From Yacht to Ship

I. Running the Race – 

Our Hinckley Experience event in Sag Harbor last weekend was much fun, but I will admit I worked my ass off!  When it was over I was pleased to have time to play – by taking our Talaria 34R from Sag Harbor to Hinckley’s yard in Portsmouth, RI. That’s 56 nautical miles, and it was a blast.

You can click on this twelve second selfie video (called G Major, for reasons that will be made clear in a minute), made as I jetted through The Race at 30 knots. We’ve all seen The Race in much tougher conditions, but I think the universe decided to grant me an easy trip. Thirty comfortable knots was a real treat!

G Major

A couple of points: My daughter’s boating friends call me Safety Dave. It’s a bit of an obsession for me, and it colors all of my boating values. Case in point, you’ll note in the video that I’m wearing an offshore-level inflatable PFD. Day or night, if I’m running boats alone, it’s on. Tucked into its’ folds are a mini-epirb locator and a really good knife. If I could find a small enough waterproof VHF with decent battery life, I’d hide that in there too.

Secondly, if you are wondering what was playing through those headphones, it’s the recording that Steve Jobs said almost caused him to abandon his life-long atheism. For me, all I’ll say is that for that great day on the water my personal soundtrack was …. transporting.


II. And then…

I pulled into the Hinckley/Hunt docks in RI, and this enormous destroyer-like bow loomed over me:


Just Splashed Hunt 72

She’s the latest splash of Hunt Yachts’ Ocean Series – the 72, just a few short weeks from her turnover to her experienced owner. Walking under her prow I had two nautical epiphanies. The first was:

So this is where a vessel crosses the line from yacht to ship!

Crossing that line ain’t just about size. We’ve all been aboard big boats that we wouldn’t take across the Gulf of Maine in heavy fog. Or across the wind-against-Gulf Stream to Bimini. Maybe the simplest way to define that line is where design and implementation come together to deliver safety and comfort in big waters.

My second epiphany? Walking up and down her dock, looking at her from every angle, I couldn’t get past this feeling:

This is an American ship!

She may have been built in Asia, but to my eye, C. Raymond Hunt Associates designed a ship that has a fundamentally American look. No one would mistake it for a European design, or Asian, or even a Canadian design. It is 100% American in look and feel. I don’t see enough of that anymore with big boats, and I was glad to experience that welcome feeing again.

I’ve been doing offshore Design/Build’s for most of my career. They can be tricky. But I could tell in just a couple of hours that Hunt Yachts’ succeeded with their Ocean Series

(IMPORTANT CAVEAT: I haven’t run her yet. But after talking to the delivery team, I’d be surprised to be surprised).

How does a creation like this come to pass? In my experience it’s when:

  • There is a clear and unambiguous merger of the  the owner’s vision with that of the design team,
  • fluently translated by an American company for a skilled foreign yard,
  • and supported by a two-continent management structure that preserves quality, maintains costs, and sticks to its planned schedule.

If it were easy, everyone would do it.

They don’t.

It’s crystal clear to me (reserving final judgement till I run her) that Hunt does.

And, most strikingly,  Hunt Yachts has the people, practices, and management to deliver you a yacht exactly like this one in twelve months, for seven figures less than you might expect.

I’d like to repeat that, because ….. it bears repeating? Hunt Yachts has the people, practices, and management to deliver you a yacht exactly like this one in twelve months, for seven figures less than you might expect.

It just quickens my pulse.  Perhaps yours as well. If you would like in-depth, substantive information  about the why, the what and the how much, well then I’ll just quote James Taylor here:

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you gotta do is call….

So now let’s look at this ship, circling around my pet themes of  safety and comfort.

I got a substantive tour from my friend Peter Van Lancker, President of Hunt Yachts:

Life boat material

While Peter and I have swum in the same seas for over 20 years, we only really got to know each other this year. It feels longer, perhaps because so many people I trust in the marine biz trust him. He reminds me of a line from my novel (which I really hope to finish this year):

There are only two kinds of people in this world – Those you want in your liferaft, and those you don’t.

