The Back Cove 32 is a Downeast-inspired express cruiser with a layout and features designed to appeal to a couple. With single-diesel propulsion, the Back Cove 32 promises to be an efficient coastal passagemaker, and day boat for entertaining friends. Her simple systems, solid construction, and single-level deck show she’s designed to be low-maintenance to own. With a galley-up layout and a forward stateroom with split head and shower compartments, the Back Cove 32 optimizes her onboard space within a classic profile for a cruising couple.
- Efficient, single-diesel power
- Designed to be managed by a cruising couple
- Standard bow thruster
- Opening windshield and side windows at helm
- PVC foam cored hull
- Split head and shower compartments
- Centerline transom door
- Two-tone foredeck with non-skid
|Length Overall||37′ 0'' / 11.28 m|
3.66 m (w/ mast)
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||6.5 sec.|
|0 to 30||9.9 sec. (0to20)|
|Props||24" X 25", #4 Cup, ZF KCA (0.75 DAR) x 2" bore, RH, 4-blade, NiBrAl|
|Load||4 persons, 5/6 fuel, 1/2 water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||65 deg., 32 humid.; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: <1|
1 x 425-hp Cummins QSB 6.7
1 x 370-hp Volvo D6 diesel engine
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Contents of Report
The Back Cove 32 makes the most of her Downeast-inspired lines particularly when finished with dark-blue topsides and a white deck and house. She is right at home along the rocky shorelines of Maine, with a three-pane windshield, large side windows on the house, and a trunk cabin on the foredeck with oval portlights set into either side, all atop that smoothly curving sheer.
Back Cove Yachts are seen as the simpler models from this builder, using conventional single-diesel propulsion, and the line ranges from 30’ to 41’ (9.14 m to 12.2 m). The builder has clearly taken many lessons from its up-market Sabre Yachts designs, which span from 38’ to 66’ (11.6 m to 20.1 m) and have twin diesel power.
Basic Design Parameters – And Comparisons
The Back Cove 32 is a true 32’ boat (actual length on deck is 32’9”/9.98 m). Add in her standard swim platform and anchor roller, and she measures 37’0” (11.27 m) LOA.
When we compare the Back Cove 32 to other “32-footers” on the market we find that their length on deck is appreciably less. This means that they really aren’t 32-footers at all. It is a game many boat builders play but not Back Cove, which reflects the no non-sense Main boat building culture.
This point is dramatically driven home when we compare displacement of other express cruisers in the class at a competitive price-point. The Back Cove 32 has a dry weight displacement of 15,300 lbs. (6,954 kg) compared to most other boats in class that range from 10,000 lbs. to 14,000 lbs. (4,545 kg to 6,363 kg). This is a noteworthy difference.
Other basic design aspects are also noteworthy: at 11’10” (3.61 m), the Back Cove 32’s beam is greater than most in class, as is her fuel capacity of 185 gallons (700 L), water capacity 80 gallons (303 L) and the fact that she is propelled by a single engine rather than twins.
Single Diesel vs. Twins. This is probably the most notable difference as most boats in class have twin diesels ranging in horsepower from 200 to 250, typically. Because they are lighter and have as much or more horsepower than the Back Cove 32, they will go faster. But speed is not the name of Back Cove’s game. Rather, it is lower initial price and lower operating costs.
In this day and age, engine redundancy is no longer an issue. Single diesels ply the world’s oceans not only in recreational yachts, but also most commercial vessels only have one engine. Because the Back Cove 32 comes standard with a bow thruster, it is no more difficult to dock than with twin inboards, and is easier than with most twin sterndrives and outboards.
Beam. The designers have not carried the beam too far forward to have a negative effect on the boat’s handling – a sharper entry is more comfortable because the boat does not pound in a head sea. Instead the team created the hull form they wanted, and designed the interior to work within that.
Built in Maine, the 32 is part of a long tradition of solid construction using proven techniques. All Back Cove Yachts are built with the company’s VIP Resin Infusion Process, which uses a vacuum and atmospheric pressure to introduce a carefully measured amount of resin into layers of dry fiberglass. The resulting lamination has the best possible ratio of resin to glass and results in the strongest and lightest part. The hull is cored in PVC foam and the deck is cored with end-grain balsa for rigidity, impact resistance, and lightweight.
The layout of the Back Cove 32 includes a single-level deck from the cockpit to the forward bulkhead at the helm. Large windows and elevated seating mean everyone gets a good view from the helm deck, where the galley is also situated. The cockpit has a centerline door for boarding. Belowdecks, she’s designed for a couple to enjoy, with an island queen-size berth accessible from both sides, split head and shower compartments, and plenty of stowage.
