Ever listened to a captain complain about his yacht?
By no means uncommon, this phenomenon seems to reinforce the old axiom: if you want a job done right, do it yourself. But many captains don't have the ability, the perspicacity, or the sheer gumption to build a yacht themselves.
That isn't the case with Scott Robinson, an experienced captain with thousands of sea miles, several projects, and four Paragons to his build credit. And while he didn't go so far as to name the line of boats after himself in the tradition of builders such as trumpy or Burger, each is a reflection of his restlessly exacting mind.
"Delivering boats and being a private yacht captain for 25-plus years, I saw a lot of my customers and owners that wanted to move up," says Robinson. "So we'd go shop the market around the world, looking for the right yard to build their next boat, and we'd come up short. I had enough horsepower from the guys who wanted to move up, and I said 'Let me do it for you, I know what you want.'"
Watch Robinson aboard one of his creations, and you can almost see the wheels turning in his mind as he looks at every facet and considers how it might have been done better. And that's exactly the case with the Paragon 94 that I visited one warm afternoon in Southern California: She is the latest iteration (she's the fourth Paragon) but she bore the same basic DNA as Endless Summer, the 92-foot Paragon I'd been aboard two years ago in Mexico.
This new Paragon was stretched two feet, but there's a lot more to the story. The earlier Paragon that I'd tested for Yachting was actually their 86-footer with a stretch to 92 feet with a fishing cockpit."
The current 94-footer gets an extra eight feet in the superstructure, which Robinson divvied up into several areas.
As a result, the salon is, well, it's simply immense. It stretches 26 feet from the twin sliding doors on the afterdeck to the forward bulkhead that hides the galley. If you consider for a moment, you'll realize that far larger yachts don't have 26-foot salons.
Step through the husky Freeman doors and there is a casually elegant sitting area and, off in the distance, the dining table allows eight guests to slide their chairs back for brandies and stretch their legs without worrying about whacking the cabinetry. This is a salon made for entertaining dozens of your closest friends-without having to get too close.
If you want to settle in with a movie, a touch of a switch raises the large popup television and converts the after sitting area into a media room with a large couch and a pair of bucket chairs. There are even built-in side tables to hold your popcorn. The interior wood is at the discretion of the owner and, on our test boat, it was a warm Brazilian cherry with epi inlays.
Three factors work together to make the salon seem even larger than it is. First, it has huge windows on each side that provide good views for seated guests. Second, it has more than 7 feet, 6 inches of headroom and, last, it takes full advantage of the 21-foot, 7-inch beam.
Just forward of the salon bulkhead is the galley and, while I don't think Scott Robinson is a gourmet chef, he's going to make one very happy with this layout, which has several clever features. No amenity has been overlooked, from the four-burner Viking stove with oven to the Sub-Zero fridges to the marble counters complete with a popup appliance "hangar." What I particularly liked was the Freeman door to the side deck that had been customized as a Dutch door, allowing fresh air in good conditions as well as direct access to the galley for bringing supplies aboard.
At first glance, the galley seems to be open to the pilothouse as it should be, since there is a big U-shaped dinette that creates a sort of country pilothouse. But the captain doesn't need all that light from the galley when running at night, so there is a popup divider that can close off the galley or be left open as a pass-through.
As you'd expect from a captain with Robinson's pedigree, the pilothouse is an impeccably arranged workplace. Four Furuno monitors are in a black instrument panel that is recessed so the lights don't reflect in the windows at night. Redundancy is something every captain appreciates, so there are twin 12 kW NavNet radars and twin WAAS-enabled GPS units.
Other electronics include a Furuno digital fishfinder/sounder, Icom VHF, Simrad autopilot with remote, Nauticomp computer, WxWorx satellite weather, Elbex CCTV cameras, and an integrated "NightWatch" monitor that puts ship's systems at the operator's fingertips. From a service standpoint, there is a crawl space under the dashboard with great access to all the electronics.
Most of the commissioning rigging is done at the yard in Taiwan, too, so the owner can take delivery soon after the yacht arrives. "Get it all done at the yard, and then bring the yacht in complete," says Robinson, who saw many of the owners for whom he captained upset by twoand three-month commissioning schedules. "So that when the owner gets it, they're excited about it and they keep that excitement."
The skipper and mate get Pompanette pedestal chairs, which are positioned so they can spin around to make use of the dinette table as well.
Stairs from the pilothouse lead to the accommodations, with a guest cabin in the bow that is large enough that the queen-sized berth doesn't seem to dent the space. This cabin has an en suite head with a shower big enough for real people.
