Sometimes you get a second chance, even a third. The 122-foot trideck Lady Grace Marie is the owner's third build from the Burger Boat Company of Manitowac, Wisconsin. She follows an 88-footer purchased in 1994 and a 107-footer built to order in 1998. Both were fine boats, but the owner also has an NFL franchise and wanted a larger yacht that would allow him to address team concerns during football season without having to step ashore.
Thus, Burger's challenge was to create a yacht fit for multitasking-but one that would allow the owner to continue to share his love of yachting with family, friends and business associates.
Burger's in-house naval architect, Don O'Keeffe, started by including a spacious owner's office on the bridge deck. The space is abaft the wheelhouse, where one would normally find a captain's cabin. More than just an afterthought desk along some slightly widened passageway, it is a fully functional area for communicating with the team's main office, meeting with business associates and carrying out all the work that would normally keep the owner on land.
Lady Grace Marie is also wonderfully designed for entertaining the family's friends and VIP associates from the world of sports. The dining area is fully open to the saloon on the main deck, enhancing functionality and flexibility. Any size or type of gathering, small or large, can be accommodated. The adjoining galley is appropriately large and well equipped.
It is easy to imagine game-day scenes in the lounge abaft the office on the bridge deck. With a smile, interior designer Dee Robinson referred to this as "a manly man's room. Two large sofas are in the port corner, with reclining capability built in for the ultimate in laid-back comfort. To starboard is a large bar that serves this area and the open deck above. The room's focus is a 60-inch plasma screen on the forward bulkhead that will display a host of videos and TV shows when it's not bringing good news or bad to frenzied NFL observers.
In the off-season, Lady Grace Marie's owner cruises extensively, often in the company of children and grandchildren. Here again, functionality and flexibility are important, so the four guest staterooms, all forward of the engineroom, are fitted with twin berths. Guest laundry facilities, a kitchenette and a wine cellar are accessible from the central guest foyer.
The master stateroom, forward on the main deck, is more than adequate but may seem a bit small by modern standards. This is intentional, and there is sound reasoning behind the decision. The owner views the room as an area for sleeping, not living, and chose to devote the finite square footage aboard Lady Grace Marie to more public areas. As experienced cruisers, he and his wife also wanted continuous side decks from bow to stern for easy line handling.
While the third time's the charm for this owner, I mentioned second chances, as well. Lady Grace Marie is Burger's first trideck, but she was actually the builder's second opportunity to construct such a yacht.
Twenty years ago, during my tenure as a designer with Jack Hargrave's office, we designed the 120-foot Buckpasser for an experienced yachtsman who owned a Burger. More than happy with the yard's work, the owner wanted his new yacht to be built by Burger as well, but it was not to be. Henry Burger did not feel the yard's already-heavy workload and strained resources would allow him to deliver a yacht on schedule and to the standards required.
The current owners and managers of Burger started with the same cautious approach, building on the foundation of previous successful yachts in manageable steps. As part of his careful development of the trideck series, of which Lady Grace Marie is the first issue, O'Keeffe undertook a thorough study before putting pencil to paper. Only after harnessing all the details did he go to work, developing a floating package that is not only quite functional, but to my eye, very attractive. It's not easy to fit a full trideck into a 120-foot length without it looking a bit tall, but Lady Grace Marie's strong, unbroken horizontal lines keep her looking lean. The subtle curves of her superstructure blend nicely into those of the hull, avoiding the wedding cake look. She will hold her looks, and her value, for many years.
This same concern, that of holding looks and value, was in Robinson's mind as she worked with the owner's wife to design Lady Grace Marie's interior. Enamored of all things Chinese, she told Robinson she wanted an Oriental-themed interior for the yacht, an environment that "brings me peace and pleasure.
A Chinese motif is one of the easiest to overdo, especially in the smaller-scaled interior of a yacht. On some such yachts and even in larger homes, I expect to turn around and see a 90-item, all-you-can-eat buffet. Not so on Lady Grace Marie. Generous with her praise, Robinson gives much credit for the successful interior to her firm's project manager, Destry Pethtel, whom she called "the real designer, and to Douglas Richey, Burger's designer, referring to him as "a real pro. According to Robinson, without Richey and the Burger design team, she could not have integrated her detailing with "Burger's fabulous woodwork.
It was this woodwork that enabled Robinson to protect the lasting value of Lady Grace Marie. No matter how well done, any particular motif is not to everyone's liking, and that must be considered in light of eventual resale. If you look carefully at the yacht's interior, the naturally finished cherry joinery is largely traditional and neutral.
The golds, reds and blacks of the Oriental motif are carried by wall panels, loose furnishings and a multitude of accessories, all of which can be removed without destroying the underlying basics. Shoji screens filter light coming through the ports, and intricate inlaid panels of cranes in flight serve as the headboard for the master berth.
Since the yacht's delivery in May, the captain, often with the owners aboard, has taken her through all sorts of weather, including 10-foot head seas coming out of the St. Lawrence, which she handled without incident. He says she is very good in beam seas, thanks to her Naiad stabilizer system, and offered praise of her KiloPak/Atlas electrical system, as well. It "works flawlessly, he said. "You never know they're on.
The captain also echoed the theme of functionality in a number of operational areas. The propellers run in hull tunnels to keep draft as low as possible. Reduction gears are mounted remotely from the engines, helping to keep noise and vibration to a minimum.
While Lady Grace Marie is one couple's yacht, she is obviously the result of a concerted effort by many players. The team analogy is especially appropriate given the owner's business, and the couple's dual role as coach and motivator comes through when talking to the players. Robinson couldn't put her finger on it, but obviously enjoyed her time working with them. She said they're the type of clients who make you "want to do more.
It was a sentiment repeated by Katie Ross at Burger, who hopes the string of three wins will be extended to four by another Lady Grace Marie in a few years.