2005 Hunter 33 Sloop
Not too long ago the large volume of sales in the sailboat market was in the
27 to 30 foot models. As things change, so do tastes and trends in boat size
and lately the big selling sailboat market seems to have settled in the 30 to 33
foot boats. So getting a look and the new Hunter 33 foot sloop, was a chance
to test a boat in this extremely active market segment.
The 33 Hunter was mooring at the Angus Yachts of Toronto docks in Port
Credit Marina in Ontario. She was sterned into the slip thus giving us a great
look at the hull from a bit of a different perspective than one usually gets. The
trademark integrated platform and fold-down transom was inviting as we
approached the vessel. The hull showed a narrow entry forward that changed
quickly into the full beam of this 11 foot 6 inch wide boat. The wide beam was
carried well aft to provide extra lift to the hull, to give a level of performance,
and to provide space below decks for which the latest Glenn Henderson
designed boats have become so well known and so popular. The cockpit was
extremely large and the decks were clear and basically uncluttered as we
surveyed the wide walk-ways and coach roof areas.
We have mentioned this so many times that it probably sounds like a broken
record, BUT boarding from the stern of the Hunter line of sailboats is so
simple with fold-down transom and helm seat lowered. An easy step onto the
integrated platform and the short step up into the cockpit is such a very easy
task. Hunter’s design team has really accomplished something positive here.
The folding Stainless Steel ladder for swimming is easily accessible aft, but
neatly stored out of the way. The entry to the cockpit is completed quickly and
just getting onto the boat or loading gear and provisions is done with ease.
The 33 Hunter is typical of the new Hunter boats. There is a lot of freeboard,
which translates into safety while in heavier seas and space below. So entry
from the stern is an obvious solution.
Entering the cockpit of the 33 you immediately see the optional fold-away
steering wheel by Lewmar that Angus Yachts of Toronto has been providing
their customers as an added bonus. This mechanism, allows the wheel to be
folded from both sides thus allowing very easy movement about the cockpit.
The cockpit itself is roomy and the flat floor with well described ant-skid
patterns, provides a feeling of sure footedness which was advantageous later
when we sailed in some considerable seas. The spacious cockpit has ample
seating for crew while underway or when entertaining passengers at the dock
and it is fitted with cockpit cushions (which we did not use) for added seating
The helm area is an Edson–Whilock console with added space in the pod for
instrumentation. There is a self-storing drop-leaf table, perfect for entertaining
or enjoying a quiet lunch/dinner with someone.
Entry to the cabin below is made extremely simple and safe since Hunter
designers have built in a proper stair with equal and reasonable risers and
wide flat treads. This is a tremendous improvement over previous step
concepts and adds a true measure of safety to the boat. This stair system is
easily removed to service the engine from the salon and even the solid top
riser had a storage compartment for things that might be needed quickly.
Going below, the galley is to port and the head to starboard. The galley is a
low U-shaped configuration that gives you an unencumbered view forward to
the bulkhead between the salon and the forward visitor stateroom. It has the
feeling of being a much larger boat than 33 feet when you look forward. The
airy, bright, large volume space just gives you the feeling of “BIG”.
The galley is a full and extremely functional space. There is a very large deep
single S/S sink. The counter is Corian and U-shaped, thus providing more
than adequate space to complete all of the activities one does in a kitchen.
There is an under counter fridge with freezer and the microwave has been set
into the bulkhead which delineates the salon from the aft areas of the boat. It
virtually is outside of the cabin space providing more volume for people and
other necessary things. The stove is an LPG countertop model that has two
burners on which to prepare food. There is storage under, above, and in the
counter (a built-in trash can). The 33 Hunter even comes with monogrammed
The fiberglass-lined head is to starboard as you come below and it is very
spacious. There is a Corian topped vanity with sink and the toilet is tucked in
beside it. The whole room is transformed into more than an ample-sized
shower when guests and crew have the need to clean up on board.
Since the head is somewhat offset in location, a large doorway is provided for
entry into the aft cabin or master stateroom. The bed is a double berth and
there is a cedar lined hanging closet with cupboard and drawer space. A
screened hatch opens in the ceiling to the cockpit which, although designed
to provide extra ventilation for this area, can also serve for an emergency
egress should the need arise.
Back into the main cabin, you see the holly and sole Everwear laminate
flooring in which several panels have been designed to lift out providing both
storage and access to the keel sump if at anytime there was a need to service
The exceptionally large dining area is U-shaped and could seat 6 very
comfortably and perhaps more in a pinch. It also converts to a double berth
should the need arise. Across the boat and to starboard, as you head forward,
is the settee part of which acts as the seat for the large flat navigation station
also to starboard. The look is elegant. The fabrics are a definite step above
traditional sailboat choices. The designer look and upgrade is obvious and
the feeling is one of richness, warmth and invitation to relax, enjoy and stay a
The forward bulkhead of the cabin space is a rich, warm teak wood that has
the door opening to the forward guest stateroom. Here you see an ample V-
berth, a sitting area, and a hanging locker with drawer space. More than
adequate for the personal gear guests might bring aboard.
