Horizon 108

If you know what you want in a yacht, your next boat might just be on the Horizon.

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Every so often, a yacht like the Horizon 108 comes along that is so right, so well conceived and executed, that I have to stand back and admire it as a fine piece of art. This Horizon 108 is just such a case and, for once, I know precisely why she turned out so well. As with most yacht projects, it begins with the potential owner. In this case, the owner had built a Horizon 82 and, based on that experience, knew exactly what he wanted in a larger version. Next came Horizon America of North Palm Beach, Florida, the Eastern importer of Horizon yachts. The company had worked with the owner on his first 82 and, with that past positive experience, they were able to bring their own expertise to bear. Then there was Horizon Yachts, which has built a reputation not only for high-quality construction but also,and just as important, for the flexibility to meet the needs of the owner. The last part of this particular puzzle was the owners friend, an experienced yacht owner with the skills of a captain. Though he disdains the title of captain, he served as a consultant and project manager on the build, making several trips to the Horizon yard during construction. While others contributed the broad strokes of the brush, he brought many details to the project that completed the masterwork.

Horizon has a set of plans for a 105-footer with three staterooms, but the owner of this yacht wanted four, plus upscale crew quarters. The team doodled on paper over and over and couldnt quite get what they wanted until three feet were added to stretch the yacht to 108 feet. In the process, they created enough space for four cabins plus the larger crew quarters on the lower deck, expanded the aft deck lounge, and added length to both the boat deck and bridge.

One of the owners requirements was for a yacht capable of large-scale entertaining and, by stretching the normal swim platform, the tender can be chocked on the platform to free up the boat deck for guests. By leaving the tender on the platform, there is also room to hoist a golf cart onto the upper deck for shoreside transportation.

The aft deck was also affected by the party edict, with the salon bulkhead moved forward so a bar could be placed on the starboard side without constricting guest movements. But, by making the salon door curved, the room seems to remain undiminished.

With nearly 24 feet of beam, the salon is spacious in spite of comfortably sized side decks. A curving settee and a recliner chair face a 50-inch pop-up TV in the starboard counter, and two tropical bucket chairs can be moved in for conversation. Overhead, a spectacular ceiling treatment uses fiber optics to create the effect of the night sky.

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The interior of this 108 is quarter-sawn cherry with a high-gloss finish, complemented by burled accents inlaid into the built-in furniture and mullions. Crown molding was added throughout the yacht to create a finished and home-like appearance and, as I've come to expect on a Horizon, the joinery and furniture is impeccable.

Throughout the yacht, lighting has been emphasized and, with the help of Apollo Lighting of Ft. Lauderdale, more than 240 LED lights illuminate the exterior decks of the 108. In fact, there are enough lights to warrant a separate eye-level electrical panel dedicated solely to the various lighting circuits. Combined with nine underwater lights, plus hidden rope lighting throughout the yacht, she is truly a spectacle at night.

Separated by a counter and burled columns, the formal dining area seats eight and is backed by a bulkhead with artwork nestled between a pair of lighted china cabinets.

Filling the forward end of the house is the country galley, with two tables under the windshield so that occupants of the curved settee arent trapped. Granite was used for the wide counters and even on the galley sole, and overhead cabinets were added for extra storage. The galley features redundancies, such as the Sub-Zero double-door freezer/fridge backed up by undercounter Sub-Zero drawers on the forward side of the counter. Tucked under the stairs to the skylounge is a day-head, which was moved from its original position on the aft deck. A marble foyer greets guests on the lower deck, with the master suite spanning the full beam amidships, backed by a his-and-hers head separated by a marble shower, with a spa bathtub on her side. Bureaus are built in outboard of the king-sized berth, and Shoji screens cover the large oval ports. Twin cedar-lined hanging lockers include a walk-in to port, and a full-sized washer and dryer are just outside in the foyer.

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Forward, the VIP stateroom is unusual for its king-sized berth and has an en suite head with marble shower. The guest cabin has a double berth and private head, while the fourth cabin has twin berths for kids, with canvas sea rails on removable posts for security even underway. One feature that helped free up space for the cabins is the use of pocket doors throughout the guest accommodations.

The pilothouse is really a skylounge, with a settee tucked aft. With a hi-lo table, this settee can become a pilot berth for extra crew on night watches. During the day, it serves guests facing a pop-up 42-inch TV and a bar with fridge and icemaker. Opposite is a large day-head, and behind the helm companion seat is a desk for the captain or owner.

