I will never forget my first visit to YachtSmiths International — who we eventually selected to build our dream — when Brian Smyth (one of the two guys that runs YS) told me that there would undoubtedly be changes along the way as the boat went from 2D drawings to 3D metal, wood, glass and equipment. I confess I did not believe him, but he turned out to be quite correct. Once the boat begins to take shape and you start climbing on and in it, suddenly little design alterations that never occurred to you appear out of thin air and, sometimes, what looked great on paper doesn’t seem to be what you envisioned initially. Being in the space can be quite different than simply imagining it. A good. Flexible and imaginative builder is an absolute must.
A Blog Poster Wrote:
While 50′ would be nice, any talk of 50′ boats raises the investment substantially. Building in North America will put a 50′ budget north of $1m fairly easily
Yachtsmiths’ Satisfied Client Replied:
That is not necessarily accurate. I am building a 53′ Aluminum passagemaker in Nova Scotia (which is a little more expensive than steel). I can tell you from real live, recent experience — since I have been writing the checks or wiring the money — that my final build price will be less that a million, and when I started the exchange rate was much worse than it now is.
It can be frustrating to find the correct builder, and that is a process in and of itself. I did get bids and estimates for more than a million (one was for a lot more). The two estimates from the two builders I narrowed the list down to were both under a million dollars (and I am going the aluminum, controllable pitched prop, wing engine, flat screen, and nice electronics route; it is not an extravagant build, but it is far from minimalist).
I visited and interviewed both (which is an absolute must, of course, when you start building a “one of a kind, never been built before” boat). When I selected my builder I was convinced, and still am, that I has found the right builder, with motivated and dedicated owners and professional, hard working employees, who would work with me to do everything possible to get the price to a reasonable figure.
I will share a quick story with you that I have not even told my builder. It was one of those moments when I knew that I made the right builder choice:
Very shortly after construction began and the frames started going up I got a call from the builder asking me if I could come up to talk about some design and build issues (remember how I mentioned how they warned me that some things would look differently in 3D than what you may have envisioned by looking at a 2D drawing). Anyway, when I went up to Canada to see what was up and walked into the building where my child was being built . . . there she was all shiny, with frames, a partial deck, etcetera.
I knew from my interview visit months and months before that the owners’ office was upstairs, and as I headed over to go see them, some guy walked up to me and stuck out his hand to introduce himself. He was obviously an employee and obviously a “welder type” of a guy. Anyway, he came over and said “you must be the owner”, which I acknowledged was the case. I thought he was just going to point out where I should go to find the company owners and my contact, but he introduced himself, told me his name, and — I swear, I will never forget this — he thanked me, actually thanked me, for selecting the company he worked for to build my boat and told me how proud and honored he was to build it for me. He actually used those words — “proud and honored.” He told me that he wanted to let me know that he and everyone else working on my boat were going to do everything possible to make sure that they built a strong, safe, and reliable boat for me.
I am sure I thanked him and mumbled something, but I don’t remember what. I am a trial lawyer by training and profession and I am not often caught speechless, but I was then. This was just some guy with a welding torch getting a paycheck every two weeks. He didn’t own the place; he wasn’t making big bucks or the profit; it wasn’t “his” company, he was just a guy on the line working paycheck to paycheck. I have got to tell you, I knew right then and there that my partner and I had selected the right builder and that we could trust what would go on there.
That is probably a little bit afield from the blog poster’s initial point, but if you find the right builder with the right motivation who wants to work for a fair price as opposed to trying to dig as deep into your pockets as they possibly can, you can build a nice 50+ foot passagemaking-capable boat here in North America. I know. I am doing it.
Pacific Northwest 43 is a yacht designed for my own use. You may like her, too. I wanted a true, voyaging motor yacht optimized for a live aboard couple. And I wanted to minimize costs (purchase, maintenance, and operating costs) without compromising on safety, comfort, or fuel economy. She embodies the rugged, traditional, no-nonsense appearance and construction seen in the fishing vessels of the Pacific Northwest. Her rugged steel construction doesn‘t wince when pulling up alongside a rough pile pier or side-tying to a salmon troller with tire fenders. Frankly, vessels like this look better with a bit of use in my opinion! Her interior layout and amenities take another tack. She more than meets my embarrassing need for creature comforts – you judge her for yourself! The interior features a private stateroom forward with a center line bunk along with generous bureaus and hanging lockers both port and starboard. Aft is a salon featuring two opposing, comfortable, sofa-like settees – entertain guests or stretch out for a nap without being in the way. There is a nice coffee table, too. Occasional guests bunk in the salon. The seat backs hinge up and the seat cushions extend outboard for two generous bunks. When underway, these serve as pilot berths. Aft of the salon is a well equipped galley to port and large head to starboard. My galley will feature a stainless steel professional grade stove – I like to cook ! The head has a separate shower stall. A small tub may just fit. Heading aft, climb the companion way steps into the pilothouse. One more step up into the dinette and your seated height-of-eye is the same as standing at the helm. Whether dining in the harbor or relaxing with a cruising guide and a cup of tea while underway on autopilot, the pilot house dinette has a commanding all-around view. Exit the pilot house either port or starboard and head aft to the covered fantail. There is a fixed, aft-facing seat with table. Whether watching the wake stream aft while off watch and underway, or simply enjoying the harbor sights while on the hook, this outdoor space is a nice complement to the protected pilot house and dinette. Under the fantail is a very large bosun‘s locker needed to store a voyaging vessel‘s lines, fenders, supplies, and spares. Mine will have a work bench with a small drill press and lathe. And a washing machine, too. Forward of the pilot house is a wood cargo deck for lashing down additional gear. I enjoy diving and occasionally bring up light salvage. When not in use, it will make a great sundeck with the aft end hinging up like a chase lounge. Rig a tarp over the boom as a sunshade, snap on a foam cover, and take a nap! The mast and boom hoist the dinghy to the pilot house roof or fetch gear from the cargo deck. The rig carries a steadying sail, para-vanes, and flopper-stoppers, too. The Pacific Northwest 43 makes sense to me. You too? Offered as a semi-custom yacht, feel free to make some changes. There – now she‘s yours !
I thought you might like this photo of Antipodes in the Tracy Arm in Alaska. The addition of the ballast that we did made a huge difference in the stability and handling of the boat. I actually got caught crossing a bar in Oregon with 12’-14’ breakers over the bar and the boat handled it with aplomb. It’s at the point now where the boat will take more than I can! This has been a wonderful trip and I wanted you to see a photo of the boat being used for its intended purpose!