In the 15 years since its introduction, Hinckley’s Picnic Boat has become an industry icon, admired for its classic Down East styling and generally credited with pioneering jet propulsion in a midsize sport yacht. recently, the Maine-based builder rolled out the second major change to this highly successful model: thus, the Picnic Boat MK III.
The MK III is wider and longer than its predecessor and rides on a hull that has three degrees of additional deadrise aft. It also carries twin engines, which allow the jet drives to sit above the keel, where they’re better protected from grounding. The move to twins increases displacement by some 6,000 pounds but also ups the performance ante significantly; owners can now expect cruise speeds in the high 20-knot range, and fuel economy of better than 1 nautical mpg throughout the speed range.
Under way, the MK III exhibits none of the shortcomings associated with some jetdrive designs. Acceleration is smooth, and the boat tracks true, with crisp turns and no appreciable wander — even when running down-sea. Low-speed maneuvering is made easy by Hinckley’s JetStick, which is a joystick system that integrates the jet drives with a hydraulic bow thruster for precise fly-by-wire control.
The move to twin engines eliminates the centerline engine box of the original picnic boats, allowing for twin inboardfacing settees in the cabin house. The cockpit settee is a bit lower and larger, while the deckhouse is a bit taller and sports larger windows that increase visibility. The forward cabin features three additional inches of headroom, and there’s a bit more elbow room in the head.
Though well-suited for comfortable overnight stays by a couple, the MK III is truly at home when entertaining a few good friends in a style in which the refined and well-heeled are accustomed.