Keep it simple could easily be the mantra for the little Hunter 27.
At a time when yachts are growing larger than a B-double, how refreshing to find an innovative, yet compact package at a price point that should encourage a lot of people to take the sailboat plunge.
At a glance this trim little craft with its B&R rig could only be a Hunter. Those racy-looking, swept back spreaders and the absence of a backstay, are a dead giveaway.
Otherwise, she is a thoroughly modern miss with a vertical stem, a bubble cabin top and the sort of rear end that makes you wonder whether she asked the designer, “Does my bum look big like this?”
There are some nice details – especially the rubrail round the hull to minimize marina scrapes and scratches – and the ease with which you can hoist yourself aboard from the stern. And despite the compromises in designing a small family yacht, there’s no doubt the 27 is an attractive boat – one that has what the Americans like to call “row away appeal”.
Hunter 27 Cockpit
The nerve centre immediately impresses. There’s enough seating for five at a pinch, the skipper has a cosy perch on the transom and the two seats on the wing of the transom are the perfect place to perch with a beer in hand.
The mainsheet has plenty of grunt, but it’s a pity the winches are on the cabin roof.
A boat this size would probably be better served with a tiller (easy to hinge it up out of the way when at rest), than the standard wheel but again, for those new to sailing, there’s no doubt as to the appeal of a wheel.
No danger though of crew being donged in an accidental gybe with the boom set high on the mast.
Hunter 27 Under sail
There was just enough breeze to fill the big roachy main and its handily sized, slightly overlapping heady but the little yacht didn’t need much wind to get moving and soon she was trickling along happily at 3 to 3.5 knots.
The steering proved very direct and coupled to the feeling of responsiveness from the boat made her feel a little like a grown up dinghy – albeit a very stable one.
Like all small modern boats a strong gust would require some attention to sail trim to keep her on her feet.
The 27 comes with a diesel engine option, from nine to 18 hp – any one of them capable of uncomplicated and frugal motoring at hull speed or close to it.
The test boat with a 14hp Yanmar ran up to 6.5knots, cruised happily at 2500 revs and showed little evidence of prop wash.
Hunter 27 Down below
Smart thinking here. Rather than trying to recreate the feel of a big boat, the designers have adopted a sensible open plan arrangement with plenty of headroom (1.8metres).
Wood trim is kept to a bare minimum (sensible) with lots of white moulded linings to encourage a feeling of lightness.
There’s a sleeping platform up the pointy end which merges into wrap-around seats along both sides of the boat.
Down the back a couple can get away from the kids in an enclosed double cabin with plenty of stowage and a decent sized bathroom with a shower, vanity and mirror and either a porta potti or a proper marine toilet.
There’s pressurised hot and cold water (optional) and a really clever and surprisingly spacious galley.
The most intriguing feature is a 12-volt esky which slides on rails under the sink and can be lifted out and taken home.
Hunter 27 Verdict
The Hunter 27 is a great boat for any number of people: a couple downsizing from a larger yacht; a comfy and easy to use family boat, or an easy to sail first boat for someone dipping their toe in the sailing water. Well thought out, sprightly and pleasantly styled, she should be a winner.