Hargrave 68 Capri Motoryacht

The 68 Capri Motoryacht is a semi-custom build chock full of options.

The yacht business can be a thankless passion. Builders tend to be set in their ways, sales folks can become jaded with success, and yachtsmen spending money can be rather picky, as they should be. That is why what Mike Joyce has accomplished with Hargrave Custom Yachts is so amazing. While this story is about a boat, there is much more to the new Hargrave 68 Capri than fiberglass and resin.

Imagine a dining room full of owners sharing passionate testimonials to a man, a company and a boat. For the past five years, these heartwarming stories have been the norm at Joyce's annual gathering of customers at the Coral Ridge Yacht Club in Ft. Lauderdale. Some owners offer accounts of

Hargrave's willingness to pour extra effort into projects. Another believer spoke so glowingly of the company's warranty manager it seemed as though he were his son. If I had not known Joyce for the past 20 years, I would not have believed it possible. His secret is simple: He is as passionate about his customers as he is about his products.

Joyce's personal approach to the yacht business is evident in each Hargrave design. Recently, I had the opportunity to inspect the first three yachts in the 68 Capri series, as well as pore through drawings and specifications of each. As a result, I learned a lot about what has made Hargrave Custom Yachts a success.

Like many new-build programs in this category, the 68's is described as semi-custom. This typically suggests that variations on interior layout and design are available. Hargrave, however, takes things a step further. While the 68's hull and superstructure are built with conventional fixed tooling, Hargrave does not view this as a limitation. "Most of our clients have built custom homes, and they appreciate the same freedom in building a yacht, said Joyce. "We try to accommodate them."

One owner, for example, favored a look with a bit of European influence. The Hargrave design team penned a new variant of the 68's profile with sweeping window lines and redesigned the house-side pilasters. While side decks are standard, the superstructure mold was modified to create a full-beam saloon. The effort required additional man-hours, but it resulted in a unique look and a new option for the series. "These (customers) are experienced yachtsmen and businessmen, and when they talk, we listen", said Joyce. "Whether it's the creation of special tooling or acting on a suggestion related to service, the investment is usually worthwhile."

Other choices are more typical of the semi-custom process. A teak sole for the afterdeck and platform, a bridge hardtop, a barbecue and additional refrigeration are options familiar to semi-custom buyers. Some semi-custom specifications are uncomfortably brief, while others are painfully long. Hargrave found a balance with a specification built around a basic platform with a fixed price and choices that pin down the cost of virtually everything you could want on the boat. "It's not an options list; it's more a line-item veto, said Joyce. The result varies depending on the customer, however, a cruise-ready 68 will total about $2 million.

Included is a generous interior allowance for soft goods, fixtures and interior hardware, as well as the services of the design firm Yacht Interiors by Shelley. Clients can choose from a range of interior woods and finishes. The quality of the joinery on the three boats I inspected was above average.

With a large deckhouse and a beam of 18 feet, 6 inches, the 68 has more interior volume than you might expect on a yacht her length. According to Joyce, this real estate has proven a primary attraction. To date, most clients have found minor variations of the standard three-stateroom arrangement pleasing, however, it is just a starting point. In fact, one of the boats I inspected had a two-stateroom arrangement with a large master suite/office and a VIP stateroom. This sort of customization is executed at no additional charge.

The standard arrangement places crew abaft the machinery space. A single cabin has two berths, and there is a head with a separate shower. The area offers direct access to the engineroom and swim platform. (The main deck offers access, as well, which will be useful while under way.)

Pantograph doors in the pilothouse and thoughtful features such as a boarding ladder and deck-gear lockers on the main deck simplify docking drills by reducing unnecessary footsteps. The galley area is amidships, and the saloon is aft. A sliding glass door leads to the afterdeck and a seating/dining area for eight.

Though arrangement and styling are negotiable, the 68's structural details and machinery layout are not. Her solid fiberglass bottom is stiffened with a network of fiberglass stringers and Divinycell/fiberglass bulkheads and web frames. Divinycell is also used to stiffen the hull sides and exterior decks. All coring is vacuum-bagged in place. Her 1,572 gallons of fuel are carried in aluminum tanks that extend across the forward engineroom bulkhead. Since this is near the center of buoyancy, varying fuel loads will have less of an effect on longitudinal trim.

The 68's system design is current with American Boat & Yacht Council recommendations. This is expected, but I was impressed by the consistency of the systems design on all three boats. All appear cut from the same cloth, an advantage in terms of service. Wire runs, electrical panels, plumbing and pumps seem to know their place, and access to the machinery and engines is great. This is an indication that while semi-custom, the 68 is built with a plan.

Her hull form is a hard-chine modified-V with a shallow keel. She has a fine entry forward and 14 degrees of transom deadrise. Hargrave's sea trial data suggests a cruising speed of about 18 knots and a top speed of 20.5 knots with the twin 800 hp Cats. Speeds up to 27 knots are possible with optional power.

When Hargrave owners tell you that the 68 is a good value, they are speaking of the yacht and the company. Joyce has won this sort of loyalty with a commitment he expressed at last year's owners' dinner: "My company is a success because it is a reflection of you", he said, addressing his owners. "You are not dot-commers who made 200 million in 20 seconds; you have worked hard for your money. It's our job to work hard so that you can enjoy yachting. Measuring their approval, it would seem that Joyce and the 68 deliver."

Contact: Hargrave Custom Yachts, (954) 463-0555; www.hargrave.org. For more information, contact: (866) 922-4877; www.yachtingnet.com/yachting/productinfo.