Jack Setton Main
Setton could probably have any boat his heart desires. After all, he’s had a 193-foot Feadship (Calixe), a 254-foot Schichau-Unterweser expedition yacht (Lone Ranger, ex-Simpson S), a revolutionary 197-foot icebreaking superyacht (Senses) and countless others. And because he could have any yacht in the world, I love that he has_ Pink Shrimp_.
A 104-foot shrimper built in 2000 by Jemison Marine in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, and refitted by Setton for long-range cruising, this ship is the real thing. Her profile is pugnacious — the high bow juts out and up like a bully’s lower lip; the pilothouse sits forward enough to seem assertive — and the rest of her is all business too: a dry stack exhaust, a vertical steel ladder to the pilothouse roof — which is really a discrete bridge deck — and a stern that’s outfitted with a crane davit and serious RIB. Pink Shrimp is so true to her roots that, even as I spied her anchored before a hillside villa on the outskirts of Portofino, Italy, nothing about her hinted at luxury.
But after you clamber up that straight steel ladder to the bridge deck, you’ll notice two clever custom chaises all the way forward. The seat backs are bolsters on mechanized arms designed to fold forward if you want to recline and sunbathe. Or swing them in the other direction to form the backrest of a proper seat that faces forward for the full, unobstructed wind-in-the-face view as you cruise. Gorgeous. Setton likes to skipper from up here, and all the usual bridge-helm components are mounted beside the starboard chaise. Pink Shrimp is full of these small custom details that demonstrate Setton’s experience as a passionate yachtsman. Luxurious she is. Cookie-cutter she is not.
Of course, luxury is a relative term. If you’re looking for a helipad, a spa deck and a Jacuzzi, Pink Shrimp is probably not the yacht for you.
Pink Shrimp was designed to be low-maintenance and run with a small crew. She’s also very fuel-efficient, burning 14 gallons of fuel per hour at her long-range cruising speed of 9 knots, powered by twin, 600-horsepower Cummins KTA 19 diesels.
“You’ll see flaws in the service,” warned Setton after he and his wife, Sylvia, welcomed me aboard. “There are no small soaps here,” as he put it, referencing the lack of fussiness he sought in his refit of Pink Shrimp.
Her aesthetic is simple, minimalist, bulletproof luxury. Not that she wants for comfort or toys. There’s plenty of diving gear aboard and a 28-foot Herreshoff daysailer on the stern, in addition to the 26-foot Zodiac Hurricane. The custom davit makes launching either of these the work of a few minutes for the crew. Amidships there’s a varnished, open companionway to the accommodations below and a covered teak deck with a casually chic lounging area and dining table to port. Heavy Lexan panels separate this area from the port and starboard side decks leading to the bridge and foredeck. And, oh, what walkways — there’s enough sheer to make this comfortable in any sea.
Last summer, the Settons cruised more than 7,000 miles through the Med, and it’s easy to see why they might never want to step ashore. The bright salon is big with an aft dining area to starboard and an L-shape settee forward. A small desk is to port. A durable but elegant synthetic sisal sole is countered by glossy white, planked overheads. Fully stocked bookshelves and vibrant, large-scale art made me want to move right in.
The accommodations reflect the same chic: Sisal sole, white wainscot walls and planked overheads, simple down-lighting and framed photographs (many of them Setton’s) create inviting staterooms. There’s an en suite VIP forward to port and an en suite master (with bathtub) to starboard. Two guest en suite staterooms — one with a double berth and one with two singles — face each other aft.
The pilothouse is simple and seamanlike — no fancy glass bridge here, just an array of individual components mounted overhead, a wide unobstructed line of sight forward and a couple of computer displays fixed to the helm. Two comfortable swivel chairs are stationed here, with more seating against the bulkhead. Fully battened doors lead to the side decks.
What’s extraordinary about Pink Shrimp is that she exists. I am forced (!) to look at very luxurious, expensive yachts for a living, and it seems to me as though there are few folks left who have the means and the passion to create exactly what they want, rather than buying off the shelf and hiring an interior designer for décor. Or maybe I’m wrong and they all happen to want very similar things. Jack Setton has a different vision that’s all his own. (And, well, mine, apparently.) But every yacht that Setton has owned — and some of them have been extraordinary — has been designed, co-designed or heavily influenced by his input.
“I used to have to move out of my forward cabin in a head sea, which was ridiculous,” says Setton. So when he refit Pink Shrimp he made sure all the accommodations were amidships. He also added solar panels on the bridge deck and ZeroSpeed stabilizers in addition to the complete interior refit.
At the moment, Setton’s small fleet includes one of the world’s great maxi catamarans (Swift, ex-Gitana 13), which set the record for the fastest voyage by sail from New York to San Francisco. Gitana 13 made the 14,500-mile route around Cape Horn in 43 days and 38 minutes in 2008 with Lionel Lemonchois at the helm, breaking the 1989 world record by more than 14 days and averaging 15.88 knots. She also broke the record for the fastest North Pacific crossing, doing San Francisco to Yokohama, Japan, in 11 days, 12 minutes and 56 seconds. Not content to simply own this rocket ship, Setton undertook a refit to make her a comfortable cruising boat without adding any weight — and he succeeded. When I met him, he had just returned from a month of cruising in Tahiti, enjoying his improvements.
But if you want to see what really makes Setton tick, go for a sail aboard Ciao Gianni, as I did. The 60-foot Multiplast sloop daysailer, designed by Mani Frers (German Frers’ son), is his pride and joy and also reflects Setton’s input. She’s sleek and simple, with lightweight and beautiful Knoll bench seating to port and starboard, a synthetic teak sole, two large wheels, carbon spars and high-aspect-ratio rig. But her most striking feature is a reverse bow, which lightens her extremities and reduces spray drag, Frers says. Setton’s a fan of speed — after all, he used to own one of the world’s greatest collections of race cars.
Both Pink Shrimp ($4.95 million) and Ciao Gianni ($2.41 million, approximately) have been listed for sale with Fraser Yachts, but Setton doesn’t seem so sure about parting with either one. We circled around off La Spezia, Italy, in light winds aboard Ciao Gianni, which Setton named for his friend, the Italian industrialist and owner of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli. They used to do a lot of daysailing, Setton says, “and I know Gianni would have loved this boat.”
The clock was ticking and Setton and his wife were due to disembark soon to meet friends. But first, he said, let’s go for a ride. The Zodiac Hurricane was launched and we did a big circle, stopping in every marina to troll by the beautiful yachts. I sensed a touch of wistfulness from Setton, who seemed loathe to leave the water, however briefly.
Never mind. He’ll be back — I overheard him on the phone discussing the details of his next design.
DISPL.: 18,000 lb.
SAIL AREA: 1,937 sq. ft.
DESIGNER: German Frers Design
BUILDER: Multiplast, France
LAUNCH YEAR: 2009
FUEL: 17,966 gal.
WATER: 2,642 gal.
Williams Fabrication, Jack Setton
ENGINES: 2 x 600 hp Cummins KTA 19 diesels
SPEED: 12 knots max, 9 knots cruise
RANGE: 4,000 miles
Fraser Yachts, 954-463-0600; www.fraseryachts.com