If you're looking for the recipe to create a perfect yacht, it's as follows:
Take three yachts born from the same mold. Add three owners from entirely different backgrounds. Mix in one builder willing to customize each yacht. Blend until delighted.
Voilà! Three yachts, each perfect for its owner and an intriguing tale in the differences. But how did all this happen?
Our story starts with Jeff Druek, an experienced yachtsman whose last yacht was a custom 77-footer, aboard which he realized that he could have done it better.
Outer Reef Yachts was born at that moment, and, while Druek’s original Outer Reef 73 proved successful, an 80-foot version of the same hull gave an even better running surface, not to mention a larger salon and enlarged crew quarters.
As a boater, Druek was wary of the constraints placed by many builders on their yachts that end up satisfying no one completely. “We think of ourselves as ‘can-do’ builders,” says Druek, who goes one step further by adding, “If we say we can do it, we do it!”
That attitude, as well as good looks from the sweeping sheer line to the seamanlike flare of the bow, brought three experienced yachtsmen to the Outer Reef 80. One (Illusion IV ), who asked not be identified for this article, is a born-and-bred sailor first dipping his toes, as he says, in the “dark side” of powerboat ownership. Harvey Wilson (Ruff Seas) is an experienced owner moving down from a larger yacht so that he and his wife, Terri, can handle her by themselves. And the last, Arne and Kari Grip (HeartBeat) are also experienced yachtsmen with a similarly sized yacht in Scandinavia, but who wanted one to explore the Eastern United States and Caribbean.
Three different backgrounds, three different lifestyles. And, in the end, three yachts perfect for each.
Perhaps a good starting point is the salon, which is where most visitors will first sample the differences, since each 80 remains essentially unchanged on the exterior. In the basic layout, there is an L-shaped settee aft to port, facing a pair of loose chairs on each side of a TV cabinet, with a formal dining table by the forward galley, which is open to the salon.
Closest to stock is Illusion IV, which has the built-in settee and a stretched TV counter along the starboard side (with room for two club chairs) and the original formal dining area. At the other end of the spectrum, Ruff Seas feels like a gentleman’s club, with all loose furniture, no dining table and no built-ins except the TV cabinet. Comfortable chairs, stylish end tables and a glass-fronted bookcase complete the look. In between is HeartBeat, on which the factory enlarged the settee to a full U-shape but also eliminated the formal dining area, replacing it with a casual breakfast counter of granite with three stools. HeartBeat, as might be expected from Norwegians used to rainy cruising, features only throw rugs under tables with a teak-and- holly sole throughout. An interesting comment from Arne Grip was that Norwegians were a “hardy breed” and preferred dining on the afterdeck, in the flybridge or in the pilothouse: The Grips didn’t feel the need for a formal dining table. Harvey Wilson of Ruff Seas agreed, saying that he didn’t want to devote the space for one meal a day when there were several other dining options.