Another look around the salon and several things impressed us. First is the
spaciousness of the area. The Hunter design team has really used every
available bit of space effectively and efficiently. Next is the functional galley
and the many extra amenities usually found on much larger boats. There is
also the richness of the custom designer fabrics, and the extensive use of
wood trim that has been milled to give special effects and treatments that are
also usually found only on much larger boats, and semi-custom built yachts.
Whether it is the use of space, the special touches, the bright airy feeling of
the Hunter boats or just the feeling of opulence you get on this 33 foot boat, it
just feels like you belong because you feel like you are home.
BACK IN THE COCKPIT
Returning to the cockpit, we turn our attention to the real reason we are here
… to sail this fine craft. We check the B and R fractional rig that is part of the
anodized Seldon in-mast furling and boom vang. The rig is typical of the
Hunter boats in that there is not rear stay and the boom traveler is mounted on
top of the standard trade mark Hunter S/S arch. The arch provides the traveler
connection to the boom well aft so that the purchase and control are near the
after end of the boom where it belongs. The arch also allows for overhead
lights and stereo speakers while providing connection points for the dodger
and complete enclosures. Angus Yachts of Toronto has the canvas work done
locally and includes some excellent special touches such as self-storing for
the plastic windows. This is important since all windows are rigid Lexon to
ensure that there are no distortions or blurry areas. The wheel is placed well
aft and the canvas configuration gives excellent visibility in all directions.
There are 4 self-tailing Lewmar winches. Two are on the coach roof for the
main and there are two optional cockpit winches to handle the foresail.
Stoppers are high quality Spinlock and with all lines led aft to the cockpit, this
boat can easily be single-handed.
The standing rig is solid and strong and has obviously been designed with
the high level of technology that the rest of the boat has been subject to.
There are strong rails and double lifelines from the bow pulpit to the rear
where there are the Hunter trademark built-in taffrail seats.
All is now carefully checked and we are ready to head to sea.
TO THE HELM
It was mentioned before but it bears mentioning a second time. The elm
space is wide and spacious with a very comfortable flat cockpit floor. The
large wheel on the Edson – Whilock pedestal is properly designed to have all
of the necessary navigation devices easily at hand. The Yanmar control panel
is starboard of the wheel in the cockpit wall and everything is easily controlled
by the skipper including sail trim, checking engine functions and instruments
to possibly resetting the autopilot. The single lever throttle gearshift control is
easily accessible and smooth to the touch.
The Yanmar 3 GM (optional on the 33 footer) 27/29hp diesel is started and
warmed up and we are on our way. The balanced feel of the wheel was
immediately obvious as the direct drive double bearing steering system did its
magic. There is absolutely NO play in the steering and the response of the
rudder to the wheel is immediate as the boat moves to the slightest
adjustment of the wheel to a new course.
Well clear of the harbour entrance we are in the aftermath of an evening storm
from the previous night. The winds are 11.5 to 14.5 knots and the seas are
running from 4 to 5 and 6 feet with the odd larger wave thrown in as a test of
our metal. This is where the high freeboard of the Hunter 33 showed itself.
Whether heading into the sea or running with it, this boat was dry and we
were always in control. The hull design and the wheel combination made this
a really enjoyable task.
We are always amazed at the ease of setting the sails on the Hunter self-
furling systems. In under 30 seconds for each the easy tacking foresail was
out and the open footed main was in place. Both were set by hand just to
prove the ease of the systems and then we used the winches just to get the
final set perfect. The 542 square feet of sail filled and we focused our review
on the sailing characteristics.
Where can you get hired where you HAVE TO go out and sail a boat as part of
your job description? This was fun… BUT it was also simple and easy! This
33 Hunter did all we asked of her and more. To say that she performed like a
much larger boat would probably sound cliché. But that was the case. The
heavy seaway slowed our speed somewhat when pointing into the wind and
we averaged just under 5 knots with winds of 11.5 to 14.5 knots. Running with
the wind at the same strength we were able to sustain about 6 to 6.5 knots of
speed yet despite the waves we were dry and the boat was well controlled.
For a short time we used the autopilot. The response and the movement with
and against the waves was true and on course with little or no slippage from
We changed course several times to get the feel of sail re-adjustments and it
was a quick simple and easy process while at all times controlled and solid.