The Back Cove 32 has a swim platform that extends 3’ (.91m) from the transom. The swim platform has a reboarding ladder and grab handle to help swimmers climb aboard. The reboarding ladder is accessible from the water as required by ABYC standards, and is fitted to the bottom of the swim platform on the aft starboard side. There is a stainless steel drainage on the platform at the base of the transom, which can help lighten the load somewhat if a following sea boards.
The platform has 4” popup cleats (10.16 cm) to port and starboard to tie up a dinghy. The engine exhaust is built into the stern quarter of the hull with a substantial polished stainless steel fitting that looks stylish, but also gets the exhaust in the passing air stream along the hull sides to abrogate the stationwagon effect. There are 8” pull-up cleats (20.32 cm) built into the covering boards at the stern quarters. A teak platform is an option.
We entered the cockpit through a centerline door that is 22” (55.88 cm) wide, equipped with a robust stainless steel hinge and has a latch on the inside. Simply reach over the transom, unlatch the door and swing it outboard to port. From the swim platform, it’s one step up into the cockpit. Inside the transom door is a switch to turn on the courtesy lights. Also just inside the transom door: TV connectivity for onboard entertainment, as well as two 30-amp shore power connections. There’s also a pull-out hot-and-cold water shower.
The cockpit has two L-shaped lounges in the stern quarters. An available filler cushion sets into the spot where the transom door is and makes for true wraparound seating, but we’d like to have a seatback cushion there as well. Optional triangular pedestal tables are available to serve either lounge or both, and our test boat had a well-crafted cherrywood table, birdseye maple varnished to a gleaming shine and on a stainless pedestal. There’s an optional power-actuated SureShade awning that extends from the aft edge of the house to provide sun protection.
To access the side decks, the cockpit has two steps up at its forward corners. There’s a vertical stainless steel overhead support right at the step that doubles as a grab handle for safety, and there’s a grabrail along the hardtop on either side, as well as a bowrail that rises from the covering boards to 20” (50.8 cm) at the beginning of the deck on each side, increasing in height to 28” (71.12 cm) fully forward. The side decks are 10” (25 cm) wide and are finished in nonskid with graystone gelcoat. There is a channel along the toe rail for controlled runoff.
The engine room air intake is in the cabin side, which we like, because it is higher off the water than we see on some boats that put it in the hull side, close to the water. A thin teak trim strip runs along the cabin side forward to the front of the trunk cabin. This is an important visual element that, along with the gold cove stripe, helps reduce the apparent height of the boat’s superstructure as well as to signal the classic Downeast origins of this design.
At the bow, the trunk cabin top is crowned to facilitate drainage and strength. The surface is largely finished with nonskid, which is colored graystone, so that boaters on the foredeck will know where the non-skid is, an important safety factor. The two-tone deck is also far more attractive than a solid white one. The deck is cored with end-grain balsa for strength and light weight.
The optional Quick windlass is set into a recess in the foredeck with foot controls to both port and starboard, and there’s a 10” cleat placed right alongside to secure the rode. The anchor sits in a bow roller. Just abaft the windlass is the hatch to a locker. The lid is equipped with a lift-and-lock latch, which we prefer to the lift-and-twist type. An optional raw water anchor washdown bib is inside.
The hardtop has a hatch on centerline forward to provide ventilation at the helm area. The hatch is on slides rather than a hinge, so it’s always easy to reach from inside. The mast is affixed to the aft end of the housetop and has a reinforced platform for a radar. Port and starboard wings support other puck-style antennas, and the mast is topped by a navigation light. On our test boat the mast was flanked by a pair of VHF antennas.
The express-style house is open aft and is on the same deck level as the cockpit. Beneath the hardtop it’s open and airy, thanks to a 6’6” (1.98 m) overhead, plus opening side windows and a hatch in the overhead. The center pane of the windshield is hinged across the top so the bottom can open and allow ventilation on hot days.
The overhead is finished in padded, upholstered panels punctuated by athwartships cherry wood strips. The overhead has dimmable LEDs recessed in it, with a light switch to control them on the overhead at the aft end. There’s an overhead centerline handhold to make it easy to get around underway in sloppy conditions.
The port side of the interior consists of a U-shaped settee surrounding a pedestal table. The table’s makeup matches the one in the cockpit of our test boat, with cherry wood edging and birdseye maple at the center.
Available curtains can enclose the aft end of the house and protect the helm deck from the elements, a nice touch if hosting guests or grandchildren on the convertible settee.
