HAMPTON YACHTS ENDURANCE 720 SKYLOUNGE DPB BOAT TEST
Comfort is one of the most addictive of the harmless vices, and having boarded the new Endurance 720 Skylounge DPB from Hampton Yachts, Tony Mackay suggests it may be difficult to feel the same way about your own boat again...
The new Hampton Endurance 720 Skylounge DPB is described as a double Portuguese bridge model featuring bridges on both the lower and upper decks. This useful and practical approach enhances the 'shippy' look of this handsome craft. The signature crème gelcoat is soft on the eye and has a high-quality look about it, matched with black glass windows and highly polished stainless steel railings. Other than caring for the teak side and cockpit decks, the maintenance has been reduced to chamois and sponge status, a welcome relief when owning a big boat.
The styling is conservative and elegant and <I>will</I> endure the test of time, unlike many modern offerings whose flavour-of-the-month forms often look ghastly a few years later. Designer Howard Apollonio has made one of his best efforts in this new model, the inset 'sky lounge' sits well within the upper bridge casing, the rakish bow and fulsome flare speak of spirited performance, while the myriad of practical details show a thoughtful respect for the serious cruising sailor.
A WALKING TOUR
Stepping aboard the laid-teak swimplatform, one is immediately pleased not to trip over the shorepower line, which has been reeled out from its self-stowing hole and under a nice little flap in the teak floor. The platform is huge and the advent of stainless steel safety hoop rails has transformed it into a multipurpose area for boarding, fishing, sitting and pondering the view or embarking on the various toys lowered by the crane from the boat deck above.
Twin staircases provide access through illuminated glass gates into the huge covered cockpit on the main deck level. A transverse seat and large Corian table will seat eight in comfort, refrigeration and entertainment close at hand. Perspex doors to the forward sidedecks allow control of weather, children or pets, and the inclusion of screens or clears will make this area rather pleasant in almost any conditions. A staircase on the starboard side takes one directly to the boat deck and external flybridge areas.
A sliding glass door opens the cockpit to the enormous main saloon, where superb picture windows frame the views. A simply massive U-shaped lounge to port will seat six or more in party mode, or have a few reclining into the soft leather, enjoying a movie or entertainment from the television opposite. Forward of that a dedicated office space has computer gear and many minor navigational and weather displays duplicated, providing a welcome place to do morning correspondence. Muted crème carpets, soft blinds and textural fabrics are both plush and luxurious, while not fighting with the glorious views enjoyed as we glide down the river. Marine Air controls the climate throughout the interior if required.
Moving up a level we arrive at the dining saloon, where a freestanding table will seat eight and a starboardside cocktail bar has refrigeration, sink, bottle and glass storage, and Miele coffee maker for after-dinner use. The owner has specified oak-style flooring flowing through to the galley farther forward where a lower helm station would usually be. This panoramic galley is a knockout, resplendent with every type of modern Miele convenience, under-counter dual fridge and freezer, dishwasher, proper oven and separate microwave, induction cooktop, all topped with a grey granite bench top and without any equipment impeding an inch of the wraparound windows. Talk about room with a view! Overhead cupboards above the aft-facing twin sinks have been deleted so as not to impede the view, however, other hidden forward cabinets will swallow all manner of culinary devices and any chef with the slightest complaint should be immediately keel hauled for insubordination.
Many blanch at cooking underway, but a cunning fresh-air configuration allows a forward exterior door to open and air ducted through to the forward dash area of the galley. The port and starboard side cantilever doors also have fold-open windows allowing partial air ingress or extraction. As one walks through this boat, it is immediately obvious that great attention has been paid to the importance of fresh air for all cabins to be naturally ventilated if necessary, and I do applaud this. Such a pity to head off into the big, wide world and then be locked into air-conditioning for the duration, when the warm breezes entice and excite and the brisk chill of a winter storm allows one to rug-up in thick pullovers and stout jackets - all part of a nautical adventure.