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The helm electronics are sophisticated, with an array of monitors including radar and AIS and thoughtful touches such as a joystick for steering on the arm of the Stidd helm chair. Rather than solid windows, this 108 has opening ports on each side of the instrument panel, allowing the skipper to lean out for visibility when docking with the wired remote helm unit. I also liked the large drawer for paper charts immediately next to the helm for easy access.

As with the salon, curved sliding doors were substituted for the usual at sliders, allowing the bulkhead to be moved without compromising the sense of space in the salon or skylounge.

Outside the skylounge and still protected by the overhang of the bridge is an alfresco entertaining area with plenty of space for guests. The granite bar was turned around to face aft and provide those seated on the permanent stools with a view, and a large granite-topped freezer cabinet just aft doubles as a second serving counter for the bartender.

The upper deck also has a large settee to starboard facing a plasma Sunbrite TV for daytime viewing, and a cabinet conceals an immense summer kitchen with a Wolf double grill plus cooktop combination.

A 2,500-pound Steelhead telescoping davit allows the tender to be launched off either side or over the stern (or lowered onto stern chocks on the platform for parties) and, with the jet ski launched as well, the boat deck is party central. During one early celebration, the yacht held 80 guests easily.

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One area that particularly benefited from the three-foot stretch was the flying bridge, because the added length allowed the installation of a full-sized jacuzzi spa (the pilothouse had to be reinforced to carry the weight of the water).

A compact version of the pilothouse electronics are in a fiberglass console, and the owner reversed the surrounding windscreen into a forward-raked venturi for more space and reduced breeze. The flat dashboard outboard of the helm converts to a sunpad with cushions that store under the dash, and the companion seat is designed so the back can flip fore or aft so guests can either face forward or carry on conversations with others in the spa. Aft, a benchseat wraps around the entire bridge.

Stairs in the after corner of the salon lead to the crew quarters, which can also be accessed directly through a watertight door from the swim platform. In the world of crew cabins, these are certainly five-star. Finished to the same standards, the crew live as well as the guests, surrounded by cherrywood, marble, and granite.

Just abaft the engineroom is what might be called a pump room, which has the A/Sea 75 kW inverters, seamless transfer boxes, and air conditioning chillers, all protected from engine heat with air conditioning. A second washer and dryer makes housekeeping easy on the crew.

A soundproof and watertight door separates the engineroom that, no surprise, has blue mood lighting giving it an eerie Twilight Zone look when seen through the window in the door. But, with the normal bright white illumination turned on, there is sparkle from the polished diamond plate flooring that separates the two 1,836-horsepower Caterpillar C32A diesels.

Equipment aboard the 108 includes an 1,800 gpd Sea Recovery watermaker, Headhunter sewage system, and both Sea-Fire and Flexifog fire control in the engineroom. For use in the tropics, a 20-ton Marine Air chilled water system keeps the yacht cool.

Because the yacht has been fitted with Naiad zero-speed stabilizers that have a considerable at-rest electrical load, a pair of Kohler 65 kW generators are installed. Racks above the engines carry additional equipment, a workbench is aft, and the required emergency fire pump is tucked to one side.

This 108 was built to Det Norske Veritas (DNV) classification, as well as MCA compliance. Those stringent regulations were met by Horizon, which has long experience in building commercial vessels to class. Among a telephone-book-sized list of requirements, this meant watertight doors that were cleverly concealed so as not to intrude on guest areas, and details such as higher (39-inch) rails around the boat and main decks.

Part of the DNV requirements included a comprehensive fire fighting system powered by a third auxiliary generator in the lazarette, as well as hooded fire suits for the crew. This 108 also had the hull interior coated with an additional layer of fire-retardant resin over the vinylester resin Horizon uses for blister protection.

Forward, the 108 has oversized hawse pipes and cleats for line-handling ease, as well as a pair of Maxwell 4500 anchor windlasses. Two Maxwell 3500 warping windlasses are on the aft deck and one thoughtful addition is the "pop-up" warping windlass centered in the swim platform. Since this windlass is electric, it can be used at night for adjusting dock lines without starting the engines for the hydraulic power needed for the other windlasses.

With the 1,836-horsepower Cats (standard power for the Horizon 105 is a pair of 1,550-horsepower Cats), the 108 has a top speed of 18 knots and a comfortable cruise at 15.5 knots. With the nearly 5,200-gallon fuel capacity, she has a range of about 1,100 nautical miles at 12 knots.

Beautifully finished and equipped, this Horizon 108 is a fine example of what can be achieved by a team of yachtsmen and an experienced builder.

And, by the way: With all those lights, you definitely won't miss her in an anchorage!

Horizon America, (561) 626-5615; www.horizonyacht.com