The forward end of the settee reverses so it can serve as forward-facing companion seating. When it is set up to face forward, the occupants can take advantage of two stainless-and-teak folding footrests, each with an adjustable height. The sliding door to the companionway has a rail mounted across it, so it can serve as a chart table for a paper chart. The deck can be covered in teak. Cruising couples will like this arrangement.
The galley is on the main deck to starboard, making the most of its location behind the helm seat and opposite the dinette.
The galley exhibits drawers with dovetail joints and push-pull secure latches. There are no errant gaps between the counter and the bulkhead requiring caulking or bead-style piping. The solid-surface counter has an underhung stainless steel single-basin sink with a fitted cover and a faucet that also functions as a pullout spray nozzle.
There’s a double-burner electric cooktop with popup sea rails. Refrigeration and an optional freezer or ice maker goes under the mate’s seat to port. A convention microwave is optional and goes under the stovetop.
The helm dash is a clean design with the compass mounted atop the dash in line with the steering wheel. The top panel of the helm dash is a customizable space, 24” (.60 m) wide. Back Cove works with owners to install the electronics they choose.
Our test boat had a 15” Garmin GPSMap display to starboard along with an instrument and the autopilot control to port. A bank of rocker switches is situated to port on the next level down, controlling electric functions. Below the helm dash, a footrest is adjustable to let the skipper choose the proper height. There’s a drop-in platform to give shorter captains some added height to improve lines of sight, though we’d prefer it be mounted on a hinge so it can flip down into position.
Bow and stern thruster controls and trim tab controls are on the port side next to the wheel and fall easily to hand. Right above the base of the steering wheel is the Cummins engine display. To starboard are the ignition and engine control binnacle with a single throttle and shift lever.
The starboard bulkhead at the helm has a small lockable door that allows access to the battery switches.
The helm seat is on a base that allows it to swivel and slide, and it’s equipped with flip-up armrests. The seat on our test boat was upholstered in Ultraleather.
The stateroom has a double berth, locker space, and stowage for a couple’s clothing and gear. The cabin has a standard teak and holly deck. There are separate head and shower compartments, port and starboard. Because Back Cove did not try to shoehorn in additional accommodations, the result is a comfortable space onboard.
The forward stateroom door has a sliding bug screen. A pair of opening ports in the stateroom let in natural light and even more air, as does the overhead Lewmar hatch, with Ocean Air screens and shades adding a quality touch. With 6’3” overhead height, the stateroom is airy. A berth measuring 6’7” long by 5’ wide has access at its foot and about a third of the way along each side.
Our test boat had cherry accents. A cedar-lined hanging locker is located to starboard. The ship’s electrical panel is behind a door with a tinted-glass insert. To port, there’s a locker with drawers and shelves. Another locker has a Fusion stereo control and speakers were mounted in the forward bulkhead.
The head compartment is equipped with a solid-surface countertop, sink, and electric MSD. There’s a skylight and an opening portlight, and stowage for toiletries in the vanity. By splitting the head to starboard with the shower to port, both compartments can have their own space and be used simultaneously, say, when a couple is getting ready for an evening out.
The Engine Room
The main deck is hinged and it lifts to give easy access to the engine compartment. The deck has an electric ram to raise it, with a switch on the starboard bulkhead, and the deck raises up high, seemingly only limited by the backrest of the settee coming very close to contacting the overhead. With the engine hatch in the fully open position, it gives an opening that’s 32” high.
In the engine space there’s a ladder that grants access into the space on the port side of the engine. The 425-hp Cummins QSB 6.7 diesel is flanked by a pair of 38.5-gallon water tanks connected with a crossover to keep them in balance. A fuel-water separator is mounted to the forward bulkhead, along with a fixed fire-extinguisher system. The through-hulls are all clearly labeled. There’s also an optional oil-change system, and a standard 11 gallon (40 L) hot water heater.
The boat has a standard dripless shaft log.
Additional Engine Room Access
There’s a hatch next to the helm seat in the main deck that grants secondary access to the engine space. The hatch has a turn and lock latch and has sound-deadening foam affixed to its underside.
Aft Mechanical Compartment
There’s a large hatch in the cockpit sole that grants access to a mechanical space, where the boat’s 185-gallon (700 L) fuel tank is located. This separate compartment is abaft the engine space, and also houses the optional 7.5-kW Cummins Onan genset, as well as through-hulls for its cooling-water intake and underwater exhaust. The power-assist steering pump and steering gear are also here.
