Overview

Tartan 37 Sail Plan
The Tartan 37 is considered one of today’s classic cruising yachts. Designed by Sparkman and Stephens with a lot of direct input from Tartan Yachts, the boat was introduced in 1976. Initially conceived as a boat that could be sold as a racer as well as a cruiser, it was the shoal draft centerboard cruiser that really took off with a remarkable 486 boats built.

The boat is known for its sound construction quality and smart sailing abilities and moderate pricing. Owners unanimously love their Tartans.

History

The collaborative project that was to become the Tartan 37 started the spring of 1975 when Tartan Yachts founder, Charlie Britton commissioned Sparkman and Stephens to design a new 37 footer. This wasn’t the first project between the two companies, there was already string of successful collaborations from as earlier as 1961 with the Tartan 27.

The 37 was initially was specified as a boat that could be sold as a sloop or a ketch, and there was to be a cruising version and a race version. As the design progressed the ketch was dropped and the racer with its deep fin keel and tall rig was renamed the Tartan 38 while the Tartan 37 became the cruising version available in both fin keel or shoal draft centerboard.

The boat was introduced in 1976 with the first boats off the mold being the Tartan 38 racer. They were well received by the market in general. It’s reported the racer did not perform as well as Britton had hoped but the cruising version on the other hand became particularly popular.

Later boats offered a Scheel keel option as well as an option for a tall rig similar to the racer. It’s estimated around 10% were deep keel boats. In total 486 hulls were produced between 1976-1988.

Configuration

For a boat designed in the mid 1970s the hull looks remarkably modern. There’s a generous rake in the bow, the sheer line is quite straight which sweeps back to a reverse transom. From above the hull has a diamond shape and is quite beamy for the era.

Below the waterline most boats have the centerboard option which entails a long and shallow fin keel, with a centerboard that swings up from 7′ 9″ to a useful 4′ 2″ of draft in shoal waters. The optional deep fin keels draw 6′ 7″ and a Scheel keel 4′ 7″. The rudder sits as far back as it can below the reverse transom, hung from its protective skeg.

The rig draws the influence from IOR racers of the day with a large foresail and small mainsail, a configuration that has proven to be easy to single hand. The rigs came in standard 52′ 0″ as well as tall 53′ 8″.

Interior and Layout

Tartan 37 Layout

Down below, the interior is traditional, however with close to 12 feet of beam, the Tartan 37 is larger than you might expect. Teak veneer and trim is used abundantly and white formica is used overhead. Overall, the level of joinery work is very good.

In the forepeak, the two single berths can be converted into a double with an insert. Moving further back the head is to port and has a integral shower, the arrangement is tight but functional. In the salon the settees are offset, the starboard one serves well as a sea-going berth and the port settee can be converted into a double. Further aft on port is the nav-station next to the companionway and a double quarter-berth, something of a luxury in a boat this size. Opposite is a functional U-shaped galley.

Construction

The hull is hand-laid fiberglass with end-grain balsa coring to improve stiffness without sacrificing weight. In areas of high stress such as the mast-step, through-hull fittings, chainplate terminals, engine supports and keel sections the coring is tapered into solid fiberglass. The deck enjoys the same construction method with a good non-skid surface molded into all flat areas. The hull-to-deck join consists of an internal flange bedded with butyle and polysulfide and bolted to the deck on 8-inch centers. Through the years this join has proven to be a strong and dry. In general, the quality of construction is exemplary and considered the among best to be found in production yachts.

Under Sail

By rights, nobody should expect a shoal draft centerboard cruiser to break any records, however some of the race intent from the original spec shines through every now and again. For example, Steve Pettingill broke a record in the Port Huron to Mackinac Island single-handed race with his fin keel configured Ambergris. The boat is certainly capable of fast and comfortable 24-hour runs when passage-making.

The Tartan 37 has a reputation for being stable with acceptable upwind performance, but really excels downwind on a reach. The rudder is efficient and provides plenty of control and the boat is relatively dry, especially when configured with a decent dodger. The boat is known to be easy to single hand and fun to sail.

