Hampton 620 Modified Skylounge Cruiser

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I’ve spent time crawling through and poking around a number of Hamptons in my career and I’ve written two previous articles on this well-known marque. As a result, they’re a well-known commodity for me, combining high quality, great attention to detail, and a few special touches thanks to their East Coast dealer, Anchor Yacht Sales. When Capt. Forest Roberts, Anchor’s proprietor (and Hampton’s dealer of the year six years running) contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in touring their new model, the 620 Modified Skylounge, I accepted the invitation without hesitation.

Like the coming of fiberglass fabric and resin, it’s difficult to discuss the performance attributes and design features of any Hampton without Forest’s name coming up early on in the conversation, and like resin and fabric, the two are mutually beneficial and reliant upon each other. The first time I met Forest, at the Miami Boat Show several years ago, I thought I had him pegged, a talking head who seemingly had an answer to every question. However, somewhat frustratingly, I found that more often than not the answers were usually the right ones. Later, as I got to know him, and more so after I wrote my first Hampton story, I found that my opinion of him changed dramatically. Referring to Forest as a Hampton booster would be like calling Secretariat just another horse. Forest Roberts and his wife and able partner at Anchor Yachts, Sandy (he refers to her as Admiral Sandy because, after all, Forest is but a captain), eat, breath, sleep, and likely dream Hampton Yachts and ways to support and improve them. We’ll return to them and the role they play in this story later.

SEA TRIAL

Forest met me at the airport and asked me what I wanted to do first. I said, “Let’s go for a sea trial.” Just minutes from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, Anchor Yacht’s office, formerly Hacienda Cove Police Station, Fire Department, and Courthouse, is an immaculately manicured waterfront complex with 500 feet of dockage, a workshop, and sales offices. It’s where all Anchor Hamptons are commissioned. Within less than an hour of wheels down, Forest and I were under way, heading down the New River toward Port Everglades inlet and the Atlantic. On several occasions during this nearly hour-long run, Forest ran on one engine with the other trailing in neutral, demonstrating how well the 620 maneuvered under reduced, uneven thrust. If you’ve ever transited this waterway you know how tight the quarters can be. When we reached the inlet it was clear. The conditions were ideal, for a sea trial that is. It looked, with wind against tide, like the proverbial washing machine.

The 620 churned her way through this confused tumult, finally breaking out into more predictable, albeit far from placid, conditions. Winds were from the southeast at 20–25 knots, seas ran 4-5 feet with white caps all around. We took continuous spray over the bow while running into the wind. It was sunny, however, and the temperature hovered around 85°F. While I do suffer from seasickness, I was pleased to see that the environment represented real-world cruising conditions, through which we ran for nearly an hour. The 620 took this all in style, her Wesmar digital three-term gyro stabilizer system employing six square-foot fins kept her on a mostly even keel in everything from bow-on and beam-to quartering and following seas. With a realistic 7/8-full fuel tank and 3/4-full water tank, 950 and 300 gallons respectively, at my request we ran at everything from idle to wide-open throttle through troughs and over crests; the 620 shook it off, maintaining a steady course and speed with minimal manipulation of the helm. I was even able to have lunch after the trial, an indication of the 620’s sea kindliness. You can see video of the Hampton 620 under way at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8IB8nA4SWc.

The 620 Modified Skylounge’s flybridge is the only station on this vessel, although a lower station is optional. It utilizes a unique combination of three sections of conventional 10mm glass for the forward sections and 40mm flexible Strataglass for side and aft curtains. Fixed glass panes are also installed below the main panes, affording better visibility of the fore deck, and the hardtop extends slightly over the windshield, reducing glare. Not only do these two features, a departure from earlier Hamptons, offer added functionality, they simply look better. Mullions between windshield panes are reasonably narrow; a welcome feature that keeps blind spots to a minimum. However, the dashboard forward of the helm console is a glossy, arctic white, the reflection of which onto the inside of the windshield can be distracting. This could be easily remedied if this area were gelcoated or painted a neutral color such as flat gray.

The fixed forward glass panels are equipped with heavy duty pantograph windshield wipers, which we tested heavily, while the side curtains conveniently lift inward and upward, where their bottoms are easily affixed to the overhead. This, along with triple overhead hatches, affords the bridge ample ventilation and an all-around good feeling for the crew. If the weather’s too hot or rainy, the bridge, equipped with three air handlers offering a total of over 40,000 Btu of cooling power, is fully climate controlled.