ENTER THE SKY LOUNGE
Just forward of the cocktail bar, an open stairway leads up to the sky lounge, an entertaining area of impressive proportions in its own right. The helm station is a superbly equipped and functional, stretching across the full beam of the bridge. The test Hampton Endurance 720 Skylounge DPB was fitted with a complete suite of Simrad electronics, three large screens displaying radar, depth and chartplotting information, smaller ones providing information as to the running of the Caterpillar C18 diesels. Two additional displays, mounted overhead, are dedicated to an engineroom camera and another for reverse vision or security. Autopilot, ICOM radios, Fusion stereo, Wesmar stabilisers, trim tabs, hydraulic steering and electronic engine controls (plus a separate manual override system) are part of a really impressive selection of navigation gear.
Twin Pompanette helm chairs let pilot and navigator steer the ship, and several overhead hatches allow in natural light and gentle breezes. The huge windscreens, with triple synchronised wipers, offer an unimpeded view forward. A separate 12/24V panel deals with low-voltage circuit breakers, while a more comprehensive panel is located in the crew quarters companionway dealing with the AC requirements including twin Onan 27kW generators, Victron inverter and separate battery chargers. Multiple AGM battery banks are provided for engine and generator starting, plus all house power requirements.
Back in the sky lounge, a transverse sofa with table is behind the helm seats, easily accessed from both ends and perfect for guests to enjoy companionable times with the captain and crew. Perhaps a crossword or book? Curl up against a plump pillow and watch the world go by through the panorama windows? Behind this sofa is another L-shaped dinette facing a starboardside entertainment unit with TV and surround-sound stereo system, also piped out to the boat deck. Should nature call, a dayhead is located on this level and a welcome addition for all guests to use.
A sliding door leads aft to the boat deck, which also has a sink and barbecue plus refrigeration for cool drinks. A partial overhanging roof shields the area and allows the door to be left open in inclement weather. The owner has opted for similar oak-styled floors in the sky lounge, making this area functional and impervious to any weather coming inside. Another cantilever side door to starboard opens for access to the upper Portuguese bridge.
The boat deck suits twin tenders; a small zip-about model for a quick trip to shore (easy to pull-up and launch on tidal beaches) and a larger tender for exploration farther afield with more passengers. A Brower hydraulic crane is radio controlled, doing away with pesky leads. Once the tenders are launched the area is huge and would suit those who may wish to enjoy a place in the sun. Smarter guests will be below, around the table awaiting the output from the gourmet galley and bar.
Further outside seating is located on the foredeck in front of the Portuguese bridge, and guests can watch the anchoring activities with the impressive Muir double winch and stainless steel CQR and Bruce anchors, or the clean-up with fresh, salt or high-pressure water.
Heading below from the dining/galley area, down a graceful and easy stairwell, one arrives in a lower foyer that splits off to three separate and luxurious cabins. In the bow is the VIP guest suite with double bed, en suite, hanging lockers, and full entertainment and climate control. Another cabin has twin bunks side-by-side and two portholes bringing in light and fresh air. This cabin is similarly equipped and makes use of the comfortable head and shower of the VIP cabin by a two-way door arrangement. Aft is the full-beam stateroom with centreline king bed. A convenient desk and makeup station make use of the portside portholes, a huge walk-in wardrobe aft. Another hanging locker is to starboard with further storage drawers and credenza under the portholes, the spacious and luxurious head and shower aft. All heads have Grohe taps and fittings, marble counter tops, Tecma freshwater loos and excellent shower stalls for comfortable use and easy maintenance. A washer/dryer is located in the foyer.
Another stairway, cunningly concealed, leads aft from the main saloon into the aft crew quarters, featuring a dry-storage commissary and mini workshop, separate pumproom, and guest/captain's cabin with double and additional twin bunks. A guest shower and head complete the package and all this has another submarine-style door opening directly onto the swimplatform. If one had children they could enjoy this whole suite as a separate (and well insulated) playroom/TV sleeping area or even a high-security brig in the event of bad behaviour. (Now there's a sales feature!) Engineroom access is also from this area and that means mechanical staff can enter via the aft door and never come into the private sections of the boat. No more carpet covers for filthy mechanics... sorry, technicians!
