Hylas 44 Review: The Essense of Hylas Yachts

An updated version after a 7-day offshore delivery of a 44 from Puerto Rico to Fort Lauderdale to refresh my knowledge. This post has been one of my most controversial reviews as I try to be specific about the faults of perhaps my most favorite design.

PDF Flyer (Click To Download)
PDF Flyer (Click To Download)

The 44 is symbolic of Hylas in general. When I think of Hylas, I first think of the 44. She is Queen Long’s most prolific design. Another reason is that she was Jordan Yacht & Ship’s bread and butter in brokerage sales. Anytime during the 1990’s, we would have 2 or 3 in Fort Lauderdale. And if we did not have one for sale that pleased a client, we would check with Dick, and he would have an owner eager to trade up to a 45.5 or 46 Hylas. Queen Long introduced the 42 and 44 German Frers designs in 1985. Before then, they had been producing Kelly Peterson 44/46’s and the Stevens 47. Joseph coupled the Frers 42 and 44 with the Stevens 47 branding them Hylas after a Greek mythological figure. The 44 and 47 became the mainstays of Jachney’s CYC charter fleet. Dick’s influence grew, and he became the sole US importer of Hylas yachts in 1990. Jordan Yachts became a Hylas dealer and the goto brokerage of pre-owned Hylases. John Kretschmer, a Jordan broker, became the head delivery captain of Hylas. He has stolen our thunder with his excellent review of the 44 Hylas. Please see our Hylas Models Page for information about other Hylas models.

First Impressions
As much as I admire the 44, she has become a bit outdated. One of the most dramatic changes of the 46 Hylas was to redesign the trunk cabin of the 44. The 46 has a sleek profile with wide windows which let in much more light and give her a modern look. The sheer is modest with raked bow and classic transom. Your impression will depend slightly on which era you are looking at. The first 13 hulls had a small cockpit that was unsuitable for Caribbean chartering. Queen Long, always a thoughtful builder, quickly enlarged the cockpit. These are semi-custom yachts with many variations including teak or stainless railing. Underneath the 44 has a deep 6’5″ fin keel and skeg hung rudder. There are shoal versions of 5’5″ for the Bahamas. The Hylas specifications are inaccurate from this era and incorrectly list the drafts as 4’11” and 6′. Often manufacturers in their enthusiasm underestimate drafts.

PDF Brochure (Click To Download)
PDF Brochure (Click To Download)

Her fine fit and finish is a result of the exceptional quality of the Queen Long Yard, where the Hylas yachts are built. The hulls are solid hand laminated reinforced fiberglass. The yard is arguably Taiwan’s finest. As Kretschmer notes, Queen Long went back and forth between balsa and Airex cored decks. The tanks are stainless steel and vary in capacity. A common arrangment is 3 fuel for 100, 2 water for 100, and 2 holding tanks. Sloop rigs are most common, but cutters exist. The rig is by Forespar. All the bulkheads and structural members are tabbed to the hull and deck. The rudder is foam with a 2 1/4″ stainless rudderpost. The prop shaft is 1 1/2″. The keel has external lead ballast mounted on a fiberglass stub. The chainplates are internal – encased in fiberglass and tied into stainless steel I-beams. She is massively constructed beyond all reasonable standards.

What To Look For
Most important is the engine. The 44’s only flaw was her Westerbeke 70 HP engine. This engine has a poor reputation among Hylas old timers due to the high relative expense, difficulty of finding parts for W70’s (and more generally many Westerbekes), and lack of qualified mechanics. Thankfully, most had either a Perkins 4-108 or a Yanmar 55HP. The Perkins 4108 will spin like a top until 20,000 hours if taken proper care off. High engine hours are a concern but should not necessarily rule out a top notch Hylas 44. Watch for whether the 44 is one of the first 13 hulls. Some early models have a starboard side offset berth aft instead of the prized centerline queen.

Shoal scheel keel versions of 5′ 5″ are more valuable because of the restrictive draft of the Bahamas. Usually, we note 6′ as the cutoff for a Bahamable boat. But be careful because most of the shoal versions were once CYC bareboats which tended to see heavier use by sometimes less experienced sailors though CYC did an exceptional job in maintaining the fleet. I have been impressed by the quality service groups involved in Hylas yachts. An easy way to tell is to look in the cockpit. If you do not see a Hylas logo, then more likely than not, that 44 was a CYC charter yacht. Eyebrows along the cabintrunk can be another hint.

