Hatteras soars into the '90s with a magnificent new 58.

WITH THE NEW HATTERAS 58 Convertible, the builder's approach was to start from scratch, an expensive, time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Engineered by Hatteras' in-house design team, the yacht demonstrates what a combination of CAD/CAM technology and 30 years of boatbuilding experience can produce. In a word, impressive. But it should be.

After all, the typical Hatteras owner is not easily impressed. As the boat came to life on the drawing boards, the same factors came up time and time again: speed, strength, comfort, innovations, and overall beauty. Since the 58 is aimed directly at current owners of Hatteras 52 and 55 Convertibles itching for an upward move (as well as yachtsmen who might shop the other leading production and custom marques), the company was faced with building a boat that had to not just exceed, but overwhelm, the expectations of prospective buyers.

What makes this new convertible so impressive? Substance. This has long been a Hatteras hallmark. I've worked enough of them to know this firsthand, especially in the offshore canyons where the nearest land is often a mile below the keel. We expect this of a Hatteras. So do Hatteras owners. And by the time they graduate  to the ranks where a million-dollar-plus 58 is their kind of boat, they appreciate that substance, or more accurately, demand it.

 

DUAL PERSONALITY - Twin helm stations offer the best visibility whether running or fishing. Hydraulic steering and controls provide effortless response. There's rod stowage below the L-lounges plus an aft-facing bait-watching seat.

 

The Hatteras in-house design team also had demands. They wanted a convertible inspired by the hugely successful 65 Convertible. But it couldn't be a chopped-off, transom-dam experiment. The 58 then needed a new hull, new parameters of excellence, with the familiar and comfortable Hatteras ride.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Understandably, your first impression of the boat is total luxury. Big staterooms, heads, galley, salon, cockpit, and flying bridge. But in truth, with a boat of this size, you start with that much space anyway. It's vigilance to details that captures the eye. How things fit, where equipment is placed, and above all, how well it works in real-life conditions. When 87,000 pounds of boat comes crashing down off a sea, things had best be right. That's real life.

The 58 rides on a modified-V hull with 10 degrees of deadrise at the transom. The bottom is a solid-glass laminate, while end-grain balsa coring starts where the upper chine meets the waterline. Balsa coring also is used in the transom up to the waterline; then the core turns to Divinycell. Bulkheads are one-piece, cored with Divinycell foam and vacuum-bagged with fiberglass laminates on either side.

 

ISLE OF WHITE – Master stateroom fit for sovereigns; light woods and soft corners help create an extraordinary salon and galley; business-like cockpit; antiseptic powerhouse.

 

The superstructure employs balsa, too. It's a one-piece unit which includes the foredeck, house, aft bulkhead, and cockpit sole. An approach that's strong and proven.

The stringer system mirrors this attention to strength. Massive fiberglass-encapsulated closed-cell-foam stringers are bolstered with strategically placed crosswise grid members as a secondary support system. This lightweight eggcrate configuration adds the stiffness needed to support the weight of the machinery, and absorbs the energies from the drive train and water, while minimizing hull deflections. Engine mounts rest on aluminum plating on top of the stringer which has 1/2” steel plate laminated into the underside.

Beyond substance, the Hatteras 58 represents how well the builder understands the intricacies of hydrodynamics and how this force hinders or helps a high-horsepower boat's performance.

OUTWARD BOUND – With 2,700 shp, from twin DDC 16V-92Tas, the 58 topped out at better than 38 mph. absence of teak minimizes upkeep, and accents clean cockpit layout.

 

The 58 we tested had a pair of 1350-shp DDC 16V-92TAs marinized by Covington. With this much muscle, vibrations and noise can come from various sources - propeller flex and twisting from overloading; water coming off the hull at high speeds; machinery and exhaust noise, among others. Having a fast boat that compromised the ride wouldn't do either.

It's no secret that water won’t compress. If you want to improve a boat's ride, and reduce water noises you have to make the water flow past the hull and running gear with minimal interruption. And you must take into account all the conditions the bout is likely to encounter. Otherwise, you have a one-sea boat - a boat that runs fine only under ideal conditions. In real life, "ideal conditions" are few and far between.

