Great Pacific Northwest Roundup

A rugged region known for its cutting-edge tech spawns a special breed of yacht.

The Pacific Northwest has a well-established reputation for bad weather but, unlike the Northeast, there are few places to hide. That has bred a particularly rugged and seaworthy yachting tradition; fair weather yachts are not popular here.

Instead, both builders and buyers want yachts that can handle a wide variety of conditions, from rain and wind to high seas. They expect hulls that can stand up to storms as well as to deadheads. Oh, and protect against sunburn, too. Good thing the raised pilothouse, a favorite Northwest design, works equally well in the hot tropics, as do the covered side decks to keep sun out of the saloon in summer.

Aleutian Yachts

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Aleutian Yachts in Tacoma Washington occupies a unique niche in the Northwest market where composite is king. Their line of steel expedition yachts, inspired by the rugged breed of Bering Sea boats, has attracted a following eager for models of 82, 92, 102, 112, and 122-foot open ocean explorers. The high flared bow with compound curves betrays a seakeeping ability and work boat pedigree sweetened with a fit and finish on deck and an interior of pure megaycht refinement. This purposeful luxury yacht with a "no monkey business" attitude is the creation of founder Greg Ward, who combines the steel hull and aluminum superstructure to produce a stalwart ABS commercial grade, go-anywhere vessel with tremendous interior volume. Their next launch features a stately Joe Artese interior and bulbous bow with 1,300 gallons of fuel tankage. The future is bright for this classy builder who builds to last.

American Expedition Yachts

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Formed by an experienced team of naval architects and builders, this company has focused on creating rugged composite offshore cruising yachts with innovative design and styling. Three sizes are on the boards initially: a 70, 85 and 100. One of the most interesting choices a buyer will make is between a forward and aft pilothouse: one version creates a large boatdeck aft, while the other moves the superstructure aft with deck storage forward. All rely on continuously rated single engines with a patented "get-home" system for economical and secure cruising.

Christensen Shipyards

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As the world's largest builder of ABS and MCA-certified composite yachts over 35 meters, Christensen isn't resting on their laurels. For 2008, they have two of their Custom Series 160-footers due to launch, including one that will be the fourth Christensen for that owner. A 163-footer named Casino Royale will be built for John Staluppi, who has had a long line of James Bond-named yachts. This "Millennium Edition" will have a full beam skylounge, elevator to all decks, and will have the first of the standard stern thrusters. The layout includes a main deck owners suite, five guest staterooms, and 10 crew. Also in the order book is the first 202-footer, which will be built in the new Christensen plant in Tennessee for John Rosatti, a long-time friend of Staluppi. At the new facility, Christensen will initially build yachts to 225 feet, but has bays that will handle yachts up to nearly 400 feet.

Delta Marine

A multi-talented builder, Delta works in composite construction as well as steel and aluminum. Delta delivered the 240-foot Laurel in 2006 as the largest yacht built in the U.S. in more than 75 years. Two diverse yachts are under construction for 2008: one a semi-displacement motoryacht and the other an expedition yacht. At 156 feet, slojo is a composite sistership to Mr. Terrible (2007) and Gran Finale (2002), but has been lightened to reduce the draft to 7 feet for shallow water cruising. With Cat power her speed will be 15.5 knots. Tom Stringer of Chicago is doing a casual and warm interior. Marama, Fijian for "lady," is a composite 124-foot expedition yacht designed to cruise the Pacific. The full displacement hull has a long keel, was styled by Ward Setzer, and has a mahogany interior by Rothschild Design. With 23,600 gallons of fuel, Marama will have remarkable 9,200nm range at 10 knots, with 13.5 knots top speed.

Nordlund Boat Co.

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Celebrating their 50th anniversary next year, this family-owned and run company has grown to become a well-known builder of composite yachts, often to designs of Ed Monk, Jr. and Tim Nolan. A recent launch was Joey, an 86-footer, and the company has three yachts on the ways. Due this spring is a 78-foot motoryacht for an owner with a background in sailing yachts. With classic styling, the yacht will have a flying bridge and hard top. Next will be an 80-footer with the same hull and lines. Just started is a 114-foot raised pilothouse motoryacht with the flybridge tucked just aft of the pilothouse, allowing room for a hot tub on the upper deck. This yacht is being fully equipped for fishing, from a cockpit bait tank to saltwater freezers.

