Hatteras 61 Motor Yacht
(Review boat 1982)
by David Pascoe
The above specs for the 63 MY except for dimensions, are the basically the same as for the 61 MY.
The sixty-one motor yacht has been called by some, "the big tub," for it is indeed big. But "tub" is a pejorative term that applies only to its appearance which is very misleading as to its performance and sea worthiness. Although not fast by any definition, it's not particularly slow, either, designed by renowned naval architect Jack Hargrave, it stands heads and shoulders above many, if not most, more later model yachts in terms of its sea kindliness.
It has appeared in a variety of incarnations since its introduction in 1979, ending in 1986 when it was stretched out to sixty-three feet and the 61' being eliminated. Both the sixty-one and sixty-three are basically the same boat but for length, and have cockpit versions. The very same hull form was later stretched out to 68 feet with cockpit.
So why is this a great yacht? Several reasons, the first of which is superb quality, followed by great design and last but not least, for a yacht in which the design focuses so heavily on interior amenities, it is also a good sea boat. Bearing in mind that it is not a true oceanic cruiser, her offshore capabilities are more than good enough for moderate offshore passages without causing undue distress under moderate conditions, though admittedly, she's not something you'd be cavalier about getting caught in a big blow in. By the time seas get up to 6 foot, this big tub of a yacht starts to become unwieldy, hard to control and even the autopilot can't handle it. But, then, this is not intended as an ocean going yacht, as few in this size range really are. However, during our sea trial in three foot seas, this behemoth knocked the waves so flat they were hardly noticeable. And lacking a lot of bow flare, it's fair to say that it's a "wet boat."
Her unstabilized stability produces a comfortable motion much as you'd expect with any good design, yet with stabilization, her performance is surprisingly stable, dampening out all but ten degrees (or 20 in the full arc of roll) of roll in four foot seas. In anything less, she barely moves.
Detroit Diesel 12V71's rated at 650 hp are the usual power plant, producing a top speed of around 20 fully loaded. A realistic cruise is 18 kts at 2000 RPM with a tender and davit on the upper deck. Our speed run was done with about half fuel and little in the way of stores and provisions. These engines typically deliver about 2500 hours between overhauls. There are, of course, some of these engines that have been souped up to 750 hp, producing speeds up around 22 kts., but rest assured that these engines won't last long, their life span dropping to around 1500 hours if you're lucky. They're pushing a 41 ton load, and this is no boat to try to turn into a hot rod.
First because of her relatively deep draft hull that was never designed as a high speed hull. It's her depth and keel which give her her stability, and second because the fuel consumption rises dramatically. At 650 hp you get a reasonable 66 gph and a 320 mile range with standard 1170 gallon tanks at 2000 RPM and 18 knots. At 750 hp this jumps to 88 gph and a 270 mile range before refueling.
Now, the 63 MY and cockpit models pack in as much as an additional 10,000 lbs. Over the sixty-one. With the same engines and therefore the speeds are a bit slower, all with the same fuel capacity, thus it's not hard to figure which is the better deal here if speed is the issue.
Engine overhauls as of this writing typically run about $2k per cylinder, plus extras such as coolers, turbos and whatnot. As such things are typically neglected, figure $20k per engine. Don't believe any nonsense about Detroit parts becoming scarce or pricy; that won't be true for a long time to come.
Forward of the split engine rooms is another machinery compartment that is large enough to hold two 20 Kw generators, the seven air conditioning units and other equipment. With its twin 50 amp, 250 VAC shorelines for a total of 100 amps, the yacht obviously needs both of these generators, though the purpose of having two is usually the need for a back up. This highlights the fact that these yachts commonly travel far and wide, often migrating north and south with the seasons.
Space? This yacht has loads of space and very intelligently laid out, too. There is only one complaint with the whole thing, and that is the altogether too small companionway to the bridge, which is within the pilot house. It is really inconvenient going up and down this thing, but beyond that this is one marvelous layout. The galley is aft of the pilothouse which, itself is plenty spacious. U-shaped, the galley has plenty of counter space, a built in Modern Maid over/under range-oven set next to an upright double door reefer/freezer, and still you have loads of workspace. With the large house side windows, the galley is naturally illuminated with good outward visibility. Opposite the galley is a shallow dinette that gives an eat-in kitchen atmosphere.
Because this is a relatively slow boat by today's standards, the one thing you need to be cautious about are boats where owners have attempted to squeeze the last 1/4 knot of speed from them by playing around with injectors and propellers. It is an easy thing to do to wreck the engines by making changes without an understanding of what you're doing.
The salon is sufficiently large that it contains a fixed dining area capable of seating for six without cramping. Again, there's loads of window glass and all windows are the sliding type, a definite plus for those of you who have already been through the power failure in a boat with fixed windows routine. No power on a warm day means you have no choice but to abandon ship unless the windows open, which is the way the majority of yachts are being built today.
Some will see the layout as old-fashioned, while others would call it traditional. Whatever you call it, it is comfortable in terms of moving around. Although some might complain that access to the master stateroom is an unnecessarily long walk, since you get there by going forward and walking down the long central companionway between the engines and aft stateroom. Most recent designs will have a staircase in the main salon, but this uses up valuable space, and is one thing that makes this salon larger than most.
