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There is no bad weather. Just bad boats!

 

Really now? “No bad weather, just bad boats?” It’s an old Danish expression, but I heard it for the first time in Holland. Sure, it’s a little bit ….  judgmental? But I’ll give the Danes this: When you boat on the North Sea, and have since the time of the Vikings, I say you’re entitled to judge all you want. Because as Dizzy Dean once famously said,

“It ain’t boasting if’n you kin do it!”

As the fish swims, it’s only 375 nautical miles miles from southern Denmark to Urk, Holland. Urk is home port of Hartman Yachts, builder of, among other things,  the Livingstone 24:

I’ve done enough sailing in Denmark over the years to see a certain shared yachting culture with the Dutch. My respect for those shared values has led me to connect so well with Hartman, and with  Long Island Yachts.  It’s why, when bringing these lines to America, I now summarize their offerings to America this way:

“From the North Sea, to your sea!”

Which brings me today to….

I. Sold!

Keep your eyes open this summer and you’ll see a brand new Long Island Yacht 33 Classic whizzing by on Long Island Sound!

Don’t blink, because she’lll be moving fast. The owner (a race car driver and bad-ass waterskier)….

Not yet behind a 33 Classic, but soon enough…

…. has the need for speed. That’s why he opted for the largest engine that fits the 33, the Yanmar 370, which will top her out at 32+ knots. As he put it to me, “Upgrading to the V8’s additional torque was a no-brainer for me.”

In regard to that performance, you’ve heard on my Tom Brady Goes Dutch podcast about the recent sea trial of a Long Island Yacht 25 Sportsman in New Jersey:

Long Island Yachts Sportman 25 is a touring yacht built in the Netherlands.

25 Sportsman

Before our sea trial her owner was glowing in his account of the boat’s handling. In particular, her solidness in a chop. So we went out on a brisk fall day, and I quickly understood his point. Zooming with the Dutch the next day, they answered for me a question that had been on my mind for awhile:

Why are Long Island Yachts heavier than the competition?

 

Their answer?

 

Because they are supposed to be!

 

All things being equal, we like heavy boats because,

  • When you fall off a wave, that extra mass cushions the blow, and leaves your boat standing on her feet.
  • When you crash into a wave, that extra mass helps crush the weight of what’s coming straight at you (at 64 pounds per cubic foot!)
  • And when that 64 pounds per cubic foot of wave falls on top of  you? Well, best to be pushed around as little as possible.
  • Simply put,  weight delivers stable and able.

The engineers at Long Island Yachts explained that the net additional weight comes from their use of solid fiberglass construction (no foam or balsa cores) below the waterline. That extra mass, down low, is the secret to their handling. And if you are a speed demon, you can make up for that extra weight with a bigger engine (or even twins).

Personally, I think this is an optimal design choice. Especially, when you run aground (see this post on Long Island Yachts’ protected underbodies) …

 

 

… and listen to a great story about a damage-free, high-speed nighttime grounding here. A grounding, by the way, that left the boat 50 feet up on the shoreline (no one was hurt).

For your Long Island Yacht, the next open production slots are for September delivery. But demand is high so please call for your availability update.

II. Next up…

With one hundred of these small luxury yachts having splashed since 2006, the 33 Classic is a perennial best seller. But my innovative friends wanted to tweak the design a little, presenting a more curvaceous look in a slightly smaller design. So they brought some rough plans of a 29 Classic to the Dusseldorf Boat Show last year to gauge client interest. It must have been high, because they’ve already sold five from the plans alone!  Hull #1 will finish in a couple of months, and I will have a full report for you. Meanwhile, here are some CGI’s to tide you over:

 

 

Long Island Yachts commitment to growing their USA fleet has led them to move into their new and larger factory in Holland this week. I look forward to seeing it myself this spring, and I welcome you to come over with me. In fact, let’s sea trial the entire line together…

 

Here is a little of what you can expect at the factory:

III. Hardtop and Other Options

Something else you can expect from Long Island Yachts is some new Hardtop builds. This option is now available for the 29/33 Classic models:

And, so impressively, for the 40 Classic:

 

I’ll take this opportunity to say that the pricing on the hard top option is quite reasonable.

