Hunter 45 DS

by George Day

Blue Water Sailing
April 2008


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Combines innovative design with advanced production engineering

This year, as Hunter Marine celebrates 35 years of boat building, the company has set out on a new and interesting course to provide ever higher quality in its larger cruising boats while still offering its owners the great values that are achievable through high volume production building techniques.

The new Hunter 45 DS (deck saloon), which was introduced in the fall of 2007, is a perfect example of how Hunter’s innovative design and production techniques have been employed to create a family cruising boat that is as easy to sail, easy to cruise and easy to own as any production cruising boat in the U.S. The new 45 DS is built on the proven platform of a Glen Henderson designed hull and has been styled to meet the needs of a couple or family seeking comfortable, elegant accommodations that are truly homelike down below. With a narrow entry at the bow and broad dimensions aft, the boat cuts through the water nicely while having the stability to stand up to a press of sail.

The shoal-draft, winged keel keeps the boat’s center of gravity low while allowing her owners to cruise in shallow areas such as the Bahamas or Chesapeake without constantly worrying about running aground. The rudder is large and provides plenty of bite on the water for sure maneuvering around the docks or when steering in bumpy conditions offshore.

The deck layout of the new 45 DS embodies the whole Hunter philosophy of making sailing simple, safe, fun and accessible to all. The large cockpit has twin steering wheels (Lewmar Cobra™ rack and pinion design), which make steering from both sides of the boat more convenient and open up a passageway fore and aft to the swim platform on the stern. The cockpit has a large table that will seat six adults for al fresco lunches or evening sundowners.

The B & R rig that Hunter uses on all of its boats is unique to the company and the 45 DS. The rig eliminates a standing backstay and supports the mast with long, aft-swept spreaders, intermediate check and diamond stays and the fractional forestay. The innovation here (no backstay) is the ability to power the boat with a large, high roach mainsail that is self-tacking and easily controlled from the cockpit and a much smaller jib forward that provides lift for sailing to windward and power when reaching. The jib’s small size makes it easy to tack and trim, thus eliminating a lot of winch grinding or the need for electric winches. The mainsheet runs to a traveler that is fitted on top of the stainless steel cockpit arch—another Hunter innovation. Trimming the big sail from the end of the boom requires less effort than mid-boom sheeting. Also, the arch gets the main sheet out of the cockpit and provides double-ended sheeting, so the sail can be trimmed from either side of the cockpit.

With the autopilot managing the steering chores, just about any adult can put the 45 DS through a series of tacks and jibes without so much as breaking a sweat. And, because the boat is so easy to sail, you will find that you sail more often and use the engine less than you might on a more traditional design.

In the new 45 DS as on the rest of the company’s cruising line, deck hardware and equipment is from the world’s leading suppliers and installed with both modern ergonomics and ease of maintenance in mind. You won’t find a lot of traditional varnish on deck because varnish requires regular upkeep that will cost both time and money—the two commodities you really need to enjoy the sailing life. And enjoying sailing and cruising is what Hunter is all about.

The new 45 DS has an all-cherry interior, which is now standard aboard the mid-size and larger designs in the Hunter fleet. Combined with white overhead and side panels, huge windows and light color fabrics on the cushions, the cherry interior is both warm and bright. And, with the faux teak and holly sole and Corian counters, the styling of the 45 DS evokes the traditions of the past while offering thoroughly modern and low-maintenance materials to live with. The deck saloon design—the coach roof is raised and surrounded by large tinted windows—makes the interior bright and airy. Plus with five opening deck hatches and six opening ports, ventilation throughout the boat will be excellent. The saloon has a dinette to port that will seat four adults. Two more can be added with portable folding seats. The cabin is spacious so even a party of six will feel at home and comfortable.

The modern galley will please even gourmet cooks since plenty of Corian counter space is available for chopping and dicing and later setting up a buffet and doing the dishes. The galley is large enough for two to work together and has ample cabinet space for galley supplies, dishes and even a secure dripdrying tray for recently washed plates and glasses. Hunter uses a side-opening fridge that is similar to a small home refrigerator. The forward cabin has a Pullman double berth to port and a vanity with a sink to starboard. The head and shower are forward. Reading lights are well placed above the berth and accent lights are recessed in the overhead panels.

The after cabin can be set up with a huge, walk-around double berth on the centerline or split into two smaller cabins with double berths. With the single centerline double, the aft cabin becomes the master suite with a ton of storage along both sides, a large hanging locker and a huge private head. In this cabin there is space to install cruising equipment such as a washer-dryer, watermaker, spare batteries and so on.

The 45 DS will make a comfortable home away from home for a couple and their friends or an adventurous family. The interior is stylish and bright and borrows elements from traditional yacht style, yet is designed and assembled to minimize maintenance.

The new 45 DS may be the latest example of Hunter’s commitment to cruising and value, but it is not alone in the Hunter fleet. The company builds four models over 40 feet that should be considered capable offshore and liveaboard boats.

The 45 DS is in fact the immediate sistership of the 45 CC (center cockpit) that was introduced in 2006 to replace the 456 CC. The 45 CC has a traditional coach roof, which makes the saloon more compact but does make room aft for a large and truly comfortable double master cabin. The 45 CC has the same, hull, keel, rudder and rig as the 45 DS and will appeal to those who want the big aft cabin instead of the large saloon of the DS. On the smaller side, the 41 AC and 41 DS offer the same choices as the two 45-footers. In the two-cabin layouts, you get large after staterooms and Pullman berth doubles in the forward cabin. Or, you can opt for the three cabin versions which provide large single berths in the twin aft cabins that are tucked in aft of the galley and head. Fitted out with the same gear and equipment and the same cherry interior as the 45, the 41 offers a lot of cruising amenities in a smaller package.

