In an effort to keep the discussion fact/evidence/experience based, I have a few experiences relevant to the discussion. I'm sure that there are many, many happy Hunter owners -- and I have a lot more respect for sailors of Hunter boats who are out there sailing than armchair sailors or those who rarely leave the dock
. People have crossed oceans in rafts -- I have no doubt that it can be done in a modern production sailboat -- it just wouldn't be my choice.
The Hunter I spent the longest on, about 10 days, was a 420 Center cockpit
. First, the positive.
*The aft cabin
was very spacious and comfortable for a 42' boat.
*On a broad reach, under shortened sail, we made 8+ knots over ground with 17-18 knots true -- I consider that pretty good.
was well insulated for sound such that in the cockpit
it was barely audible and not objectionable.
*I liked the hatches over the shower
-- I like fresh air, if possible, instead of steaming up the inside of the boat.
Now the negative.
*This boat didn't feel very solid. As we swung from a ball in 20-25knts my wife was fearful for our wellbeing as the boat was creaking/groaning so much. It didn't fall apart, but it sounded and felt like it might.
*The boat felt beat. Although clean, it felt decided downscale in the interior finish-work. I've been aboard 40+ year old boats that didn't feel as beat.
*The boat would not sail to weather
. 45 degrees to apparent wind
was the best I could coax out of it.
*The boat would not motor
to weather. Heading into 22-25kts, the engine
, even at 2500rpm was hard-pressed to keep up 4.5 knots. Every time the bow hit a wave, it brought the boat to a (wet) stop.
*The boat was wet. It didn't have a dodger
, and was a center-cockpit, so one might expect some water
-- but this was much more than I would've expected.
*There was not a comfortable seat on the boat. The cockpit
had very low coamings -- and if I recall
correctly, the cockpit front was curved. As a result, the boat's living room (cockpit) was virtually unlivable -- neither my wife nor I could find a comfortable spot in it. The arch interfered with seating in the back half of the cockpit.
The second Hunter experience I wish to relate was several daysails on a Hunter 29.5. I cannot think of anything positive to say about this boat. While we didn't spend much time below, the cabin
was, at best, spartan. It was wide open (which helped it feel less cramped), but could only accommodate a couple, really. There was very limited storage
space. I know some people complain about teak
being high maintenance
, or dark, but this boat fit the description of "floating Chlorox bottle." Under sail, the boat would neither go upwind nor downwind. The swept spreaders required downwind tacking -- that might be a good strategy on a racing
boat, but on a cruising boat, I find it a problem. The boat was tender
-- the heel angle to weather was extraordinary and the loss of steering
significant. The boat became overpowered easily in what I considered light winds (12-15kts).
Lastly, I have a third-hand comment. When I bought my Caliber 28 about 15 years ago, the surveyor
had just done a Hunter 28 the day before. Almost every other comment he made was about how relatively poorly the Hunter 28 was constructed. He mentioned the oil-canning on the Hunter. He told me that the tabbing on the Caliber was how it should be -- that it was built like a 40' boat, whereas the Hunter was built like a toy and that some elements weren't tabbed/glassed and that others have relatively narrow tabbing.
Maybe these were three bad examples of Hunters. Maybe their other designs are better. I don't mean to take away one ounce of pleasure from those of you who enjoy your Hunters. But if asked to recommend a boat, I cannot, based on my experience, recommend one.