Actually, the options pricing across the entire LIY line is unusually reasonable for our industry. I always take it a little personally when builders pump up their options pricing  ($30,000 for a generator? Really? Do they thing my clients won’t notice?). So hat’s off to Long Island Yachts (the rare builder for whom teak decks and bow thrusters are standard equipment) for keeping their little luxury yachts affordable. Your cost for the generator option on the 40 Classic, you might ask? An eminently reasonable $14, 300. That’s what I’m talking about…

The Long Island Yachts 40 Classic: Quality, Performance, and Value!

40 Classic

IV. What to Build, and for Whom?

 

I’m gonna take a  deep dive into the belly of the beast today, loyal clients, and talk about how builders decide what to build, and for whom. Some of it will be a bit arcane, some of it a little obvious, and some of it (sorry) will come close to boring. But stick with me here, because I think it can add real value to your decision making process.

It starts with yet another restatement of The Fog Warning’s core mission, it’s dedication to answering these questions:

What makes a yacht great, and why? Who makes a great yacht, and how?

 

And for today’s discussion I will add this little postscript:

… and how not to!

 

Obviously, building a great yacht takes a great team.  It starts with the builder, of course  – the owner or the CEO.  But then add:

  • The designers;
  • The bean counters;
  • The naval architects;
  • The parts suppliers;
  • The subcontractors;
  • The service teams (a huge resource when designing and building the yacht in the first place); and,
  • The marketers.

Team assembled? Now the first critical decision:

Exactly what are we going to build, and for whom?

Here’s an illustrative but hypothetical story about the range of possible answers.

Let’s say sales have slowed at a storied builder of big boats. The reasons could be all over the place, but for the purposes of this discussion let’s say:

  • Maybe their designs have gotten stale.
  • Or, they haven’t kept up with the competition.
  • Or, changing trends in the industry (outboards, anyone?) just passed them by.
  • Or, human nature took its course and leadership got too comfortable for too long (when I call the owner or CEO I’m delighted to catch them out on their own boats, using and testing their own products. Catching them out on the golf course ….. um, not so much).

And now their CFO (or maybe the smartest member of their Board of Directors) notices that 18 to 24 months out their cashflow is looking a little shaky.

No need to panic! The solution is well known and well used, practically shouting itself from the rooftops of every boatyard in the world:

“We need a new model!”

Okayyyyy, but what should we build? Keep in mind that tooling costs for a 60 foot yacht are huge. The molds alone for fiberglass construction can run over $2,000,000.

As a brief aside, these tooling cost are one reason I love well-built aluminum and cold molded yachts. Without having to make a huge investment in molds (trust me, you have sell a small fleet of yachts to make that investment back)  all of that value stays in the boat! It stays in as design enhancements, higher-end components, and higher levels of performance and finish. Vanquish Yachts, for example:

… is coming on strong is America with their new, hot aluminum luxury day boats, with at least 20 deliveries here in the last year or so.

But any way you cut it, it’s a big decision. Margins are low, capital costs are high, and not many builders can survive a $2,000,000 mistake. Which leads to question #2:

Do we build down to a price, or build up to the best possible yacht?

Stated another way:

Do we build a yacht generally good enough to meet the needs of the largest pool of potential owners, or do we build a great and more expensive yacht for a far smaller but far more discerning class of owners? 

Biz-wise, neither answer is wrong. Both can succeed. But only one answer consistently and dependably produces a great yacht. Which, as my loyal clients know, is The Fog Warning’s whole raison d’être.

But let’s stick with Track One first, “build down to a price.” And since copying is cheaper than innovating, the project usually moves on to this question:

Who’s doing well, and what marketshare can we grab from them?

