Stepping aboard the new Hatteras GT54 brought me back to my roots. I’ve been running Hatteras yachts since the company introduced its first model — a 41-footer — in 1960. Sporting a pair of 275 hp Lincoln V-8 gasoline engines, it hit 20 knots, not fast by today’s standards. Yet, even then, Hatteras had a reputation for building boats like battleships.
Which brings us to the new GT54. Sixteen feet longer than the first Hatteras I ran, this model boasts an additional 2,650 horses and posted more than double the top speed. It may have lighter, more advanced construction, but Hatteras has not sacrificed its historic seakindliness. As test day proved, the smallest of the three new GT series sport-fishing convertibles showed the new boats are still as tough as their predecessors.
Outside the inlet, a north wind at 20 knots generated three- to four-foot seas near shore that quickly built to eight- to 10-footers a short way out. I managed a top speed of 41.3 knots along the sheltered beach but was impressed by the GT54’s handling inshore and off. Hatteras’ unique mechanical differential-steering system turns the inboard rudder more than it turns the outboard rudder, thereby creating a tighter turn than other boats this size do at such speed. But beware: At harbor speeds, the GT54 can throw an impressive wake unless you take one engine out of gear.
Backing down proved impressive. I charged to 9.5 knots in reverse before a drop of water came over the transom. The scuppers exit through the outer hull, hidden in the profile as they drain out the aft end of the splash/rub rail. Ingenious and very effective.
The cockpit easily accommodates two anglers plus three mates, even with the Pompanette fighting chair. The work space seems even roomier with all your guests up out of the way on the mezzanine, where there are food/bait freezers, drink coolers and an Eskimo ice maker with dump. There’s enough cold stowage to fish and entertain on a grand scale.
This hull sported a livewell in the portside sole, a fish box to starboard and lazarette access under the fighting chair’s footrest. The fish boxes are a tad shallow due to their locations atop the prop tunnels.
The interior is strikingly different from traditional Hatteras styling. A small island in the galley provides more room to maneuver as you cook and serve. However, I’d like to see the granite counters, banisters and such be rounded at the corners. Fall against one in a sea and it will surely leave a mark. Galley appliances include refrigerator/freezer drawers, a microwave/convection oven, ceramic cooktop and slide-out drawers behind cabinet doors. The dinette seats four adults; you could easily replace the nearby salon’s storage box/coffee table with a table for dining at the L-shape settee.
The flawless woodwork throughout the interior lends an ambience of simple, elegant luxury. Huge windows afford unobstructed views whether seated or standing, and are so expansive that ambient light in the salon is exceptional.
Belowdecks, the master cabin to port has a queen berth with storage beneath and a private en suite head with shower. Across the corridor, the crew’s quarters, several steps down, sport fairly tight single berths. The forward cabin has an island double and shares a head with the crew cabin.
Access the engines via the centerline hatch in the cockpit. Space between the engines is tight, but you get fabulous storage space outboard of the engines. I say “storage space” because there’s nothing requiring regular maintenance there.
Hatteras includes numerous features that make routine maintenance such as oil changes, acid-flushing the air-conditioning lines and cleaning the membranes on the watermaker easier on the crew. The single fire-retardant, fiberglass fuel tank integrated into the hull on centerline means you’ll never need to transfer fuel between tanks again.
Signs of the times? The Hatteras GT54 sports nothing but greener, more cost-effective LED lighting — both AC and DC. Additionally, Hatteras has switched over to digital controls through KEP touch-screen displays. But perhaps the most significant improvement is what you can’t actually see: resin infusion used in the hull construction, which makes for a stronger, lighter and “greener” boat, thanks to a more precise use of raw materials. Hatteras sells each GT on a semicustom basis. Each boat is different, so it’s hard to pin down a base price.
In all, the GT54 performed with remarkable grace in adverse sea conditions, just as I remembered on that first 41-footer. History repeats itself.