We have owned and lived aboard our 1990 Tartan 412 (Scheel keel) for the last 11 years; we sailed it from the Chesapeake Bay
via the Panama Canal
in 2008-9 - we are currently near Adelaide in South Australia
. We purchased the boat after owning a classic
1980 Tartan 37 (centerboard) which we loved, also. For four months we had the two boats side-by-side while we 'moved' aboard the newer one; interesting to note that we had a heck of a time fitting all our stuff onto the bigger boat. This is because the older Tartans were built with generous storage
spaces - while the 'modern' ones have sacrificed storage
for spacious-feeling interiors.
In 1989, the company that manufactured Tartans had financial difficulties (like many others during that period that folded as a result of the 1980's 'luxury tax' on yachts) and they closed their manufacturing for a period of time. I'm not sure of the details, but either they were purchased or received an infusion of capital and in 1990 reemerged with just two models for sale
- the Tartan 372 and the Tartan 412, introduced at the Chicago Boat Show
. They sold somewhere between eight and eleven Tartan 412's that year (it is hard to know exactly how many because they were not numbered sequentially; we know this because the original purchaser of our boat requested number 007 because he was a huge James Bond fan); it was the only year that both of these models were made. The Tartan 412 utilized the old Tartan 40 molds; I'm surprised that S&S didn't sue Tim Jackett for claiming it as his own. The other unique thing about the 412's are they are stick-built. Since the factory was just getting restarted in 1990 - they didn't want to invest in new interior
molds, so they built these models like you would a custom yacht. The only plastic bits on our boat are the overhead panels
and the head/shower pans; everything else is wood, thus all this teak
makes the interior
darker than other Tartans.
There are a few small modifications that make the 412 the ideal boat for tall people like us - first, the freeboard was raised by about four inches above that of the Tartan 40 so there is more headroom
inside and makes the interior spaces feel larger. Also, they made the V-berth enormous - 90" long by 84" wide (at head) by 26" wide (at foot). Yes, there are two head
compartments which we also thought was more than we needed, but have come to appreciate that this provides a 'spare' toilet and holding tank
when the main one is out of service
. The forward head
is not very big and we use it mostly for storage.
Now - for the negatives of the boat. The CNG stove/oven fuel
was a real pain (although, admittedly, not as bad as the alcohol stove
on the Tartan 37); we had to drive 250 miles RT to get the scuba-like tanks
filled - and there was no guarantee of a future supply. Before we left the US, we converted to propane; it wasn't really as difficult as we thought it would be. The new vented propane locker sits in the port-side cockpit
lazarette. All of the opening ports
are made of aluminum
and are a custom size manufactured by Bomar
. The ports
corrode easily at the interface between the glass and the metal. There is no source for replacements
does not make that size/configuration anymore (and of course, Tartan Yachts only carries replacement parts
for their new boats, i.e., for the first owner). Leaks
through these ports are an ongoing problem for us - when at anchor
or in a marina, we have a full-boat awning that keeps the rain at bay, but in a seaway situation, lots of towels are the only option. The biggest issue we've had is with the rudder; the upper collar around the rudder post is insufficient in strength for the task. The first rudder (that came with the boat) cracked along the leading edge, all the way down the front of the rudder and corroded away the interior metal frame. We had the factory build us a new one and within a year, the same thing happened; we ended up reinforcing the entire leading edge of the rudder with additional layers of glass mat and resin. Access from a dinghy
is problematic as there is no stern platform, just a stainless ladder that drops down - and then you must negotiate around the backstay to get into the cockpit, then around the massive steering wheel
. Be prepared for bruises.
We are pretty happy with the Tartan 412's sailing performance; it is nimble - and having all lines leading to the cockpit rarely requires us to go on deck
during passages. The hull is exceedingly well built - much heavier than modern ones; the chainplates are boldly linked to the hull tabbing with solid 6" bars of stainless steel
(as you can see in the photos of the interior). The engine
, a Universal 50 (marinized Kubota), is adequate for the job although lack of good engine
access requires blood to be spilled for even the most minor engine task.
We have been through plenty of rough weather
in this boat, and always felt safe. It has been a pretty amazing boat for us.