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Hinckley Talaria 40 - Fog Dog

What a Concept!

How one guy’s brainstorm substantially altered a very classic, traditional, iconic vessel–the Hinckley Talaria 40.

Funny how an idea can just grow. And grow. And grow some more, eventually pulling disparate souls into a burgeoning project that, with oddball inevitability, gets increasingly plausible as time marches on and then, ultimately and ineffably, results in an astonishing success. 

Boston attorney Ken Goldberg had such an idea a couple of years ago, although it did not arise full-blown from the salty neurons and synapses snapping and sizzling between his boat-lovin’ ears. Instead, the darn thing swept slowly across a long and complicated developmental arc, only to ultimately blossom into a concept so radical it made traditionalists blanch and more adventurous types like Hank Hinckley of Southwest Harbor, Maine, grin with chop-lickin’ gusto.

“I had one reservation, though,” says Hinckley. “It boiled down to those forward-facing props hanging down there under the hull—there was nothing to protect ’em. I was concerned about that, I must admit.”

Seafaring conservatism runs deep in Hinckley’s family. The youngest son of the founder of the Henry R. Hinckley Company, as storied an enterprise as ever graced the annals of the sea, Hinckley is an inveterate maritime craftsman, with a penchant for “unusual jobs,” a work ethic heavy on diligence, detail, and dependability, and a small, renegade waterfront operation called Hank Hinckley Boatbuilders (www.hankhinckley.com), which he cranked up in Southwest Harbor some years after his family sold the Henry R. Hinckley Company to what’s now simply called The Hinckley Company, builder of some of the most iconic vessels afloat today.

“See,” explains Goldberg, “I’d given up on having Hank build me a one-off sportfisherman in the 40-foot range. Lots of times, custom boats like that wind up being overly heavy, expensive, and maybe slow. Which means you’re into huge engines, lots of fuel, and a raised bridgedeck. I wasn’t into any of that. I was more into this not-too-old Talaria 40 that was on the brokerage market. You know—she looks like a Hinckley Picnic Boat? Just a little bigger? And I wanted Hank to convert her to pod propulsion for extra speed. And do some fishing-related stuff, too.”

From Rationale to Sawzall

Goldberg figured his plan was workable, in spite of the fact that all the powerboats The Hinckley Company had been building for years (including the Talaria 40 as well as her famed progenitor, the slightly smaller Hinckley Picnic Boat) were designed expressly for one specific propulsion system—Hamilton waterjets. After all, all he wanted was a classic, New England look (which the Talaria had in spades); a 38-knot-plus top end (as well as a cruise speed somewhere between 33 and 35 knots); and a seakindly hullform with significant deadrise aft, in addition to a veritable arsenal of sportfishing accoutrements (including outriggers; a big, elliptical baitwell; rod holders aplenty; and some padded cockpit coamings for secure, comfortable fish-fighting), albeit all tastefully and unobtrusively installed. What the heck!

“Everybody said Hank was the best guy for the job,” says Goldberg, who was fully aware from the beginning that messing with a much-applauded design, to fit goals well outside the parameters of said design, could be an endeavor fraught with delicacy.

Work began on September 21, 2011. With plenty of backup from Rhode Island naval architect Mathew Smith, as well as from a couple of Volvo Penta propulsion engineers (who were planning frequent hands-on visits as well as ongoing involvement via phone and computer), Hinckley hefted a Sawzall and, as autumn leaves wafted past the open doors of his shop in the early morning light, stoutly attacked the after half of the Talaria, or more specifically the areas in way of her jet drives, with Mainiac glee. 

Geezer Marine

Once the jet drives were out and packed off on a trailer to Maine Maritime Academy for some mechanical manhandling by the engineering cadets there, Hinckley and his employees removed the Talaria’s twin 420-metric-horsepower Yanmar 6LY2-STE diesels using an electric hoist. Simultaneously, the boat’s swim platform was removed, as well as the chunk of her transom that had held the jets. Moreover, the water tank was removed, along with some autopilot components, trim tabs, electrics, pumps, a bulkhead or two, and much of the boat’s internal strengthening grid. 

Glasswork came next. Hinckley and his guys began by filling in and fairing the rather large opening in the transom via an artistically precise, labor-intensive process Hinckley merely calls, with considerable understatement, “patching.” Then they did the same for the large jet-related openings in the bottom of the boat, being careful to blend replacement fiberglass with original while, at the same time, adding layers of glass to the hull bottom's interior in accordance with Volvo’s beefy strictures for IPS.

“Except for the patches,” explains Hinckley, “we left the outer skin of the hull’s cored laminate intact. We accomplished this by first using a Fein Multimaster oscillating saw to remove virtually all the coring material and the inner skin all the way forward to the engine-room bulkhead. Then we glassed our new longitudinals and transverse members, as well as the IPS collars and related structure, to the inside of the outer skin and filled everything between with solid glass.”

