TRENTON — A few fans of Hinckley yachts got to tour the company’s shop on Friday as one of many events celebrating Southwest Harbor Week.
One of those fans, George Soules, admitted the only water vessel he owns is a kayak, but he has a soft place in his heart for Hinckley boats.
A few years back, Soules summered in Southwest Harbor and lived near the Hinckley boat yard on Shore Road. Many nights, he said he would venture over to the yard and check out the yachts and always admired the craftsmanship.
Founded in 1928 with a mission to build a boat for lobstermen, Hinckley Yachts now has six locations along the East Coast, as well as representatives in California and Europe.
According to Bob Pooler, a sales broker for the company, at least 10,000 hours of labor go into each Hinckley yacht. That amount was quoted for the 40-foot model that, along with the rest of the fleet, now has longer windows in the cabin for increased passenger visibility.
Aboard a $2.5 million, 43-foot Talaria, still in the construction phase, Pooler pointed out a secure system for the cabin windows that makes it more private. While some participants wandered into the berth to check out the accommodations, he explained that the engineering on the boat was done by General Motors.
Next was a climb aboard a 34-foot picnic boat painted a light, bright yellow instead of the more traditional navy blue. Created more for the day-tripper or small cruises around the coast, the smallest boat in the series has fewer features than its bigger siblings, such as a generator or air conditioning unit.
“It’s our budget boat, if you will,” said Pooler, giving a price tag of about $800,000.
Pooler walked the group of eight through the workshop where pieces and parts of the different models of Hinckley boats are made. He ended the tour at the assembly line, bringing each concept to its final stages.
Participants on the tour learned the steps that go into crafting a teak toe rail, that teak is used on all exterior features and that cherry wood is used on interior features.
“A lot of pride goes into the finish work of a Hinckley,” said Pooler. “Hinckleys are known for our coats of varnish … a minimum of 10 coats. Most of our coats are sprayed on, but the final coats are done by brush.”
Visitors were also introduced to a new method of epoxy resin infusion introduced this year for the boat’s hulls.
“We are now building a resin material of 40 percent greater strength and improved environmental benefits,” the company website states.
To date, the company has built 1,100 jet boats, Pooler told the group. When they climbed aboard the 34-foot boat, Pooler demonstrated the joystick steering that can be done with the jet drive system.
“There’s no propeller, no rudder under the boat,” said Pooler. “This is like a fire hose. The water comes out of there with such tremendous force.”
One member of the group asked if driving a boat with a joystick is more difficult than more traditional methods.
“It’s incredibly easy,” said Pooler. “You have to erase from your memory all of your experience with propeller boats … We won’t let you leave without knowing how to drive the boat.”