The Passport 40 comes from the first generation of performance cruisers for which its designer, Robert Perry, has generally been credited with when he introduced his groundbreaking Valiant 40. The Passport 40 has a similar underbody to the Valiant but most strikingly different a first glance is the use of a transom over Perry’s usual double-ended stern.
Introduced in 1980, the Passport 40 has become one of Perrys more successful 40-footers. With their sensible interiors, quality Taiwanese build and sailing characteristics described as nimble, fast and sea-kindly, it’s no wonder.
The Passport 40 project was kicked off in 1978 when Wendell Renken of Passport Yachts wrote from Taiwan to Perry commissioning a design for a 40-footer. The request as Perry recalls was for an interior based on his previous work on the Freeport 36 with Islander Yachts. It’s interesting to note that Perry accepted the commission by asking for a hefty upfront fee instead of the usual designer’s fee and commission arrangement after noting the dubious nature of the letter’s stationary, “Yacht Builders, Frozen Foods, and Eel Farms.”
The fee proved no impediment and the boat was duly penned and then built by King Dragon boatyard in Taiwan. It was after all the boom years for Taiwanese boatbuilding with exchange rates and cheap but good quality craftmanship favoring the exchange. The Passport 40 was introduced in 1980 and production continued for just over a decade through to 1991 with a final tally of 148 boats built before the design was tweaked into the Passport 41 with an extra foot incorporating a reverse transom and swim platform. The design was eventually massaged into the Passport 43 which had the stern extended even further and five extra feet added to the rig which was revised to two spreaders. Including the Passport 41 and Passport 43 at total of 163 boats were built.
Perry has penned some fantastic boats in his career, the Passport 40 shares company with the Valiant 40 and the Baba 40 as being his most popular in the 40-foot range so it’s interesting to note all three share the basic hull lines which the Valiant 40 pioneered. Where Perry makes a departure from his usual formula of that era is the choice of a standard transom instead of his normal canoe stern.
The sheerline line is sweeping and handsome. Below the waterline a cruising fin keel drawing 5′ 9″ and a skeg hung rudder, their profiles looking very similar to the Valiant 40. There is a shoal draft option that draws a useful 5′ 3″.
Passport 40s came with a sloop rig as standard equipment, though almost all boats have been fitted with a inner stay, usually the removable type producing a double headsail cutter style rig more suited for crossing oceans. John Kretschmer mentions in Sailing Magazine that the original design objective was to allow the boat to be sailed under a single mainsail alone.
Above deck the Passport 40 has a sensibly designed cockpit for seagoing action, there’s room for up to four with wide seats and a coaming that’s trimmed in teak, large cockpit drains, and plenty of cockpit locker space. All the sail control lines are fed back into the cockpit and the main winches within easy reach of the helm to ease single handing.
The side decks are relatively wide with a molded in bulwark that provides for a secure feel when moving to the fore-deck. You’ll notice a fair amount of teak; from the caprail to handrails to the eyebrows on the coachroof. Deck fittings tend to be solid and of top quality, the original boat had a single bow roller as standard, but many have opted for double rollers and have since updated with a electric windlass.
Down below the interior feel is really nice. The joinery, finished in teak, is superb, though the sheer quantity of teak can be a bit dark for some. It’s said most Passport 40 interiors were semi-custom in nature so expect some variation here, roughly half of the boats were configured with a pullman berth placed forward with a head at the forepeak and the other half with a traditional v-berth layout. The pullman berth arrangement tends to be more practical as the berth situated a little back is more comfortable and the head at the forepeak doesn’t mind if it gets seaspray from an open forward hatch. All boats feature a seagoing quarter berth sleeping two in the starboard aft cabin.
The U-shaped galley to port is large and dominates the main saloon area. It’s functional with plenty of pantry space, large refrigeration bins, and features twin sinks not too far from the boat’s centerline. The nav station to starboard varies between boats and can be found facing in forwards, aft, or outwards.
Further forward, the living space includes a large L-shaped settee (U shaped on some) surrounding a large teak table to port and a single settee opposite, again, there is plenty of storage behind the settees.
The engine is located under the saloon table and provides good access. Owners have reported the engine removal and replacement is particularly easy on the Passport 40.
Like most GRP boats built in Taiwan of that era, the Passport 40’s hull was built strong and heavy with lots of polyester resin and glass. Renkin in particular had the hull built thicker than Perry’s design spec, arguing the solidity was what buyers loved.
The ballast was of iron encapsulated in GRP. Decks were originally cored in marine ply with resin barriers to limit potential for rot damage from leaks. Later boats moved to Airex foam coring. The hull-to-deck joint is bonded and through-bolted on an inward flange on the raised bulwark, there’s also a steel strip embedded into the bulwark for mounting the stanchions. Over time this strip has been made refitting more difficult. On most boats the mast is keel stepped. Bulkheads and internal furniture are fiberglassed into the hull.
The Passport 40 has all the sailing characteristics of a good passage-maker. They are beautifully balanced, fast, yet preserve crew energies by being seakindly with a soft easy motion. They perform quite well in light winds and really come to life when the weather picks up, especially on the beam. Downwind they track well enough for the speed lovers to fly spinnakers under self steering with no problems. You can expect routine 130-140 miles days in the trades, but with fair winds and 24/7 hand steering we hear of numbers as high as 190, even 200 miles per day have been clocked.
The Passport 40 has held its value well since its introduction, testament to its original build quality and owner appeal. Many boats on the market have been well looked after. That said, there are some standard things to inspect for on the Passport 40:
- With most teak decks of significant age, the screws holding them down are often a source of leaks and deck rot.
- Standing rigging should be inspected and replaced as necessary.
- The original stainless steel chainplates were of lower quality and subject to leaks, inspected for leaks and signs of corrosion.
- The fuel tanks are of black iron, which on other boats have been a weak point, in the case of the Passport 40 they have been glassed over externally to help mitigate corrosion from the outside. They are worth an inspection in any regards. Later models switched to aluminum tanks.
- It’s been reported that mild steel was used in the rudder cage as well as the mast step and both have been sources of corrosion, inspect closely.
- Look closely at the joinery for signs of creep and movement, it’s been an issue on a few boats. The consensus is that this is probably caused on boats that have had their rigging tensioned really tight in the past.
For further research it’s worth contacting other owners on the Passport 40 email list run on Google Groups.
As of 2010, the asking price of Passport 40s are in the range of $110k-$190k USD.
Links, References and Further Reading
» Passport 40 owners email list on Google Groups » Sailing Magazine’s review of the Passport 40 by John Kretschmer » Yacht Design According to Perry: My Boats and What Shaped Them, by Robert H. Perry (Ch 9) » Sailing Magazine’s review of the Passport 40 by John Kretschmer » Passport 40, Evolution of the Valiant 40 by Jordan Yachts