Chris Craft Roamer 40 Review

Issue: September 2005

Some boaties describe the latest Roamer 40’s design as retrospective, even modern contemporary. But there’s no denying that her classic looks and sleek lines will have mass appeal. Chris-Craft has upheld its 130-year family tradition of using exceptional craftsmanship to build a superb boat. The Roamer 40 is an exquisite meld of the latest laminates, timbers and stainless steel. She won’t be every boaties’ cup of tea, but she’s sure to stir the boating passions of all true salts.

While the boat’s classic style is more akin to vessels from the ’60s and ’70s, she is a fully functional and practical performance express cruiser. But it’s not only her looks, functionality and performance that will appeal to new buyers.

With a price tag of only $780,000 (fully-optioned) this boat has it all, including reverse-cycle air-conditioning and electronics. This 43′ 6″ cruiser is competitively priced against the other value-for-money 40-footers on the market.

Performance & Handling

When Chris Smith began designing powerboats in 1874, his goal was simple: to maximise speed and agility. The design of Chris-Craft ‘s earlier hulls was so efficient that the resulting boats were as comfortable as they were quick. But nowadays, the need for greater comfort and space, coupled with performance, requires builders to create a harmony between looks, comfort, practicality and performance.


The Roamer’s aft cockpit is open and uncluttered with all the goodies to make entertaining a breeze. There is teak decks, ample storage, comfy lounges, sink unit with wet bar/icemaker, (optional barbeque), removable table, transom shower, easy access to the extra-wide swim platform and plenty of added freeboard for passenger security. Nothing has been left to chance on this vessel.

The helm station will keep even the most fastidious skipper happy with its electronic controls, remote spotlight control, Raymarine package, plus a full Volvo instrumentation and engine-management system. The heavily-raked windscreen and relatively narrow hardtop supports give the skipper excellent 360-degree vision to all quarters, which is handy when docking. Moving forward, the bowrail is thigh-high, the bulwarks are wide, there’s a sunpad built for two, a bow seat moulded into the cabin roof and a bow pit for safety when anchoring. Not that there’s any reason to go forward when anchoring, because there’s an electric windlass to take care of that chore.

Below decks the opulence continues. Premium grade interior hardwoods prevail and Chris-Craft’s expertise with wood is clearly demonstrated by the cherry, teak and maple furniture that adorns this area. But the piece de resistance is the galley. It really makes this cruiser stand out in a crowd. It’s a large, fully functional, Ushaped design, but it doesn’t encroach into the saloon at all (very clever). The amidships cabin features two large single berths, a hanging locker and its own head and sink unit.

There’s standing headroom at the foot of the bunks and in head, but the roof gets a bit low above the beds. The impressive main stateroom has its own roomy bathroom, a hanging locker, a privacy door to separate the owners from the guests and a huge island double bed. Another big bonus is that if you are not one for airconditioning, a massive screened hatch in the cabin roof provides plenty of natural light and ventilation.


The Roamer 40 is all class and a hard act to follow for boats entering the retro market. All of the componentry and standard of craftsmanship used during her construction is first class.

Her subtle blend of timber, fibreglass and stainless steel coupled with stylish fl owing lines will act like a magnet for connoisseurs of all things boating. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is simply a stylish retro cruiser. Once the hammers go down and the thrust of the turbos level out from their initial push you back in your seat initiation, her performance and handle is up there with the best of them.


Chris-Craft began building boats in 1874, when Christopher Columbus Smith built his first wooden lake boat for duck hunting. He and his brother Henry went on to build many wooden boats and by the early 1880s, Chris-Craft had set a standard by which all other boats were measured at that time.

According to the team at Chris-Craft, these boats are defined by flowing lines that achieve visual harmony, an unrelenting commitment to quality and timeless elegance that is the ultimate expression of style and individuality. There is simply no other boat built that is so fundamentally right, because both concept and execution have been worked out perfectly.

A closer inspection of the hull reveals nothing out of the ordinary. There’s no steps, reversed or otherwise ‘ just a tried and true 20-degree deadrise with the props set into recesses in the hull. You could call it a standard deep-vee hull, but having driven this boat I can assure readers that this would be an injustice. Chris-Craft has shaped and tweaked this hull so it delivers the optimum ride in all conditions. The hull has an extremely sharp entry, a heavily flared bow and wide, aggressive chines that it carries well forward. This combination means a soft and dry ride is attained under most conditions. Trim tabs control the hull’s lateral stability, but are only required to trim the hull if uneven loads are carried, or there’s a strong blow quartering over the bow.

But don’t let her looks deceive you, because the Roamer 40 is powered by twin turbocharged Volvo TAMD 75P-EDC 480hp diesel shaft drives. In other words, this boat’s got balls. From a standing start, pushing the electronic hammers down produces effortless power that builds quickly until the 480hp diesels turbos kick in and throw you back in your seat.

The Roamer’s hull doesn’t jump out of the hole ‘ it slides out with consummate ease and maintains an excellent level attitude with absolutely no bow lift.

For a 40-odd footer, the Roamer also has a relatively tight turning circle, so you can throw her around like a sportsboat and it won’t faze her.

Electronic throttle and gears add to the boat’s silky-smooth performance, although the mechanical steering feels a bit lumpy (but is in no way off putting).

According to the catalogue, with a clean bum and lightly loaded, the Roamer pulls 36mph at 2700rpm and will cruise for 355 nautical miles doing 33mph at 2500rpm. During this test off Sydney Heads into a 20-knot headwind, she maxed out at 32mph pulling 3000rpm.

Engine Room

The Chris-Craft Roamer 40 is powered by twin turbocharged Volvo TAMD 75P-EDC 480hp diesel shaftdrives. These engines can deliver 36mph performance and have a range of 355 nautical miles at 33mph.


During this test off Sydney Heads into a 20-knot headwind the Roamer recorded the following speed-to-rpm figures.

Speed to RPM: 8.8 mph @ 1000 rpm, 12 mph @1800 rpm, 17 mph @ 2000 rpm, 25 mph @ 2500 rpm, 32 mph @ 3000 rpm.


LOA: 43′ 6′
BEAM: 14′
DRY WEIGHT: 12,247kg
DEADRISE: 20 Degrees
DRAFT: 38′
FUEL: 1514lt
PRICE: $780,000

+ Overall style & fi nish
Galley design
– Aft cabin head height

Words and Photos by Ian Macrae