I live on a 06 Hunter 36. It makes a great liveaboard. Pros and Cons.. Mr. Henderson come on board Hunter Marine in 2001. Hunter Marine was in trouble and they brought this fine gentleman to change the designs of the boats from crappy to good/great. Here is what he done. First he brought the line of boats up to NEMA standards
Pros and Cons.
Rigging. - B&R... made it stronger and better. Rated Cat A ocean.
I have a Hunter 36 1999 model next to mine at the marina. The differences are amazing. It to has a B&R rig too but totally different.
Traveler Arch. - Henderson didn't come up with the concept but he made it work with a bullet proof stainless steel arch vs plastic. This arc is so over-engineered I am amazed they are still making it this way. It also allows the helms person to adjust the traveler at the helm. This is huge especially if you single hand sail. Also the Bimini is built into the arch.
Cockpit - Large and roomie. I love the swing down table. For those people that have short legs it is a great place to brace themselves when the boat heals. This is important for women to feel secure. The starboard tables are OK, read cheap, but one can always change them to wood if they like. The split of two tables is a nice feature also. The placement of the two jib winches next to the helms person I cannot say enough great things about this. The other production boats put the winches outside the helms person reach. Once again, single handling is a breeze.
The extremely large port lazzerate. One can get lost in there. Holds the batteries and gen-set (optional). It is easy to get in and out, Has a light for night time and two shelves to put small items.
Steering quadrant - Rack and pinion steering. No cables to worry about. Easy to get to. I put in a linear drive autopilot and it was a snap to put in. Steering this boat is amazing.
Sailplan - They got this right also. Boat is so easy to balance that it steers itself. All the gear is top draw Harken and Lewmar. The boom is end sheeted to the arc vs other mid-sheet. With roller mainsail and jib when the wind pipes up it is easy to reef in. Points into weather within 20 degrees. Cons - When sailing downwind in light air it cries for a whisker pole and/or a Genoa/A-sail/spinnaker. Doesn't sail well dead downwind with standard sails on boat. Boat-speed is roughly better than 1/2 the wind velocity. Not a racer but not to bad either.
Anchoring Platform. - Large anchor locker but not divided if carrying two set of anchors. Easy modification. Windlass that come with the boat is good. It is protected inside the anchor locker which is a nice touch. The roller anchor platform is made of stainless all the way to the anchor locker. So no chipping of the foredeck like other production boats. It is built out far enough of the bow so as to not ding the bow when raising or lowering the anchor. I have a Ronca and a Delta quick-set on my bow. I can lock both on the platforms with pins.
Hull - Standard classic plastic but with Kevlar in the forward half of the underwater structure. Not many boat builders are doing this. However, the hull is thin above the waterline and I sure it will not take a beating for long against any hard objects. One thing I wish for that Henderson changed is the toe rail. I love the aluminium toe rail the 1999 model has. However, the rub-rail he put in its place is amazing. Great for docking.
Tankage - Great for this size boat. Good placement and all are easy to get to. All are some form of plastic so should last a long time. The fill ports for water and fuel are in different spots so, one can never mix them up. Catalina puts there fill ports next to each other for instance.
Rudder - Spade rudder. Great control and turns on a dime. Backing is so easy. Cons - BEWARE - This is the weakest part of the boat. Make sure you have the stainless steel rudder post. Earlier Henderson designs used fiberglass ones. They will fail especially in any type of grounding. Hunter changed it out to stainless after late 2005 models. Even with that said the rudder hangs low enough that if grounded, "YOU WILL HAVE RUDDER DAMAGE!". The good news, the way the rudder post and bearings are designed, no water can get into the boat. It is in it own separate compartment.
Engine - Comes standard with Yanmar 29 horsepower engine. Great engine and easy to work on. Great engine for coastal cruising. However, it is not enough horsepower if out in rough seas. 36 or great horsepower is need. It comes with standard 60 amp car alternator (bad) and one rancor fuel filter. The fuel filter is R20 which doesn't have the clear bowl to see water and sediments with.
