Everywhere you look is perfectly finished teak under fathoms of Epifanes varnish — clearly a specialty of the craftsmen of San Juan Yachts. Every piece of teak is hand-selected to match perfectly, and the joinery is distinguished by splined and mortised joints and invisible seams.
When it comes to engine access, the two covers lift easily to reveal each engine, and the more compact IPS drives allow an optional Northern Lights 5 kW genset to have its own compartment under the center of the cockpit. The hatch opening is large enough that you can step into the bilge to reach all sides of the power plant.
I have to note that all of the construction details are textbook examples of how to do it right. Accessible, repairable and secure: Other builders could learn some lessons from San Juan’s boatwrights.
No amount of poking around in the crannies or bilge will prepare you for the sheer delight of the San Juan 40 IPS under way, however. It is such a joy to run that I found myself struggling to maintain my serious boat-tester face, when what I really wanted to do was giggle.
Getting away from the dock is actually fun. A touch of the IPS joystick moves the yacht sideways from the dock, and once in open water, I had to stop to play with the system. You can literally make the San Juan 40 IPS dance … spinning, crabbing and even going forward or backward with ease.
When we settled down for normal operation using the wheel, the feel was light but positive. Our 370-horsepower IPS drives gave us about 35 knots, which is ample for most conditions, although you can opt for the 435-horsepower Volvo IPS 600s, which should push you to 45 knots.
Off Anacortes, Washington, we were able to run through some tidal rips with steep-faced seas, and the San Juan 40 slid through them like a well-honed knife. Taking 10 percent off the top rpm gives her a comfortably long-legged cruising speed of about 30 knots, while sipping fuel at just 22 gallons per hour.
Trying out the optional positioning system, we put the boat beam-on to the wind and just upcurrent from a large and rather nasty buoy that was showing a wake from the current. With the system engaged, we held position easily without worrying about our dark hull grinding on the rusty can. Backing into our slip, the IPS joystick made short work of holding the boat while we got the lines and fenders secured.
The San Juan 40 IPS is one of those rare yachts that just feels right. Designed for efficiency, speed and beauty, she is built by a company that cuts no corners and takes pride in exceptional workmanship even where you can’t see it. I thought it was tough to improve upon the original 40, but after running the IPS version, I realize I was wrong.
Displ.: 18,000 lb.
Fuel: 300 gal.
Water: 80 gal.
Deadrise: 17 degrees
Engine Options: 2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS 600 diesels
Engines Tested: 2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta IPS 500 diesels
Base Price: Upon request
San Juan Yachts, 360-299-3790; sanjuanyachts.com