With more than 600 launched, the Hatteras 53 is one of the most successful yacht designs ever built; PowerBoat Guide sums it up nicely by saying, "Some designs succeed so well in the marketplace that they earn the distinction of being industry classics. Such is the Jack Hargrave-designed Hatteras 53. Launched in 1969, she quickly became the standard by which other motor yachts were measured; two decades in production, she's still a popular yacht whose comfortable ride and generous accommodations have seldom been equalled". And both Motor Boating and Yachting magazines include the Hattie 53 on their lists of the 12 best designs of all time; they note respectively that the "spacious and comfortable Hatteras 53 is a true classic with ageless lines and a seaworthy hull" and "Jack Hargrave is at his best on the Hatteras 53".
This particular Extended Deckhouse example has been EXTENSIVELY MODIFIED to optimize a couple living on board--the original forward stateroom is now a walk-in pantry (with a washer/dryer, of course!), the guest stateroom was totally redone and is now a lady's sitting room, and the guest head shower was combined with the master stateroom shower to make a singe REALLY BIG shower, so Laissez Faire is in effect a single stateroom yacht (but the sitting room is easily converted back into a guest stateroom).
This work was done over the last 10 years or so to the tune of almost $800,000, you get a sense of this from the numerous pictures posted here but the boat really must be seen to be appreciated. Note that this is the Extended Deckhouse model, which offers a beam-to-beam salon, and combined with the fully enclosed flybridge deck this vessel is amazingly spacious for a 53 footer.
Machinery just serviced (late June 2020) and bottom painted November 2018.
Also note that she's lying in a downtown Sausalito slip that's potentially transferable; it's become impossible to find a slip of this size here so this is a material benefit if you're able to take advantage...
Board amidship port or starboard thru sliding doors into lower steering station from which aft to full beam salon, up custom staircase (not a ladder, a STAIRCASE!) to fully enclosed flybridge or down forward to galley and walk-in pantry. Salon is beam-to-beam (the hallmark of the Extended Deckhouse configuration) with comfortable sofa and easy chair starboard, built in desk, work table port and wine rack ports, out aft centerline wing doors to enclosed aft deck.
Forward starboard side of salon thru helm area and down curved stairs to totally renovated galley port side with redone dinette opposite to starboard. Forward from galley to walk-in pantry with day head.
Aft from galley thru companionway with stand up engine access thru wing doors either side, custom lady's sitting room port side with ENORMOUS custom stall shower starboard and full beam master stateroom far aft. Master stateroom features queen sized berth and private ensuite head.
Note interior has been extensively remodeled (this is probably one of the most customized production boats you'll ever see) and shows very well, 6'6 headroom throughout most of vessel.
Totally redone galley with Bosch glass cooktop and oven, full size refrigerator in galley with separate freezer in the walk-in pantry forward of tthe galley, deep stainless steel sink with hot/cold pressure water and garbage disposal Bosch dishwasher.
Two Raritan vacuum toilets aft (one forward of and one aft of the walk-in shower) plus day head in the pantry (again,forward of galley).
Bosch washer and dryer.
110/220V AC / 12/32V DC. Thirty and 50 amp shorepower service connectors, 20kW Onan genset (2,760 hours).
Garmin GPS, Simrad autopilot, Datamarine depth sounder, Furuno depth sounder, Danforth magnetic compass. Sonos audio/visual system with KVH active tracking system and 43" flatscreen TV in salon, 24" in galley.
Single chine solid hand laid fiberglass hull with balsa cored sides and decks, fully enclosed flybridge. Boat just hauled and bottom painted October 2018.
Bow anchor pulpit with Galley Maid vertical electrical windlass with 300' of chain, Danforth anchor in roller.
Twin 450 hp fresh water cooled Detroit Diesel 8V-71TIs (turbo charged and intercooled) with full instrumentation and Racor filters, both engines have had the heat exchangers replaced and were last serviced in June 2020.
My view of why this yacht was so popular is a combination of excellent quality, good design, and a fair price. It certainly didn't have anything to do with performance because it is a relatively poor performer. Coming in at a whopping 55,000 lbs. in its original version, you need 1600 HP or more to move this yacht at the kind of speeds people like to have today. Instead, you're only going to get 850 from a pair of 8V71's or 924 from the 6V92's found only in the 1983-84 models of the motor yacht. In all the years of its production, the weight never changed much.
The hulls and superstructure are built like a tank with the bottoms about an inch thick with balsa cored sides and decks. The coring is rarely a problem unless someone has drilled the decks full of holes and improperly attached equipment. Quite often you'll find that the pedestal seats on the sport fish bridge have let water into the core, and this will be notable from water dripping out of the aft housetop overhand in the outboard corners. Or you'll see green mold, water stains or cracks here. And, of course, you'll probably find the famous Hatteras blisters on the bottom, but with laminates this thick, who really cares?
Speed wise, you could only describe these boats as doggy if you're a speed freak. If you want to cruise at 20 knots or better, these boats aren't for you. They're just too heavy to make them go any faster. People have managed to squeeze another two knots out of the 53 convertible by adding 3-4" chine extensions, and a lot of them have them.
All things considered, these are first rate production motor yachts, although you'll find the electrical systems problematic in the North American Rockwell boats from the second half of the 1970's. Other than that, these boats have no major problems. Nor should they after Hatteras had the better part of 20 years to work out the bugs! That's the advantage of long-term production.
Leaking windows in these boats were not much of a problem except for the Convertible front windshields, many of which have been removed and filled in. The anodized frames don't last forever and a lot of them will have holes in them which can be repaired in most cases by just welding up the pitted holes. This happens because nobody ever bothers to clean out the salt and debris from the bottom of the slide tracks.
All models have dual control stations, so you don't have to look around for this feature. Another good point for folks in bad weather climates is that visibility from the lower station is quite good.
With her 15'10" beam this is a big 53 footer and the layout takes maximum advantage of that space. Most people love the galley down layout with the dinette opposite which is great for informal meals. And the galley is big enough, and well enough equipped with a full sized Modern Maid range top, oven and dishwasher for the serious chef, while still having adequate counter space as well as plenty of storage space. The owner's stateroom is adequate but the guest stateroom is cramped and many prefer to use the forward crew or guest stateroom instead, despite the upper and lower berths. Heads and shower size is more than adequate.
Seaworthiness? I hear a lot of captains complaining that this isn't a good sea boat. To which I respond, "Compared to what?" A lot of these guys get off multimillion dollar custom yachts and complain how these boats handle. Apples and oranges. These are not designed as passage makers, nor do they have the fuel range. If you want the accommodations that a full bow gives, this is what you get. In my view, it handles okay, and does especially good in a short 3' chop where most folks in this size boat have trouble. The deep entry hull design is one of the reasons she doesn't go so fast. Being built like a tank means that it doesn't bob like a cork. She's a slow roller and she'll throw water like a busted fire hydrant.
Taken altogether, the popularity of this yacht is well deserved.
Article by David Pascoe of D.H Pascoe & Co Inc, Marine Surveyors, Destin, FL.