BOAT TEST HAMPTON ENDURANCE 750
Luxury combines with ocean-conquering engineering on the Hampton Endurance 750 Skylounge. TONY MACKAY reports.
Movie lovers will well recall some famous and inspirational quotes which have spurred them on to greater glory. The Dead Poet's Society and their "carpe diem" (seize the day) or Auntie Mame and her "life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death" spring immediately to mind.
The new owners of the Hampton Endurance 750 Skylounge are clear in their thoughts - there is no time to waste sitting around and wondering when and/or if the opportunity will present itself to break free and have an adventure. They have opened the door and stepped right in. It was an inspiring breath of fresh air, hearing their plans and being sparked-up by their spirit of adventure.
Not that they have failed to embrace this before, having piled the children and gear onto various yachts and heading all over the planet during the last 30 years. With the sale of their 59ft Swan yacht they decided to enjoy a slightly more luxurious passage with the purchase of the Hampton 750 Skylounge. It takes the luxury to Cunard levels, the only further requirement being some staff to cook, clean and navigate. However, there is nothing precious about Mr and Mrs Owner who eagerly await the various chores and challenges in operating a complex floating apartment; the only addition maybe someone to help with the big exterior cleaning jobs.
The dashboard has a huge array of every conceivable electronic, safety and comfort device and, short of an Exocet missile launcher or Moby Dick harpoon, the next task is deciding where to go. The huge fuel tanks and Caterpillar C18 ACERT diesels allow a range of 3200nm at 9kts, so the whole Pacific Ocean is awaiting exploration, with the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait islands and Tonga being initial ports of call. And why not? Fill her up with fuel, food and booze and set a course for excitement.
The Hampton range has been featured on several occasions in this highly popular and anxiously-awaited monthly publication, with many readers green with envy contemplating the glorious luxury that a select few will enjoy.
The signature crème gelcoat, purposeful lines and practical layouts are harmoniously married (you don't hear that everyday) with well considered and executed mechanical installations. Naval architect Howard Apollonio is at the drawing board to ensure that the Hampton delivers you to each destination with speed, comfort and safety. Caterpillar and Co, plus the huge range of high-end accessories, complement the naval architecture and should offer reliability and economy.
If you can't find your way with the four Raymarine screens and extensive electronic equipment then you simply haven't read the instruction manuals. (Listen up men!). With Trac stabilisers the only rock and roll will be emitted from the multiple stereo systems or plasma televisions.
Luxury is all very well but if you are caught in big seas and a wild storm it will be reassuring to know about Kevlar-reinforced GRP construction built to stringent US Coast Guard and IMO certification; all for open-ocean service. Tonka tough, and tested to deliver you through Mother Nature's more irritated moments.
The modified vee-bottom has some complex design features that allow a moulded hull to pass efficiently through the water, the planing speeds achieved by flatter sections aft. Presumably Howard, with his impressive CV, knows what he is doing. The Skylounge is significantly more top heavy than the open-bridge model and one would rely on the stabilisers to assist in heavy seas. Hopefully, the larger-fin model has been selected. Serious cruisers will only depart with suitable weather windows so this should not be too much of a problem.
This is a cockpit yacht with a large boarding platform, livebait tanks, air-compressor and storage for all in-water activities. The tender, launched from the flying bridge by electric crane, will take guests on fishing, waterski or exploratory missions, perhaps just to get a newspaper.
Safety rails, swimladders and plenty of storage opportunities are on offer. Stairs either side of the cockpit's lower level lead up to the cockpit's main deck, where there is a large settee with a Corian table across the centre section. Portholes for the crew/aft cabin are underneath. For Queensland's pesky insect population, mesh screens retard their progress and the effects of the sun in the top cockpit. This will become the outdoor entertaining area of first choice, with wetbars, refrigeration and a TV for your convenience.
Entering the saloon via the polished stainless steel sliding door, the crème leather sofa and optional armchair are to port with an entertainment unit and storage cupboard opposite. A Samsung LCD TV rises from a cabinet that features all of the most modern equipment for your entertainment. Aft, a cleverly concealed doorway grants access to the rear crew suite, which is exactly what it is - twin berths, head and shower, galley and laundry, with direct access to the engineroom. It is a suite of great comfort and would suit teens or elderly relatives who have forced their way onboard (a suitable barrel bolt will retain them below). We don't want any interruptions on the party deck!
Back in the main saloon, moving forward (as the Prime Minister assures us we are doing) we ascend a few steps and are in the dedicated dining area with freestanding table and chairs. Opposite to starboard is a cocktail (wet)bar with bottle rack to inspire the unimaginative, fridge, icemaker and the first of multiple coffee makers onboard; this being a Miele wall-mounted affair of significant proportions.
Forward, in what would have been the wheelhouse, is a massive galley with all manner of equipment to please even the most demanding of chefs. (They are a VERY temperamental lot you know.) At any rate, there are Miele induction cook tops, Liebherr refrigeration, garbage compactors, Blanco oven and vast granite bench tops. If you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere, to paraphrase the song. A gourmet galley of impressive proportions. Being a critic, which I am, I would have preferred the dining area to swap with the galley, primarily for the splendid view from the wraparound windscreen, which is not enjoyed in the dining area.
