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Making It Happen

Paul had a dream to refit his 34 Hatteras, and the task became a lesson in perseverance.

March 22, 2017
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34 Hatteras
An example of a 34 Hatteras similar to the one discussed below. Courtesy Hatteras

Paul had a dream. He wanted to convert his beloved 34-foot 1967 Hatteras, Stolen Moments, to diesel power. He enjoyed fishing and cruising, but his vessel’s range was limiting, as was her 15-knot speed. He could have bought a newer, faster boat, but he had the one he wanted in every other respect. Her all-fiberglass, 12-ton body could demolish snotty seas too. And she did over the years, including 8-footers during a voyage to Montauk, New York. She just needed some modernizing. The plan was to repower, retire and enjoy quality time on board Stolen Moments, preferably in a 12-month-a-year boating climate.

I first met Paul when I was in my late 20s. He kept Stolen Moments in the same marina in Freeport, New York, where my dad kept his boat. We started fishing together, and that’s when I first heard of his grand vision. He works in the television news business, so he’d leave for extended periods, but as soon as he was back in town, he was on his boat. Oftentimes, I’d pass by to find him with kneepads on, his head in the bilge, working on some update, upgrade or refit project. Over the years, Paul would discuss the engine options and how the repower would go down, and gushed about the potential results. Once his Chrysler 440 gasoline motors were swapped for a pair of diesels, he would get his boat’s 15 knots closer to 20 knots, he hoped, with increased range too.

“He could have bought a newer, faster boat, but he had the one he wanted in every other respect.”

Some people talk about their dreams, but time often has a way of beating them into submission. I’ll be 47 this year, and Paul never quit on what he told me a couple of decades ago. He put his plan into motion about two years ago.

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It started with an ethanol issue. His Hatteras had integral fiberglass tanks that the ethanol ate, causing a fuel leak. He took the opportunity to swap out the damaged tanks for a larger aluminum one, preparing for the switch over to diesel. He then increased the boat’s exhaust from 4 to 6 inches for the same reason. Last year, Paul flew out to California and found a pair of 300 hp Cummins 6B TAs that fit the bill. With kneepads secured, he got to work.

Last fall, he was making some prop tweaks and Stolen Moments was making about

20 knots. I think the P in Paul stands for perseverance.

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