From the PT boats of World War II to the latest turbine-powered patrol boats, there is something about military craft that intrigues yachtsmen. Perhaps it is the sparseness of line, with none of the styling frills found on recreational vessels. Maybe it is the sheer single-mindedness of purpose that makes Spartan angularity so attractive. Or perhaps it is the faint aura of menace, like that of a professional bodyguard, that makes these yachts so fascinating.
Whatever the reason, the Philbrook’s 65, Chinook Post, is a most unusual yacht with lines admittedly drawing on government specifications, yet finished to the highest yacht standards. Built by Philbrook’s Boatyard, a well-established builder on Canada’s Vancouver Island that has a worldwide reputation for yacht refits, Chinook Post is the direct descendant of a contract awarded to Philbrook’s back in the 1970s for a series of Canadian coast guard patrol craft.
Built of fiberglass with a hull designed by Bill Garden, the five Post class patrol craft have proven their seaworthiness and durability during three decades of hard use. Labeled Small Multi-Task Cutters by the Canadian coast guard, they are used for fishery patrol, search and rescue, and pollution response, among other missions. The coast guard’s List of Ships says it best when describing the Posts: “Moderate range, moderate speed, capable of operating in all weather conditions.”
The owners of Chinook Post first saw the trim Post patrol boats while cruising the waters off British Columbia in their previous yacht. Experienced sailors with a series of performance sailboats, they had recently had their 55-foot Vitters refit at Philbrook’s to an exceptional level and, thinking of switching to power, the Philbrook’s/Post connection made the choice a simple one.
Instead of fiberglass, Chinook Post (named to salute her sister patrol boats bearing names such as Sooke Post) was built of aluminum to Lloyd’s Register. With experience building offshore workboats, the crew at Philbrook’s had no problems with craftsmanship. Chinook Post has a bottom of 3/8-inch plate, tapering to 3/16 of an inch in the superstructure.
Getting the hull right was part of the process. Though Garden had designed the Posts, the owners brought in Greg Marshall to update the lines, in part because Marshall had been working with Garden during the time the Posts were designed.
For the yacht version, Marshall stretched the deckhouse aft to allow a spacious saloon, while maintaining the angular military lineage. The afterdeck has a sturdy aluminum awning frame with an awning that furls inward to the center on a roller, giving the rugged look of the hardtops found on riverine patrol boats.
While her green Awlgrip topsides set her apart from the bright red Post cutters, Chinook Post has an uncluttered look with a sturdy electronics arch and a stub mast with a full-function crow’s nest for piloting from on high. The mast is hydraulically powered to fold flat for low bridges or the boathouse stowage prevalent in the Northwest.
Step inside the saloon, however, and it’s clear the finish is not military, but yacht. The joinery is straight-grained fir that gives a light Scandinavian appearance. Though fir dents easily, the grain pattern is pretty and unusual aboard yachts. The saloon sole is cork with area rugs, providing a durable finish for the often-rainy conditions. To handle the cold weather of Alaskan cruising, the hull and house are insulated with Armaflex and Soundown, and the windows are double-glazed.
Full-size mock-ups were made from cardboard to allow the owners to tailor the built-in furniture. As Drew Irwin of Philbrook’s said, “It’s a lot easier to rip up cardboard and start over than it is solid wood.
The saloon is clearly the living room, with a comfortable couch and a high-low table in the after port corner below bookshelves, with a simple owner’s desk just forward. The starboard side has a fireplace surrounded by tile. The galley is open to the saloon. Counters are wide, with high fiddles designed not just to hold cookware in place, but to fit the hands of the owner’s wife as grabrails. A day freezer backs up four Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerators with a lid set sailboat-style into the countertop. The cooktop is propane, along with the convection oven.
Just forward and up two steps is the pilothouse, where design and finish are seamanlike. Another settee is behind the helm with a table, and the instrument panel wraps around on each side of the wheel with space on both sides for doors to the side decks. A day head with a heated towel rack is to starboard.
A PC is equipped to handle everything from the NavNet software to sonar images. Chinook Post has three fully redundant navigation systems: Macintosh, NavNet and paper charts each have their own dedicated drawers under the full-size chart table. There is no helm chair because most cruising will be done on autopilot from the settee, while harbor maneuvering will be done while standing. Another unusual feature is the aircraft compass mounted in the overhead rather than a marine compass on the dash.
The pilothouse windows are fairly vertical (by yacht standards, at least) and built by Philbrook’s with aluminum frames, curved glass in the corners, and custom fiberglass inner frames. With articulated wipers on the windows, the view is superb. Best of all, there is a clear sight line from the pilothouse to the stern.
The master stateroom is aft and down a curved stairwell from the saloon, with a king island berth and built-in bureaus with an integrated seat.
Forward of the pilothouse is the VIP cabin in the bow, with a raised berth and a private head with shower. Just aft and down again is a surprisingly spacious utility room with a work area capped in stainless steel, a washer/dryer, and two more Sub-Zero freezers. A crew cabin is to port, with permanent and Pullman bunks, a built-in seat, a bureau and a desk with stool, as well as a private head.
The full-headroom engineroom fills the midship area of Chinook Post with a pair of 700 hp Detroit Series 60 diesels. While there is a Northern Lights 12kW generator, this is a yacht designed for quiet battery power, and two big Trace 4000 watt units are backed up by a hydraulically driven 450-amp generator and a bank of batteries under the master berth. The goal is to be able to anchor in silence and, with air conditioning unnecessary in the Northwest, the battery drain is reduced dramatically. Cooking is with propane, and the Webasto heating system uses diesel fuel.
Philbrook’s produced all the electrical panels. Wherever you look in the engineroom, the wiring is neatly loomed, the plumbing is tidy and it’s clear that this will be an easy yacht to maintain and service.
As part of the Lloyd’s Register classification, Chinook Post has a watertight engineroom and the VIP suite provides another watertight collision bulkhead. Stabilizer pads are welded into the hull, but the yacht has good form stability, so no stabilizers have been installed.
Chinook Post is also considerably faster than her patrol boat sisters, with a top speed around 22 knots. At a leisurely cruise of 14 knots, she has a range of 1,500 miles, more than enough to reach the Aleutians from British Columbia.
The decks are teak, and a pair of bulwarks by the pilothouse combine with forward doors to provide protection even when running with the pilothouse doors open. A pair of big spotlights on the coachroof add to the military look.
Designed and built for Northwest cruising, Chinook Post is an intriguing and attractive yacht built to extremely high standards.
Contact: Philbrook’s Boatyard, Ltd., (250) 656-1157; www.philbrooks.com.