It’s a comparatively low-risk play. Why not leverage your competition’s expenditures on costly R & D and marketing? Well, there’s one obvious “not.” Walk through the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show’s lineup of 4,000 largely look-alike, perform alike offerings, and you’ll get what I mean.

But even copying is hard, biz-wise. If competitor X’s yacht is selling well at $2,150,000, the obvious approach for a builder becomes “Let’s move into that space, do it just differently enough to distinguish ourselves a little, but use our smarts to do it more efficiently, say for….. $1,999,000. We’ll clean up!”

Sometimes they do. But that doesn’t mean they produce a great yacht.

And let’s be clear – saving that $150,000 is nowhere as easy as you might think, because:

  • The basic material costs of yacht construction are roughly the same, planet-wide.
  • Even if you can squeeze out some cost advantage on these basic materials, the cost of the hull and deck itself is no more than 25% of the overall build.
  • The core components (engines, electrical, plumbing) are all sourced from the same suppliers, at the same cost unless you are pumping out a thousand boats a year (hello, Azimut!).
  • Basic labor rates don’t vary by county. No matter where you build in China, your base labor rate will be $4.85 an hour. Taiwan? $5.20. Turkey? $4.95. The US or EU? $22. Once you’ve built an elaborate factory, there is no easy way to reduce labor costs. Even robotics (except for making the molds) are not all that applicable to yacht construction.

So, cheaper is harder.

And doing it better and cheaper is way harder.

Which leaves the Goldilocks middle path: More-or-less match your competition’s costs, price point and quality. Then pressure your world-class brokers and cracker jack marketers (who these days are way closer to data scientists than traditional marketers) to leverage the great value of your brand name.

It works.  Does it deliver a great yacht? Sometimes. Not often enough.

More often it takes Track Two: Building the best yachts for the most discerning owners. It’s still a really hard path (after all, if it were easy, everyone would do it). But the best builders in the world continue to produce the best yachts, year in and year out. How do they do it? What skills do they bring to bear?

What I’ve seen is this: They use the best installed option available to species Homo Sapiens:

 Come Again GIF - PeeWeeHerman What Huh GIFs

A world class set of ears!

 

I mean ears (as is said of great jazz musicians) that can hear paint dry.

The builders who turn those ears unwaveringly towards their current and past owners, they get to grab the gold ring. After all, who better can identify what’s missing from their boats, and from their yachting lives, than the owner’s themselves? That kind of market knowledge is invaluable, and all it takes is Pee-Wee Herman-sized  ears.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s not done as often as you think, or as well as it should. The boat biz can be very much an ego-driven dynamic, rife with the “I know best” syndrome. Trust me, nobody in this biz knows everything. So nothing beats a goods set of ears.

What else works? Builders who:

  • Are emotionally and intellectually wired for innovation;
  • Who prioritize a direct connection to a yachting life – They use their yachts just as their owner’s do. A lot;
  • They work hard at staying small. With great product that takes discipline (you have to be good at saying no). It’s hard for big conglomerates to build great yachts;
  • Their pockets are deep enough to avoid chasing the latest trend; to weather downturns (in fact, downturns are exactly when you should be working on new models); to provide great service to their owners; to operate without significant debt but with great partners; to take as much pride in the quality of their yachts as the quality of their balance sheet; and,
  • Most of all, they have the skills, confidence and integrity to…

Say what they build, and build what they say!

 

By this I mean they define right up front the core functionality they want to bring to their yachts. And they stay true to that from first drawing to first splash.

Builders with integrity build yachts of integrity. They don’t dwell on labels or depend on slick marketing. What they depend on is the good judgement of knowledgeable yachtsmen and women who know what they are looking for and what they are looking at.

God, I love this business.