On Deck
The cockpit of the first 13 are small while the late model 44’s have more normal cockpits though still small compared to today and with shallow seatbacks. The center cockpit provides excellent visibility while underway and is spacious while relaxing at anchor. A non-skid surface is molded into the deck which provides great traction. The chainlocker is not accessible from deck unlike the 46. She is easy to maneuver around and safe with hip high stanchions. There are three large lazarrettes aft, one of which that holds the propane tankage.

Hylas 44 Layout
Hylas 44 Layout

Down Below
The Hylas 44’s interior is surrounded by warm teak wood. These are semi-custom boats which may have different layouts. The standard layout includes a berth forwardmost, head just aft portside, saloon amidships, and master aft stateroom with centerline queen. Both the forward and aft staterooms have large double berths and private heads. The forward stateroom features an offset double berth, hanging lockers and drawers. The guest head has access from either the forward stateroom or the main salon. Down is the main salon featuring full headroom, one fixed and one convertible settee with a centerline custom leaf table. German Frers’ dual walkthrough opens up the interior. The galley is located on the starboard passageway and the navigation station is opposite. The master suite has a centerline queen berth, a private head with a separate shower stall, ample locker and drawer space. The fourteen opening ports and seven hatches provide ample ventilation. Some early hulls had an offset starboardside berth instead of the centerline queen.

The engines were the Westerbeke 70 HP, Perkins 4-108, and Yanmar 55 HP in that chronological order. Thankfully, relatively few have Westerbekes. These rare W70’s require more expensive parts which are hard to find with few qualified diesel mechanics. The difficulty increases the further you travel from the US mainland – to the Caribbean or far flung shores. Engine access is below the sinks aft of the saloon and reachable from both sides. There is room for a generator as well.

Alternate Hylas 44 Layout (note offset berth aft)
Alternate Hylas 44 Layout (note offset berth aft)

The Hylas 44 is a high quality German Frers designed cruising yacht that provides exceptional performance. Kretschmer’s best comments are his rebuttals of inaccurate criticisms of the 44. She does not have a tendency to pound. German Frers designed her to sail, and she does. Her fine bow and sharp waves cut through seas. She handles sloppy weather in stride. The only time you have to heave-to is if the crew is fatigued. The lesser heard but valid performance criticism is that she is a wet boat. With her sharp entry, low freeboard, and centercockpit layout, the 44 is one of the wettest boats around. Offshore upwind, a steady stream over water flows over her bow. You will often see 44’s with completely enclosed cockpits.

Hylas made around 80 of the 44 until adding a sugar scoop stern to the hull and calling her the 45.5 in 1991. Hylas now produces a 46 model along the same Frers lines. Hylas 44’s sell for between $150,000 to $200,000 these days depending on whether they were chartered. Air conditioning, generator, in-mast furling, and low engine hours are additional factors that affect the price.

5 Replies to “Hylas 44 Review: The Essense of Hylas Yachts”

  1. Mr. Jordan,
    Why is the Westerbeke 70 the “Kiss of Death”? You state this in your article but you do not give reasons for your statement. Do you have first-hand knowledge of problems with this engine? Please elaborate. Thanks.

  2. Traceback: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f54/westerbeke-70-kiss-of-death-46714.html

    Thanks for the feedback. I apologize for not being specific. I updated the article to include my reasons which are framed in relation the Perkins 4-108 or Yanmar. They are as follows:
    * High relative expensive of parts
    * Low relative availability of parts
    * Lack of qualified mechanics with experience
    The farther away from the USA, the more these problems will affect you.

  3. The criticism that the Hylas 44s in the CYC Charter fleet were …`sailed hard and put away wet…`is not well taken. I chartered  Hylas 44s, 47s 49s and 54s over a period of years from CYC before and after buying a 44 out of there Fleet. I was always struck by amount of care and attention to detail the Staff paid to maintenance and upkeep of the boats . If anything they seemed at times to have an over large maintenance crew feverishly working on the upkeep of the boats. Additionally, many of the improvements and modifications to the Hylas yachts appeared to me to have originated with the maintenance people. I sold my Swan 51 some years ago but still have the Hylas 44 which has held up well and remains a great sailing boat. Oliver Burt, West Palm Beach.

  4. Oliver: Thanks for the comment. I think I must of been in controversial mood when I wrote this one. A better write-up might be the chartered ones saw heavier not so much lax maintenance by the CYC. And these days 20-odd years later it does not factor in so much. Good to hear from you, Richard

  5. I owned a Hylass 44 for about 6 years. It had the Westerbeke engine and  had a lot of vibration that we could never fix.  AND my brother (and boat partner) is a professional diesel mechanic. We had a bunch of other mechanics look as well to no avail. If we had kept the boat we probably would have ended up re-powering it.  

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