You want Peter in your life raft.  I’m assuming his survival skills are high. But mostly I’d want him around for his attitude and temperament. Go up to RI and meet Peter, have him walk you through this latest delivery. Trust me, you will enjoy him, and her.

Anyway, the sexy photos first, and then I’ll bore you with my technical comments. Here is a panoramic walk thru of the living areas:

And here is the simply stunning flybridge:

See why I call her a ship? For me she is a get-there-and-back vessel. Everything I could find was over-built to do exactly that. Some examples:

Massive Cleats

All deck hardware is oversized. That isn’t as unusual as it used to be, fortunately. But when the winds are howling, it ain’t so much the cleats as what backs them. On the Hunt 72 I saw that all are over-backed and over-bedded. For anyone who doubts that cleats can pull out, I urge you to walk any New England coast after a nor’easter. You’ll find lots of this:



Hinckley, by the way, does a spectacular job of backing-and-bedding with their jet boats as well. In a future post I’ll comment upon their high-tech backing plates. Very, very impressive. I’m doing a windlass upgrade on my trawler at the end of this season, and I’m going to do my best to do it in the Hinckley way.

Anyway, howzabout this viewing port, which I found under the master bunk?


My first comment was what the hell? A bulletproof inspection port, looking at …. nothing?  I looked down through it, and saw only the bottom of the boat.   Peter explained:

“Dave, everyone runs aground. It’s just a matter of when. If you hit a reef on our boat, the probable impact point is visible through this port. You can quickly get a handle on how badly you’ve grounded. And if it’s advisable to back her off yourself or call for help.”


Speaking of brilliant, whenever I’m at a boat show, exploring down below on multi-deck boats, this thought drives me nuts:

Why would anyone get into something they can’t get out of?

So here are the opening ports in the 72’s master cabin:


They are large enough that in an emergency (or, as has happened twice in my boating life, you sheepishly get locked down below) you can safely exit. I leave it to your imagination, but this is not a little thing.

Parenthetically, I had a particular fondness for this space in the engine room. I believe that every ship should have a dedicated tool bench, with a beefy vice. Someone once defined cruising as sailing from port to port, rebuilding your pumps. Hey, lets face it – stuff breaks offshore. Pardon the less-than-artful repetition here, but when you need to get home in serious conditions, serious boats need a serous place to fix stuff:


I’ll have a lot more to say in future posts about Hunt’s Ocean series, the advantages and mechanics of their design/build process, and exactly what the skilled design team at C. Raymond Hunt bring to the table. But as I think you can tell, I truly, madly fell in love with this American ship!

And those 30 knots I did through The Race on the Talaria 34R? This one does that with ease, through conditions much tougher than what I saw last week.




III. Our Next Hinckley Event

As I said above, last week’s Experience Hinckley event in Sag Harbor was a blast. I am following it up with an event in Rye, for all my NYC and Westchester clients. It will be a wonderful  cocktail party brought to you by Hinckley Yachts and the luxury realtors at Houlihan Lawrence.

On Thursday, July 21st, from 4 till 8pm we will be displaying a Hinckley Talaria 29R:

Photo Courtesy of Hinckley Yachts

Photo Courtesy of Hinckley Yachts

and a Talaria 34 Pilothouse:



The venue for this wonderful event will be this spectacular waterfront estate in Rye (note the owner’s 29R at his dock):


I’m excited about this, and you can be too! Your invitation can be found at:

I do look forward to seeing you there (but stand by for details on something I’m planning for August in Montauk).

So, ciao for now. As always, if you have any questions, comments or idle chatter, just launch a flare!

-Safety Dave (In my inflatable airbag, taking my bike to work on the 4th.  I never leave home without it!)

bike vest

Photo courtesy of Helen Kim

bike vest