Resources for Buying a Used Hunter Sailboat
Hunter Marine: A Tale of Three Henrys
A German immigrant by the name of Henry Luhrs launched a marine chandlery business in New York City in the 1830’s. Luhrs’ grandson, also a Henry, was involved in the marine business as well and soon became aware of Henry Ford’s automobile production methods. Alas, the “production boat” was born.
The younger Henry and his two sons, Warren and John, were successful with a company called Sea Skiff, building in excess of 1,200 boats a year in the 1960s. The Luhrs were some of the first to embrace the use of fiberglass and the company continued to expand. After they sold the Sea Skiff Company in 1965, they soon were back in business with the Silverton Sea Skiff Company in New Jersey and, by 1973, they were well on the way to success again.
Warren Luhrs had always had a passion for sailing and believed that the same production methods used on power boats could be applied to sailboats. The first Hunter sailboat was released in 1973; it was a very affordable 25-footer designed by John Cherubini.
Hunter Marine Today
Three facilities comprise the Hunter building yards. The facility at Alachua, Florida constructs boats in the 24-50 foot range. The Composite Technologies Division in East Lyme, Connecticut builds boats 9-21 feet long and finally the United Kingdom’s Luhrs Marine Limited produces mid-sized Hunter sailboats. Today, Hunter Marine Corporation is one of the largest sailboat manufacturers in the world.
The Hunter Marine Corporation is an “employee owned” business and some of the workers have been with the company for over 20 years. The workers have multiple tasks and may not return to the same job for three days! The quality of the construction is directly tied to the pride of the employees.
Building affordable boats has been a hallmark of the Hunter Marine Corporation since the outset of the company. The price point of Hunter sailboats relative to the market is due to the fact that they turn out several hundred boats per year and have the ability to invest in technology to cut labor costs, not to mention the purchasing power that comes with this volume of sales. With over 30 years of manufacturing experience and a dominant market share in North America, Hunter has more real world experience than most other manufacturers in the market today.
A lot has been written over the years about the quality of large scale production sailboats compared to smaller manufacturers that may build just 20-30 sailboats a year. The intended use of the vessel is something that has to be considered when judging the ultimate seaworthiness of a boat, of course. Hunter builds boats to satisfy 85% of the market. That is to say, only 15% of the market will ever purposefully tax their boats beyond their intended use. With a few modifications and additions, many of the larger models are capable of crossing oceans or withstanding the stress of racing. Hunter sailboats feature Kevlar® laminate from the stem to the keel sump, and have pioneered the usage of stainless steel arches. In fact, Hunter is one of the initial recipients of the Marine Industry Certification.
For this page, we’ll focus on Hunter sailboats from 24 to 50 feet long.
The Hunter 240 is one of Hunter’s greatest models. One can go from the highway to the waterway in 30 minutes, with a single-handed mast raising system. The boat is easily single handed and has a retractable swing keel and 1300lb water ballast. The boat trailers light and low. The 240 sails well on all points of sail, all the controls are led aft, and the cockpit is roomy for a sailboat this size. The H240 is an outstanding lake or inshore coastal boat for sailors of all ability levels.
The Hunter 25 is a trailer sailor with liveaboard amenities. The H-25 replaced the earlier 240 and 260 models with smoother deck lines and upgraded facilities below decks. Classified as a pocket cruiser, the boat will accommodate 4 adults and contains a small galley and optional enclosed head. The boat is stable and tracks well under most wind conditions. It even points well! If you buy one without a roller furling system, we recommend you make the upgrade for ease of handling during docking or mooring.
The Hunter 260 has a swing centerboard that draws 6 feet and a water ballast system that allows an additional 2,000 pounds of displacement after launching. The H260 was designed for a specific market in mind: young sailing families. Hunter has taken great care to balance reasonable sailing performance and a wide range of available liveaboard features usually found on much larger boats. The most notable problems with the 260 have been rudders splitting at the seam and distorted outboard motor mounts. Minor cracks in the cockpit are common, although typically not structurally significant.
The Hunter 27 was produced from 1989 to 1994. This boat was definitely designed to offer “big boat” features in a smaller package. With shore-power supply, a half-electric/half-butane two-burner stove, a microwave, and a 12-volt cooler that you can load at home and stow in a specially built drawer in the galley, this boat is well equipped for life at the dock and for trips to nearby cruising grounds. The Hunter design team came up with a boat that fits the niche of a 27-foot sailboat for novices who want stability, ease of operation, and value.
The Hunter 27 is also quite nicely equipped for sailing. The mainsheet is double-ended: one end with a 3:1 purchase for quick trimming, and the other with a 6:1 ratio for fine-tuning. The cockpit is laid out for easy single-handing. The standard rig is a fractional B&R arrangement with optional in-mast furling. Hunter insists the market has embraced wheel steering, so a wheel it is. The optional Lewmar folding wheel further improves access to the walk-through transom, but unfortunately it’s pushed so far aft that the stern lifeline interferes with the helm seat.
