By Mike Whitehead
Hinckley 29C: Sea Trial
Hinckley 29C: Classic cool meets futuristic jet drive propulsion.
Classic-style boats have always ranked high on my list of ideal daycruisers.
I run a lot of boats — everything from 20- to 150-footers — yet, I really enjoy a day cruise with friends aboard a boat with character. This is why I was excited to test the Hinckley 29C, which has a design that turns heads whenever one is cruising up the harbor.
What’s more, this boat has something very special and innovative beyond its design. The boat is jet drive controlled by a JetStick handle, similar to the joystick on my computer.
I was intrigued — and eager to step aboard this boat that has no rudders or propellers.
Hinckley’s Talaria boat line is named for the wings that gave flight to a Roman god. Talaria (pronounced ta-LA-ria) are the winged sandals of Mercury, the swift messenger of the gods. Hinckley named these boats Talaria for their speed and innovation.
Hinckley Co. started in 1928 when Benjamin Hinckley began operating a small boat yard in Southwest Harbor, Maine and started building boats that became renowned for their high level of overall quality. The Talaria series — including the 29C (center console) and 29R (runabout) — was introduced 61 years later, in 1989, as the first fiberglass power boat built by the company.
Can You Drive a Stick?
The 29C is Hinckley’s first center console model, and it was developed after four years of planning. This boat is designed for a jet drive, powered by a 440 hp Yanmar diesel inboard. During our test, the engine proved to be remarkably quiet, under the well-insulated hydraulic-controlled engine hatch.
Rudy Dettwyler, a senior broker with The Crow’s Nest in Newport Beach, California, provided our test boat. On the day of our sea trial, we had sunny skies with 2-to-3-foot seas, just before a storm system hit Southern California.
Dettwyler has decades of experience selling boats and he is very knowledgeable; yet, I could tell he was very excited about running this particular boat. As we walked down the gangway, this salty-looking 29-foot center console stood out — and it looked impressive, even when compared to all the luxurious 50-footers in neighboring slips.
I first noticed the teak trim, blue hull and optional fiberglass T-top over the helm. Looking inside, there was more than ample seating for a boat of this size, along with walk-about open deck space.
Our test boat had an optional forward dodger canopy to protect guests in the forward settee — and buyers should seriously consider adding this extremely practical feature. The forward settee has storage underneath, as well as a flush deck storage locker between the settee and the helm.
On the dash, there is a control panel to select helm mode, power steer or docking mode — for either the JetStick control or the conventional captain’s wheel with throttle control. Our test boat was equipped with Raymarine electronics, including radar, GPS and chart plotter; a Ritchie compass; and a Clarion marine stereo system.
I really liked the analog round trim tab gauges by Bennett. They not only matched the other round dash gauges, but also were very easy to read at a glance.
The engine hatch, located amidships, is under a console with a dual helm seat, a sink with a built-in ice chest and an aft-facing dual cockpit seat.
There is more seating all the way aft. This forward-facing seating offers additional storage space underneath. At the transom, there’s a swim step with a fold-up swim ladder.
Dettwyler opened the side hatch on the helm console and showed me the boat’s private head compartment — which comes complete with a VacuFlush toilet. This space is large enough for one person — and it also contains the electrical panel for the boat.
At the bow, a two-position anchor can either be extended out over the bow for deployment or hidden, when pivoted back inside the anchor locker in the foredeck. The pivoting anchor inside the locker is a great feature to decrease the boat’s overall length — and it is very helpful when docking in tight areas.
Stainless steel retractable flush deck cleats are of adequate size to handle stress from the docklines.
As we started to maneuver the boat out of the slip — with mere inches to spare — I experienced the ease of operation that this boat’s JetStick control offers. To work our way out, we simply pushed forward or backward on the JetStick (for forward or reverse movement) and twisted its upper knob (for thruster control). This controlled the jet’s bucket in the stern and the bow thruster feed, by an isolated battery.
