03 February 2016
Why a Hunter? (why a Hyundai)
I am the most unlikely Hunter owner.
Back in the "day" selling boats was the game and Hunter was a big no-no. I was a Hunter Snob with no real reason to be so, short of a little conversation at a boat show. I was actually looking at the Hunters and commenting on how nice they were for the money. At twenty some odd years old what did I know? Let's call him Crusty, the broker who had taken me under his wing, said "boat show boat". That was all it took to turn me off to Hunters. Three words.
What does "boat show boat" mean? Basically a boat the wife likes at the boat show, huge interiors, ticks all the boxes, priced well and falls apart after a few years in the Florida sun.
Soon after, as a young yacht broker, I actually sold a Hunter and it looked just like Crusty described, weather beaten and tired. Tied up behind a house in Port Orange Florida we limped it up to Seven Seas Marina in Daytona for haul out and inspection. All I believed about Hunters seemed to be true.
That was the last I thought of Hunters until I met Vito but, before we introduce this character, one has to ask why was I looking for a boat like a Hunter in the first place.
This past Alaska winter our oldest daughter looked at me and said "Dad, what good is all this experience if you don't share it?" followed with, "can we get a boat and just you and I spend the summer sailing together." Annie get your gun! I was off to the races. This coincided with an article in Cruising Outpost issue #8 entitled "The Whole Nine Yards" the story of two girls, a dog, a cat and a 27' boat (support Bob Bitchin and buy the mag, it's worth the eight bucks).
That question and article set the Berger wheels in motion. Let's find a small "beater boat", not too fancy and easily handled by one or two. Something the girls could grow into and make it their own should they have the desire. The usual suspects came to mind, Catalina 30, J 30, C&C 30 or up a little to the 35' range. After a good talk with long suffering wife (who, bless her heart, generally supports a good ole adventure after the idea has a little time to marinate) gave her approval and I began the search.
Now there is a whole other post on buying boats and I wrote it a few days ago and it was summarily VAPORIZED by sailblogs.
Here is the cliff note version:
Identify two to three specific boats
Locate all of them in the region of interest (in this case Maryland to Cape Cod).
Build spreadsheet with all of them listed to easily compare prices, locations and features.
Go and start looking at all of them and become an expert on that particular market.
Adjust as desires and reality change.
Know that as you look "the one" will likely show up and don't be afraid to buy it.
That's basically it.
The "one" is easier to see after you've been on a few and start to get a feel for what's out there. In the case of this project the size quickly grew to 40' as we adjusted and thought about family vacations with all four of us and the prospect of having a relatively inexpensive floating condo. Fair enough and in our experience 40' still met the expectation of being easily handled by one or two.
I flew into Annapolis late April and started the hunt. This took me from Deltaville Virginia as far north as Westport Connecticut. I looked at Beneteaus, Catalina, Jenneaus and two newer Hunters. Nothing was "clicking" although the Hunters were cool they had the new B&R rigs (no backstay) and one had the expected deck leaks that I had been warned of.
Remember Vito? Picture a Sicilian bull dog with a heart of gold. We met Vito, Madeline and their daughter Amanda in Bora Bora back in 2005. At the time they were aboard Wanderer, a beautiful and capable Amel 53. My father was onboard Ohana, he had grown up in the Bronx and worked in New York City for most of his career. As soon as he heard Vito's deep Italian voice on the VHF he had to meet him. Kind of a cross between CarTalk and a Corleone. Just made you feel safe and nervous at the same time.
Now Vito and I became quick friends and have remained so for over a decade. I TRUST him and value his opinion and on one topic in particular he was adamant and unwavering............Hunter Legends. As soon as I mentioned this idea of a small beater boat for the east coast he said "Paully, you got ta look at da Hunter Legend!" He had one for over a decade (two actually if memory serves, a 37' and a 40.5) and just would not stop raving about the boat. I still had my 1987 snob hat on and kept politely deferring. Finally, I broke, as nothing was really feeling right on my search so far. I located a Hunter Legend 40.5 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and invested the time to drive over one cold spring day if for no other reason than to respect Vito's desire to have me at least see one (respect an important character trait in his native Sicily).
I met the broker and we trudged out against the north wind and as I walked up to Hunter Legend 40.5 for the first time the thing that struck me was that she was big. Just big compared to all the other 40's I had been looking at. She had a 7/8th fractional rig which you J sailors know is a great set up for short handed sailing and powerful. The cockpit had a cutout transom (wife request) and there were hatches galore! What's going on here, it must leak like a sieve.
We climbed aboard (they have a high freeboard and are beamy which explains the interior volume) and I mean climbed. Slid open the companionway hatch and I was just blown away by the cabin, oh my goodness, I was falling into the "boat show boat" trap! This boat was twenty years old however and had not yet melted as Crusty had promised, good sign.
A 50hp Yanmar diesel-yea, tons of cabinet space, plenty of light, a well laid out galley, two heads..........................Vito was right, this boat was incredible. There must be a catch.
With that many opening hatches let's look for leaks, there were none. This particular boat was poorly maintained and run hard. The bones though looked great and it was time to find all the Hunter 40.5s on the East Coast and have a real look.
That took an evening with Yachtworld along with one more drive up and down the coast looking at four examples of the boat. I had evidently seen the worst of the lot first and the other three I found were all in terrific condition. All were mid 90's boats with light use and well maintained. The last of the bunch had an offer on it already and was a tri-cabin which I felt was superior with a family and left a cabin just for storing stuff. At first it was off the list given its pending sale put that sale fell through and I was able to finally get onboard. She was "the one", you just know it. I have to thank Cherie Startner of Great Blue Yachts for just calling. I bugged her about the boat for a few days while the Annapolis Boat show was going on (she was in the middle of it and having done boat shows I get it) and gave up, the fact she thought of me when the deal fell through, although not amazing, was professional and set the rest in motion.
What made it "the one?" It's a combination of ingredients that together just feel right. An owner who had taken the time to do lots of the ugly things that should be done, replacing older tanks, newer electronics, upgrading canvas, replacing hatch glass and gaskets, etc. Just a vibe. It is price, which was attractive, as it had just been negotiated on and the owner was ready to move on. It's just a feeling with the knowledge that you have looked at everything else in that range and this boat stands out.
But it was still a Hunter.
A little bit of research gave a good history of the company and Warren Luhrs, put my mind at ease. Google him, it's worth the time. The Legend series in particular was a unique model in the line-up prior to the company adopting the B&R rig. I can't speak to the later boats as I have no experience on them. I will say this little spot in their history was a gem.
So here we are Hunter owners..........who would have thought? At this point we've put about 3000 plus miles on her in a variety of conditions from Nantucket to Nassau. She has proved to be fast, seaworthy, comfortable at the dock and anchor as well as very easy to handle.
That's the story. I think at the end of the day whatever boat you find yourself in will work for almost anything. What they take is care, feeding and love...........perhaps that's the part you feel......the love.
Blessed day all, thanks for reading.
Check out the photo gallery for lots of pics.