**The cockpit was large – 164 square feet – and comfortable. It features a large mezzanine level shaded by a bridge overhang, which can be plumbed for air-conditioning vents. I greatly prefer the AC to mist producers, since misters quickly wet down your sunglasses, making watching your baits or lures almost impossible. The only spray we encountered on our calm day out on the water was a fine mist thrown up by the bypass exhaust when we stopped and drifted in the light seas.
The mezzanine seating is made up of closed-cell foam cushions covered with Sunbrella fabric. They are comfortable and they dry almost instantly. The modular construction of the mezzanine deck allows owners to chose a mix of freezers, live wells and insulated storage tubs.
Below the cockpit’s teak deck you’ll find two huge insulated fish boxes – with the one to port fed by an Eskimo ice machine. Excess ice can be bucketed to the starboard fish box, and both boxes drain through a macerator activated either automatically or with a switch.
Both the freshwater and saltwater washdowns come with quick-disconnect fittings, and the saltwater hose is supplied by a powerful 120-volt AC pump that can also push either an on-deck livewell or a set of tuna tubes.
Hatteras uses deep reduction ratios in its main engine gearboxes, allowing them to swing large-diameter, heavily pitched seven-blade propellers. This enables Hatteras to design strong, heavily built boats that are affected less by weather and weight loads than lighter boats with lower gear reductions.
“On a slick-calm day the lighter boats can go by us with higher top-end speeds,” Fields told me. “But when it is blowing, they all fall in behind us and we get there first. The rougher it gets the better we run.”
Fields is the son of an old friend of mine and part of a very salty family; father
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Alan Fields and brothers, Jimmy and Ronnie, all know and respect both boats and the sea. If Fields says this is a good boat in nasty weather you can believe it, and nothing I saw on a relatively calm day made me think otherwise.
I am not sure how much of the difference is due to gearing and how much to the engines and their control systems, but the Hatteras 64 is the heaviest boat for its size I have tested recently. Yet it gets out of the hole quicker and maneuvers better in fish-fighting simulations than most lighter boats. The boat should top out around 35 knots at wide-open throttle with the Cat C32s.
Speed is strongly in fashion these days, and in the quest for lower appendage drag the rudders as tested were, in my opinion, too small to allow easy turning in the “wrong” direction when simulating a lost-engine situation. Company officials are aware of this and Capt. Fields told me that larger-bladed rudders were on the way.
It’s tough to balance fishability and luxurious accommodations for large families, but not for this family of yachts. Over the last few decades, Hatteras’ ability to find the compromise between the fisherman and his family just seems to get better and better.