Duncan Kent enjoys a relaxing sail aboard this comfortable ocean cruiser
What’s she like to sail?
The Bowman 40 is a medium-to-heavy displacement yacht designed to sail across open oceans with ease. She is deep-bilged with an overhanging bow and narrowish shoulders, so her motion through the water is that of a powerful, but sea-kindly performer.
This easy motion means life at sea on a long passage is not only possible, but positively enjoyable. On many boats, you can get utterly fed up with being thrown about down below for days on end, but that’s certainly not the case with the Bowman. There’s always a handhold within reach, both below and above decks, and there are very few sharp edges to hurt yourself on.
Equally important is the general balance of the hull and sail plan. With her ample ballast, plus the engine weight over the keel and water tanks each side, she’s stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Her steering is light, but positive and she tracks well thanks to her longish keel and skeg. The cutter rig keeps the sails small and offers greater flexibility in a gale, and the quality of the deck gear and fitting gives you confidence that she won’t fall apart when confronted with stormy conditions.
She’s no racer, but neither is she a slouch, with her momentum and ability to carve through heavy seas, often she’ll arrive at a far destination at the same time as a much lighter performance yacht might, only her crew will be far more relaxed!
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Those more used to voluminous saloons and huge double berths might think the Bowman a little cramped, but to my mind and in the option of many long-distance blue water cruising yachtsmen, too much space can be undesirable under way.
Her shoal draught is a boon upriver and at anchor, and she’ll dry out easily alongside a wall on her long keel base, but she does lack family living space and her cockpit isn’t exactly designed for easy Mediterranean lounging. You need a ladder to climb up her transom and there’s no platform for showering after a swim.
On the entertaining stakes she easily matches a more modern design. With her massive and extensively equipped galley and large saloon table you can easily cook dinner for six adults.
Sleeping is limited to two cabins and the saloon, but in return for the lack of a second aft cabin you get a much larger heads, a useful wet locker and a full-depth cockpit locker – far more important for blue water cruising unless you’re taking a large family with you.
Would she suit you and your crew?
The Bowman 40 was primarily designed for taking serious sailors offshore in all weather and sea conditions. Very few sacrifices in seaworthiness have been made to make her more inviting for a horde of guests, but to me this feels right. And to prove it, take a look at the Scandinavian blue water cruising yachts built today – most of them don’t look a lot different to this boat, do they?
She is great for a couple who want to sail anywhere, anytime and still feel safe. There’s room for a guest couple, and even the kids, so long as they don’t expect to stay forever. I love the acres of lockers and the sensible use of any empty cavity for handy stowage, which is exactly what a cruising yacht needs.
You really couldn’t go far wrong choosing a Bowman 40 for cruising, and being so solidly constructed and well equipped means she’ll hold her value in today’s second-hand market.
You really couldn't go far wrong choosing a Bowman 40 for cruising, and being so solidly constructed means she'll hold her value in today's second-hand market.