On an earlier Hampton I reviewed, I complained that the quality of the helm seating was not in keeping with the vessel’s overall high level of fit and finish. The 620 has no such shortcoming, with twin Pompanette captain’s chairs the bridge crew sit in style.

Thanks to some careful engineering, liberal use of acoustic insulation and the cored composite nature of the cabin and decks, the 620 is quiet under way. While at 18 knots and 1900 rpm, I took sound readings in every cabin and was impressed with what I heard, or didn’t hear. On the dBA scale, the flybridge measured 72, forward cabin 68, starboard guest cabin 67, master stateroom 69, galley 67, and saloon 72. Considering that a luxury automobile traveling over a smooth road at 60mph typically yields noise readings of somewhere around 68, this is all the more impressive. Albeit outside, the only area that was noisier than I would have expected was the cockpit. With a noticeable rumble it measured 87, far too loud to be enjoyable under way. Hampton and Anchor are still working on a fix for this audible malady.

A full range of speed and fuel consumption figures are available from Anchor, however, in brief, at wide-open throttle, at the above-mentioned loads, pushed by her optional CAT 873hp C18s, the 620 managed a very respectable 21 knots. At 19.5 knots and 2000 rpm, fuel burn is 78.8gph. However, at a comfortable 12 knots, she turned 1400 rpm and burned a total of just 27.8gph.

REFINED INTERIOR SPACES

Accommodations spaces aboard the 620 are modern and comfortable with an air of sophistication that is no doubt the result of the flawlessly finished, high-gloss makore veneer and burled inlay, a Hampton Yachts hallmark. In fact, I have yet to board a Hampton where the joinerwork was anything less than a stunning display of perfection and the 620 is no exception. The finish is no accident; Hampton uses a proprietary process that relies on no less than 12 coats of two-part polyurethane varnish.

The Hampton 620 offers a midship king master, a forward queen VIP, and a double twin between the two on the starboard side. Rather than describe each and every cabin in detail, you can see and read about these on Anchor’s website (www.anchoryt.com). I’ll instead touch on notable highlights.

The 620 is equipped with a combination of ultra-thin LED and LCD TVs and sound systems in just about every space, count them, there are seven, including the flybridge, cockpit, and galley. TVs in the master and VIP staterooms include surround sound. Speaking of the master stateroom, it has 20 drawers, all of which are made of dovetail jointed white pine and all slide-on, high-quality metal tracks and ball bearings (rather than plastic bushings). They’re small things but all interior door locksets are from the well-respected manufacturer Baldwin and each and every cabinet and storage space (including the bilges) is expertly and smoothly finished in gelcoat, paint, or attractive woodwork. Not such a small thing is the interior lighting, it’s all LED. Forest says this was a $9,700 upgrade, a change Hampton made at his request.

A storage area located under the forward cabin and central accommodation passageway could easily hold months’ worth of provisions and spares. Storage aboard a cruising vessel is often in short supply; its value cannot be overestimated and this area is simply invaluable. I would, however, recommend two minor changes. The access ladder’s round rungs should be flat, offering surer and more comfortable footing, especially when shoeless. And considering Hampton’s joiner-working prowess, I would like to see them include shelving and bins. Currently, the space lacks any means of stacking or supporting layers of provisions and gear, reducing its efficiency. The full-size Bosch Axxis dryer is located under the companionway stairs, housed in a flawless and nearly invisible-when-shut makore-faced locker. The washer is located in a similar locker on the master stateroom forward bulkhead. On many vessels little thought is given to access to these and other appliances for service or repair, often necessitating removal of joinerwork. Not only does Hampton thoughtfully make provisions to easily slide them out, they also include a stainless-steel skid plate to prevent the varnished deck on which they are mounted from being scratched in the process.

The galley, located just aft of the forward seating area and what would be the optional lower helm station, is practical and well-equipped, with a full-size GE Profile stainless-steel refrigerator and Fisher & Paykel dishwasher and trash compactor. The latter two are makore-trimmed and thus invisible when closed as well. Overhead cabinets securely hold dishes and glasses, all of which remained absolutely stationary during our sea trial, as did all of the vases, plants, and other decorations around the cabin (they are held in place with a special non-permanent adhesive). A glass-top electric range and oven complete the picture. The rounded edge galley countertops are granite, as is the dining table and sole. The makore-trimmed wine locker, with a glass door, lives opposite the galley. Notably, hutches, cabinets, and other furniture are equipped with fiddles to keep gear, dishes, and glasses from ending up on the deck while in a seaway. I like fiddles and consider them a necessity for any vessel that leaves sheltered waters.

