Like many retirees who are boaters, Bill and Kathleen Root were looking for a challenge. In their case, a yearlong cruise seemed like just the thing.
Inspired by the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, the Florida couple took a 1973 Hatteras 43 Motoryacht up to Canada and down to the Keys, navigating the well-known network of waterways, rivers, canals, and coastal passages dubbed the Great Loop and covering 6,000 miles in 11 months. “We loved every minute of it,” the couple says of the 2008 cruise.
But what do you do when you’re done with such an epic voyage? For the Roots, the answer was easy: Take what you’ve learned and move on to the next adventure. “When we finished, we knew we wanted to keep cruising, but in a different way,” says Bill Root, 65, a retired sales executive. “We wanted to get to a destination and hang out for a week or two before moving on to the next place. So we felt we needed a bigger boat with more accommodations for family and friends.”
Enter the Hatteras 54 Motoryacht, a classic aft-cabin yacht from the late 1980s. Not long after completing the Loop, the Roots found one of these Jack Hargrave-designed boats through Bollman Yachts in Ft. Lauderdale (www.bollmanyachts.com). Upon inspection, it was just what the couple was looking for””a comfortable, good-looking, three-stateroom cruiser with a solid reputation. “Based on our experiences with the 43, if we were going to buy another boat it was going to be a Hatteras,” Root says. “Hull construction is exceptionally strong, systems are first-class, and Hatteras’ commitment to customers is outstanding.”
The negotiations were complex, Root says, but “Russ Schaefer from Bollman was terrific throughout. He really kept the deal together.” The final price was $225,000.
The Hatteras 54 Motoryacht was introduced in the mid-1980s to replace the Hatteras 53, which enjoyed a 20-year production run. The 54 was a technologically advanced design with a modified-V hull, cored topsides, prop pockets, and a modern look to go with luxury amenities.
She features a bilevel layout. The lower level has a large galley-down and a dinette just forward of amidships. A guest stateroom in the bow has a head and a stall shower. A companionway leads aft between the split engine rooms to another guest stateroom to starboard, with a head and stall shower across on the port side. The engine rooms are full height with space to walk around the power plants. The master stateroom is aft, and it features a large berth, ample stowage, a large double hanging locker, and a fully equipped head.
Carpeted, lighted steps connect the galley and the upper-level saloon and pilothouse. The helm station is to starboard with large sliding doors on both sides. The saloon features large windows and a sliding door aft. Outside, the covered aft deck is roomy, and the walkaround side decks with their waist-high, teak-capped rails make for easy line handling. Access to the flying bridge is via a ladder from the pilothouse.
As with many used boats, the Root’s 54 was a mix of old and new. Although it had been captain-maintained and came with a Raymarine E120 electronics suite, the interior was out of date, and some maintenance was necessary. The galley had appliances and dÃ©cor that were more than 20 years old, and corrosion was beginning to bubble up under the paint on the aluminum window frames and radar arch. The exterior varnish needed attention as well. Still, Root says, when Kathleen saw the boat for the first time her reaction was, “OK. Sell the house. I can live on this.”
The Sanford, Florida, couple””he’s originally from Buffalo, New York””has put about $40,000 more into the Hatteras, mostly in interior improvements. The biggest project was the galley, where they had a slide-in convection oven/range installed, along with a microwave/convection oven, a drawer-style dishwasher, a side-by-side fridge, countertops, and a teak-and-holly sole. “Kathleen really likes the galley-down arrangement with the dinette directly across,” Root says. “She enjoys cooking and likes to be able to concentrate on what she’s doing, so being able to get away from the activity and do her thing is a real advantage.”
They had the window frames sandblasted and the corroded areas replaced, repainted, and resealed. The same was done to the radar arch. The final touch was a tender, a 13-foot Boston Whaler with a 40-horsepower Honda.
The Hatteras 54 Motoryacht has performed flawlessly, Root says. “We have cruised her quite a bit, and all of our children have come to spend time on her with us. The flying bridge is very large, with two full helm chairs for driving and a spacious U-shaped molded seating area aft that can easily accommodate ten people. It’s a great place to entertain.”
Power comes from a pair of 750-horsepower Detroit Diesel 8V-92s. Root runs at about 9 knots (1150 rpm) with an 18-gph fuel rate. At a cruising speed of 16 knots, he reports fuel use is about 40 gph. “She’s a heavy boat. It takes a lot of power to push her through the water,” he says. “But once on plane she handles beautifully, with excellent response.”
Root says one of the things he learned on the Great Loop is that being in a hurry often leads to trouble. “We tend to like to take our time, watch the weather carefully and avoid any rough seas,” he says. “We did have some 4- and 5-footers on the bow at one point, and the boat handled them fine.”
So far, the Roots have stayed local, relatively speaking, until they get a better feel for the boat. Their longest cruise to date has been six weeks, up north as far as the Carolinas, with stops at Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida. But more distant ports of call beckon, and future plans include the Bahamas and a full summer on Chesapeake Bay. “All in all, we love this boat,” Root says. “It’s exceeded our expectations.”
LOA: 54’9″ BEAM: 17’6″ DRAFT: 4’2″ DISPL.: 62,500 lb. Hull: modified-V POWER: 2/Detroit Diesels (650 to 750 hp) FUEL: 800 gal. WATER: 250 gal. Designer: Jack Hargrave Approximate Price Range: $225,000-$380,000 Bill and Kathleen Root are ready to cruise.