Once clear of the dock, I got a chance to put the controls to the test — and what a different experience in boat handling this was. I could easily spin this boat 360 degrees — in its own boat length — slide the boat sideways instead of “walking it” and cruise at harbor speed while counteracting the wind and current, all with one joystick.
Typically, once you achieve harbor speed and get ready to start cruising, you’ll want to switch from the JetStick to the helm wheel and single-lever throttle control.
We powered through the harbor at about 5 knots, at 1,000 rpm. Once we cleared Newport jetty, we hit plane at approximately 1,800 rpm. I found a comfortable cruising speed at 2,800 rpm, running at 25.5 knots. We enjoyed a good feeling of control and a solid ride, thanks to a remarkable hull design.
The 29C is built on a shallow-draft modified-V hull that is built with Hinckley’s DualGuard composite construction, in which outer layers of Kevlar are bonded to an inner skin of carbon fiber. The method involves laying up the hull dry, then vacuum bagging the entire structure and injecting it with resin to completely infuse every square inch. The result is a strong, yet lightweight structure.
As our test continued, we made many more 360-degree turns — and then we turned hard over from port to starboard repeatedly. I could not make this boat chine walk, and only on a few very aggressive turns did the stern slightly cut loose.
We pushed the throttles wide open to 3,500 rpm, and we were running a top speed of 34.7 knots. When I cut the throttles back to idle, the boat slowed down quickly — and a little water did come up through the self-bailing built-in cockpit scuppers, located in both aft corners.
We put this 29-footer through its paces with a few hard-over turns at wide-open throttle. If you do this, you will want to warn your guests to grab hold of something, as the boat just seems to grip the water — and it moves fast when you move fast.
I turned back through the boat’s own wake, and it sliced through with minimal pounding. There was no need to decrease speed, unlike most other boats of this size. I was impressed with the solid feel of the boat, and there were no rattles or flexing creaks coming from anywhere in the boat’s hull or structures.
Upon our return to the docks, we squeaked back into our tight slip with ease — thanks again to the JetStick.
The attention to detail on the Hinckley is impressive, and the care in workmanship shows before you even step aboard. However, my favorite item on the 29C has to be the JetStick. It made controlling this boat as much fun as — well, actually more fun than — playing a video game.
CONTACT: The Hinckley Co., Southwest Harbor, ME; (207) 244-5531; www.thehinckleyco.com
Hinckley 29C Specifications
|Dry weight||7,500 pounds|
|Fuel capacity||100 gallons|
|Water capacity||20 gallons|
|Propulsion||Hamilton HJ 292 Water Jet|
|Price as tested with 440-hp Yanmar diesel engines||$258,000|
|Top speed||34.7 knots|
|Cruising speed||25.5 knots|
|Miles per gallon at 25.5-knot cruising speed||2.5|
|Estimated fuel cost for 100 miles||$75.20|
|Range at 25.5-knot cruising speed||108 nautical miles|
|Sound level at 25.5-knot cruising speed||78 dBA|
(Estimated fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.88 per gallon.)
JetStick helm control system; 5 hp Sidepower bow thruster; Teleflex controls; Ritchie compass; varnished teak dash panel; Faria gauges; double helm seat; forward lounge seating; icebox; Fireboy fire extinguishing system.
Indmar 8.1-liter high-output gasoline inboard engine; forward dodger canopy; teak cockpit sole; fiberglass T-top with aluminum frame matched to deck color; Raymarine electronics package (including RL 72C Plus 7-inch color radar, 2 kw radome and autopilot); varnished teak table with electric high-low pedestal that converts it to a sun lounge; Force 10 custom stainless steel gas grill, in place of standard icebox; halogen deck light; custom color-matched triple-axle trailer; Fishing Package (includes T-top, rocket launchers, stainless steel rod holders, rod racks, live baitwell and cutting board); Sun Package (includes carbon fiber gauge panel, console pod finished in gelcoat with teak trim and molded fiberglass sink/icebox lids).
DualGuard construction with Kevlar and carbon fiber.
For More Information
The Hinckley Company