This design review comes with a big caveat. Try as I might, I can't be totally impartial about this boat. You see, I was a designer and vice president with the late Jack Hargrave's office for 13 years and continued to work with Jack on projects for years after I moved on. Former Hargrave associate Mike Joyce has rebuilt the Hargrave design office, largely dormant for a while, with a combination of Hargrave veterans and new talent. As I reviewed this new design, I couldn't help but wonder, "What would be different if Jack were still there?" It's an unfair question, so I've tried to put it aside. But don't be surprised if a little speculation creeps in.
The aluminum Hargrave 45 is intended for serious sportfishing. She's available in two versions: an open boat with a single stateroom, and a sportfisherman with two. The designs vary in a number of ways, and the details in the plans offer numerous alternatives, which is appropriate in a building program that encourages customization.
The open boat is the first being built, and it should be in the water by now. At first glance, the foredeck seemed a bit full, but on more careful examination, the reason for the shape became clear. There is a lot of flare, more Carolina-style than the older Hargraves, so there's a fairly fine hull under that broad deck. The stateroom forward features an island double berth, but I'll bet a fair share of the later hulls will have V-berths or upper and lowers. Sorry, ladies, but most tournament boats still have largely male complements.
There's a single head with two doors that serves as both a day head and an adjunct to the stateroom. Abaft the stateroom, to starboard, is a settee that converts to upper and lower berths. The galley is large, and I expect future buyers will trade some of this space for other amenities.
The helm is a centerline installation with a single chair, and there's plenty of space around it for when the cockpit action gets hectic. An L-shape lounge will seat four comfortably, and a wet bar will keep guests happy.
Two steps down is the heart of the boat: the cockpit and fighting chair. The transom is radiused to match the swing of the chair, and there's plenty of room between the footrest and transom bait well for the mate to do his job. Cabinets at the cockpit's forward end include a sink, a tackle center and plenty of countertop space.
Fuel is carried in two deep wing tanks, an arrangement that invariably tightens up access to the outboard side of the engines. The upside is that the fuel's variable weight is better balanced at that location, and that the space under the cockpit is available for plenty of fishboxes and stowage bins.
The closed sportfisherman features the same island berth forward, plus a private en suite head. To starboard is a small guest cabin with upper and lower berths. A day head serves this cabin, which shares a single shower with the master head.
A compact galley and L-shape settee fill the smallish deckhouse, a trade-off for the huge cockpit. No lower helm is shown, but it would be easy to fit one to starboard. The upper helm is on centerline and extends to port, with a bench seat forward of it and another to starboard. The captain's cockpit view should be quite good through the open rail and ladder hatch. Real fanatics could cut away the small, unused portion of bridge deck abaft the ladder.
I have no doubt Jack Hargrave would be pleased with what the new crew has done, but I can almost hear him saying, "Maybe if we just moved this a little, and changed that around a bit." That's part of the pleasure in building a semi-custom boat, and prospective Hargrave 45 owners shouldn't hesitate to participate in the process.
Contact: Hargrave Custom Yachts, (954) 463-0555; www.hargrave.org