On the high end, the Hunter 49, which was introduced in 2006, offers cruisers and liveaboards a voyaging home that is uncommonly spacious. The hull design is similar to the hulls Glen Henderson drew for the 45 and 41, just bigger in all dimensions. The boat has a high ballast ratio and a solid displacement hull so it will feel stable and sure under foot even in a bouncy seaway. Conceived to carry all the gear a couple or family might need for extended cruising, the 49 is a blue-water boat that will serve her owners well whether sailing along the coasts or around the world.

The key to the value owners find in Hunter cruising boats lies in the efficiencies of the production line building process. This process allows the company to buy materials and equipment with high volume discounts, which can be passed on to buyers, and to assemble the boats in the fewest “man hours.” The 45 DS and her sisterships are fabricated from three major composite “parts”— the hull, the deck and the interior hull liner or grid. Fitting these parts together with the interior modular units, the keel, rudder and rig becomes an assembly process where each step can be monitored for quality control and efficiency.

Certainly, one of the efficiencies in this process is the ability of the production team to make installation of major pieces—the engine systems, tanks, 12-volt electrical systems, plumbing and more—all jobs that happen before the major parts are assembled.

In other words, deck hardware and the wiring that goes under the deck is all installed before the deck is lowered onto the hull and before the interior deck liner is put in place. Instead of crawling around the inside of an unfinished boat running wiring behind bulkheads and installing plumbing beneath floors and behind furniture, the production team actually works on assembly from the outside inwards. The hull liner or grid is molded and then placed on a cradle where the backs of cupboards, and the undersides of other interior furniture are all readily accessible by a person standing upright with tools and the pieces to be installed in a bin nearby. Once the systems and the furniture have been fastened into place, the whole interior is hoisted by a crane and lowered, very carefully, into the hull.

Meanwhile, the engine, tanks and other items under the floors have been installed and the deck has been fully rigged with gear and wiring. In the end, the whole thing comes together very quickly with the major parts being bonded with space-age adhesives and robust mechanical fastenings—nuts, bolts and washers. What is gained in the production process is the ability to standardize each phase of the process while minimizing waste, reducing man hours and reducing the cost of materials and equipment. All of this means Hunter can pass along savings to customers. It also means that Hunter cannot really build you a semi-custom cruising boat. Some small modifications are possible. But, for the most part, each model comes built to a uniform standard.

Yet production assembly techniques do not automatically mean that a builder—Hunter or another other high volume builder—is also scrimping on quality. In Hunter’s case, the company has made a commitment in the last few years to improve their standard of quality in every way possible while remaining consistent with the company’s value proposition.

The hulls and other major parts are hand laid of high quality glass-fiber fabrics and resins. The gelcoat used is formulated to resist fading, cracking and yellowing in the sun. The forward sections of the hulls are layered with Kevlar fabric to resist penetration should the boat run into a submerged object, such as a container. The hull-deck joint consists of wide flanges that are glued together with 3M 5200 and then secured with stainless steel bolts.

On deck, you will find all well-known brands of hardware and gear from companies such as Lewmar, Harken, Schaefer and others.

The stainless steel work—arch, handrails, stanchions—are all electropolished 316 stainless steel. The steering wheels are Lewmar’s Cobra™ rack and pinion systems that provide excellent feel at the helm and long-term reliability. A solid corporate citizen in the marine marketplace, Hunter builds its boats to national and international standards of quality, such as those laid down by the American Boat & Yacht Council, the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association and the European Union’s CE requirements.

The new Hunter 45 DS and her cruising sisterships, are a new generation of production cruisers from America’s largest sailboat manufacturer. The value that customers have come to know from the company over the years is now more than evenly matched with a commitment to quality and innovation that is of direct benefit to owners.

Hunter Marine was founded by John and Warren Luhrs whose father Henry Luhrs, had started the Luhrs Boat Building Company, which builds Luhrs powerboats, Mainship and other brands. An avid sailor, Warren Luhrs launched his new company, based in Alachua, Florida, with an innovative 25-foot trailer-sailer. The boat was fun to sail, easy to trailer behind a family car, and comfortable enough for weekend or even longer cruises. The 25 was a hit and soon was followed by a 30 footer and a 27 footer. Within six years, Luhrs had developed and launched five new models and each was a result of the same innovation and forward thinking that we see in the boats the company builds today. Over the last 35 years, the company has launched 80 models and has built a worldwide distribution network of dealers and representatives.

Warren Luhrs’s passion for sailing and for new and interesting technologies has not waned. He has competed in singlehanded endurance events in which he has tested gear, design ideas and the unique B & R rig. He has set long-distance sailing records and attempted to set many more. He is a sailor’s sailor and that commitment to seamanship, fundamentals and safety can be seen in every boat the company produces.

Hunter 45DS
LOA 44'2"
LWL 39'2"
Beam 14'6"
Draft (shoal) 5'0"
Draft (deep) 6'6"
Displacement 22,389 lbs.
Ballast 7,237 lbs
Sail area 975 sq. ft.
Fuel 51 gals.
Water 140 gals.
Engine 54-hp. diesel
Hunter Marine
Alachua, FL 32615
Ph: 386-462-3077

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