A fireplace and whirlpool tub are just a few of the surprises on board.

Your first walk through the Hampton 680 Pilothouse is like the first taste of a great wedding cake: The frosting catches your eye, but you quickly discover that the really good stuff is hidden underneath.

It's easy to be impressed by the fireplace in the Hampton's salon, which could come in handy on those chilly days late in the season. You'll also like the 37-inch LCD TV and Bose Surround Sound system. And after a long day on the water, the whirlpool tub in the master suite will be just what the doctor ordered. But dig your fork past these tempting treats and you'll find that the 680 is built and finished to high standards.

The one-piece hull is hand-laid with solid fiberglass below the waterline. Vinylester resin is used in the first three layers of the hull to prevent against blisters, and the hull-to-deck joint isn't just glued with 3M 5200 sealant, but also through-bolted every six inches and then sealed with three more layers of glass. Vacuum-bagged Divinycell is in the topsides for strength. Look closely at the high-gloss cherry wood interior and you'll see craftsmanship on par with the finest builders.

The Hampton 680 is a semicustom yacht, which means the owner has some flexibility in layout and design. In the salon, for example, you can choose the standard floor plan with built-in furniture or freestanding furniture. Or, Hampton's in-house design team will create a layout to fit your needs. The lower deck is offered in two layouts. The one I like has the master stateroom centered amidships, with an en suite head to starboard; a VIP suite forward; and a guest cabin to port (it has bunks, so it's great for kids) with another head. The other layout shows a full-beam head in the master that's separated by that whirlpool tub I mentioned earlier; the guest cabin is to port with twin berths, and the VIP forward shares a head with the guest cabin.

Accommodations on the 680 also include a crew quarters aft, with a single berth, head with shower, and private entry. If I were a teenager. I'd stake this out as my turf.

The pilothouse includes the galley and a settee with dinette, so it's likely to be a gathering place for all passengers when the boat is under way, as well as during meals. Surrounded by premium appliances and either granite or Corian counters, the cook is going to appreciate being part of the action. The salon, with chairs, a comfortable seller and that great fireplace, is where you'll entertain or watch TV.

Standard power on the Hampton 680 is a pair of Caterpillar 34065 diesel rated 800 hp. A Kohler 23-kW genset handles the chilled-water, reverse-cycled air conditioning. The standard equipment list also includes stabilizers, a bowthruster and much more.

Beautifully built and finished the Hampton 680 is going to be - like that wedding cake - a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some happy owners with cruising in their future.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL PILOTHOUSE YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Motorboating Magazine, June 2006 and is written by Chris Caswell. For more great powerboat reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.mby.com/subscriptions/motorboat-yachting-subscriptions

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