Hampton 580

The Hampton 580 is equipped with redundant systems to ensure your cruising is hassle-free.

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Captain Forest Roberts of Anchor Yachts in Ft. Lauderdale and my Dad would have liked each other: they're both "belt-and-suspenders" kind of men. Not in the literal sense, of course. No, both men are tied by the belief that you need backup systems even for (or, perhaps, especially for) the most fundamental of equipment, hence the "belt-and-suspenders" tag. These days, we call it redundancy.

Roberts equips the Hampton 580 based on the same thinking: If you have back-up systems and redundancy for major equipment, any problem will only be a minor inconvenience. This philosophy has served him well, first as a captain, now as a detail-oriented boat dealer, and it's also served his clients.

When Roberts orders a new Hampton from the factory, he imposes his Anchor Yachts philosophy of redundancy on each boat. He has the factory add three layers of Kevlar in the bow and two layers throughout the hull to the sheerline, giving the 580 superior protection against a breach of the hull. Roberts also specifies vinylester resin to protect against blistering. He also puts on a barrier coat before the bottom paint.

The list of redundancies runs literally from bow to stern. At the bow, Roberts adds a husky bow plank and extends the stainless steel pulpit around it. On the plank are two humongous stainless steel anchor rollers and, because the plank is properly sized, you can hang a pair of plow anchors or even a plow and a Fortress without having them bang into each other. The rodes lead to a pair of Maxwell anchor windlasses that handle 250 feet of chain on each.

"It's all about convenience and safety and not having to worry about what-ifs," says Roberts. Sitting in the Bahamas and ready for a hot shower when the water pump fails? No problem: the backup pump kicks in automatically. When both pumps are working, the second pump allows two showers to be used simultaneously without the usual drop in water pressure.

In the engineroom, there are dual pumps for the air conditioning and dual fuel filters with an easy-to-understand switch so you can keep running when one clogs. The bow thruster has two dedicated batteries and an automatic charger. Up on the bridge, there are two depth sounders, and there are no less than three air-conditioning units just for the enclosed flying bridge. This particular boat belongs to Roberts and has been his demonstrator, so Ocean Cowboy (Roberts loves John Wayne) has a second Kohler night genset of 10 kW to back up the standard 20 kW genset, which can run the entire boat. Standard boats come with the 20 kW and a 3 kW inverter for quiet nights at anchor.

Ocean Cowboy has the standard Hampton 580 interior- three staterooms and two heads, all finished in a warm makore (African cherry) accented by rosewood burl and finished with a high gloss. Her upgraded interior features Ultraleather cushions, wood-blade blinds and deep carpet.

In the saloon, large windows offer a good view, even when you're seated. A wide stainless steel framed glass slider opens to the afterdeck. A pair of barrel chairs faces a custom settee, which has a chaise end that's perfect for enjoying the 37-inch Sharp Aquos flat-screen TV in the forward bulkhead.

The galley, behind the helm, has all the conveniences, but the real strength is the remarkable amount of stowage space below, above and around the area. Deep drawers are good for pots, a split-level pull-out can handle spices, and there are even three drawers in the base of the table.

A curving stairwell takes you to the foyer on the lower deck and, like all the stairs on the Hampton 580, these are perfect in width and rise for easy passage. Hidden in the foyer are a separate washer and dryer, along with a locker for all the laundry supplies.

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The master stateroom, with a centerline queen-size berth, spans the full beam amidships. Ocean Cowboy has a built-in bureau with vanity and sea-railed bookshelf to port. The en suite head is on the starboard side and boasts a John Wayne-size shower.

The most amazing part of the master stateroom on the 580 is the immense amount of storage. I stopped counting bureau drawers at 20 (built-ins, under the bunk, in the nightstands), and then I found the two huge cedar-lined hanging lockers, one of which is big enough to be a walk-in. Many builders don't understand the dimensions of a coathanger, or how much height is needed to hang a blazer or a woman's dress. Not a problem on this Hampton.

Forward is the VIP with a queen berth, another big hanging locker and enough drawers and lockers to make me worry that guests might want to linger. There is a private door from the VIP to the day head, which is the equal of the master head and, like the master, has a porthole cleverly concealed behind the hinged mirror.

The guest cabin to port on Ocean Cowboy was configured with upper and lower bunks for kids, but the side-by-side layout might appeal more to adult guests. Another option is an office with a single berth.

The steps down from the foyer to the master cabin lift, revealing a huge area that's perfect for stowing canned goods, spare parts, and other things you need for a cruise. You can duck-walk the area all the way forward.

The flying bridge on Ocean Cowboy is halfway between an open bridge and the optional skylounge, which is usually chosen when the lower helm is eliminated. The factory hardtop covers the bridge with hard windows forward, and the remaining three sides have been enclosed with Strataglass. This flexibility allows an open bridge when the weather is pleasant, or you can button it up for use with the a/c or heating. One nice touch is the two hard doors aft: one leads to stairs to the afterdeck while the other opens to the boat deck. There is also a stairwell to the pilothouse next to the helm.

The skipper and companion each have Pompanette Platinum electrically adjustable helm seats, and the fiberglass console duplicates the electronics and controls at the lower helm. A settee and wet bar complete the bridge. Just aft is a boat deck large enough to carry an 11-foot center console tender, launched with a UMT hydraulic crane with both lift and turn.

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The engineroom has a surprising six-feet, two-inches of headroom, with entry from a watertight transom door or down a ladder from the afterdeck. A separate compartment aft holds Cablemaster tubs, the a/c, Nutone vacuum system, and provides good access to the rudder posts and steering.

I found good access to the outboard sides of the 715-hp Cummins QSM-11 diesels, as well as the twin Kohlers. All the plumbing and electrical is seamanlike, and it's clear that service technicians won't have a problem aboard the 580. Knowing that future owners will be adding or changing equipment, the 580 is laced with PVC wire runs, each with a pull cord to simplify wiring.

Under way, the Hampton 580 is a pleasure. The SidePower 15-hp bow and stern thrusters let the boat literally jump sideways out of a tight slip. Using the fold-out helm station in the cockpit, a couple can easily handle her. I particularly liked the split upper-lower windows on the bridge, because it allows the skipper to see his line handlers on the side decks, as well as the corners of the boat without having to strain.

Once clear of the harbor, the 580 was flat coming to full throttle, even though we weren't using the trim tabs. Roberts said they're really needed only to counteract windage. The boat feels solid and the fact that the hull/deck joint is bolted every 3 inches, then glued and then fiberglassed makes her creak-free, as well as watertight.

Two things particularly impressed during our sea trial. First, the boat is very quiet. Conversation inside and out was no problem. Second is the economy: at 8 knots we were using just 3 gph.

I liked the Hampton 580 and I think you will, too, if you want a well-built and thoughtfully outfitted boat in this size range.

Contact: Anchor Yachts, 954-797-0030; www.anchoryt.com.