The galley breakfast bar incorporates yet another Hampton trademark, captive stools. That is, the two forward square stool legs engage matching square cutouts on the foot rest. This arrangement keeps the stools safely in place while under way. It’s a nice touch that Hampton has used for years, one I’m surprised hasn’t been adopted by other manufacturers.

WEATHER DECKS

The 620’s ground tackle is all business, relying on a Maxwell electric windlass, 300 feet of 3/8-inch chain and a single 50kg stainless-steel anchor. A heavy duty, highly polished stainless-steel chute with a clamp gate supports the anchor when stowed. As an indication of the level of attention paid to critical gear such as ground tackle, the chute roller is retained by a nylon locknut and cotter pin. Talk about belt and suspenders. Lockers on either side of the windlass provide ready access to the chain. Six large cleats are installed on each side of the deck, providing a variety of main and spring line attachment points.

It’s easy for builders to slip into the rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul trap, by impinging on side deck space, or doing away with it altogether, to make the saloon wider. Not in this case. The 620’s symmetrical side decks are generous, measuring between 17 and 22.5 inches wide (they are funnel-shaped, getting wider from the deck up to match the human form factor). Bulwark and rail heights are also generous, affording crew a strong sense of security when moving about these decks, their height ranges from 32.5 to 36 inches. The rails, like all of the stainless-steel work aboard the 620, are gorgeous, highly polished, beefy, and functional. Engine-room air intakes, which, according to Forest, are sized for 110 percent of the engine’s and generator’s needs, are built into the bulwark. This design, as opposed to installation in the hull topsides, ensures that air being drawn into the engine compartment is as free from sea water and spray as possible, and unlikely though it may be, they incorporate a dorade to drain off any water that may make its way into the vent. While this isn’t a unique design, it is functional and welcomed.

Remote shift/throttle and bow/stern thruster controls are built into compartments located at the aft end of the house, in the cockpit. This enables the skipper to expertly back into a tight slip or stern-to mooring with much greater confidence than working from the flybridge with a spotter or using a camera. The hatches for these lockers are indicative of all those used on weather decks. If I didn’t know better I’d say they were cast from a solid block of resin—they are smooth, straight, and fair. High-quality hinges, latches, and stainless-steel gas shocks make this installation top flight. Storage lockers just forward of the swim platform and the hatch-equipped shore power cord channel, yet another Hampton trademark, use the same approach. Twin 80-foot wireless remote reel control, transom-mounted, 50-amp shore cords can be used either singly or simultaneously for support of the vessel’s AC electrical service. This was a special request to Hampton from Forest, he says 50 feet is never enough.

Painted aluminum hardware is conspicuous by its absence aboard the 620. With the exception of the dinghy crane, most deck hardware is mirror-polished 316L stainless steel, including and especially the twin cockpit sliding doors—they are simply beautiful. While this costs more initially, and weighs more than aluminum, it is truly maintenance free and the owner never has to worry about, or pay for, touch up or painting.

CONSTRUCTION AND SYSTEMS

Hull design and construction is important in the respect that it’s impossible to know what’s beneath the gelcoat. I’ve cut into my share of otherwise very pretty hulls only to be horrified at what I found. As such, buyers must simply have faith in a builder’s expertise to do the right thing. Hampton’s conservative approach to this area is evident in the build protocol to which they adhere. The outer five laminates utilize blister-resistant and very stiff vinyl ester resin (it shares many similarities with epoxy). The industry norm calls for two laminates, referred to as a skin coat, to provide blister protection, giving Hampton a multifold safety margin. The forward section of the hull incorporates what Hampton calls a collision zone, made up of two laminates of Kevlar up to the toerail and 12 feet back, and 18 feet back below the waterline. The hull is a solid fiberglass layup, toerail to toerail, while fore and aft stiffeners and stringers utilize synthetic structural foam. Notably, other than furniture and cabin joinerwork, no wood is used in the construction process.

