When we got word that Huckins Yachts was building a hybrid-electric cruiser with an Art Deco profile directly descended from the old Huckins 36 Sportsman, we were all in. The mix of classical good looks with an undeniably forward-leaning propulsion package (in addition to a more conventional outboard-power option) was, in the saltiest sense of the words, freakin’ interesting. Huckins, after all, is one of the oldest builders in America, with a list of customers and affiliates stretching back into the fabled, sepia-toned past.
The 38 transcends her historical antecedents, however. Sure, she sports a sleek, smart, vintage profile, but her hybrid-electric powerplant is so thoroughly modern it arguably constitutes a Hail Mary for Huckins—from the early twentieth century smack dab into the midst of the twenty-first. And what’s more, her construction features some of the most advanced techniques and materials available—stuff like vinylester resin-infused, Corecell-sandwiched fiberglass, Alexseal two-part polyurethane paint and Countervail vibration and sound dampening panels.
I sea trialed the 38 on North Florida’s St. Johns River. Thanks to a set of 20-hp Elco electric motors and a bank of 18 Lithium-Iron-Phosphate batteries, the boat topped out in full-electric mode at an average speed of 7 knots, a velocity Huckins reps on board said the battery banks could sustain for approximately two and a half hours. Lower speeds promised increased running times. And cranking the 8-kW Phasor genset, the reps added, could have stretched the 7-knot cruise out for the whole day, maybe more.
On the internal combustion side of the equation, the average top hop we recorded in diesel-only mode was 32.7 knots, a speed that consumed 39.4 gph and engendered a range of 213 nautical miles. The Elcos were capable of doing double duty as generators in diesel-only mode, by the way—when clutched into the propshafts of the boat’s twin 350-hp Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels they produce oodles of battery-bank charge-up juice underway.
Such modern features address only half of the 38’s story, however. The other half harks back to details, technologies and formats that Huckins has honed over the years. For example, the boat rides on virtually the same Quadraconic running surface as the aforementioned Huckins 36 Sportsman, a vessel first launched in 1936. She also offers the same Huckins-style cleats, hardtop stanchions and other signature hardware found on her progenitor as well as interior and exterior arrangements that tip their fashionable hats to the practical conventions of yesteryear.
There’s a comfortable simplicity about the belowdecks spaces. We found little more than a sleeping area up forward with a scissors-type V-berth/lounge and an electrically actuated hi/lo table; a head (with separate stall shower) just abaft the sleeping area to starboard; and, opposite the head, a galley with single-burner cooktop and 1930s-type open shelving for plates and glasses.
Although the 38 boasts a multitude of modern technologies squeezed into some comparatively small, rather cramped machinery spaces, she’s basically a straight-shot, twin-engine inboard and performs like any other nicely proportioned member of her species with an electrical twist. —Capt. Bill Pike
Fuel 285 gal.
Water 95 gal.
Power 2/350-hp Cummins QSB 6.7 diesels; 2/20-hp Elco EP-20 electric motors
Cruise Speed 25 knots
Top Speed 33 knots
Price $1.3 million