Salty & Sophisticated
The new Hunt 32CC is as at home at the yacht club as she is on the fishing grounds.
I’ve always believed that there’s a common misperception about center-console boats, or as they’re frequently called, “center-console fishing boats.” Whatever you term them, most people consider these boats to be designed primarily for fishing. However I think a more common attraction is performance.
Center-console boats, whether used for fishing or not, are the sports cars of the boating world. The fact that they’re small, light, agile, and above all, designed to go fast and handle well is just as much a part of their DNA as their ability to raise, store, and transport fish. Whatever draws a boater to a center console, performance is almost always part of the attraction, which is why the vast majority have outboards—big outboards.
Fact is, center consoles are hands down the most versatile vessels on the water. Most can catch fish but virtually all are great platforms for day cruising, diving, waterskiing—even occasional overnighting. And they are almost without exception a blast to run.
Based on an afternoon aboard their 32CC, I think the folks at Hunt Yachts have come to the same conclusion. Hunt has never been particularly big in center consoles, in large part because their traditional constituency has been the northeast, where vessels with cuddy cabins and inboard power are revered. Indeed, prior to the introduction of the 32, Hunt had just one center console in its lineup, the 26CC.
The fact that standard power for the 32CC is twin 250-horsepower Yamahas (with two 300s or 350s as options) is telling. Yes, a single gasoline or diesel stern drive from Volvo Penta can be fitted, but from the moment you step aboard this boat, you get the feeling she was designed for outboards.
Despite a dearth of outboard-powered models, Hunt enjoys a large and growing constituency in the south, where center console boats are wildly popular. Its success is largely attributable to a reputation for good sea boats, and the 32CC is clearly aimed to build on that reputation. But this is in no way an all-out fishboat. One look at that big, circular settee in the bow and you know that blood-and-guts anglers need not apply. Moreover, there is no circulating livewell in the transom, nor a fishbox that would accommodate anything of tournament size. But occasional weekend warriors will find this boat up to the job, thanks to plenty of insulated compartments for drinks or bait, an overboard-draining insole compartment (sans macerator), and even a nifty compartment under the starboard bow seat that has a second entrance so you can slide a fully rigged fishing rod into it. Freeboard is properly modest, although you won’t be hauling in any bloody bluefish forward where they’d soil that comfy cushion.
Hunt will be the first to tell you they never intended the 32 to compete with the Regulators of the world, at least in terms of fishability.
Hunt promotes the 32CC as “salty and sweet” but I think “salty and sophisticated” would say it better. This is a boat you won’t mind getting a little dirty, but which will fit in perfectly at the yacht club.
It’s clear that one of the design goals for the 32CC was comfort, the helm seat being a case in point. It provides seating for two, yet when things get sporty, the bases flip up to create an eminently workable leaning post, complete with side bolsters that provide lateral support at the expense of a quick exit when someone yells, “Fish on!” The leaning post is available in two flavors: There’s an entertaining version with electric grill, drawers, and cabinet stowage, while the fishing version comes with a 30-gallon livewell, sink, tackle and bait stations, drawers, and knife stowage. Note, however, that all this is predicated on your ordering the outboard option. If you opt for one of the single stern drives, the engine will occupy the lower half of this module, substantially limiting available space.
The console itself is nicely designed. It’s big enough to accommodate two 15-inch MFDs easily and offers superb protection from the elements thanks to a standard and stylish T-top, complete with “scratchproof” acrylic windscreens on the front and sides. It’s also slightly offset to port—something that would be anathema in a fishboat where unimpeded access forward is sacred—and it has an aft entrance with bifold door, which makes access much easier. You can still get forward on the port side of the console but it requires a bit of athleticism. Unless there’s a compelling reason, such as line handling, everyone will use the passage to starboard, which is plenty wide and devoid of steps.
The mass of the console also creates a lot of space inside, although in the best of situations these console interiors are problematic. Hunt has taken a reasonable approach to this one, recognizing that no one is going to actually live in it. Consequently there is a single berth, most of which extends under the foredeck, a small sink with pullout shower (there’s another shower in the transom), and a stowage console to port with optional microwave above. (If you order the microwave, you must also order the inverter.) The MSD occupies most of the starboard side (a 15-gallon holding tank is standard) and affords privacy via a retractable bi-fold door, which struck me as redundant since it’s hard to imagine two people occupying this space for long. There’s no TV and no air condtioning. Really, it’s just a roomy spot to perhaps get out of the rain and lock up valuables when going ashore.
While the optional fishing-oriented leaning post will appeal to anglers, fish of any size will need to come aboard over either side as the exterior of the transom is largely taken up with an Armstrong bracket (with integral swim ladder) that holds the two Yamahas. Inboard, the transom sports a seat that flips up and away to open up the aft deck area.
Whether you fish or cruise the 32CC, you’ll appreciate the ground-tackle setup. A standard Lewmar windlass hides beneath a foredeck hatch and the anchor retracts into the stem for a sleek, uncluttered look. Since the whole arrangement is belowdecks, you won’t soil that nice foredeck upholstery when you weigh the anchor from a muddy bottom.
But you probably won’t want to anchor this boat very often because she’s such a hoot to run. The hullform is a combination of very fine foresections and a running surface that’s something-less-than-a-deep-V aft, which strikes a
fine balance between seakeeping and efficiency. I ran the 32CC on a seriously choppy Narragansett Bay that showcased not only this hullform but also the solid-glass hull laminate (the deck is foam-cored), which evinced not a squeak nor groan, even in the mid-40-knot range, a speed courtesy of our optional 300-horsepower Yamahas. Hunt says the standard 250s will get you about 39 knots.
One characteristic that makes the 32CC so enjoyable to run is her response to engine trim. Not only can you raise the bow to reduce wetted surface and increase speed, the leverage provided by the engines’ extended aft position is sufficient to bring the bow down, allowing those fine foresections to slice through seas, something that was noticeable on test day.
Our boat was also equipped with the optional Yamaha Helm Master Integrated Boat Control System (aka joystick), a $19,970 option that eliminates the need for a bow thruster and provides almost as much maneuverability as pod drives. Of course, the Helm Master is not an option with a single stern drive, which will cut top speed by about 17 knots but also cut fuel burn.
Still, anyone running the outboard version will have trouble seeing this as powered by anything other than big Yamahas, because from the keel up the 32CC was designed as a center console, and that’s exactly what she is, whether you take her fishing or not.
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Colored gelcoat on hull; colored nonskid; removable port stern corner seat w/ cover; upgrade anchor chain to s/s; teak bow table w/ cover and stowage bag; teak toerail w/ 2 pull up chocks and s/s chafe strips; microwave w/ dedicated 1,800-watt inverter and outlet; DC fridge in leaning post; Fusion stereo; 2/15-inch Garmin MFDs w/ color HD radar, plotter, fishfinder and 4-kW radar; 2/Aurinco compact 55 solar panels and charge controller. Prices available upon request.
Gear reduction: 1.75:1, Warranty: Five years on structure and against blistering
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 74°F; humidity: 85%; seas: 3-4' chop; wind: 15 knots
Load During Boat Test
120 gal. fuel, 3 persons, 50 lb. gear
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/300-hp Yamaha gasoline outboards
- Props: 15¼x18 s/s
- Price as Tested: $323,560
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.