Hunter 33 2004 August 7, John Kretschmer
Modern styling and smart design team up in this affordable cruiser
Hunter Marine does not boast about building boats the old-fashioned way and the company's brochures don't include pictures of grizzled old salts taking sextant sights. Indeed, few production builders have pursued design innovations as devotedly and as successfully as Hunter. Its boats are unabashedly modern. Purists may scoff but the sailing industry has certainly benefited from Hunter's ongoing development of affordable boats that blend comfort, ease of handling and good performance. Hunter seems determined to make sailing less complicated and more fun. Imagine that.
Not surprisingly, the new Glenn Henderson-designed Hunter 33 combines a host of fresh ideas, both above and below the waterline. The shoal-draft hull shape and fractional rig are efficient through a wide range of wind and sea conditions and the optional all-furling sailplan can be controlled from the cockpit. It's nimble in tight quarters and whether you're ghosting up a channel under main alone or backing into a slip under power, this is often an under-appreciated design feature. From the trademark arch and the B&R rig, to the integrated swimming platform and rakish dark portlights, the Hunter 33 includes the innovations and sleek styling that we've come to expect from one of America's largest builders.
What is surprising about the Hunter 33 is the level of fit and finish. The overall quality is impressive, especially for a boat that can be purchased for less than $100,000. From small but important standard features like all bronze through-hull fittings below the waterline, to construction techniques and materials that include lead keels and sophisticated hull layups, to elegant interior joinerwork, the 33 adds up to a solid value.
I recently joined Hunter Marine's Director of Sales Chip Shea at the Miami Beach Marina. He welcomed me aboard a 33 that just the day before had been on display at the boat show; in fact, the banners were still flapping. I took a moment to view the boat from the dock. I like the look of Henderson's design. The cabintrunk merges gracefully into the foredeck creating a lower, cleaner profile than previous Hunter cruisers. Although the 33 carries its beam well aft, visually the boat is well proportioned.
We dropped the banners, cast off the mooring lines and got under way. The boat cut through the water smartly under power, answering my doubts that the 18-horsepower Yanmar was a little on the small side for a boat that displaces 11,000 pounds. Throttling back, we came onto the wind and set sail. An in-mast furling main is an option, as is a furling boom. The standard main includes single line slab reefing. The furling 110-percent headsail is standard. We used the inboard genoa tracks mounted on the cabintop for tight sheeting angles, hardened the sheets and beat out of Government Cut.
The boat felt solid in the water, and as we pushed through a choppy inlet Shea noted some interesting construction details. The hull is solid laminate below the waterline and balsa-cored above. Hunter uses a modified form of vinylester resin to prevent blistering. The forward sections of the hull, the area most prone to impact, are strengthened with Kevlar. An antimonious lead keel is externally fastened with stainless steel bolts. An extensive bilge grid system breaks up the panel size into small areas, stiffening the hull and supporting the keel loads. The interior components are built in modular fashion and then glassed to the hull. Unlike most builders, Hunter employs an external flange for the hull-and-deck joint. Bonded both with 3M 5200 sealant and through-bolted, this arrangement is strong. However, the joint is vulnerable to impact from docks and pilings. A full vinyl rubrail with stainless insert helps protect the joint.
The Company offers the details of this vessel in good faith but cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy of this information nor warrant the condition of the vessel. A buyer should instruct his agents, or his surveyors, to investigate such details as the buyer desires validated. This vessel is offered subject to prior sale, price change, or withdrawal without notice.