REVIEW: BACK COVE 32

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

John Ford head out for Trade-a-Boat to test the 2018 Back Cove 32

BACK COVE 32 FORD 738 Copy

REVIEW: 2018 Back Cove 32

HIGHS

• Stunning looks

• High-quality finish

• Respected yard

• High resale value

• Simple single-diesel shaftdrive

• Economy

LOWS

• Limited refrigeration

Buying a boat is an exciting prospect and should be fun. Once the big decision to join the fleet is made, the next step is choosing a model that suits your budget and lifestyle, and that’s the hard bit. All the late night web browsing, window shopping, traipsing around shows and talking to owners can do your head in.

Thank goodness for the calm pathway to boating that buying a Back Cove must be. Local importer Jed Elderkin has eased more than 60 buyers into new versions over the last 10 years, not including those he has helped into the used market created by owners updating to larger models. These impressive numbers are even more so, as they represent around 10 percent of Back Cove’s worldwide output. A big part of the success is Elderkin’s calm reassurance and encyclopaedic knowledge of his product from a lifetime of boating.

BACK COVE 32 FORD 807 Copy

THE BUILDER

What makes a boat inspired by the USA’s Maine lobster fishing fleet so popular locally? The answer is easy. A Back Cove is easy to own. It’s easy to operate and it’s easy on the wallet.

Importantly, it’s also easy on the eye and whilst the new 32 is amongst the smallest of the models, sitting between a 30 and a 34, its well-balanced lines are arguably the sweetest in a range extending out to a 41-footer. This is especially true when it’s underway, leaning back and gliding through the water at speed. An unusual off-white gelcoat gave a very distinctive appearance as the afternoon sun played shadows over the hull and changing magically from light to dark.

While styling resemblances to an actual Downeast lobster boat have passed into this latest iteration of the brand, the new 32 is a vastly more enjoyable boating experience than the original utilitarian workhorse. Along with the signature sheer line and flared bow, the semi-displacement and single-engine heritage survive. But the level of luxury and sophisticated underwater design shake off direct links to the past, and that mightn’t be such a bad thing.

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THE FEATURES

The deep bow entry runs back in a variable deadrise profile to a moderate 16 degrees at the transom, combining with reversed chines and running strakes to boost ride and performance and also aid stability at rest. In comparison, the old round bilged lobster fishers might not pass muster in a sloppy anchorage, and much of the 32’s appeal is setting up in a quiet back cove somewhere, watching the sun go down in peace. Meanwhile, along the keel line, a prop tunnel protects the shaft and flattens its angle for optimum drive.

Styling might remind us of days past, but its construction is purely modern technology on a first-rate production line by a skilled workforce of more than 100 employees. Mouldings have a vinylester outer surface for better osmosis protection and are resin infused for a stronger, lighter build, with the hull and stringer system fabricated from a Nida-Core sandwich and lighter balsa core on the topsides.

Bowsprit and boarding platform take the length overall to 37ft (11.28m). But even the 32ft9in (9.98m) hull measurement is understated and gives validity to the impression the boat is roomy for its stated length.

It’s a step up from the aft platform, though a central door, to the cockpit, where L-shaped lounges wraparound the rear quarters making an excellent outside entertaining zone that can be extended by an infill at the door. A pair of elliptical high-gloss cherry tables fit into slots in the floor on sturdy supports that neither rattle nor wobble when underway. Finish is superb and the timberwork combines with blue upholstery to impart a traditional nautical ambience. An extendable SureShade awning covers the entire cockpit and folds neatly out of the way when not deployed. It’s a sensible option for local conditions.

The new model includes the most popular features of the previous 30 and 34 and also considers ideas from owners and dealers. Part of the design process was to raise the cockpit sole 50mm to create a single level flowing through to the helm. Details like this make a difference, especially in a smaller cruiser where optimising available space and easy movement is paramount. The saloon boasts a wide opening with drop-down curtains to close it off.