Just aft is a wonderful full-beam stateroom that I loved the moment I saw the built-in bookshelves. The queen-sized berth is offset, a comfortable settee provides a getaway from guests, and there is a lovely built-in bureau. If I said this was a master suite to please the most demanding owner, I'd be wrong. This was the VIP suite, and the best was yet to come.
Like the salon, the master suite is on a scale normally reserved for larger yachts, spanning the full beam and filling it with all manner of wonderful touches, from the marble countertops to the three-wide stack of bureau drawers to the huge walk-in closets complete with shoe racks and two levels of hanging bars. The headroom is a lofty 6 feet, 7 inches! And there is a his-and-hers en suite head separated by an all-stone shower. Best of all, the owner's suite has its own private stairs from the salon.
Some points about the guest cabins may be easily overlooked, but you can feel the heft of the solid-wood, 1 ¼-inch doors that seat soundlessly in gaskets. There is more than seven inches of sounddampening bulkhead between the VIP and the master suite, so even the most raucous snoring won't be shared with others.
Designed to be easily handled, the Paragon 94 still has crew quarters abaft the engineroom, with a captain's cabin appointed to the same high standards as the guest areas and a crew area with twin berths that doubles as a utility area with washer/dryer, freezer, and mini-galley.
But beautiful as the Paragon may be, her real beauty is in the details that captains as experienced as Robinson will appreciate. The best place to see this thoughtfulness is in the engineroom, which has the same 6-foot, 7-inch headroom as the owner's suite.
Power for the Paragon is a pair of 1,550-horsepower Caterpillar C32 diesels, and service is easy from all sides. Robinson put the two generators (Northern Lights 20 and 30 kW) dead center in sound boxes so, once again, service on all sides is a cinch.
Look closely, and you'll see that the fuel filters are on hinges so they swing out for easy access. There are huge manholes in the fuel tanks for simplified cleaning. Two large sea chests reduce the holes in the hull and are service-friendly. The batteries have automatic fillers and, instead of cables, are fitted with solid metal connections for long life. And it's in the engineroom that you can see the powdercoated raceways that carry wiring throughout the yacht. The list of clever touches is long and very seamanlike.
But wait, there's another compartment abaft the crew area, and this serves as a lazarette for storing gear and provisions, as a wet locker for water toys, and to provide superb access to the steering and rudder posts. It also conceals an anchor windlass for the times you need a stern hook (warping winches are already on the afterdeck). Other areas of the Paragon also have hidden treasures, like the compartment under the master stateroom that serves as a pump locker, complete with a water source for rinsing filters without dragging a hose through the yacht.
Don't end your tour of the Paragon 94 until you've spent time on the flying bridge. If you thought the salon was big, remember: This is its roof. Robinson has taken care of the captain's needs with a fiberglass instrument panel that duplicates all the electronics in the pilothouse, with the addition of wing controls (under fiberglass covers) on each side of the bridge.
A well-finished hardtop covers the forward half of the bridge, and Paragon offers this yacht with a fully enclosed skylounge. In our case, however, there were twin settees with tables and a spa for six guests to soak away aches and cares. A rosewood bar with swing-out stools hides a refrigerator and ice maker, and the outdoor galley features a Viking roll-top barbecue grill. Even with an additional wraparound lounge for sunning, there remains enough space on the boat deck to easily handle an 18-foot tender, plus a 10-foot tender or PWCs, all of which are launched with the 2,000-pound Nautical Structures davit.
Again, it's about details. The entire boat deck drains internally to the waterline, so there are never those dirt stains to mark the topsides.
Underway, the Paragon 94 is rock solid, and doesn't need the Wesmar stabilizers under most conditions. With generous flare at the bow, the deck stays dry and there is enough deadrise carried aft to soften the ride in seas. The 94 tops out at a shade over 21 knots, has a comfortably fast cruise of 17 knots and an economical cruise of 15 knots.
Like Oscar winners trying to name everyone in their acceptance speeches, I find myself writing faster and faster to try to get in all the details. Check out the double-wide boarding gates in the rails. Appreciate the huge gull-winged gear lockers on gas lifts at the bow. Take a moment to settle into the settee forward of the pilothouse, or drop the table and sprawl on the big sunpad. Admire the absence of any support posts for the boat deck overhang. Wait, wait there's more .
The bottom line is that the Paragon 94 is becoming one of those quiet little secrets among the yachting cognoscenti. Captains wish their owners would buy them one, and owners of Paragons smile contentedly, knowing they have the best.
Paragon Motor Yachts, (949) 673-1910; www.paragonmotoryachts.com