Clayton and Michelle McWhorter were no novices when they first started thinking about Hargrave Custom Yachts. His first large motor-yacht was a 61-foot fiberglass design; an aluminum 90-footer followed, then a 74-foot fiberglass motoryacht. By the time something else was needed, they'd toured the horizon of boatbuilders. Like many Hargrave clients, the McWhorters were first moved by the company's approach to design: traditional raised pilothouse fare softened by modern influence and the flexibility of molded fiberglass. It's a work in a lineage that founder and namesake Jack Hargrave would certainly have approved of.
The Hargrave brand has been in the capable hands of Michael Joyce since 1998. Under Joyce's stewardship the emphasis has been on extreme customer care. His team of sales people, designers and service personnel treat their customers as though they were family-which leads to the other thing about Hargrave that intrigued the McWhorters: the company's cult-like following of loyal customers. Owners love Hargrave.
At this point McWhorter's broker, David Gennett, suggested they look at a Hargrave. "We met Mike Joyce at the Miami boat show and were impressed with his product and his attitude," says McWhorter. "A year and a half later we signed the contract."
McWhorter and his captain Mitch Armstrong worked with Hargrave Custom Yachts' design team to develop Lady Michelle's specification. While contract specifications for custom and semi-custom yacht projects come in many shapes and sizes, Joyce has developed a format that he feels his customers understand and appreciate. The core of the specification is fixed around the known items such as structure, machinery, systems and popular equipment. Add to this a generous interior allowance for soft goods, fixtures and interior hardware, and what is left is a list of choices that affords an owner what Joyce refers to as a line-item veto. The result is a detailed specification and accurate pricing.
"I believe I had looked at every builder in the market before we decided to go with Hargrave," recalls Clayton McWhorter. "These people are real, they deliver what they promise." Coming from an experienced yachtsman, the praise has added weight.
The microdetailed design approach makes sense considering that Hargrave Custom Yachts' projects are client driven. "By the time we were done I told Mike (Joyce) that we should change her name from Lady Michelle to Lady Upgrade," jokes McWhorter. Pretty much anything goes, but there is a point of diminishing returns, and at Hargrave it is well marked. "We design custom yachts until the point we tell the yard to start building," says Joyce, "and from then on it's a production-built boat-there are no change orders." Adds Joyce: "It's the only way we can maintain our cost advantage."
A Hargrave Custom Yachts interior package includes the services of the design firm Yacht Interiors by Shelley. "Because of our experience with other boats we had a good idea of what we wanted," says Michelle McWhorter, who worked with Shelley to develop Lady Michelle's design. "We are casual people and enjoy our time aboard-we wanted a comfortable, elegant design." American Cherry was chosen for its even grain and balanced tone. Accent borders and inlaid medallions of beautifully crafted Maitore are featured, along with the high-gloss finish. Silk fabrics, stone surfaces and pewter fixtures and hardware carry out the theme in an interior that is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of the builder's efforts to date.