Author: Capt. Tom Serio
As the youngest in the family, sometimes you are forgotten about, given hand-me-downs and somewhat dumped on. How you wish you were bigger, older, a part of the mainstream. The new Hatteras GT54 is not suffering from any such anxiety. Although the little sibling to the GT60 and GT63, the GT54 is no less a Hatteras and can handle itself very well, thank you. To put it colloquially, it can run with the big dawgs.
I’ve had the good fortune of testing the GT60 (Sea Magazine, January 2011) as well as riding on the GT63, and I can tell you the GT54 runs right up there with them in speed, comfort, features and seaworthiness.
Sporting the smart exterior styling of the GT line, the youngest sibling has a few subtle differences that help it act all grown up. There’s a different angle to the hard chine, which looks to add fore lift, and an extra knock-down spray chine to accentuate a drier ride due to the shorter hull length.
The clean foredeck layout — with its sleek lines and bow-fishing readiness — is also large enough for tender storage or a life-raft mount thanks to the house being set back a tad. Although there is no forward bow railing, one can be added as an option. A Fortress FX-55 anchor and line are stored in a forward locker compartment.
While heading to the inlet on our test, a few of the guys were standing on the foredeck, a testament to the boat’s sure-footedness and stability even as we ran through wakes and chop.
Follow the unbroken sheer line aft to the business end of this battlewagon, and you’ll see why Hatteras is great at the fish-catching game. With 135 square feet of cockpit space, there’s plenty of room for the fighting chair of your liking and ample elbow room to work from corner to corner. A three-drawer bait and tackle center, a 5.4-cubic-foot bait freezer, a removable 80-inch in-deck fishbox, a transom door for the big haul, a storage tub, insulated storage boxes and 18 rod holders on our test boat mean this baby is a contender. Spectators can rest in comfort on the padded mezzanine seats.
I’m a fan of teak despite the laborious task of keeping it blond, and Hatteras doesn’t disappoint. Teak capping along the cockpit bulwarks is beefy yet stylish. Teak decking up to the mezzanine and salon door adds a classy touch while keeping your shoes attached to the deck when fighting the big ones in a wet cockpit.
With the bridge ladder mounted on the starboard side of the mezzanine, it stays nicely out of the way both in the cockpit and on the flybridge.
Up top, the helm is set aft to port and center with two adjustable helm seats and visibility from stem to stern. Bow visibility is effortless when running, and viewing the fishing action is as simple as turning the helm chair and looking down.
Electronics are tucked under protective covers, such as the dash that’s large enough for three displays and other devices. The console houses the hydraulic power-assist pod-styled steering controls and shifters, as well as Furuno chartplotter controls, breakers, an Icom VHF radio and more. An overhead drop-down panel houses CAT engine monitors, the Simrad autopilot and the Furuno depth/temperature display.
Cushioned seating runs up the starboard side, in addition to an L-shaped seating area in front of the helm that also doubles as rod storage underneath.
Fitting the GT54 with canvas curtains or isinglass on the bridge should be easy thanks to the hardtop and supporting piping from the tuna tower.
And if you have never been up on a tower, this one has controls to drive the yacht and offers a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding seas to spot the catch of the day. It also works well as a perch to photograph other yachts.
A run down to the engine room yields the powerplants that make the GT54 go zoom. (Note to self: Check engine room before the sea trial to avoid hot exhaust.) Through the flip-up hatch at the mezzanine is the cavern that is home to the twin Caterpillar C32 Acert engines. There’s 12 — count ’em, 12 — cylinders per block, producing 1,600 hp spinning the 7-blade Nibral high-performance props. Pushing the throttles to the wall will move this 75,000-pound bruiser up to 42 knots. Comparatively, the GT63 topped out near 49 knots, so the GT54 can cruise alongside her siblings. Let’s be honest: If you’re looking at the Hatteras GT line, one reason has to be the speed the boats offer, which will get you to the fishing grounds fast and back to the docks for the weigh-in.
From the maintenance aspect, the Racor fuel filters are mounted on the inside of the stringers along the centerline, making filter changing easy. Oil filters are engine mounted and accessible from the center walkway. The 21.5 kw Cummins Onan generator produces the house power — quietly, thanks to the sound shielding.
The best tools you have to diagnose an engine are your eyes and ears. These Cats are not buried out of sight and can be visually inspected for leaks and hot spots, as well listened to for rough running or other mysterious sounds that can emanate from the belly of the beast.
Hatteras didn’t skimp on the interior creature comforts, and the 54 stays consistent with the overall GT line. Up three steps from the cockpit and over the door sill is the salon. Plush seating includes an L-shaped sofa that runs along the aft bulkhead and about a third of the way up the port side and an L-shaped settee on the starboard side for the dinette table. A built-in console houses the 32-inch HD LCD TV. Carpeting keeps items such as the coffee table in place when there’s some rolling. There’s a large picture window in the aft bulkhead, which allows anglers to keep an eye on the lines while grabbing a bite. Throughout the yacht, there’s about 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom.
The forward port corner of the salon contains the galley. A center island adds to the counter space and serves as storage for bottles and glasses in the front, with drawers and storage on the back side. Under-counter refrigerator and freezer drawers along the port-side walls eliminate the need for tall appliances that could block the 180-degree-plus view through the tinted, frameless windows. Over- and under-cabinet storage runs along the forward bulkhead, including a cabinet that houses a Sharp convection microwave. A flat four-burner electric Miele stovetop and a sink tucked in the corner are really the only appendages you see other than the satin nickel hardware. Dinette seating for two or three people is to starboard.
When the counters are cleared and the cabinets closed, the galley has a nice, clean, roomy look that adds not only to the open feel of the salon but highlights the craftsmanship and attention to detail Hatteras is known for, and not just with the GT line but all of its other yachts.
Planning an overnighter? The GT54 has options when it comes to stateroom configurations. Each layout has three staterooms and two heads, but the forward stateroom can be either a VIP with a double-size island centerline berth or the optional V-berth design, suitable if you plan to carry more kids than adults or just for the fishing buddies. Twin berths fit out the starboard room. Both staterooms have fabric-covered hullsides, cedar-lined lockers, nightstands, mirrors and DC LED lighting.
If you’re the master of the vessel, you’ll probably get the master stateroom. A queen-size berth with a padded headboard is flanked by nightstands and has cedar-lined storage below. Relax while watching the 19-inch LCD TV or listening to the Bose AM/FM/CD player. A private master head is adjoining, simply designed and decorated with a single sink, a mirrored medicine cabinet, a roomy shower stall, a Headhunter toilet system and Amtico flooring.
It would be difficult for a new builder to come out with a GT line and tout the attributes without having the experience Hatteras has. There’s a lot of the Hatteras legacy, from more than 50 years of boat building, that goes into each hull, no matter the size. With that said, don’t underestimate the power, performance and styling of the GT54. For Hatteras, size doesn’t matter.