Holby Pilot 24

This pretty 24 is a bouquet of tradition and grace.

Yar. It's an old nautical term and it's a good one, but it's fallen-sadly-into disuse. It's also the perfect word to describe the new Pilot 24 from Holby Marine.

Yar means simply that a boat or a yacht looks right. It means that the gentle sweep of the sheer is in proportion to the rake and flare of the bow, that the transom is angled just so, and the deckhouse looks like it belongs. It's a word used by those who admire the lines of pretty yachts and, also sadly, a word that doesn't describe too many new designs.

But the Pilot 24 is pretty from every angle. It's even better when you're on board.

Holby Marine has been building boats for more than two decades in Bristol, R.I., a town synonymous with classic yacht construction, so it's not a surprise that the Holby continues that Bristol tradition. Holby has built custom yachts for years, but their foray into fiberglass production yachts began five years ago with the popular Pilot 20 and continues with this larger sister.

Mark Ellis, who has a good eye for a pretty boat, designed both and he clearly used the classic lobsterboat as a starting point. What the crisp lines and gentle tumblehome conceal is the modified-V-bottom with wide chines that make the Pilot 24 stable and quick to plane (as low as 15 knots!). The wide hard chine that starts forward at the bow serves not only to steady the boat in a seaway, but also acts like a spray knocker to keep the deck dry.

Construction is equally modern, using the SCRIMP resin-infusion process for a perfectly blended composite that is both strong and light. A quick look around the Pilot 24 shows that Holby invested plenty of time (and elbow grease) in quality molds, because all the parts fit nicely together and the dark blue hull (which would show every blemish, if there were any) was mirror smooth.

The cockpit is a good size with a padded engine cover aft, a back-to-back companion seat and an adjustable helm seat. The consoles under the seats hide a freshwater sink and stove to port and either a self-draining icebox or a bait well to starboard. If you're looking for telltales of quality, poke into the hatches under the sole, where the bilge and the stringers are fully finished. Big, deep gutters on the hatches lead directly overboard so even those torrential summer downpours won't overflow into the bilge.

The helm is very simply arranged with an Edson tilt wheel (with brodie knob), Volvo gauges and throttle/shifter. There's more than ample room to add electronics, and the helm panel folds down for complete access to the wiring. The electrical panel is at the skipper's elbow, the battery switches inside the transom coaming.

The navy top attaches to the sturdy windscreen and it's set high enough to give full headroom for most people; even better, it has opening panels forward for plenty of air. The top also allows a full enclosure of the helm and seating. You don't see many pocket doors on boats this size because they take a lot of effort to build, but they sure save space and the Pilot 24 benefits from this hideaway door.

The interior is just as nicely finished, with a teak-and-holly sole, teak trim and a padded overhead. A head is hidden under a lid to starboard and the sink has its own counter to port, while the blue V-berths have traditional white piping.

On deck, more felicitous touches: The wraparound bowrail is nicely welded and properly sized and the tan nonslip surface gives a good grip without taking the skin off your knees while anchoring. Pop-up cleats are amidships for spring lines, and hawsepipes aft lead to cleats inside the cockpit for an uncluttered look that won't bite fishing lines.

Standard power for the Pilot 24 is a 300 hp MerCruiser 350 Magnum MPI Horizon, but this particular boat had the new Volvo Penta Ocean Series 5.7 OSXi-XDP engine with 320 hp. Both give speeds in the low 40-knot range. Barrett Holby Jr. said the company liked the engine because it offered a good alternative to conventional sterndrives in saltwater applications. It's a $2,700 option, but well worth every penny in reduced maintenance.

The Volvo Penta Ocean Series engine has a composite lower unit and integrated trim rams to create a low-drag, low-weight package with superior impact resistance and stronger gears. The X-Series composite duoprop propeller also improves the maneuverability when backing down, although this particular Pilot 24 also had an optional Lewmar bowthruster.

And, while Barrett Holby thinks the Pilot 24 is a perfect package with the Volvo Ocean Series, he is considering building an outboard version of the 24 for those who want extra space in the cockpit.

The bottom line on the Pilot 24 is that she is pretty, well built and surprisingly quick. She is, in a word, yar. And, that's all you need to know. Contact: Holby Marine Co., (401) 253-1711; www.holbymarine.com. E-mail: sales@holbymarine.com.