage. The bridge deck is protected by a hardtop and large side windows, which slide open for ventilation. So does the middle window on the windshield, and the hatch overhead. The view from the helm, as I found driving in Maine, is excellent all around. Docking is easy with the standard bow thruster and optional stern thruster.

The master stateroom forward, down two steps, has a salty feel, with a teak and holly sole and Herreshoff-style side panels. There’s standing headroom (and I’m almost 6 feet 2 inches tall) at the foot of the centered island double bed, and there’s plenty of storage in a hanging locker and various drawers, plus under the lift-up mattress. The head, with toilet and vanity, is to port while the separate stall shower is to starboard.

It’s worth noting that a large hatch opens in the back of the cockpit for lazarette storage, while the entire cockpit sole lifts up at the touch of a button for access to the single (upgraded) 435-hp Volvo diesel. This is one of the best engine rooms I’ve seen on a boat this size.

The hull of the Back Cove 32 has a 16 degree deadrise at the transom, and cruising at 24 knots the boat’s a pleasure to drive. And it’s fuel efficient, burning only 23 gph at its top speed of 28 knots; dial back to 10 knots, and it burns less than 6 gph, with a safe range (10 percent reserve) of more than 300 nm. As we tied up in Portland, I realized that the Back Cove 32 is just about the ideal small Downeast cruiser. It’s the way cruising should be—fun, comfortable, easy.

  • LOA:37’ 0”
  • BEAM:11’ 10”
  • DRAFT:3’ 0”
  • DISPL:15,000 lbs.
  • FUEL:185 gals.
  • WATER:80 gals.
  • POWER:435-hp Volvo diesel
  • CRUISE:24 knots
  • WOT:28 knots
  • PRICE:$425,000

CONTACT:  Back Cove Yachts23 Merrill Dr.Rockland, ME 04841Tel: (207)

Other leading Downeast boats in this size range include:


Palm Beach 42

This elegant Downeast boat has an aggressive, low profile, graceful sheerline, and it is the first new Palm Beach model since Grand Banks bought the Australian builder in 2014. Even though it’s built half the world away from Maine, the new Palm Beach 42 has enough teak and brightwork inside and out to satisfy even the most traditional and salty New England purist.

Palm Beach Motoryachts is the brainchild of Mark Richards, who is about as Aussie as they come. Richards started out as an apprentice boatbuilder when he was 17, then became a professional sailor, and then became one of the best sailors in the world, winning the challenging Sydney-Hobart race a record eight times. He launched Palm Beach Motoryachts in 1995 (the seaside town of Palm Beach is a suburb north of Sydney) and tapped his racing experience to build strong, high-tech, lightweight hulls with a low center of gravity, matched to classic Downeast styling. Because of his design and building prowess, Grand Banks made Richards CEO of both companies when they acquired Palm Beach.

Richards is proud of the new 42. “This is the most gorgeous and feature-rich yacht of its size out there,” he says. Indeed, the fit and finish are impeccable throughout: Electric windows, Ultraleather upholstery, Silestone countertops, are all surrounded by hand-built teak cabinetry. And you can customize the interior, choosing between a single stateroom and a large galley down, or two staterooms below with a galley up.

The large window against the aft bulkhead goes all the way down to open the saloon to the cockpit for ventilation or socializing. The saloon has two large, facing settees, is climate-controlled, and has energy-efficient lights overhead. The ergonomically designed helm sports a teak steering wheel. Below, the master has a tapered island berth and a large head with shower.

The Palm Beach 42 has a semi-displacement hull with a low center of gravity for a stable ride, even in rough seas. The boat cruises at 30 knots and tops out at 36 knots, powered by Volvo IPS600 pod drives with joystick control. The hull is Iaid up with layers of multi-axial cloth mixed with vinylester resin, a core of Corecell foam, which is resistant to moisture and heat, and then more layers of cloth and resin. All fixed furniture and bulkheads are bonded to the hull and deck, as on a racing sailboat, for extra strength and rigidity. The engine room has vinyl acoustic isolation panels to reduce noise. For extra safety, there’s a watertight collision bulkhead in the bow.

With the 42, the Palm Beach line runs from 42 to 65 feet, with the larger boat being built in the Grand Banks factory in Malaysia.

