Bruckmann Yachts Abaco 40

Classic good looks, practical features and jaw-dropping performance come together in the Mark Ellis-designed Abaco 40 — an elegant
day cruiser that’s built for the long haul.

Photos and Story by Craig Ritchie
Isn’t it fun to daydream about the perfect Great Lakes cruiser?


  • LOA: 39'3"
  • Beam: 12'9"
  • Draft: 3'11"
  • Weight:
  • Fuel Capacity: 300 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 80 gals.
  • Power: Cummins 670 hp
  • Price: Contact dealer

Daydreaming is one thing, but creating this fantasy boat is another matter altogether. That was exactly the challenge Steve Scotchmer faced when the Toronto businessman and lifelong sailor decided the time had come to build a powerboat; one capable of handling the sometimes rough waters of the open Great Lakes, spacious enough for extended cruising, and with efficiency and performance top-of-mind. Between his carefully considered criteria and the performance of a Mark Ellis-designed hull, the groundbreaking Abaco 40 was born.

Produced by Bruckmann Yachts in Mississauga, Ontario, the Abaco 40 has been quietly turning heads since it first felt water on its keel. Bruckmann Yachts got its start when Erich Bruckmann created the custom division of C&C Yachts from the mid- 60s to 1990. Iconic yachts such as Sorcery, Red Jacket, Evergreen and Archangel dominated the racing scene, setting new standards of performance and  construction. Erich’s son Mark apprenticed in Europe with several of the world’s premier yards and returned to Canada to pick up the family trade, elevating it to a level of perfection unparalleled in North America.

Comfortable compromise

The elegant 39-foot, Downeast-style classic cruiser was designed first and foremost as a stylish but practical day boat, with accommodations spacious enough to handle extended voyages for two.

Once you step aboard via the generous rear swim platform, you’ll notice that the Abaco 40 is quite unique. Enter through the neatly fitted transom door into the boat’s spacious rear cockpit. The standard arrangement consists of three cockpit seats: One across the transom, and one to each side butting up to the pilothouse. The cockpit’s attractive sand-textured, non-skid fiberglass sole allows this area to handle heavy traffic with ease. The sailboat-inspired cockpit seats offer a generous amount of storage space in their bases. The seats are also long enough to put your feet up and enjoy the outdoors under the protection of the overhead sunshield. With a nod to practicality, 4-inch removable foam cushions can be stored indoors overnight to protect against dew. Should a buyer wish, the cockpit seats can be removed to create a more open stern for fishing.

Brilliant design

The influence of Scotchmer’s sailing background can be seen not only in the cockpit’s seating arrangement, but also in the functional side decks. Finished in the same sand-textured, non-skid surface as the cockpit sole, the wide side decks not only provide comfortable access to the bow, but the channeled construction helps keep the cockpit dry in heavy weather. Any spray that finds its way over the gracefully flared bow simply flows aft along the side decks, confined within the raised edges until the spray runs off at the stern. It’s a simple but brilliant design that effectively keeps stray water out of the cockpit.

Equally innovative is the inclusion of a screened door at the entrance to the main salon. This simple addition, discreetly hidden behind the twin sliding entrance doors, allows owners to enjoy the boat much earlier in the season when mosquito activity might otherwise prove annoying.

Stepping into the salon, a pair of facing 6-foot, 6-inch settees with 5-inch foam upholstered cushions is large and comfortable enough to convert into inviting berths for overnight guests. Each settee offers a cavernous stowage compartment in its base, capable of storing surprisingly large or bulky items. A beautiful drop-leaf mahogany dining table between the seats handles casual drinks or full meals with equal ease.

Form meets function

The finish of the Abaco 40 is a class of its own, and that’s particularly apparent in the roomy, bright salon. The wood work — highly varnished premium mahogany over white fiberglass with a beautiful varnished teak and holly cabin sole — is simply breathtaking.

