I had posted the following yesterday in an old thread, and upon re-reading it this morning, see that it likely got lost in the quagmire of venom to which that thread had descended.
So, here it is as a fresh post:
Traditional sailors, whether they are past owners, present owners or wannabie owners of traditional "bluewater" sailboats, are a rather opinionated bunch. Many are stuck in a mindset that seems to ignore the advances there have been in yacht design and construction in the years since their "perfect" full-keel, heavy-displacement wallower was built.
A case in point: My brother's first response to my telling him I was ordering a Hunter 49 was, "with all your money, why don't you buy a real boat?". He is an accomplished engineer, has built boats and he and his wife have sailed the North Atlantic, the Caribbean and the South America Coast for the past fourteen years in a very traditional Cape Dory.
Last week, when I went to Alachua, Florida to visit the Hunter facility, my brother and his wife were at a nearby St Johns River marina preparing their Cape Dory cutter for another six months of cruising the Caribbean. He jumped at the invitation to join me on the tour, and he appeared to come heavily armed with his pre-conceptions.
During our two-and-a-half-hour walk through, we examined the construction details of hulls 22 through 13, each one being a week or so further along the line and further advanced in its creation, all the way to the just-completed hull 13. The further we went along the production line, the more he examined and the more that his pointed questions were answered, the more his "edge" softened. While I am not saying that we converted him, nor were we trying to, but the experience certainly made his opinion of Hunter much more positive.
He observed that the computer-guided cutters meant that all of the components, from the kevlar cloth and the woven fiberglass to the bulkheads and the cabinetry panels fit together perfectly. There was none of the jamming, prying and pounding into place often seen in the expensive "hand-build" yards. He saw epoxy resins being used in the outer layers of the hull with full saturation and thorough rolling during the lay-up, he examined materials and read labels on resin drums, felt the heft of the cloth, he saw the hull is its many different stages, from gelcote to completed. He nodded his approval.
He was pleased to see 316L used wherever stainless steel was specified, and he examined the welding rods to ensure they were also 316L. He was impressed with centrally located through-hulls, with the huge storage spaces, and yes, even with the corian counter-tops. Our tour gave us both an understanding of the complexities beneath the surface and a confidence in the design, the materials and the construction methods.
As we were driving back to his boat and we were discussing his observations and thoughts, his major criticism was that the chain plates were over engineered and that they were much more robust than was required.
My boating experience includes a career as a Canadian naval officer, as an upperdeck watchkeeper and a navigator, and I hold a Certificate of Service as Master. Since I bought my first boat in 1964, I have owned a wide assortment of vessels, including a full-keel, heavy-displacement ketch, a Dutch steel canal boat in France and a 48-foot motoryacht.
I certainly do not qualify as an expert, and I may not even qualify as experienced, but I like what I see in the new Glen Henderson designs at Hunter, and I like the 49 enough to have bought one in preference to everything else I see in the market.