One of the most striking boats of the year has emerged from a small Florida yard. Designed by Nick Hake, president of Hake Yachts, the Seaward 46 is an innovative cruiser packed with interesting features.
The retracting keel and twin rudders are only part of what makes this big cruiser unique in its size bracket. Twin diesels and a central "command" station belowdecks with near-panoramic vision also set it apart from the crowd.
This is the biggest boat to come out of the Hake yard, which also builds the Seaward 26 and 32 trailerable sailboat. It's a nicely constructed boat, and well styled too.
I sailed the boat in 10 to 12 knots of breeze and found it well balanced and, with its self-tacking jib, easy to handle. Along with the twin rudders, twin skegs protecting the propellers contribute to excellent course-keeping. The GPS only gave us the speed over ground and there was a strong current running, so it was impossible to take accurate speed readings, but the Seaward made good progress against the stream and I got the sense of a powerful and easily driven boat with no obvious vices.
The retracting keel proved its worth when we strayed outside the channel and hit bottom; a flick of the switch lifted the keel enough for us to sail off nonchalantly.
A quick excursion into the open sea where a big leftover swell was running showed the relatively narrow hull off to advantage; it held its course well through the waves and did not slam.
This versatile boat is certainly capable of going blue water, but it looks ideal for those whose cruising plans center on the thin waters of the East Coast and the Bahamas. Down the line, Nick has plans to add a cantilevered mast to let the boat sneak under low bridges.