Yachts of the Pacific Northwest

Rugged conditions set the stage for yachts that are seaworthy and eyecatching


By Chris Caswell The Pacific Northwest bears the burden of a reputation for rain, bad weather and a generally inhospitable Pacific coastline, but those very characteristics have resulted in yacht design innovations that are now commonplace worldwide. The raised pilothouse, for example, may be great with air-conditioning in the tropics, but it was born in the Pacific Northwest, where skippers wanted protection from the inclement conditions. The same is true for covered side decks, which allow the crew to stay reasonably dry while handling lines, but this innovation also keeps the sun out of the saloon in hotter climates. And, of course, when it comes to building yachts, Pacific Northwest yards are renowned for building them both tough and luxurious. That's because the North Pacific, from Oregon to Alaska, is as unforgiving a stretch of ocean as you'll find anywhere in the world—when you're in between its many spectacular coves and anchorages, that is. As the region made a transition from working the sea to playing on it, yachts naturally were designed and built to take the bit in their teeth and run with it. Indeed, part of the allure of yachts built in the Pacific Northwest is that they reflect the fact that many of the boatbuilders, and the craftsmen who create the yachts, come from a background in commercial fishing. As the fishing industry dwindled, many of the builders took their ability to construct seaworthy commercial boats and moved into the luxury yacht market. The resulting yachts bear the wisdom of lessons learned far offshore in rugged conditions. And yet at the same time, the new breed of Pacific Northwest yachts can also measure up against the most luxurious yachts from anywhere in the world. Here's a look at yachts larger than 80 feet from the Pacific Northwest.Joanna McCarthy/Getty Images


Christensen Having built more ABS and MCA-certified composite yachts over 35 meters (114 feet) than any other shipyard in the world, Christensen enjoys a full order book and a long list of satisfied owners, including one returning for his fourth yacht from this builder. The yard has perfected its Custom 157-foot series, which, with flexible molds, allows a fast build time and competitive turnkey pricing. The most recent launch is Barchetta, hull number 28 in the 157-foot series and a yacht that is expected to make waves on the world charter circuit. Nearing completion is Marathon, another 157-footer aimed at the charter market. With Party Girl, a 146-footer, Christensen will introduce some styling changes, such as vertical pilothouse windows, a tender garage, as well as a fully customized layout. Hull number 31 is Lady Joy II, a 157-foot motoryacht for Denise Rich (Peers, May 2006), which will be the first Christensen with an at-anchor stabilization system. Hull number 32 is Liquidity, a familiar name and a returning owner, that will also have vertical windshields and at-anchor stabilizers. This will also mark a turning point for Christensen with the last Custom 157. Hulls number 33 and 34 are 160-footers with styling changes that include more rounded lines forward. With the addition of a new construction bay with taller ceilings to accommodate larger yachts, Christensen can now build nine yachts at the same time. Future plans include an additional boatyard in Tennessee, which will build yachts from 165 feet to more than 220 feet in composite.

Delta 164

Delta Located just south of Seattle, this yard started out by building high-speed pleasure boats and then made the shift to building tough vessels for the fisheries in the Bering Sea. After delivering more than 800 vessels, the company switched direction again and moved into the luxury market, starting with long-range expedition yachts that melded its experience in seaworthy fishing boats with the trend toward cruising. Delta's most recent launch was Laurel, a 240-footer with a steel hull and a composite superstructure. Another 2006 launch was Happy Days (see our story in this issue), a composite 164-footer that put Delta on top as the builder of the largest fiberglass yacht in the Americas. Other projects include a 123-foot composite expedition yacht and a 156-foot high-performance motoryacht. Nordlund This builder is now run by a second generation of the Nordlund family, whose attention to detail and high quality has built a strong following. Many recent clients are Nordlund owners returning for their second, third, or even fourth Nordlund-built yacht. One such owner is car racer and automotive parts magnate Vic Edelbrock, who had the 89-foot Nordlund yachtfisher, VictorE. He recently took delivery of a new 110-foot Monk-designed Nordlund named Victorious (December 2006) which, while designed for long-range cruising, still has the capability of chasing game fish between Mexico and Alaska. With twin 2,000 hp MTUs, Victorious has a 26-knot top speed and a 20-knot cruise. Also launched in 2006 was El Vato, an 87-foot fast motoryacht by Ed Monk and Tim Nolan that tops out at 28 knots. On the ways is an 86-foot Monk-designed raised pilothouse motoryacht due for delivery early in 2007, and just starting construction is a 78-foot motoryacht. In a shift from its traditional yachts, Nordlund is also starting a series of 57-foot express cruisers to an Ed Monk design, with the first due for 2007 completion. www.nordlundboat.comNeil Rabinowitz

Northcoast 87

Northcoast This veteran Pacific Northwest yard was acquired three years ago by Steven Yadfish, whose Yachtfish Marine on Seattle's Lake Union was a popular yard for custom yachts and refits. Northcoast can handle up to four yacht projects as large as 132 feet, although it's most popular series has been an 87-footer with the most recent launch in mid-2006. With a range of 1,500 miles and a top speed of 28 knots, the yacht has a full-beam master stateroom and can be fitted as either a crewed yacht or for an owner-operator. Under way at the yard is a new Paul Fredrickson-designed 125-foot motoryacht that is a development from a previous Northcoast 118-foot yacht. Projects in the works include a refit of a 78-foot Striker, a 100-foot motoryacht, and plans for a 142-footer.

