Boating is ultimately about experiences. Slipping through a harbor without the noise and, more noticeably, without vibration from idling diesels is certainly a unique experience aboard powerboats. But electric handling is just a small part of what makes the Huckins Hybrid Sportsman 38 a couple’s cruiser for the 21st century.
Let’s start where cruisers spend their time. The helm deck is enclosed on three sides by a large windshield and side windows, while stout stainless-steel stanchions—styled from a prewar vintage Huckins Sportsman—support the cabin top’s aft corners. The result feels like an open bridge but also keeps crew dry. Farther aft, cockpit seating wraps around the stowable mahogany folding-leaf table, where an electric retractable awning provides shade.
Huckins opens up belowdecks accommodations too—literally. The entire dash opposite the helm opens 5 feet wide, adjoining the helm deck to the galley below. When cruising doublehanded, that makes summoning extra hands or eyes a snap. Open-concept accommodations below amplify usable space and also serve triple duty. By pressing a switch, the island queen bed splits into a traditional V-berth. Press it again to raise a table from the sole, creating an ample dinette—one space for multiple uses.
While other boats offer a bow-to-stern open layout, none currently include 33 kilowatt-hours of stored lithium energy. Hybrid propulsion and AC generation aren’t just “green” and eco-friendly; they elevate cruising experiences overall.
Twist two keys and throw two switches to alternate between either Cummins diesels or Elco electric propulsion. Both utilize the same Glendinning shift and throttle levers and docking joystick. All-electric docking is whisper-quiet in gear and silent in neutral, and also enhances control. Idling at 600 rpm, diesel engines turn propellers 333 rpm. At that same dead-idle shift-lever position, electric motors turn those same propellers just 200 rpm—in short, electric propulsion adds one-third more precision to close-quarters maneuvering. With electric motors cranked to their maximum, propellers provide the same oomph as diesels turning 840 rpm. In my trials, electric propulsion brought the bow into a steady 20-knot breeze just fine. At-the-ready diesel docking provides more power.
Focusing on electric propulsion misses other hybrid-unique experiences. For example, sear fresh-caught ahi on the cockpit grill while sipping perfectly chilled sauvignon blanc, watching the sunset, and listening to wavelets lap the hull rather than a genset’s steady drone. Propulsion batteries fuel an 8 kW inverter that handles household-current systems for well more than 24 hours—including that electric grill, adjacent wine chiller, and even overnight air conditioning. Batteries about two-thirds depleted by two hours running at 6 mph, or five hours drawing from the inverter at 50 percent load, recharge in about three hours while running at displacement speed on diesels, or the same three hours from dockside power or the generator.