V. Explorer Yachts, Expedition Yachts, and other Assorted Labels

Which brings me, finally, to our last chapter today: Explorer and Expedition yachts (whether mini, maxi, or pocket). And I’m going to apologize in advance for being a little strident here. But in this sector the dollar costs can be as high as the physical risks. If you’ve been following the damage done to the Vendee Globe racers this winter, you know that some 10,000 shipping containers a year get jettisoned at sea. Any one of them can sink an under-built ship:

 

But no nautical authority – not Lloyds of London, nor MCA, nor anyone else – has technically defined what constitutes an Explorer or Expedition yacht. Unless and until you get up into Ice-Class classifications, any builder can call anything that floats anything they want. And since this has been a very hot build class over the last five years, builders everywhere have rushed in with their own offerings, definitions and labels.  The build space is now occupied by at least 18 builders around the world, and five times that many designers. The best of the best stand out. Some don’t (fiberglass expedition yachts? Really?).

Who builds what I would take anywhere, anytime? For me they are builders of ships. Ships that get through almost anything, for as long as it takes, with sufficient space and range for crew, guests, toys, supplies, and refuse. Ships strong enough to handle things like semi-submerged shipping containers, with commercial-level damage control systems when things get wrong. Ships that can safely provide the offshore experience that very few people get to have, much less own.  They include:

Holland’s  Damen Yachts (the world’s largest commercial builder, from freighters to naval ice breakers):

 

Feadship (Royal Dutch Shipyards), who have been building Super Yachts almost since the time of Superman:

 

Italy’s Cantiere delle Marche (CDM), who’s Darwin class Expedition Yachts blew me away in Cannes last year:

 

And Heesen (yes, that’s her Long Island Yachts 28 Sportsman tender alongside):

 

The Fog Warning Blog and Podcast is going to spend the coming months exploring this world, and I hope you enjoy the ride. Maybe you can tell that I’m taking the lack of authenticity in this sector a little ….. personally. Sure, I could probably lighten up a little.  But to me, if a client is going to spend $5m, $10m, or far more on a true ocean-going vessel, it’s  because they want the challenge of rounding Capes – not puttering though canals. They don’t need slick marketing or magazine cover shots,  convenient labels or copycat builders. In my humble opinion what they need is:

  • A ship, not a boat.
  • And that ship should be built in a shipyard, not a boatyard.
  • And it should be a Dutch ship, or one that aspires to that level.

And, if they’re going Dutch, I want them to take a very close look at my Dutch ships. Those built by the shipyard of Hartman Yachts:

 

What can I say?  I’m a true believer. Why? I’ll leave that to Dizzy Dean again…

“It ain’t boasting if’n you kin do it!”

As always, thanks for listening. And launch a flare if I can help with anything along the way.

 

Big Wave Dave

Your Globe-circling Report

I have returned! With four cities and ten boats over five days under my jet-lagged belt, I’d like to share with you some of what I learned. Feel free to skim through until you find something you like, and trust that I’ll tie up all its diverse threads in a bow for you at the end of this post.

I. First Stop – The Hague!

Midway between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, I spent the day at the home of my wonderful “little” pocket yachts – Long Island Yachts:

The Long Island Yachts 40 Classic

You’ll see below that the LIY factory is humming along nicely. Having sold 80+ of these wonderful boats in Europe, I am convinced they can handle the US market with skill and dependability.

 
Cranking them out!
Ignore the smiling faces, and check out the gleaming gelcoat. A top-notch job!

I am so pleased to announce here for the first time that LIY is sending me a 33 Classic demo boat for the coming season! You’ll find this lovely beauty at my dock in Shelter Island this summer, and in harbors from Montauk to Essex. I look forward to showing you what she can do, but until then, enjoy this video and call me for pricing and availability.

 

https://youtu.be/bQmeZjShwLo
Long Island Yachts 33 Classic

II. The Zeelander 72 Launch

I was honored to be among Holland’s yachting elite for the launch party of Zeelander’s greatly anticipated 72. It was … incendiary! I’ve seen launches like this at Cannes and Monaco, but never a party of this scale at a factory.

