While we are waiting for Moonrise to sell, even though we are not currently in a position to buy another boat, I still like to view boats because I learn so much from doing so. With that in mind, my friend Sue at Capitol City Yachts wanted me to view this 2006 Hunter 31 and write it up for the blog. No problem!
Even though this is not a ‘blue water’ boat, I was excited to look at Blind Faith. She is moored at Foss Harbor marina and we’ve seen her many times as we passed by on the way out to the bay or back home. I always noticed the name because I like it. The first thing I observed when stepping aboard this vessel is that it looks almost brand new. I’m not kidding. Did these owners do much sailing? Because if so, they really kept the boat in pristine condition. The dodger and bimini, which are quite nice and well constructed, look like they were installed yesterday. I also notice that the canvas is nice and tight, showing high quality workmanship. None of those saggy baggy dodgers here. In addition, there are solid hand holds for boarding the boat.
All of the metal work on the exterior of the boat in terms of handholds and the back rail feels solid and secure. That gives the cockpit a secure feeling. The lack of a backstay on this rig means that the rear of the cockpit feels open and usable. There are two teak seats on the back rail that make me envious. I’ve always wanted those on Moonrise. I sat on one and was surprised by the solid feel of the seat. I would totally sit there while under way and find a way to steer with my foot! But if that didn’t work, I am happy to say that sitting behind the wheel would work just fine for me as I could see the front of the boat easily and clearly. This is an important point for me because as a conscientious boater, I like to see where I am going. Right?
Speaking of steering, I love this folding wheel. This is another upgrade I would make to Moonrise if we kept her. Having this wheel out of the way while at anchor or in a marina means that the aft parts of that cockpit are even more usable. There is plenty of room to relax, even laying down, on the cockpit seats. I was envisioning evening dinners in that cockpit, with it’s stereo speakers attached to the bimini, and the vision was a good one. There is a handy cockpit table that folds neatly out of the way when not in use, and that appears to be made of low maintenance material. The idea of ‘low maintenance’ on a boat is simply foreign to me. I would like to become more personally familiar with it. Final note on the cockpit is that I love it that the lazerette lids lock down.
The lack of exterior teak on this boat, (except for the seats on the safety rail) means less time maintaining the boat and more time enjoying it. There is no valor in having to sand teak all the time to keep it pretty.
This is an interesting rig, with no backstay, called a B & R rig. I don’t know a thing about it. But what I do know is that this rig is layed out in such a way that all the lines are run to the cockpit, even the reefing line, and these lines are neatly stowed in very nice line bags. This access to all running rigging from the cockpit is probably a good idea because with a weight of 8353 pounds and ballast that is less than a third of that amount, I’m guessing that this boat is fast and responsive to wind. I’m also guessing that it could be quite, um, ‘exhilarating’, shall we say, in windy/wavy conditions. Now some of us might enjoy that, but still. Just saying that staying safely in the cockpit in those conditions might be the better part of wisdom in a boat this light weight. This boat has in-mast furling on its larger-than-normal mainsail, and it has a furling headsail. These would both be very convenient, as long as they are reliable. There are 4 winches in the cockpit area: two primariy winches and two others on either side of the companionway. They are all self-tailing and look more than adequate to the task. The traveller is out of the way, on top of the dodger. Apparently this is a ‘Hunter’ thing, and does keep the cockpit more livable and the cabin top from being cluttered.
It’s easy to get around on deck. The side decks are wide enough to walk unencumbered. Although the coach roof is slightly curved, it is graceful and gentle and the material had a nonskid surface. The area in front of the coach roof is large enough to sit out and enjoy the sunshine as the windlass, which is electric, is inside the anchor chain locker, out of the way and out of the weather.
So enough about the exterior of this boat. Let’s go down the hatch! The first impression I had was confusion. This boat is only 31 feet long? I double checked. This shows like a much larger boat, likely because the interior volume reflects the high freeboard and hull shape, which apparently was tweaked in order to give more room in the forward cabin. This is a 31 foot boat with two full cabins, plenty of space in the salon, and a nice galley. Quite a feat of design work, if you ask me. It’s also an aft-cockpit boat with a decent aft cabin.
By decent I mean that I don’t feel as though I am lying in a coffin when I lay on the berth in that cabin. The designers, apparently with people like me in mind, designed this cabin such that there is actually a lot of head room on the side most people would need it. They also put in a very nice hatch that opens to the cockpit, allowing plenty of light to enter what would have otherwise been a very dark space. As long as the person least likely to have to get up in the night slept in the furthest aft position, it would work just great. For one person I would call it ‘generous’.
The galley and salon are one of the areas where this Hunter 31 feels like a much larger boat. This boat has a proper galley with well finished cabinets and drawers. I like the hardware on the cabinets as it is easy to use, yet holds the doors securely. There is a full sized stove/oven and the sink is generous. Under the sink, the cabinet has a good amount of space, including a shelf which basically almost doubles the volume there. In addition, one of the nice touches designers of this boat included is a trash bin area that is out of the way yet easy to access. Again, it’s these little things that go a long way to make any boat livable, even for a weekend.
