1960 Hatteras rescued and refurbished

Published: 11/04/2013

by Tom Serio

Capt. Jimmy O’Neill. PHOTO/TOM SERIO

Thanks to a recent full refurbishing as well as being rescued from a derelict lifestyle in a Panamanian creek back in 1984, the very first Hatteras yacht is back in all her glory at the Hatteras display at the show.

There’s plenty of history that goes along with M/Y Knit Wits, Hatteras’ hull No. 1.

Launched in 1960 by Hatteras founder Willis Slane, Knit Wits was named after Slane’s investors from the local textile industry in North Carolina. This 41-footer is believed to be the first boat over 30 feet constructed of fiberglass, and her success paved the way for production fiberglass boat building in America.

Used as a Hatteras demo boat, she was sold and changed hands several times, ending up being purchased by a Panamanian in 1972. She was eventually left unattended in Panama City.

In 1984, Hatteras executives had an idea to locate and purchase Knit Wits for the company’s 25th anniversary. Sending Curly Cook, a Hatteras employee from the beginning, to Panama to negotiate the sale, Knit Wits was shipped back to North Carolina, refurbished and used as a promo boat again.

Capt. Jimmy O’Neill, skipper and employee with the Hatterascal fleet for 10 years, discussed his time on Knit Wits.

“I took her for her first run” after being refurbished in the 1980s, he said. “And she usually followed the Hatterascal when we ran the tournaments and shows.” O’Neill delivered Knit Wits on a delivery from Miami back to New Bern, N.C.

“No electronics,” he said. “Just me and my daughter.”

Versa Capital, which recently acquired the Hatteras/Cabo brands, supported the recent six-month refit of Knit Wits. Nile Mitchell, construction manager at Hatteras, said that with the new ownership comes a “new beginning, both for the company and for Knit Wits”.

Tom Serio is a freelance writer and photographer for Triton Today; editorial@the-triton.com.