HARDY 65 TEST

A boat like this de­serves a proper test, so with snow on the decks, we round the Isle of Wight in a Force 7 to see what it’s made of

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents -

A bruis­ing 24 hour test shows just how tough and com­fort­able this all-weather cruiser is

We have un­fin­ished busi­ness with the flag­ship of the Hardy range. Back in 2013, we joined the orig­i­nal ver­sion of this boat – the Hardy 62 – on a trip from Southamp­ton to Ip­swich in an at­tempt to give it a proper test in what would hope­fully be some chal­leng­ing con­di­tions. As it tran­spired, we left the So­lent, crossed the wash of one tanker and then didn’t see an­other wave for about 200 miles. The boat per­formed beau­ti­fully, top­ping out at 33 knots, but the millpond con­di­tions of­fered noth­ing to challenge the boat’s sea­keep­ing.

Fast for­ward to March of this year and I am stand­ing on a pon­toon in Gosport that is cov­ered in about four inches of snow and a howl­ing wind is blow­ing flecks of the white stuff across the ma­rina. Some­one has built a mini snow­man next to the shore­power out­lets. The Hardy 65 has a snowy blan­ket draped over its broad shoul­ders and the bathing plat­form is like an ice rink.

The plan is to take the boat over to Guernsey early the next morn­ing be­fore she heads to her final des­ti­na­tion of Jersey to meet her owner. The fore­cast is a world away from what we ex­pe­ri­enced on the 62, with winds mid-chan­nel of F7-8 gust­ing

to 50 knots, 3.5m seas and tem­per­a­tures barely creep­ing above freez­ing. Skip­per Nick and I pore over the omi­nous pre­dic­tions for the next day’s con­di­tions, con­scious that our planned route would take us through the teeth of a strength­en­ing mid-chan­nel gale. Will the boat cope? With­out ques­tion. Is it sen­si­ble to head into weather of this na­ture and po­ten­tially en­dan­ger the boat, our­selves and any­one who may have to rescue us if some­thing goes awry when the trip is en­tirely avoid­able? No. The de­ci­sion is made to head to Poole in­stead, but go­ing around the south side of the Isle of Wight to poke the bow into the rough stuff and get a brief taste of how the boat deals with it.

A NEW DI­REC­TION

Though it’s loosely based on the 62, the 65 feels a world away from its an­ces­tor in nearly ev­ery de­part­ment. In the dimly lit ma­rina basin it cuts an im­pos­ing fig­ure, tow­er­ing over the pon­toons with its prom­i­nent bow and lifeboat-like in­wardly raked front screens. The warmly il­lu­mi­nated in­te­rior ex­tends a toasty hand and pulls me in­side, and this is where the big­gest changes have oc­curred over hull No.1. Gone is the bland wood­work and blue car­pets, re­placed with rich wal­nut cab­i­netry and white oak de­tail­ing. The sil­ver car­pet is plush un­der­foot and classy grey up­hol­stery has added pop from tastefully bright scat­ter cush­ions. The lay­out is vastly im­proved too. The gal­ley is now on the main deck, di­rectly op­po­site the dinette, which works well on a boat where you may well be cook­ing when you’re on pas­sage. The old helm ar­range­ment in­cluded three raised seats lo­cated cen­trally, which was great if you were driv­ing but robbed the sa­loon of valu­able light from the wind­screen and made the en­tire area feel cramped. There is no longer an in­ter­nal stair­case to the fly­bridge – a shame, but the helm lay­out is much bet­ter.

Be­low, larger hull win­dows amid­ships have trans­formed the mas­ter en­suite, which is as beau­ti­fully fin­ished as the sa­loon and has space for a lovely en­suite and walk-in wardrobe.

Mine and pho­tog­ra­pher Richard’s cabin for the night is the VIP, which has a pair of twins that slide to­gether to be­come a double (we left them apart) and a spa­cious en­suite of its own. The 65 has all the style and warmth that the orig­i­nal in­te­rior lacked. With steam­ing mugs of tea in hand and the heat­ing do­ing its thing, the 65 is a fine refuge from the cold out­side.

