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Captain's Report

Introduction

There’s a lot that goes into a Hatteras, from many different aspects that command a premium value for a premium yacht. For starters, there’s the resin infusion process. It’s much more involved and much more labor intensive, but the result is a lighter boat with more strength. Additionally, the Hatteras factory maintains the quality control that makes the boats so well regarded with respects to their fit-and-finish.

Let’s start with the small component pieces and see how it comes together.

Divinycell Foam

The first step is to assemble everything dry with Divinycell foam. Because it’s cut it can be bent and shaped. Plus, this allows the resin to seep well into the core. Also, because each of the 1” x 1” (2.54 cm x 2.54 cm) cubes gets encapsulated, if we were to put a screw into it, water still would not get past the single piece that we screwed into.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
Notice the foam is cut into blocks for easy bending and shaping along with resin being easily filled into the core of the foam.

Assembly

The process begins with the foam core component. Laid on top is fiberglass mat, then peel ply, then the media flow. It all gets bagged, a resin line is run through the bag, and then tack tape gets put onto the vacuum line which gets attached to the assembly.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
These are the separate components that go into the vacuum bagging process.

Bagging and Sealing

Once all of the assembly is done, then it’s bagged and sealed. Everything here needs to be perfect because if flaws get in, the whole piece is trashed. There really is no room for error, so it’s a painstaking process.

Suction tubes are added to the bagging process. Then finally, the whole piece is fully bagged and sealed up tight, and it’s time to attach the hoses from a suction pump manifold to the bagged part. As all the air is sucked out, the bag forms to the part.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
The air is all sucked out of the bag from the attached tubes causing it to form tightly around the parts.

Meanwhile, resin is mixed with hardener, and now it has to be done quickly before the mix starts to cure. When it’s mixed completely, the pickup line is put in, the clamp is released, and the ongoing suction draws the resin into the vacuum bag and through the entire piece.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
When the clamps are released from the hoses, the resin is sucked into the bag and through the components.

The result is a solid piece of material, hard as a rock. Each finished piece gets numbered so they know exactly where it goes.

How About Larger Components?

The process is the same on a much larger scale as well, such as when resin infusing a larger yacht. On this level, even the locations of the feed drums that hold the resin are carefully planned. Something on this level takes about 10 days of prep and the whole infusion process itself takes roughly 65 minutes to complete. Including areas like the bow thrusters, struts, shaft logs, even the hull side windows getting doubled up on the glass work. But the process is exactly the same.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
The bag assembly and same vacuum sealing process works just the same with a large yacht.

Quality Control

Visually we can see that everything was done right but we need to go deeper than that. Pieces eventually must be cut away such as a porthole, a strut, or an exhaust port. That piece that is cut away is first looked at with a magnifier to ensure that it has the right number of layers that it’s supposed to. Then, it gets weighed before being put into a furnace.

The fiberglass doesn’t burn, but the resin does, so the quality control techs burn that away and measure again. Now with some calculations, they can determine the exact resin-to-glass ratio, look up what it’s supposed to be, and ensure that they match.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
The piece of that gets cut away is carefully examined, and then put into a furnace for a deeper examination.

That resin infusion and quality control process is only one part of that added expense with a Hatteras. Many more extra steps that Hatteras takes are what not only add to the yacht’s expense, but make the difference in a Hatteras.

Custom Tuned Props

For example, the hull and props are tuned to each other for better efficiency, and the props are pitched right in house in Hatteras’ prop shop. The exact pitch of each prop is carefully measured against specs, and if necessary, moved on to have the pitch adjusted.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
The needle runs along the blade as the prop is slowly rotated. If the pitch isn’t perfect, it gets adjusted right in house.
Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
Even an area such as this benefits from the prop tuning process as there’s no vibration to be felt while standing right over the props.

The result is a smooth, vibration-free yacht, even when observed where the vibration would be the worst… right over the props.

Out of the Box Tech

Now a lot of this in-house work leads to some very interesting technology being developed right in the Hatteras plant. For example, the propeller shafts now have round keyways. The reason for that is, when utilizing a round keyway, the load gets spread out all throughout the keyway. With a square key way, which we’re used to seeing, the load is greatest at the edges. As the propeller is put on, there’s a little bit of a lift created at the end. That creates a stress riser.

Quite often, right at those edges, torque stress is created. It causes a crack that starts at the stress point and then continues around the shaft until it reaches a point where the shaft can no longer support itself and it separates.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
Here is a shaft that split right at the stress crack. Notice the circular break that is created.

The solution was to use a more cylindrical keyway that spreads the load more evenly across its full length. Now, since Hatteras went from the square key ways to the round key ways, the shaft failures have dropped to zero.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
Here is a look at the Hatteras keyway, on the left, and the industry standard keyway, on the right.

Innovation Created in House

Hatteras is among the most innovative builders as well. For example, the rudder is not just welded to a shaft like we usually see. Instead, the rudder shaft is slotted, and the rudder slides into that slot, and then it’s welded.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
Captain Steve demonstrates how the rudder is slotted and then welded for better security, instead of just stuck on.

So instead of the weld keeping the rudder from spinning on the shaft, this weld only holds the rudder in place. The slot is what keeps it from spinning so that no loads are transferred to the weld.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
The shaft is put into the slot then welded into place. This serves to keep the rudder from spinning on the shaft. The welding process only holds the rudder to the shaft.

Innovations Continue

On Hatteras Yachts, even the fuel fills are kind of a neat setup. First of all, there’s the patented Hatteras vents that can accommodate hanging a bucket under to catch any fuel that might come out. However, that’s a rare occurrence because we have fuel level indicators right at the fill port, so that when the level reaches 95-percent an alarm goes off. We silence the alarm, then slow the process down and finally shut the fueling process off when we get to the full point.

Now all of this of course is connected to the HattCON app, which is accessible on a smartphone. So we can be up at the fuel pump, looking at the fuel fill and seeing how the level is the whole time.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
At the top are the fuel vents that can accommodate a bucket hanging to catch spilled fuel. Below are the fuel fills to either side of the LED gauge.

Innovations Continue with the Shaft Strut Bearing. All manufacturers use the type that has the grooves through their length to lubricate the shaft. But we’ve all heard shafts squeal. The way Hatteras gets around that is by cutting annular grooves in across the length-wise grooves to allow more water in to lubricate the shaft, and eliminate the squeal.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
Notice the annular grooves for allowing more water in for keeping the shaft well-lubricated to avoid squealing.

Paint

Even the paint shop is not spared the intense scrutiny of Hatteras standards. The first step is dewaxing the hull, when it comes out of the mold. Then it must be washed, sanded, and stripped.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
It takes about 10 workers and 10 to 15 days just to get the boat prepped before painting.

So after all those steps, the finished product looks like a mirror with a beautiful glossy finish.

Hatteras Factory - Why so Expensive
Notice the lights reflecting off the surface behind Captain Steve. It’s a mirror-like finish.

Conclusion

So clearly, there’s a lot more than meets the eye in a Hatteras. There’s a lot of quality control, a lot of out of the box thinking, and a lot of unique engineering that makes these yachts among the best in the world. It commands a premium price, but premium quality goes with it.

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