Most boaters know Hinckley as a builder of classically styled, seriously seaworthy, custom motor and sailing yachts. And they aren’t wrong. The 85 year-old Maine company redefined what a jet boat could be with its iconic Picnic Boat, for which it retains a spirited following, and its sailboats, which are among the most beautiful recreational vessels on the water.
But did you know that Hinckley also owns and operates eight boat service and marina locations spanning the U.S. eastern seaboard? Yes, sir. And what’s more, you don’t have to be a Hinckley owner to use one. Heck, you don’t even have to like Hinckleys to use one (but don’t tell them I said so).
“Hinckley Yachts started as a full-service boatyard in 1928 in Southwest Harbor, Maine, so our history of repairing and maintaining boats has always been a legacy of the brand,” said Chief Operating Officer Mike Arieta.
The company quietly operated for 70 years on Mount Desert Island, ME, where Southwest Harbor is located, carving a reputation as an elite boat builder and selling its award-winning creations to owners around the globe. Then, about 15 years ago, it bought a competitive brand — Little Harbor Yachts — and assumed control of its boatyard in Portsmouth, R.I.
“We let [Little Harbor] fade away and concentrated on our boats,” said Arieta, “but what really turned out to interest us from a business standpoint was the facility they had.”
The additional yard allowed Hinckley to expand service to its owners in another area where they tended to congregate, and its success quickly became a catalyst for a new strategy. “In three to five years, we acquired four other locations on the East Coast,” said Arieta.
you don’t have to be a Hinckley owner to use one
The Hinckley portfolio now includes service facilities in Southwest Harbor and Portsmouth, as well as in Mantoloking, N.J.; Annapolis and Oxford, Md.; Savannah, Ga.; and Stuart and Naples, Fla.
“The business model is such that we try to locate facilities where we have owners. We have a zeal for servicing our owners that a lot of builders don’t,” said Arieta, explaining that it’s all part of the relationship the owner enters into when they decide to build a boat with Hinckley. “But, in reality, the majority of work we do is for owners of non-Hinckley yachts.”
According to Arieta, the quality of the service experience, and of the work itself, are the distinguishing traits of a Hinckley facility. “Our service managers are wired to communicate and keep the customer apprised of their project,” he said. “They’re very knowledgeable folks, known for having a practical and experienced approach.
“I also think we retain the best trained tradesmen because we provide the best compensation and value their work and commitment. The result is that the work we do is more on time, more on budget and higher quality than other yards.”
While specialties can vary based on geography and boating lifestyle, most of Hinckley’s service locations offer capabilities that include paint/fiberglass/gelcoat, engine/generator, machinery, varnish, carpentry, fabric/upholstery, heating/cooling, mechanical/hydraulic, and mast and rigging. Refitting and renovations are also a focus, with the “sweet spot” being vessels falling between 30 and 100 feet in length, power or sail.
“Our overall goal is to provide value based on the high standards of workmanship and professionalism that Hinckley represents,” said Arieta, “no matter if you’re a Hinckley owner or not.”
HINCKLEY’S SOUTHEAST FACILITIES
Minutes from historic downtown Annapolis, this boatyard on Whitehall Creek offers Hinckley and non-Hinckley owners a complete portfolio of essential yacht services. No marina facilities.
The Hinckley yard in Oxford, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has served boaters for nearly a decade. There’s a marina with seasonal dockage and storage, and a full range of yacht services.
It’s located on the Intracoastal Waterway at Thunderbolt, Ga., four miles from Savannah’s Historic District and with easy access to open ocean. The boatyard and marina here serve boaters with a complete range of yacht services.
Hinckley’s biggest yard and marina is in Manatee Pocket, a destination renowned for its sport fishing and “old Florida” feel. It has developed a reputation for superior marine carpentry, fiberglass, hull and engine repair work.
A mobile service team in Naples brings Hinckley’s premium service to Florida’s west coast, from Tampa to Marco Island. No brick-and-mortar facility means no haul-out or painting, but it does offer mechanical, electrical and varnish capabilities.