One Man’s Dream

What happens when nobody tells an overzealous owner ‘no.’
Tell Tales
“When someone claims a yacht is a first or one of a kind, she’s likely for sale.” Steve Haelefe

She’s absolutely perfect,” Jim said as he sipped Stoli on a rock. He might have been blathering about a favorite grandkid, but he was talking about his boat. “There’s nothing like her. She’s one of a kind.”

“She certainly is,” I offered while I tried to make sense of her profile.

An enjoyable pinot noir relieved my eyestrain. Having designed boats and conducted quite a few sea trials, I might have guessed Jim’s boat was “special.” But I didn’t have to guess. I’d already heard the dock chatter.


In a modest chop at speed, the boat could shake loose a filling. Given the gentlest zephyr, she was wetter than a South Florida summer. God help you if her stabilizers crapped out. She could roll the peanut butter out of a jar.

After a second round of Stoli, Jim pressed on: “You realize she’s a triumph in marine design?” He allowed that he’d personally guided her designer’s hand in sculpting the Euro styling. “Look at the way that arch blends into the paint job.”

While Jim had “designed” the exterior, his wife, Sissy, had “created” the interior design. They were equally, well, inventive.


Truthfully, the radar arch looked like the handle on a shovel. If the boat was headed south, the arch appeared to be headed north. At waist height, the 72-mile radar would be lucky to see 12 miles. The interior was an unpleasant mix of chrome railings, hard corners and weighty granite surfaces. A mirrored chandelier swung around like a pendulum when seas soured.

How could a thing like this happen? Nobody said no! Jim and Sissy’s vessel was scribbled by a name-brand stylist and poofed by their personal interior decorator. A shipyard with a decent pedigree and a capable naval architect had done its best to make sense of their vision, but the yacht had earned a less than flattering nickname before she’d even touched the water.

As the old yacht designer saw goes: A yacht’s design is, by definition, a compromise. Jim and Sissy had taken this to heart. While many decent custom yacht designs began on the back of a cocktail napkin, at some point with them all, a sober hand had stepped in and made certain the damn thing would work. When someone claims a yacht is a first or one of a kind and was built “without compromise,” she’s likely for sale. Jim’s is.


If you happen to be in the market for a unique yacht that pairs well with a waterfront home, maybe this is the vessel for you. The custom design of Jim and Sissy’s compound matches the yacht perfectly. And sure, this craft is as wet as a sponge and rides like a horse carriage, but you could always invest in a foam doughnut, mask and snorkel.

Do Jim and Sissy actually know the difference between a tulip and a turd? It’s hard for me to say. But if you share a cocktail with them, my best advice is to just watch where you step.