When I was a kid, I dreamed I was going to make a million bucks strumming guitar; my passion for boats would follow. While I'd like to think I had it backwards (I'm still picking and praying), Jimmy Buffett got it right. His music has tendered a cult-like following and a paycheck that has allowed him to build a small personal fleet. Now, Buffett has poured his creative juices into a new boat project.
The 42 Rybovich Express Walkaround, now available with a Buffett-inspired "Margaritavich" package, is a cocktail blended with an entertainer's passion for fishing and a custom-boat builder's ambition to create a semi-production masterpiece. While Rybovich is known for pioneering tournament sportfishermen in cold-molded wood, the Margaritavich is built of a fiberglass/foam composite.
"We were stuck in a two-boat-per-year rut, Jim Bronstien, president of Rybovich Spencer", said. "We wanted a product with the Rybovich brand that would be more available and more affordable-a complement to our cold-molded custom program.
While Bronstien was dreaming of a new product, Buffett was dreaming of a new boat.
"Jimmy has been a service customer of ours for many years, and when he heard we were thinking of building a 42-foot express he was interested", Bronstien said. "We brainstormed, sketched and mocked up the design in a matter of weeks. From that, the Margaritavich was born."
While her conservative sheer and stem and subtle tumblehome follow a familiar Rybovich path, her arrangement is a bit different. Though Rybovich has built express sportfishermen and center consoles in the past, it has never combined the two. "The walkaround design is something new for us, Bronstien said. "It's the ideal platform for light-tackle bluewater fishing-a market we feel is expanding.
The cockpit is large thanks to the 42's relatively generous 15-foot, 4-inch beam, and if necessary, one can follow a greyhounding billfish around the boat. The only compromise from a fishing standpoint is the swim platform, an accessory Buffett insisted on. "Jimmy likes to explore and fly-fish the shallows in a kayak, Bronstien said. The hardtop is designed to accommodate two.
The teak-covered cockpit is arranged with a livewell beneath the sole, as well as a fishbox fitted with an icemaker. A console has an electric grill, a top-loading drink box and a front-loading freezer. A separate console, adjacent to the helm, serves as a tackle center. There is enclosed rod stowage in the hardtop overhead, and you can stash your deck gear beneath the bench seating on the bridge.
Donald L. Blount and Associates was called on to design the 42's hull form. "Blount was the obvious choice, Bronstien said. "Over the years, he had helped us update our hull designs. With Blount's assistance, Rybovich made the transition from building 25-knot boats to 40-knot boats.
According to Blount, the effort was more of an evolutionary assist than a total redesign. The result was a finer entry forward and clean after sections with a bit more deadrise. Chine beam was increased and a down-angle chine rail was added to control spray. Underwater hardware was redesigned in stainless steel, and flush mounted strut palms and wedge-style rudders were used to help reduce appendage drag. The 42 also incorporates shallow propeller pockets, which reduce draft and shaft angle.
I tested the Margaritavich in familiar waters off Palm Beach, Florida, where the strong current of the Gulf Stream almost brushes the sea buoy. The seas were little more than 4 feet, but they were short, steep and irritating. I set the 660 hp Cummins QSM11s at 1600 rpm, and the Margaritavich handled the slop with aplomb in all directions at about 20 knots. I was able to increase speed comfortably in a beam sea and down sea, and I measured a top speed of 33.6 knots at 2250 rpm. The sound levels I recorded were a bit high for a boat of this type, and Rybovich confirmed it is in the process of addressing the issue on our test boat and the subsequent yachts that will follow.
The 42's fiberglass structure was built to Rybovich's specifications by United States Marine, based in New Orleans. I have known of this yard for many years, and while it is not a familiar name in tournament-fishing circles, it has long been a player in composite construction-first as a builder of ultralight racing sailboats and more recently as a builder of military projects. Bronstien and his project manager, composite expert Frank Crane, visited the yard often during construction.
Crane worked with Blount's office and material suppliers to design the structure. Bronstien wanted a hull that had the "feel of a Rybovich.
"Cold-molded boats are pretty stiff relative to fiberglass boats", Crane, who has worked in both mediums, said. "We could have reduced the 42's weight a bit more, but the ride requirement was paramount."
United States Marine produced the 42's tooling from male plugs cut on a seven-axis mill at DLBA Robotics, in Virginia. Stitched multi-directional fiberglass reinforcement and Core-Cell foam coring was used in the hull, structural bulkheads and decks. Stringers are molded fiberglass, and fuel and water tanks are integral with the hull.
Machinery and systems were installed in New Orleans, and the boat was shipped south. Rybovich Spencer's craftsmen then faired and finished the hull and superstructure and installed the interior. According to Crane, the process, from contract to delivery, takes five to six months.
The 42 is built to order, and interior appointments and outfitting are tailored to suit each owner's requirements. The cabin is surprisingly spacious considering the walkaround design. The Hawaiian koa joinery and bamboo sole aboard Buffett's Margaritavich are unique. The seating area converts to a double berth, and the galley has a two-burner cooktop, microwave oven and refrigerator/freezer. Stowage for fly and spinning rods is open on display. There are V-berths forward, and the enclosed head has a separate shower.
Much is included in the $895,000 base price, but the list of options is rather long and includes everything from a tower and outriggers to teak cockpit and covering boards. The Margaritavich package includes selected inlays in the interior, a photo of your boat autographed by Buffett and other "select gifts. A limited-edition Martin guitar is optional. Plan to spend about $1 million by the time you're done.
Thanks to the 42's semi-custom specifications and her inspired pedigree, she is attracting a good bit of attention. Hull number two is under construction, and a conventional express also is available. If you're serious about fishing, the 42 Rybovich Express Walkaround is worthy of a serious look.
Contact: Rybovich Spencer, (888) RYBOVICH; (561) 844-1800; www.rybovich.com. For more information, contact: (866) 922-4877