Waiting for me at Pier Sixty-Six Marina in Ft. Lauderdale was Hatteras Yachts’ Director of Sportfishing Capt. Jeff Donahue, his mate Tyler Davis and Hull No. 1 of the GT59, her sleek, dark blue hull shining in the Florida sun. While Donahue wears many hats for the New Bern, North Carolina builder, the foremost is overseeing the Hatterascal—a designation bestowed on the GT59 for 2019. By dint of fishing it hard, Donahue and his crew are able to familiarize themselves with every inch of the vessel and offer tweaks and improvements to the design team in real time. “The best part about the program is you’re learning firsthand about your own product,” said Donahue. “One person’s opinion is one person’s opinion. But when you hear something six or seven times, you better pay attention.”
It was time to put that plan into action. As Donahue fired up the optional twin 1,900-hp Caterpillar C32s, Davis untied her lines and pushed out toward the Stranahan River’s busy, post-show traffic. In no time, we had jockeyed around a cabin cruiser and a couple center consoles, taking the lead through Port Everglades Inlet and running to daylight.
Over a decade ago, Hatteras debuted the GT60, the initial offering in the Gran Turismo lineup. As the models progressed down the line, aesthetic and mechanical improvements were implemented. Replacing the GT60, the GT59 is the current culmination of those subtle and not-so-subtle changes. For instance, the mezzanine features not only the requisite storage boxes underneath, but a bait freezer, a Garmin touchscreen to port and integrated seatback air-conditioning right around the mid-torso level. (The latter assuredly inspired by the maxim: happy crew, happy you.) And then there’s the patented deep hull tunnels, which reduce shaft angles and provide maximum usable engine torque and thrust when underway or backing down. Such innovations speak to the ideas born from hard fishing on the circuit.
As I was inspecting the rigging and storage—including two insulated fishboxes with a macerator, and a large transom fishbox that can easily accommodate a day’s worth of baitfish—Donahue motioned for me to come join him on the flybridge. The helm featured three, flush-mounted Garmin displays in a blacked-out array (to reduce the glare) that were currently showing our fishfinder and chartplotter. For a second I imagined the 59 was fully rigged, and we were on our way to the nearest canyon. If we were, there was plenty of seating for friends and guests on the flybridge alone, including two lounges that flank either side of the helm console. Unobstructed 360-degree views from the captain’s chair looked onto a massive sunpad forward that opened to reveal a giant freezer—no more monkeying down the ladder just to snag a drink.
With the 1,900-hp Cats, the 59 makes a cruise speed of 33 knots at 2000 rpm and a fuel burn of 165 gph. A 3- to 4-foot chop was no match for the 59’s prominent knife-like entry and variable deadrise hull that flares out in true Carolina fashion, effectively curtailing any spray. Hitting a 40-knot top end, the biggest takeaway was the smoothness of her ride. No pounding or vibration, zero spray. The way the 59 was eating up the choppy whitewater, a crew could get some undisturbed winks heading out to the fishing grounds, no problem. “It rides on a pillow of air,” said Donahue, proudly. Upon returning to the docks, I inspected the windshield closer. It looked as if it had received nary a drop. —Simon Murray
Displ. (full load): 92,000 lbs.
Fuel: 1,750 gal.
Water: 200 gal.
Standard Power: 2/1,600-hp Caterpillar C32A
Cruise Speed: 33 knots
Top Speed: 40 knots