BOATS.COM – ONE OF A KIND
Inside West Bay SonShip’s 84 Limited Edition
To say that an 84-foot yacht is a “limited edition” somehow seems redundant. After all, almost every large yacht is unique — even from sister ships that popped from the same mold — if only by virtue of different interior decor. In this case, however, the West Bay Son Ship 84-foot Limited Edition is more a state of mind, brought together by two people and a boat builder.
Randy Cowley is well known on the yachting scene as a long-time broker and yacht dealer whose Venwest Yachts is based in Seattle and Newport Beach. The owner of our yacht, Irish Rover, is an experienced yachtsman who wanted to move up from his 60-footer, but had some specific requirements and tastes in mind.
To begin with, he didn’t want a big crew. In fact, he wanted to be able to run his new yacht with just one other person, taking on additional crew only for long cruises.
He also wanted a yacht that was conservative and traditional, unlike many of the glossy cocktail barges that seem to inhabit marinas along the Eastern seaboard and Florida. What he was looking for, says Cowley, was “a masculine and ‘Northwesty’ yacht that was capable of cruising the entire Pacific coast.”
To that end, Cowley and his buyer tramped through boatyards and brokerages nationwide without finding what they wanted. The die was cast when Cowley suggested building a yacht to their specifications, using the British Columbia-based West Bay Son Ship Yachts. Thinking that other buyers might want similarly seaworthy (and see-worthy) yachts, the two came to an agreement with West Bay Son Ship to offer these unique yachts through Cowley’s Venwest Yachts.
The duo had looked at yachts as large as 130 feet, but agreed that a yacht in the 80-foot range was about as big as two people could run, so the starting point for Irish Rover was a new 84-foot hull, on which the team drew a motoryacht deckhouse with a large command bridge.
Taking about 12 months from conception to launch, Irish Rover has surpassed the expectations of owner, broker and builders in all ways. I caught up with this yacht on the return leg of its maiden voyage from Canada to Puerto Vallarta, a trip that had been problem-free despite its having gone straight from the builder without any teething period.
West Bay Son Ship has long been noted for their superb fiberglass construction, and Irish Rover is no exception to that rule. The hull, decks and bulkhead are cored with one-inch Airex foam for strength and insulation, sandwiched between layers of Knytex biaxial hand-laid fiberglass. Below the waterline, Aristech resin was used for protection against blisters and the stringers were created of urethane foam cores fully encapsulated in layers of fiberglass, leaving nothing to rot or absorb water.
Irish Rover’s captain insisted that I poke into the bilge areas, looking at the way that the bulkheads had been tabbed and glassed into the hull. I tend to give high points to builders who take the pains to finish even out-of-sight areas, since a builder with this level of conscientiousness is likely to do everything else well. In the case of Irish Rover, you could live in the beautifully finished bilges; and there wasn’t a stray strand of fiberglass or a sharp edge anywhere.
Step aboard the wide transom platform and you’ll find a pair of comfortable stairs leading to the aft deck, but it took me a few minutes of looking around to realize what was missing. Though the aft deck is protected by the overhang of the deck above, there were no supports to mar the sleek lines. The builders had cantilevered the upper deck so perfectly that the yacht tender and davit could still rest on this unsupported section.
Stepping into the salon, I immediately felt at home. Unlike many yachts that rely on mirrors and exotic decor to make a statement, Irish Rover is like a comfortable men’s club with dark wood paneling, a pair of comfortable built-in sofas and overstuffed chairs. You might describe the decor as early Republican, with the custom woven white carpet featuring red and blue accents. All of the paneling throughout Irish Rover is vertical grain rift-cut white oak with a dark fruitwood stain, set off by brass trim. An entertainment console is aft to starboard, with a large-screen television that rises out of the cabinet when needed. But the most unique item in the salon is the ventless fireplace, a proprietary design of the owner that eliminates the usual flue with sophisticated sensors and vents.
Further forward, the formal dining area is an extension of the salon, and the craftsmen at West Bay Son Ship built a flawless dining table for six out of the same material as the paneling. Adding elegance are a pair of crystal glass cabinets to port and to starboard.
