The Hatteras GT54 has a sharp, flared bow to knock down waves and spray to keep the boat dryer. When a conservative builder like Hatteras comes out with a new boat, it’s big news – but if it’s a whole line of new boats, it’s three times as interesting.
The North Carolina company is in the process of introducing its GT Series of sportfishermen, comprising the GT60, GT63 and the model featured in this report, the GT54. The GT54 is due to debut in Australia in September this year. With designs inspired by fast, comfortable and seaworthy custom boats designed for sportfishing the Outer Banks off North Carolina, the new Hatteras vessels share hull forms and profiles among themselves, but are much different from similar-sized boats previously built by the company.
The Outer Banks are challenging waters for any boat. Its narrow inlets, carved by sea and storm in the sandy bottom, shift constantly, making local knowledge a necessity for skippers making the passage between the sheltered waters behind the Banks and the Atlantic. But that’s only half of it: Even the most expert captain needs a boat that can handle the often dangerous conditions.
Over the decades, Carolina builders have developed a hull combining sharp forward sections to slice through the rollers with a flattish bottom aft for speed and fuel efficiency. Hatteras has drawn on classic Carolina styling for the GT Series, combining it with the company’s well-known soft-riding bottom, battleship-strong construction and gentlemanly interior appointments. Each GT sportfisherman, we are told, will run at least 41 knots and do it with an aggressively flared convex bow that morphs into a sweet tumblehome transom evoking the graceful wooden sportfishermen of days past. The distinctive styling is so timeless, we believe convertible lovers will be admiring the lines for years.
But unlike cold-moulded juniper frequently used by custom Carolina builders, Hatteras is building the GT boats with resin-infused laminates – the hulls, stringers and bulkheads are built this way, light and strong. Anybody who knows boats knows they don’t come any better than Hatteras, but the GT Series seems to kick even this company’s already high standards up a notch or two.
The Hull Isn't All
A hull that can take a licking is important, but when it comes to serious fishing other things matter, too. Hatteras has been in the game for a long time – the first fibreglass convertible was a 41 Hatt, launched more than 50 years ago.
Using all the knowledge acquired over half a century, the company’s designers created a tournament-ready cockpit, with lots of room even with a full-sized chair mounted (a mounting plate is laminated into the sole). In-deck fishboxes handle the catch, a recirculating live well holds the bait. The cockpit easily accommodates two anglers plus three mates, even with the Pompanette fighting chair. The work space seems even roomier with all your guests up out of the way on the mezzanine, where there are food/bait freezers, drink coolers and an Eskimo ice maker with dump. There’s enough cold stowage to fish and entertain on a grand scale.
This hull sported a livewell in the portside sole, a fish box to starboard and lazarette access under the fighting chair’s footrest. The fish boxes are a tad shallow due to their locations atop the prop tunnels.
There are compartments for gaffs and boathooks – no more keeping them in the rod racks. You’ll will find an improved mezzanine, with ergonomic seats, back and armrests. It’s convenient to the entertainment system, too. Teak is available for the coaming boards and cockpit sole for those who want to play up the GT Series’ distinctive design.
Equipped to meet the standards of the most competitive anglers, these cockpits are designed for improved fishing as well as increased relaxation.
The galley is “up,” in the deckhouse, which is arranged for maximum lounging comfort and an easy flow of traffic. When fishing offshore, which can involve long periods of monotony, many anglers prefer to hang out in the air-conditioned saloon and jump to action only when there’s a strike. It’s important that they can get into the cockpit quickly without falling over each other, and Hatteras designers have fine-tuned the saloon to make that possible.
The elegant master stateroom features a queen berth with cedar-lined storage beneath, matching night stands on each side, and overhead storage on the hull side. A hanging locker and dresser offer additional storage. The fully-equipped master head lies forward and is accessible only from the master stateroom. Further forward is the bow VIP stateroom. This area can be configured for a double berth or a V-berth with separate bunks.
The third stateroom can be found aft and to starboard. Its layout offers two side-by-side bunks with a dresser and a hanging locker. The bow and starboard staterooms share the second head, each equipped with its own private entrance. A third door to the companionway allows this to double as the day head while fishing, or when entertaining guests.