Between the 360-degree picture windows and the overhead hatch vents, the cabin lets in plenty of sunlight and fresh air. The driver and co-pilot enjoy the comfort of twin Stidd premium pedestal seats, each with fully-adjustable armrests and substantial, fold-down footrests. Visibility from the helm is outstanding in all directions, thanks in part to the oversized cockpit windows that are designed to minimize glare.

The helm itself is a study in form meets function. The classic styling of its large mahogany-over-stainless steel steering wheel blends with the neatly arched wooden dash panel. The dash features a large Furuno NavNet 3D multi-function color display, complemented with Furuno digital instrumentation, an in-dash VHF and VesselView digital control. Hydraulic steering and electronic throttle shift control are nice touches. Achieving the elegant look of a classic Downeast-style cruiser doesn’t come at the expense of modern amenities in the Abaco 40.

Three steps down is the portside, U-shaped galley, which is well-lit from large overhead windows. Open to the salon for optimal illumination and ventilation, the galley is masterfully designed with a front-opening 12-volt refrigerator, a separate top access 12-volt freezer, a two-burner ceramic cooktop, a microwave oven and storage spaces positioned within easy reach. The lacquered mahogany-on-white finish gives the galley a bright, appealing look that’s as beautiful as it is functional. The Corian counter’s raised mahogany edge and polished, under-mount stainless steel sink provide an elegant touch.

A roomy head with a Vacuflush toilet and a full separate shower supported by an 11-gallon water heater is located to starboard opposite the galley.

Remarkable performance

The Abaco 40 is made for cruising couples, so the single suite layout makes the most of the available floor space. Our review boat was set up with a V-berth arrangement, although an island double bed is also available. The suite is bright and spacious, with plenty of storage space for longer trips.

The single-suite design is a result of the placement of the Abaco 40’s engine amidships, directly below the salon and accessible through a large but discreet hatch in the salon sole. This arrangement is a significant factor — along with the Mark Ellis Power Chine hull form — in the Abaco 40’s remarkable performance. The low, carefully balanced center of gravity provides the Abaco 40 with great handling in rough seas, and allows the boat to plane at substantially lower speeds than traditional deep-V hull cruisers. The boat is able to hold on plane at surprisingly low speeds, right down to about 10 knots. This unique capability gives the boat extraordinary driving performance, an amazingly soft ride and remarkable fuel economy in all conditions. 

Exceeding expectations

The hull and deck are constructed from high performance E-glass over a foam core. In our sea trial on Lake Ontario, Scotchmer happily demonstrated how the boat planes at just 1,250 rpm and about 12 knots, which is unheard of performance for a boat this size. Top speed with the single Cummins 670-hp diesel is near 30 knots. The Abaco 40 will cruise effortlessly at around 20 knots while still delivering fuel economy in the range of 1 mpg. No, that’s not a typo, and yes, that is about double what one might expect from a 40-foot boat with 670 ponies under the hood. With the Abaco 40’s twin 150-gallon fuel tanks, this fuel efficiency represents serious range.

The hull tracks beautifully underway, due in part to a long, deep skeg that not only provides directional stability but also serves to protect the single four-blade bronze prop, should the bottom turn up where it shouldn’t. Bow and stern Side-Power thrusters make close quarter maneuvering as simple as flipping a switch and are a real plus in this single-crew boat.

The exquisite fit and finish of the Abaco 40 interior is also evident on deck. Up front, there’s a windlass with a stainless steel anchor and anchor roller, six 10-inch stainless steel mooring cleats, and a beautifully welded 1.25-inch stainless steel bow rail that extends all the way aft to the cockpit. Four Lewmar stainless steel hatches with Oceanair screens and shades work in conjunction with four stainless steel opening ports to let in plenty of fresh air without spoiling the yacht’s classic lines.

It’s always fun to daydream about how we would design our ideal Great Lakes cruiser, but after spending time aboard the Abaco 40, it’s hard to imagine a more compelling design. With its classic lines, outstanding performance and beautiful construction, the only thing I’d be inclined to change is the name on the ownership.