Although an icebox was standard on this model, this particular boat has a fridge/freezer unit. Even though that’s not really a necessity, we have certainly enjoyed the fridge/freezer on Moonrise. Of course no one actually “needs” ice cold drinks on a hot day, but why not have them if you can? And then there is the ability to store fruit and fresh vegetables. This opens up possibilities for meals that are sorely limited when you have to worry about ice in the icebox melting. What we found on our Moonrise is that even though the freezer would make ice, and keep things frozen indefinitely, it would not keep up with our need for ice in our sundowners. So whoever buys this nice Hunter might decide to do what we have done which is to bring a large ziploc bag of ice, store it in the freezer, and then enjoy iced drinks whenever!
This boat has hot water, and that is a real bonus in my opinion. I will look forward to having hot water on our next boat, or to adding hot water to Moonrise should we keep her.
In the photo above you can see the cabin sole. I understand that this is a material that looks just like the teak and holly that is the classic boat material, but is much easier to maintain. As I look at more boats, it becomes clear to me that ‘low maintenance’ is not that easy to find.
In the salon there are dual settees, with a large table that folds down on one side. If the table can be lowered, we couldn’t figure out how to do it. But it’s not really necessary. The settees, while not generous, are adequate and comfortable. The starboard settee is L shaped. I do like that the table is completely out of the way when going to the forward cabin.
There is a chart table to port. While it is not a full sized table, for a 31 foot boat, I’m amazed it was included at all, much less that it is accessible and usable. It has the usual storage under the top.
Another nice touch in this boat is the blinds over the ports. I love them for their simplicity. They are ‘accordian’ blinds that fold up easily, secured by snaps. They are the easiest, most efficient port coverings I’ve seen. No stupid tracks to get fouled, no lines to get tangled. I will buy these for our next boat. The decision has been made.
I didn’t bother with a photo of the head, because it’s a pretty basic head. However, unlike some other boats I’ve looked at, this one has easily accessible cabinets. You can open the doors all the way from either inside the head or outside. This is not a small thing because nothing is more frustrating than having to contort the body simply to reach inside for more supplies. I also like that the head is convenient to the cockpit. Some of us need to have frequent access. Also, having the head close to the companionway means you can set it up to be a wet hanging locker for foul weather gear, thus keeping the rest of the cabin dry in bad weather. This is no small thing.
Forward is the v berth, which I expected to be more of an afterthought. But it isn’t. It’s a full sized cabin. Again, this is a 31 foot boat? Apparently the designers tweaked the hull shape to get this large a front cabin without losing anything in the boat’s performance. I understand that they spent a lot of time with full sized mock-ups of the interior to make sure things were as livable as possible. I like that in a designer. Sometimes things look great on paper, but in the 3D world they fall short. I’ve been on a lot of boats like that. Two adults could sleep here in relative comfort, decent headroom, and plenty of light . I love having a clear hatch that opens to the sky. This one is round, which is actually visually very nice. There is some storage underneath the foam insert.
So where does this boat fall short? Well, as they say, every boat (and everything else in life, too, by the way) is a compromise and I wish this boat had better storage. Cabinets behind the settees would have been nice, but you would lose that bright airy feel to the cabin. There are many places where storage could be added, but, again, you would lose something in how the boat feels. This gives the owner control over that part of the interior and there is something to be said for having this choice.
This is not a boat designed for long passages. This is a weekend or short vacation coastal cruiser and we have to remember that when looking at it. I wouldn’t even consider taking this boat across the Pacific Ocean. But would I take it up to the Gulf Islands? You bet.There is plenty of storage for a short trip like that.
Another thing I would have redesigned is the engine access. It’s actually pretty good as it is, and there is excellent access to all the through hulls. But a small design tweak would allow the steps into the salon to be completely removed and out of the way. This would afford incredible access to the engine, which at this time, has less than 200 hours on it anyhow. An owner who wanted to could very easily remove the hinges and replace them with a slotted system, probably for less than 10$. Of course this is only a matter of personal opinion. Maybe it’s from watching my husband maintain our engine that I think about this.
Speaking of access, in the aft cabin there are two removable panels. Being the curious type, I insisted on removing them to see what was up. In the furthest to port compartment there is access to the holding tank, battery storage, and to another tank whose use is a mystery to me. It’s probably either water or fuel, but I couldn’t tell you which. (Actually, likely it’s fuel.) The aft panel opened to reveal a good size storage area (photo below) with access to some hoses of various types.
The aft cabin also has a removable panel that allows access to the transmission. Notice the nicely done sound insulation on the back of the panel. This is another thoughtful touch on this boat.
The final thought I had about what I would do if I had this boat is that I would have some extra anchoring gear for throwing out an anchor off the back of the boat. This is a lightweight boat with high freeboard. While it’s probably fun to sail, I’ll bet it’s going to be a little bouncy at anchor unless one is in a very quiet anchorage with little current. A anchoring system designed to reduce this tendency will allow for a good night’s sleep and a more enjoyable dinner in that lovely cockpit.
If someone is looking for a good value in a coastal cruiser, this boat looks like it should fit the bill. It shows like new, has a practically new engine, and has most of the comforts of home. Contact Sue if you want to look at it. She loves to show boats.