Used Boat Review: Huckins Yachts

Northern Light cruises the Chicago shoreline in style after getting a repower and extensive refit.

Northern Light cruises the Chicago shoreline in style after getting a repower and extensive refit.

By Steve Knauth

One of the advantages of buying a used boat is that you can apply the four Rs — repower, rewire, repaint, and redecorate—to enhance its performance, improve its looks, and turn it into your very own.

Ask those who’ve done it, and they’ll tell you that the most successful projects require teamwork. In the case of Northern Light, the owner, surveyor, broker, and boatyard combined to turn a 35-year-old wooden yacht with a classic pedigree into a modern cruiser for a Great Lakes sailing family. Northern Light is a 53-foot Huckins Corinthian, launched in 1972. Ray Teborek, a Chicago-area investment counselor, purchased it in 2007 for $275,000.

The boat needed work, and Teborek developed a five-year plan with the builder and his surveyor friend, Peter Kronich. Topping the project list was a repower, swapping the boat’s Detroit Diesel 671s (its second pair of engines) for new 480-horsepower Yanmar diesels. Along the way, the old wiring system was torn out, and a new dual 12-volt/110-volt system was designed and installed. Along with the old engines, more than 6,000 pounds of outdated gear was removed, including a 900-pound hatch cover and a household kitchen stove.

Northern Light’s open-air bridgedeck and cozy dinette both look good as new.

Northern Light’s open-air bridgedeck and cozy dinette both look good as new.

The Huckins has a wooden hull, sheathed on the outside in glass and epoxied inside, and Northern Light’s hull was in good shape despite its age, requiring only refairing and refinishing. Some work was needed around the cabin house, where earlier repairs had deteriorated.

The first model in Huckins’s popular Corinthian series was a 47-footer that debuted in 1953, featuring an aft cabin and cockpit and a raised helm station. The Corinthian series eventually grew to include eight models to 65 feet, and the 53-footer was introduced in 1957. Huckins was founded in 1928 with the launch of the Fairform Flyer hull (see “It’s Quadriconic” on page 108). The family-owned builder was instrumental in developing the PT boat during World War II and continues to build high-end fishing and cruising yachts from 44 to 90-plus feet.

The Corinthian’s distinctive profile focuses on the raised bridgedeck, set amidships, with its swept-back windscreen. The helm station’s placement provides good sightlines and seating for passengers on the afterdeck, with its easily recognized weatherboards. This area is often covered with a hardtop or canvas.

In the cruising-oriented layout down below, the Corinthian’s large saloon and dining area (and convenient day head) take up the boat’s midsection. The saloon is forward, steps down from the bridge and afterdeck, and just abaft the guest cabin forward, adjacent to its own full head. The master stateroom is all the way aft, with a private companionway to the aft cockpit. This two-stateroom design, with the saloon and galley areas in between, gives cruisers plenty of privacy. The galley is abaft the saloon and convenient to the dining area and the owner’s stateroom.

Having taken care of the “musts,” it was time to set up the Corinthian for family cruising. The wheelhouse seating was redesigned so more people can share the helm area when under way. Fold-out double bunks installed in the main saloon and on the bridgedeck supplement the two private staterooms. A bowsprit and a bigger swim platform were added. A planned bow thruster proved unnecessary because the 53-footer handled well around the dock. The navigational electronics were upgraded with new Raymarine gear, including a radar and a chart plotter, and a full set of gauges and satellite weather.

The builder designed the alterations for the repower, which included new engine beds and running gear. With the repower completed, the yacht was relaunched and the entire project took three years, rather than five.

With its 480-horsepower Yanmars, Northern Light cruises at 20 knots and tops out at 23 to 24 knots with a full load. Fuel consumption is about 17 gallons an hour per engine, but “dramatically less” at slower speeds, Teborek says. “The boat starts to plane at about 10 or 12 knots and burns about half that when it is comfortably on a plane,” he says.

Teborek keeps the boat at Belmont Harbor and, in addition to longer cruises, enjoys “slow cruising” along the Chicago lakefront, anchoring off a beach for the afternoon with family or friends or spending a weekend aboard. In short, the Huckins Corinthian has been just what its owner wanted—a classic, comfortable cruising boat with character and accommodations. But it took teamwork to get it there.

“I truly believe Huckins builds terrific boats that deserve to be cared for, looked after and preserved,” Teborek says. “Huckins, the surveyor, the captain, and the boatyard were indispensable in terms of getting it right the first time. The boat has proved to be very handy and is a joy in all respects.”

Power & Motoryacht spoke to three brokers who each had a Huckins Yacht listed online. Click here to see what each had to say about the market for these classic motoryachts.

LOA: 55’0″
BEAM: 15’1″
DRAFT: 3’10″
DISPLACEMENT: 45,000 lb.
POWER: 2/480-hp Yanmar diesels
FUEL: 525 gal.
WATER: 150 gal.
YEARS BUILT: 1957 – present (custom)
PRICE RANGE: $89,900 – $2,495,000
(for available Huckins Yachts)