Trust me, professional photography and videography will follow at length, but here are some early views to tide you over until then:

Almost 150 square feet of extended outdoor space
The Z55, Z44, and the Z72

You can see full coverage of this party, with additional photos right here:

https://www.zeelander.com/zeelander-z72-yard-launch-vip/

I spent a full day exploring this fine yacht, and here are my observations:

Long time readers know that 72’ yachts are the most common models I have sold – at least six or eight of them, from several builders, all with traditional straight-shaft power trains. It’s a footprint I know intimately!

The Zeelander 72 changed my space-planning expectations. The interior volume that intelligent IPS engine installations provide is just remarkable. Her total living area almost approaches that of my Vicem 85 model (albeit in a narrower beam). 

This was clear just about every place I looked:

  • Her master cabin is positively huge. The only time I’ve seen so much “empty” space around built-in furniture is on larger, mid-cabin master cabin yachts.
  • Although not terribly clear on the layout plan, she even has a walk-in closet to starboard.
  • Notably, each of the two guest cabins are quite large, almost the size of master cabins on many 58’ boat yachts.
  • What’s more, shower areas, often a space sacrifice in boats this size (particularly European builds), are voluminous here. 
  • Exterior space, particularly with what I estimate is a 150 square foot extended swim platform, is almost ridiculous! For entertaining, this boat could easily absorb a 20+ person cocktail party. 


My design quibbles are just two or three in number, and they are minor. Please feel free to reach out to me privately and I’d be happy to share them with you.

A brief discourse here, loyal readers, about global markets, and what they can mean for you….

Aboard the JUST SOLD Zeelander 55. Details below

Careful readers will note at the bottom of each page icons for the Russian and Chinese versions of The Fog Warning. They are becoming much-used services. How much so?

Currently 9% of all readers of The Fog Warning worldwide are from Russia!

3% are from China, by the way. But I’m working hard on increasing that number.

The Russian market is booming, and I find those clients to be among the most yacht-savvy boaters I have met. Case in point, the Zeelander 55 I’m shooting above has just been sold to a client in Russia. Here she is, the very next day, on her way to points east:

To continue this multi-lingual thread, in the last month I have received two inquires from the UAE about Ojala, our Vicem 80 listing:

Those inquiries have spurred me to add an Arabic version of The Fog Warning, and interested readers can find that new icon at the bottom of each page as well.

My point here, loyal readers and yacht owners, is that The Fog Warning’s global reach can be a huge asset in the sale of your fine yacht. Please call me to find out how my global reach can find a new home for your yacht.

OK, back to my Vicem 80! The number one question I receive about this yacht (formerly known as the Vicem 75, before the swim platform length was added to its overall measurement) is how she differs from the best-selling Vicem 72. Well, that is now an easy question to answer. You’ll see here how just a bit more length and a bit more height allows a comfortable fourth cabin to fit in nicely:

V72 vs. V75/80

The full listing for this Vicem 80 can be found below. And if you are coming to the Palm Beach Boat Show next week, I’d be happy to meet you in Miami to explore her together. I’d say she is certainly worth your time:

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/2011/vicem-80-flybridge-3515047/?refSource=standard%20listing

You will find me on D – Dock at the Palm Beach Show, under the Northrop & Johnson flags. I will be aboard the Zeelander 55 from March 28th through the 31st. I look forward to showing her to you there. But until then, this will have to suffice:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK93b-vS47I

III. On to Istanbul!

I spent a great day with my friends from Vicem Yachts in Istanbul. I saw their almost done 68 Cruiser coming together, and you’ll be able to see her for yourself at the fall shows:


Vicem 68 Cruiser

Vicem is having an impressive line of yachts at the Palm Beach Show. They’re having a cocktail party on Thursday night, and you’ll see me there!

IV. And Finally, to Antalya

Antalya is a stunning historic Roman harbortown in the far south of Turkey. It is one of my favorite places on the planet, which is why this was perhaps my tenth trip there. It’s a sleepy, Mediterranean kind of place, as evidenced by my canine friend here:

I returned to Antalya to meet with AvA Yachts, the builder of the striking Kando line of go-anywhere steel/aluminum yachts.

