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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Hatteras 72

During a boat test, it's always a pleasure to speak with the owners and to hear about the yacht from their point of view. When those opportunities arise, one of my main goals is to understand why the owners chose a particular yacht; what features were the deciding factors? When I put this query to the owners of a new 72-foot Hatteras I recently tested, their reply was precise. Without hesitation, they told me that there were 11 reasons. Noting the somewhat puzzled look on my face, the wife explained that she and her husband like to cruise with their children and grandchildren. That's a family of 11, so they needed sleeping accommodations for 11, and that's exactly what Hatteras was able to provide in the layout of their 72.

The wife thought a moment and then suggested there was a twelfth reason that was perhaps the most important factor in their decision: Their two previous yachts were Hatteras Convertibles, and they were extremely satisfied with the quality and their dealings with the company. So when they made the decision to move up to a larger motoryacht, husband and wife were confident that the design and build process would be enjoyable and that the yacht would turn out just as they wanted. Sincere smiles assured me that their confidence had been justified.

Our conversation then turned to some of the specific details the owners were especially fond of. High on their list were the full walkaround side decks that let the wife handle lines (her choice to do so, I might add) and walk safely from bow to stern without having to negotiate steps. Full side decks, of course, mean less width inside the saloon, but the yacht's interior seemed more than generously proportioned. A plush settee to starboard seats at least four guests, and a circular dining table on the port side accommodates up to six. Also to port is a curved wet bar with a recessed sole, so someone standing behind the bar is closer to eye level with guests perched on the three bar stools. A concealed stairway behind the bar leads beneath the aft deck to a nicely appointed crew stateroom and direct access to the engine room. The stateroom is so spacious, it can be fitted as an aft VIP stateroom if you choose not to have crew. Or, as is, it serves as a nice extra guest stateroom, with a generous head and separate shower.

The owners also pointed out several of the upgraded interior features, like raised-panel doors, handsome wood soffits that conceal the air conditioning outlets, and decorative columns with triple bull-nose moldings between each window in the saloon. Rich tones of genuine African mahogany give the space a traditional, home-like feel.

Providing sleeping accommodations for a family of 11 is one thing, but fixing three meals a day for the whole group is a far more daunting challenge. So I was not surprised to see that the owners had outfitted their galley with a complete complement of household-size appliances: a full-size range with conventional oven, dishwasher, trash compactor, and 24-cubic-foot Sub-Zero side-by-side refrigerator and freezer. Yet with all those appliances, there was still plenty of stowage in the handsome cherry cabinets. Hatteras had even accommodated the owners' favorite serving bowl and cake plate, fashioning special pegs in a cabinet to hold them securely in heavy seas.

In the forward portion of the galley, a dinette provides a perfect spot for youngsters of any age to sit and wait for fresh-baked treats, read, play games, or banter with the chef. Hatteras offers an optional lower helm station on the 72, but the owners preferred the dinette adjoining the galley; however, they did go with the optional day head, with granite sole, tucked between the galley and the saloon.

The galley was fully capable of meeting the culinary needs of the family, but what of sleeping spaces for the brood? The accommodations, accessed via steps from the starboard side of the galley, lead to a full-size washer and dryer that's tucked in under the steps, indispensable when you're cruising with 11 people. The three guest staterooms offered a variety of berthing choices; a centerline queen in the bow, an athwartship queen in the port stateroom, and (doubtless the grandchildren's favorite) bunk beds in a smaller stateroom beneath the steps and to starboard.

Amidships was the comfortable full-beam master suite, with an adjoining full-beam his and hers head that shares a common shower enclosure. Three elliptical ports on either side bathe the space in natural light, and the owners proudly pointed out details like arched doorways.

Saving the best for last, the owners escorted me up to the enclosed flying bridge, a marvelous all-weather space with a retractable hardtop and EZ2CY side windows that can zip out for open air cruising but look like fixed glass when in place. Isinglass curtains enclose the aft end of the expansive bridge deck, which offers seating for 12 or more. There's a wet bar with ice maker and a double electric grill to keep the troops nourished plus a tender with davit to give the young ones a way to get off the yacht and let off steam.

To suit the owners' schedule, I met the yacht near Hatteras' headquarters in North Carolina. But to see how the yacht performed in a more challenging venue, I later arranged to sea trial a sistership in Fort Lauderdale. Predictably, though, the weather was picture-perfect: The sea was virtually flat, and there was nary a whisper of breeze. Agile for her size, the 72-footer turned in a top speed just over 25 knots (28.8 mph) and cruised easily at 22 knots (25.3 mph) while the 1,550-hp Caterpillar C32 diesels purred comfortably and quietly at 2150 rpm. Steering was responsive throughout the speed range, and the TRAC stabilizers kept her bolt upright even while turning at speed.

One consequence of the beautiful weather was an abundance of other yachts in the vicinity and a plethora of wakes to cross. To gauge how effective the TRAC stabilizers are, I steered the yacht parallel to several big wakes, deliberately putting two- and three-footers on her beam. The trim gauge on an athwartships bulkhead (to measure roll) barely moved: less than one degree. Without changing course or speed, I turned the stabilizers off. Roll motion immediately increased, the inclinometer showing up to three or four degrees to either side. I repeated this procedure several times, at 20 knots (23 mph) and at 10 knots (11.5 mph) or less, and observed the same result each time; the stabilizers virtually eliminated a gentle roll of three or four degrees that was not unpleasant in the short term, but could be wearisome on a long cruise.

Coincidentally, there was a broker with customers onboard for the sea trial in Fort Lauderdale. Judging from their faces, they seemed as enamored with the 72 as the owners I met on my earlier trip had been. Maybe those customers had 12 reasons of their own to smile.

For more information on Hatteras Yachts, including contact information, click here.

Hatteras, like other builders in this size range, offers a lot of flexibility in accommodating requests for custom features in layout, outfitting, and equipment. The following is a sampling of items that the owners of the 72 that we tested specified:

—raised-panel mahogany doors throughout
—arched upper headers on all doorways
—decorative wood soffits with indirect rope lighting
—custom teak tables and stair treads
—custom carpet on the bridge
—full-size, household galley appliances
—custom chairs on the aft deck.—G.L.P.

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.