A Sucessful Hunt

Chip Raymond was out with his wife, Jan, for their first run in the 2005 Surfhunter 29 they’d just bought. Heading for the Thimble Islands off Branford, Connecticut, he opened the throttle and the Hunt Yachts deep-V soft-top express charged ahead in response.

“My wife said, ‘Why are you in such a hurry? We’re supposed to be cruising, going along the coast and enjoying the scenery,’” says Raymond, a 69-year-old retiree from Darien, Connecticut. “And I thought, She’s right, why am I steaming along? I slowed down and we just cruised along, riding around the islands and enjoying the scenery. Sure this boat can get you from one point to another at 20 knots, but part of the fun is in the journey.”

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And if the journey involves rough conditions, well, the Surfhunter was designed with that in mind, too, as Raymond discovered on a trip out of Sag Harbor, New York. “We were heading for Darien and it was honking””20 knots right on the nose,” he recalls. “The boat was doing 18 knots and the ride was just so comfortable.”

That combination of comfort, handling, and performance has made the Surfhunter 29 a family favorite. “I can’t tell you how much we love this boat,” says Raymond, a veteran bluewater racing sailor. “And my wife loves it, too.”

The couple, who have two married sons and twin grandchildren, bought the 29-foot Hunt in late 2009 as a step up from a 22-foot powerboat they’d owned for six years. “We were talking together [two years ago] about getting a bigger powerboat, as our family was growing,” says Raymond, who ran nonprofit foundations before retirement. “I wanted a boat in which my sons and their wives and our grandkids and my wife would be able to go out together and cross Long Island Sound. I looked for three things: an open cockpit, a covered middle, and some room down below.”

The Surfhunter 29 is admired for its understated New England lines, with a straight sheer and rounded stern. The trunk cabin is accented with eyebrow trim and the helm station is protected by a big windshield. The starboard-side helm features a single pedestal seat and a molded steering and electronics console. The windshield and side wings offer plenty of protection. There’s an L-shaped lounge to port for companion seating, with a transom seat in the cockpit. The engine box provides additional seating.

Below, the layout includes a V-berth convertible to a dining area. The compact portside galley comes with a stainless sink and hot and cold water, a single-burner butane stove, a microwave, and an under-counter refrigerator. The enclosed head features an electric freshwater MSD with a Y-valve and a 15-gallon holding tank. Additional touches include Corian countertops, satin-finish cherry cabinetry, and a varnished teak companionway. Diesel power and twin-outboard options are offered.

Ray Hunt’s accomplishments as a boat designer almost defy description, with the Boston Whaler 13, the Bertram 31, and the Concordia yawl to his credit among many others. His spirit lives on in the designs of C. Raymond Hunt Associates (www.huntdesigns.com) and Hunt Yachts (www.huntyachts.com). The Surfhunter 29 followed the Surfhunter 25, providing more room below and a larger cockpit.

Raymond and his sons began boat hunting in Newport, Rhode Island. They missed out on a 25-foot Surfhunter priced to buy. Another needed too much work. They held a conference at Harbour Court, the Newport home of the New York Yacht Club, and eventually got around to the 29-footer. “My sons gave me the old “˜you only go around once’ flim-flam,” Raymond says. It worked. “After a few bottles of wine, that’s what we decided to buy.”

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Raymond found his boat-to-be in Norwalk, Connecticut, not far from his Darien home. It turned out to be a local boat he’d admired from afar. “I had always thought it was one of the most beautiful boats I’d ever seen,” he says. “I loved the shape and I loved the deep-V.”

Working with David Dorrance from Prestige Yacht Sales in Essex, Connecticut, Raymond arranged to see the boat. “It looked brand new,” he says. Most important, he took it for a test ride. “It was November and it was blowing like stink,” he says. “Waves were 3 to 4 feet, and my son and I and Dave went out and tooled around for a while. We were so impressed with the boat; it was unbelievable. So we decided to buy it.”

The asking price was $160,000 and the deal illustrated the value of a good broker, Raymond says. Prestige arranged for a surveyor, ran the sea trials, made a few cosmetic repairs, handled all of the paperwork, and closed the deal, “All in a timely manner,” says Raymond. “They were obviously a big help.”

The bigger cabin, with its V-berth and galley was an important factor for the Raymonds, considering their growing family. “This boat can comfortably take all of us onboard,” he says. “It has enough room below and is laid out beautifully.”

Power comes from a 375-horsepower Volvo Penta gas stern drive, and Raymond cruises the Surfhunter at 15 to 18 knots most of the time. (Hunt says the top end is about 34 knots.) He doesn’t keep fuel consumption figures. “If I’m going to use the boat, I’m going to use the boat, no matter what the exact fuel usage is,” he says. “I like the way it rides. In my 22-footer, you could get your brains pounded out. This boat is really solid.”

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The Raymonds have had the boat for two seasons and they’re looking forward to a third. “We’ve gone up to Newport for a couple of weeks the last two summers and stayed on the boat,” says Raymond.

The Surfhunter 29 has been more than accommodating. “It has all the things we need””a full shower, the enclosed head, the galley””everything that we need to be comfortable,” Raymond says. “I love this boat; my wife loves this boat. It’s pretty perfect.”

LOA: 29’6″ BEAM: 10’6″ DRAFT: 3’0″ DISPL.: 8,000 lb. POWER OPTIONS: Single gas or diesel engines linked to inboard, stern drive, or jet drive FUEL: 150 gal. WATER: 28 gal. Years Produced: 2003 to 2012 Price Range: $169,995 to $285,000
The Hunt Surfhunter 29 offers a V-berth, galley, and enclosed head with shower below.

SURVEY REPORT

We spoke to surveyor Jeff Gonsalves about the Hunt Surfhunter 29, and here’s what he had to say:

• On any boat, you can get some moisture around some deck fittings, usually a lot of times up in the bow, around the windlass, the bow cleats, the stanchions for the bowrail.”

• On the stern drive, there’s a bellows around the gimbal bearing and the U-joint where the drive goes through the transom. And if the bellows gets a split in it, you get water in there, and it’ll rust the gimbal bearing. It’s not something you can see unless you pull the drive off. And a lot of boatyards will replace the bellows every year whether it needs it or not.”

• On the gas engine boats look at the exhaust risers, especially if the boat’s not used regularly. They can tend to scale””they’re cast iron, and you can get the cast iron starting to rust and scale and that affects the cooling in the exhaust risers, where the exhaust and cooling water mix. And sometimes it will cause an overheat alarm. Look for signs of weeping around the gaskets.”

Jeffrey P. Gonsalves, Yacht Services, 508-264-6330; www.jpgys.com