They are finishing up hull #1 of the kendo 110, set to splash in six weeks:

And, I saw that they are two months in to hull #2, destined to deliver to NBA star Tony Parker in nineteen months:

In the end they will both look like this:

But they will have very different layouts. #1 is a five-cabin model, with the master cabin in the bow:

Five-cabin, master bow

To each his and her own, of course. But personally, I have a thing for aft-cabin masters. By putting the master cabin on the aft deck, you get an enormous “porch” at the foot of your bed, presenting wonderfully romantic “sunsets-in-bed.” After all, in the end ain’t it all about the romance?

Numarine does this with their line of explorer yachts. But as you’ll see here, that back porch view will usually be blocked by tenders and water toys:

Numarine 32XP

The Kando 110 (aft master) places the tender on the front deck, preserving those unblocked bedside sunsets:

Kando 110 six-cabin, aft master

As I say, to each his and her own. That’s the thing about yacht building in Turkey – You can always have it your way, usually at minimal extra cost!

V. And Home!

Finally, back to New York, for one week. Then I’m off to Zeelander-world at the Palm Beach Show. I do hope to see you there. But I’d like to leave you with this closing thought – A top industry executive once said this (kindly!) about my success in the boat biz:

“Dave may not be the absolute best broker in the industry. And he may not be the #1 hardest working broker in the industry. But he always shows up!”

Yah, showing up is what I do. So please consider letting me show up on your behalf, my loyal readers, sellers and buyers. You know me, I aim to please. And to deliver!

Thanks, and enjoy!

Big Wave Dave

If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much!

I’ve been traveling the breadth of Holland for most of September.  Having bounced around between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and that booming metropolis of Urk (no, that’s not a typo) for weeks on end,  I return with fascinating tales and stunning boats for you. So grab a Heineken or two and settle down for the story.

I was invited to the Netherlands by a consortium of Dutch builders eager to establish (or improve) their beachheads on our side of the pond. I got up close and personal looks at over two hundred new yachts, and met with over a dozen builders.

I found there’s a lot of truth behind the old “If it ain’t Dutch…” joke. The Dutch truly have a unique relationship with the sea. The hard fact is that most of their country is below sea level, so they don’t have much choice!  Crawling through their yachts, I found some of the best engineering on the planet. I feel very strongly that we need this level of engineering in our harbors, too. Which is why I am so thrilled to now be representing three of Holland’s premier yacht builders in America!

I. First, Zeelander Yachts

Zeelander has been selling their fine yachts (including the hot one cruising through that cup of  coffee, above) in the USA since 2010. Their Z44 and Z55 models are well established on both coasts. I think you’ll understand why this year their best seller is their Z55:

 

 

 

 

 

 

As stunning as they are to the eye, what’s going on behind the scenes – from their hull design and uncompromising standards of soundproofing to their impressively laid out systems – is even more impressive. You can see what I mean by meeting me aboard their latest Z55 (a triple IPS 45 knot boat!) at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show (from October 31st  through November 4th).  I know my clients and loyal readers. So I know you will love this boat.

Be forewarned that I’ll be divulging some Zeelander secrets at the show. You can hear some advance news about Zeelander’s new Corniche 55:

and their under-construction  Zeelander 72:

And if that is not enough, I will have details on what to me is a pinnacle of avant-garde engineering: Their stunning Hybrid Drive, Rina-Green Class Plus Zeelander 164:

The artist renditions of three alternatives for its interior design will grab your attention. I am certain of it.

