— By Capt. Ken Kreisler
— March 2003
Ahead of the Pack
|Part 2: So she looks good sitting in the dock, but how did she behave out on the water?|
"We also paid attention to the engine room by accommodating a pair of C30s in the power option," noted Stansel, referring to the new 1,550-hp 30-liter Caterpillar V-12s. The C30 is about three inches shorter than the Caterpillar 1,400-hp 3412E's 81.8-inch length but only 31 pounds heavier. (A pair of 800-hp Caterpillar 3406E diesels is standard.) And as I found during my inspection of the engine room, while not a fully stand-up space, there is more than enough room there to do maintenance as well as access other equipment.
This well-thought-out use of space is also found in other places throughout the boat. For instance, her 149-square-foot cockpit has a 6'6"-long fishbox with macerator, a bait and tackle center with sink and bait freezer, raw- and freshwater washdowns, a chill box under the step leading into the saloon, and a pair of stowage lockers under the port and starboard coamings. "I prefer the transom door setup without the gate," Stansel told me, noting the design reduces the chance of someone going overboard while horsing in a trophy fish, especially in unfriendly sea conditions.
Stansel holds court from the 150-square-foot flying bridge. A pair of Murray Brothers pedestals provides captain and guest with comfortable seating that affords not only the vistas common to convertibles but, with their positions well aft, allows an unobstructed view of the cockpit and waters to either side. A pair of optional electric teaser reels was in a flush-mounted cabinet in the hardtop above the captain's seat. The pod console has single-lever controls and an optional electrically retractable electronics module that disappears into the console. There's a drink box forward and to port and plenty of seating with stowage space underneath.
But the 54 is more than a tournament-ready fishing machine. She also provides her owners, their guests, and crew with comfortable and well-appointed accommodations. The saloon and galley areas--the galley is forward of the saloon and to port and has a dinette opposite it--offer 195 square feet of space. The saloon has a butter-soft faux leather couch to port with loads of stowage beneath--Stansel keeps 80 and 50 Internationals there--as does the adjoining optional coffee table. The galley is equipped with a four-drawer Sub-Zero refrigerator-freezer, garbage disposal, microwave/convection oven, four-burner stovetop, wide countertops, and cabinet stowage. In addition, there are six 36-inch-wide drawers that should make it easy to provision this boat, and those large, wide windows provide plenty of ambient light as well as afford panoramic views.
Below, the layout consists of three staterooms and two heads. There is an optional two-bunk configuration for the forepeak, but my boat had the more traditional queen centerline berth. These quarters, the side-by-side guest/crew quarters just aft and to starboard, and the master to port all have lots of stowage. In the master I found drawers beneath the berth, a large cedar-lined locker, and a dresser with drawers. The forepeak also has stowage beneath the berth, a cedar-lined locker, and lockers located above and to either side. The guest/crew quarters has a double-door closet and lockers and under-bunk stowage. With all this stowage you'll never have to wear the same T-shirt twice, but just in case, a standard washer-dryer combo is neatly tucked away in a hallway closet.
Hatteras did not change its construction techniques. Like all Hatterases before her, and most probably all those after her, the 54 has a solid fiberglass bottom with no coring. Nonabsorbent Divinycell PVC foam core is used in the hull sides and superstructure. The engine beds are mounted to steel plates fully encapsulated in fiberglass stringers. According to Hatteras, mounting the engines directly to the fiberglass stringer system helps prevent engine vibration from being transferred to the hull. The topsides are in three parts: bridge, console, and house and deck mold, which includes the cockpit insert, and it all fits together with the hull in a precise, shoebox fit. "We've taken a lot out of the construction process by doing it this way without compromising any strength or integrity," said Stansel. "The fewer parts there are, the stronger the finished product."
So she looks good sitting in the dock, but how did she behave out on the water? My sea trial took place at Hatteras' New Bern facility on the Neuse River on hull number 15, which was lighter than the prototype by about 5,000 pounds.
The river was just about flat calm, and therefore I could not assess her seakeeping abilities. But I was able to quantify what happened when I put the raw power to that fine-tuned hull design and experienced the boat's adroit handling. It was exhilarating to take this fully loaded machine--74,520 pounds with nearly full fuel, water, and eight persons aboard, including Stansel and Angel--and put her through her paces. I clocked my 54 at an average WOT speed of 38.5 knots, or 44.3 mph. And when I dropped her down to 1750 rpm, I still had the 54 doing 30.4 knots, 35 mph. At that speed her twin C30s were consuming 80 gph, which translates into a 428-NM range. All in all, these are pretty impressive numbers compared to other convertibles I've been on.
As for her handling, I found her steering to be silky smooth and highly responsive thanks to the Teleflex hydraulics. At her 2100 rpm cruise speed of 42.7 mph, I noted she tracked straight and true, and when I threw the wheel back and forth into some quick S-turns, she answered the helm quickly. I still felt like I was moving even after we had her tied up at the dock. After being out on a boat like the 54, I guess I still wanted to be.
With her new look and big-power option, coupled with her proven construction and comfortable amenities, the Hatteras 54 seems sure to garner a place among horizon-chasing, offshore battlewagons. In fact, I'll bet she'll be the kind of boat that will often be at the head of the pack instead of merely running with it.
Hatteras Yachts Phone: (252) 633-3101. www.hatterasyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.