If there’s one thing Hinckley, the celebrated Maine-based builder of yachts and classic Picnic Boats is known for, it’s adhering to tradition. After all its beautiful craft, icons of classic New England style, are beloved by the likes of Martha Stewart, Chuck Townsend, former Commodore of the exclusive New York Yacht Club, and various Rockefellers. But as company President and CEO Peter O’Connell likes to point out, tradition doesn’t have to exclude innovation. So, the news that Hinckley will start producing a fully electric luxury yacht isn’t as much of a surprise as it might seem at first.
Even the name of the Dasher, as the new vessel is known, is a reference to the first Picnic Boat the company ever built in the 1990s, though it instantly became such a timeless classic you could be forgiven for thinking it was more like the 1930s. And indeed, Hinckley’s heritage goes back to 1928 when Benjamin B. Hinckley purchased a small boatyard in Southwest Harbor, ME, establishing the now globally recognized brand.
The 28.5-ft. Dasher is one of the most high-tech yachts ever conceived of, with a carbon-epoxy composite hull and hand-painted, composite “Artisanal Teak” rail and accent pieces and synthetic teak decking to keep weight to a minimum and maximize performance and handling. All of its titanium hardware as well as the console features are 3D printed allowing for designs and details beyond those traditional construction methods are capable of, and with fewer parts.
Power comes courtesy of the Hinckley Whisper Drive silent propulsion system based on twin 80hp electric motors and dual BMW i3 lithium ion batteries. Her cruising speed is 10 mph with fast cruising at 18-27 mph, with a range of 40 miles at cruising speed and 20-25 miles at fast cruising speeds. Prices for Dasher have not been announced but are expected to be in line Hinckley’s other craft, which puts it over the $500,000 mark. The company is taking orders now for Summer 2018 delivery.
Dasher is likely to help Hinckley expand its already impressive reach. The company builds Picnic Boats, runabouts and sailboats from 29 to 55 feet and supports owners and other yachtsmen with its network of service yards from Maine to Florida. The company acquired two other prestigious boat builders, Hunt Yachts and Morris Yachts, in 2013 and 2016 respectively.
“Since 1928, Hinckley has pioneered beautiful, timeless, and highly innovative yachts,” O’Connell notes. “We have a long tradition of innovation in pursuit of the perfect yachting experience. From the early use of fiberglass in the Bermuda 40 in the 1960’s to the adoption of jet drives on the category-defining Picnic Boat, we’ve always worked to combine the latest technology with cutting edge naval architecture to do what has not yet been done.”
With extremely quiet operation, zero emissions and ultra-fast charging – Dasher accepts dual 50 amp charging cables which are standard on most docks, and it can charge twice as fast as most plug-in electric cars – the yacht gains a full charge in under four hours. That means more time on the water for busy yachtsmen to enjoy. Hinckley spared no expense in developing the craft so that it’s on a par with the superior quality the company has become famous for.
O’Connell says it is also “the ultimate yacht for entertaining” thanks to its open layout that allows for custom configurations and a “social console” with touch-screen controls and a retractable windshield all designed to allow the captain to interact with his guests, facilitated also by the lack of running noise. Which may be the best feature of all.
“Hinckleys have an allure that no other boatbuilder can match,” as yachtsman Nick Voulgaris III noted in his 2014 book about the company, published by Rizzoli. “Perhaps that’s why whenever I see one my breathing slows, and I swear my heart skips a beat. It’s a reaction I experience every time I catch sight of one, be it a powerboat or a sailing vessel.”
Of course, Hinckleys are “arrestingly elegant,” Voulgaris writes, “but beyond their physical beauty they convey a sense of quality and pedigree that even the untrained eye can recognize. All of which means that Hinckleys command a level of respect unmatched by any other boat manufacturer, and that they hold a special place in the hearts of yachtsmen around the world.”
With electric propulsion most assuredly a big player in the future of yachting, with Dasher Hinckley is guaranteeing that this remains true for generations to come.