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Hampton 650 Endurance

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Hampton’s 650 Endurance is now a turnkey yacht.

When a boatbuilder tells you he has revamped a boat, you’re wise to be a little skeptical. And when you show up and the “new” boat looks pretty much like the old one, you have reason for outright suspicion.

That’s exactly how I felt when I saw Hampton Yachts’ 650 Endurance in August. Hampton CEO Jeff Chen had promised me that this boat, Hull No. 6, was substantially different from Hull No. 2, which Capt. Bill Pike had tested for our October 2009 issue (“Smooth Operator”). But gazing at her profile and comparing it to what I remembered of the photographs in that story, I couldn’t see any significant difference. And indeed, based on that criterion alone, the boats are virtually identical.

But then Chen hadn’t promised me cosmetic changes. Instead he’d rattled off a series of more subtle alterations and refinements, the most interesting of which to me was the tweaking of the boat’s unique Hybrid Hull, which features two sets of chines that are designed to provide both displacement-class efficiency at slower speeds and the ability to reach planing-hull velocity. According to Chen, the boat I was about to test had wider chines that had been designed to provide more lift and therefore more speed. And indeed, our subsequent fuel-burn numbers did show a small but significant improvement on the top end: 24.6 mph versus 23.0. Before you scoff at the size of the difference, note that along with the additional speed came improved efficiency, from 0.24 mpg to 0.27 mpg. At the lower end of the scale, the differences, if any, were so small as to be insignificant, so the improvement appeared to have come at no real cost.

Chen had also promised changes to the interior. But when I walked into the saloon, I again couldn’t see any significant difference—same two chairs to port and same couch to starboard, with a big galley forward, just up two steps and to starboard. Forward of that, there was still that big settee to port. But at the pilothouse helm, I did find a welcome change: where Hull No. 2 had just a single helm seat (not shown in the photos), leaving the pilot rather isolated, the new boat has two helm seats, a decidedly more convivial configuration.

Bigger interior changes became obvious the minute I went below. While the master stateroom is still amidships, at the point of maximum width, it now extends full beam, and the head has moved from the port side to aft, between the stateroom and the engine room and is also now full beam. This results in multiple improvements, besides the obvious one of a more commodious sleeping area—namely, a bigger and more luxurious head and an acoustical buffer between the living area and the engine room. Worth noting by long-distance cruisers: this stateroom has stowage aplenty, in 20 drawers and four hanging lockers.

To see the other improvements required a trip into the engine room. Here I noticed a new networked hydraulic system driven by two hydraulic pumps, one off each ZF marine gear, a large one on the starboard side and a slightly smaller backup unit on the port. (There are also two crash pumps, one off each engine.) They feed hydraulic pressure through a Wesmar manifold to Naiad stabilizers that proportionately move nine-square-foot fins according to the degree of vessel roll. Also on the system are a Maxwell windlass and bow and stern thrusters, both of the latter rated at 30 hp. Adding to the redundancy theme is a power-assisted steering system that is driven off two pumps, one on each engine.

Indeed, as with Hull No. 2, redundancy is something of an obsession on this boat. Take the new 120,000-Btu chilled-air conditioning system. It has two 60,000-Btu compressors, two sea-water pumps, and two chilled-water circulating pumps. You can run the entire system off just one compressor and save the other as a back-up or alternate between the two to extend the life of both. Each is powered by a 240-volt, three-phase motor with “soft-start” transformers that are said to significantly extend motor life.

Down here I also found a new battery-parallel system although given its complexity, that nomenclature seems a bit inadequate. When you hit the battery-parallel switch, both engine banks are brought on line in the conventional manner. But there’s a second switch that also adds the house batteries to the mix. As my host pointed out, if this doesn’t get your engines started, it’s time to call for a tow.

There have also been upgrades in the gear department, most notably a new 1,500-pound-capacity UMT davit that can launch a tender to either port or starboard and two anchors with all-chain rode, one a 100-pound plow and the other a 50-pound Bruce, indicative of the company’s intention to aim this boat at serious cruisers.

Of course, nothing in life is free, and all of these upgrades do have their price. The boat we tested in October carried a base figure of $2,450,000 and an as-tested price of $2,495,000. On this boat the base price and price as tested were the same, since virtually everything is now standard. Considering you get all these new features plus a $45,000 allowance for electronics, for $2,698,000, Hull No. 6 (and beyond) seems like a pretty good deal. To me. And remember, I’m a skeptic. PMY

Anchor Yacht Sales (954) 797-0030.
www.hamptonyachts.com.

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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