- … if you want a long-legged middleweight cruiser that punches above its weight, you can’t go wrong with a Broom 39.
- The build quality on the 39 is typically Broom – solid, well finished and overengineered.
- You get the feeling that being holed up in port thanks to the weather is not such a hardship in a Broom.
Greg Copp examines the reasons behind the lasting popularity of a classic cruiser, the Broom 39KL …
Launched in 2003, the Broom 39KL came from a yard with no less than 105 years of boatbuilding history. Started by Charles John Broom in 1898, the Norfolk-based company CJ Broom started life building sailing boats, before it started to meet the new demand for motor boats in the 1920s. After many years of building wooden estuary cruisers and fast launches for the Royal Navy, CJ Broom embraced the GRP revolution with the launch of the successful Broom 30 at the London Boat Show in 1967. This would be the nucleus of a range of tough accommodating cruisers that were just at home pottering around the Norfolk Broads as they were stretching out across the hostile expanse of the North Sea.
Based on the previous 38CL, the 39KL was to prove just as capable and just as popular. Its underwater lines were nearly identical to those of its predecessor, using the same proven concept of a fine-entry planing hull with a three-quarter-length keel. Many refer to it as a semi-displacement hull, a semi-planing hull, a fast semi-displacement hull or even a planing hull with a small keel. Andrew Wolstenholme, who designed the 39KL, rightly describes this boat as sitting on a warped-bottom planing hull with a low deadrise aft, and deep soft-riding sections forward. However you look at it, the Broom 39KL does not ride like a bow-up semi-displacement boat because it planes effectively. As a result of plenty of dynamic lift at the stern, this boat starts to plane properly around 18 knots, with its sharp forefoot cutting an effective path. Such are the natural dynamics of the hull that Broom did not offer trim tabs as an option when the boat was first launched.
It is a notoriously good sea boat that has also proved popular for use on the inland waterways, which is no real surprise considering its Broads heritage and the Brundall-based yard’s proximity to the North Sea. Conditions permitting, it is remarkably stable at all speeds from displacement to planing, helped by its moderate transom deadrise angle and the fact that the fuel tanks sit either side of the engines. The small keel is a bonus on the rivers and canals, where good low-speed directional stability is needed, and some Broom skippers swear it softens the upwind ride while steadying the downwind course at speed in rough weather.
John Thomas, a Broom 42KL skipper, told me how he frequently crossed the North Sea from his east coast berth in order to cruise the Dutch canals. After his first tentative crossing, which worsened to a force 6 halfway across, he came to terms with his boat’s ability to deal with weather at all speeds. ‘If it gets really bad,’ he told me, ‘I just back off to single figure speeds and she gets her very capable displacement head on.’
Being many things to many men, not surprisingly the engine options are suitably varied. From 2005, the Volvo power options for offshore use were either twin 5.5-litre 310hp D6s or 3.6-litre 260hp D4s – both common-rail injected. There were also Yanmar engine options in the form of 260hp and 315hp 4.1-litre 6LPAs. The Yanmar engines are not common-rail injected, and in comparison can smoke, especially on start-up. Also, they will not return quite the same economy as the Volvos. There were also a few boats built with 210hp Volvo D4s and 200hp Yanmar 4LHAs, which are few and far between, probably because they were not really powerful enough for the open sea and an overkill for prolonged use on the inland waterways. There was also the option of a single 135hp Perkins engine for inland use, which for a serene 4- or 6-knot canal cruise is perfectly adequate.
Performance from either twin 310hp D6s or twin 315hp Yanmars is around 27 knots with a clean bottom, with the 260hp Volvo and Yanmar options producing around 25 knots. For those that needed it, there was also the option of larger twin 130-gallon fuel tanks over the standard twin 100-gallon tanks, which for boats with the frugal D4 engine option gave a safe 300-mile range with a 20% reserve.
Engine access is generally a mixed affair for aft cabin boats, but the Broom 39 is better than most. There are three ways in: firstly via the saloon floor by removing carpets and floor panels, as would be the case for servicing; secondly by removing small inspection panels in the floor to access dipsticks and coolant reservoirs; and thirdly by hinging up the aft cabin steps to access stern glands and raw-water strainers. Access to the fuel tanks and the batteries is not forgotten thanks to removable floor panels on each side of the saloon floor.
The Broom 39KL actually came in two forms: the 39KL and the 39KL 2 plus 2. The 39KL came with a second dinette opposite the galley, which not only provided a separate seating area from the upper saloon, but extra convertible sleeping accommodation. It paid the price for this by reducing the forecabin and the saloon slightly, but it had the big bonus of a port-side door from the saloon to the side deck. The 2 plus 2 was designed for two couples, consequently it lost the second dinette, gaining forward cabin and saloon space in the process, as well as losing the side door. Whatever option you go for internally, the Broom 39 has that ‘Tardis effect’ of feeling like a much bigger boat.
The aft cabin is the focal point of the accommodation and not without good reason. I always believe that aft cabin boats sell themselves on the basis of this huge void of luxury, especially after moving up from a smaller boat with a pointy forepeak master cabin. Full standing headroom extends around the large double berth, and the en-suite heads is complemented by an en-suite shower compartment that won’t send your better half scuttling off to the marina showers.
