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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Hatteras 64

First impressions are often the standard by which we measure things. While we may change our minds, it's usually our gut reaction that endures. The initial reaction I had upon stepping through the transom door of the Hatteras 64 Motor Yacht on to the teak aft deck and into the saloon was that this was a boat that would impress me for a long time to come.

The 64 is a revamped version of Hatteras' 6300 Raised Pilothouse, which has been in production since 2001, and features an all-new interior layout. In the saloon Hatteras designers have fashioned an open and airy space that's ideal for extended cruising and feels more like a condo living room. This is due to a number of factors, but especially the beamy hull. At 18'3" wide, the full-beam saloon, which also has headroom sufficient for the Chicago Bulls, encompasses 190 square feet. It includes a large, C-shape settee to starboard and a pair of handsome club chairs to port. They flank a high-gloss cherry cabinet (the whole boat's finished in high-gloss, grain-matched cherry) that houses the A.C. and D.C. distribution panels and a stereo system that'd make any audiophile proud.

Recessed lighting in the headliner creates a subdued feel when dimmed, great for watching DVDs on the standard, 37-inch Sharp LCD TV. Yet when I retracted the port and starboard blinds into the fluted-wood cornices (a more space-efficient design than the 6300's fabric valences) the saloon was aglow in natural light. Then I opened the aft sliding door, extending the saloon into the aft deck with its spacious seating and optional teak table. While the design works well, I'd like to see Hatteras try a three-panel door in addition to port and starboard roll-down windows for an even better alfresco feel.

As impressed as I was with this space, the all-new galley—three steps up from the saloon—struck me as a real winner and a marked improvement from the 6300's, which shared space with the saloon. My test boat's galley was notable not only for the optional bullnose granite gracing the C-shape countertop and port-side dinette, and the appliances by Sub-Zero, Kitchen-Aid, and Kenmore, but also for the stowage both above and below that'll easily accommodate more than a week's worth of groceries for four, a nod to those who'll use the 64 for more than a weekend at a stretch. The galley-up configuration also provides the chef with a bird's-eye view of the saloon, great for entertaining guests, staying in the conversation, and keeping an eye on the kids. Like the saloon, the galley is bright—thanks to side windows and a three-panel windshield—and airy, with nearly seven-foot headroom.

Although the galley-up configuration means it shares space with the lower helm, the helm's effectiveness doesn't suffer. Centered on the three-panel windshield and complete with a Stidd helm seat, it not only offers good sightlines forward and to port and starboard, but also remains its own defined space, which impedes neither the galley nor the dinette to port. To assist in docking, the 64 has an optional CCTV camera mounted on the back of the flying bridge that allows the helmsman to see the stern on the 12-inch plotters on both the upper and lower helms. In addition, you may also opt to dock from the standard, pop-up control station to port on the aft deck.

Generous living space is also the theme of the 64's accommodations area. My test boat featured the standard, three-stateroom layout, with all staterooms serviced by en suite heads with showers. (An optional layout adds a fourth stateroom to starboard, reducing the size of the master en suite head.) The spacious forepeak VIP, with 6'6" headroom, felt like a master, and the master stateroom—full beam with 6'9" headroom and located amidships below the galley—is equipped for royalty. The master's walkaround king is flanked by copious stowage, including his-and-her cedar-lined closets that measure 28.5"x30"x77" and a pair of six-drawer dressers that'll swallow a few weeks' worth of clothing. Hatteras even managed to fit a tub into the master head, complete with more optional bullnose granite counters, a teak-and-holly sole, and custom wallpaper.

The 64's expansive flying bridge, like that on the 6300 makes cruising comfort a priority. Access to it is just aft and to port of the lower helm and once you're up top you'll find seating for ten and an optional plotter, autopilot, and VHF, and two standard Pompanette helm chairs. An optional two-burner cooktop, wet bar, 'fridge/freezer, and ice maker aft and to starboard make alfresco dining and entertainment possible, and farther aft there's room for a 14-foot tender and a standard, 1,100-pound hydraulic davit. Our test boat was not equipped with the optional isinglass bridge enclosure, a good thing as this is truly an alfresco gathering area, and on cold or rainy days, piloting can be relegated to the lower helm.

But while both the interior and flying bridge invited loafing, I was craving a wring-out of the 64. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate. With nary a breeze, the water on Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay, just outside the hamlet of Harbor Springs, Michigan, was like a sheet of glass, so I can't comment on the boat's seakeeping. I can say she was sportily responsive to the Sea Star hydraulic steering and Cat electronic controls, a combination I've appreciated on other vessels. During the speed trials, she hit an average top speed of 34.8 mph, and her optional twin 1,400-hp Cats got her 60-plus-ton (wet) displacement out of the hole smoothly, at a respectable rate compared to vessels with similar weight and LOA, and with nary a creak or shake. Her smoothness is attributable to a few factors. One of which is Hatteras' use of seven-blade props, which on the 64 are matched to a ZF transmission with deep gear induction ratios—my test boat sported 40"x68" Michigan Wheel props and a 3.519:1 reduction ratio. Hatteras claims the combination distributes load more evenly, compared to props with fewer blades, decreasing vibration. It also claims that larger props and a deeper induction ratio provide smoother acceleration and increased cruising speeds.

Another reason for her smoothness is solid construction, what the New Bern, North Carolina builder refers to as the Hatteras Advantage. This includes a solid fiberglass bottom, non-absorbent PVC foam-cored hull sides, and vacuum-bagged bulkheads and decks. A four-part hull-to-superstructure bonding process consists of adhesive caulking, fiberglass bonding, monel screws every three inches, and a stainless steel rubrail. All-fiberglass stringers and fiberglass-encapsulated engine beds complete the package. A modified-V running surface and relative heaviness compared to similar balsa-cored models produce a solid ride.

Considering the success of the 6300 Raised Pilothouse, Hatteras could've rested on its laurels, but instead decided to make a good cruising boat even better with overhauls to both interior and exterior spaces. For me, that kind of commitment to constant improvement provides the most positive impression of all.

Hatteras Yachts
(252) 634-4895

This article originally appeared in the November 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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