The Huckins 45 Sportfisherman reveals it’s what he wanted all along—and was worth the wait.
One of the tradeoffs of swapping my former freelance writer’s life for the steady paycheck of a staff position is that I cannot write all the stories I would like—editors simply do not have enough time. Consequently, I save (and savor) a select list of stories for myself. The Huckins 45 Sportfisherman was on that list, and although it was launched in 2014, I chose to wait until the owner was available to provide his own personalized sea trial. I’ll go on record here to say it was worth the wait.
“This is the same hull and house cabin as other models in the downeast style,” said Jose Fernandez at his Coral Gables, Florida home on Biscayne Bay, where he keeps his Huckins 45 Sportfisherman Wombat—named for his daughter who shares the nickname. (Jose added that although some have used the word “wombat” as an acronym for “Waste Of Money, Brains And Time,” most assuredly, it does not describe his boat or any other Huckins for that matter.)
Jose first met Cindy Purcell—the third generation owner of Huckins Yachts—at the Miami International Boat Show. “The lines and look of the Huckins was the key draw,” he said. Jose owned a 2008 51′ Bertram but wanted to downsize with more economical fuel consumption for cruising. Jose worked with Huckins’ designer Jon Hall, who integrated the client’s requirements for a hardcore fishing yacht, but in order to do so the first plan ended up being 56 feet long, so they shelved the project. “It was also during the recession and we just weren’t going to go that big,” explained Jose. By the time they looked into building with Huckins again the company had assembled a number of 44-foot hulls. Hall stretched the length a bit to make more room in the cockpit for fishing, Jose’s primary and most enjoyable pastime aboard all of his boats especially with his childhood friend, Carlos Parodi, who joined us on the sea trial. As teenagers, Jose and Carlos would boat to Bimini and camp on the beach. Then they were college roommates at Louisiana State University, and when Jose got married, Carlos was his best man.
Jose’s penchant for fishing required not only a big enough cockpit but also a hull design that could handle bluewater fishing off shore and frequent trips to the islands. Bill Prince, President of Bill Prince Yacht Design, which undertook the engineering for the Huckins 45 Sportfisherman, compared the core element in his design process for the Huckins 45 to that of a Porsche. “A [Porsche] 911 isn’t a 911 if the engine isn’t in the rear, and a Huckins isn’t a Huckins without their Quadraconic hull form,” says Prince adding that unlike typical modern planing boats, the Quadraconic hull form has concave forward sections under the water resulting in a smooth ride in exceptionally heavy seas. In fact, the Quadraconic hull form was used on all of the Huckins PT boats during WWII and on every Huckins yacht ever since.
Working with Hall’s sketches, Bill Prince Yacht Design produced the complete 3-D design model and more than 70 construction drawings for Wombat, including details for machinery, systems, superstructure, and interior joinery. The company is currently involved in a refit at the Huckins yard—Purcell added that refits are their “meat and potatoes” and carried them through the recession. Huckins current project involves Andrew Williams, president of Marine Measurements LLC, who made 3-D scans of the client’s entire boat, inside and out, from which Prince will construct 3-D design options.
In addition to the large cockpit area, Jose equipped Wombat with his ultimate hit-list to spot and catch trophy fish: a custom tuna tower built by Palm Beach Towers, Rupp outriggers, leaning post with rod holders, transom live well, storage boxes, a tackle drawer, the list goes on. Two large coolers—an ice machine feeds one of them—serve as aft-facing seats for guests to enjoy the action safely out of the way of spinning reels and flailing fish. A Sure-shade awning over the cockpit extends to the front edge of the livewell in the middle of the transom relief from the sun during breaks from fishing or while at anchor.
Elevated four centerline steps forward of the cockpit, the bridge is cooled by two separate 16,000 BTU air conditioning units—another smart design for fishermen needing to cool down but still keep a watchful eye on their lines. “The elevated express bridge allows for excellent headroom in the walk-in engine room and terrific visibility from the helm,” explains Prince. A Stidd helm seat is to starboard, and a small, white Ultraleather dinette to port is just the right size for a game of backgammon while crossing the Gulf Stream to Jose’s house on Bimini. Behind the helm seat is yet another freezer situated under the ladder to the tower, a typically under-utilized space. The bottom three rungs of the sturdy ladder are straight up—so as not to interfere with the walkway—and a bit uncomfortable to climb, but then it angles toward the starboard side and is much easier. Jose equipped Wombat with a Garmin autopilot, Simrad GPS and adds that he’s still getting used to using pod drives—this is the first new-build Huckins with pod propulsion.
Moving forward and four steps down from the bridge, the salon is bathed in light from large windows. The dayhead is quite large and benefits from those big windows. Wombat’s primary purpose as a fishing yacht is as evident in the interior spaces as the exterior with design and décor that’s functional, clean and unencumbered by unnecessary fluff that’s useless when fishing.
The galley is along the starboard side and includes a stainless sink, two-burner cooktop, refrigerator drawers, and a clever space-saving cabinet, which houses the flat TV and conceals the boat’s electrical panels behind it. To port, an L-shaped settee in flag-blue Ultraleather is long enough to serve as an overnight bunk and conceals massive storage under the cushions. Two comfortable staterooms fill out the below-decks accommodations—one forward with a queen berth and access to the shared head and shower, the other with two stacked single bunks.
Jose waited to build Wombat until the timing was just right, and as the three of us headed from Jose’s home on Biscayne Bay he demonstrated the pods and his convenient location for offshore fishing en route to The Bahamas. The payoff for his patience was evident as I took the helm and executed a few lazy turns to get the feel of the hull form. The buildings of Stiltsville came into view and I would have liked to have kept on going to Bimini to see Jose’s island home and fish along the way. But that’s another ride for another day—now that I know where to find him, that is.
LOA: 45′ 5″
Beam: 13′ 9″
Draft: 3′ 2″
Weight: 30,000 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 419/103 U.S. gals.
Power: Twin 480-horsepower Cummins QXM11s
Cruise/Top speed: 31/36 knots (40mph)
Range: 350 miles @ 28 knots
By Liz Pasch, Southern Boating Magazine August 2015