Hinckley describes their latest 40-foot model as “a fresh recipe for the classic Picnic.” Indeed, it’s a timeless recipe that has been copied often—so much so that the picnic boat moniker has become a generic design reference—kind of like calling facial tissue Kleenex. Although Hinckley launched their first picnic boat 25 years ago, the company still seems to be finding new ways to freshen up the aesthetic and turn out new and evermore surprising versions that take the brand to new levels, which others strive to emulate. Come aboard with us as we had a chance to explore this new model at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show:


At first glance the design may be reminiscent of hulls from decades ago but there’s nothing old fashioned about the new Picnic Boat 40. TriGuard epoxy construction with aramid fibers and e-glass forms a durable outer skin while carbon fiber forms the inner layer. This combination is cored with Corecell foam and then infused and post-cured with resin for a lightweight but strong finish. This construction helps to keep the hull solid in snotty seas but light for better fuel efficiency. Confidence in the build is clearly communicated by the fact that the company guarantees the hull and deck for life.

The lines of the 40 are pure Hinckley. An elegant sheer line flows smoothly from the high bow aft to the low transom. The beam is just under 13 feet so the Picnic Boat 40 isn’t overly wide and with her 2’ 2” draft, she can get into shallow waters where other fear to float.

Hinckley Picnic Boat 40

According to Hinckley, the Picnic Boat 40 design has a focus on advanced composite materials and dry-laid single bond epoxy infusion that results in a yacht of tremendous strength, seaworthiness and beauty.

The current aesthetics of the boat stay loyal to the Hinckley brand. The signature toe rail and acres of brightwork welcome the visitor. With round cabin ports, a full bow, tapered transom and narrow sidedecks, the Picnic Boat 40 is unmistakable at the dock. Even the hallmark rub strake is present—running forward from the transom to about one quarter of the way along the hull. Everything about the boat is radiused curves and shining surfaces. Stepping aboard is like having arrived.

More than two decades ago, Hinckley’s first picnic boats were powered by jet drives, a truly unusual propulsion option back then. Today, that’s still the case. Twin Hamilton 322 jets are powered by two Cummins QSB 6.7 480 HP diesels. These hefty engines can push the 25,000-pound displacement to 36 knots at the top with a cruising speed in the mid 30-knot range.

Hinckley’s newest version of joystick steering (called their JoyStick) takes the anxiety out of maneuvers in even the tightest of spaces. With military-grade hardware it’s a robust system that builds confidence in new captains. The company’s Dynamic Steering system adjusts steering tension and sensitivity automatically based on the boat’s speed so there’s no danger of throwing the vessel into too tight of a turn by accident.

The on-deck layout has been changed up from the earlier versions where cockpit traffic led right through the middle of the vessel. The new design keeps all the social spaces to port with a clear walkway to starboard. The open cockpit has fore and aft settees positioned athwartships. They make a perfect conversation pit at happy hour. To stay out of the sun or rain, you can extend the SureShade awning or take shelter in the pilothouse at the L-shaped settee and fold-out table also to port. The helm to starboard has a double bench seat with a wet bar behind and there’s a single forward-facing companion seat to port.

Hinckley Picnic Boat 40 interior

On the interior, the completely redesigned layout features a seamless flow from transom to helm, plentiful lounge space, a wet bar, and full sun coverage by SureShade.

The high-gloss finish and plentiful wood accents are entirely on brand with the Maine builder’s character. A traditional teak and holly sole and a Herreshoff-esque mixture of white and varnished wood make up the interior of the pilothouse. It’s a combination that anyone who knows Hinckley will expect.

Although a picnic boat is generally thought of and used for day excursions, the 40 offers accommodations for a couple’s getaway weekend. The dinette in the bow below converts into an extra wide berth and the very large head won’t make anyone feel claustrophobic. There’s even a full galley so there’s no roughing it on overnight adventures. The interior joinery is also pure Hinckley and the wood finish can be either cherry or teak since the 40 is a semi-custom build.

If the Picnic Boat 40 sounds traditional and maybe like something that has been done before, take note: the new vessel is very sophisticated in its systems. Digital switching from CZone controls the lighting, pumps and other systems aboard with just the touch of a button at the helm. There’s no more need for an old-fashioned fuse panel. The retractable sunshade is electric as is the starboard side hull door that opens and slides into the gunwhale. Tucked up here, it doesn’t take up any room in the cockpit but offers great water or dock access. Today’s technology melds with the retro feel of the boat perfectly.

The Hinckley Picnic Boat 40 is an on-target amalgam of old and new. It’s an updated and very tasty recipe to be sure.

See all Hinckley Yachts listings, or read our review on the Hinckley Dasher.

Written by: Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.