Buyers who want something different have a wide latitude in custom layouts – anything that won’t compromise the hull integrity, according to a Hatteras spokesperson. Buying a boat like the GT54 is more a process than an event, so if you want one, expect to be involved right from the start to get just the boat you want.
Power and Performance
According to the builder, the GT54 will run 41 knots at top end and 37 knots at cruise with the optional 1600-hp Caterpillar C32A diesels. Twin 1,150-hp Cat C18 diesels are also available, and most likely those are the engines that cruising-oriented buyers will specify. The diesels will be covered by Cat’s Concierge Program to provide exceptional customer service wherever the boat is located.
The lighter weight made possible by the resin-infused hull reduces fuel burn and provides a range of 400 nautical miles at cruise. Backing down proved impressive. You can run 9.5 knots in reverse before a drop of water comes over the transom. The scuppers exit through the outer hull, hidden in the profile as they drain out the aft end of the splash/rub rail. Ingenious and very effective.
Hatteras claims to be the first builder to combine a convex bow with deep prop pockets on a sportfisherman. The GT Series continues the practice. Prop pockets allow a more efficient shaft angle while reducing draft, an important consideration in the sometimes shallow water inside the Banks.
With the tooling for these three new battlewagons, the company’s commitment to tournament-level billfishermen is obvious. By drawing on its boatbuilding roots in the Carolina Outer Banks, Hatteras convertibles should appeal to veteran big game anglers. But Hatteras will also be reaching out to the cruising yachtsman who doesn’t want to own a mini superyacht or a Euro-styled express motor yacht. It is easy to forget that Hatteras motor yachts at one time ruled the world, so to speak, and was the leading brand of motor yachts around the world for a couple of decades, and even today is the largest builder of motor yachts in the U.S. The company knows the cruising yachtsman’s mentality, and it is building cruising amenities into the new GT54 Convertible as well as sportfishing.
The GT54 is priced “extremely competitive” to the old 54, which is being discontinued. The GT54 was released at the Miami boat show in February. We think any one of these new Hatts will be worth waiting for.
In keeping with Hatteras style, the comfortable accommodations found on these boats feature thoughtful layouts and luxurious amenities. Underneath these dashing good looks, the Hatteras commitment to quality construction continues with a no-compromise build philosophy. Each model in the GT Series is made in the Hatteras tradition, with robust electrical and mechanical systems, and incredibly durable hulls that are resin-infused for light-weight strength and performance.
The Hatteras GT54 sports nothing but greener, more cost-effective LED lighting – both AC and DC. Additionally, Hatteras has switched over to digital controls through KEP touch-screen displays. But perhaps the most significant improvement is what you can’t actually see: resin infusion used in the hull construction, which makes for a stronger, lighter and “greener” boat, thanks to a more precise use of raw materials. Hatteras sells each GT on a semicustom basis. Each boat is different, and totally its owner’s choice.
If we have learned anything in our 42 years observing boat building at close range it is simply this – the pendulum swings. Styles come and they go. Boat types evolve. Brands that are on top are the most vulnerable and in a matter of just a few years can be near the bottom. We have seen it again and again. The drivers of that pendulum in the boating business, just like that in any business, are individuals with vision, a plan, and a work ethic. The folks in New Bern seem to have a vision, they certainly have a plan, and they are working hard.
- Design Name: Hatteras GT54
- Builder: Hatteras
- Country of Origin: USA
- Designer: Hatteras Yachts
- Interior Designers: Hatteras Yachts
- Year Launched: 2012
- LOA: 17.43m
- LOH: 16.41m
- Beam: 5.27m
- Draft: 1.28m
- Displacement: 34000kg (dry)
- Max Speed: 36 knots (C18 Caterpillars) 42 knots (C32 Caterpillars)
- Fuel Cap: 4542 litres
- Water Cap: 681 litres
- Construction: Solid fibreglass, resin infused hull bottom
- Engines Make: 2 x Caterpillar C18A @ 1150hp or C32A @ 1600hp
- Base Price: $Aus1,899,000