Specifications

LOA: 37′ 3″ (11.35 m.)
LWL: 29′ 5″ (8.97 m.)
Beam: 11′ 9″ (3.58 m.)
Draft, Fin: 6′ 7″ (2.0 m.)
Draft, Shoal Scheel 4′ 7″ (1.4 m.)
Draft, Centerboard: 4′ 2″ / 7′ 9″ (1.3/2.4 m.)
Ballast: 7,500 lbs. (3,402 kgs.)
Displacement: 15,500 lbs. (7,031 kgs.)
Sail Area: 625 sq. ft. (58.1 sq.m.)

Fuel: 47 gal. (178 ltr.)
Water: 90 gal. (340 ltr.)
Holding: 16 gal. (60 ltr.)

Engine: Westerbeke 50 (41hp) diesel / Westerbeke 40 (32hp) diesel

Designer: Sparkman & Stephens (design #2253)
Builder: Tartan Yachts
Year Introduced: 1976
Year Ended: 1988

Buyers Notes

The Tartan 37s are moderately priced and offer good value. They have maintained their values due to quality contructions, good reputation and a loyal following among owners. There is an active Tartan 37 owners association, it’s recommended buyers join the forum at Tartan37.com for further research.

Prices will depend on age and condition. As of 2010 the asking price for Tartan 37s are in the range of:
1976-1981 $30k – $65k USD
1982-1986 $45k – $75k USD

Similar Boats

Tartan 372
Tartan 3800
Tartan 3700
Hood 38
Sabre 38
C&C Landfall 38

Links, References and Further Reading

» Tartan 37 Sailing Association, history, resources and owners forum
» Tartan 37 Review, by Jack Horner, BoatUS.com
» Cruising World Magazine Review of the Tartan 37
» Tartan Owners Association (TONE), owners of Tartan yachts in the North East.

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5 Responses to “Tartan 37”

  1. Tim Donley says:

    Just to be clear, the T-37 we all know was a new boat from the ground up. The 37 also has a “bustle” for a rating measurement @ water line, popular trick of this era. The hull mold had two keel options that bolted to the hull mold to be integral to the hull.
    The Blackwatch 37 would be a different model.
    Charlie Britton would walk thru the plant, board a boat, step over the lifelines, hold on to the lifeline and jump
    over board & hang on the lifeline…that is quality control, He had faith in his product! I’m sure no one wanted to be responsible for Charlie to fall to the shop floor.
    Those were the days……………

  2. Chris says:

    With a little more room there’s the Tartan 40, 
    A TRUE PASSAGEMAKER IS A BOAT that carries its crew safely, comfortably, and
    efficiently from Point A to Point B, regardless of the weather. The Tartan 40 is
    a fine example of the breed. The Tartan’s sail area-to-displacement ratio of
    17.1, appropriate for a racer/cruiser, bears out its light-air capabilities. Its
    displacement-to-length ratio of about 250 suggests a cruising hull with interior
    volume sufficient to transport essential voyaging cargo without impeding its
    progress through the water .Between 1984 and 1989, Tartan built 72- 40s, yet few
    appear in brokerage listings. Perhaps Tartan 40 owners know they’re well off and
    hang on to their boats. I found a 1985 sloop for $150,000 and a 1989 cutter with
    hard dodger and Scheel keel for $145,000, both loaded-remarkable prices for
    boats that will take you comfortably, safely, and efficiently to almost any
    cruising ground in the world. The lovely teak interior is not overly spacious but is more
    than adequate for a couple.The T40 is a performer in the Tartan tradition, a
    comfortable off-shore cruising yacht with an easy motion at sea and capable of
    showing her stern to larger vessels. Excellent all around, she is well described
    as an “honest” cruising yacht.

  3. Anton Schermer says:

    The predecessor for the T37 was the Tartan 37 Blackwatch which was built in the late 60’s. I have one for sale that was built in 1967 that I have been sailing and restoring for the last 12 years. The Varnish is in great shape. Just installed new GPS. Asking $35,000. Call 201-658-0845 if interested.

  4. Ray Durkee says:

    While some of the T37s had Westerbeke 40's, I believe most had Westerbeke 50's — a 41 hp diesel based on a BMC block.

    • Jim Elfers says:

      Ray I have a book coming out in January with a chapter on the T37 and was wondering if I could use the great shot of Valera anchored in Maine. Please advise.

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