When the Horizon 82 cockpit motoryacht Lady O arrived in the U.S., it was the final chapter of a story that perfectly illustrates why semi-custom yacht builders have so much to offer knowledgeable yachtsmen. Coincidentally, it also marks the opening chapter for a new story, a new way of life for one lucky couple.
The owners are an experienced yachting couple based in Baltimore, Md., who, having lived aboard a 57-foot pilothouse motoryacht for two years, decided that they wanted to look around for something a little larger, a design with an open-water pedigree that would let them explore from the Canadian Maritimes to the Bahamas with confidence. They had no intention of putting their new home into charter, but following the advice of the professionals at Gilman Yachts, southeast U.S. dealers for Horizon Yachts, they came around to the idea that chartering could give them some flexibility for planning their use of the yacht over the next few years.
After much research and visitation at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, they connected with Gilman Yachts and settled on the Horizon 76 as the boat of their dreams. Not long after putting down the deposit and finalizing all the specs for equipment and amenities, they made a decision to join 20 or so other people on another customer's sea trial of the Horizon 82. In short order, they were smitten by the vessel's ability to accommodate a crowd without feeling crowded, and they realized that the lower aft cockpit was a watersports-centered element that they couldn't do without.
Here's where the story gets interesting. Even though their hull was already in the molds, and even though they took complete fiscal responsibility by stating they'd be willing to pay for the work done and just store the hull, Gilman Yachts and Horizon worked with them to hold the hull for an as-yet-unidentified potential buyer-at no cost to them-and to begin work on their new 82.
And so began the saga of Lady O. Over the next few weeks, the owners would decide that, because they wanted to explore the colder waters Down East, an enclosed bridge would replace the open-air configuration they had enjoyed as primarily mid-Atlantic and southern-waters cruisers. For liveaboard comfort and convenience, they added a fireplace to the saloon as well as a dedicated coat closet close by the sliding glass door leading out into the upper aft cockpit. Crew quarters for two or three are aft of the engine room.
All of this was possible because of John Lu, a naval architect by training who worked in several other yards to gain real-world experience before founding Horizon Yachts in 1987. The company he started with just 30 talented engineers, designers and craftsmen now employs 600 craftsman and professionals who have built more than 400 luxury motoryachts over the last 18 years-in configurations including trideck, pilothouse, flybridge and cockpit.