The Hunter Experience

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Please Note:
1.) I have written this to help anyone interested in purchasing any boat. There are many problems I have encountered that you can avoid by taking them into consideration prior to purchasing a vessel. I highly recommend a purchase agreement that fully details the delivery of your vessel, and spells out what happens if the dealer fails to do so. Make sure this document is listed on the sales contract as a term and condition of the sale.

2.)I will start with an apology for the length of this thread. There is so much information, but I will keep it as brief as possible.

3.)I have attempted my best to do nothing more than list facts. I am very personally involved, but I’ve tried not to let that color my description. I apologize for the times I have failed in this attempt.

I have owned two Hunter Marine products in the past. I found both of these boats to be well laid out, thought through, and decently constructed vessels. They were by no means a Swan or Hinckley, but they offered a great value for a relatively low price and maintained a more than acceptable level of quality.

My third and last Hunter purchase was a 2009 Hunter 33. This boat has without a doubt been the poorest designed and built vessel I have ever owned. I have been paying to store and insure it now for more than six months, and have not had a single day aboard where everything has worked. I have received very little help from the dealership or the manufacturer to correct all of the defects with this vessel. I will start my story with the delivery of the boat:

On March 27th 2009 I was informed that the boat would be launched the next day, and that the facility Racine Riverside Marine selected for commissioning the boat did not provide an in-water area. I was told that I would have to supply a slip for them to finish putting the boat together. I was also asked to arrange transportation for the setup crew to return to their car at the other marina. I asked them to have one person drive the boat and one to drive the car.

The next day, the boat was moved to my slip. I was told that the boat was complete and delivered. I asked about a few specific systems and was told that everything was checked and working properly. I was also told that I needed to have the propane tank purged and filled because the one gas station they tried to have it filled at wasn’t selling propane that day. They also apologized for not cleaning the boat, giving me the excuse that they couldn’t bring a garden hose on the airplane. I asked about the engine alignment as the boat was only in the water for a couple of hours. I was told that as long as it didn’t make funny noises, it was fine. I was not given an opportunity to check out any of the systems myself, and I was not given an opportunity to sea trial the vessel.

After they left, I called Steve Paulson (my salesman) to inform him that I was very unhappy about the condition the boat was delivered in. I also asked about the inflatable dinghy I ordered to come with the boat. Steve asked me, “Well, when do you need it?” I told him that I paid for it almost a month ago, and I would need it as soon as possible. I quickly started to check out my new boat. I started at the bow and found that the anchor windlass would drop the anchor, but would get jammed every foot or so as it brought in the line. I also found that the refrigerator was not cooling, and the light would not come on. I checked the circuit breakers, and the refrigerator breaker was in as it should be. In frustration, I left the boat and headed home.

Monday March 30 I returned to the boat to create a list of all the problems that needed to be fixed. Many of them as simple as the commissioning crew didn’t bother to put a screw in place, but left it in a cup holder. Here is a list of what I found:
1. The entire boat is covered with dirt inside and out including wire shards on interior cushions.
2.The windlass does not work
3.The spinnaker halyard chase line was broke while the sails were being installed
4.The engine was never aligned by the manufacturer’s procedure
5.The refrigerator is not functioning at all
6.None of the LPG systems were checked, as the tank was not filled
7.I was recommended to purchase a c-map chip that the chart plotter installed won’t read
8.The air conditioning has very little airflow and does not cool the cabin (77deg with a 79deg outside temp, 81 with an 88 deg outside temp)
9.The stern rail seats are not screwed in place
10.The steering pedalstool guard is not screwed in place
11.Many cabinets not aligned / opening or closing properly
12.I was told that I needed to adjust the autopilot because it was too windy to do it that day
13.The mainsheet was installed by looping through the splice instead of using a shackle (see picture)
14.The cabin floorboards are warped and not aligned
15.Small wire fragments were left all over the interior
16.Many manuals for optional equipment are missing
17.NO Paperwork was provided at the time of delivery (No Bill of sale, MSO, etc.)


On April 6, I met with a local marine mechanic who was hired by Racine Riverside Marine to fix all of the problems caused by the poor commissioning and delivery, as well as the design flaws with the boat. He first looked at the windlass and informed me that the mounting position and anchor locker design didn’t meet the manufacturer specifications for the windlass and it would never work properly. We worked together on some rigging problems, and just finishing up the majority of items simply missed by Racine Riverside during setup. We found that the refrigerator was simply not connected electrically. This really frustrated me as I was told that all the systems were checked. The greatest amount of time he was aboard, he spent properly aligning the engine to the propeller shaft. Apparently it was way out of tolerance. He was never happy with the amount of shaft movement and mentioned that Racine Riverside had problems installing the propeller. He believes that the propeller may be out of balance.


What do you think? 3 maybe 4 tacks before this line chafes through? How hokey can you get?

When I finally received paperwork on the sale, it didn’t even include the bill of sale required for Coast Guard documentation. It did however include a check for me to pay their sales tax to the state of Florida. I already paid my sales tax as part of the sales contract, and I couldn’t believe that Racine Riverside expected me to stand in line at the county courthouse to pay the taxes they owed to the state of Florida. I’m going to deviate from the time line a little to continue the story on the tax check. When I went to register the boat, and pay Racine Riverside’s taxes, the check they wrote me was about a thousand dollars short of what they collected from me in the sales contract. I called Racine Riverside while I was in line at the courthouse, and they faxed a new sales contract to make the tax amount correct. I registered the boat, and asked about the difference in the money I paid. The dealership couldn’t understand why I had a problem with this. Brad Strand at Racine Riverside only called and provided the correct tax to Florida and refunded me the difference after I told him I would be contacting the state attorney general’s office.

