In the fall of 2007 Brooklin Boat Yard owner, Steve White, thought that it might be time to upgrade the yard’s Travel Lift to accommodate some of the larger boats stored at the yard. He purchased a refit 80-ton capacity rig and rebuilt the Travel Lift piers — and could not have done so at a better time.
Two years prior, designers Robert Stephens and Paul Waring of Brooklin Boat Yard Design Associates had begun design work for a 90-foot yawl with world cruising capability. The owners had sought out the yard’s resident design team after seeing examples of the yard’s previous work, especially Donald Tofias’ 76-foot Spirit of Tradition racing stallions Wild Horses and White Wings which were built in 1998. They were drawn to the graceful sheer and overhangs that are so much a part of Stephens work. But the owners wanted more than a thoroughbred racer; they wanted the same classic look in a more substantial yacht that could take them anywhere in the world in safety, luxury and style.
Work began on Bequia in the spring of 2007. At 90 feet LOA and at cost of about $7.5 million the new yacht is the yard’s grandest project ever, both in terms of design and construction. The work will take about 20 months to complete and accrue approximately 85,000 man-hours in labor for the yard’s 60 employees. Launch is scheduled for 2009.
Like the majority of Brooklin Boat Yard’s boats Bequia’s hull is cold molded using West System adhesives. It is a composite of Douglas-fir, diagonal cedar and an outer layer of Honduras mahogany covered with two layers of 12 oz. fiberglass and was built upside down. The yard is noted for this method of construction, which is comparatively lightweight, low cost and low maintenance. Other advantages include soundproofing, thermal insulation and the aesthetics of exposed wood in the main saloon and staterooms.
Aside from the sheer size of the yacht, one of the most demanding tasks has been to integrate the yacht’s modern systems into the traditional deck layout and joinery. A custom Max Power hydraulic system runs 27 different functions, including boom vang winches, sail furlers, ground tackle and a unique starboard boarding platform. The hydraulic system can be powered by one or both of the two Westerbeke 15 kW generators, or if silent operation is desired, the can be run through a DC electric system. Extensive three-dimensional computer modeling has allowed the designers to minimize the intrusion of the systems on the accommodations. A network of rectangular channels below the decking accommodates wiring and hydraulic lines and also serve to stiffen the deck itself.
Below deck, the accommodation arrangement is simple and roomy. Forward there is a double stateroom with access to a full head and tiled shower. Quarters for two to three crew members are located to port off the large galley while in the passageway to starboard is a shower, laundry and a pair of additional bunks for offshore crew. The large owner’s suite is located under the aft cabin trunk and includes a full head with two sinks and a separate tiled shower.
The main saloon has the dining area to starboard and is fitted with bookshelves and a gas fireplace to take the chill off. Custom made couches provide the seating. The paneling is off white to keep things bright with additional light provided by elliptical portlights and butterfly hatches on both the forward and after cabin trunks. The white panels are offset by an ebony-stained cabin sole. The large galley is fully appointed and features walnut countertops.
On deck the layout is classic and clean. The center cockpit helm is fitted with Whitlock steering and has excellent visibility over the house. The side decks are wide and unobstructed. Perhaps the yacht’s most elegant feature is the bright-finished deckhouse; it rounds out the yacht’s classic styling with what is essentially an elevated saloon with large windows, comfortable seating, a spacious chart table and a modern electronics panel.
Bequia’s rig is carbon fiber and was built by Southern Spars of New Zealand. The sails are 3DL from North Sails. The main engine is a Cummins 300 hp diesel with a 1:9:1 gearbox and a three-blade folding propeller.
Although a complex yacht in terms of systems, the yacht’s classic looks and feel have been maintained thanks to the engineering and design work of Stephens and Waring — that, combined with the legendary skill and craftsmanship of one of the world’s premier wooden boatbuilders. Like her smaller stable mates, Bequia has set a new standard for the breed.
As for Steve White’s new 80-ton Travel Lift? Once the news of Bequia spreads, the Brooklin Boat Yard is destined to become an even busier place and that lift is sure to get quite a workout.