Hunter Marine often has been the large production builder closest to the boating publics pulse. They are responsible for many innovations such as the near famous stern perch seats, lighter, airy interiors and big comfortable cockpits to name a few. When they arent the innovator, they are quick to add good ideas.
The Hunter 336 incorporates most of the recent innovations. I sailed this boat with Dave Nagler, Director of Fox River Marinas Sailing School, on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Fox River Marina and Florida Yacht Charters are owned by the Williams family who have been in the marine business for over 25 years. Lake Winnebago is the largest lake contained within Wisconsin with approximately 150 square miles of sailable area.
Dave and I took the 336 out from Fox River Marinas Fox River location where we immediately got to test the 27 horsepower Yanmar diesel in 2 to 3 knots of current while we waited for the drawbridge to open. The engine is smooth, relatively quiet and easily powers the boat to hull speed at about half throttle.
It was a beautiful, sunny, light wind day as we motored the short distance down river past numerous boat houses, cottages, sand beaches and finally the lighthouse marking the Fox River which used to be used for navigation all the way out to Lake Michigan. The locks have been inoperative for about a decade now. As we entered the main lake I was impressed by how far away over the horizon the far shore was. This is a big, relatively shallow lake. With 3 to 5 knots of true wind I wondered if the Hunter 336 would sail at all.
We raised the large full roach, full-batten mainsail easily and unfurled the genoa. The boat powered-up and sailed between 2.5 and 3 knots in the light stuff. After taking and jibing a couple of times we noticed some dark wavelets off to the east and sailed for the new wind. Here the breeze was a little stronger, 5 to 8 knots true and the boat really took off. The fractional rig points pretty well. We were around the high 30s to 40 degrees apparent even in the very light stuff. The power is in the main. Since the spreaders are angled aft to eliminate the backstay, vang trimming for good sail shape is essential. The main also has lazyjacks which make it easy to take the main down or reef it with only one other person aboard. Hunter has made this boat easy to handle by a couple and single handling should be easy as well.
The Hunter 336 has a large comfortable cockpit. It is nearly round and seats six to eight. It has been designed for comfort and ease of use with higher back rests, a built-in table off the pedestal, stern rail seats and a walk through transom for ease of boarding. The transom has two storage lockers, a stainless steel swim ladder with steps, a rubrail for protection for dinghy access and a transom shower. A line locker in front of the companionway helps keep the cockpit neat underway. The short traveler mounted in front of the wheel doesnt give you a whole lot in the way of trim but it certainly is easy to reach the main sheet from the helm or cockpit.
The deck is cleared of most working lines or sheets by running the lines from the mast under a bridgedeck and back to the cockpit. Most of the maintenance work above decks is minimized by stainless steel handrails.
Like all modern Hunters, the Hunter 336 has a light, airy look and feel. The 336 comes in two layouts to fit the boat owners needs. The first has a large open salon with a full wrap around settee and open forward V-berth with curtains. This is designed for folks who only occasionally have sleep over guests. It is ideal for entertaining below. The second layout below offers an enclosed forward stateroom for family or friends. This second version is preferred by several charter companies. There are a fair amount of teak and ash accents below.
I look at a galley and want to know if I can reach everything, store enough things and clean up in a reasonable manner. Ive talked with several women who are considerably more discriminating about the galley. They like the Hunters. Twin sinks are covered with cutting boards with a separate drain board. The icebox includes a hydraulic assist to keep it open while searching below. Built in dish rack, glasses and cup holders are all little features which bring smiles to the users.
The aft cabin features an extra-wide queen size berth, hanging locker and plenty of storage. The cockpit design is utilized in the aft cabin layout to give more headroom.
Hunter Marine is constantly refining their products. They are innovative and often adapt quickly what they dont invent. They seem to be experts in packaging all the standard things you might want from roller furling to dishes which allows them to buy in volume. They are one of the best at hitting price points on their boats which draw sailors to new boats. The Hunter 336 offers a lot of size and amenities for the dollar in a mid-sized coastal cruiser.
Thom Burns publishes Northern Breezes.
For further info:
Fox River Marina, Inc., Oshkosh, WI: 414-236-4220;
Hunter Marine Corporation: 800-771-5556;
Pughes On Erie: 414-636-8020.
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