A Proper Yacht

Seeking the ideal on the docks requires thinking differently.

Yachting News Headlines, Tell Tales, Yachts
Courtesy Steve Haefele

I’ve been boat shopping with my pal Bob. He’s usually narrow-minded in his definition of a proper yacht, but he’s strayed outside the box this time around. We have looked at everything from Chinese motoryachts to Eastern European express boats. We’ve hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail on boat-show docks. He just can’t seem to find what he’s looking for.

“Let’s take a look at that trawler,” Bob insists as we make our approach to a 60-foot traditional ride.

“But you said that your wife said that trawlers are for old people,” I remind him.

“It’s a fast trawler with Euro styling,” Bob says.

“A what?” I answer with a smirk. (Technically, lacking fishing gear, she was not a trawler at all, and if she were, she’d certainly not be fast.)

“Now you’re just nitpicking,” Bob grouses.

Displacement speed (knots) is the square root of waterline length (feet) times 1.34. Planing is the same, multiplied by a figure most agree is larger than 2. Some refer to the space between as semi-displacement. It sounds better than semi-planing. Fast trawler? Why not?

Bob peers through the master stateroom’s hullside picture window, taking notice of waste dripping from a pipe on the underside of the dock.

“Perhaps it’s not the buyers, but instead the designers who should be thinking outside the box.”

“Nice view,” he grumbles. Check. Fast trawlers out!

“How about a fast classic?” I offer, directing his attention to a vintage East Coast, semi-displacement sled in flag blue. While she was well past middle age, she needed no surgery or makeup.

“You know, Bob,” I say, “few modern designs will endure time like this beauty.”

“She’s got class all right,” Bob admits. “But the interior looks like a nursing home, and I don’t own a pair of Nantucket red pants.”

(At 70 feet, she’d also be a handful for Bob and his wife. Bob is not keen on sharing his command or his boating budget with a dependent, aka a captain.)

Frustrated, Bob sets course for something more familiar: a 55-foot express. Bob has owned at least a half-dozen examples. His current express measures 52 feet.

We wander through several new designs before a galley-aft layout catches his eye. “That’s different,” he says.

I recall once penning such a layout for a builder. As I remember, he managed to sell just one, probably to a serial express owner like Bob who’d become bored with his ride.

“Salons are better aft,” I tell him. “If you want a view while cooking, light the grill.”

Other than funny windows, push-button side decks and an odd plumb stem, these new designs aren’t all that much different from the boat Bob already has. Hmm. Perhaps it’s not the buyers, but instead the designers who should be thinking outside of the box.

WANTED: a design that neither causes premature aging nor looks like a Star Wars prop. Right tech, yes; not high-tech is a plus; must cruise at 25 knots without dampening skipper or dehydrating his wallet.

A sales buddy of ours claims Bob knows too much. “There’s no such thing as a perfect boat,” our friend insists.

Maybe so, but after 50 years of boating, Bob knows what he’s looking for in a new boat. He wants something outside the box — in a good way.