The Back Cove 32 has a LOA of 37’ (11.28 m), a beam of 11’10” (3.60 m), and a draft of 3’ (.91 m). With an empty weight of 15,300 lbs. (6,940 kg), 81% fuel and four people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 17,310 lbs. (7,852 kg).
With the 425-hp Cummins turning a 24x25 4-blade prop and spooled up to 3800 rpm, we reached a top speed of 26 knots. At 80% load, we were turning 2600 rpm and 21.6 knots. That produced a 16.6 gph fuel burn and a range of 217 nm. Of course, this is a coastal cruiser so slowing down increases the range significantly. We saw 473 nm at 8 knots and more than 700 nm at 6.7 knots. All while still holding back a 10% reserve of the boats 185-gallon (700 L) total fuel capacity.
Back Cove offers four engine options for power: all are relatively lightweight, high-revving engines which range from 370-hp for the Volvo Penta D6 (the standard engine) and Yanmar 8LV (no extra charge), to the Cummins QSB-SL6.7 at 425-hp ($9,840) and a Volvo D6 rated at 435-hp ($10,050).
The folks at Back Cove have performed speed trials on all four engines in different hulls, each with different props, and all have a top speed from 25 to 27 knots in their reports. More interesting, is fuel consumption at 20 knots and 10 knots, where most people will run their boats, At 20 knots all four of the engines get 1.5 nmpg, and at 10 knots all are about the same around 1.7 to 1.8 nmpg, according to Back Cove.
Our independent testing confirmed Back Cove’s tested numbers for the Cummins QSB-SL6.7 425-hp engine.
We would say that based on these numbers, considerations other than performance will indicate which engine to specify.
As for the handling of the Back Cove 32, it was outstanding. We went out and found some stacked 3- and 4-footers (.91 m-1.22 m), and we had a ball charging through them with no pounding and nothing on the boat rattling or creaking. It was a solid feel with a comfortable ride.
Around the Dock
When it came time to get underway, our test captain found the Back Cove 32 exceedingly easy to operate single-handed, especially with a little planning. He made sure the midships line was the last to come off, and used simple maneuvering of the thrusters to slide away from the dock. Once clear, he engaged the main engine and off he went, simple as that.
Upon returning to the dock, we again had impressive maneuverability even with the stiff crosswind – there was no problem, thanks to the dual thrusters. Even with the standard bow thruster, she’s easily handled as she’s so responsive to the rudder. By not going any faster than we wanted to hit the dock, we gently nudged the boat – intuitively – with quick pulses of the thrusters and throttle, into her slip.
Options to Consider
- Choose one of 5 classic hull colors ($4,215)
- 7.5 kW Onan generator ($20,550)
- Vitrofrigo ice maker/drawer refrigerator (($2,685)
- Convection Microwave ($1,095)
- 1800 Watt Inverter ($3,195)
- Stern thruster ($5,360)
- Air conditioning – cabin ($6,610)
- Air conditioning – helm ($10,930)
- Anchor windlass ($3,980)
- Oil changing system ($1,110)
- Raw water washdown fore and aft ($1,070)
- Hardback enclosure with aft windows ($16,300)
- Insulated port and starboard seat boxes ($930)
- Mast for hardtop ($2,410)
- Removable cockpit table ($1,655)
- Shore water inlet in cockpit ($425)
- ShureShade cockpit awning ($9,665)
- Teak decking at swim platform ($4,475)
Base: $330,000; price as tested: Over $425,000.
Contact a dealer for full warranty information.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the Back Cove 32 is that it is built by the same folks who build Sabre Yachts, which run from 38’ to 66’ (11.6 m to 20.1 m). Sabres are in a different price-point and competitive category, where an emphasis is placed on build quality, amenities, and fit-and-finish.
Both Back Cove and Sabre are Downeast-style yachts and the attention to detail and quality build that permeates the twin-engine Sabres, rubs off on the single engine, smaller Back Coves which are designed for a completely different market. Examples of that abound: The polished stainless steel air intakes and their position, the teak trim step on the cabin and sides, the moulded-in cove stripe, the two-tone deck with non-skid, the teak and holly cabin decking, the overhead handholds, the resin-infused hull laminate, balsa-cored deck, opening windshield, and many other details.
Essentially, the folks at Back Cove have incorporated as many of the important design and build elements of the larger Sabres into the Back Cove as possible and still stay in the weight and cost parameters required in the Back Cove 32.
The result is a boat that looks as Downeast as any boat on the water, can do an admiral job of couple cruising and near-home entertaining – all at a reasonable price.