But to tide you over until your FLIBS vacation, here’s a cool little advance holiday for you:

II. Hartman Yachts

These are the boats that brought me to Holland this fall! It all started with a review of their Livingstone 24  in the latest issue of Passagemaker Magazine. Her classic jazz-age styling made me reach for my passport:

This 24 meter shares her lines with two larger siblings, the 34M and the 42M. Viewed as a complete series, these sketches provide the best view of Hartman’s deep dive  into classic yachts:

The Livingstone 24

 

The Livingstone 34

The Livingstone 42

I’ll be writing about this fine yacht quite a bit in the months to come, but if you can’t wait, here’s the review that sent me to Urk:

 

I’d be remiss here in not mentioning Hartman’s Explorer line, the Amundsen Series. Designed to go anywhere at almost any time, their design and overbuilt scantlings come directly from Hartman’s experience in building ocean-tested commercial freighters – boats that routinely go from Holland to the Falkland Islands, regardless of weather. Their intelligent and redundant systems will identify their 26M, 35M, and 42M yachts as true Explorer-class yachts:

Amundsen 26

 

Amundsen 34

Amundsen 42

III. Long Island Yachts

I must say, this was the big surprise of my trip to Holland:

I had not heard of Long Island Yachts, despite their oh-so-American name (they’re actually named after a very special place in the Bahamas). I was surprised (and then excited) to learn that over eighty  have sold in Holland. I find the Dutch to be a very friendly, but rather grounded people. It takes a lot to get them excited. Well, clearly these Long Island Yacht builds turn them on!

 

I firmly believe these little pocket yachts are poised to make a big splash in our harbors. Why?

  • Their designs are spot on.
  • Their build-quality is as close to flawless as I’ve seen on small yachts.
  • Their pricing is quite advantageous.

But hey, don’t just listen to me! Come see for yourself, as I’ll have a beautiful red one for you to board at the Fort Lauderdale Show. Please call me for the details.

IV. Oh Wait….

One last thing about the Fort Lauderdale Show – The Baron, my Vicem 72 brokerage listing, will be open for private viewings in nearby Miami. I will be making scheduled trips  during the show, so please call now for an appointment. For a more public viewing, here ya go:

V. Things I hate!

Welcome to a new regular feature of The Fog Warning – Things I love, and Things I Hate. This week, it’s all about the hate!

I’m often asked where the name “Big Wave Dave”  comes from. I rarely tell the story. It’s too embarrassing for a marine professional (sic) to admit.  But as The Fog Warning’s reach has expanded (with 10,000 new readers this year alone) I recognize that a good part of this growth is the boating public’s hunger for better coverage of “real world” safety issues. So in the interest of the greater good, I will overcome my embarrassments for you, my loyal readers. You owe me one.

First, some video’s that explore that brave and dangerous activity of boarding moving vessels. (Warning, don’t try this at home).

The first is about mail deliveries on the Great Lakes. In some communities mail gets delivered right to your dock. And, as you’ll see,  that mailboat don’t dawdle!

Mailboat jumper tryouts

The "mailboat jumpers" are part of a time-honored tradition that helps put Lake Geneva on the map. FOX6 News was there on Tuesday for tryouts for the 2018 season — and not everyone stayed dry! via.fox6now.com/a1U5Q

Posted by FOX6 News Milwaukee on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

 

And then there is this boarding exercise,  from Finland. How else would your pilot board from an ice flow? And do they pay these people enough?

 

Finally, my points are made by this hair-raising tale (it ends well):

Personally, these videos instill in me an attitude of gratitude (as new-age meditators put it). Gratitude  for the fact that the universe, in its infinite wisdom, provided for the evolution of bow rails!

After all, these too-often overlooked options keep you and yours where you’re supposed to be.

Of course many downeast-style yachts dispense with these rails altogether. Far and away the majority of Hinkley’s don’t have them. In fact, these yachts are beautiful in part because there are no stainless rails breaking up their sweeping lines. Here’s a good example of that (and bonus points if you catch the captain almost falling overboard seven seconds in):

The bow rail discussion (do I or don’t I?) is a little bit like the flybridge discussion (Do I shoot for the panoramic visibility and extra outdoor space that a flybridge offers, or the pure beauty of an express model?).  A little tangent here folks….

