The builder’s smallest is still mighty
Isn’t the term “new and improved” an oxymoron? I mean, if it’s new, how can it be improved, and vice versa? Hatteras Yachts recently introduced the 45 Express model in two flavors, cruiser and sportfish, the latter of which we will focus on here. And it is really new and improved. Here’s how.
Back around 2006, Hatteras’ parent company, Brunswick Corp., purchased Cabo Yachts. In 2010, Brunswick consolidated Cabo’s production from the California desert to the Hatteras production facility in New Bern, N.C. I took a tour of the Hatteras/Cabo yard in July 2011 and witnessed the various stages of production of both brands. Things looked good, the production lines were buzzing and the “ready shed” had a number of yachts floating and going through final prep before being turned over to their owner. One yacht that I saw was the Cabo 44, which I took for a sea trial the following year.
Then, in late 2012 and early 2013, mainly due to economics, Brunswick was reducing staff at the yard while shopping the business. In mid-2013, Brunswick sold the Hatteras/Cabo brands to private equity firm Versa Capital Management.
Since then, the Cabo brand has essentially curtailed production, with only a handful being delivered (but the name still survives). Conversely, Hatteras continues building the GT series of sportfishing yachts, motoryachts in the 60- to 100-foot range, and now the 45 Express. Why the history lesson? Because the former Cabo 44 has been reintroduced as the 45 EX. Hatteras saw a need to fill a gap not just for entry-level cruisers and sportfish types to experience the Hatteras name, but also keep owners who are downsizing in the Hatteras family. Hatteras took the 44 EX, “Hatterized” it and created the 45 EX Cruiser and the 45 EX SF. And they enhanced it a bit, proving that something can be new and improved at the same time.
Making a Difference
Dockside, you’ll see changes that make a difference. The 45 EX SF is not just an express model with a tower, but a fully molded superstructure with an integral hardtop. Forward and side windows have become one with the structure, with clear curtains closing off the aft. Side vent windows and an overhead hatch allow for fresh air — or opt for an AC/heating system, for all-weather fishing.
Adding to the visibility factor is a single-pane windshield. That’s right, Hatteras designed it as one piece of glass with no mullions to get in the way. Panoramic viewing at its best. Along with a raised helm platform, it affords perfect vision fore and aft. Adding to that is the downslope of the forward deck and minimal bowrise during acceleration. For functionality’s sake, Hatteras built the pod-style helm, console and dash to where they are not overbearing in size. A destroyer steering wheel and Palm Beach single-lever shift controls are mounted on the gloss-wood pod, with room forward for the bank of switches and engine monitors that are housed in a polished metal plate, each function etched into the metal along with the Hatteras logo. Twin Garmin plotter/radar displays are mounted in the console, one directly in front, the other off to the left. A stereo, a VHF, an autopilot, engine sync and other components are mounted off to the left, within arm’s reach. Although Garmin gear was installed on our test yacht, your favorite brand of electronics can be installed on your yacht.
Under the hardtop, there’s a large L-shaped settee along the port side and across the aft; it has a lounger backrest. The cushions are well padded and very comfortable. Enjoy a meal or cocktails on the double-posted table. To starboard is a molded-in cabinet that serves multiple functions. The forward end has a helm companion seat mounted on top, a high perch to see the course ahead or lines aft. Below in the cabinet is a refrigerator and freezer and an AC/heat vent. Further aft is a flip-up cover where the electric grill is located.
Whether you are fishing inshore for an afternoon or running out on a multiday excursion, the 45 EX SF has full amenities below to make the trip comfortable and enjoyable. Step down into the richly appointed salon, finished in rift-cut white oak. The lightness of the wood, three overhead hatches and a large skylight make this area open and airy. Forward is the main stateroom with a center island berth, head access and a 20-inch flat-screen TV. An optional port double bunk stateroom can be added if sleeping
accommodations are important, but it takes some space away from the dinette area.
In the salon, the dinette table and long L-shaped settee are to port. Below-seat storage is voluminous, and a 32-inch flat-screen TV is built into the galley sidewall. Hatteras doesn’t skimp on the galley accoutrements either, as found on the starboard side. Features include wood flooring, four Jenn-Air refrigerator/freezer drawers, a Kenyon two-burner ceramic cooktop, a KitchenAid microwave, a Blanco sink and faucet, and quartz countertops. My thinking is, if you can catch them, you can eat them, right on board.
Powering the 45 EX SF are twin Caterpillar C18A diesels producing 1,150 hp each. On test day, the seas were only about 2-footers, so crashing through breaking waves wasn’t to be. But we did put the vessel through the paces, checking out the speed and agility factors. We first settled in at a comfortable cruising speed of 22 knots at 1500 rpm while burning 50 gph, combined. With the throttles pushed forward to the 2100 rpm mark, the 45 EX SF accelerated to 37.5 knots, burning 95 gph total. But wait, there’s more room to top out the throttles, and we pegged the GPS display at 40.7 knots at wide open. The resin-infused solid fiberglass hull handled the speed as expected, with no heavy slapping or porpoising. Observing the 45 EX SF from another boat later in the day, I was able to see firsthand its ability to maneuver in fish-fighting mode — that is, backing down — pirouetting in its own length and jumping from a dead stop. Impressive while on the boat, more inspiring when watching from the outside.
Let’s talk business — the fishy kind. Hatteras boats are well known for chasing and catching fish worldwide. And the 45 EX SF is well equipped to follow suit. A full tuna tower with outriggers is included, and it’s not just an afterthought throw-on. Mounted to the foredeck and hardtop with aft legs secured to the gunwale, the tower has numerous rocket launchers, a covered upper platform and a steering station.
In the cockpit, it’s all business, too, and sure to please any angler. An aluminum mounting plate for a cockpit fighting chair or a leaning post is built into the deck. Twin, insulated fishboxes are also underfoot. In the transom is a molded-in 56-gallon bait tank with sight glass. Additionally, there’s a bait and tackle center, rod holders and mezzanine seating.
Thinking out of the box has allowed Hatteras to take something it had, make it better and fill a demand. The Hatteras 45 EX SF is just that. It’s new … and improved.