Improvements in hull design come in small, hard-won steps. But even if you only gain one-half knot at a time, several minor details can add up and translate into better performance. When you think of the ways an owner can sabotage performance by bolting on a tuna tower, running with a full enclosure, piling on extra equipment and gear, those extra half-knots become even more important.

Aboard the 58, Hatteras engineers spent much time reworking the exhaust system. When you look at the boat, for instance, you see the side exhaust ports flush-mounted below the fiberglass bilge rails. Yet, the lion's share of exhaust actually exits from the hull bottom near the chine, with the balance draining out the side exhausts.

 

Substance in design and construction. The hallmarks Hatteras has been sending to sea for 30 years are so apparent in the 58.

 

This system has multiple benefits. By dumping the exhaust into the hull's slipstream, the cockpit is kept free of fumes, and the diesel dust can't readily collect on the transom. The noise level is lower, and machinery resonance is minimal. Additionally, engine back pressure is reduced and more power seems to be available to the prop. But perhaps the most interesting element of the exhaust is how it helps the hull lessen drag on both corners, break free, and run smoother. It's a smoothness you can feel in the absence of vibrations even while standing on the fiberglass cockpit sole.

The test boat was equipped with one-piece, 3" stainless-steel shafts with a high resistance to crevice corrosion (very important for long shaft life) and five-bladed Rolla propellers which added to the vibration-free ride. And a special air-induction system designed by Hatteras provided other interesting results. Conduits in the transom below the waterline allow air to be directed to a space above the propellers via a series of through-hull fittings. The air displaces water, and reduces vibration. Obviously, this system will only work when the boat is making speed, but the effort certainly pays off in smoothness and quietness.

OF AIR AND SPEED

While Hatteras was working on hydrodynamics to foster the best possible use of the water, the engineering team also considered aerodynamics. Thus, the curved flying bridge has an abbreviated, tucked-in eyebrow to help reduce air resistance. On the expansive nonslip foredeck you'll also note nearly flush Lewmar hatches.

The solid deckhouse windshield and front of the flying bridge are gently curved. Again, the idea is to let the elements flow by naturally. It also makes the superstructure easier to keep clean since there are virtually no horizontal surfaces on which dirt or grime can collect. The Imron-coated gel coat is flawless.

Other Hatteras details that result in top performance can be seen in the engine room, which is reached through a cockpit door. A pair of 16"-diameter blowers rush hot air from the engine compartment. With the cockpit door and hatch closed as they would be during operation, fresh outside air is then pulled through the substantial network of hull vents.

This forced-air induction results in a surprisingly cool engine room. According to the test boat's captain, Ron Locke, the ambient temperature in the engine room after a long run is just 95 degrees when the outside temperature is 70 degrees. I can attest to this after unhooking the DZL fuel-flow gear. Certainly, the water-cooled turbochargers help, too. But the real benefit from that steady influx of forced cooling air means no horsepower loss no matter how long or hard you run the boat.

 

Problems a huge flying bridge can present in terms of visibility, fore and aft, are remedied with two helm stations.

 

With our boat's test engines, we topped out at more than 38 mph. But speed isn't the only story here. ZF transmissions, which have a 2.5:1 reduction, were chosen to deliver the torque and horsepower that enable this boat to run through just about anything the ocean can throw at it while maintaining a steady 30 to 32 mph. Or, look at it this way - at 1600 rpm (about 25 mph) the boat's range is the same as the run from Key West to Cozumel, about 425 miles.

Standard power is a pair of 12V-92TAs which Hatteras' Ken Kranz, Director, Market Planning and Development, says should deliver a 28 mph cruise; 33 mph at the firewall.

INNER BEAUTY

The belowdecks space is, as expected, exquisite, yet practical and workable.

With the optional under-the-counter Sub Zero refrigerator and freezer units, the salon is open, unobstructed space from the aft bulkhead to the companionway. The use of light ash as the primary wood, white molded marble counter-tops, supple vinyls that feel and look like kid leather, and subtle touches such as the off-white, pebble-finish vinyl headliner with fore and aft seams creates a tasteful, contemporary environment. Appliances and entertainment toys are top of-the-line.