The galley is also a part of the salon, reflecting the owner’s love of cooking. Separated only by a counter, the galley is gourmet equipped with everything from a large SubZero refrigerator to a U-Line wine chilling cabinet. The Corian counters are more than ample for entertaining and, in another example of West Bay Son Ship craftsmanship, the Limited Edition compass rose logo is inlaid in the oak galley floor using exotic African hardwoods.
A short passageway (with a day head to starboard) leads to the pilothouse, which is just one step above salon level, although separated by a solid bulkhead. Surrounded by huge windows and with doors opening to both port and to starboard decks, this is a command center for the serious yachtsman. A pair of Recaro captain’s chairs are solidly mounted, with six-way power adjustments and luxurious leather upholstery. The instrument panel is immense, with a comprehensive array of electronics flush-mounted in the dark blue padded dashboard.
Since the owner regularly flies a personal jet, it’s no surprise that the radar is mounted directly in the skipper’s line of sight, and the Detroit Diesel DDEC displays are equally visible. Fully equipped from Naiad stabilizers to a Robertson autopilot, it’s evident that this yacht is designed to go offshore in comfort and safety. Visibility is superb through the forward windshield and the side windows, and an L-shaped settee with table makes this a gathering place for guests while underway.
A private stairway from the dining area leads to a lower deck foyer and the master stateroom, which stretches the full width of the yacht. A king-size bed is amidships facing an entertainment center, and a small library/study area has an overstuffed chair for reading from the built-in bookshelves. Two spacious cedar-lined closets complete the stateroom, which has a large master head to port with oversized steam room and shower with twin seats.
Forward, with stairs leading from the pilothouse, are the guest quarters. A VIP stateroom large enough to serve as the owner’s cabin on most yachts is in the bow, along with a private head and stall shower. Two additional staterooms are aft with private heads and showers. The port stateroom has twin berths, while the starboard cabin has a double. Crew quarters are aft, with access from the foyer as well as directly to the engine room. Irish Rover has two separate washer-dryers: one hidden off the foyer and another in the crew quarters.
Twin Detroit Diesel 12V92TA DDEC diesels of 1,100-horsepower each drive five-bladed props, and the engine room continues the level of design and construction excellence. There’s more than ample room for the main engines as well as the twin Northern Lights 30-kilowatt generators, along with a complete workbench and tool chest. Auxiliary systems from the hydraulics (anchor windlass, bow thruster, etc.) to the Espar furnace, eight-zone air-conditioning and watermaker don’t even dent this spacious area.
The command bridge duplicates much of the pilothouse, with a trio of helm seats behind a dash with DDEC controls and electronic repeaters. A large wet bar is to port, with a U-shaped dinette around a beautiful teak table. Dividing the area from the boat deck aft is a cabinet that has a large freezer as well as a Jenn-Aire barbecue. The boat deck has ample space for a large tender, a pair of Sea-Doo personal watercraft and a four-person Jacuzzi spa.
Though fully equipped with everything from barium-filled sound insulation in the engine room to 3,000 gallons of fuel, Irish Rover is no slouch offshore. With a top speed of 24 knots, it cruised at 80-percent power through most of its maiden voyage at 18 knots, consuming an average of just 100 gallons per hour.
What’s next for the Irish Rover? Nothing is cast in stone, but it looks like it’ll be seen carrying the Limited Edition flag on the East Coast and into the Caribbean next summer.
And what of the future of the Limited Edition series of yachts? A near-sister to Irish Rover has just been launched and another is in the planning stages in the 84- to 90-foot range with a wider beam to accommodate more fuel for long distance cruising. Also in the works are plans for alternative interior layouts, a raised pilothouse version and even one with an enclosed flybridge.
That the team has hit its mark is evident by a call Cowley recently received from the owner of a 125-footer on the East Coast. “He called to say that he’d just sold his yacht”, Cowley recalls with a grin. “He said he’d had it with carrying four crew around who were useless most of the time and he wanted to talk about a yacht that would hold just his family and one crew. He said we’re right on target with our Limited Edition.”
Judging by the quality and the style of Irish Rover, I have to agree.
Article By: Chris Caswell