Fine Flashback

A vintage Huckins is updated to make waves in this century
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070120BTPN-6817

Not many boats live to see a 90th birthday and look incredible for their age. An exception is Avocette III, the oldest-known Huckins in existence, a Fairform Flyer that was the predecessor to the PT boat designed by Frank Pembroke Huckins. This Offshore 48 was recently made over at Yachting Solutions in Rockport, Maine, where founder and CEO William Morong is quick to note you can’t call the boat a refit or a restoration. Avocette III is what he calls a “resto-mod” craft, which combines restoration and modernization at the same time.

Avocette III made her public debut at the New York Boat Show in 1931. Soon after, she was bought by Fred Voges for $17,000. Voges, who served as the Commodore for the Port Washington Yacht Club on Long Island, kept the boat until 1980, when he sold it for $20,000. The Huckins then fell on hard times, damaged by fire while sitting in storage in New York’s City Island. In the late 1980s, the boat was rescued and restored by Jerry Bass of New Jersey, but 25 years later, she was abandoned again. Then, in 2016, Morong took possession of the boat and began the process of bringing the classic yacht back to the life for a new owner, with the help of Wisconsin-based designer Bill Prince.

“We brought it in and did 3D scanning,” says Morong. “We modified the lines to accept pod propulsion, and then painstakingly cut the deck off of it. A CNC machine cut forms, and we dropped them into the old, existing hull. We tortured the old girl back into shape and then set about pulling apart the old hull and cold-molding a new hull.” Morong and his team worked with Cindy Purcell, the owner of Huckins, who provided original line drawings of the boat. “We took an old structure and completely re-envisioned it,” he says.

Avocette III is now a contemporary boat in a vintage shell. She runs Volvo Penta D6-IPS engines that propel her to a top speed of about 37 knots, which is much faster than the original boat.

The Huckins features many modern conveniences that were not yet imagined in 1931, including a Seakeeper stabilizer and CZone digital switching system. The boat’s interior was reimagined, too, right down to an elegant salon with Art Deco-inspired fireplace. As for resto-mod features, one that’s particularly interesting is the paint detail. While many traditional yachts have a gold cove stripe below the sheer, designers of Avocette III did something different. They asked Prince’s friend Ray Drea—VP and chief stylist at Harley-Davidson and a world-class painter—to hand paint the cove stripe in red against a glossy black hull. 

This article was originally published in the April 2021 issue.

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