The remainder of the vessel’s structure—the decks, cabin, and cabin top—are all built using a composite core material called Divinycell, a synthetic polymer foam that is exceptionally strong, yet will neither absorb water nor rot if exposed to the elements. There’s no better way to build a strong, stiff, light, and quiet fiberglass structure than with the composite core technique.

Spray rails are molded into the hull, rather than being glued and screwed on after the fact. This is important as it makes for an extremely strong structure that does not rely on hardware to keep it attached to the boat in the event of an especially hard landing. Molded-in rubrails can only be made using two-piece molds and, you guessed it, two-piece molds are more expensive and more complex to build and maintain. After removal from the mold the hull is carefully inspected and then hand finished using a four-step, successively finer abrasive polishing process.

The two-part mold also affords the Hampton 620 another of its many attributes, the full, deep keel. Although it’s not especially large or full length, for planing vessels they rarely are, the 620’s keel extends deeper than the hull’s most important accessories; propellers, struts, shafts, and rudders, providing them with some margin of protection in the event the vessel should run aground.

Hampton Yachts prides itself on its design and execution of its engineering space, lazarettes, and engine rooms. The 620, and all Hamptons I’ve been aboard for that matter, is true to form with excellent access to important gear. This is a welcome change from so many designs that relegate engineering space design to afterthought status.

Engineering spaces are entered via a transom watertight door, which means service personnel don’t even have to walk through the vessel, or even take their shoes off, to get to this area. While there is no access to the engineering spaces from the main cabin, a lazarette deck hatch (it lifts electrically) and ladder (its treads are comfortably flat by the way) are available for accessing these areas as well, preventing the need for venturing out onto the swim platform to access engines while under way.

A short companionway ladder leads down into the large lazarette from the main transom door. While the cherry ladder is beautifully made, the treads are varnished. Although they do include narrow strips of non-skid, when wet, this could be a recipe for a slip-and-fall scenario. Traditionally, wood ladder treads are teak, they aren’t varnished, and they offer excellent footing. This is an easy fix. The overhead above this ladder could use another handhold, too.

This space provides easy access to steering gear, isolation transformers, 60,000 Btu (each) HVAC compressors, twin HVAC raw-water and circulation pumps, the central vacuum unit, twin Charles battery chargers, house battery bank, a workbench, and Magnum inverter, among other items.

Moving forward through another door brings you into the commodious engine room, where the lighting is generally excellent, but would benefit from one more fixture on the centerline. For those who prefer stand-up engine rooms, the head room here is a generous 71 inches. The decks in the lazarette and engine room utilize a familiar “coin dot” tread material, however, instead of a hard plastic finish, this material, made by Pirelli, is soft and rubbery, offering excellent footing even when the surface is wet (I tested it). In keeping with the good-access-to-gear theme, I was able to make my way to the outboard side of both engines without a great deal of difficulty. Bravo Hampton for not neglecting this important feature.

The fiberglass fuel tanks are located forward of the engines, separating this compartment from, and providing insulation for, the master stateroom. Heavy duty, solid polycarbonate, valve-equipped sight glasses provide fuel level information, backing up the electric gauges. Main and back-up potable water pumps, 120 and 24 volts respectively, are located outboard of the starboard engine.

The twin CAT C18s are each equipped with a hydraulic power take-off that operates twin power steering pumps. This is Forest’s doing, he doesn’t want an owner to ever have to run the boat without power steering in the event of a single pump or engine failure. The 620 is provided with a manual tiller as well as tools required for propeller removal. Twin Kohler gensets are also located in the engine room, a main 23kW and a night or light-load 15.5kW unit.

I clearly recall the first time I went aboard a Hampton and made my way to the engine room, as I always do. I marveled at the condition of the bronze raw-water plumbing and strainers, they all looked virgin. Even aboard new boats, at boat shows, this gear has usually begun to take on the familiar and harmless green patina. When I looked more closely I noticed that all of these components had been carefully prepared, masked, and sprayed with clear coat, to keep them looking new for years to come. This is standard procedure for all Hamptons sold by Anchor Yachts. Verdigris, harmless though it may be, simply isn’t allowed aboard a vessel under Forest’s care.

When I asked Forest about ABYC compliance, he forthrightly shared that Hampton makes every effort to comply, particularly for critical systems like electrical and fuel. I pointed out a short list of observations while he dutifully took notes to pass on to the builder.