Even when split in two, the berths in the VIP are com­fort­able and – joy of joys – there are two charg­ing points right above the bed and a handy fid­dle to store glasses, books etc. De­spite the wind screech­ing through the sur­round­ing hal­yards, we sleep well, know­ing that morn­ing will bring a test for craft and crew alike.

Scrap­ing snow off the decks and through the scup­pers is an in­ter­est­ing way to be­gin a sea trial, but that’s what faces us be­fore we set off. Decks cleared and en­gines warmed, Nick ne­go­ti­ates the tight net­work of pon­toons and eases the boat out past the fuel pon­toon. Portsmouth Har­bour looks be­nign given the doom-filled fore­cast but a glance at the flags whip­ping around their poles at the en­trance tells an­other story.

We edge into the So­lent, which is eerily placid, but as we push east to­wards Bem­bridge the waves be­gin pil­ing up, roar­ing up from the aft quar­ters with foam whip­ping off their tops. There is a steep fol­low­ing swell of around 3m which sends the bow bar­relling down­wards be­fore we meet the back of the next wave, the fore­deck ris­ing grace­fully to­wards the sky. At the lower helm, we are safely in­su­lated from the dread­ful con­di­tions as the boat du­ti­fully chugs on with­out hes­i­ta­tion. It’s whis­per quiet, with sound read­ings barely reach­ing the mid-60s, a cru­cial as­set for such a long-dis­tance cruis­ing craft. The Sleip­ner fin sta­bilis­ers are do­ing a fine job of keep­ing us level – no mean feat on a boat that weighs around 45 tonnes and is be­ing sub­ject to an awk­ward quar­ter­ing swell. So de­tached are we from what’s go­ing on around us that Nick is able to pad around the sa­loon in his slip­pers.

The 800hp MAN i6 mo­tors push us through man­fully as the swell yo-yos our speed over ground be­tween 12 and

In the dimly lit ma­rina basin, the 65 cuts an im­pos­ing fig­ure, tow­er­ing over the pon­toons

26 knots. The 65 is pack­ing 400hp less per side than the 62, which had the 1,200hp MAN units and a top speed well into the thir­ties. This 65 has a heavy spec­i­fi­ca­tion in­clud­ing half a tonne of Co­rian alone. Add sta­bilis­ers, air con, a hy­draulic bathing plat­form, crane, a ten­der with a 25hp out­board, a po­ten­tial fuel load of 6,100 litres and 1,000 litres of water and the mo­tors have their work cut out to shift the boat’s bulk. They strug­gle at times, es­pe­cially heav­ing the boat out of deeper troughs, where the 1,000hp units would make eas­ier work of it.

A SOLID CON­TENDER

As we round the is­land, it of­fers some pro­tec­tion from the wind and con­di­tions ease, so we up the speed. We top out at 22.4 knots but it feels like the boat is barely mov­ing given how smooth the ride is. Ease the throt­tles back to set­tle at 1,200rpm and the 65 slips along at around 10 knots, re­turn­ing just shy of 1mpg and a range of over 1,000nm. It’s built to go places. The ket­tle goes on as we ap­proach Vent­nor and we rel­ish the rel­a­tive calm away from the seething seas left be­hind. We plan to make a pho­tog­ra­phy pit stop in Yar­mouth, aware that it could be quite tasty in­side the har­bour given the ris­ing tide and di­rec­tion of the wind. The Hurst nar­rows are a con­fused mass of boil­ing chop, green water dashed with foam that fid­gets and spits as we carve through. We edge into Yar­mouth with the wind gust­ing to 40 knots. Nick eyes up the fuel pon­toon at the south­ern end of the basin but the prospect of hav­ing to heave the 65 off the pon­toon with that breeze on the beam isn’t a pleas­ant one. We abort the plan and Nick wres­tles with the throt­tles to turn the boat within its length and get clear of the har­bour – next stop Poole.