The master stateroom is large enough to meet most people's requirements, though by today's standards the master head is smallish and anything but plush, though there is a walk-in closet that measures about 6 x 6. The stateroom is separated from the guest quarters by the aft guest, twin berth stateroom. At the forward end of the central companionway is something of a laundry center, with standard Frigidair over/under washer dryer, plus a bit of working space and cabinetry for storing linens, etc.
The forward guest or crew quarters has the standard over/under single berths. But aft of this is yet another double stateroom to port with a dinette and head opposite. We have found that on some of these boats, this peculiar layout has been converted into an office type area or lounge, as was the case with this boat.
Actually, this is the same layout we've been used to with larger Hatteras Yachts for decades with the 53 and 58 motoryachts albeit with additional staterooms added. It's the same split engine room layout which has its plusses and minuses. The plus is that there is only one set of steps forward,-- no going up and over the engine room, something that anyone with some infirmities would appreciate. The negative is the additional noise and heat that is thrown into the staterooms because of this. If you wonder why the yacht has seven, yes SEVEN air conditioning units, this is the reason why. Originally, these yachts were never fitted with an adequate engine room blower system, which it needs to have retrofitted to help evacuate engine heat more rapidly, especially in the tropics.
The bridge deck area is huge, and you'll find a wide variety of modifications and additions in this area. You'll find them with the standard modular fiberglass seating units, and often with custom built seating, bars or even near full size galleys and Bar-B-Ques up there. In fact, these boats are so prone to extensive remodeling that it would be hard to find one that is anywhere near original design. Interiors tend to range from sumptuous to outrageously tacky.
The hull construction is balsa cored above the water line and solid glass below. And, as you probably know, these yachts are prone to blistering. Decks are glassed to the hulls and are also balsa cored, which provides the possibility that improperly attached hardware has caused water leaks into the core. Another weakness are the aluminum window frames, which were originally anodized but may have been painted. These frames are good at accumulating salt in the slide channels that over time may result in corrosion holes that leak water into the interior. Many of the older models need to have the windows overhauled if they haven't been already, the cost of which is not insignificant, but relatively small compared to the value of the yacht.
In addition to the high quality throughout, it is the standardization of Hatteras systems that helps make this an exceptional yacht. There aren't any parts or commonly replaced components that are no longer available, so it doesn't become a major chore getting parts for an old boat, as it so often is with others. The systems have all been refined and perfected over the years, so there are few, if any engineering faux pas. You may find things where you think, gee, they could have done this better. But almost nothing where you'd say, man, this is really screwed up.
Access for maintenance is generally excellent throughout, and that includes the electrical system. Need to string new circuits, remove old ones? That’s easy in this boat because it was designed with this in mind. Indeed, any good designer should know that any large yacht gets yards and yards of new wiring installed after it leaves the shop, and there is more than adequate provision for that here.
Our latest review yacht was a 1982 model that was in remarkably good condition for its age. Believe it or not, it still had the original paint job that still looked good, though it had spent its life up north, and not in Florida or the south where a paint job won't hold up that long. This is one of the most economical yachts of its size to own and maintain.
How many crew does it require? Well, believe it or not this yacht can be handled by a single couple who are in good physical condition, and often is. The yacht maneuvers well enough for that, but the pilot does need to have good skills. Since there are no catwalks or side decks running full length, docking and undocking is less easy than what otherwise would be the case. And what with her very high freeboards, getting on and off when docking is a proposition for the more agile. You'll find that all of these yachts have gangways because they need them. For those getting on in years, it is likely to be a bit too much for a husband wife team to handle alone.
At A Glance
- Hull Bottom Solid glass
- Hull sides Balsa cored
- Decks Balsa cored
- Hull/deck join Fiberglassed
- Deck rigidity Very solid
- Stringers Molded top hat
- Bulkheads Plywood
- Rub rail Stainless steel
- Mold fairness A
- Exterior finish Imron painted standard
- Hardware quality A+
- Harware attachements A+
- Exterior detail A+
- Window frames Anodized aluminum
- Fuel tanks Fiberglass
- Engine mounting Rigid
- Engine room neatness A
- Engine room access A-
- Engine room water tightness A
- Struts Extra large
- Shafts Conventional w/muff coupling
- Steering Hynautic hydraulic
- Through hull plumbing All bronze ball valve sea cocks
- Waste system Galley Maid
- Plumbing system access A+
- Bilge pumping 4 Rule 2000 -- inadequate
- Electrical system Twin 50 amp, 250VAC, multiplex system
- System design A+
- Interior layout A
- Exterior ergonomics A
- Interior fit and finish A
- Air conditioning efficiency A
- Ease of maintenance A
- Slow speed handling A
- Ease of docking B (difficult in strong winds)
- Axial turning radius A-
- Rough water performance A
- Transverse stability A
- Spray over bow Occurs in all but calm conditions
Posted April 28, 2001