Fresh back from boat shows in London and Dusseldorf, I spent most of this week trying to decipher notes taken on the fly and working the kinks out of my neck after gawking at so many sights and sites.
For this week, let's zoom in on Great Britain, where British builders Oyster www.oystermarine.com and Northshore Yachts www.northshore.co.uk introduced new models on their home turf.
Northshore had two of its distinctive Southerlys at the show, and sitting nearly on the floor, thanks to their swing keels. Both are the work of British naval designer Stephen Jones, who has found a way to revamp the keel box to open up the boats' saloons. Standard layout in the 38 includes a large aft stateroom with an island queen berth, a fairly conventional saloon with a centerline table, and a second cabin and head forward. The 32 features a similar saloon layout but has a single double berth aft to port and a double V-berth forward without its own head.
The Northshore yard, the builder reports, has recently increased its capacity and plans to increase output from 46 boats last year to 70 in 2009. Among the projects that will benefit from the additional space is a new 57-footer being drawn up by Dubois Naval Architects. Look for it to be followed by a 65-foot sister ship.
Mark Pillsbury| |An Oyster 82 is among several models lined up in various stages of construction at the Southampton Yacht Services.| Oyster, too, brought a pair of new boats to the show. The 655 I clamored aboard was stunning, from its twin wheels to its twin head stays, arranged in solent fashion. The boat is the creation of Rob Humphreys and the Oyster design team. Between stem and stern, there was oodles of teak on deck and luxury below in the semicustom interior.
Right beside the 655, the new Oyster 575, also a Rob Humphrey's opus, attracted a crowd of its own. According to Oyster literature, the 575 is an evolutionary design based on the lineage of its 55 and 56 siblings. It is, they say, a family cruiser, intended to be sailed sans captain and crew.
In the soon-to-be launched file are 100- and 125-foot Oysters, both being built at a yard in Turkey. The 125-footer is intended for a reliable customer, Richard Matthews, Oyster's founder and former owner.
Following the show, we took a little joyride (nerve-rackingly on the wrong side of the road, of course) to the south coast to visit Southampton Yacht Services, one of three yards in the United Kingdom where Oysters are built. Managing director Piers Wilson led the tour through boat sheds where there are three Oyster 82s, one Oyster 72, and a 655 being built at any given time. With each boat being nearly infinitely customizable, the crew-and CNC machine-is kept on its toes. In addition to the new Oysters, SYS also does repair work; on the day we visited, the 1928 Fife-designed 23-meter Cambria was in for a systems revamp. Nice work, if you can get it.
Down the road we also visited Discovery Yachts, where 30 of the Discovery 55s have been built to date. Competing for space on the shop floor are the still-to-be-completed hulls of two new 67-foot monohulls (a third one is on order) and a 50-foot catamaran that's being built to take company owners John and Caroline Charnley voyaging. Expect to see them and their cat sometime soon at the major boat shows here in the States.