On April 7 I received an email from Brad that my dinghy and motor were finally on their way. I received another email on April 8 telling me that the dinghy shipped yesterday. On April 9 I received a phone call that the dinghy manufacturer was moving their shipping department and that it would be closed for the next two weeks. I don’t understand how the dinghy shipped on April 7, but now it can’t get shipped until the 14th. I was also disappointed that I paid for the dinghy and motor more than a month ago and they were just now ordering it and finding out that it would be a couple of weeks before it could be shipped. Had Racine Riverside ordered the dinghy when I paid for it, it would have arrived with or before the primary vessel.

I also received two of the missing manuals from Brad. The first manual he sent was for a marine air brand air conditioner (I have a pompanette air system installed). The other manual he sent was for the Raymarine C-80 chart plotter. This manual had chewed edges and dog-eared and worn pages. Both manuals were covered with mold and smelled like they were stored in a bilge for years. I could not believe this was how Racine Riverside Marine chose to treat their new boat customers.

On Monday April 13th someone came out and recharged the Freon in the air conditioner. This helped a little, but not much. The cabin was still hot with relatively low outside air temperatures. Since the beginning of March when I signed the contract on the boat I have been asking about the incentive from hunter to reimburse loan payments until September 1, 2009. Today, I finally found out who at Hunter I needed to give my loan information to. There is information forthcoming on this incentive.

The next day a little more work was done on board by the local contractor. Brad Strand from Racine Riverside showed up to “finish” delivery. He told me that Hunter was going to send a fiberglass guy to adjust the anchor locker for the windlass.

The next day, Brad brought an AB inflatable dinghy that I reluctantly agreed to replace the dinghy that I ordered. I wasn’t willing to wait several months after paying for the dinghy to receive it. With the new dinghy, I insisted on a larger outboard motor. Brad promised to ship the new motor later. A company representative from Pompanette Air also came to the boat today. He noted that both the high pressure and low pressure Freon caps on the system were not the caps that the unit was shipped with. He also noted that a remote temperature sensor that was needed for the unit to work properly was not installed. He installed the temperature sensor, and the air conditioner worked much better, but was still not cooling the cabin more than 10 degrees below outside air temperature.

It was Thursday April 16 when we took the boat out for my “sea trial” even though many systems aboard still did not work properly. On the “sea trial”, I found that the ST-60 Wind instrument was not working either. Upon our return I stated very clearly that I did not consider the boat having been delivered in working order and that many problems still existed. Brad left the next day with several items on the boat still not working properly. He assured me that they would be taken care of.

Anytime I mentioned to Brad that I did not feel I should have to pay to store, insure, and keep the hull clean on the vessel until the boat is working properly, he has responded that the boat is sailable. The reality is that I could have spent less than $1,000 to buy a boat that is just sailable. I spent a lot of money on a new boat so that it would work properly. I have also been told that the “upgraded” dinghy and motor more than paid for the deficiencies in delivery of the vessel.

On April 25, the outboard motor for the dinghy finally arrived. I opened the box and the engine hood was severely damaged. (see picture) I called Racine Riverside Marine, and they told me to use the hood from the smaller engine that they originally sent. When I told them that I wanted the proper engine hood, they sent one out, but it was from a power tilt model, so I still don’t have the proper engine hood. It’s just a small detail, but the kind of thing you expect to be correct when you spend more than $150,000.00 for a boat.


April 30, the fiberglass guy from Hunter came and worked on the anchor locker. He widened the channel leading from the windlass to the anchor locker. When he was finished, the windlass still piled up the anchor rode and jammed. Also, when he was done, the anchor locker hatch would not close because it was hitting the windlass. His solution was to sand the hole that the windlass sits in larger. To this day, the cover has to be stood on to close, and the windlass rubs on the cover anytime it is operated. On May 13, I received a new anchor rode that was supposed to work correctly. It did not. A few weeks later, I received an all chain rode as the windlass was feeding the chain better than the line. Even with an all chain rode, the shape and size of the anchor locker causes the rode to stack up and it jams the windlass.

By mid-June, I had not yet received any loan payment reimbursements from Hunter. I had made several calls inquiring about this. On June 22 I received a call that disturbed me greatly. The call was from Hunter Marine and I was told that due to the hard economic times the financial department was not making any outgoing payments that were not directly related to building boats. In just a few more days they would be 4 payments behind reimbursing me. I contacted the Florida State Attorney General’s office. On the 24th I received another call that Hunter would be sending two of the payments they owe me. When I received these payments, they were invoiced as April and May Payments. My loan payments started in March, and I believe Hunter is trying to avoid making this payment. A few weeks later I received a payment invoiced as June. I have not seen another payment since. I am still owed a payment for March, July, and August. I would highly suggest any factory incentives you are promised from the manufacturer you should get up front. In tough economic times Hunter Marine will simply not make payments that they promised to make when they sell the boat.
Did you buy this boat through Racine Marine? If so, they as the broker are responsible for delivering the boat in sail away condition. Normally when you purchase a boat you make an offer subject to an acceptable survey, financing, and sea trial. If any of these can't be undertaken or the results are unacceptable then the deal is off or open to re-negotiation. It may seem unnecessary, but even a brand new boat should be surveyed. Racine marine has dropped the ball here and perhaps you should consult with a lawyer with a view to unloading this boat and recouping all your money. It sounds like this boat even though it is new may two bit you to death, and give you little cause to be happy with your purchase. You might think seriously about writing articles to all the yacht publications in your area, just as you have done to this forum letting everyone know about your bad experience. I would be looking at just about any yacht on the market before I would consider a Hunter. Good Luck