Going the Distance - Hunter 46 Sailboat Hunter 46 makes coastal cruising a breeze.
Hunter’s new 460 hull is broad and voluminous. The boat’s rig and deck are designed for speed and simple handling, but it’s the 460’s abundance of living space and creature comforts that will outshine the last sailboat you owned. The first thing you’ll notice is that the bow is a lot more plumb than many other sailboats, more like a power boat. The 460’s relatively wide 14 foot beam amidships carries well aft, not tapering back sharply to a narrow stern. Under the waterline, the Hunter’s bottom is flatter than many fast sailing hulls, and this helps keep you on “an even keel” – another trait that power boaters appreciate. The standard rigging has no awkward backstay, and it gives you a larger, more powerful mainsail and a smaller jib, so foredeck work is all but eliminated. Although the Hunter 460 can be sailed single handed, it’s designed for at least four adults -- who want to make it up the coast quickly, so they can relax in comfort when they get to their destination.
Performance Bo Cunningham of H & S Yacht Sales in San Diego provided our test boat and sent along Peter Winslow, H & S’s sailing instructor for all buyers. Testing off Point Loma on a cool winter day, we faced a changeable and blustery northwester that brought 8 knots winds, with occasional dead zones and gusts to 13 knots. With small swell, some rain and some sun, we had a little of everything. The Hunter 460 comes with an upgraded 76 hp Yanmar auxiliary diesel engine that is freshwater cooled. While loping along quite comfortably at 2,500 rpm, our test boat averaged 7.6 knots upwind and 8.1 knots downwind. For sustained cruising, the boat’s Yanmar turbo kicked in at about 2,800 rpm. In the calm of San Diego Bay, our test boat reached 3,500 rpm from an idle in about two seconds. Our boat used the standard two-blade prop, but a three-blade model is available as an option. ( Sol mate has the 3 blade prop) The 460’s large rudder and bulb-wing keel gave it quick maneuverability in tight docking situations, despite its 14 foot beam and 38 foot, 8 inch length. Our test boat carried the standard 1,000 square feet of sail area. While testing it under sail alone, the sailboat felt good and stiff, not tender in the least, thanks to its flattish bottom contours. This lack of heel delivers a steady and nearly horizontal deck surface. Visibility was excellent forward and by looking easily beneath its standard high-cut jib sail. The 460’s engine compartment is sufficiently soundproofed to allow ordinary conversation in the main saloon while under way at 3,000 rpm.
Layout A whole slew of practical features is included with the Hunter 460. Plus, there are three interior layouts to choose from. Our test boat had what I would choose as the best stateroom layout for cruising couples or families: the master suite forward with adjacent head and shower, a double guest stateroom with adjacent head/shower aft on the starboard side, balanced to port by a terrific office cabin with a built-in desk and lots of storage, all abaft the galley. ( Sol Mate ) The tri-cabin layout has the same master forward, but with two double staterooms aft. The port stateroom substitutes for the office space. This smaller cabin is perfect for kids. A four-stateroom layout is also available. It divides the approximately 12-foot-wide master stateroom forward into two singles, with the port side retaining the adjacent head, and the starboard with the shower.
Stand Up One of the Hunter 460’s best features is its main saloon, which boasts 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom. Thanks to a lot of skylights, deck hatches and opening ports at eye level, the saloon is bright and airy. The galley is divided from the main saloon by only a grab rail, further opening up this space. The attractive teak and holly cabin sole runs the length of the interior. With sculpted wooden treads and chrome rails, the companionway access between the decks is sloped so gently that it doesn’t demand ducking or special agility. The sit-down chart table and navigation station is to starboard. The helm station centers all the electrical panels, battery switches and systems monitors in one handy location, so you’re not crawling all over the place to keep an eye on things. There’s room for more electronics at eye level as well, and they could be viewed from the cockpit. With ample seating around the U-shaped main dining table, The galley’s gimbaled propane stove with oven is set as far aft as possible, and the refrigerator/freezer are now separate with standard front loading access. There’s also a double stainless steel sink and a small microwave oven. Cabinet latches are flush-mounted push buttons, and Hunter made all the bilges and hidden spaces accessible for deep storage.
Step Aboard The easiest way to board the 460 is over the stern, which is recessed into a swim platform and easy boarding steps. The stern step area also contain a hot/cold shower and stowage for the propane and water toys. This model has 4 feet, 10 inches of freeboard. Almost round, the large cockpit is quite high off the water, providing safety and good visibility on all sides. The central binnacle houses a standard instrument panel, drink holders and a large stand-up steering wheel (mechanical steering with a handy wheel brake). A slightly arched helm seat swings into place to blend with the molded cockpit seating. Beneath this seat is an open section of the high transom, allowing instant cockpit drainage. However, if you have toddlers or pets, you might want to close this off. Otherwise, the cockpit is well enclosed with coamings, stainless steel rails and two-level lifelines.
Sail That Baby Hunter’s distinctive stainless steel arch (something like a sport fisher) carries the aft end of the mainsail’s boom well above head level. The boom’s dual action traveler is mounted across the top of the arch, making its control lines easy to reach. All other control lines are led very neatly from the foot of the mast or side decks through fairleads to cam cleats and winches lining the forward half of the cockpit. This leaves virtually nothing to do outside the cockpit under way – another measure of safety in all weather. The two sets of spreaders on the 460’s mast are swept aft, and the mast is stiffened by a series of three diamond stays, without a backstay. The wire rigging is well secured through the decks to aluminum plates and rails. Hunter has also included a twin bow anchor set up. Our test boat had the optional unbattened mainsail that reefs and furls away completely into the hollow mast. These mainsails have a curvaceous roach and offer a relatively large amount of sail area. The standard jib sails are relatively small. The rig allows for all points of sail except dead downwind, because at that angle the main sail will lay against those swept back spreaders. Although the sail has chafe pads sewn in to prevent wear at those points, sailing directly downwind is discouraged by Hunter. Certified in Europe as a Category A vessel for offshore voyaging, the 460 seems well conceived and well built. It would make an excellent coastal cruiser. The cockpit arch lends itself to hanging a fabric bimini or hard top, and at least one owner added a large enclosed dodger. A packaged Hunter 46 for 2005 lists for more than $300,000. To that, I might add the optional diesel generator. If you’re cruising Mexico or the Pacific Northwest, you’d probably want to add the air conditioning or heating system. Otherwise, this boat’s good to go. Hunter’s slogan is “We go the distance,” and the 460 will do just that.
Webmaster Note: the Sol Mate has both the generator and AC
HUNTER 46' SAILING YACHT REVIEW