Huckins is a most recognized and respected name for knowledgeable and passionate members of the yachting community. The company's classic lines and modern philosophy are a winning combination, something the new Atlantic 44 demonstrates with finesse.
The best way to experience the Atlantic 44 is to take her helm. I was immediately overcome by the pleasant sensation one has when a boat is right. Her strong qualities are based on well-chosen materials and a hull form that makes as much sense today as it did when Frank Huckins forged the brand. This is no retro adaptation crafted by a sentimental stylist. The story has always been innovative hull design. Cindy Purcell, granddaughter of founder Frank Huckins, now runs the operation. The Quadraconic hull her grandfather created in 1928 has survived him and continues to serve the company well. Huckins chose the Quadraconic name based on the four conical projections used to develop the planing surfaces. Though tweaked over the years, the basic Quadraconic concept remains the same.
A hull design sporting a relatively fine entry will part moderate seas. In conjunction with a low deadrise lifting surface, the vessel achieves maximum lift while retaining the head-sea capabilities desired. The Atlantic 44 exemplifies this with a 13-foot, 9-inch beam that's a bit svelte by today's standards, but perfect in terms of performance.
She rises evenly and planes effortlessly at 13 knots and, at 2400 rpm, moves as easily through the water as any boat I have commanded. Once on plane, she has no inclination to fall off and trims at about 3 degrees. She remains there at her top speed of 29.6 knots.
She has no hook in her lines at the transom, and is not fitted with trim tabs-they're unnecessary. In terms of naval architecture, this is ideal performance. With relatively flat after sections, she is firm shouldered and banks lightly inboard in turns compared with boats in her class that have deeper Vs.
The Atlantic 44's hull, decks and superstructure are a sandwich composite of stitched E-glass reinforcement and vinylester resin over Core-Cell foam. A fiberglass-over-foam longitudinal stringer system supports the bottom, which is in turn supported by cored fiberglass bulkheads. Even the smallest structural details are attended to, and the glasswork's quality is without question. Once hull and superstructures are mated, all exterior surfaces are finished with Awlgrip.
The Atlantic 44 is available in two basic layouts: a single-stateroom arrangement with an island queen berth forward and galley down, or a two-stateroom, galley-up arrangement with upper-and-lower guest berths. The heads are virtually identical in either model, and both are good size with separate showers. Variations on either layout are possible. The boat I inspected had a dinette in the saloon instead of the standard large settee with high-low table.
Interior understatement is a Huckins trademark; the Atlantic 44's blend of hand-selected, satin-finished mahogany and leather is tastefully traditional and beautifully executed. Huckins is willing to use teak, cherry or maple to accommodate an owner's taste.
The bridge layout includes a helm station and companion bench seating. Hatches in the hardtop provide ventilation, as do sections of windshield that can be opened at the push of a button. A curved seating area abaft the helm can be fitted with a table for dining alfresco, as well as enclosed and air-conditioned. The cockpit has space for several deck chairs, and built-in cabinets are suited for line and fender stowage. A hatch in the raised bridge area provides access to the engineroom. The space is well lighted, and access to the engines is excellent. The boat is available with 370 hp Cummins 370Bs or the equivalent Caterpillars or Yanmars. A 6kW Northern Lights generator is abaft the engines.
Mechanical and electrical detailing is excellent. All accessible bilge areas are faired and finished with a high-gloss coating. Machinery space beneath the saloon accommodates the air-conditioning unit, domestic water system and 406-gallon aluminum fuel tank.
I could not help but think of PT boats as I swung the wheel from side to side. The Atlantic 44 is simply a thrill to operate. To quote naval architect Lindsay Lord in his treatise on design (Naval Architecture of Planing Hull, 1946), "Pounding" tends to soften in direct proportion to deadrise or the heights of the chine above the water. Huckins' Quadraconic is an example of a good refinement of the concave form-its forward chines close in to moderate beam while deadrise is fairly high. As early as the 1930s, Huckins was pioneering modern wood construction techniques still in use today. Huckins also was one of the first builders to employ fiberglass-and-foam sandwich construction.
The single-stateroom layout with Cummins, Caterpillar or Yanmar power is $685,500. The double-stateroom arrangement is $698,000. The prices include a $10,000 allowance for interior soft goods and are a bargain considering they include just about everything except electronics.
In the 73 years since Huckins started assembling boats, the sea hasn't changed much. Neither has the wisdom of the advice Frank Huckins used to give his new owners: "She is not perfect, but she is as nearly perfect as long devotion on the part of many men can make of her. If you are kind to her and take good care of her, she will respond with a lifetime of service. If you abuse and neglect her, you can reduce her to a vengeful hag who will hate you." The Atlantic 44 is no blind date gone bad. She is a finely finished custom yacht, a Huckins throughout.
Contact: Huckins Yacht Corporation, (904) 389-1125; fax (904) 388-2281; www.huckinsyacht.com.