"Our 74-footer was a mistake, she was a nice boat but she just didn't have enough space," says Michelle McWhorter. Lady Michelle does. Her main deck is arranged with an open full-beam saloon and a formal dining area aft of the raised pilothouse. Sofa-style seating was chosen for its comfort. "We have found that built-in saloon seating is too confining and too often uncomfortable." A galley and casual dining area are forward of the raised pilothouse, a day head positioned amidships.
Belowdecks, owner and guest accommodations are forward of the machinery space and accessible from the saloon. A master stateroom has his/hers heads that share a walk-in shower, while a guest stateroom to starboard has a queen-size berth with a private head. A guest stateroom to port has two single berths, a Pullman-style berth and a private head. Crew accommodations for three are forward, accessible from the galley area. They include a lounge and two cabins that share a head. A lazarette is accessible from the swim platform or from the afterdeck via the machinery space. There are a washer/dryer, a freezer and a head with a shower.
Exterior public areas include a large afterdeck with a built-in lounge with a table and chairs. A wet bar is fitted with a refrigerator and an icemaker. Stairs lead above to a boat deck that accommodates a 15-foot tender. The bridge is steps away from the pilothouse and has a full control station and a lounge area with a wet bar and grill. A fiberglass hardtop covers the bridge area while a boat-deck sunning area is immediately aft. In all, this is a straightforward, proven American interior and exterior arrangement that makes sense.
Lady Michelle is Hargrave Custom Yachts' first 90-foot raised pilothouse design and one of a number of offerings that is based on a proven 20-foot beam series hull that the builder uses for yachts from 76 to 99 feet. Her hull form has a moderate entry that transitions into an efficient 13-degree deadrise at the transom. A relatively deep keel improves directional stability and provides some protection to the propellers. Joyce describes his company's approach to design as "platform engineering." Instead of starting with a blank piece of paper, the Hargrave Yachts design team draws on the data and experience the firm has collected over the years, always attempting to build on proven solutions.
Given this, Lady Michelle's construction follows a conservative path. Her hull and superstructure are laminated by hand in female tooling with a combination of stitched and woven reinforcements. A skin coat of vinylester resin is used below the waterline to reduce the chance of blistering. Her bottom is a solid fiberglass laminate and her hullsides, exterior decks and superstructure are cored with Divinycell that is vacuum bagged in place. Her construction follows DNV guidelines (Hargrave Custom Yachts offers full classification for an additional charge). Systems design is in accordance with the recommendations of the ABYC (American Boat & Yacht Council).
Hargrave Custom Yachts has a long-standing relationship with Caterpillar and a variety of Cat-engine options are offered on the 90-Lady Michelle is powered with a pair of the 1,400 hp 3412Es. Hargrave Yachts' data suggest a cruising speed of 18 knots and a maximum speed of 21 knots at half load. Lady Michelle is based in Palm Beach and will cruise Florida, the East Coast and the Bahamas.
When I first spotted Lady Michelle she was nestled together with a fleet of other Hargrave Custom Yachts at an exhibition of the builder's recent efforts. While she was not the largest yacht present, she was to my eye the most pleasing.
During his 38-year career namesake Jack Hargrave's work helped define American yacht design. Hargrave Custom Yachts' new 90-foot Raised Pilothouse is a reminder of this contribution and I would be willing to bet that her appeal will outlive trend-driven designs that put less stock in tradition. "European styling is not for us," says Clayton McWhorter. "When I am off the boat for a bit and come back to her, I think, Gosh, what a beautiful boat." Spoken like a true member of the Hargrave family.
Contact: Hargrave Custom Yachts, (954) 463-0555; www.hargrave.org.