T29R & T29CC — By Capt. Bill Pike
Lookin’ for Fun?
|Try walking one of these speedsters sideways or open ’er up on a long, blue straightaway.|
Okay. I'm gonna be totally up front about this: Having recently spent a whole lovely day driving and maneuvering Hinckley's two new 29-footers, the T29R (for Runabout) and the T29C (for Center Console), I've gone slightly gaga over both, although the Runabout's my favorite. So if you're hunting for a curumudgeonly review of a pricey set of waterjet-powered retro-rockets, keep on huntin'. All you're gonna hear outta me is praise, poetry, and one prudential caveat.
Let's start with the best and brightest feature: Both our Runabout and Center Console test boats evinced a level of dockside maneuverability on test day that was about as magical as Christmas Eve and more fun for a dyed-in-the-wool boater like me than reading a barrelful of boat brochures. The reason? Superbly integrated propulsion engineering. Diesel powerplants, Hamilton HJ 292 waterjets, and JetStick helm control systems on both boats are seamlessly, concisely synched. It's inspiring.
Fast example. I hate boat-handling show-offs and always will, I guess because I'm jealous. Nonetheless, just an hour or so after I'd started maneuvering the Runabout around the docks of Hinckley's big marina in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the spirit of unbridled theatricalism took possession of my soul. Had Hinckley's insurance agent known what would happen next, he'd have tossed his chowder.
Very carefully I eased the sweet little $286,900 vessel into the cramped confines of an empty, double-wide slip just 32 feet across (I measured between fingerpiers afterwards) and did a 360-degree pirouette, a feat that left only inches of clearance fore and aft, considering the boat's LOA is 29'2" and the swim platform adds an extra couple of feet.
"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" exclaimed Peter Ohler, my onboard Hinckley JetStick mentor, as I finished up with studied nonchalance, then walked the boat sideways over to the upwind fingerpier.
Further enlivened by the oohs and ahhs of a bevy of young maidens cavorting on a nearby ketch, I walked the boat back across the slip, to the downwind fingerpier, keeping the transom a uniform three feet off all the way. Then I pinned her against the bumpers on the pier with the bow thruster and the waterjet while Ohler cleated our lines.
Was the T29R cool or what? I was astonished at how quickly I'd assimilated the Runabout's JetStick basics, thanks in part to some excellent coaching (which is available to all new Hinckley owners), but also to the simple, easy-to-assimilate nature of the JetStick itself.
A brief rundown: Since virtually all of the close-quarters maneuvering I did in the Runabout entailed moving astern in some fashion, I stood facing aft the whole time, between the UltraLeather-upholstered driver's seat and the varnished teak dash, with the fingers of my left hand lightly grasping the top of the JetStick control knob. The rest was simple. To initiate forward or reverse motion, I moved the stick ahead or back in short bursts, allowing it to return to center each time, which automatically neutralized propulsion. To pivot the stern one way or the other, I rotated the knob in the desired direction, adding a little forward or reverse thrust to compensate for wind and current. To walk the boat sideways, I moved the JetStick from side to side while rotating the knob as before, adding just enough bow thruster oomph to match the waterjet's influence at the stern. One-handed boathandling!
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.