Photography by John Bildahl
Hinckley’s new Talaria 43 somehow manages to be even more beautiful than her iconic sistership.
Pity Hinckley. Despite having launched a number of beautiful, even iconic powerboats over the last two decades, most boaters still associate the company with the 36-foot Picnic Boat. And understandably so. When it launched in 1994 there was nothing like it afloat. Part yacht, part Down East lobster boat, and from a builder that was revered by sailors all over the world, the Picnic Boat didn’t break a mold, it created a whole new one.
To say that the Picnic Boat was a success would be a laughable understatement. When the first generation went out of production in 2010, some 450 had slid down the ways in Southwest Harbor, Maine, and her replacement, the MK III, which to the untrained eye is identical in profile, has been described somewhat awkwardly by the company as “the most-new product introduction in our more than eight decades.”
Many explanations for the phenomenal success of the Picnic Boat have been proffered, but all eventually come down to aesthetics. The sinuous shape perfectly manages to express the two worlds from which this boat sprang—yachts and lobsterboats—and its proportions are inherently pleasing to the nautical eye. Little wonder then that every Hinckley powerboat since has tried to mimic that prototypical form.
And as the LOA of those boats increased, the proportions sometimes became even more pleasing. For me they have reached their pinnacle in the new Talaria 43. The roughly 7 additional feet that separate the Picnic Boat from the T43 have been perfectly parceled out so as not to disturb the proportions—instead, they improve them.
When Hinckley began working on a boat that would fill the gap between the MKIII and the 48, it actually started out as a 42. But by the time the designers settled on the desired interior proportions for what would be essentially a big weekender/dayboat, the LOA had grown to 43 feet 9 inches, a size that allows for improvement in all areas, but especially the cockpit and bridgedeck.
The Picnic Boat hull was drawn by Bruce King, but this one, like all next-generation iterations (the MKIII, 48, and 34) is the work of Michael Peters. Unlike the designers who were working with a known shape, Peters had to start from scratch because this boat has engines that are all the way aft, not under the saloon sole like most Hinckleys. With a “lazarette” forward of the engines and two 250-gallon fuel tanks forward of that, perfecting the 43’s center of balance presented a unique challenge. And Peters seems to have nailed it: The boat runs a bit bow-high, which makes it easy to tab down when you need to contend with a headsea or improve visibility.
The logical question, of course, is why Hinckley moved the engines, and you may be surprised to learn that the answer to that has nothing to do with performance. Rather, it was an attempt to retain the open feel of the Picnic Boat and other early models, but also provide a solid bulkhead with big, opening windows between the bridgedeck and the cockpit. (The Picnic Boat was open; the 40 and 44 originally had canvas bulkheads.) After all, while the original configuration was wonderfully convivial, allowing guests to mingle freely between the two spaces, it was also impossible to control the climate on the main deck effectively, even with the canvas partition.
The solution was a bulkhead that provides a solid partition with windows that retract downward, thereby turning the two areas into one space. But there was a problem. In order for the windows to fully retract and be concealed, the bulwarks housing them were going to have to be as high as the windows were tall, and that was going to limit views to the outside, especially when saloon occupants were seated.
To avoid this predicament Hinckley designed the windows to retract below the sole, where they are completely hidden, which, as you can imagine, means nothing—engines, in particular—can be beneath them. When I say windows, by the way, I refer not only to the pair to either side of the bulkhead’s sliding door but also to the one in the door as well. Yes, Hinckley has managed to engineer a solid door that slides open, yet in any position allows you to lower the window until it’s out of sight. Exactly how they’ve done this is too difficult to describe in this limited space, but if you see the T43 at a boat show, be sure to ask for a demo.
Those bulkhead windows drop electrically, of course; large saloon windows forward on either side slide aft and two large hatches forward on the bridgedeck also open electrically, which means you need only a mildly athletic digit to turn this fully enclosed motoryacht into an open-air sportboat.
One other benefit of the aft-engine placement is convenient access to the optional twin 550-horsepower Cummins diesels and their attendant Hamilton Water Jets. (Volvo Penta IPS600s are offered as standard.) The cockpit sole tilts open—electrically, of course—to expose everything, but for daily checks, a small hatch gives access to dipsticks and coolant bottles. Like all hatches, these are heavily gasketed to preclude the escape of engine noise or rattles. And with the engines no longer beneath the interior spaces, the 43 is quiet. Our peak reading of 75 decibels at full throttle stemmed mostly from water and wind noise; the engines were basically inaudible.
This being a weekender at best, Hinckley wisely limited accommodations to a large V-berth with en suite head and a guest stateroom to starboard with a slide-out double berth, and invested plenty of space in a large cockpit. Its two settees provide sunning space for eight, but if anyone seeks respite from the rays you need only push yet another button and the optional SureShade sun awning will extend to cover as much of the cockpit as you desire. Retracted it is invisible and so doesn’t detract from the pleasing proportions.
And in the end, it’s the 43’s proportions that most people will swoon over. Indeed, as I was walking down the dock after my sea trial of hull No. 1, an admiring gentleman stopped me to ask, “That’s the new Picnic Boat, isn’t it?” I was about to correct him when I thought to myself, well, actually she is in a way. In fact you could fairly say that she’s the ultimate Picnic Boat.
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Noteworthy Options: Guest cabin hullside portlight; teak cockpit sole; fold-down 32-inch LED TV; SureShade retractable sunshade; Skysol blinds for saloon windows; second Raymarine e165 MFD. Prices available upon request.
Better Boat: Lobster Pods
When Hinckley announced Volvo Penta IPS600s would be standard for the T43, people noticed—Hinckley had seemed to resist pods for so long. In Hinckley Yachts: An American Icon by Nick Voulgaris III (Rizzoli 2014), Shep McKenney offers some insight: “The waterjet was something of an afterthought,” McKenney wrote. “Because a day boat wants to operate in shallow water, a conventional shaft and prop seemed problematical, and it would have been a shame to stick an inboard/outboard unit on that beautiful stern. Ultimately, the jet became a defining feature of the Picnic Boat. As for the JetStick, the need for it became obvious once we had sea-trialed the first hull. The water jet allows fabulous control authority, but harnessing that authority was fiendishly difficult with conventional controls. It cried out for a fly-by-wire joystick control system... ” Hinckley had solved draft and control problems all on its own. Still IPS has its fans, so why not offer both? — Jason Y. Wood
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 85°F; humidity: 80%; seas 3'
Load During Boat Test
500 gal. fuel, 50 gal. water, 6 persons, 500 lb. gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/550-hp Cummins QSC8.3 diesel inboards w/ Hamilton 322 water-jet drives
- Transmission/Ratio: Twin Disc MG-5075-SC, 1.33:1 gear ratio
- Price as Tested: $1,685,390
This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.