Hunter sailboats have remained extremely popular through the years, and one that remains of interest to today’s sailors is the 456. It’s a large, comfortable boat that’s easily managed by two and has all the creature comforts of home.
Design & Construction
The Hunter 456 is a moderate displacement design with a modern underbody featuring a bolted-on antimonial lead keel and a spade rudder. Construction was a standard vacuum-bagged infusion, but Hunter added extra strength by laminating a Kevlar reinforcement into the hull from the bow to the keel sump, where collisions are most likely to cause damage.
The hull-to-deck joint is an external flange, through-bolted on 8” centers and bonded with 3M 5200 on the seam. An extra bit of epoxy is added at the chainplates. A high-density vinyl rubrail is wrapped 360 degrees around the boat for added protection. That comes in handy when tying up to rough pilings, especially when wind and current are pushing at the boat during docking.
Cockpit, Deck & Rigging
Boarding from the dock or the dinghy is easy due to the low, wide swim-step and gradual steps up to deck level. Enormous transom hatches to port and starboard stow everything from lines, to fenders, to the AC cord, as well as creating nice seats for putting on snorkeling gear or chatting with those in the water.
Up top, the aft deck is expansive and with the removable cushion, makes a nice sunpad. The stainless-steel arch that Hunters are known for comes in handy for a variety of things beyond providing an attachment point for the traveler and allowing for end-boom sheeting. It also makes a great handhold that nearly spans the beam of the boat, and it holds a Bimini. The cockpit coaming is fairly low, which makes it easy to enter and exit the cockpit, and the pedestal has room for the installation of electronics. The instruments are forward along the offset companionway hatch, along with a halyard winch to starboard.
The decks are wide and clear and easy to negotiate all the way forward, where an opening anchor locker houses the windlass and lets the chain drop down quickly and easily without much worry about it piling up. The bow-roller protrudes quite a distance beyond the stem and pushes the anchor well away from both the roller furling and the bow.