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THE FINISH

An almost continuous circle of windows surrounds the cabin and an abundance of crisp white fibreglass mouldings highlight the cherry timber features and blue upholstery for a well-lit and cheery interior. Cheery cherry if you like. It’s a well-executed mix of traditional and modern that is immediately engaging.

Along the starboard side, the galley is set into a long bench with white Corian top and numerous beautifully dovetailed timber drawers. Equipment is basic, but includes a two-burner Kenyon electric cooktop, convection microwave, drawer-style Vitrifrigo fridge and a deep stainless steel sink, while a second fridge is located under a companion chair. An optional genset takes over from the engine or shorepower to run appliances when anchored.

The raised lounge opposite takes greater advantage of the views and can be configured with a variety of seating and table arrangements to cater for up to six guests or a more intimate and roomy café style with two high-gloss maple and cherry tables. The setting also converts to an occasional double bed, and the forward lounge flips to form a forward-facing double companion chair.

A central sliding and lockable companionway at the forward bulkhead leads down to the master cabin and a separate shower and head. Rich timber panels and matching furniture nestling against the island double bed look a treat, and an overhead hatch provides a

good flow of natural light and ventilation, with air-conditioning available for warmer or cooler weather.

It was pleasing to see the Back Cove 32 test boat optioned with an array of features for extended coastal navigation. The Stidd helm chair is among the best in the business for long voyages, while quality Garmin radar, autopilot, sounder and GPS hint at serious travelling.

Although we didn’t set course for Port Macquarie, our ride confirmed the hull’s cruising credentials. Handling was sporty and predictable. The boat turned in a relatively flat arc and the ride over chop and wake was soft, with no rattles or resonance throughout the rev range.

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THE RIDE

Our test boat came with the optional 425hp Cummins engine upgrade instead of a standard 370hp Volvo D6, and performance was impressive. From rest, we accelerated smoothly and quickly to a planing speed of 12kts at 1850rpm. A slow cruise of 15kts was achieved at 2000rpm and a fuel flow of 38lt/h to give a range of 262nm. Maximum recommended continual cruise from the Cummins is 2600rpm, which returned 22kts, 60lt/h and a range of 231nm. Top speed on the day was 24kts, although the factory claims 27kts from the Cummins when run in.

The Back Cove 32 is the real deal for those looking for an easy-to-handle pocket cruiser or dayboat with genuine seakeeping ability and lively performance. Its well-proportioned lines and smart finishes demonstrate a quality appeal that will endure. Price starts at $525,000. Set-up as tested with a raft of extras, it’s an additional $100,000, which would be good value for anyone wanting to explore the boat’s potential. 

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Sea Trials Back Cove 32

Cummins QSB-SL6.7 Inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel

Full fuel (calculations based on 10 per cent reserve)

RPM

SPEED (KTS)

FUEL BURN (LT/H)

RANGE (NM)

600

4

1.2

2100

900

5

3

1050

1850 (planing)

12.5

320

315

2000

15

36

262

2200

16

41

245

2400

18

54

210

2600

22

60

231

2750

24

74

204

 *Sea-trial data supplied by the author.

2018 Back Cove Specifications

PRICE AS TESTED

$625,000

OPTIONS FITTED

Engine upgrade, genset, air-conditioning, Sure Shade awning, autopilot, radar, and more

PRICED FROM

$525,000

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP

TYPE Monohull

LENGTH 11.28m overall, 9.98m hull

DRAFT 0.91m

BEAM 3.61m

WEIGHT 7.94 tons

DEADRISE 16°

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE DAY 14

PEOPLE NIGHT 4

FUEL 700lt

WATER 302lt

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Cummins QSB-SL6.7

TYPE Inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel

RATED HP 370

DISPLACEMENT 6700cc

WEIGHT 658kg

PROPELLER Four-blade Nibral by Accutech 24in x 25in

SUPPLIED BY

E MARINE MOTOR YACHTS

d’Albora Marinas, The Spit,

Mosman, NSW, 2088

PHONE (02) 9969 3757

EMAIL info@emarine.com.au

WEB emarine.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #502 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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