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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Hampton 740 Pilothouse

She’s part long-range cruiser, part yacht, and part sportfisherman. And although the Hampton 740 is part of the Shanghai, China-based boatbuilder’s Pilothouse line, she’s a true yachtfisherman.

I recently sea trialed the 740 off Marina Del Ray, California, and the first evidence I saw of this was in her teak-sole cockpit, a six-foot extension Hampton added to its popular 680 Pilothouse. Here I immediately noticed two in-deck, gasketed fishboxes that, while not fitted with macerators, could easily handle a dozen or so albacore. Two other fishy features here that caught my eye were cockpit tackle stowage and an in-transom stowage/fishbox/livewell. Hampton designers cleverly shortened the optional skylounge overhang to prevent it from covering the after-most section of the cockpit, and thus there’s no chance of hitting it during a hard hook set.

But this boat is about more than just an extra six feet of LOA, some fish-fighting space, and a couple of fishboxes. One of the biggest changes is the addition of that skylounge. This $100,000 option gives the 740 an extra enclosed living space, and that still-mammoth overhang also provides an alfresco entertaining space and room to mount a davit for the tender. The skylounge, which on my test boat featured an upper helm (a lower helm is also available), has frameless smoked-glass windows on the house sides and clear windows in front. Visibility up here was clear forward, to port, and to starboard, but while at the wheel I decided that the best aft view was via the cockpit camera displayed on one of two NecVox displays (engine-room views are also available). Indeed, to back her into a slip, I’d use the starboard cockpit controls.

Not surprising, the helm area was church-mouse-quiet underway; I measured only 71 dB-A at WOT and 69 dB-A at cruise (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation). While no new technology gets credit for this result, the low numbers do point to the 740’s sturdy build, which includes a solid-fiberglass bottom and Divinycell-cored sides. Her quietness and virtual vibration-free operation (except for a brief encounter with a kelp bed) indicate a properly aligned powertrain anchored by a pair of standard 1,000-hp Caterpillar C18 diesel inboards. The only noise you’re likely to hear up here is from your guests hanging out in the lounge area abaft the helm.

Those Cats are quiet, but they’re also powerful, propelling the 740 to an average cruise speed of 21.4 mph at 2000 rpm. When I throttled up the single-lever Cat controls, the 740 managed a top average speed of 26.5 mph, a few mph less than her little sister, the 680, did when we tested her with twin 800-hp Cats back in 2004. Of course the fact that the 740 is about ten tons heavier than the 680 might have something to do with the difference, too.

Speaking of the 740’s little sister, the 680’s interior is virtually identical to the 740’s: Both are finished in appealing grain-matched, high-gloss makore cherrywood. From the skylounge to the galley to the three staterooms (crew quarters are all the way aft, adjacent to the engine room) and even to the saloon, warm-toned wood abounds. The saloon gets even cozier when you turn on the standard holographic fireplace, which actually throws heat. It’s quite a comfy setting in which to watch the 37-inch Sharp LCD TV, which is above the fireplace and thoughtfully concealed behind a retractable, etched-glass mirror.

Whether you’re a cruiser, angler, or a little of both, the 740 should be able to fit your bill—speaking of which, the one for the 740 I tested, currently available at Southern California’s Altair Yacht Sales, is $2.25 million.

Hampton Yachts
(949) 673-6300

This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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