All of this required gruntwork of epic proportions. Just on his own, Hinckley spent literally hundreds of hours inside the Talaria’s machinery spaces scouring away with little more than a droplight, a heavy power grinder, a dust mask, and a pair of sweaty, grimy leather gloves for company. Once the glasswork was finally prepped, new 435-metric-horsepower Volvo Penta D6 diesel engines were carefully mounted on new engine beds, and precisely linked to IPS600 drives via jackshafts. And ancillaries were painstakingly reinstalled as well, along with topside components (like deckhouse lounges and steering station joinery), some after considerable modification.

“I’d be a fool to do anything like it again,” observes Hinckley, with a wry grin, “Somebody my age! Got any idea what folks around here call Hank Hinckley Boatbuilders in real life? Geezer Marine! ’I guess cause most of us poor devils are too damn old to know better.”  

Nantucket Sleighride

Shortly before she was finished up on June 8, 2012, Goldberg renamed his IPS600-powered, fish-fighting Talaria 40 Fog Dog, partly because the weather’s so darn foggy around Nantucket, his personal stompin’ grounds; partly because canine friends often accompany him on fishing trips; and partly because he and his wife enjoy a particular brand of California wine called, as you might guess, Fog Dog. Once splashed and tweaked, the boat soon made her way to a berth at Nantucket Boat Basin, one of the prettiest spots in the world.

“Feels like any other well-engineered IPS vessel,” I told Hinckley, shortly after using a Volvo Penta joystick to pivot at the mouth of our slip. We toodled along the fairway heading for Nantucket Sound, doing a couple of knots, with noticeable steadiness. “Tracks like a train, too.”

I poured the coal to her once we hit the sound. Fog Dog’s nose arose to a top-end running attitude of approximately four degrees in a pleasingly brief period (average time to plane: 9.5 seconds). Then, with the smoothness of a well-oiled machine, she went flat out for an average velocity of 39.1 knots (see “Test Data: Fog Doghere for complete sea trial results), roughly 3 knots faster than the top speed Capt. Ken Kreisler recorded for a jet-powered Talaria 40 in  his test report Pride of Ownership in the April 2002 issue of Power & Motoryacht ➤. Fuel burn was less impressive. Maybe because our repowered Fog Dog sported 30 more horses than originally, she burned 43.5 gph at WOT, roughly 1.8 gph more than the 41.7 gph WOT fuel burn Kreisler reported for the jet version.  

But what a driving experience! The turns I subsequently carved were nothing short of exhilarating, thanks to the electric steering system that’s part and parcel of the IPS package. Tracking at cruise and top speeds was as true as it had been earlier, while we toodled the fairway. Volvo Penta’s Dynamic Positioning System worked like gangbusters. And upon our return to the marina, pivoting in front of our slip and then backing down was as pie-easy as IPS gets.

Hinckley and Hinckley

Fog Dog’s performance during our Nantucket sea trial certainly validated a super-complicated endeavor that was initiated by Ken Goldberg but carried to fruition by Hank Hinckley Boatbuilders, Volvo Penta’s engineering staff, naval architect Mathew Smith, and several others. The tale’s got one more wrinkle, however.

“Oh yes,” says Jim McManus, CEO of The Hinckley Company. “Ken Goldberg brought his Talaria 40 to our rendezvous last year and we gave her a test drive. In fact a few of us were on the boat.”

The test drive put the frosting on the cake, apparently. A couple of weeks prior to presstime, The Hinckley Company announced that in addition to the jet-drive powerboats it’s been building for nearly 20 years, it will soon offer Picnic Boats, Talaria 48s, and other models with optional Volvo Penta IPS powerplants. Projected jet-versus-IPS speed differentials, at least where the Picnic Boat is concerned, seem to align closely with our findings for the slightly larger Fog Dog. More to the point, according to The Hinckley Company, the jet-powered Picnic Boat should top out at 34 knots and her IPS-powered sistership should top out at 37 knots, approximately 3 knots faster, the same differential we got for Fog Dog.

“We’ve actually been looking at the feasibility of IPS for a while now and we think it’s time to offer people the option of choosing which system works best for their style of boating,” says McManus, a guy who’s totally down with the notion that a jet configuration offers shoal draft, appendage-free running surfaces and mechanical components that are comparatively simple while an IPS configuration, on the other hand, offers slightly sportier performance, great tracking, and a price tag that’s about 9 percent less than jets. 

McManus seems happy with developments, for the most part. And Goldberg seems happy, too. But these guys are not the only happy campers dwelling along the New England coast these days.

“I’m delighted with how it’s all turned out,” affirms Hank Hinckley, with characteristic bonhomie. “And hey, my little two-bit operation’s off and running in another direction, anyhow. Tell me, Bill—whataya think about test driving a real, battery-powered electric boat someday? With decent performance? Interesting idea?”

Click here for Hinckley's contact information and index of articles ➤


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This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.