“There’s no question that Hines-Farley is the standard that we all aspire to. Every other boat can be measured against the quality and innovation that Sonny Hines puts into his boats.”
Sounds like a quote from a sales brochure, I know. But it came from a conversation I overheard between two other highly respected custom boatbuilders at the Miami International Boat Show.
That’s why those for whom nothing but the best in the world will do travel to see Sonny Hines at his shop on the river in Suffolk, Virginia. That group now includes Pat Thomas, the owner of the Bodacious, Hines’ newest 63-footer, and Capt. Ron Locke, a former Hatteras factory skipper and mother-ship operator, acknowledged as one of the top fishing captains in the world.
I couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions to run a boat. Greeted by a gorgeous Florida winter’s day sporting a northwest wind at about 15 knots, water near the beach just outside Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach was calm. In an accommodating fashion, seas picked up steadily as we headed out until we reached the Gulf Stream, where seas ran a good 6 feet and larger.
Not a drop of spray made it up to the flybridge enclosure, no matter how radically we maneuvered the 63. Spray goes straight out to the sides rather than up when you hit a wave in a following sea. Locke sat back in the helm seat and crossed his arms heading down-sea at 37 knots, and we watched as Bodacious kept its nose on the mouth of the inlet and never wavered.
We boating writers often make a lot of noise about “small boats that feel like much bigger boats.” Here’s a switch. This 63-footer handles like a little 26-foot center-console. At virtually any speed, turn the wheel a quarter turn (it’s less than two turns lock-to-lock) and the boat jumps to the new heading. It takes about 12 seconds to get up on plane. Once there, the slightest throttle adjustment results in instantaneous response.
One of the Hines-Farley’s most innovative performance enhancements provides air to the engine room. Called the “Delta T System,” this combination of computerized blowers and temperature sensors assures that enough air gets to the engines for optimum performance, keeps the ambient temperature down (they have it set at 86) and eliminates all salt and mist entering the engine room.
As elsewhere aboard Bodacious, you’ll find just enough beautiful varnished trim to make the boat shine, yet not enough to cause major maintenance problems. Rectangular seating forward of the helm console provides enough room for 10 or 12 people with copious storage under all the lightweight cored seat hatches.
The wheel has been perfectly placed to see both foredeck and cockpit. Another example of Hines’ practicality can be seen in the type and placement of the magnetic compass. Rather than putting it 15 feet forward of the helm up by the Venturi windscreen, it is just forward of the wheel, where it is perfectly readable. Also readable are the navigation electronics, flush-mounted in well-angled shelves to either side of the helm and covered by see-through hatches.
It seems many builders of large custom sport fishermen figure that anglers and crew will never leave the cockpit. But people fish other ways besides trolling, and crews need to go to the bow every time the boat docks. To make sure casting live baits to tailing white marlin can be accomplished safely, Bodacious has a substantial bow rail which rises to about mid-thigh. In addition, the entire foredeck is non-skid.
The cockpit contains all the expected features, though the baitwell has been moved from the cockpit sole to the forward bulkhead cabinets and doubles as an insulated drink cooler. Every detail has been thoroughly considered. For example, each lift-out fish box has slide-up handles so you can stand while lifting the box out rather than having to do it on your knees. And quick-release water-hose fittings can be found in one central location to fill tanks, connect dockside water or use fresh or saltwater cockpit wash-downs.
The gravity-feed fuel system automatically shifts fuel between tanks according to which tanks are low and what speed you’re traveling. At trolling speed, fuel is transferred to the lowest tank amidships to increase roll stability, making Bodacious a very solid platform in a beam sea.
Sonny Hines uses advanced composites to build every piece of furniture and every cabinet that goes into his boats. A full-height, beveled-panel French door looks like it would weigh a ton but in fact only weighs 8 pounds. Hines weighs everything that goes into a boat for exacting control.
The port guest cabin has twin over/under bunks with a private head and shower. Forward to port is a sizable rod locker. The bow contains another guest cabin with a centerline double and another private head with shower. The master cabin occupies the starboard side with its own private head and shower.
In addition to hiding loads of storage area, the galley features a hidden double sink with spigot and faucets on electric rams that rise when the sink cover is raised.
As a matter of procedure, Hines builds the engine room before all else. Once everything is in place, the compartment gets sealed while the rest of the boat is built around it. Bodacious’ engines are painted bright red with polished chrome and blue hoses. You see not a single wire; everything is hidden, though clearly routed and marked behind panels. At the base of the cockpit ladder, a separate room houses pumps, compressors and a water maker.
While I firmly believe that there’s no such thing as “the perfect boat,” I am unable to think of one that comes any closer to perfection than a Hines-Farley 63.
For more information, contact Hines-Farley Offshore Yachts, 3300 Eberwine Lane, Suffolk, VA 23435; 757-484-5702.