By John Page Williams
Buying a new Hinckley means getting the full package: well-thought-out design, high-tech construction processes, painstaking quality control, personalized sea trials and even customer training. No, the boats are not inexpensive, but you get what you pay for in this case. Consider the company’s new Talaria 43, which I had an opportunity to sea-trial with some new owners.
The T43 is an express yacht with comfortable cruising accommodations for a couple, a double berth for weekend guests, and a versatile deck/salon layout that can be opened for day-cruising with friends or enclose its occupants in inclement weather. One of its nicest features is a set of electrically actuated windows and a door in the aft bulkhead that fully open to the cockpit, creating a wide-open, same-level socializing space. Powered by twin Cummins diesels with Hamilton jet drives, the T43 is fast even in sloppy conditions, and seriously maneuverable by joystick.
The T43’s hull shape was designed by naval architect Michael Peters, and it’s a sharper V than other Hinckley models with jet drives. The deadrise of the running surface from the transom to the helm is a nearly constant 19 degrees, but from there the number increases to a wave-cleaving bow entry. Two lifting strakes on each side help the hull rise onto plane, but Peters has placed them under the salon and the cabin, where much of the boat’s weight is centered. The aft third of the bottom is unobstructed, to provide clear streams of water to the jet intakes. At cruising speeds of 20-25 knots, the boat runs slightly bow-proud (three degrees of trim), presenting that acute forefoot to the seas. This seaworthy running attitude also provides excellent sightlines from the helm.
The overall hull shape is the most obvious result of the design process. The reason it works, though, lies within the hard detail work of balancing that shape’s dynamic buoyancy with the weights and locations of all the boat’s systems, accommodations, and structural elements, plus the thrust of the jet drives at all speeds.
Hinckley builds its boats in a large plant in Trenton, Maine, between Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island. I had an opportunity to visit it several years ago for an up-close education in the company’s boatbuilding systems, and witnessed firsthand how Hinckley is able to marry the best of Downeast craftsmanship with modern systems and materials.
Over the years, the company’s construction processes have evolved from traditional wood through open-mold fiberglass lamination to the sophisticated, patented Seaman Composite Resin Infusion Molding Process (SCRIMP) used by several other high-end builders. To create the T43’s hull, the SCRIMP lamination crew employs vinylester resin throughout to bond an Aramid fiber/E-glass outer skin, Corecell M foam, and carbon fiber inner skin together under vacuum pressure. Meanwhile, the crew uses SCRIMP to bond E-glass inner and outer skins to a closed-cell foam core in the complex mold for the deck. One critical element in the hull’s layup process is substituting solid laminate “core deletions” in strategic locations in the hull to anchor through-hull fittings that range from large (bow thruster and water jets) to small (cooling water intakes).
After curing thoroughly, the hull and deck go to separate assembly stations for precision installation of bulkheads and systems. Computer-driven design dictates precision placement and shape of the cored bulkheads, which add structural strength to the hull as well as providing support points for wires, electronic cables, and plumbing for fuel, water, and waste, plus vents.
Systems? Yes. Look at Hinckley’s 5-page, densely worded Standard Equipment List for the T43 and consider how much work goes into bringing the gear on that list into functioning reality. Since assembly crews have open access to both sides of the hull and the deck “parts”, this is the time when installation is easiest and most efficient. One of the most interesting stations is where a crew fabricates each boat’s wiring harness.
Think modern automotive harnesses are complex? Try mating twin electronic diesels with alternators, electronic controls, and an electronic JetStick II control system with software; an Onan 13.5 kW genset; 2 reverse-cycle air conditioning systems; 6 large house and starting batteries; a grounding buss system (much easier to install in an open hull); an inverter for the house batteries; a charger for the starting batteries; interior lighting (all LED); 3 sets of windshield wipers (plus a pump to bathe them in fresh water); 12- AND 120-volt outlets in convenient places; a spotlight on the pilothouse roof; an aft deck floodlight; all of the electronics at the helm (Raymarine SONAR, GPS, RADAR, and autopilot, interfaced with Standard-Horizon VHF at a minimum); an all-boat audio system; several TV screens (one in the master cabin standard); a Glendenning shorepower cord reel, with cord; four bilge pumps; an electric Vacu-Flush toilet; a 24-volt pressure pump for the 100-gallon water tank and the 17-gallon (electric) water heater; a 2-burner electric cooktop and two-drawer refrigerator/freezer; a raw-water washdown pump at the bow; the bow anchor windlass; various hydraulic systems; and so on, all controlled through a clearly-organized distribution panel. And then there’s the plumbing system!
