For instance, the couple did not need a cockpit and preferred a larger covered afterdeck with a Euro-style transom for entertaining. Since the 75 and 77 models are built from the same 80-foot mold, this was not a problem. The result is functional and pleasing to the eye. Two gradual staircases serve the large swim platform from the afterdeck. On Five Star, access to the optional crew accommodations is through a watertight door. Though Hockelberg and Bright can easily manage Five Star themselves, their extended family created the need for an extra cabin. Judging by the large group of spring-breakers on board for the week, this was a good call.
Owner input, however, went beyond major items like the transom and interior layout and extended to countless details. The flying bridge, for example, would be tough to improve upon. The fiberglass hardtop shelters a generous seating area served by a grill, wet bar, ice maker and refrigeration unit. If plans call for extensive cruising, I'm a fan of going for the largest tender possible without diminishing the yacht's seakeeping ability. Five Star accommodates an 18-foot Nautica RIB in a fore-and-aft orientation that still leaves space on both sides.
A grand, sweeping staircase flows from the flying bridge to the pilothouse, one of my favorite areas of the 77. The staircase is a big chunk of wood, but it does not intrude on the space. In fact, the handcrafted teak-and-burl staircase complements the pilothouse, giving it a homey atmosphere.
"This is like our family room", said Hockelberg with regard to the large dinette and family-style galley in the pilothouse area. The two Stidd helm seats turn to face the dinette, expanding the area to accommodate seven.
The galley reflects the owner's personal preferences and the company's generous appliance allowance. Five Star easily concealed the provisions needed for a several-month cruise through the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. A large pantry abaft the bar allows them to provision in bulk.
The business end of the pilothouse offers a good line of sight forward, and the helmsman can see aft through the saloon with a slight bend of the head. Expansive side windows help make this second helm very workable. I've operated pilothouse designs from the lower helm on long legs, but the cramped feeling usually makes me head for the bridge. This is not the case on the Alaskan 77. Even for diehards who believe the only place to run a boat is from the bridge, this pilothouse will be tough to beat on a chilly night watch offshore.
The interior décor is best described as British Colonial with a mischievous wink. Bright worked closely with interior designer Susan Mingledorff of Mingledorff Design to create a traditional, classy atmosphere that does not suffer the dark, dated feel of some other yachts with heavy doses of teak. The settee on the port side of the saloon is wrapped in a dark-beige fabric and is about as comfortable as you can get on a yacht. Two wicker armchairs and matching bamboo-style stools, accented with leopard-print fabric, convey a West Indies feel. The forward mirrored bulkhead helps to visually expand the saloon, so the large, freestanding furniture does not overpower the space.