Tuesday, October 26

We Test New Hinckley 35: Poetry in Motion

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The brand-new Hinckley 35, with twin Mercury Verado 350-hp outboards, was sitting in a slip at the Hinckley boat yard in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. I met skipper David Salathe at the boat and he gave me a quick tour before departing. The engines were both idling, but they were so quiet you could barely hear them.

The under body of the 35 was designed by Michael Peters, who has numerous trophies and naval architecture awards to his credit. The look of the 35 is Down East classic with that special Hinckley flair. The high bow and flared sections forward promise a very dry ride while the elegant curve of the sheer and the touch of tumblehome at the stern evoke generations of Maine boat builders creating great seaworthy vessels.

The 35 has the engines mounted on a molded stern platform and each side of this offers a step that makes it easy to board and debark on a floating dock. The cockpit door leads into the after cockpit, which has a bench facing forward and two large seats facing aft. Just forward and under the hard top, you’ll find two more forward-facing seats and then the helm chair to starboard and the wingman chair to port. This indoor-outdoor cockpit offers plenty of space for guests to relax and enjoy the ride.  Plus, an isinglass partition can be fixed at the aft end of the hardtop to enclose the forward end of the cockpit in bad weather or when putting the boat to bed.

A neat design touch in the 35 is the huge storage locker under the cockpit. With the flick of a switch by the aft seat, hydraulic rams lift the cockpit sole to reveal a huge area that can be used for stowing all kinds of gear, including fenders, dock lines, water toys and more. Plus, this is where the Seakeeper, an optional extra, is mounted in hull number one.

With the classic Hinckley varnished teak toe rails and cockpit trim,  the hand-made teak helmsman’s seats and the elegant varnished dashboard, the 35 is very much a full member of this legendary clan of boats.

Down a couple of steps into the cabin, the large head is to starboard, the galley to port and the V-berth forward. The galley has a single-burner stove, microwave oven, an under-counter fridge and stainless-steel sink. The countertop is Corian and there are two Corian inserts to hide the sink and stove.  It is simple, functional and all you need for a day on the water or a weekend getaway.

The V-berth acts as a below decks place to sit with the insert removed, or as a wide double berth with the insert in place. The hull has a teak ceiling above the berth and the cabin floors are traditional teak and holly.  Everywhere you look you know you are on a proper yacht.

Ready to get underway, we retrieved the dock lines, David inched the 35 forward and we were away. The Side-Power bow thruster and the Mercury Joystick made it simple to make the tight turns needed to exit the slip and once clear, David shifted to the main controls and steered us out in Narragansett Bay.

I took the helm and we headed down the bay toward Newport, where I would get dropped off. David was on his way to Stamford, Connecticut, for a Hinckley open house, a distance of about 140 miles.

“How long do you think it will take,” I asked, without having to raise my voice over the sound of the engines.

“About four hours,” he answered.

Doing a quick calculation, I came up with an average speed.

“Thirty five knots,” I said.

“That’s her cruising speed,” he replied.

Pretty amazing, I thought, as I pushed the throttle forward and felt the 35 accelerate smarty. I edged the rpms up to 5000 and then watched the speedo climb until it hit 35.  We were flying down the bay over a light chop and the motion was as steady as if we were on rails. I took my hands of the wheel to take a couple of photos and she didn’t flinch or veer; she just kept on trucking.

As we got farther down the bay I got the go ahead to go wide open throttle and the 35 jumped forward until the speed pegged out at 45 knots. This was just about as fast as I have ever steered a powerboat but it felt so stable and sure footed that there was no worry to be had.

Back down at 35 knots, I put the boat through a series turns and as she leaned into the turns you could just feel how balanced the hull design is. Michael Peters knows what he is doing and the craftsmen in Maine know how to get their weight tolerances down to a fine degree.

With a fine bow cutting the water like a knife, the broad chines running aft for stability and lift and just the right amount of deadrise to the hull aft, the 35 has exceptionally good seakeeping manners and will keep her crew safe and dry in all manners of weather.

Like all Hinckley power boats, the 35 has an infused carbon fiber hull that is heat-cured or baked in an autoclave. This process creates a hull that is as light and stiff as possible and a boat that is so strong and durable that it will become a family heirloom for generations to come.

We had to slow down to five knots as we entered Newport Harbor, which felt like we were standing still. As we approached the fuel dock at the Yachting Center, I shifted the main engine controls into neutral, activated the Joystick and inched  the 35 up against the dock. The Joystick is so intuitive to use that I got it right on the first try.

“Almost perfect,” David said.

No, completely perfect, I thought of the new Hinckley 35, as I watched David motor away toward Connecticut. She’s what they mean by poetry in motion.

Specs.: LOA: 38’8″; Beam: 11’0″; Draft: 2’10”; Disp.: 13,174; Fuel: 300 gals.; Water: 35 gals.; Power: 2×350-hp Mercury Verado outboards. Read more:

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