Moreover, it all has to work perfectly together, including the engines, jets, genset, tanks, and, if specified, a Seakeeper M5500 stabilizing gyro (not on our test boat). Well, you get the idea. No wonder the hull and deck spend time in the assembly area, with technicians working efficiently to install their gear on time and on budget. Oh, yes, and the cabinet shop folks get into the act, too. Some of the woodwork is solid and some is ingeniously laminated, but all of it is lovely, with lots of cherry complemented by teak and tulipwood.
Assembly of the 2 now-equipped parts is another exercise in precision, as a ceiling hoist system moves the deck to the area where the hull sits on its cradle and lowers it carefully to ensure that everything fits together. A wide flange on the topside of the hull serves as the anchor point for the deck. This is the time for last-minute adjustments before applying a strong methacrylate bonding putty that chemically welds these 2 parts of the boat together.
More assembly follows, accompanied by strict quality control processes. It’s worth noting that a Hinckley Project Manager follows the boat’s development, keeping the new owner informed with frequent photos, e-mails, and telephone conversations. Owners frequently visit the plant to see the processes first-hand.
When the crew at the Trenton plant completes the boat, the Project Manager, a Training Captain, and a Service Manager assigned to that boat deliver it as a team to the owner. The Training Captain stays with the owner for 3 days, to help him or her learn all of the boat’s systems, as well as the nuances of handling it underway. The Service Manager becomes available to the owner 24/7 for as long as he or she owns the boat.
So how did our test T43 fare on sea trials? Flawlessly. Her owners, a retired U.S. Navy officer and his wife, are experienced cruisers (he has driven much bigger vessels), and they are delighted with her. The Bay off Annapolis offered only a 2-foot chop, which the boat ate up with that sharp forefoot at 25 knots. The jet-driven wake was flat as she rose easily onto plane, and she ran efficiently at all planing speeds, with no worries about crab pot lines. Top speed with her twin 550-hp Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels was 32.2 knots (2-way average), with easy cruise at 20-25 knots. Not bad for a nearly 30,000-pound boat with cruising gear, 63% fuel, and full water. If that’s not enough, though, Hinckley can sell you a pair of 650-hp FPT diesels to get even more power.
Two attributes stood out during our test. First, the boat is extremely quiet, even at speed. We tested her both open and with her aft bulkhead glass closed up. Sound stayed within conversational levels the whole time, both ways. The second noteworthy item is maneuverability. Leaving and re-entering her tight slip, our skipper showed off the JetStick II system, which has 2 low-speed modes, one that moves her in 6” to 12” increments and another in 1” increments. He loves that precision. (Another mode offers H-Lock position-keeping in conjunction with the vessel’s GPS).
The verdict: Hinckley’s new T43 delivers exactly what her builder promises. That’s a lot, but Hinckley Yachts has built its well-deserved reputation on exactly that promise. For a boatbuilder approaching a 90th anniversary, that’s impressive, and for customers who can meet the price, it’s a delight.
- LOA: 43′ 9″
- Beam: 14′ 6″
- Draft: 2′ 4″
- Bridge Clearance: 13′ 6″
- Transom Deadrise: 19 degrees
- Displacement: 28,000 lbs.
- Fuel: 500 gals.
- Water: 100 gals.
- Horsepower Range: 1,100-1,300
- Genset: Oman: 12.5 kW w/ SoundShield
- Base Price: $1,685,000
Sea Trial Results:
RPM KNOTS GPH ANGLE SOUND
600 3.6 0.7 0 63 (57)*
900 4.8 1.6 0 67 (57)
1,200 6.4 3.5 0 68 (59)
1,500 7.4 5.9 1 71 (61)
1,800 8.6 9.2 1 72 (64)
2,100 10.1 14.9 2 74 (67)
2,400 13.8 20.4 4 77 (70)
2,700 20.2 29.0 3 78 (72)
3,000 25.0 41.6 3 78 (72)
3,300 32.2 56.3 3 79 (78)
- Sound Levels in parentheses were taken with the cabin closed
Engines: Twin 550-hp Cummins QSB 6.7-liter electronic common-rail diesels
Drives: Twin Hamilton 322 jet drives
Fuel Load: 63%
Water Load: Full
Crew Weight: 850 lbs.