The H-28 was produced from 1989-1994. This boat has all the features that make for a fine pocket cruiser, although there are several design points that should be considered prior to purchasing this model. Down below, there is an unusual 45-degree angle of the sole in the head, making its use quite uncomfortable. On deck, the aft cockpit is not designed very well, with the most glaring feature being the lack of back support. The absence of raised coamings to lean against can be just plain painful while sailing.
The Hunter 29.5 is a blend of performance, styling and comfort, giving family cruisers everything they need to enjoy their time on the water. Easy sail handling is attained through the use of line organizers, self-tailing winches, a small roller-furling jib, triple rope clutches, and a fully-battened mainsail. Below deck, the open-plan maximizes elbow room, and eliminates that dark “cave-like” feeling so frequently found on boats of this size. There are two spacious double berths, a huge dinette, a full galley, and an enclosed head compartment with shower.
Hunter 30: The company offered an almost bewildering variety of models in this size, with frequent updates and design changes. Be very alert when evaluating these, as model lines such as “Vision” or “Legend” have little resemblance to one another or the original H-30.
The Hunter 31 replaced the H-30 in the product line. Hunter Marine claims that many design points of the boat have been fine-tuned to make this a fast, comfortable (emphasis on comfortable) mid-sized cruiser. Many options are available on the model including air conditioning and a 13” flat panel TV with DVD. Shore power connections are also available. Hunter designed the H31 considering both the weights of a 1-2 man crew and a larger 8-10 man crew to create low drag efficiencies under a variety of load and wind conditions.
The Hunter Vision 32 was aimed at the first-time cruising sailboat buyer. Perhaps this sailor has been intimidated by standard rigs with their implied complexity. Hunter put this innovative design together with comfort and simplicity receiving equal attention. If you put conventional standards aside, the short ended, high freeboard, large house H-32 shows careful attention to styling. The house contours are very pleasing and add a very rakish look to this somewhat chunkily-proportioned hull.
There’s nothing new in the rig. With fully battened main and small, non-overlapping jib, sail handling has been reduced to the minimum complexity. It’s a lazy man’s boat. The midsection shows moderate BWL and an arc-like shape with moderately firm bilges. The stern is very broad with a big swim step carved into the transom. The keel is a fin-bulb-wing combination that gives 4-foot, 3-inch draft. Obviously this hull has been optimized to provide interior volume, but the designers haven’t ignored performance. The interior borrows from the European competition, with a transverse double berth and a small galley counter with icebox.
The H33 Legend is broad-beamed and rigged to soothe nervous crews and capable of fulfilling its purpose – coastal cruising. This is one of the best selling boats in the country and it’s easy to see why. She is spacious, reasonably well-equipped and a good value for the money.
Hunter 35 – From the beginning, Hunter has concentrated on keeping its sailboats affordable while providing maximum accommodations for their length. The Legend 35/35.5 remains true to the company’s focus. This model was introduced as the Legend 35 in late 1986 and replaced the very popular 34 foot model. In 1989, several modifications of the deck mold and interior arrangement changed the designation to 35.5. Production ended with the 1995 model year. The 35 model was offered with a standard fin keel which draws 6 1/2 feet. The fin keel option was dropped with the introduction of the 35.5. Displacement varies with the year but ranges between 12,100 pounds to 13,000 pounds. Construction is of solid laminate fiberglass hulls with a fiberglass structural grid system to strengthen them. Do be aware that this method of construction prevents inspection of many areas of the boat and small problems can go undetected until they become big ones.
H36 – Glenn Henderson, Hunter Marine’s talented in-house designer describes the Hunter 36 as an “evolutionary derivative” of its predecessor. What he means is that a successful design was refined to play off its good points but make improvements where possible. He’s stretched the waterline and hollowed it forward, and with his engineering team has developed a hybrid keel that uses a combination of iron (for economy and rigidity) with lead to put the weight where it’s wanted. While the deck’s appearance reflects a redesign of the cockpit and restyling to match Hunter’s current theme, the rig is characteristic still: the backstay-less B&R arrangement that supports a high-roach mainsail. Two sailing couples will find the accommodations spacious enough for coastal cruising and weekending.
Hunter 37 – The Hunter 37 was built between the years of 1978 and 1986. With a water capacity of 100 gallons, a fuel capacity of 44 gallons, and a 27HP auxiliary engine, the Hunter 37 is great for living aboard. It’s easy to sail and has a spacious v-berth and head. Though well balanced and easy to handle, it is a little slow in light air. It’s used primarily for coastal cruising and, with headroom of six feet four inches, is perfect for a tall sailor! The only problem noted is that older boats tend to have portholes that leak. The Hunter 37 has received overwhelming approval and acceptance by consumers.