Northern Marine 80

Northern Marine Another Northwest builder that started with expedition yachts, Northern Marine has made the transition to more conventional motoryachts, such as the 151-foot Jonathan Q. Barnett tri-deck launched last year. The company builds an 80-foot expedition yacht, and has plans to start a new series of 105-foot expedition yachts with a 26-foot beam and a 210-ton displacement.

Northstar 100

NorthStar Based on the Columbia River, this builder specializes in fiberglass sportfishers and motoryachts up to 115 feet. The company's 80-foot sportfisher series, such as the 2005 El Lobo, is a Howard Apollonio design with interior styling by Sylvia Bolton. With prop pockets, the yacht has a draft of just five feet, six inches for island cruising. A new 100-foot raised-pilothouse motoryacht is under construction to a design by Jack Sarin and, with twin 1,480 hp MTU diesels, it will have a cruising speed of 19 knots. Just started is a new style for NorthStar: a 107-foot tri-deck motoryacht due for 2008 delivery. On the boards is a 115-foot tri-deck motoryacht and a 112-foot raised-pilothouse motoryacht.

Pacific Mariner 85

Pacific Mariner This builder is an unsung success story that has built a reputation (and a strong following) by offering essentially turnkey motoryachts that are well-proven and seaworthy. Designed by Bill Garden and styled by Greg Marshall, the Pacific Mariner 65 and 85 are delivered fully equipped from electronics to spare light bulbs, galley utensils to cleaning supplies. Rather than force buyers to wade through a lengthy options list, owner Jack Edson chose to include everything an owner is likely to want, leaving only a few choices on the options list. The Pacific Mariner 85 is a raised-pilothouse motoryacht with a lean profile that still allows a full-beam master stateroom plus three more spacious guest cabins (two with queen berths). With 1,500 hp MTU diesels, the 85 cruises in the mid-20-knot range and has a top speed of 30 knots. More than 60 of the Pacific Mariner 65s have been built, and eight of the 85-footers have been delivered from an order book of 11 sales. Rayburn This small family-owned yard in British Columbia continues to produce uncompromising yachts that they call "manageable megayachts. Many of Rayburn's clients have owned much larger yachts but, when they decided to scale back, were unwilling to give up the amenities, systems and quality of the traditional megayacht. A good example is the just-launched Kathleen M, a 92-foot enclosed-bridge motoryacht that is a continuation of the in-house design that has proven successful over several yachts. The four-stateroom layout is notable for an exquisitely crafted sapele interior. Due in mid-2007 is Splash, a 100-foot enclosed-bridge motoryacht on the same 23-foot beam hull with four staterooms, a hot-tub on the bridge, and a full three-phase electrical system. In the planning stages are an 83-footer and a 106-foot motoryacht.

Richmond 142

Richmond Texas businessman Don Davis was having a yacht built by Sovereign Yachts of Richmond, B.C., when he discovered that the company was about to go belly up, leaving him with a partially finished but expensive shell. He did the smart thing and bought the company's assets on the Fraser River near Vancouver, B.C., renaming the yard Richmond Yachts. He finished his Status Quo, a 138-footer with Ward Setzer styling and Sean Pavlik interior, and used that as a showpiece to attract further commissions for his yard. Next to launch was Richmond Lady, a 142-footer with a six-stateroom layout, including a VIP cabin on the upper deck. The first yacht completely built by Richmond Yachts is the recently launched Sun Chaser, also a 142-footer that draws on the Setzer/Pavlik team. Sun Chaser has a six-stateroom layout plus an eight-foot Jacuzzi spa integrated into the upper deck bar and lounge area. Two more 142s are currently under construction, with launches scheduled for January and July of 2007. Westport This yard on the Washington coast has steadily increased the size of the facilities so that the company now has more than 750 employees working two shifts at three separate plants. Founded more than four decades ago to build commercial fishing boats, Westport builds yachts in 112- and 130-foot series and has just launched its largest yacht, the 164-foot Vango. This year, Westport expects to build five of its 112s (25 have been delivered), three of the 130s (17 built) and two more 164s. Designed by Bill Garden, the 164-foot Westport 50-Meter has styling by Don Starkey in a five-stateroom layout. The full-beam master suite is located on the main deck, while the upper deck features a VIP suite with private sundeck. Rather than using deck space, the tender is hidden in a garage on the transom. Recent deliveries include a pair of 112-footers (Gale Winds and Passion for Excellence) and a 130-footer (Lucky Seven). Westport Yacht's newly designed Web site also supports the company's entry into the international market.