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A solid pocket cruiser with all the essentials for safe coastal cruising, the Hunter 326 is worth a serious look.


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The Hunter 326 launched in 2001 with well over 100 produced from the USA Florida yard. At 32ft long it's a manageable size for new cruising families thanks to two double cabins as well as plenty of saloon space. Hunter are characterised by making sturdy and comfortable cruising boats, not flashy ones, so while it may not have the panache of its French or German competitors, the 326 makes up make up for it in functionality. Items like solid woodwork, thickly laid up bulkheads and a user-friendly sailing rig have endeared Hunter to thousands of sailors, including many here in Australia, over the decades.

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Our review boat has proven itself well as the owner actually bought this 326 in the USA and sailed across the Pacific Ocean. George Tymoc at Sydney Boat Brokers tells us that this is a single owner boat and has been well maintained over the years, but it now requires some tidying after being moored in Sydney Harbour for a time. Just as well that Hunters' are generally low maintenance boats with a minimum of exterior woodwork, such as teak, to suffer in the strong Australian sun.

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Topside features include a deep and sheltered cockpit (thanks to a large bimini and high coamings, while another plus is the central transom door behind the steering wheel-binnacle that leads to an integrated fibreglass swim platform. For anchoring, there is an electric windlass and bow roller with Danforth anchor ready to be deployed. Hunter's trademark sailing rig is unusual in that there is no backstay holding the mast - instead, swept-back spreaders are used to create a powerful high roach mainsail. This simplifies things but does limit downwind sailing a wee bit, so fit a cruising chute if you plan longer voyages. The sail plan is easily handled thanks to in-mast mainsail furling (often an expensive extra) and roller furling genoa, which all told makes this 326 easily handled by even the solo sailor. Sheeting is all back to the cockpit with self-tailing winches, while the mainsheet is clear of the area on an overhead track. 



The layout below has a large double in the stern and double in the bow with 6'4'' headroom between in the spacious saloon. The aft cabin is athwartships and so uses the full 11ft beam to create a wide and long double, but headroom is limited by the cockpit above. Our review boat's head is a manual one and has a combined tap and shower function, and there is even a hot water tank - impressive for a 32-footer. The saloon is centred around the dinette table, which has side flaps to make dining from each lounge bench simple. The aforementioned Hunter woodwork is displayed well on this model with slatted doors and medium shaded lacquered finish that enlivens the saloon, aided by large side windows and opening skylights.


The U-shaped galley is equipped with a two-burner gas cook top and microwave (for shore power) plus chest fridge. A deep sink and cupboards should stock enough for long coastal cruising on the 326, while opposite is the navigation table with instrumentation: an Icom VHF while in the cockpit is Raymarine ST40 instruments and plotter. Under the companionway is the Yanmar 18HP engine that is accessible on three sides by removing the front cover and companionway. Unlike some brands that embed the engine under the cockpit, this is much easier to work on: injectors, oilways, fan belt and filters all easily accessible and visible.

The hull benefits from being traditionally hand-laid in solid fibreglass below the water and balsa core above. Its strength comes from four layers of hybrid E-glass and Kevlar lamination in high-impact areas reaching from the forward edge of the keel to the stem. High topsides give this Hunter lots of volume for its size but they blend in with the overall profile created by designer Glenn Henderson, who described the 326 thusly after its release: "It can be comfortably used for coastal cruising, is more forgiving than older models, and has more responsive steering." Hunter's chief naval architect envisaged the 326 as an ideal boat for sailors stepping up from trailer sailers or even dinghies, and thanks to the solid lead keel the 326 has a good stability ratio (38%), which helps to make the Hunter a smoother ride and the ideal family cruiser.



PRICE: $ 84,900


YEAR : 2003

LENGTH : 9.73m

BEAM: 3.3 m

DRAFT: 1.78 m


BALLAST: 1,452kg

ENGINE: Yanmar 18HP diesel

BUILDER: Marlow Hunter Boats, North Carolina USA

DESIGN: Hunter/Glenn Henderson


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