Having the traveller above on the arch was a definite advantage since it kept
quickly moving parts and sheets out of our way and our safety was ensured in
During our sail we performed a few deliberate jibes to feel the response of the
rigging should this ever occur in an emergent situation. There was the
obvious noise caused by this process, but the solid B and R rig and Seldon
system gave no indication of weakness or problem if it became necessary to
do this during a sail.
Sadly, it was time to furl the sails and head to the dock and our time at sea on
the 33 came to a close. Furling or stowing the sails on the Hunter 33 was as
easy and simple as was deployment. Mathematically, of course, it took the
same number of turns and setting sails and this too was easily executed by
hand. We took care to be certain to have light tension on both sails as we
furled them but the process was flawless and without any indication of a
problem. Extremely important for future owners of a Hunter to think about and
Into the marina and into the slip and we were secure. It should be noted here
however, that there was considerable wind across our starboard side and we
were sterning into the dock. The 33 backed up true and there was no
indication of sidewalk or prop walk that can be associated with single screw
inboards. Slowly and steadily and the boat was there in the dock. Very
This review boat included the following equipment:
5 ear Limited Hull Warranty (transferable)
Yanmar Diesel Engine Limited5 Year Warranty
Whitlock/Edson Direct Drive Steering
Exclusive Maxguard UV-Inhibited Gelcoat
Exclusive Stainless Steel Cockpit Arch
Walk-thru Transom with Hinged Helmseat
H/C Cockpit Shower and S/S Telescoping Ladder
Hunter Patented Cockpit Ster-rail Seats
Antimonious Shoal Draft Bulb Lead Keel
High Density Vinyl Rubrail with S/S Insert
HKT - Hunter Technology in Hull
Balanced Spade Rudder with Composite Shaft
S/S Cleats including midship sleat
S/S Coachroof Handrails
Seldon Anodized Mast with B&R Rig
Pro Furl or Furlex Headsail Roller Furling
Mainsail and Genoa by Doyle
Cockpit Electronics Console with Fold-out Table
Spray Laquered Teak Furniture and Bulkheads
Highly Styled Galley with Corian Counter Tops
LPG Stove and Microwave Oven
Everwear Teak and Holly Laminate Sole
Flexiteek Cockpit Treatment
Anchor, Chain and Rode
Raymarine Depth, Knot and ICOM VHF
Port Hatch and Bug Screens
Hunter Exclusive Cruise Pac
Freight to Toronto
Epoxy Barrier Coat
2 Coats of Micron Bottom Paint
Docking Package and Coats guard Safety Package
And the VERY Extensive List of Standard Features from Hunter Marine
Generally it might be said that sailboat fleets in the Great Lakes area are
aging. Look around and you will see an extremely large number of boats that
are 20, 25 and maybe even 35 years of age. These boats are of a design that
is probably based on older thinking and the build technology not what it is
today. There is nothing wrong with them but they are now eclipsed by new
thinking and proven technology that incorporates larger living space and
performance in the same package.
Hunter has really stepped into the marketplace from this perspective. Their
use of Vinyl Esther resin and Kevlar products in high impact areas is just one
example of the desire to keep improving and moving ahead in the evolution of
better new designs.
Narrow entry hulls that get to their wide beam quickly and maintain it well aft
provides performance in big space boats that prior to now was never even
dreamed about. Glenn Henderson and his design team at Hunter are leading
the way to give the buyer a well appointed boat with many special touches
and creature comforts, yet still maintaining performance very high on their list
Our review model was equipped with a shallow/shoal draft bulb keel (4 feet 6
inch) and of course the in-mast furling main. But order the standard mast with
the full roach main, which increases the sail area by 83 square feet or 15.5%
and the deep draft (5 feet 6 inch) and this boat becomes a real contender in
club racing and other racing programs.
The Hunter 33 is really leading this market segment of sailboats. It is little
wonder! The ease of sailing is well documented and clearly articulated in this
review. But the use of space is exceptional. The cockpit, the wide walk around
areas with well articulated anti-skid patterns and the strong high quality deck
fittings and gear are only a start.
The excellent use of space with high quality fabrics and wood treatments
below add to the value of the Hunter boats. Special treatments on the wood
trim are not found on many (if any) production boats. The designer fabrics and
the large bright airy cabins further add to what you get from Hunter in this 33
that truly sets it apart from other boats in the field.
If it is the early 30 foot sailboat you are considering then take the time to check
out this 33 footer. We believe that like us you too will find the feel fits
beautifully and that you will have to look more then once to realize that there
is this much boat and it is still only 33 feet long.
For more information about the Hunter 33 contact True North Yacht Sales,
Mississauga, ON. Telephone: 905-274-8001, 866-610-1707
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