This shouldn't be a difficult question. Would you prefer your next cruising yacht to be built by: (A), a faceless committee of accountants and marketing people or (B) an experienced boat owner who spends every extra moment on the water?
If you picked (A), well, please keep reading because you may learn something.
If you picked (B), let me introduce Greg Sturgis, the driving force behind the Out Islander 64. For him and his two sons, summer is when the entire family boards their boat and heads off for the Bahamas, the East Coast, or even the Great Loop.
For the Sturgis family, boating is about swimming and snorkeling and fishing and exploring. It is about anchoring out more often than not, and it's definitely not about cruising from one marina to another.
Sturgis has an impeccable CV as a builder: 14 years as the East Coast distributor for Offshore Yachts, a dealer for Islander and Tartan sailboats, and the largest dealer of Rampage sportfisherman.
But it was as an owner that he kept, tucked away in his mind, the idea of building the "perfect" cruising yacht. He filled notebooks with ideas for features he wanted on a boat for himself, as well as equally long lists of what didn't work. "You notice little things after you live on board a while," he says. "Like, that's the third time I hit my elbow why did the designer put that there?"
Fifteen years ago, Sturgis talked to designer Tom Fexas about designing his perfect yacht, but the idea lay dormant until 2005, when Sturgis gave Fexas the go-ahead for the project. It was, sadly, to be the last design that Fexas would do before his untimely death. Sturgis notes that Fexas, as talented as he was eccentric, really "got" the idea of creating a yacht that would be as versatile as a Swiss Army knife and as ruggedly all-purpose as an SUV, yet which would have a luxuriously appointed interior.
The result is, quite simply, a cruising yacht unlike any other. Whatever you think you need while afloat, you'll find that Sturgis, Fexas, and Camargue (the high-quality builder) have already thought of it. Space has been allocated for scuba tanks and dive gear, the cockpit is designed (and reinforced) for a fighting chair, the engineroom is enough to make your mechanic (or an owner/operator) swoon. Every system and piece of equipment has been chosen not for price, but for quality and longevity.
This doesn't mean that your own visions are restricted, and Sturgis is offering the Out Islander 64 with or without an enclosed flying bridge in three-stateroom/two-head and three-stateroom/three-head layouts. Regardless of the layout, the Out Islander is a very cleverly designed yacht that has too many thoughtful details to mention.
Take the bridge, for example. Wing stations are outside the coamings so the skipper can see the entire side of the yacht while docking. The stairs from the pilothouse are gentle enough to take in a rush if you need to get up or down quickly. The hardtop is beautifully finished and reinforced so you can stow kayaks or sailboards on it. With nearly 20 feet of beam, the 64 can easily carry a full-sized RIB. And, with the bridge set well aft, it is drier and has less motion.
The engineroom is another masterpiece of efficiency, with full headroom even for someone more than 6 feet, like Sturgis. The first Out Islander, Island Bird, has a pair of 850-horsepower Caterpillar C15 ACERTs, upgraded from the standard 700-horsepower C12s, and a variety of other engines are available. Effort has been taken to soundproof the engineroom and the separate generator flat that holds the Northern Lights 16kW and 20kW gensets.
The Hynautic steering has redundancy with dual pumps, a Reverso pump draws from twin 15-gallon oil tanks, and a fuel polisher is standard. Trac stabilizers are fitted, along with a Village Marine watermaker, Delta-T air systems, and a two-ton a/c unit that cools the engineroom.
The salon on Island Bird has a traditional teak interior with superb joinery, and options include both cherry and mahogany. The electric hi-lo table can seat six to seven people easily, and a large-screen TV hides in the portside cabinetry.
The pilothouse is likely to be the main living area while underway, with the galley separated from the salon, a dinette opposite that converts to a pilot berth, and the helm forward. The galley has all the amenities, plus granite counters, large windows, and, for cruising, a second freezer in the cockpit.
Arranged with seamanlike efficiency, the helm has twin chairs and a chart-sized navigation table just outboard of the instrument panel (charts stow in a dedicated drawer under the dinette). Twin monitors handle the electronics, and the Cat engine displays are easily visible. Dogging doors on each side lead to the Portuguese bridge and, with full walkaround decks, the Out Islander 64 is well suited for short-handed cruising.
The accommodations are nothing short of, well, magnificent. The owner's suite is amidships and spans the full beam with a centerline king berth, enough lockers (including a walk-in) and drawers for liveaboards, and a built-in desk/vanity. The master head (on the two-head layout) is aft, with a luxuriously large shower.
Down from the pilothouse are two more cabins, including a very civilized VIP suite forward with offset queen berth, large hanging lockers, and en suite access to a head with shower. The forward berth hinges up to reveal a cavernous space perfect for hiding guest suitcases. The third cabin has been cleverly designed with twin athwartships berths that are elevated to provide stowage in the form of drawers and lockers under each berth.
Underway, the Out Islander is both comfortable and economical, topping out at more than19 knots and getting a mile per gallon at cruising speed, which is quite remarkable considering her 19-foot beam (3 feet more than similar yachts) and her sturdy heft of 54 tons. But as I read my words, I realize they don't even scratch the surface of this yacht. The many thoughtful and seamanlike features that will delight the serious yachtsman have to be seen on a leisurely tour. Go aboard the Out Islander 64, and prepare to be very impressed.
But as I read my words, I realize they don't even scratch the surface of this yacht. The many thoughtful and seamanlike features that will delight the serious yachtsman have to be seen on a leisurely tour. Go aboard the Out Islander 64, and prepare to be very impressed. Base price is $2,295,000.
Ardell Yacht and Ship Brokers, (954) 525-7637; www.ardell.com