Tartan hull and S-drive report

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author

I followed a link to this article from SA. I admit to already being quite skeptical about aluminum sail drives, since seeing one at the yard that had been mostly dissolved by electrolyis/corrosion.

The report about late-model Tartan epoxy hull layup quality (or lack of) and the company's effort to "shoot the messenger" was even more interesting. I guess I shall stop lusting for one of those 300K Tartan 34's... (Oh well, couldn't afford one anyway).

My 20 year old Ericson is looking better and better and bet....

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FullTilt E28

Member III
Most of the Tartans and C&C are actually really nice boats built with Epoxy vs the cheap resin. There are a couple of issues that cropped up and the owners have been quite noisy about it. While delaminating rudders and bad sealing on Ericson Keels have been accepted as just being due to age.

Boats are complex to build and talented builders are hard to keep busy and employed at times.

Like any boat getting into the 30+ foot range a full inspection is needed especially brandnew and very old boats.

Nigel Barron

Notorious Iconoclast
I have never really liked sail drives. While I love the concept, and can appreciate the benefits on a sailboat, it just seems like too many dissimilar metals under the water. Add that to how "hot" a lot of marina's are, and the problems mount.

FullTilt E28

Member III
Sail drives

What most people don't realize is that sail drives have been used for a long time and in most cases they are equal to or less to maintain than the more tradditional set up.

Any time you have metal in the water you face possible issues regardless of the set up. Unfortunatly C&C and Tartan had a couple of issues that exacerbated the issue and the sailing community is small and word travels like wild fire. Funny how bad news is much easier to spread than when something doesn't have any issues to report.

I do fordeck on a C&C 99 it hasn't had any issues and has proven to be a pretty good performer dispite what many have said about the 99 regarding performance.

Sail drives are put in virtually all boats now and have been used for many years with no issues. Then again the maintance is a little different than the old prop/shaft etc so some people dis like them.

The reality though is that the sail drive unit is quieter - more compact more efficient and the reality of where things are going. US drivers don't like driving small cars but the reality is the rest of the world has been doing it for years due to high fuel costs its only a matter of time before you find US Drivers refusing to buy big cars and wanting quality small cars.

Just the sign of the times and the way things are.

I've spent several weeks on a boat with a saildrive and have raced on many over the past few years personally I'll take a maintained saildrive over an old prop and shaft set up any day.

Chris Miller

Sustaining Member
I find it a little ironic that it's ok for him to sue the manufacturer, but it's not ok for them to sue him?

All boats have issues at different times in their production cycles- maybe there wasn't enough resin used for a while, or stuff twisted funny, or the gelcoat was sprayed on too thick... I guess if the company is fixing the issues, I wouldn't complain too much.
Maybe I got bogged down in all the complaining, but it seems to me that if they are working on fixing the issues- you don't have too much to complain about.

Loren, good point about having a boat where all the issues are known... I guess people buying used Tartans in 10 years will have a wealth of info on what to look for.

Mark F

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author

I too lust after (and can't afford) the Tartan 3400. I was bummed that there was only one Tartan (4400) at the Oakland Strictly Sail show.


Contributing Partner
I too have suffered from Tartan lust. But many inspectors and brokers put Tartan, Sabre, and Ericson in the same category (and above Hunter, Catalina, and Bendytow), so this is hardly surprising.

In my case the very day we delivered our E38 to our yacht club, the two guys who owned a nearby Tartan 40 stopped by to say howdy and look over our boat. They had almost bought an Ericson 38 themselves, but found a great deal on the Tartan. In all the years we sailed Rag Doll their Tartan 40 was the only boat in the club that I would have wished to trade for.


Sustaining Partner
I used to not like saildrives but my thinking has changed. Inboard/outboard drives on powerboats are all aluminum, completely submerged and generally give good service, season after season. Many give their full service life with no corrosion problems. Maybe powerboaters are more tuned in to their powerplants are since they depend on them absolutely? A properly installed/maintained saildrive should present no issues at all. RT