It doesn’t take any imagination to know that the new Passage 420 from Hunter Marine is not a traditional cruising sailboat. Take a look. The short ends, mast struts and trunk-like opening transom, for example, tell you this 43-footer takes no lead from any classic, sweet-ended and lithe cruiser of another sailing era. The Passage 420 sets its own style as a day-sailing-to-distance cruiser reborn to meet many of the current needs and wants of sailors.
The Hunter 420
Let’s go back, first, to the genesis of the Passage 420. Around 10 years ago, Hunter’s Warren Luhrs, a CEO passionate about sailing, spearheaded a new and unusual boat niche, the production passaging yacht, and called it the Passage 420. The boat evolved, in part, out of Luhrs’ blue-water sailing experience. It included the innovative and practical B & R rig that Luhrs has favored on Hunters. Though it was an able cruiser of moderate success, Hunter Marine realized the deck and cabin could benefit from updating. But what improvements were needed?
Hunter set up a covey of focus groups, commissioned a consumer survey analysis, obtained feedback from owners, and asked their dealers to tell them what their customers wanted. The summation of all this information painted the picture of a boat with a lot more amenities and favoring a more comfortable and relaxing approach to sailing.
Taking a lead from its 10-inch longer overall Hunter 450, the Hunter Design Team created a center- cockpit, shoal-draft cruiser with an interior fit for an apartment. In a typical center-cockpit design, the companionway becomes a natural divider between the aft stateroom and galley/salon. The Passage 420 takes full advantage of this break by using all of the area, some one-third of the interior, for the owner’s stateroom. On the 420 — in part a couple’s boat — the aft cabin registers a layout victory, a bedroom at sea. The fore-aft queen-size bed (with seven-inch inner-spring mattress) is an island with hanging wardrobes, bureaus and, even, a slide-out desk along the cabin sides. A head with shower is en suite.
The location of the salon’s L-shaped dinette straddles the opposing settee and large galley. The positioning of these three elements makes for an efficiently blended living space where a person in the galley, for example, won’t be left out of the conversation at the dinette. The nav center, just aft of the curving, six-step companionway, is out of the way while within earshot of the helmsman.
Three people can sleep in the salon and another two in the forward cabin, which includes its own head with shower. Headroom is 6’5" in the aft and forward cabin.
Among the standard equipment on the Hunter 420 is a TV with VCR, stereo CD and AM/FM radio. Other standard items worthy of mentioning are: built-in solar panel on the sea hood, lights for seacock locations, tank gauges, refrigeration, microwave oven, 30-amp battery charger, Corian counters, bedding package with fitted sheets, dish ware, danforth-type anchor and rode, and safety equipment package. This includes: six life jackets, handheld flares and two fire extinguishers.
From the outside, the 420’s profile is arresting as its large fixed cockpit arch commands your view. But as imposing as the arch might be, it is, in fact, a key, practical component of this snug, yet efficient, cockpit. The arch serves as support for the bimini. In addition, the stereo system and speakers, and engine controls have been slickly incorporated into the arch. The mainsail traveler is on the top of the arch, which puts it nicely out of the way while offering a good purchase to the boom. The cockpit electronics can be installed in the binnacle module, and there is a fold-up table hung on the module as well. The sheets are led aft to sheetstoppers and winches on the coachroof where the lines can be stashed into the adjacent organizer well.
The stepped transom features two huge lockers that have room enough for a generator in one and an inflatable dinghy or diving gear in the other.
The Hunter 420 features a 7/8th B & R rig with aft-swept spreader and mast struts that allows for smaller and lighter top sections of the mast while doing away with the backstay. The 420 carries 875 square feet of sail on the 58’5" rig. The standard auxiliary is a 50-horsepower Yanmar diesel. Tankage is 145 gallons water and 45 gallons fuel.
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