"Mid Size Power Boats" - Buyers' Guide by David Pascoe

52 Hatteras Convertible

Another Old Hat Proves It's Worth

52 Hatteras Convertible

LOA 52'0"
YEAR 1990
BEAM 16'4"
DRAFT 5'0"
WEIGHT 56,000 lbs
HP 750 (est)
FUEL CAP 1068 gals
Rock solid, heavy and a great sea boat are the superlatives I'll use for this one. When you say the name "Hatteras," it is everything you'd expect it to be. A product of the AMF era of quality minded ownership, there is the obvious disregard for

The most obvious and first question that any knowledgeable yachtsman is going to ask is, "How does she perform?"

Actually, not bad, not bad, all things considered. Since there was not a professional engine survey done in this case, I spend most of my time in the engine room and doing general testing, so there was no opportunity for speed trials and, frankly, I don't know what her top speed was. All I got was a GPS reading at 2000 RPM of 20.0 knots and a WOT engine speed of 2250 via the engine tachs, the accuracy of which was not determined. Even so, 20 knots at 2000 is not shabby for this tank of a yacht.

One of the earlier of the Hargrave redesign of Hatteras hull forms, it performed beautifully, rising up out of the water graceful from a dead start acceleration run without significant squatting. Giving her a full go to WOT and then throttling back, she'd remain on a comfortable 1600 RPM cruise, proving that she's nicely balanced. It should be noted here that we don't know what the original horse power is/was, or whether she's been over-tuned with the likes of larger injectors, etc., so we can't say that this is typical performance, although the lack of higher speeds suggests that it is. It's a good bet that these engines are set up at their original 750 hp as they had reportedly just been overhauled less than 4 months prior. We were handed invoices in proof of same.

Hatteras 52

The original 1990 brochure.

We had a bit of wave action -- about three feet, and a bit more in a tide rip -- to get a feel for how she'd do in the typical nastiness of the Gulf Stream at the Florida Straights, proving that the combination of her great mass and hull form make for a real wave smasher. She flattened out these three footer with little more effort than stepping on a column of ants. No bucking, no shuddering, just parting the seas like a master of the ocean. Coming to a stop and letting the water move us around, she rolled with a nice, easy motion without the tendency to throw you off your feet, just about what we'd expect, and much the way most all Hatterases perform, being a yacht with a substantial keel to dampen the motion quite a bit. Note the 5 FOOT draft.

Sport fishing is what she's designed for, but she'd make for a great cruising boat but for one thing: The two staterooms are undersized for the length of the vessel. Stateroom space has been sacrificed for salon and cockpit space here, basically giving you two staterooms that are, at best, adequate, but no great shakes. There are nice size heads with stall showers, but you get just enough floor space to crawl into bed at night, so that moma isn't exactly

This example had an altered salon layout with the dinette having been removed and replaced with a L-shaped settee and pedestal table. While it makes the salon spacier, it is less practical. Also, this boat has no partition between the U-shaped galley and salon other than the counter space. Some models have an upright reefer and a bulkhead that divides the salon. Having seen the models with the galley partition, personally, I like the openness of this layout, for the partition makes the salon seem quite small, which it actually is.

The cockpit is humongous. Bigger than it needs to be it is, perhaps, one explanation for why this model was not a bigger seller. It appeals very well to the serious tournament man, but to the less avid who have other ideas in mind such as social occasions, he's likely to turn elsewhere. Even so, for a combined use boat, it still has a lot to offer, not the least of which is the usual good bridge layout. In this case, a bench seat forward of the helm, and another larger seat along the length of the starboard side. Comfortable seating is for 7-8 without crowding. Pipe frame tops are the usual, and in this case they fit very well, allowing for easy install soft enclosures without a lot of contortions. Another notable feature is the amount of unobstructed deck space available for moving around easily. Typical of most social occasions, many people choose to stand rather than sit, and there is plenty of room for that here without putting your butt in the face of someone sitting. The tubular stainless hand rail around the windshield is one of the usual features of a better quality yacht that allows people to hang on without grabbing onto the Plexiglas windscreen and breaking it.

Did any water come over the bow? I was amazed to find that hardly a drop did, despite heading out Port Everglades inlet in a tide rip. She was very dry, even with the wind on the forward quarter.

The engine room layout, in my view, is a real flop. It is packed tight and cramped, making things a bit tough for doityourselfers. At least the put the batteries along the centerline where you can reach them, though they certainly impede movement here. Within the engine room, they did the best they could with the space at hand. But with the cockpit entrance way, the design fails badly since it is very difficult to get in and out, requiring considerable body contortions to pass through this peculiar hole. This, however, seems to be more the norm for cockpit entrances in most boats this size. Even so, they could have made it a few inches wider at the expense of tackle center niceties. Speaking of which, this model still has the wooden interior elements and doors that are subject to deterioration.

Hatteras 52
Hatteras 52

As stated in the opening, the balsa cored hull (above W/L only) and superstructure are rock solid. No spongy decks or stress cracks anywhere. Consider too, that we know this boat was a survivor of hurricane Andrew plus, being a local boat, we know that it has been fished hard for a decade, and still there is not a trace of a structural problem. The struts, running gear and engine bed stringers are massive, so that it has not had alignment or transmission damage problems resulting from a weak drive system or mounting platform. No problems with rapid bearing wear, vibration or gear boxes crapping out because the engines and shafts can't be kept in line.

This yacht is one of the finer examples of a dying breed of well-engineered boats that place structural strength ahead of palatial interiors. It was not designed to go places fast, but retains the virtue of getting there when the guys with the fancier looking boats remain bolted to the dock because four foot seas stop them cold. And that's the truth. This one will go when the flat bottomed Viking, Post and Ocean owners are hold up in a bar somewhere, or have hopped the earliest flight home, leaving the captain to wait it out. And this Old Hat will do it comfortably.

Her greatest appeal will be to customers exactly like the one who purchased this yacht. He lives on a Caribbean island where the seas are rarely calm, and where he'd get very little use from a boat that can't handle five footers with ease.

Another question that would be purchasers will ask is, "What about the engines?" Despite the relatively low speed (assuming a 21 kt. cruise), we're still dealing with high performance diesels. One engine was overhauled in 1/98 and the other in 1/99. That should tell you something about trying to get away with overhauling one engine at a time -- twice the mess and downtime at a higher cost. The later engine was done at 1900 hours, with the hours on the former unknown because the hour meter was malfunctioning. Numerous people have questioned and argued with our statements that the average time between overhauls is usually less than 2,000 hours. This is one of the means by which we find out just how long most engines really last between overhauls. When people talk of three to four thousand hours from an engine, that is just blue sky exaggeration. Cost per overhaul? About $26,000. When you're talking hi performance diesels, you can forget about that "$1,000 per hole" nonsense. Maybe for a sailboat auxiliary, but not for a 25 ton yacht. Divide 8 into $26k and you get a bit over $3,000 per hole with all the coolers, turbos, blowers and other auxiliary components thrown in.

How does she stack up price wise? With fresh engines and a recent remodeling, she sold on the high end of her class at around $450k, though we don't know the exact amount. The original list price was $717,500 she holds up well in an era of steeply escalating prices where new replacement cost is nearly double. Altogether, it is a lot of high quality boat for the money.

Hatteras 52
Click for full size image.

Posted August 25, 1999

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Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.

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