As a marine journalist, it’s a real treat to speak with Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, owner of the Duffy Electric Boat Co., as I imagine it also would be for friends, family members, complete strangers, and decidedly non-marine journalists alike. The reasons are abundant. He’s a passionate, magnetic, highly quotable man who loves what he does. So imagine his excitement—downright infectious, in fact—being able to chat about the recently debuted Duffield 58, which has been a labor of love for the Newport Beach, California, native.
The boat was inspired in part by the 56-foot, 1965 custom Bertram that Duffield has owned for over 25 years. It’s taken more than two years in conception and build time for the company to produce a traditional-looking boat that improves upon the West Coaststyle of oceangoing trawlers. Duffield was also drawn to the traditional lines and modern styling used by Doug Zurn, founder of the Marblehead, Massachusetts-based Zurn Yacht Design.
“We [unofficially] started this in 2011, so every year I’d be getting a call from Duffy and he’d be going, ‘ Your boats are beautiful, man,’” says Zurn. “He wanted a boat that was light and airy. Good visibility. As did the owner of hull number one.”
Duffield credits the first buyer of the 58 for his insistence on a boat with good fuel economy (29 gallons per hour at 18 knots, according to Duffield) and a quiet ride. The main saloon offers 360-degree views and unobstructed sightlines. An LED-lit interior centers around an open-plan galley. Forward sleeping accommodations include a master stateroom with queen-size berth forward. To port, a second cabin includes another queen-size berth, while a flexible space to starboard can be used as stowage, crew’s quarters, or a kids’ cabin.
An electric boatbuilder by trade, Duffield had originally set his sights on having the boat run on 100 percent electric propulsion. When he and I first spoke earlier this year, he told me how dismayed he was to learn how cost ineffective that system was. (It’s four times more expensive than conventional power to install.) But performance wasn’t sacrificed by going with a standard diesel engine, in this case bolstered by a Seatorque shaft system that increases efficiency with less drag, and reduces vibration. (An option for an electric gethome auxiliary engine is available.)
“We didn’t hit our numbers perfectly on our fuel burn,” admits Duffield. “We burn a little more than we were hoping, but not much. We’re still 45 or 47 percent less [fuel burn] than everyone else. Nobody up until [now] even cared. The thinking was, ‘Well if you’re this wealthy to buy a $2.5 million boat, what do you care about how much fuel you burn?’”
From the cockpit of his 1965 Bertram, Duffield can’t help but marvel at the future of boatbuilding, which, lucky for us, is the present. “This old girl that I’m on, I love her to death, but oh my God! We have applied all of these technologies that are available and put them into the 58.” That includes Humphree Interceptors and a standard SeaKeeper.
As for the first owner: “He’s elated. If you talk to him, he’s like a little kid with a new toy,” says Duffield. With Hull No. 1 going through its sea trials and the second in the mold getting ready for the boat-show circuit, you could be mistaken for thinking he was talking about himself. — Duffield Yachts, 949-645-6811; duffieldyachts.com
The 58 was inspired in part by builder Marshall Duffield’s 1965 Bertram. LOA: 63'6" BEAM: 16'0" DRAFT: 3'11" DISPL.: 57,740 lb. (Half Load) POWER: 1/985-hp Caterpillar C12.9 CRUISE SPEED: 18 knots TOP SPEED: 27 knots PRICE: $2.49 million