For a generation of mariners, Hinckley has been a source of national pride—their handcrafted vessels are decked out with a classic style that stands out in oceans and harbors across the world. In his new book, Hinckley Yacts: An American Icon, sailing aficionado Nick Voulgaris III takes readers on a nostalgic journey through 86 years of boatbuilding. T+L sat down with the author for an up-close look at the project.
What inspired you to put this book together?
One of the things I’m passionate about is restoration and I was always in love with the Bermuda 40: It’s the most iconic Hinckley ever built (it’s on the book's cover). As I was taking that boat apart to restore her, I was blown away that after 38 years of active service, it only needed cosmetic upgrades. All the structural integrity was the same as when it was first built, which is why Hinckley has an aura and mystique that no other brand has.
Did you spend a lot of time on the water when you were growing up? How did you grow to love Hinckley yachts?
I grew up sailing on Long Island Sound. My father and I had a boat and we’d spend a month or two on it every summer. He would always take the time to point out Hinckley's in every harbor and did it with such pride—I learned early on that Hinckley has a special place in the yachting world.
What makes Hinckley such an American icon?
They’re still hand-built in Southwest Harbor, Maine. One of the gifts about doing this book was that I got to spend so much time with the men and women who build these boats. They’re all about buying American products and their own personal craftsmanship. Most of Hinckley’s competition today is made overseas in China or Taiwan. It’s really neat that since 1928, Hinckley has been producing these boats in Maine. Some of the craftsmen have been with Hinckley for over 30 years. They’re so passionate and devoted; they have that continuity.
What did you learn about Hinckley that you didn’t know before?
One of the most fascinating things I discovered is that Hinckley built around 500 boats for the U.S. government during World War II. You think of the brand—beautiful, classic sailing yachts and iconic picnic boats—and you'd never think that they also made utilitarian war boats. Because they had to enhance the factory and get new machinery to fill orders, they were incredibly positioned to build superior, high-quality yachts that their competition was not after the war.
How were you able to get celebrities to contribute to the book (David Rockefeller wrote the foreword)?
Hinckley evokes an emotion in both owners and admirers like no other yacht builder. It was very easy for me to reach out to certain people to participate in the book. David Rockefeller and Martha Stewart love Hinckley. Rockefeller has been a customer for over 50 years; he can afford any boat in the world but he chooses Hinckley even though they’re very modest in size. They’re not some 200-foot yacht you’d expect a billionaire to have. They’re handsome, they’re elegant, they’re classic.
Nate Story is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.