Hatteras GT63By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
The “It” Factor
A trip to the Bahamas shows that this 63-footer has taken fishablity, speed, and comfort to the next level.
The expanse of violaceous Gulf Stream water off of Pompano Beach, Florida’s Hillsboro Inlet captured my eyes. I was sitting at the helm of the Hatteras GT63 convertible with my hands on the wheel, comfortably seated in the optional Pompanette International Series ladder-back helm chair. Below decks twin 1,900-bhp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels (also optional) purred at 1750 rpm, and with a full load of fuel (1,900 gallons) and water (300 gallons) and five crew, my test boat was cruising along at a cool 35.0 mph over the abyss and toward the aquamarine shallows of Bimini.
To say that Hatteras has come up with smooth-riding hulls for its GT Series, which also includes the GT60 (see “Hardcore” PMY August 2007) and the GT54, is an understatement. The sun shone high as our crew, which included PMY editor-in-chief Capt. Richard Thiel, PMY sales rep Joe Illes, and Hatteras’ marketing rep Eric Cashion and Capt. Jeff Donahue, dozed around me. The sea was admittedly calm, but I think it was the 63’s solid fiberglass variable-deadrise hull with its fine entry, convex foresections, and near-flat running surface that lulled my crew into dreamland. That hull and the 63’s fiberglass stringers are laminated using resin infusion, which optimizes the glass-to-resin ratio and in turn offers a stronger structure with lighter weight than a comparably sized hand-laid boat.
First Donahue left the flying bridge for a snooze below decks, and then Illes was checking out a movie on the back of his eyelids in the benchseat off to my starboard side. Cashion, who was sitting on another benchseat in front of the helm and leaning on the massive top-load freezer, was next to succumb to the Sandman, and soon his body was bouncing around like a bobblehead. Even though it was a short 49-mile jaunt across to Bimini, Thiel was the only one who managed to stay awake while I was at the helm. I couldn’t blame them, though. The night before our departure, I’d crashed in the queen-berth-equipped forepeak VIP of this four-stateroom battlewagon (a three-stateroom option is available), and after setting the Cruisair air conditioning to a comfy 69F and breaking out a book, I fell out before even getting to chapter one. Heck, the next morning my iPhone alarm was ringing for two minutes before I heard it. As someone who spends a lot of time sleeping onboard boats, I can say with confidence and from experience that this one is comfy.
Before heading into Bimini’s harbor for two days of sea trials, photo shoots (the boats, not us incredibly photogenic editors), and fishing, I pulled back on the single-lever Ongaro controls and decided to get in some speed trials and fuel-flow data. That woke up Illes, who woke up Donahue, and after some eye rubbing and “What did you that for? I was sleeping,” from him, we all got to the business of boat testing.
One thing that wasn’t sleepy was the 63’s performance. While her 35-mph, 1750-rpm cruise—at about 68 percent engine load and 124 gph—was enough to get us to Bimini in about 90 minutes, she could’ve easily shortened the trip. Her 2000-rpm cruise speed, which will be more of a real-world setting on nice days, averaged out to 40.7 mph. That ups the burn to 152 gph, but for the hardcore sportfisherman it means a good shot at being the first boat out to the fishing grounds and leading the pack back on tournament day. And speaking of leading the pack—in slick-calm conditions, our 63 averaged a top hop of 46.2 mph at 200 gph and 2250 rpm. (See PMY’s Numbers for full test data.)
As the sun got low in the sky, Donahue pointed our boat into the harbor and toward the dock at Guy Harvey’s Bimini Big Game Club to tie up, clear customs, and get ready to see if the boat’s fishing ability could match her performance. As Thiel left the restaurant at the Club that night, he informed Cashion that he wanted to bring back some fresh fish for dinner the next night. (No pressure.) After a few cold Kaliks, it was time to dream of marlin, tuna, and wahoo.
Next morning, with our bellies full of sweet Bimini bread, we trolled the drop-off just offshore of the entrance to the harbor. First we ran north and south, then east and west, and then all over the place. Our track on the optional 15-inch VEI display (one of three at the helm), which was fed information from the Furuno NavNet blackbox system, looked like a bowl of spaghetti as we plied the warm and cobalt waters. Some skipjacks gave us brief excitement after one whacked the left long bait, and we had one mystery bite on a wahoo lure set deep off a squid-covered dredge weight. Other than that, we spent day two just enjoying the shade of the generous flying-bridge overhang while watching dancing baits from the standard mezzanine cockpit seating. (Of course, Thiel had really wanted to catch his own dinner.)
That isn’t to say our boat wasn’t equipped to catch. In her optional teak cockpit sole were two fishboxes capable of holding several bigeye tuna while under the mezzanine was enough freezer bait stowage for several tournament stops. In addition, the Pipewelders outriggers and tower give this beast the tools for hunting down billfish feeding on baitballs and the ability to spot tailing swordfish cruising on top. She was also outfitted with an optional Pompanette fighting chair for those days when the marlin are just too big to fight standing up. Fish or no fish, it was still great to be out there trolling and watching the four-rod spread skipping along, towed by the ‘riggers while the squid chains were being pulled by the optional Maya Epoch electric teaser reels. But all too soon we pulled lines and headed back to the Club. At 46.2 mph, it didn’t take long to get there.
That evening everyone enjoyed fresh fish (not ours) and chatted about the great crossing we had and the two days spent aboard a fine specimen of a sportfisherman. Considering the 63’s easily accessed engine room (with 5'9" headroom and 39-inch-wide outboard walkways), high freeboard, spacious and comfortable staterooms, wicked fish-ability, tough build, and sleek profile, I determined that this vessel was truly geared to take crews to fish in exotic ports.
Early next morning I boarded a twin-engine puddle jumper for the flight back to Fort Lauderdale—and reality. As we lifted off I looked down and saw the 63 running at WOT towards the deep where the big fish live, just like she was meant to do. Just like she was born to do.
This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.