Storage comes in the form of several hanging lockers and a multitude of drawers. Overlooking the galley, the saloon benefits from the open-plan design, which, combined with the light interior that most were built with, gives an incredible feeling of space. You get the feeling that being holed up in port thanks to the weather is not such a hardship in a Broom. The U-shaped galley is always a bonus in rough weather, making it easier for those on brew and butty duties to steady themselves between the worktops.
The raised cockpit on the Broom is a real plus in rough weather. It offers great visibility without the windage problems of a flybridge, and is far enough from the bow to be impervious to big greenies. I find it has a degree of continuity with the saloon that a flybridge boat can never match, as well as giving side-deck access that only a trawler yacht can better. With the easily deployed soft top it soon becomes a warm saloon extension. Like the boat featured in this article, an option some Brooms have is the hydraulic radar arch in place of the standard gas-assisted one – ideal for river work and worth paying an extra premium for.
The build quality on the 39 is typically Broom – solid, well finished and overengineered. Anyone buying a Broom is always encouraged to come and see the boat being built at various stages. Subsequently they tend to get well cared for and hold their prices well. So if you want a long-legged middleweight cruiser that punches above its weight, you can’t go wrong with a Broom 39.
- Build period: 2003 to 2008
- Designer: Andrew Wolstenholme
- Berths: 4
- Cabins: 2
- Hull type: Planing medium-vee with small keel
- RCD category: B for 12
- Length overall: 43ft 10in (13.3m)
- Beam: 13ft 0in (3.96m)
- Draught: 3ft 6in (1.06m)
- Displacement: 10.2 tons (light)
- Fuel capacity: 200gal (906 litres) or 230gal (1040litres)
- Water capacity: 100gal (454 litres)
- Cruising range: 260–300 miles with a 20% reserve at around 18 knots (depending on fuel tank and engine options)
- Current value: From £140,000 to £210,000
Points to consider
The Yanmar engine options could be prone to smoking at low displacement speed, which to be fair does not necessarily relate to mechanical wear and tear. That said, boats that have had little sea use, especially when new, are more likely to suffer cylinder bore glazing from running at inland water speeds, and will burn oil as a result. Though the Yanmar engine is a tough engine, the common-rail injected Volvo D6 is a popular and fuel-efficient engine that tends to add a small premium to the price of the boat. If you intend to cruise at semi-displacement speed as well as spending time on the inland waterways, choosing a boat with either a 200hp Yanmars or a 200hp Volvos could be a wise choice. Though the single 135hp Perkins engine is quite capable of pushing this boat at 6 knots all day, it did not prove a popular engine option as it has no real open-sea potential.
Propellers, p-brackets, stern glands and cutlass bearings but me less complex than sterndrives but they suffer nevertheless the ravages of a submerged life. Sometimes overlooked, they will prove expensive to replace or refurbish.
This is a case of four berths in two cabins, plus the option of either one or two convertible dinettes depending on which internal layout you choose.
Servicing any of the Volvo engines will cost between £500 and £700 per engine for a 100-hour service depending on the model. The Yanmar engine options should be slightly cheaper to service due to lower-cost spares. In both cases, a recommended reputable independent engineer would be an ideal choice from a cost perspective.
As a rough rule of thumb, you can expect around 1.5mpg with a clean bottom at 18 knots depending on the load. Engine options obviously have a bearing on how much fuel one of these boats will burn. However, the bigger 310hp Volvo D6s and 315hp Yanmars will only really develop a greater thirst than the smaller 260hp Volvo D4s or 260hp Yanmars if you use that extra horsepower. Like for like, at sensible cruising speeds, the bigger engines should be fractionally more efficient.
2006 price: £198,500
This immaculate blue-hull version, as the broker rightly states, ‘must be seen’. Like many Brooms, it has been very well maintained with not the slightest hint of fade on her dark-blue topsides. She is powered by 260hp Volvo D4s with 500 hours logged and had a Fischer Panda 4KVA generator retrospectively fitted in 2010. At the same time, both bow and stern thrusters were fitted, so berthing could not be much easier. A full electronics package from Raymarine has been fitted, which includes the latest Raymarine hybrid touch screen chartplotter and HD radar. As well as on-board audio, this boat is equipped with a motorised Intellian satellite TV dome. If you need to take her on the inland waterways, there is the all-important optional hydraulic radar arch.
The Broom 39KL is a nicely conceived development from the Broom 38. The addition of the keel will not only improve the manoeuvring characteristics but also provide a strong backbone when blocking her ashore.
The Broom 39KL was very well built in all respects. The GRP mouldings are substantial, and on deck are made with generous radii that will avoid stress concentrations as well as bruises to her crew. Unlike most of her production rivals, you can taste the trade skills that were employed in her internal fit-out and joinery. The arrangement of the hardwood trim in the joinery provides for enduring furniture that should age well and remain attractive for many years with minimum maintenance.
The various engine options are all well-proven models; however, during their lives there will have been upgrades recommended by Volvo on parts of their engine marinisation. When buying any second-hand power cruiser, it is most important that the engines are also inspected during the survey, and that the service and repair histories are made available.
Jim Pritchard BSc CEng MRINA MIIMS – www.jimpritchard.co.uk