  • LOA:46’ 0”
  • BEAM:14’ 6”DRAFT:2’ 10”
  • DISPL.:24,000 lbs.
  • FUEL:235 gals.
  • WATER:170 gals.
  • POWER:Twin Volvo 435-hp IPS600 pods
  • CRUISE:30 knots
  • WOT:36 knots
  • PRICE:$1.1 million

CONTACT:Palm Beach MotoryachtsTel.: (616)

Other leading Downeast boats in this size range include:

50-59 FEET: MJM 50z


The classic, low-profile MJM Yachts 50z is a boat with a pedigree. Its founder, Bob Johnstone, also cofounded J/Boats, and its designer, Doug Zurn, has been one of the most recognized designers of Downeast yachts since he drew the lines for the head-snapping Shelter Island Runabout two decades ago. Boston Boatworks’ Mark Lindsay is the builder of all MJM boats, specializing in building high-tech light-weight hulls that have won world championships and the America’s Cup, among other things. This is not to say that the MJM Yachts 50z does not stand on its own merits. It does mean that the collaboration of these three industry leaders has produced a Downeast boat that’s unique in its combination of looks, performance, safety, and innovation.

Johnstone once said that his goal with MJM Yachts was to make “the most beautiful boat to enter a marina.” With its subtle

S-shape sheer line, harmonious styling elements, Carolina flair in the bow, and gracious tumblehome aft, the 50z arguably hits that mark. The standard Seakeeper gyrostabilizer damps roll underway or at anchor, and the Certified Category A Ocean rating by the International Standards Organization means the boat is safe offshore.

Zurn’s trademark long, slender hull gives the MJM 50z well-rounded performance and efficiency at speed. I tested the boat with three Volvo 435-horsepower diesel IPS pod drives on Long Island Sound (two are standard) and registered a top speed of 38.7 knots. At an easy cruise of 31.4 knots the boat burned only 44.5 gph.

The classic Herreshoff style interior, with stain-finished cherry cabinetry, is designed primarily for a couple, with some creative innovations to give guests private spaces. The master stateroom in the bow has a large island berth, twin full hanging lockers, an easy chair and a desk. The master head has a glass-enclosed shower. Moving aft, a second head is to starboard. In the saloon, the large galley is to port, and it even has four large storage lockers under the teak-and-holly sole. On the starboard side the settee can be converted to a guest bed, or you can partition the entire area with three interlocking, 12-pound wooden panels that fit into anchors in the sole and a recessed channel overhead to provide an extra stateroom.

Boarding is achieved via doors on each side of the cockpit bulwarks, or from the transom door off the swim platform. From the cockpit to the companionway forward, it’s all one level. The cockpit has a large bench, seating five adults, a wet bar and fridge, and a twin aft-facing settee. Moving forward, the bridge deck is protected by a hardtop and Strataglass that can be rolled up or down. The bridge deck is another social and sleeping area, with a U-shape settee to starboard that converts to a double berth, and a straight settee to port that converts to a single. The captain has a double-wide Stidd seat to starboard; the mate another Stidd seat to port. Sightlines from the helm are excellent all around.

  • LOA:55’ 3”
  • BEAM:15’ 0”
  • DRAFT:3’ 10”
  • DISPL:35,850 lbs.
  • FUEL:520 gals.
  • WATER:170 gals.
  • POWER:3x435-hp Volvo diesels with IPS 600 pods
  • CRUISE:32 knots
  • WOT:38.7 knots
  • PRICE:$1,875,000

CONTACT:MJM YachtsTel: (401)

Other leading Downeast boats in this size range include:


Sabre 66

The sun was just going down at the end of this clear mid-winter day and the lights on shore were just starting to blink on as four of us on hull number one of the Sabre 66 Dirigo headed south through the waters a few miles off Daytona Beach, Florida. This trip had started six days before, in the swirling snow and cutting ice of Rockland, Maine, where this Downeast beauty was launched. Now, the big Sabre was just loafing along, powering through a benign one-foot chop, quietly, surely eating up the miles toward our final destination of Jupiter at a steady 27 knots.

“Dirigo” is Latin for “I lead.” It also is the motto for the State of Maine, where all Sabres are built. The 66 Dirigo clearly takes the leading spot in the Sabre lineup, which starts at 38 feet and previously had ended at 54. But the new Sabre flagship is the company’s leader in more than length alone: In fact, it is the most elegant Sabre yet, the most sophisticated Sabre yet, the most technologically advanced Sabre yet, and the most yacht-like Sabre yet. And, as I found out, it is a pleasure to be aboard.

The Sabre 66 is a full-size luxury express cruiser—with three staterooms, three heads and various social areas inside and out—that was specifically designed to be an owner-operator boat. You can board the boat via the large teak swim platform, which drops down at the push of a button for direct water access. Then it’s up three steps through a boarding gate on each side into the cockpit, where you’ll find a U-shape settee. A SureShade retractable awning provides overhead protection, and a Volvo IPS joystick is mounted on the forward, starboard side of the cockpit for easy docking by the owner-captain. The side decks are high and wide, and custom teak coamings add to the big-yacht look.

You enter the saloon through two glass doors. A 10-foot long U-shape settee is to port, and a 50-inch TV and two lounge chairs sit starboard. The helm deck is elevated a few inches, and features two Stidd helm chairs, plus an IPS joystick and easy-to-read displays. A door on the starboard side gives immediate deck access. Next to the helm on the port side, a three-person L-shape settee proved a popular spot during our cruise. The side and front windows are large, and an sunroof lets in even more light. Fit and finish of the cherry cabintry are top notch.

