The Hunter 45DS is a handsome vessel with an "I can take you there" look. The DS stands for deck saloon, a concept that's become popular in Europe and is gaining ground in the U.S. Deck saloons are popular because they work well. As well as providing panoramic views through the large portlights, they encourage good use of interior space and allow heavy masses like engine and tankage to be placed down low. I tested this model in the waters off St. Augustine, Florida.
The hand-laid hull has a balsa core above the waterline and is solid fiberglass below. Two layers of Kevlar in the forward sections strengthen that area against impact. The systems are tidy, with properly bundled plumbing and wiring and specifications to both CE and ABYC standards. The through-hull fittings are bronze.
DECK AND COCKPIT
There's the familiar arch over the cockpit, of course. On this boat it seems unobtrusive, perhaps because of the size of the boat, perhaps because it is a nicely welded stainless structure. Our test boat had the optional T-top, another excellent Hunter idea. The arch is utterly practical, keeping the mainsheet and traveler out of the cockpit while providing a place to mount solar panels.
The mainsheet arrangement is a "why didn't somebody think of that before" item. It's double-ended, with one end by the companionway and the other aft near the helmsman. This makes shorthanded sailing simple and separates the mainsail trimmer from the jib trimmers when there's a full crew. Line-tail bins built into the aft end of the house swallow the excess line.
Sight lines are excellent. The dual wheels make it possible to always find a comfortable spot where you can see everything. Our test boat had a full complement of options, including a vertical-batten roller-furling mainsail. If you want roller furling (most buyers do), get this one. It holds its shape and allows for more sail area than the standard furler. Of course, the conventional main is bigger and more efficient yet.
The aft owner's cabin is comfortable, although headroom is necessarily limited by the cockpit. The saloon is huge, and tall sailors will thank Hunter for listening to Steve Pettengill, who is a big fellow. Shorter crewmembers will need to learn where the grab points are and avoid the center of this space when the boat is in a seaway.
I liked the placement of the forward head right in the bow (though it could be awkward to use at sea), with the double berth aft of it. It would be easy to fit leecloths here for offshore work.
The galley is refined for efficiency, with Hunter's typical dish-storage locker, Corian countertops, and a cutout near the sink that expands the working surface while providing a spot for the cook to brace.
Hunter has switched from teak to cherry joinery, and this combines with neutral colors and white to create aesthetically pleasant living spaces throughout the boat. Get the optional TV in the saloon. Not only will it entertain the crew, it can display all the nav-instrument data in huge numbers, visible from the cockpit when under way.
St. Augustine, Florida, greeted us with only 7 to 8 knots of wind, but the 45DS tacked easily through less than 85 degrees and produced 4 knots of boatspeed. Under asymmetric spinnaker, the boat reached at half the wind velocity or better. I suspect that this boat will come into its own when the wind is in the 12-to-15-knot range and would get a sailing-performance boost from a low-drag prop.
I found the 45DS quite responsive while motoring in the harbor. The turning circle is a scant boatlength, the gearing ratio of the wheels is just right, and the boat stops and backs straight and positively with its standard three-blade prop. A cruise setting of 2,800 RPM gave 7.3 knots with a relatively low 74 dBA sound level in the saloon.
HEADROOM: Saloon 6'8", aft cabin, 6'4", forecabin 6'3" » BUNKS: Aft 6'7"×5'1", forward 6'8"×4'7" » SETTEES: 6'4( (length) » COCKPIT SEATS: 1'8"×6'
Price: $262,990 (base, FOB Alachua, FL) includes sails, ground tackle, safety equipment, Raymarine ST-60 speed/depth, stereo, VHF, microwave.
Builder: Hunter Marine Corporation, www.huntermarine.com
Designer: Hunter Design Team
LOA: 44'10" » LWL: 39'2" »
Beam: 14'6" » Draft: 6'6"/5'
Displacement: 22,936 lbs
Ballast: 7237 lbs/7389 lbs
Sail Area: 975 sq ft (standard) or 962 sq ft (furling)
power: 54-hp Yanmar Tankage: (fuel/water/waste) 51/140/45 gal
Electrical: (3) size 4D (house) plus (1) Group 27 (engine)
Displacement-Length Ratio: 170
Sail Area-Displacement Ratio: 17.3
Ballast Ratio: 32%
- Responsive handling
- Interior headroom
- Standard equipment list
- Lack of cabin sole hold-downs
- Some play in the steering linkage
- The B&R rig precludes sailing directly downwind
The Hunter 45DS offers a lot of value along with performance and innovation. Sailors moving up from smaller cruisers or racers will find this vessel comfortable, fast, and well equipped. While it is not designed primarily as a world voyager, it could easily sail to the Caribbean or across oceans with only a few modifications.