THE ANCHOR YACHT SALES VALUE

I mentioned earlier the role Anchor Yachts and Forest and Sandy Roberts play, and how very important it is. Having known them for several years I’ve been afforded unique insight into just what this means. Take, for example, Forest’s insistence that, at Anchor’s expense, every new vessel’s engines are fully checked out and sea-trialed by a dealer for that engine. Caterpillar calls this a “start-up certification” and it’s done in the buyer’s name, to verify the engines have been installed correctly and in full compliance with the manufacturer’s requirements and to ensure that there will never be an issue over warranty coverage for the owner in the future. This also establishes a detailed baseline for the engines and vessel performance.

Forest is also maniacal about ensuring proper performance, tweaking propellers to ensure that engines turn up to their full rated rpm and typically just a little bit more, taking into account the weight owners will inevitably add. Sandy, who does the decorating for most of the boats sold by Hampton, has the couches, chairs, and mattresses custom made (couches include large, hinged, under-cushion storage areas and the armrest even has a compartment to hold remote controls). The coffee table, which is also custom made for Anchor, is ballasted to prevent it from falling over in heavy seas. Forest and Sandy personally select all of the hardware for the heads, towel racks, toilet paper holders, etc., and Forest installs them. He then labels the Allan Keys used to install them so an owner won’t come across them someday and say, “I wonder what these are for?” Forest and Sandy select and personally deliver to the factory in China, among other parts, every garbage disposal installed on Hamptons sold by Anchor Yachts. They visit every boat during its build process on at least two occasions.

Hamptons sold by Anchor come with everything, from dishes and silverware to linens and towels. Sandy likes to say, “All you need to bring are clothes and food.” Forest is forever tinkering with Hampton designs, recently discussing with me his plans for slightly increasing the depth of the keel and slightly reducing the prop diameter to increase protection for the latter. Looking for better, more reliable, and more economical ways of doing things is his mantra; he refers to himself as the Tucker (the innovative auto manufacturer) of boatbuilding. Toward that end, he has installed a product called Pipe Defender aboard the 620, it’s designed to keep the raw-water portion of the HVAC system free of marine fouling. Forest also replaces the stock dry-exhaust system insulating blankets with a locally made version of his choice, one that he believes fits better and is more durable.

Documentation for the 620 is among the best I’ve seen. Every manufacturer of every component used aboard the vessel is listed, with model and serial numbers as well as all contact information. Anchor also administers and is responsible for all warranty claims—owners need not deal directly with the factory. Additionally, Anchor works as an intermediary with individual equipment manufacturers, from engines to air conditioners, to ensure their customers get the support they need.

The Hampton 620 cruises comfortably and economically at 10–12 knots and, when necessary, can kick up its heels and move along quickly, faster than most weather systems. The features list is a long one indeed, far too long to fully detail in this article, however, the harder I looked, and the more I listened, the more I liked this boat.

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA 63' 10"

LWL 57' 8"

BEAM 17' 4"

DRAFT 5' 1"

DISPLACEMENT 74,900 lb. (dry) 90,000 lb. (wet)

BRIDGE CLEARANCE to top of radar 20' 2" to top of mast 21' 6"

FUEL 1,200 U.S. gal.

WATER 400 U.S. gal.

HOLDING TANK 100 U.S. gal.

GRAY WATER N/A

GENERATOR 23kW Kohler, 15.5kW Kohler

ENGINES 873hp Cat C-18 (as tested); 715hp Cummins QSM 11 (standard)

MAXIMUM SPEED 23–24 knots

CRUISE SPEED 19.5–20.5 knots

RANGE AT CRUISE SPEED 1,100nm at 9 knots, 315nm at 16 knots, 265nm at 19.5 knots

DESIGNER Bottom by Howard Apollonio. Interior by Hampton Yachts/ Anchor Yachts design team.

BUILDER Hampton Yachts, Shanghai China.

BASE PRICE $2,188,800

For more information:

Hampton Yachts USA

3424 Via Oporto, Ste. 208

Newport Beach, CA 92663

949.673.6300

www.hamptonyachts.com

Anchor Yacht Sales

3541 W. State Rd. 84 on Marina Mile

Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312

954.797.0030

www.anchoryt.com

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