I was speaking with a client just last week about his dilemma. His point, and of course we all get it, is that life is too short to have a less-than-beautiful boat. And whatever visibility, functionality and outdoor space a flybridge adds, it hurts to sacrifice one’s sense of style. On the flip side, when you’re running your boat, why care what she looks like to the crowds?

There’s no right answer here, of course. But I will say that one of the things that  completely won me over to Zeelander is how beautifully they balance interior and exterior space, without sacrificing visibility.

First, the designers at Zeelander went pedal-to-the-metal in providing full panoramic view from the helm of their 55. You can see it best clicking on this virtual tour:

 

I’ve never run an express-style yacht with this kind of 360 degree visibility. From a safety perspective, I cannot say enough about it.

And then, in terms of the indoor/outdoor space issue, the Z55 is the only express-style yacht I know that offers a quantum of outdoor space comparable to a flybridge. Check out these plans:

 

With her transom hydraulically opened, her beach-sized platform spread out just above the water, her bar area windows retracted and her sunroof open, the Zeelander 55 offers four outdoor areas for you and your guests, without sacrificing any room down below. I have never seen this on an express-style yacht. Come see me at the Fort Lauderdale show and I’m happy to demonstrate at length.

Well, now back to bow rails. In my ten years with Vicem, and some $40m in boats later,  I never did a custom build without bow rails. The conversation came up quite a bit, of course. Most commonly I heard “Hinckley’s don’t got ’em, why should mine?”  But in the end, safety won out repeatedly, and every one of my clients opted to spend the $14,000+ to add bow rails. Rails, I might add, high enough to do their job. Too many rails end just above knee height, as seen here….

…putting them at the perfect fulcrum point to toss you overboard.

Let me repeat that: ….putting them at the perfect fulcrum point to……

Ten years ago I was working a 50′ yacht at a CT boat show. Her bow rails were knee-high.  A client happened to call me for some advice, so for some privacy I worked my way up to the bow, thereby becoming the object of an old industry joke:

Q: How can you tell who’s a yacht broker at a boat show?

A: He/She is  the one on their phone with their back to the crowd.

Guilty as charged.

We talked for awhile,  my phone tucked in one ear as I took some notes in my ever-present notebook. These days I use this one, and if you’d like one for note taking at the fall shows, just launch a flare and I’d be happy to send you one:

All was fine until I dropped the pen. Leaning forward, braced against the (low) rail, a gentle wave from a passing wake rocked my boat slightly. Much quicker than I can write, I instantly went from six feet above the water to five feet under, hitting the dock with my shoulder as I passed it by. Instantly, as in:

Underwater, I was immediately aware of two things:

  • Which way was up (duh, the sunlight);  and,
  • That my arm hurt like hell.

I popped up, and looked aft to the crowds on the dock. No one saw me go over, and with my head just below dock level I was pretty much invisible. I couldn’t wave (I needed my other arm to stay afloat) but I could inch my way down the dock with my one good arm. I made my way up the ladder on the boat’s swim platform.

I was reasonably sure my arm was broken, but X-rays at the ER showed it was just a bad bone bruise. Three days later I was on a plane to Istanbul to splash a new Vicem 67 Flybridge.

So yes, I’m the only one in my industry who can say I fell overboard at a boat show. My colleagues awarded me a prize – an antique kapok-style  life jacket, labelled Big Wave Dave.

I have yet to escape that name. I don’t suppose I should.

What are the lessons of this embarassing tale? I will leave you with just one, plus a classic video clip to drive the point home: Bow rails are a personal decision. There are things to be said for high, none, or very low rails. But I’ll quote Archimedes here, who said this about fine yachts with knee-high bow rails:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

Yes, I hate ’em.  And so should you. And please remember this:

Ciao for now, loyal readers. I’ll see you at FLIBS!

[You now know the saga of] Big Wave Dave