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Dream Weavers

by Hinckley Yachts 18 Feb 16:40 UTC

Refit dreams realized at Hinckley Yacht Services © Hinckley Yachts

Hinckley Yacht Services in Stuart, Florida, Refits a 67-foot Power Boat, and in the Process Helps a Couple Realize a Lifelong Goal.

When I first connect with Don and Sharon Jones, they are in Jacksonville, Florida, watching the tide go out along the St. John’s River while lunching at the iconic Chowder Ted’s restaurant. Both are seasoned boat captains. Combined they have decades-long experience navigating global waterways, and Florida is now home base for continued boating adventures and their other serious passion, the Compass Rose Foundation. Given its mission to align educational initiatives with the needs of industries and communities, their non-profit has supported talented tradesmen and women in the marine industry (among other important trades), so they know a thing or two about the ins and outs of boatbuilding.

The art of craftsmanship is the underlying theme to our conversation, which quickly turns to their latest venture – a refit of a 67-foot, custom-built power vessel named Arion. Originally designed by Raymond Hunt and launched at Hinckley’s Maine headquarters in 1995, Arion has been meticulously reimagined by the couple.

The boat’s extensive refit started in 2022, and after receiving delivery of the new and improved Arion last year, the Joneses plan to be on the open water often, even in their 80s. Married since 1979, Sharon and Don have been sailing and boating ever since. Sharon grew up a sailor, Don a power boater. Just a year into their marriage, they attended the Annapolis Boat Show, and while they couldn’t afford a boat built by Hinckley then, they were introduced to the brand.

“I could immediately see that Hinckley was superior quality,” recalls Don of that Annapolis show. “And so, we both cast a covetous eye on Hinckley.”

Fast-forward to 2015. The Joneses bought a trawler in need of repair when they first discovered the Hinckley yard in Stuart, Florida, and have been servicing boats there ever since. So, when they purchased Arion and decided on the refit, it was a no-brainer to have her worked on by the Hinckley Yacht Services Stuart team.

“There only two of these sized power yachts built by Hinckley,” says Sharon. “The original Arion owner had fallen into ill health and passed away. Arion had been donated to Old Dominion University, and she sat there for four years as a cocktail barge. She was in very poor condition. But Don just fell in love with her. And since that show in Annapolis in 1980, he had always wanted to own a Hinckley, so this was our opportunity. We started from top to bottom, and we have replaced everything on that boat accept the two main diesel engines.”

The refit was an exciting and arduous project. Stephanie Robertson, Sr. Service Manager, Hinckley Yacht Services, says, “It was a lifelong dream of theirs to own a boat built by Hinckley. One of the challenges was getting to know the boat, and helping Don and Sharon understand the boat as well.”

The refit process was manifold, executed by 15 skilled craftsmen. New interior flooring and all new lighting were installed. The masts were removed to reduce air draft and help navigate bridges more easily. The hardtop was extended by about two feet, and an enclosure and air-conditioning were added to the flybridge. The coach top was modified, to be utilized as an entertaining space. A six-foot-long storage box was added to the cockpit for fenders and extra shore power chords. “The dock box came out really nicely and looks like it was part of the original build,” says Robertson.

New electronics were installed, as was a motorized Freedom lift for a tender. And interior work included adding a full-size washer and dryer. What’s more, Arion now sports new audio and video equipment, Starlink high-speed internet, and the helm was redesigned to accommodate new electronics — strategically positioned to avoid any glare from the sun.

“We would get together and go over the project at least once a month,” Robertson says. “In the end, seeing it all finished, and then seeing the smiles on their face as they drove away was awesome.”

“Stephanie is one of the major reasons we stayed with the Stuart yard,” Sharon says. “She has done a fantastic job as the project manager. She’s there on the boat with you when you need her. We know her entire team by name and know of their families. It’s that kind of a yard — they’re all waving at us when we come in, and waving at us when we leave.”

As for Arion’s rebirth, Don is most proud of her lines. “I’m no marine architect, but the lines are just captivating,” he says. “Keeping in mind Hinckley’s sailboat history, while it’s a power boat and originally built in 1995, it’s still sleek.”

Sharon points to the paint and varnish as exceptional upgrades yet is most excited about the galley and her ability to easily entertain. “I like to cook, and even more so on the boat because I have more time. Miller, the head of the carpentry department, worked closely with me. We opened up the galley with glass-sliding windows for the bar area. We put in a lovely ceramic tile backsplash and the countertops are quite unique.”

While the couple is aiming to take their annual boating trip to the Bahamas this summer (one they have easily tackled 30 times together), Don recognizes that at 80 years young, future trips may be some of their last. He hopes whoever eventually buys Arion and stewards her into her third chapter shares their reverence for a well-made and well-kept boat. “It may sound corny, but this boat has a soul. We’d like to keep that soul in the right vein for the future.”

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