Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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I just noticed this thread and want to weigh in here. The Hunter 54 is a boat that has always caught my attention. The orignal design was based on one Warren Luhrs first trans-oceanic racers. Its my understanding that the design was penned by Paul Lindenburg, who I consider to be one of the most creative designers of that period, one who understood structurall design more than many designers of that period and one who understood how to produce designs that are both seaworthy and fast. In many ways the design of the 54 anticipated design concepts employed in the Volvo 60 round the world racers that were to occur decades later.
The original layout of these boats resulted in a very comfortable and functional design, one that worked well as a liveaboard and worked reasonably well offshore, as well as, for coastal cruising, solving many of the complex issues of a performance offshore design, including such radical concepts as the dinghy garage which eliminated the need for davits, (I consider davits to be a dingy storage device that I personally think of as the last resort offshore).
While Hunters' build quality is generally viewed with some sketicism some of which is deserved and some mere prejudice, Hunters of this period were well constructed, with build quaility on a par with other more respected and revered manufacturers. The 54 has been blasted for design details such as their use of a galvanized steel steering quadrant, but at that time, steel quadrants were seen as being a stronger and more reliable solution than the aluminum quadrants that were then becoming popular.
In conversations with surveyors who have looked at these boats, their comments were that Hunter did a very good job on the basic structure and an extremely good job on the systems.
Many of these boats have been successful voyagers. There used to be a fellow on Sailnet whose family had done a successful circimnavigation on one and who spoke glowingly of the boat. There is a tendancy to look at this boat as being a very large boat and therefore perhaps hard to handle or expensive to own. I think this may be overstated by those who are not familiar with the design. Ease of handling and maintenance costs are generally proportional to the displacement of the boat rather than to its overall length. The Hunter 54 was comparatively light for its length and so ease of handling and maintenance costs should be down around the costs of a 45 footer. Similarly, the purchase price of boats is often more proportionate to their displacement than to their length and so the inexpensive price on these boats reflect their age, their displacement and the predjudice against Hunters.
Many of these boats have had thorough refits and upgrades over the years and so represent a great value given the capabilities and capacities of the design. Like any boat of this era, a careful survey should be undertaken with attention to such details as deck coring condition and blisters, which are common in boats of all manufacteres from this era.