Looking Back at the Formula 233

This 23-footer had uncommon electronics.

Formula 233
Joe Lewis' Formula 233, Buena Vista.Yachting

Joe Lewis wrote his own formula for his Formula 233, Buena Vista. Among other customizations, he assembled best-of-breed electronics for his cruising and fishing needs, back when designer dashes were uncommon. He even had radar, something "seldom, if ever, included on a boat this size," says Yachting's March 1968 issue.

Lewis’ radar was a Decca 101 with four ranges, unlike today’s digital units with greater capabilities. An Apelco automatic direction finder was ­attached to Buena Vista’s compass, and onboard communications were a 150-watt radiotelephone and six-channel radio.

Lewis’ angling pursuits were supported through a water-temperature gauge and an Apelco depth sounder reaching 360 feet. Buena Vista had a three-scoop live-bait tank on the transom, teak rod holders and outriggers too.

Even today, Lewis is a case study in knowing what you want to achieve and outfitting your vessel accordingly.

Formula 233
Joe Lewis aboard Buena Vista.Yachting

Beyond the Gear

Lewis wanted a teak-paneled cockpit (he foresaw the maintenance mayhem but wanted his boat to be pretty, as well as utilitarian) and sole-to-ceiling carpeting in the belowdecks stateroom, which had bunks to port and starboard, plus a forepeak head. Naturally, Lewis needed a few more electronics here as well: a stereo tape player and portable TV. The boat’s lack of a galley wasn’t a concern; Lewis and his wife (Buena Vista’s namesake) had a grill and one-burner stove on board for when hunger hit.