Electrical System - Did some great things here and not so great things here. Electrical panel.. 5 stars.. Batteries.Comes with 2 x4D's..... however... no separate starting battery. The 4 D's are great for running the house bank in parallel but can run the risk of not having enough amps to start engine. With that said, there is an alarm that goes off when voltage drops below 12.2 to warn of low battery state. I put in a XBM battery monitor system to help me monitor my usage and battery state. Running wires in this boat is a snap. Hunter put in plastic PVC pipes to run wires anywhere you want. Not so great things are the alternator and the way they wired the charging system. Not the best way to do things. I will rewire the boat this fall when I put in a starting battery. None of the wires are labeled going into the electrical panel. Not a biggie but it would be nice.
Thru-Holes - All the intake thru-holes are in one easy location. Next to the companionway. All are labeled, bronze with marine plywood backing plates. However, the strainers for the engine and air conditioner are too small. I have to clean them out at least every two weeks. Hunter went cheap here. I plan on changing out the engine strainer soon.
Interior - Great layout, easy to move around in. Hunter placed many fiddles throughout the boat in all compartments so moving around while healed over or in rough seas is easy. There is a ton of storage on this boat. I am amazed everyday how much storage is on this boat. The downside is I cannot remember where I put things. The only issue I have with the storage is in the salon. The cabinets over the both settees are too small width-wise to place anything significant in them. Hunter put in a shutter thru-way between the V-berth and the salon. Not sure why they did this. Not necessary in my opinion. I would love to hang a picture or a flat screen TV in it's place.
The V-berth is roomy with plenty of storage.
Galley.. The great, good and ugly... Great :Layout, Force 10 stove/oven, dish rack with built-in drainage and fan, counter space. Good: storage for food. Ugly -#1 refrigerator/freezer. Hunter went real real cheap here. They put in a Nordic Cool campus front load frig. Optional freezer under the nav station. Uses to many amps, dumps all the cold air out when opening, and not adequate for anything other than day cruises. I wish they would put in a real sailboat refrigeration system. #2 Counters are built an unlevel counter with slight downward angle to the center of the boat. When I do any wash in the sink and/or water gets onto the counter, the water goes to the end and soaks everything there. They should have built it level. #3 Sink it is on the starboard side and not the center of the boat.
Aft Berth - A real queen size bed. Sheets and blankets are easy to get in any store. Plenty of room and storage. Wish the hanger locker was just a little bigger because the air conditioner duct takes up some room. The hot water tank is under the head of the berth. On cold nights it is nice because it heats up the bed however in the hot weather, I have to turn it off when sleeping. I will have to insulate the compartment one of these days to keep the heat out of the compartment. Recommend Hunter move it to the foot of the bed under the storage compartment there.
Head - Real nice and functional. Great storage. A real shower with a real door. No sink/shower hose. I cannot say enough about this set-up. Teak grate in the lav/shower area. Wet locker/storage room in this area as well. It is huge. I don't know any other boat that has this much room in this size range up to 42 feet. The head itself is electric. Standard for Hunter. It has its plus and minus. Only minus so far is the amp draw when out on the hook. It draws a lot of power vs standard pump handle. Also the water is fresh water. Again plus and minus. Plus, no bad smell from saltwater plus keeps the hoses a little fresher and freer. Minus, When cruising, uses precious fresh water supply. I will probably put in a Y-value for fresh water/salt water. Boat comes standard with a macerator pump, when one has the ability to use it.
Interior Fit and Finish - Standard production boat. Nothing great here. Like all production boats, they use cheap materials where they can and try to present a good facade where they have too. It is not a Hinkley, Sabre or Valiant type interior. Hunter made it for the average weekend sailor and occasional coastal cruiser. However, having said that, it is not like earlier production boats, they have step up the quality and control considerably.
Summary - I really like this boat. I should I bought it! Most important factors for me was it is a safe boat to sail. The boat is so easy to sail, that I can sail her myself with no problems including docking. The topsides are on par with most sailboats in the higher range class. If I want to add any equipment to the boat it will not be a major undertaking. The systems are easy to maintain and not complicated. It is not a complex boat. For a beginner, someone not to handy or just doesn't want a complex boat, this boat is for you. Since Henderson took over, the quality issues from earlier Hunters have disappeared for the most part. Like all production boats, there are always issues, some personal, and some manufacturing designs faults. Most can be changed if you want to dump money into the boat to suit your needs. Happy sailing, and fair winds.
Catalina 445, Hull #90
Last edited by Melrna; 09-24-2008 at 10:49 AM.