World’s coolest boats: Hinckley Picnic Boat

Each month we pick out an iconic boat that can lay claim to the title of world’s coolest boat. This month, we take a closer look at the Hinckley Picnic Boat

Why is the Hinckley Picnic Boat here? Well, just look at it, it’s gorgeous! It’s called a Picnic Boat because, unlike many modern boats that try to cram as much accommodation in as possible, Hinckley went its own way, citing that “the first duty of a boat is to be beautiful” and creating a proper gentleman’s motorboat of the old school that was ideally suited to a nice day out on the water with a picnic lunch.

Hinckley built its first boat 90 years ago, an elegant 36ft Fisherman. Based in Maine, USA, the company has been turning out a range of always-elegant sailing and motor boats ever since. The Picnic Boat concept dates back almost 30 years to 1995; the original was a 36-footer, although they have been building variations on the theme ever since.

The Hinckley Picnic is an American beauty that marries classic style with reassuring functionality

Shep McKenney, chairman of Hinckley at the time, said: “What I wanted to build was a boat that was beautiful, I wanted a boat that was to be built from the outside first, and then you saw what you could get into it.”

As a result, the accommodation was very straightforward; there’s a vee berth forward that converts to a double berth and a galley to port opposite a heads – all you need for a day out on the water but with the ability to make it a weekend if you choose. In the cockpit, the open-backed wheelhouse shelters a pair of helm seats and then there’s a big engine box in the centre and a bench seat aft. It couldn’t be simpler.

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Interestingly, Hinckley opted to mate the 350hp Yanmar turbo diesel to a waterjet drive. The idea was to enable very shallow water running as there’s virtually nothing hanging beneath the hull, allowing the owner to get right in close to the beach, or even beach it.

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It also makes it extremely manoeuvrable. Intriguingly, Hinckley fitted a foot-operated bow thruster, meaning the helmsman could keep one hand on the wheel, the other on the throttle and yet still invoke some sideways thrust of the bow when required.

Top speed was 27 knots. Sufficient, rather than scintillating, it enabled a very comfortable 20-knot cruise. But also of note was the handling and seakeeping. Being low and narrow, the boat was both stable and sea kindly.

The concept is still going strong and today Hinckley has three models in the Picnic Boat range: the 34S, 37S and 40S. All still subscribe to Shep’s original mandate, “When you walk down onto the dock or you look out to the anchorage, you can say, ‘Wow, that’s my boat!’”

Hinckley Picnic Boat specifications

Year: 1997 LOA: 11.1m
Beam: 3.0m
Power: Yanmar 6LYM-STE 350hp diesel engine
Speed: 27 knots
Price when launched: £185,000

To submit your suggestion for the world’s coolest boat, head over to the MBY forum.


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