I was pleased to know that some eutectic (plate) fridges are fitted elsewhere, as these systems allow everything else to be turned off (generators, et al) for a quiet evening drink or afternoon nap. Both the Onan generators, 23 and 13.5kVa, have water separators so they will not annoy the neighbours in ultra-quiet anchorages. That IS where we are heading? Two Idromar watermakers will make up for all the dishwashing, laundry, showering and fish cleaning - this seems to happen at almost hourly intervals, particularly with a full complement of guests and crew. There will be no William Bligh rations doled out here.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
A stairway with an etched glass 'nautical' mural heads up to the Skylounge. It's exactly what it sounds like. Frankly, I would rarely sit below with this huge and comprehensively equipped living room and its panoramic views. Another TV, another coffee machine, barbecue, guest head and huge convertible sofas with dining table are all waiting. You can boss the skipper around ("A little to port, dear"), watch a movie and await one of the caring and sharing guests who will dash to the galley for a much sought-after tray of nibbles. You can extract a bottle of chilled something from the fridge without leaving the sofa. Recumbent is the word de jour.
Doing his duty at the helm is someone who, mercifully, can operate the vast array of techno goodies - UHF, VHF, CD, DVD, iPod, Flikr, Trac, Ray, Cat, Ice, Gin and Tonic… all combine for a heady range of equipment to navigate your path across the oceans. There is even a defibrillator and oxygen machine available (installed to assist the owner when filling the 11,250lt fuel tanks?). Mr and Mrs Owner have thought of everything. You really have to come aboard to study the splendid equipment installed, however, it is horses for courses and I propped at the bar fridge.
Below and having instructed chef with the menu, it is time for a 'nana nap' (not Mouskouri) so we glide down the Hollywood stairwell to the lower lobby with inlaid marble floor. Depending on what you have paid (welcome to life kids) you will be directed to First, Business or Premium Economy. Our owners are cosseted in a full-beam suite with huge portholes, en suite and queen-sized bed of luxurious enticement. Walk-in robes, a desk for the computer, and entertainment systems are all ready for use.
Forward is the VIP cabin (Business Class) which has an island-style double and is still comprehensively equipped. The twin-share (Economy) cabin is not really economy at all, as all the suites have TV, air-conditioning, stereo systems and en suite facilities, but having peered into the owners' suite one is ever so slightly green with envy. Get over it, get up and get into that Skylounge.
Gloss cherrywood is the feature of the Hampton range and it is fairly intense but beautifully detailed and finished. One could hardly complain about the quality, but I prefer a more subdued look. There is so much space and freedom to enjoy as we head out to the Reef that one will hardly be complaining about varnish. We have bigger fish to fry, providing you can catch the little wretches.
I have always subscribed to the adage that "the best fish is on a menu" and presumably one of the guests will catch them, someone will deal with the dental work, and our chef (on red alert) will cook it. I shall patiently await the efforts at the dining table, and I am perfectly happy to do the dishes.
Mrs Owner likes fresh vegetables and is known on Hamilton Island for her apartment garden of well-tended pickings. Apparently, there are plans for fresh lettuce from the flybridge pots, and I do sincerely wish her the very best, although I fear the plan is fraught with peril. Perhaps breadfruit in pots after a trip to Tahiti? The possibilities are endless.
So, we are back to details. The fuel is full (11,250lt), water topped up (1890lt) and constantly replenished by the watermakers. The groceries are stored, the lettuce is watered and fridges are bulging. The beds made and we're off. Travelling north, or to any other point on the compass (not west out of the Gold Coast, mind you). The world is your oyster, you have carpe diem. (My Latin master just turned in his grave).
The upshot of this expose is that our new owners are very smart. They are doing it. They are not waiting for a doctor to tell them unwelcome news. They have no time to sit watching dreary news reports that have little or no bearing about their own here and now. Massaging investment funds, real estate portfolios and shares cannot possibly compare with this adventure at sea on the magnificently appointed and built-to-go-anywhere Hampton Endurance 750 Skylounge. We should all take a leaf out of their book and get cracking. After all, most of the other suckers in this banquet we call life, are starving to death. Bon voyage.
(Facts & Figures)
ENDURANCE 750 SKYLOUNGE
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The CATs are running rather nicely at 8.5kts for 25lt/h combined. So cheap! Why rush, as 13.3kts gives a slightly heftier 204lt/h? Full speed is a whisker under 17kts at 2200rpm, slurping 328lt/h. There is no hurry, though, as the atoll, island or ribbon reef is patiently waiting for you.
PRICE AS TESTED
$4,325,000 w/ a whole range of very worthwhile inclusions, too long to list
MATERIAL: GRP (Kevlar reinforced with Vinylester resin)
TYPE: Modified vee-bottom on hard-chine 'hybrid' monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 22.75m
HULL LENGTH: 22.72m
WEIGHT: 53.6 tonnes
BERTHS: 8 in four cabins
HOLDING TANK: 454lt
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Caterpillar
TYPE: Inline six-cylinder electronic turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 873 (each)
PROPS: Four-blade bronze
Leigh-Smith Cruiser Sales, Box 1, 76-84 Waterway Drive, Gold Coast City Marina, Coomera, QLD, 4209, Phone: (07) 5502 5866; 0408 758 887, Fax: (07) 5502 5832, Email: email@example.com, Website: www.lscruisersales.com.au
You can bet your last dollar that this particular boat will be very well and thoroughly used for exploration and adventure, far removed from the many trophy boats that rarely leave the marina. No one mentioned which cabin was mine!
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