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Why A Downeast Boat Might Be Perfect For You

By Rob Bowman | Posted On Aug 26, 2021
Updated On Jul 28, 2023

Downeast Boats have a long history as rugged, dependable work vessels that Northeast fishermen relied on to bring them home safely from the unpredictable Atlantic waters. This same style and construction has adapted to the recreational market to become a popular option for cruising enthusiasts. While the design may be that of a tough and capable Maine lobster boat, the amenities on board often resemble that of a luxury yacht.

There were nearly 700 downeast boats sold on the brokerage market in 2022 in the U.S.,  according to the industry MLS database. This is down by approximately 200 compared to 2021 which saw an exceptional year in sales. While the demand is still there in most markets, inventory levels have still not come back to what they were pre-pandemic. 

United Yacht Sales professional broker John Blumenthal recently sold 2 downeast yachts, including a 2019 Sabre 38 just this week (seen below). "The Downeast vessels show a stylish look which not only appeals to the owner but also the passer by," said John. "Practical in every way, downeast-style yachts allow a couple to cruise effortlessly. We have noticed through the years there are more sailboat owners swapping over to the Sabre Yachts or Back Cove Yachts due to the fact that it simply requires much less hassle when cruising from point A to B on a relaxing trip."

sabre yachts 38 sold


What Makes A Downeast Perform So Well?

It all begins with the shape of a hull. There are many adaptations now to downeast boats for various applications, but the true downeast has a "fine entry", a low profile, long sheerlines, and a semi-displacement hull. Downeast boats used to be full displacement early on in their production, but are now almost entirely semi-displacement vessels. The large keel and flattened aft sections all contribute to a downeast easily splicing through waves, keeping it steady.

Downeast yachts are well known for their performance in a following sea, which can be one of the most difficult handling situations while boating. The keel and large rudders help the boat track in these conditions, while the soft chines allows the waves to easily pass under the hull. Downeasts are also spectacular in a head-on sea, as well, thanks to the semi-displacement hull that provides a comfortable ride.

See below: MJM Yachts are a well-respected downeast builder. This video shows a downeast hull performs in 28 knot winds and 6-8 foot waves.


Downeast Boats Have Great Socializing Areas

If you're moving to a downeast from a sailboat, a big advantage will be the unobstructed socializing, dining, and relaxation areas of the cockpit. From a 32-foot Legacy to 55-foot Hinckley Talaria, the centerpiece of any downeast is the aft cockpit area. Some downeast boats come with bimini tops for the cockpit for added shade, however all of them tend to have seating either built into the boat or moveable furniture. Whether enjoying your company or serving lunch al fresco, the cockpit is where much of your time will be spent. Additional features on the cockpit could include a wetbar, grill, hydraulic swim platform, and a cockpit docking station with joystick control.

back cove 37 cockpit


Downeast Boats Are Fuel-Efficient, But Not Always Slow

A misconception about downeast-style boats is that they are slow and nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, any boat is going to be slow if underpowered and many downeast builders are now producing outboard-powered vessels. The Back Cove 39O, for example, can be powered with triple 350HP outboards and reach speeds near 40 knots! Obviously this is not your typical downeast experience where efficiently cruising at 10 knots is the norm which some boats reaching 15 knots.

The use of Volvo Penta engines in many of the popular downeast brands has allowed newer models to greatly increase speeds, while also remaining efficient. The Talaria 48 from Hinckley Yachts for example cruises at 35 knots with the IPS 800's. 


Interior Accommodations Like A Trawler Or Cruising Yacht

If your perception of the interior of a downeast is that of the old fishing-style lobster boats, things have changed! Rich woodwork, large picture windows, elegant fixtures, and top-end equipment are now found inside today's newer model downeast boats. "Builders of today's downeast boats understand that boaters may want to go on a week-long to a month-long excursion," continued John Blumenthal. "The attention paid to the interior comfort of these boats is equal to that of its performance. Just as these owners want to be comfortable while driving, they also want to be comfortable at the marina overnight or at anchor."

The Sabre 45 Salon Express is a perfect example of what to expect with a luxury downeast-style boat that takes full advantage of its nearly 15-foot beam. Comfortable sofas line the salon of the Sabre 45 and a teak cocktail dining table allows for indoor meals with friends. A few steps below is a fully-equipped galley with storage to accommodate several nights of cruising. The lower deck also features two large staterooms with two full heads.

salon of sabre yachts 45


Operating A Downeast Boat Is Getting Much Easier

Gone are the days of stressfully operating your boat from the inside helm while a marina full of people watch you dock. With advancements in technology and engines, many of today's downeast boats come equipped with a bow thruster and a joystick. Much like playing a video game, owners can easily move their boat sideways to carefully line up with their dock or at a marina.

Volvo Penta has also recently announced a new Assisted Docking Technology that started to become available on new boats this past Summer. It won't be long until pre-owned downeast boats are available on the brokerage market with this new technology.


What Are The Best Downeast Boat Brands?

According to data, the most popular brand of downeast boat is Sabre Yachts which sold more than 500 vessels since the beginning of 2020. Back Cove Yachts, Hinckley, Hunt Yachts, MJM and others all had much fewer boats sold in the United States during the same time frame.

However, what is considered the very best downeast boat in terms of quality is an argument many custom builders would love to have. Similar to how there are production sportfishing boat builders and custom ones, there are many shipyards which only produce a few boats a year because they are hand-built and crafted. Choosing the best downeast for you really depends on your cruising plans, the number of guests you plan to take, how fast you want to be able to go, and of course, your budget.

Whether you are considering purchasing a downeast boat or selling your current one, United Yacht Sales has the experienced team to help you achieve your goals. Call our main headquarters today at 1-772-463-3131 to get in touch with one of our 200+ professional yacht brokers worldwide. With 25 offices, an industry leading support team, and the power of our vast network, we can quickly and efficiently sell your boat or find you the perfect one on or off the market. We look forward to working with you!


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