We re­gain our com­po­sure and set a course west, pass­ing back through the Hurst nar­rows and down the north chan­nel around the Shin­gle Bank. In the lee of land, the con­di­tions ease off again so we re­lax into a 16-knot cruis­ing speed. The lay­out of the lower helm is tuned to­wards pas­sage­mak­ing and the er­gonomics are su­perb. The sin­gle Be­sen­zoni helm seat is fully ad­justable and al­lows you to slide yourself close enough to the dash that ev­ery­thing from the wheel and throt­tles to thruster con­trols and chart­plot­ter but­tons are no stretch. Though the Ray­ma­rine MFDS are touch sen­si­tive, the panel of proper but­tons be­tween the wheel and throt­tles mean you don’t have to lean out of the seat to use them. The view for­ward through the bat­tle­ship wind­screens is ex­cel­lent and on the leg to Poole, I sit in com­fort with all the boat’s cru­cial in­for­ma­tion be­ing fed to me via the var­i­ous screens split be­tween the dash and a panel over­head. For long jour­neys, it’s ideal. The only ac­tion needed is to ad­just the au­topi­lot as we ap­proach one of many lob­ster pots strewn across the bay. A cam­era in the engine­room means the skip­per can keep an eye on the ma­chin­ery but this doesn’t stop Nick and his slip­pers pop­ping down to peer through the wa­ter­tight door to en­sure all is well.

A full-height door in the cock­pit leads down a steep stair­case to the lazarette, if you can call it that. It’s more of a work­shop-cum-store­room with stand­ing

So de­tached are we from what’s go­ing on around us that Nick is able to pad around the sa­loon in his slip­pers

head­room, a sink, lots of stor­age and room for ex­tra fridges, a wa­ter­maker and the wash­ing ma­chine. The ma­chin­ery space is sim­i­larly prac­ti­cal; the en­gines are mounted a good dis­tance away from each other with masses of space to in­spect around all sides of both mo­tors. The four alu­minum fuel tanks feed into a fuel-pol­ish­ing sys­tem and a suite of Ra­cor fuel fil­ters with clear bowls for quick in­spec­tion. There is a changeover sys­tem that means you can quickly by­pass and clear blocked fil­ters on the move.

The sea has a final tantrum as we pass down the main chan­nel into Poole with break­ers an­grily sweep­ing across the banks of Hook Sands. The Hardy re­mains un­flus­tered, plough­ing on with the quiet

de­ter­mi­na­tion that it has demon­strated through­out our five-hour pas­sage.

We trickle through the nar­rows and into the sanc­tu­ary of a chilly Poole Har­bour with an ic­ing sugar-coated Isle of Purbeck as our back­drop. We may not have crossed the Chan­nel, but the flicker of sat­is­fac­tion af­ter com­plet­ing a tough jour­ney is still present. The 65 has barely bro­ken a sweat in iron­ing out some truly hor­ren­dous con­di­tions and it has proven its abil­ity to travel se­ri­ous dis­tances while cos­set­ing its crew in to­tal se­cu­rity and com­fort. The only real ques­tion mark is whether the 800hp en­gines are the best match for the boat and I’m in­clined to sug­gest that, with a spec this heavy at least, the 1,000hp units would of­fer the ex­tra po­tency that is so wel­come in the con­di­tions we ex­pe­ri­enced.

VER­DICT

The 62 proved that Hardy could build a boat of this size and dy­namic ca­pa­bil­ity, but it lacked the fi­nesse that any­one will­ing to part with over £2 million would ex­pect. The 65 is a dif­fer­ent beast al­to­gether, still im­mensely ca­pa­ble and a true ocean­go­ing Cat­e­gory A cruiser but with the high-class, top-qual­ity in­te­rior that it so richly de­serves. Con­tact Hardy Marine. Tel: +44 (0)1473 694674. Web: www.hardy­ma­rine.co.uk

The 65 has barely bro­ken a sweat in iron­ing out some truly hor­ren­dous con­di­tions

Words Jack Haines Pictures Richard Lang­don

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