Chip Raymond was out with his wife, Jan, for their first run in the 2005 Surfhunter 29 they’d just bought. Heading for the Thimble Islands off Branford, Conn., he opened the throttle and the Hunt Yachts deep-vee soft top express charged ahead in response.
“My wife said, ‘Why are you in such a hurry? We’re supposed to be cruising, going along the coast and enjoying the scenery,’ ” says Raymond, a 69-year-old retiree from Darien, Conn. “And I thought, She’s right, why am I steaming along? I slowed down and we just cruised along, riding around the islands and enjoying the scenery. Sure this boat can get you from one point to another at 20 knots, but part of the fun is in the journey.”
And if the journey involves rough conditions, well, the Surfhunter was designed with that in mind, too, as Raymond discovered on a trip out of Sag Harbor, N.Y. “We were heading for Darien and it was honking — 20 knots right on the nose,” he recalls. “The boat was doing 18 knots and the ride was just so comfortable.”
That combination of comfort, handling and performance has made the Surfhunter 29 a family favorite. “I can’t tell you how much we love this boat,” says Raymond, a veteran bluewater racing sailor. “And my wife loves it, too.”
The couple, who have two married sons and twin grandchildren, bought the 29-foot Hunt in late 2009 as a step up from a 22-foot powerboat they’d owned for six years. “We were talking together [two years ago] about getting a bigger powerboat, as our family was growing,” says Raymond, who ran non-profit foundations. “I wanted a boat in which my sons and their wives and our grandkids and my wife would be able to go out together and cross Long Island Sound. I looked for three things: an open cockpit, a covered middle and some room down below.”
Raymond and his sons began boat hunting in Newport, R.I. They found a 25-foot Surfhunter priced to buy, but it had been sold. They found another, but it needed too much work. Then they held a conference at Harbour Court, the Newport home of the New York Yacht Club, and eventually got around to the 29-footer. “My sons gave me the old ‘you only go around once’ flim-flam,” Raymond says. It worked. “After a few bottles of wine, that’s what we decided to buy.”
Raymond found his boat-to-be in Norwalk, Conn., not far from his Darien home. It turned out to be a local boat he’d admired from afar. “I had always thought it was one of the most beautiful boats I’d ever seen,” he says. “I loved the shape and I loved the deep-vee.”
Working with David Dorrance from Prestige Yacht Sales’ office in Essex, Conn., Raymond arranged to see the boat (www.prestigeyachtsales.net, firstname.lastname@example.org). “It looked brand-new,” he says. Most important, he took it for a test ride. “It was November and it was blowing like stink,” he says. “Waves were 3 to 4 feet, and my son and I and Dave went out and tooled around for a while. We were so impressed with the boat; it was unbelievable. So we decided to buy it.”
The price was $160,000 and the deal illustrated the value of a good broker, Raymond says. Prestige arranged for a surveyor, ran the sea trials, made a few cosmetic repairs, handled all of the paperwork and closed the deal, “all in a timely manner,” says Raymond. “They were obviously a big help.”
The bigger cabin, with its V-berth, galley and creature comforts, was an important factor for the Raymonds, considering their growing family. “Our 22-footer had a little cuddy, but then the grandkids were 2 years old,” he says. They’re now 7. “This boat can comfortably take all of us on the boat. It has enough room below and is laid out beautifully.”
Power comes from a 375-hp Volvo Penta gas sterndrive, and Raymond cruises the Surfhunter at 17 to 20 mph most of the time. (Hunt says the top end is about 40 mph.) He doesn’t keep fuel consumption figures. “If I’m going to use the boat, I’m going to use the boat, no matter what the exact fuel usage is,” he says. “I like the way it rides. In my 22-footer, you could get your brains pounded out. This boat is really solid.”
The Raymonds have had the boat for two seasons and they’re looking forward to a third. “We’ve gone up to Newport for a couple of weeks the last two summers and stayed on the boat,” says Raymond. “My sons had the use of a Sabre 34 that belongs to their 97-year-old granddad, so we had the best of both worlds, a great powerboat and a beautiful sailboat.”
The Surfhunter 29 has been more than accommodating. “It has all the things we need — a full shower, the enclosed head, the galley — everything that we need to be comfortable,” he says. “I love this boat; my wife loves this boat. It’s pretty perfect.”
The Surfhunter 29 is admired for its understated New England look, with a straight sheer and rounded stern. The trunk cabin is accented with eyebrow trim and the helm station is protected by a big windshield. The starboard-side helm features a single pedestal seat and a molded steering and electronics console. The windshield and side wings offers plenty of protection. There’s an L-shaped lounge to port for companion seating, with a transom seat in the cockpit. The engine box provides additional seating.
Down below, the layout includes a V-berth convertible to a dining area, using a table insert. The compact galley is on the port side and comes with a stainless sink and hot/cold pressure water, a single-burner butane stove, a microwave and an under-counter refrigerator. The enclosed head features an electric freshwater head with a Y-valve and a 15-gallon holding tank. Additional touches include Corian countertops, satin-finish cherry cabinetry and fiddles, and a varnished teak companionway. Diesel power and twin-outboard options are offered.
Ray Hunt’s accomplishments as a sail- and powerboat designer almost defy description. Among the all-time classics he created are the Boston Whaler 13, the Bertram 31 and the Concordia yawls. His spirit lives on in the designs of C. Raymond Hunt Associates (www.huntdesigns.com) and Hunt Yachts, whose offerings run from 24 to 68 feet. The Surfhunter 29 followed the popular Surfhunter 25, providing more room below and a larger cockpit. Internet listings for used 29s were running from around $190,000 to $300,000 at press time.
LOA: 29 feet, 6 inches
BEAM: 10 feet, 6 inches
DRAFT: 1 foot, 8 inches
WEIGHT: 8,000 pounds
POWER (NEW): single 380-hp Volvo Penta gas sterndrive
TANKAGE: 150 gallons fuel, 28 gallons water
BUILDER: Hunt Yachts, Portsmouth, R.I., (401) 324-4201.
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue.
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