The Hunter 38 has all of the Hunter trademark details such as the stainless steel arch, a full bimini, and corner seats on the stern rail. Designer Glenn Henderson has refined the typical Hunter hull form to bring out more speed and agility. This boat won the Cruiser of the Year award from Cruising World magazine for boats under 40 feet. It achieved this with better-than-average performance, good design, and sound construction techniques.
Hunter 39: while remaining competitively priced, the Hunter design team has been ambitious in their aims and innovative in their newer models. They have constantly modernized their production techniques, resulting in sound European Union-certified (Category A, Ocean) hulls. Overall the Hunter 39 is modern in design and clean in execution and, given its price, well worth a look for those wanting to cruise in comfort and safety.
The Hunter 410 was introduced in 1998 and had a relatively brief production run of 5 years. Available in either 2- or 3-cabin layouts, the H41 also offered a shoal draft keel configuration (5 feet) or deep draft model (6 feet 5 inches). The design has been termed “American contemporary.” Once again, Hunter has produced a comfortable, reasonably priced boat.
The Hunter 41 Deck Saloon, designed by Glenn Henderson, is meant to have all the conveniences of a house and also be able to handle long-distance offshore passages. The boat is quick to accelerate even in light air and yet displays all the aspects of performance: high stability, good boat speed, good motion in a seaway and responsiveness. The interior of the Hunter 41 DS is nothing short of fabulous; airy and bright. The H41 was voted Best Production Cruiser in 2006 by Cruising World Magazine.
The Hunter 42 Passage is perhaps the ultimate affordable Bahamas and Caribbean cruiser on the used sailboat market today. The Hunter Passage was built between 1990 and 1999. This model has a reputation among boaters to be the best constructed of all the Hunters. That said, there was a fire in 1994 due to the charger leads and inverter wiring not being able to handle aftermarket electronics. Hunter recalled the boats and replaced the inverters. The center cockpit has a high helm and is easy to get on and off of, due to the smart design of the stern. It is hard to find a better value than a well-equipped Hunter with air-conditioning, in-mast furling, and a generator for around $100,000.
The Hunter 45 CC demonstrates the Hunter design trademarks, like the backstay-less B&R rig and cockpit traveler arch with a racy-looking house. The result is an easy to sail boat that is capable of extended cruising. The fractional rig is designed for short-handed sailing. Most of the drive comes from the big mainsail. The small headsail is easily handled, although a starboard winch would assist with furling the genoa. The rig is designed to clear 65 foot bridges (intercoastal waterway maximum). The luxurious cabin is crowned by the “master suite” – an island berth with a queen inter-spring mattress complemented with Corian countertops, an ensuite head, and separate shower. The galley is reminiscent of gourmet mainland kitchens with every amenity.
The Hunter 460 is considered by many to be Hunter’s finest achievement, combining comfort with speed and agility. The H460s on the used boat market today are considered to be some of the “best buys” available to owners. A completely loaded 460 with air-conditioning, generator, and a complete electronics package can be found for $100,000-$150,000, depending on the year. This model possesses all of the signature Hunter design points: B&R backstay-less rig, stainless steel arch, and aft rail seats.
The Hunter 49 received Best Full Sized Cruiser award in 2005 from Cruising World Magazine. An interesting feature is the split mainsheet that can be controlled either by a winch on the cabin top or with a tail that runs down the trademark overhead arch to a winch by the port helm station. Glenn Henderson and his design team utilized a relatively small keel with a large rudder to produce a boat that tracks well through the water. Corian counters, solid woodwork, and finishing touches such as a flat screen entertainment center, set off the H49 as the queen of the Hunter fleet.
The Hunter 50 CC is listed as “an extended bluewater cruiser with luxury home amenities”. A spacious two-cabin, two-head layout and optional jet spa bathtub located under the aft stateroom bunk support this claim. Other options include a deep keel, larger fuel tank, and a three-cabin layout that easily divides the large forward cabin into two smaller cabins. The hull is the same as the Hunter 49 with their trademark B&R rig, stainless steel arch for the traveler, and Kevlar-reinforced bow.
The Hunter 50 AC demonstrates Hunter’s long-standing commitment to never rest on its laurels. The boat turns easily through the wind losing minimal way. For a larger cruising platform, the boat performs like a much smaller boat in terms of agility. Below decks, the H50AC sports a very spacious saloon, large comfortable navigation station, a generous gourmet galley, and ensuite heads with separate showers. The Hunter 50 AC is a true bluewater cruiser with exceptional performance and comfort.
If you’re in the market for a Hunter or any other sailboat, consider downloading the How to Buy a Sailboat guide and find a great boat at a bargain price. Clicking on the link will apply a $5 discount off the guide, courtesy of iBuySailboats.