It would go on like the Dead Sea Scrolls to detail the myriad features of each cabin, however, one notices a theme of beautifully finished overhead panels with occasional decorative treatments, Hunter Douglas blinds, pelmets and curtain boxes, cedar lined robes, Gineico Italian lighting and switches, cupboard lights and concealed rope lighting to enhance the mood. Luxury is the theme and this whole interior is panelled in high-gloss makore (African cherrywood) timber and mercifully the new owner has specified a muted theme, eliminating some of the bling trimmings found on some modern boats. It is a timeless and tasteful interior, well-conceived and superbly finished to a high standard.
DROPPING THE LINES
The moment arrives to start the engines, and at once the 873hp Caterpillar C-18 diesels sound muted yet authoritative. An underwater exhaust system deals with fumes at speed and a bypass control to the transom when idling. The engineroom is similarly detailed and laid out to an intelligent and high-specification standard, with fire-suppression systems, watermaker for endless showers, twin 27kW Onans, reverse cycle air-conditioning, colour-coded wiring, and tagged plumbing and fittings. All very simple and easy to follow after a quick glance. Back on deck, one can take command at the main helm station or at one of the four foldaway wing stations, two aft and two either side on the upper bridge, each offering engine and thruster (bow and stern) control. It all becomes a piece of cake as long as you know which way to push the levers!
Once away from the wharf, a gentle nudge of the electronic controls and a quick turn of the helm find us off and away. The Hampton Endurance 720 Skylounge DPB is superbly quiet and never raises her voice above a well-bred whisper even when the engineroom controls are set to flank speed. The transition onto the plane is almost undetectable and the whole event is similar to an A380 on take-off. It happens without any fuss or fandango.
After a quick burst at a vibration-free 19kts, the novelty is over and a 10- to 13-knot speed is resumed for really efficient fuel economy for the distance traveller, 10,000lt available for long-range use. Fuel consumption is a dull conversation that can sour a nice afternoon, however, a nice, flat wash and a smooth and silent glide makes the miles go by with consummate ease - a few quiet cocktails and a light lunch or dinner with some amusing guests seems to be the cunning plan that can't fail.
The owner has specified 12ft stabiliser fins to add even more authority to these tried and tested hulls and with the ability to get up and run with ease, the Endurance 720 Skylounge DPB ensures its options are always open.
Seeing is believing, and a buyer or interested party should get aboard and have a proper snoop around to soak in the mood and details which abound in every nook and cranny. Whatever the result, your investigations will unveil a cleverly designed and superbly executed package which will provide adventure and excitement for your friends and family to enjoy. As the old song goes, the Best of Times is Now!!
Superb seakeeping and performance from naval-architect designed hull
High-quality fittings finishes and equipment
Superb soundproofing and vibration control
Long-range capabilities with CAT ACERT engines
Non-skid decking is not as effective as some offerings
Specifications: HAMPTON ENDURANCE 720 SKYLOUNGE DPB
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL: Handlaid solid fibreglass hull
TYPE: Modified V-bottom, twin-chine 'hybrid' monohull
LENGTH: 22.17m (overall): 21.95 (hull)
WEIGHT: 52.5 tonnes
PEOPLE (NIGHT): 10
HOLDING TANK: 454lt
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Caterpillar C-18 ACERT
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
DISPLACEMENT: 18lt (each)
RATED HP: 873 (each)
MAX RPM: 2240
GEARBOX : Twin Disc
Leigh-Smith Cruiser Sales,
Gold Coast City Marina,
76-84 Waterway Drive,
Coomera, QLD, 4209
Phone: (07) 5502 5866; 0408 758 887
Fax: (07) 5502 5832
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