I’ve run Hatteras yachts since the very first model — a 41-footer sporting a pair of 275 hp Lincoln gasoline V-8 engines — was introduced in 1960. It wasn’t fast by today’s standards, but it launched Hatteras’ reputation for seaworthiness and battleship-like construction. This GT63, the largest of the GT series, boasts an additional 2,650 horses under the salon and almost double the top speed of her eldest sister. Hatteras evolved with the times and now uses high-tech construction techniques that result in much lighter boats, but it never sacrificed a bit of the historic Hatteras ride.
A 20-knot north wind generated three- to five-foot seas nearshore that quickly built to eight to 10 feet just a short way out in the Gulf Stream. Drifting beam-to those big seas proved more comfortable than I expected, thanks to a very short roll movement and gentle transitions. During speed trials in the calmer waters along the beach, I managed a top speed of 41.3 knots. Powered by a pair of CAT C32 ACERT diesels rated at 1,900 hp, the V-12 four-strokes carry a 1,959 cubic inch displacement. Thanks to computer mapping and other technological advances, these engines generate 15 percent more power than previous non-ACERT C32 models.
The boat’s handling qualifies as extraordinary. A new mechanical differential-steering system turns the inboard rudder more than the outboard rudder. This produced a much tighter turn at cruising speed — and it’s a standard feature found on all the GT series models. The stern lifts slightly when backing down, allowing speeds to exceed 9 knots. Should you ever take water over the transom, Hatteras’ new scupper design — holes straight through the hull sides but hidden in the aft end of the splash/rub rail — drain the water virtually instantly.
Hatteras incorporated some innovative storage solutions for gaffs, mops, rods and tackle in the cockpit. In addition, the cockpit holds a drop-down remote control station and refrigerated fish boxes. This GT63 came outfitted with an optional recirculating transom livewell. The proceeds from the (also optional) Eskimo ice machine will find a home in the loads of insulated and refrigerated storage compartments under the mezzanine seating. Of course, it’s your choice as to how much and where you want it. I especially like that Hatteras now laminates the refrigerator coils into the chill boxes so you never need to worry about damaging your plates or coils. It makes cleanup far easier as well.
If you read my profiles regularly, you know that I harp on safety at sea. I am pleased that Hatteras adds outboard steps and a handhold on the transom to allow someone who goes overboard the ability to climb back aboard! A different safety issue arises when transiting to the foredeck. I found excellent handholds along the cabin sides until I reached the front of the coach house. Then I entered a no man’s land between the side deck and open foredeck where, if you have no bow rail, I would prefer to see a black (so it disappears into the brow mask) handle on the cabin front.
Perhaps the feature that intrigued me most in this space was the dinette. At my house, dinner guests tend to sit around the table chatting for hours. This huge (relative to other sport-fishing boats of this size) dinette easily seats five adults and more with occasional chairs. The giant galley takes up the rest of the forward half of the salon and sports granite counters, refrigerator/freezer drawers, microwave/convection oven, ceramic cooktop and slide-out drawers behind cabinet doors. I love that you can sit anywhere and still have a fabulous view out the mammoth cabin windows.
Belowdecks, owners have a choice of three layouts. The standard is a four-stateroom, three-head (two portside cabins with over/under twins sharing a head) design. Or, opt for the three-stateroom, three-head arrangement with an added office space. The final option is a galley-down configuration with crew’s quarters that opens up the salon to basketball-half-court size! The fo’c’sle offers up a very nice island double, again with storage beneath and plenty of ancillary storage as well.
Even someone of my large stature can work anywhere in the engine compartment in complete comfort. I also appreciate what you can’t see: Hatteras integrated a single, fiberglass fuel tank built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards. The tank’s low, on-centerline location adds roll stability, helps with running attitude as fuel is burned off, and eliminates the need to transfer fuel between tanks.
You won’t find engine-mounted crash pumps attached to the CAT engines, but Hatteras installs several massive electric crash pumps throughout the boat that they swear do a better job than just a pair of engine-mounted valves.
Hatteras president Jim Meyer is an honest-to-goodness naval architect, and he pays attention to crew needs as well as the needs of owners. That’s why you’ll find many unique, ease-of-maintenance features throughout the GT63’s engine room. Whether flushing air-conditioning lines, cleaning out strainers, changing engine oils or just cleaning spills, this engine room has been designed with the crew’s comfort in mind.
I really liked the helm console on the GT63’s flybridge. Narrow enough to allow passage forward on either side, it still provides space for three 15-inch displays and all your other navigation-center equipment. Other displays can drop from overhead, and you can hide your electric teaser reels overhead as well.
The removable helm chair back on the straight settees constituted the height of multitasking functionality. One way, you can lean back and face forward with your legs stretched out; the other way faces aft, offering a comfortable perch for watching the trolling spread. And of course you can include a large deep freeze on the console front for those long journeys to remote fishing locales.
The captain enjoys clean lines of sight in all directions from the wheel — including the after half of the cockpit. Seemingly de rigueur these days, the tournament-style Palm Beach helm includes single-lever controls with built-in bow thruster buttons. And for those who prefer air conditioning to wind in the face, Hatteras offers the GT63 with an enclosed bridge.
The hot new trend racing through the global marine industry right now (no matter the vessel size) is the use of LED lighting. The technology is cost-effective, thanks to much greater longevity, less heat and more flexibility. Additionally, rather than a huge electrical distribution panel with dozens of mechanical breakers for every circuit, Hatteras has switched over to KEP’s touch screen and digital controls.
But perhaps the most significant change/improvement in this and the other GT models is what you can’t actually see: Hatteras now employs resin infusion throughout the construction process for the hull, string-ers, decks and bulkheads.
The superstructure part continues to be hand-laid. Where practical, other small parts were vacuum-bagged, making them stronger, lighter and “greener,” as the lamination process takes place inside a closed vacuum bag and thus tremendously reduces emissions.
I remember with crystal clarity those original Hatteras yachts — the ones that were so advanced at the time.
Those memories help me embrace every bit of the new boat-building advancements that Hatteras dreams up. The company has never made a better boat than this!
DEADRISE: 3.8 degrees
WEIGHT: 102,000 pounds
FUEL: 1,900 gallons
POWER: Twin 1,900 hp Cat C32 ACERT diesels
MSRP: Base under $3,000,000
Hatteras Yachts / New Bern, North Carolina / www.hatterasyachts.com