Below, three staterooms and three heads are finished in the same style. Placing the dayhead at the base of the companionway steps helps traffic control. And throughout this boat it is clear that Hatteras devotes as much time to the things you never think of as to those you do. For example, screw holes on the underside of the steps are filled with wood putty, and sanded smooth; portable fire extinguishers are scattered throughout the boat in full view.

Just in case you miss the familiar dark, Afromosia teakwood that Hatteras uses on so many of their interiors, don't despair. Lift off the hatch in the master's sole; you're holding it, as the wood is now used on the underside of hatches. While you're at it, note the various plumbing and electrical that are at home in the neatly gray-painted bilge. Tidy, sweet, clean, and so official looking. There's pride at work. Note, too, the decks are cored and two-inches thick.

RIGHT RIGGER!

This is still a fishing boat, though you can't tell from the inside. In the 175-sq.ft. cockpit, nothing is left to chance. There's plenty of stowage, built-in freezers, chill-boxes, live wells, bigeye-tuna-sized fishwell in the deck and a second fishwell molded into the transom (perfect for bailing dolphin at your favorite weedline), plus a walkthrough transom door. A definitive Hatteras touch is the specially designed hatch pulls. The safe and durable Hatteras nonslip coats the fiberglass sole which is also laminated with a mounting plate to secure a fighting chair stanchion.

With a huge flying bridge, and fiberglass pulpit to look over, visibility at high speeds could have posed a problem. But aboard the 58, Hatteras resolve provides two helm stations. The forward station is designed for running with full instrumentation, electronics, and a choice of seating arrangements. For fishing, drop back to the aft station to keep tabs on the action below.

Our test boat featured about $68K in electronics. The PipeWelders tower fabricated at the company's Southport, North Carolina, branch lists for another $40K. If you want an enclosed and air-conditioned flying bridge, figure on another $27K.

Base price is $1.14 million for the 16V-92TAs ($980K for the 12s); certainly a lot of money, but about what you'd expect to pay to play in the major leagues. You could probably spend more for a custom-built boat and not get the same attention or builder support.

The comprehensive owner's manual that comes with the boat is an example. Every system is described in elaborate detail to help the owner, captain, or boatyard troubleshoot or repair virtually any problem. The electrical section, for instance, has recommendations where to tap in extra accessories the owner might choose to add later on.

This was the largest Hatteras I've ever run, though I've spent a few hundred hours on a venerable 53. And there's no comparison. The new 58 is fluid in every phase of operation. It's quick to plane, and effortless to steer thanks to the Hynautic hydraulic steering and controls.

During the test, the engines were shy of the top end by 100 rpm. Even with this restriction, the big Hatt hit 38 mph with no problem. A little extra fine-tuning might push it to the magic 40 mark if speed is all-important to you.

For my money, however, 1800 rpm is an ideal speed; you'll be making 30 mph. And the beauty of it all is that you won't even feel the motion. One of the problems an operator of a boat such as this must face is coming off the back of a wave too quickly and not being able to veer off in time to prevent running over a floating log or other debris. I wouldn't want to bang up a prop for this boat. But to each his own.

 

The base price of $1.14 million with 16V-92TAs, is in line with what you'd expect to pay to play in the major leagues.

 

In any case, the 58 has the power to do whatever you want. If you slow troll, or live bait, however, you'll need trolling valves, but then these are pretty common nowadays on big convertibles. up a prop for this boat. But to each his own.

In any case, the 58 has the power to do whatever you want. If you slow troll, or live bait, however, you'll need trolling valves, but then these are pretty common nowadays on big convertibles.

You've probably noticed that I keep referring to the 58 Convertible as a "boat," not a "yacht." I've done this for a reason. The 58 has all the beauty and luxury a yachtsman could possibly want. But it also has the strength, engineering systems, and the heritage that can only come from 30 years of boatbuilding experience. That's what I liked the best. The beauty, well, you'll just have to take that, too.