There is something special about Hargrave Yacht's new 84-foot motoryacht that I think is worth sharing. It is not her design, although I find her tasteful, contemporary American styling refreshing-to my eyes Euro-chic has worn thin. It is not her interior arrangement, although its variation on the raised pilothouse motoryacht theme is truly creative and unique. What is special is the backstory of how this motoryacht reached the water and how, even in challenging economic times, the passion of a designer and a builder can create a winner.
If you've wandered the docks for more than a few years the Hargrave name should be familiar. The late yacht designer Jack Hargrave's work played a significant role in shaping modern American yachting. The hundreds of yachts he penned still provide satisfaction for their owners as well as inspiration for a new generation of designers. It is this legacy that inspired Mike Joyce to launch Hargrave Yachts in 1998. While Joyce's vision was to create a successful boatbuilding company, it was his respect for the late designer that drove his business plan.
"Jack looked like a recruiting poster for the Marine Corps," said Joyce, who went to work in Hargrave's brokerage office in 1976. Joyce explains that a snowstorm brought them together. "I was watching a television report on a blizzard that had buried my marina," said Joyce. "Commentator Heywood Hale Broun was explaining that the "stump" he had his foot on was actually the top of a phone pole- that was it...I was headed for Florida." Joyce had several job offers but signed on with Hargrave on the advice of a savvy friend who realized the designer's significance. "My friend told me that for the rest of my career I could proudly say 'I had worked with Hargrave'- he was right!"
Joyce launched his own successful yacht brokerage in 1981. We met while I was serving as a yacht designer with the late Tom Fexas. Joyce seemed an endless source of knowledgeable and challenging clients. He expressed an excitement for new design that he seemed able to transmit to his customers. He would spend hours in our office tweaking designs and as much time at the yard sorting out the details. Unlike most in his line of work, he seemed to enjoy the process more than the commission checks. As predicted, Joyce's pride for having served in the Hargrave office never waned, and he was working on a book about the designer when Hargrave passed away. It was completed with the help of the Hargrave family but Joyce felt there was more to do. "Hargrave was an icon in the marine industry, and I was determined not to let the brand fade away." As I remember, when Joyce told me that he intended to buy Hargrave's company I pointed out that yacht design was often charity work-but I had underestimated Joyce. His blend of passion and business sense paid off and Hargrave Yachts thrived.