The galley is down and it’s large enough for a major cruise. The enormous full-beam master stateroom amidships offers walk-around space, a king-size bed, settee, walk-in closet, and a home-style head with matching sinks and a shower behind a large glass door. The VIP stateroom is behind two folding doors opposite the galley, with a walk-around queen bed and an en suite head. The third cabin, with scissor berths on tracks, is in the bow, and you can choose one large bed or two smaller ones.

Underway, the new Sabre performs beautifully. The hull has 16 degrees of deadrise at the transom; it’s resin-infused with Corecell foam coring; hull stringers are reinforced with carbon fiber. The boat comes up on plane with almost no bow rise and is remarkably quiet: I measured just 71 dB(A) at the helm at cruising speed.

  • LOA:67’ 10”
  • BEAM:18’ 1”
  • DRAFT:5’ 1”
  • DISPL:82,500 lbs.
  • FUEL:1,000 gals.
  • WATER:300 gals.
  • POWER:2/900-hp D-13 Volvo diesels with IPS 1200 drives
  • CRUISE:27 knots
  • WOT:30 knots
  • PRICE:$3.5 million

Sabre Yachts
12 Hawthorne Rd.Raymond, ME 04071
(tel.) 207 655-3831

Other leading Downeast boats in this size range include:

70-79 FEET: HUNT 72

Hunt 72

With a combination of legendary design, superior performance and exquisite craftsmanship, the new Hunt 72 seems to have it all. So it’s no surprise that this just-launched Downeast beauty was named Best Overall Powerboat at last September’s Newport, Rhode Island, boat show. “It is impressive to see a boat this size that can be operated by the owner,” the judges said. “This boat has over 80,000 man hours in its build and every hour was well spent. There is not one detail that hasn’t been addressed. Fit and finish are immaculate…This is a timeless design.”

The latest in Hunt’s Ocean Series of luxury offshore yachts, the new 72 has three staterooms, three heads and a separate crew’s quarters with its own head, plus an extended flybridge with a boat deck and crane. But what you notice when you look at the boat are that the proportions are just right; the lines are classic, the sheer is long and seems to stretch on forever. And then there’s the gleaming brightwork—absolutely everywhere, inside and out, up and down. It would be hard to find a saltier-looking 72-foot boat floating anywhere today.

The 72 was designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates and has minimal level changes from the transom to the helm. As opposed to a pilothouse boat, there’s only one step between the saloon to the helm, adding to a feeling of space and openness. Buyers of the 72 can have major choices in customizing the yacht, in everything from interior design to power. In this first hull, the saloon is finished with varnished cherry. For relaxing, the saloon has two large settees and a beautiful teak high-low table. The gourmet galley is forward to port, and the helm, with a single seat and teak wheel, is to starboard. Just abaft the helm are teak interior stairs going up to the flybridge.

Belowdecks, the full-beam midships master has a king-size bed, a walk-in closet, a settee, lounge chair, extra space all around, and an en suite head. The large VIP cabin also has an en suite head, while the forward cabin, with twin berths, has an adjacent head (also the day head).

The crew cabin abaft the engine room is accessed by stairs from the afterdeck, for privacy, and can be configured as a single or twin. It has an adjoining head. The Hunt 72’s engine room is impressive, with 6’ 2” headroom and plenty of space to walk between the massive 1,900-horsepower C32 CATs, protected by stainless steel rails on each side. The engine room also has a sizeable workbench. Up top the flybridge has dual Stidd helm chairs, a teak-accented dash, a teak deck, teak table, and two teak lounge chairs. It also has the usual access via stairs from the afterdeck.

The new 72 has a fine entry and of course the deep-V hull that was originally designed by Ray Hunt for a steady ride offshore even in unpleasant conditions. The boat rides level and dry, and cruises at 30 knots for easy passagemaking, topping out at 34 knots. To help the owner-operator manage all this, the big Hunt has bow and stern thrusters, automatic trim and list controls, and CAT’s new fingertip joystick (with remote) for docking and low-speed maneuvering. At a 20-knot cruise, the boat has a range of 400 nm with a 10 percent fuel reserve.

  • LOA: 71’ 3”
  • BEAM:19’ 6”
  • DRAFT:5’ 5”
  • DISPL:125,000 lbs.
  • FUEL:2,050 gals.
  • WATER:490 gals.
  • POWER:2/1,900-hp CAT C32 diesels
  • CRUISE:26 knots
  • WOT:34 knots
  • PRICE:On request

CONTACT:Hunt Yachts1 Little Harbor LandingPortsmouth, RI 02871(tel.)