— By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— July 2003
The Next Level
|A new flying-bridge model and new service programs raise the bar for Hinckley.|
If you mention the name Hinckley around your local marina, most boaters may respond (add your local accent here), “Aren’t they that sailboat company that started building those diesel-powered jet-drive picnic boats a few years ago?”
Yes, Hinckley is that, and quite a bit more. For instance, it is one of a few production boatbuilders that sells factory-direct, exclusively. In addition, it services all its boats personally, via a network of full-service yards located in Southwest Harbor, Maine; Portsmouth, Rhode Island; and Stuart, Florida. Eric Champlin, Hinckley’s sales director, told me the builder recently launched an owner-assistance program called Hinckley 24/7 Service, which members can access by calling an 800 number. It allows customers to contact Hinckley technicians anytime for information about any aspect of its boats. The company, however, doesn’t think you’ll need that number too often, a feeling reflected in a new warranty program that offers a variety of coverage, including a ten-year limited and transferable hull-and-deck warranty and a nontransferable limited lifetime warranty on the hull and deck.
These are impressive programs from an impressive builder. I say this based partly on my test of Hinckley’s latest flagship, the T44 FB, a flying-bridge iteration of the 44 Talaria. The moment I boarded her I could see the T44 was as thoroughly finished as those service programs are comprehensive.
My test boat, which was Hull No. 3 of the flying-bridge version, looked flawless as I gazed down her dark-green Awlgripped hull side. (Colored Awlgrip hulls are standard for the 44.) Her mirror-finish hull is also sturdy, compliments of Hinckley’s DualGuard Composite construction. The 44’s outer skin is comprised of Kevlar and E-glass, with aircraft-grade balsa-core sandwiched to the keel to stiffen the structure and reduce weight. The inner layer is made of carbon fiber, yet another lightweight and strength-enhancing material. Hinckley bonds everything together using the patented SCRIMP system, in which the hull is laid up dry and vacuum-sealed and a precise measurement of vinylester resin is injected into the void. Aside from being environmentally friendly, SCRIMP provides maximum saturation of resin and makes the hull one piece. Here the result is a durable structure and a boat that’s also relatively light: 25,000 pounds, dry.
As classy as the 44’s hull looks outside and as tough as she is inside, her interior fit and finish is equally impressive. The 44 features an abundance of warm, satin cherrywood. It creates an attractive and uniform appearance, and the satin finish nicely accents the standard high-gloss teak-and-tulipwood sole. The sole’s finish is as hard and durable as it is shiny, thanks to a two-part process, but the coolest part is its seamless appearance: There are no latches on the hatches. To access the bilge and stowage areas below, you simply use a suction cleat to lift and remove the panels. Say goodbye to stubbed toes.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.