Waterline 50: Seriously Skookum
A big boat from a small builder, Isolabella is capable of taking on any ocean. And her owners plan to one day do just that. From "Yachtstyle" in our December 2008 issue.
In the language of the Pacific Northwest's First Peoples, the word skookum (pronounced as it's spelled, with the accent on the first syllable) can mean, depending on the context, strong, big, good, powerful, or beautiful. All those definitions describe the steel-hulled Isolabella, an Ed Rutherford-designed Waterline 50 built on a semicustom basis in Sidney, British Columbia.
Holly Knight and her husband, Jeff Frost, used to cruise their Jeanneau 45 all over the Northwest, but they found that the boat was limited for winter cruising. It's in winter that they find they have some of the most beautiful harbors in the world all to themselves; those same harbors are jam-packed during the summer. When they saw Rutherford's Waterline 50 Mettle at the Seattle Boat Show in 2006, they knew they'd found the right boat for their cruising style, and in December 2007, they left Sidney aboard a Waterline 50 of their own, homeward bound for Olympia, Washington.
I met them on a misty summer morning during a layover at Sidney's Van Isle Marina, where they had Isolabella tied up. They were on their way back to Olympia after a monthlong cruise as far north as Desolation Sound. As I climbed the steps up the tall topsides from the floating dock, I caught a whiff of cranberry scones that Holly had just pulled from the oven, making me wish I'd had a couple of sausages fewer for my breakfast. I ducked under the dodger and made my way closer to the goodies below.
The vertical surfaces and trim in Isolabella's interior are lustrous cherry, and the sole is satin-finished maple planks with narrow teak strips between them; it's the opposite of the traditional teak-and-holly sole, and it creates a very pleasing effect. Four Lewmar hatches and an opening port provide plenty of ventilation for the living area. To port of the companionway in the raised pilothouse, the U-shaped galley is larger than the kitchen in many a New York apartment. Holly is an enthusiastic and talented baker; she searched for and eventually found the Broadwater stove, a four-burner propane model made in Australia. "It was hard to get, but it's the only stove I've found with an oven that keeps consistent temperature," she says. "That's key for baking." It's gimbaled and all the way outboard in the galley; the double sink is opposite, close to the centerline. Huge pilothouse windows provide the chef with a 270-degree view, and there's good access to the cockpit for conversation, emergencies, or scone passing. The green Corian-topped countertops seemed just a little out of proportion until Jeff told me that since he and Holly are both tall, they'd insisted that the counters be six inches higher than normal so they wouldn't be bending over to wash dishes or cook on the stove top. Not that I actually washed a dish, mind you, but I found that the galley was very comfortable to use for me at six feet tall, demonstrating the benefits of having a boat built to one's own specifications.