Northcoast

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Purchased in 2003 by Stephen Yadfish, whosel Yachtfish Marine on Seattle's Lake Union is a popular Northwest yard for refits, the company has just completed hull and superstructure for a 125-foot composite motoryacht originally designed by Jack Sarin for Crescent Yachts. A spec yacht, Northcoast is ready to complete the interior to an owner's requirements. Northcoast has also built several 85-to-87- foot motoryachts, with the latest being Fortuna 2 in 2007. The company is also offering a 117-foot catamaran motoryacht with a 30-foot beam and either twin waterjet or surface props for a top speed of 65 mph. www.northcoastyachts.com

Northern Yachts

Here's a world-class builder of composite yachts in two styles: megayacht and expedition yacht. On the order books are two 151-footers of the motoryacht style, designed by Jonathan Quinn Barnett and based on the successful 130- and 152-foot motoryachts.The nearly 31-foot beam allows five spacious staterooms including a main deck master, plus a skylounge topped by a bridge with spa. One 151-footer will deliver early in 2008, the next in 2009. Northern's trawler-style expedition yachts, based on rugged Northwest commercial fishing boats, include both 80- and 86-footers.

Northstar Yachts

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Located on the Columbia River, this builder has launched an eclectic variety of semi-custom composite motoryachts in just a decade. Drawing on designs from Jack Sarin and Howard Apollonio, this builder specializes in yachts from 85 to 125 feet. Their 80 sportfisher series has proven popular with anglers, combining a seaworthy and solid hull with luxurious touches such as the enclosed flybridge and the soaking tub in the master stateroom. Recently launched was a 100-foot motoryacht; a 107-foot trideck is due for 2008. On the boards are a 115-foot trideck and a 112-foot raised pilothouse motoryacht.

Pacific Mariner

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If there were an "Energizer Bunny" of boatbuilders, it would be Pacific Mariner, because this series-builder of composite yachts just keeps on going. Founded by the Edson family, their reputation bloomed with the Pacific Mariner 65, a classic raised pilothouse motoryacht designed by Bill Garden and styled by Greg Marshall. Delivered fully equipped from tender to spare light bulbs, it was well priced and buyers loved the turn-key simplicity. This was followed by an 85 from the same team that moved many owners up, as well as attracting a new audience. The 85 has a full-beam master suite as well as three guest cabins (two with queen berths).

Rayburn Yachts

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At this family-owned Canadian yard, the word "custom" doesn't even begin to describe the exquisite workmanship. Headed by a father-son team, Rayburn combines old-fashioned craftsmanship with cutting edge technology. The joinerwork is world-class, but each yacht also has the benefit of 3D joinery design and comprehensive systems engineering including wiring and piping schematics. Recent projects have included trideck motoryachts of 94, 100, 105 and 108 feet. On the drawing boards are a Portuguese-bridged 85-foot sportfisher, a 112-foot raised pilothouse long-range cruiser, a 95-foot flushdeck open bridge motoryacht, and an 85-foot flybridge.

Richmond Yachts

Formed when Texas businessman Don Davis bought Sovereign Yachts of Canada and was able to keep the experienced team of boatbuilders together, Richmond has specialized in custom 142-footers from the Ward Setzer/Sean Pavlik team. With the fourth yacht, Status Quo, owner Davis will finally get one of his own. A fifth 142-foot trideck is due in the spring. Each has the "fun deck" arrangement with a protected deck off the skylounge for alfresco entertaining.

Westport Shipyard

Founded four decades ago to build tough commercial vessels, Westport made the transition to composites and built hulls for boatbuilders before starting their own semi-custom and custom line. Today Westports come in four sizes: 98, 112, 130 and now 164 feet. From designs by Bill Garden and Jack Sarin, Westport has built a reputation for beautifully finished yachts that can stand up to offshore conditions. For 2008, the company has five 130-footers and two 164-footers from the company's new facility in Port Angeles, WA.