The dream was always there. “For years, I would go past marinas on beautiful summer days, full of boats that no one ever seemed to use,” says Peter Clarke. “I vowed that if I bought a boat, it would not sit tied to a dock each weekend. I liked the idea of the sense of exploration it would give me.”
With the kids off to college, it was time for Clarke, 56, and his wife, Jennifer, to make the dream a reality. Two years ago, the Madison, Connecticut, couple stepped up from a 26-foot weekender to a full-fledged cruiser, the Back Cove 37 Downeast, a twin-cabin, single-diesel boat built in Rockland, Maine. They made the voyage home from Portland, Maine, themselves, and they’ve been cruising ever since.
“I’ve always admired the Back Cove style, layout and finish. It really represents what I think a boat should be,” Clarke says. “Some boats trade off form over function or vice versa. I think the Back Cove has a great blend of both. It has a great cockpit for entertaining or just catching the sun, a nice saloon that is perfect for conversation and an accessible galley so you are never in a hole when preparing drinks or food. It has a great flow to it — bright and airy.”
The Clarkes bought the boat through DiMillo’s Yacht Sales (dimillosyachtsales.com) in Portland, Maine, which specializes in Back Coves. “They know the boat and the folks that love them, and that goes a long way when you are making a big purchase,” Clarke says. “They stand behind the product.”
The 37 Downeast was in excellent shape, with all maintenance records. The price for the 2011 model was around $400,000, and the deal included a trade-in of the 26-footer. “That was a good boat, but, with the family turned into young adults, we wanted more space to accommodate all of us on longer cruising trips,” Clarke says. “The Back Cove 37 Downeast is the perfect match for our needs.”
During the past two seasons, the couple has ranged up and down Long Island Sound on the Connecticut and New York coasts, transient-docking most weekends. Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Block Island, Rhode Island, have been more distant destinations. “Our most extensive cruise was the week we picked her up in Portland and piloted her home,” Clarke says. “We stopped in Newburyport, Boston and Plymouth, went through the [Cape Cod] canal and on to Newport and then home to the Guilford Yacht Club. What a great first trip. We haven’t stopped cruising since.”
LOA: 42 feet
BEAM: 13 feet, 3 inches
DRAFT: 3 feet, 7 inches
WEIGHT: 22,100 pounds
HULL TYPE: modified-vee
PROPULSION: 480-hp diesel
TANKAGE: 300 gallons fuel, 50 gallons water
BUILDER: Back Cove Yachts, Rockland, Maine, (207) 594-8821. backcoveyachts.com
Last summer, the Clarkes took For Pete’s Sake to New York for a circumnavigation of Manhattan, cruising past the Statue of Liberty. “That was a great trip that we will all remember for a long time,” Clarke says. “On the way home, we stopped at my brother-in-law’s 60th birthday party at his yacht club in New York. What a ride — that’s the cruising freedom.”
Power is a single 600-hp Cummins diesel, which delivers a 23-knot cruising speed at 2,600 rpm. (Top end is around 27 knots.) Fuel use is 22 gallons an hour, according to Clarke’s figures.
“She handles very well in rough seas; you just need to adjust your speed and trim for the conditions,” Clarke says. “On our trip home from Portland, coming out of Newport, we had some big seas, and she cruised like a dream. I never would have enjoyed that” in the 26-footer.
Electronics include a Raymarine chart plotter and radar. “The radar comes in handy when cruising Long Island Sound,” Clarke says. “There is a high probability of fog as you get out toward the east end.”
The Back Cove has turned out to be the “perfect boat for us,” Clarke says. “We had outgrown the comfortable cruising range of the 26-footer and were looking for a more substantial boat to expand our cruising range. Many weekends it is just two of us, and the Back Cove is easily handled with no assistance. We like that. It is also large enough to accommodate our adult children, so we have some great family time, as well. It is relatively fuel efficient, so we use it and cruise a lot.”
The Back Cove 37 Downeast is the perfect platform to enjoy all that the New England coast has to offer, Clarke says. “It looks sharp, is comfortable, has a great layout and handles well in rough seas,” he says. “It is a great cruising boat. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Built in Maine, the Back Cove 37 Downeast has a salty, uncluttered look, with a classic yacht interior below, with white panels and raised wood trim. The layout has a master stateroom forward with an island berth, drawers and lockers for stowage, and an adjacent head compartment to port with a separate stall shower. Across the way, to starboard, is a guest stateroom with a double berth. The galley is amidships to port with a standard microwave, refrigerator and freezer, along with a cooktop. The enclosed saloon has an L-shaped lounge with cocktail table, and seating opposite.
Companionway doors lead aft to the cockpit, where a transom door accesses the swim platform. In the elevated wheelhouse, the helm station is to starboard, with twin pedestal seats. There’s room for electronics and charts abaft the three-panel windshield. The standard 480-hp diesel provides a 20- to 25-knot cruising speed. (There is a 600-hp diesel option.) A bow thruster is standard. The 16-degree-deadrise hull is foam-cored.
Since its founding in 2003, Back Cove Yachts has delivered more than 750 boats to such diverse places as Greece, Norway, Japan and Australia. Utilizing vacuum infusion technology, Back Cove is a sister company to Sabre Yachts. The Rockland, Maine, builder produces six models, from the Back Cove 30 to a 41-foot flagship. A 26-footer and a 29-footer have been retired.
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue.