I. No Room at the Inn
For some of us it may be true that our first boat show is as memorable as our first kiss. In my case, they were both in the same year! The boat show was at the old New York Coliseum, on Columbus Circle. Finding this New York Times article today, I was struck by the dates pictured on the Coliseum marquis. I’m certain I was there on the last day, as it was my fourteenth birthday! I must’ve been one of the smiling people mentioned in this headline, because that show set me on the course I travel with you all today. Boats make me happy. Always did, always will. You too, I am sure.
Here’s another iconic New York Boat Show pic, from 1961. Looks like 42nd street to me:
To be charitable, the Coliseum was never the most attractive building in NY. Back in the day some called it “The ugliest building Robert Moses ever built.”
Architects and civic planners celebrated when it was razed to make room for the much more impressive Time Warner Center (Home of Club Dizzy’s at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where you can often find me on a Friday night).
Why all this history? What is the method to my madness? Well, it’s all about that particular era in boating. You may recall that back in the 70’s recreational boats were designed and marketed around one simple measurement – and it wasn’t price or speed. The question was:
How many berths can we squeeze in?
It wasn’t uncommon to find a 32’ boat (sizeable, back then) with seven berths. No one ever filled them, of course. But manufacturers felt compelled to engage in this “berth arms race,” completing like crazy over a nonsensical number, and damn the torpedoes!
I’m glad we now boat in more rational times. Because, really now, how many people do you want to cruise with? As Ben Franklin famously observed:
“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”
Fortunately, with our functioning pressure hot water systems, this is no longer true. But there is a limit to how many people we want to travel with. Which is why designers now put their energies into creating beautiful and functional communal spaces, like galleys, dining areas, and salons. They understand that with guests, sometimes less is more. Of course, you can be lucky enough to own a six-cabin boat, and then simply choose not to fill them up. But it’s always easier to tell your in-laws the simple truth: “Sorry, no room at the inn.”
My current listings, from 67 to 85 feet, all take the same approach – even the 82 and the 85 are three-cabin boats (plus crew quarters). I’ve helped design and sell some four and five-cabin boats, but I suspect the last cabin or two is rarely used.
Better to be creative in how you cruise. When you’ve docked your three-cabin in Abaco, for example, in a crunch you can always fly in guests, put the kids in the crew cabin (oh, how kids love crew cabins)…
….and stash your Captain in a local hotel for a few days. Trust me, three is the perfect number. Here, from the perspective of my listings, is why:
First, for your viewing pleasure, I present Mahogany Rose, my 2007 Vicem 67:
She has your basic three-cabin plus crew layout, but with a twist: The mid-ship cabin easily converts from sleeping cabin to full-sized working office, and back again.
This way the owner (um, that would be you…) has a choice of master cabin’s to sleep in, either in the bow –
– or mid-ship if the office isn’t needed. Between the two, as much as anything the choice comes to down to peace and quiet. More specifically, when you want your piece and quiet.
If you’re tied up at a slip, and sleeping in the bow, you’re a long way away from your guests or crew when they’re stumbling through breakfast prep. It’s just much easier to sleep in. That said, considerations change when you’re on the hook in a roily anchorage. Once the harbor wakes up and boats get moving, you will hear hull slap as your neighbors go by.
On the hook or in the slip, you won’t have any doubt when you hear your bow thruster engage. A client put it quite well to me last week when he said it sounds like “a ton of marbles in a blender” (although that under-berth enclosure can be easily soundproofed. I don’t know why more people don’t do it).
My conclusion here? As in all things in life, it’s nice to have choices. Move to the quieter space as circumstances and guests dictate.
In all of my flybridge listings, whether bow or mid-ship master, you’ll find Vicem’s infamous four-cabin bunk room. Perfect for kids and young adults:
Look closely at above pic, and you’ll see that the upper bunks fold up, to create a roomy two-person cabin. Mahogany Rose is in Charleston, just waiting for you….
For a different approach to accommodations, check out Truant, my 2007 Vicem 70:
She, too is an intelligently designed three-cabin boat, plus crew under the cockpit. And like the V67, she has a bunkroom for four. But Truant has, by far, the largest bunkroom in her class, with extra floorspace for dressing comfortably. And each of those four bunks has its own TV, and its own Direct TV receiver and headset. There are no entertainment arguments on Truant, ever.
Truant’s master cabin, by the way, is in the bow, with a stunning dressing area. Note how her high-gloss varnish work just pops!
Now Baron, my 2007 Vicem 72, is a three-cabin yacht with by far the largest owner’s cabin in her class. Her mid-ship master is apartment-sized, with closets to match. The best view of her is at 2:01 in this amazing video:
Even this video doesn’t quite capture the the size and elegance of her master cabin. Come to Miami and see with your own eyes how her uniquely accented blue LED lighting glows, and take in the view through her in-hull windows. If you are coming to the Palm Beach Show, it’s not hard to run over and take a look.
Untethered, my Viking 82 Enclosed Skylounge, is in a class of her own:
All other Viking 82’s are four-cabin models. As such, they all have a long narrow corridor leading to the bow, with cabins branching off to each side. When all cabin doors are closed, things can get a little …. claustrophobic. But Untethered was expressly conceived as a three-cabin yacht, with a huge master aft of the bow crew quarters:
This is a boat where space and privacy rule. I’d be happy to show her to you in Fort Lauderdale at any time. (including during the Palm Beach show).
Lastly, the queen of my fleet is Essence, that wonderful 2007 Vicem 85:
Essence is the largest express downeast-style boat on the planet (So far, anyway. More on that below). Like Untethered, her owner designed her up front to be first and foremost an owner’s boat. His three-cabin layout supports that decision intelligently. Her crew cabin occupies the entire bow area, providing maximal privacy, while her mid-ship master defines elegance as few boats can:
I expect you‘ve discerned my preference – When it comes to cabins, after a certain point less is more. And I think Ben Franklin would have agreed with me.
II. On to Italy…
So, Essence is the largest downeast style express boat ever built. But apparently not for long! I have been in discussions with with a yard in Italy for a client interested in this [four-cabin!] 105’ Belleza Express. Yes, that’s 32 meters. Isn’t she spectacular?
She has an eighteen month build time, which is remarkable for a yacht this size (although not for steel boats). I have all the details on performance and pricing, so if she interests you, just pull out that trusty flare gun of yours and launch away. Or even better, come to Genoa with me in March and meet the principals. Her pricing is attractive, and full customization is possible.
I never thought anything could eclipse Essence, but I’ve learned to never say never. Come to think of it, isn’t “Eclipse” a great name for a yacht?
III. On to Haiti…
Long time readers will remember my thrills and chills helping to build a school for 400 kids in a “you-can’t-get-there” part of Haiti. A couple of clients have asked recently about it, so I’ll provide an update, along with a request for some help for some wonderful children.
It took there years and almost $175,000, but we got our school built and operating. What once looked like this:
Has become this, the flagship of schools in the hills of eastern Haiti:
It is a beautiful and humbling thing, but….
The original Bodarie School had a short teaching day – classes ended at 1pm. Not because we couldn’t afford the teachers. It’s just that we couldn’t afford a lunch program, and the kids had to go home to eat. That changed after the Goudou-goudou, the awful earthquake in 2010 (Goudou-goudou is an approximation of the terrible grinding sound Haitians heard during the quake).
In a stroke of good luck, after the earthquake we were able to get a grant from UN reconstruction authorities. The deal was that if we could build a kitchen, they would provide food for our kids. Of course we raced to build that kitchen, and the school day was extended to 3pm. The kids were thrilled, as you can see here as they eagerly await a rice delivery:
Unfortunately that food grant has now ended, and we had to end the food program. School ends at 1pm again, and the quality of education has of course been impacted.
My friends on the ground in Bodarie tell me that they need $35,000 annually to feed these kids. My friends and clients had a very significant role in getting this school built, and I humbly turn to you again.
We have a dedicated funding stream that largely covers all day-to-day educational costs. But this food enhancement is just sitting there, waiting for generous souls like my loyal readers to chime in. Please let me know if you can help, and I promise to steward your contribution with the utmost care. An overview of the school’s mission and purpose can be found here:
And the reasons why are right here:
Thank you, one and all, for tuning in once again to my ramblings.
Spring is coming. I guarantee it!
Big Wave Dave