On Board: Hunt HBI 30

The Hunt HBI 30 center console is a fun-loving SUV.

Hunt HBI 30

SUV in this instance stands for sport-utility vessel, and that’s about as good a three-word summary of the Hunt HBI 30’s character as you’ll find. She’s large enough, and certainly seaworthy enough, to run offshore between harbors. She’ll take the entire family and a handful of friends — she has seating for 14 adults — picnicking in their favorite cove. Although she’ll willingly accompany you on piscatorial exploits, relative to a dedicated center-console fishing boat, the Hunt HBI may fall short. On the other hand, the standard 24-gallon insulated fish box under the bench in front of the console and lockers for rod stowage beneath the cockpit sole ought to satisfy most owners.

From a driver's point of view, the Hunt HBI 30 doesn't leave anything wanting. Each of her 450 horses has to shoulder only 15 pounds, which accounts for the sprightly acceleration. This modest avoirdupois, Hunt's deep-V hull and the outboards' steerable thrust beg the helmsman to toss the boat this way and that simply for the fun of it. She shouldered into the turns as her bottom furrowed the water, and she hung on like a Formula 1 race boat (see the video below, and the complete photo gallery here).

Although Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay served us only a light chop, I know from experience that the Hunt deep-V bottom makes easy work of rough seas. What’s more, the buoyancy tubes help soften the ride by absorbing a fair share of the impact of big waves, as crossing our wake proved. Standing at the helm felt perfectly natural as I rested my backside against the folded bottom of the seat.

Hunt Yachts dressed hull No. 1 to captivate prospective buyers, but even dressed in working clothes — standard fiberglass anti-slip decks, powder-coated pipe work in the T-top, standard issue fiberglass dashboard — she’ll be hard to resist. Two of my favorite features: Her anchor locker houses the windlass and all the rode, and it lets the anchor deploy beneath the buoyancy tube. The head inside the console has six feet of headroom, a freshwater sink and a marine toilet.

Never mind the inflatable buoyancy tubes, the Hunt HBI 30 equipped with teak decking (a $16,990 option) and the lovely stainless-steel/fiberglass T-top (T-top is $18,270 with powder-coated pipe work, plus $4,300 for stainless steel) is for sure a miniature yacht. She feels solid and planted, as though she were one with the water. Her Yamaha outboards allow normal conversation at a cruising speed of 25 knots, and their response to the smallest input from the throttle levers is precise and immediate. Whether it’s a day of solo adventuring, kayak strapped down in the cockpit, or a day of revelry with 13 of your closest friends, the Hunt HBI 30 is ready when you are.

LOA: 31'9"
BEAM: 11'8½"
DRAFT: 2'6"
DISPL.: 6,750 lb.
FUEL: 157 gal.
WATER: 15 gal.
ENGINE OPTIONS: 2 x 300 hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboards; 1 x Yamaha F350 5.sL 4-stroke V-8 outboard; 1 x Volvo Penta D6-435 diesel w/ UltraJet 305; Volvo Penta D6-370 stern-drive
ENGINES TESTED: 2 x 225 hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboards
BASE PRICE: $184,500

Test Conditions: Speeds were measured by GPS on Narragansett Bay off Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in a light chop and winds of about 5 knots, with full fuel and water and two persons aboard. Fuel consumption was calculated by the electronic engine-monitoring system. Sound levels were measured at the helm.

RPM Knots GPH dB(A)
600 3.8 1.2 56
1100 6.5 2.9 68
1600 7.9 4.3 73
2100 11.0 6.5 78
2600 15.2 9.0 82
3100 21.4 11.0 80
3600 25.7 14.4 84
4100 28.8 18.7 90
4600 32.0 24.5 91
5100 35.4 31.0 93
5600 38.3 38.3 92
6100 42.0 44.5 94

Hunt Yachts, 401-324-4201; www.huntyachts.com