Hampton 680 Pilothouse — By Capt. Ken Kreisler
|Part 2: The Hampton designers also did a bang-up job in the pilothouse.|
Baker had already dropped the port engine’s rpm and brought the other throttle back to neutral. Our speed was now a little more than 4 knots. Collectively we scanned the helm for information, taking special note of the blank starboard CatVision screen. Baker’s attempt to restart was unsuccessful, so Roberts went down to the engine room to try it from there. That also proved not to work. He quickly checked the port Racors and, after we switched to the pilothouse helm, signaled Baker to throttle up. The starboard engine spun the PTO for the Wesmar system, and even though our speed was drastically cut and the stabilizers weren’t working, I noted that the boat still handled the existing conditions quite well, with minimum rolling while underway at 9 knots.
This all happened just short of Hillsboro Inlet, which left us about 32 miles from our Lake Worth destination. As Hillsboro is noted for being feisty in this kind of wind and an ebbing tide, which it was, and with a shoaling area just south of the entrance, we decided to go for Lake Worth. Besides, this boat had to be in her dock by day’s end for the following day’s opening of the boat show. For the next three hours or so, we were all listening very carefully to that port engine.
By the time we turned into Lake Worth Inlet and passed Peanut Island, we shared a sigh of relief. I have to say I was impressed by the way the boat handled herself in these seas while running on both engines as well as only one.
We approached the show site and, as there were other boats before us, held our position for our turn to dock. Even in the lee of the ICW, the wind, somewhat abated, was still gusting. We were back on the bridge deck and had at least another hour before we would be able to dock. “Our interiors are pretty special too,” Roberts commented, referring to the fact that there was more to this boat than a seaworthy hull.
We took the aft stairway to the cockpit. Upon entering the saloon, I could see what he meant. Besides the outstanding craftsmanship of the cherry interior, there was seven feet of headroom. “We kept that fairly constant throughout, except in the engine room. There’s only 6'2" in there,” he said. Combined with wide windows all around, the saloon felt even larger and more airy.
The forward bulkhead, separating the galley and pilothouse from the saloon, is an eye-catching piece of interior architecture, with a design that includes bookshelves, a cabinet, a 42-inch plasma screen TV hidden behind etched glass art, and a serving window to the galley. “One of our other owners wanted a complete see-through to the galley, so all this, except for the television screen, is going away,” Roberts said.
The galley area has wide-open spaces and expansive Corian countertops and features GE appliances—refrigerator/freezer, convection/microwave oven, trash compactor, dishwasher, and electric cooktop—and enough drawer and cabinet space to stow provisions for an extended cruise. Just forward of the galley is a six-person dining area with a beautifully finished wooden table.
The Hampton designers also did a bang-up job in the pilothouse. After adjusting the pedestal seat to my 5'9" height, I immediately noticed excellent views ahead. To either side I noted aircraft-style doors, also standard, as well as wide windows for added visibility. But the most impressive design element is the helm console itself. A beautifully crafted cherry cabinet easily houses every piece of flush-mounted electronics you could ever want or require for your cruising needs. It was so comfortable I did not want to leave, but I still had the living accommodations to check out.
The Hampton 680 has a three-stateroom—forepeak with island queen, port guest quarters with upper and lower berths, and master with king berth aft and amidships—three-head layout below, typified by extraordinary wood and joiner work. The forepeak and master have en suite heads while the guest quarters utilizes the day head. And while I was poking around in the ample closet and stowage space in each, I felt the boat begin to spin around.
Coming topside, I watched Roberts put her stern-to on one engine, with a touch or two from the standard Sidepower 15-hp bow thruster and optional stern thruster, right between two other boats and without the assistance of any of the TowBoat tenders standing by in the lively wind. As for the engine problem we’d had, Caterpillar technicians were on the boat later and determined that an electrical harness had malfunctioned. It was promptly fixed. Roberts reported no problems on the trip back to Fort Lauderdale. The latest information has this Hampton 680 island-hopping with its new owners on an extended Bahamian vacation.
I found the Hampton 680 to be a well-equipped, roomy cruising vessel that displayed its mettle well in less-than-favorable conditions. In my mind that makes any trip not only enjoyable but also a lot safer.
With the Hampton 680 in her slip and our lines secured, it was the Bard’s words that came to mind as I headed up the dock: All’s well that ends well.
Hampton Yachts International Phone: (949) 673-6300. www.hamptonyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.