Used-Boat Review: Hatteras 60 Convertible
By Scott Shane
Conceived as a fish chaser, the Hatteras 60 Convertible has found a second life as a serious cruiser thanks to interior volume and range.
Hatteras Yachts and sportfishing go together like North Carolina and barbecue. The New Bern, North Carolina, company essentially fathered the fiberglass boatbuilding revolution. Its 60-foot convertible, made between 1977 and 1986, was one of the builder’s most successful, delivering more than 100 units.
In 1959 Hatteras’s goal was to design a hull capable of transiting the ever-shifting, ever-shoaling Carolina inlets and the churning seas once outside. They asked naval architect Jack Hargrave, well known for his early days with Rybovich and subsequently his large motoryacht designs, for the concept.
The legacy began a year later with a 41-foot, Lincoln-V-8-powered sportfisherman. (Knit Wits, the original convertible, is still fishing today.) As the style’s popularity grew so did the LOA.
“It was amazing how many fishing boats we were building,” said 25-year Hatteras veteran Johnny Hicks of the 60-footer. “It was the biggest thing we built at the time.”
“The 60C required newer techniques and, in mechanical engineering, we were asked how to more efficiently streamline and stiffen the bottom,” he recalled. (Hicks started with Hatteras in lamination, landed in engineering, and left the company in 2007 as a regional sales manager.)
“We always employed four longitudinal stringers to split the boat up,” Hicks recalled. “In the early ’80s we added athwartship stringers for additional stiffness. A Hatteras was never known to be a light boat.”
“We started to vacuum bag and look for ways to lighten the deck,” he said. “The bottoms were solid with balsa core above the waterline. Hatteras never hesitated to add extra glass anywhere we needed stiffness.”
In her day the standard, twin 650-horsepower GM 12-71 diesels pushed the beast to a respectable 17-knot cruise. Later models achieved a 20-knot cruise with the larger 825-horsepower engines. Fuel capacity is a voluminous 1,550 gallons, effectively affording a very respectable, low-speed cruising range. According to sources, a 1980 vintage 60C will burn approximately 14 gph at 10 knots, delivering an estimated range of 1,000 nautical miles. There was also a large water capacity—close to 500 gallons. So really, this boat has Cabo San Lucas range and a Bahama-friendly 5-foot draft, even with her keel.
The most crucial part of a preowned yacht purchase, after checking on structural integrity, is the engines. Since its inception the GM 12-71 series has comprised engines rated from 350 to 825 horsepower. More horses result in a bigger strain on the internals, so bigger might not be necessarily better depending upon your cruising needs with the 60C.
“You can achieve near one mile per gallon running at low RPMs for extended periods of time with no negative impact on the engines,” says Rick Freda from All Island Marine in Oceanside (www.allmarine.com), New York. “It’s imperative, however, to put a full load on them as well. This assures the engine is turning top rpms, pushes fuel through the filters, and shakes off the running gear.”
“A survey on a 12-71 will cost from $1,000 up to $2,500 per engine; the more expensive survey should include a compression test, full inspection, and oil samples,” says Freda.
A good example of what’s available on today’s market is Mischief, a 1985 60C enclosed bridge with the standard and comfortable three-stateroom layout. Owners Jim and Dolly McBride purchased it in 2001 and were active cruisers; today the boat mostly does duty as a liveaboard during the winter.
The galley is forward of the saloon and houses full-size appliances, dual sinks, and spacious countertops.
In the last decade, manufacturers have learned about interior design, especially within staterooms. It’s here the Hatteras 60 shows her age, but today’s designers now find ways to incorporate either island berths or, at a minimum, full-size bunks in most cabins.
The master has a large queen berth and private head for the owner’s comfort. The two guest cabins each have bunk-style berths. The forward cabin is very bright thanks to the overhead hatch. Hanging lockers are large and there’s a dedicated head for the compartment. The other guest cabin has upper and lower berths and good stowage.
Mischief has the optional enclosed bridge. There is a wow factor when the door opens, nothing like a vertical steering wheel to give that big-ship feel. The layout, other than being tighter than one would see on modern full-beam bridges, is innovative for the time period and solid. After nearly 30 years there were no creaks or groans from the bulkheads or sole.
It’s not hard to see that this boat’s original mission was to catch fish. The cockpit is 175 square feet and a fighting chair and coolers would not devour the working area. Other than the lack of radiused corners, this is a modern cockpit. Engine-room access is via a cockpit door. The space between the stringers for the two 12-71 engines is almost 4 feet, headroom is 6 feet, and, even with two generators, there’s still room for contortion-free service of the mechanicals. The remaining systems are in the pump room forward of the engine compartment. Inside Mischief is a washer and dryer, a water heater, water pumps, compressors, and the aforementioned full freezer.
“We started at the top and went to the bottom; everything came off including the tower,” McBride said, describing the Cay Marine refit. “We added Naiad stabilizers, fresh Blue Imron paint, a new 25-kilowatt Northern Lights, and did a major overhaul on both engines.” Engine performance is exactly in line with original specs. He reports a burn of 85 gph at a 21-knot cruise, since the major overhaul.
The Hatteras 60 Convertible is a performer for the ages. More than half the Hatteras 60 convertibles available for resale—there aren’t many—are on the West Coast. It’s my opinion that this ageless Hargrave design perhaps has found a not-so-secret second life serving as a long-range cruiser—she sure fits the bill.
DISPL.: 82,000 lb.
FUEL: 1,555 gal.
WATER: 490 gal.
POWER OPTIONS: Twin diesels including 650- and 825-hp GM 12-71
YEARS BUILT: 1977 to 1986
PRICE RANGE: $158,000 to $485,000
Power & Motoryacht spoke to three brokers who each had a Hatteras 60 Convertible listed on here BoatQuest.com. Click here to see what they had to say about the market for buying and selling these boats.