Running the Huckins 38 Sportsman

Get a close-up look at the 34-knot hybrid-powered 38 Huckins Sportsman.

May 17, 2021
Huckins 38 Sportsman
We saw the Huckins Sportsman 38 top out at 34 knots during our time on board. Courtesy Huckins Yacht

Anyone who acquires a Huckins Yacht automatically becomes a curator of a slice of American yachting tradition, a status that carries with it certain duties and expectations. Huckins owners soon get used to people on the dock saying, “Isn’t that a Huckins?”

Such an incident occurred while Cindy Purcell, current Huckins Yacht president and granddaughter of company founder Frank Huckins, and I were standing on the Huckins dock in Jacksonville, Florida.

Purcell was telling me about the new Sportsman 38, which is a distillation of 100 years of yachting history with all the 21st-century advances we’ll expect in future yachts. A gentleman, Tim Colbert, approached us hesitantly. A longtime yachtsman who keeps his yacht in the Thousand Islands on the US-Canada border, Colbert had taken time away from a vacation with his wife to visit the Huckins yard “because if I was this close, I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t.”


Like me, he was eyeballing the 38′s lines, whose classic style makes them seem as if they could have been designed anytime between 1930 and today. We invited him to join us on board, and he happily settled into the Stidd seat across from the helm, where he learned that this tribute to the 1936 Huckins Sportsman 36 had details that were more Star Wars than Prohibition.

The hull has fully infused vinylester resins and Corecell foam to create a rigid structure, with added reinforcement from carbon-fiber stringers and Kevlar in the hull. Hybrid power combines a pair of 380 hp Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels with a pair of 20 hp Elco electric motors that run off 18 lithium-iron-phosphate batteries for nearly three hours of running time at 8 knots.

Even better, these Elcos spin off the prop shafts to double as battery chargers, so owners arrive at an anchorage with the batteries topped off. Using the Pure Sine inverter rather than the 8-kilowatt Phasor genset, yachtsmen can run the air conditioning all night for silent, cool sleep.

Huckins 36 Sportsman
The original Huckins Sportsman 36. Courtesy Huckins Yacht

The 38 has two guest-seating areas: in the cockpit, with seating around a dinette and same-level access to the transom platform, and on the raised bridge deck, which has an L-shaped settee facing the electric grill, wine cooler and ice maker. This upper area, surrounded by a standard Strataglass enclosure, is cooled by a pair of 12,000-Btu air conditioners, while 16,000 Btu cool the interior space.

Aside from being a dayboat, the 38 has an interior that is suited for long weekends. With 6-foot-6-inch headroom throughout, the cabin is reached via bi-fold doors and is secured at night by way of a clever tambour rolling hatch. With the tambour open, the cabin is bathed in atrium light from the windshield above.

Immediately inside is the galley to port. With a 19-inch-wide counter, a cooktop, and an undercounter oven and fridge, there is room for gourmet cuisine prep, with eye-level dish stowage.


Forward, a dinette converts to a berth when the table is electrically lowered. The two sides scissor together at the touch of a button.

The head has a separate stall shower measuring 50 inches wide with a 12-inch seat. The hanging locker forward allows for uncrumpled pants or dresses with 52 inches from bar to sole. Huckins also turned every possible space into stowage for long weekends on the hook.

Underway, the Sportsman 38 is sheer fun. It came quickly onto plane with the diesels and offered wraparound visibility from the helm. The burled-mahogany dash handles were well-placed, as were a pair of 16-inch Garmin monitors, a Cummins SmartCraft display, throttle/shifters and a Glendinning joystick (for the bow thruster and either diesel or electric power).


The 38 topped out at 34 knots and cruised at 27 knots running with diesel-only power. At 27 knots, range was about 254 nautical miles. Then it was time for the electric mode. The Elco motors actuated, and the Sportsman 38 was running up to 8 knots effortlessly. I tried to measure the sound with my decibel meter, but the rustle of my shirt in the breeze was louder than the motors.

I was reminded of a scene in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October when Russian Capt. Marko Ramius, played by Sir Sean Connery, tells the crew, “Rig for silent running,” at which point the sub disappears from surface vessels’s monitors. It would be hard not to use that line every time you take out a Huckins Sportsman 38.

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