One of the advantages of buying a used boat is that you can apply the four Rs — repower, rewire, repaint and redecorate — to enhance its performance, improve its looks and turn it into your own.
Ask those who’ve done it, and they’ll tell you that the most successful projects require teamwork. In the case of Northern Light, the owner, surveyor, broker and boatyard combined to turn a 35-year-old wooden yacht with a classic pedigree into a modern cruiser for a Great Lakes sailing family. Northern Light is a 53-foot Huckins Corinthian from the well-known Jacksonville, Fla., builder, and it was launched in 1972. Ray Teborek, a Chicago-area investment counselor, purchased it in 2007 for $275,000.
The boat needed work, and Teborek developed a five-year plan with the builder and his surveyor friend, Peter Kronich. Topping the project list was a repower, swapping the boat’s Detroit Diesel 671s (its second pair of engines) for new 480-hp Yanmar diesels. Along the way, the old wiring system was torn out, and a new dual 12-volt/110-volt system was designed and installed. Along with the old engines, more than 6,000 pounds of outdated gear was removed, including a 900-pound hatch cover and a household stove/oven.
The Huckins’ wooden hull, sheathed on the outside in glass and epoxied inside, was in good shape despite its age, requiring only refairing and refinishing. Some work was needed around the cabin house, where earlier repairs had deteriorated.
Having taken care of the “musts,” it was time to set up the Corinthian for family cruising. The wheelhouse seating was redesigned so more people can share the helm area when under way. Fold-out double bunks installed in the main saloon and on the bridge deck supplement the two private staterooms. A bowsprit and a bigger swim platform were added. A planned bow thruster proved unnecessary because the 53-footer handled well around the dock. The navigational electronics were upgraded with new Raymarine gear, including a radar and a chart plotter, and a full set of gauges and satellite weather.
Huckins’ broker, Dick Rogers, was on board throughout the project. The builder designed the alterations for the repower, which included new engine beds and running gear. “They are a valuable resource for any Huckins owner,” Teborek says.
With the repower completed, the yacht was relaunched in May 2008 with a catered party for the crew at Manitowoc (Wis.) Marina, which did the bulk of the work. In all, the entire project took three years, rather than five. Northern Light’s captain, Willie Lynch, whom Teborek calls a “vital member of the team,” spent the winters in Manitowoc, overseeing the project.
The family has now enjoyed four Great Lakes cruising vacations, covering the North Channel and Georgian Bay after competing in the celebrated Race to Mackinac sailboat event. (Teborek and his family have a host of Mackinac races in their logbooks.) With its 480-hp Yanmars, Northern Light cruises at 20 knots and tops out at 23 to 24 knots with a full load. Fuel consumption is about 17 gallons an hour per engine, but “dramatically less” at slower speeds, Teborek says. “The boat starts to plane at about 10 or 12 knots and burns about half that when it is comfortably on a plane.”
The layout is ideal. The two staterooms, both with a head and a shower, are roomy and private. The saloon and bridge deck pullout bunks are casual and comfortable. “The galley is aft of the saloon, so I can get that first cup of coffee at 0-dark hundred and then go through the master stateroom out to the aft cockpit without disturbing anyone,” Teborek says. Northern Light works perfectly for “getting up north, where you can throw away the wristwatch and calendar for a few weeks” — and do so in comfort.
With the boat kept close at hand at Belmont Harbor, Teborek also enjoys “slow cruising” along the Chicago lakefront, anchoring off a beach for the afternoon with family or friends or spending a weekend aboard. In short, the Huckins Corinthian has been just what its owner wanted — a classic, comfortable cruising boat with character and accommodations. But it took teamwork to get it there.
“I truly believe Huckins builds terrific boats that deserve to be cared for, looked after and preserved,” Teborek says. “Huckins, the surveyor, the captain and the boatyard were indispensable in terms of getting it right the first time. The boat has proved to be very handy and is a joy in all respects.”
The first model in Huckins’ popular Corinthian series was a 47-footer that debuted in 1953, featuring an aft cabin and cockpit and a raised helm station. Popular as cruising boats, the Corinthian series eventually grew to include eight models to 65 feet. The 53-footer was introduced in 1957.
The Corinthian’s distinctive profile focuses on the raised bridge deck, set amidships, with its swept-back windscreen. The helm station’s placement provides good sightlines and seating for passengers on the afterdeck, with its easily recognized weatherboards. (This area is often covered with a hardtop or canvas.)
In the cruising-oriented layout down below, the Corinthian’s large saloon and dining area (and convenient day head) take up the boat’s midsection. The saloon is forward, steps down from the bridge and afterdeck, and just abaft the guest cabin. That’s placed forward, adjacent to its own full head. The master stateroom is all the way aft, with a private companionway to the aft cockpit. This two-stateroom design, with the saloon and galley areas in between, gives cruisers plenty of privacy. The galley, with room for a full slate of appliances, is abaft the saloon and convenient to the dining area and the owner’s stateroom.
Huckins Yacht Co. is one of America’s most venerable builders. It was founded in 1928 by designer Frank Pembroke Huckins in Jacksonville, Fla., and its first boat set the trend for 500 others to follow. It was called a Fairform Flyer and rode Huckins’ own “quadraconic” hull, a revolutionary shape he designed using conical sections between a sharp entry and a flat (1 degree of deadrise) aft section. During the 1930s, Huckins yachts established a reputation as the “fastest seagoing boats in the world.” The builder was also instrumental in developing the PT boat during World War II. The company remains family-owned, with Huckins’ granddaughter, Cindy Purcell, in charge, and it builds high-end fishing and cruising yachts from 44 to 90-plus feet. The Corinthian series and similar Huckins yachts, such as the Linwood, are popular in the used-boat market, but prices vary widely, reaching $300,000 or more for late models.
LOA: 55 feet
BEAM: 15 feet, 1 inch
DRAFT: 3 feet, 10 inches
WEIGHT: 45,000 pounds
HULL: “quadraconic” planing
POWER: twin diesels to 480 hp
TANKAGE: 525 gallons fuel, 150 gallons water
BUILDER: Huckins Yacht Co., Jacksonville, Fla.
PHONE: (904) 389-1125.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.
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