Baby Blue


Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Known for its ex­quis­ite su­pery­achts, Burger Boats obliged a client’s cus­tom re­quest to build its first 48-footer.

On a sunny sum­mer week­end in 2016, a Green Bay-based boater was swim­ming be­hind her Aprea­mare in Lake Michi­gan. A cou­ple with a golden re­triever ap­proached in a dinghy and com­pli­mented her boat. She com­pli­mented their dog, Penny, and in­vited them aboard for a tour. “As [the man] is climb­ing the steps up to the cock­pit, he says he works for Burger Boats,” she re­calls. She prac­ti­cally leapt for joy. She had al­ways ad­mired Burg­ers, but never wanted a su­pery­acht. The man tour­ing her boat was Ron Clev­eringa, vice pres­i­dent for sales and mar­ket­ing at Burger Boat Com­pany. She asked whether he would ever con­sider build­ing a 48-footer. “Sure, why not? We’re a cus­tom yard. We’ll do what­ever you need,” he said. Mon­day morn­ing there was an email in his in­box: She was ready.

Burger Boat Com­pany traces its roots to 1863, when 24-year-old Henry Burger started a non­de­script ship­yard on the shore of Lake Michi­gan. He built small com­mer­cial fish­ing boats be­fore tran­si­tion­ing to freighters. Dur­ing World War I the Navy com­mis­sioned sev­eral mil­i­tary ships, in­clud­ing sub chasers and thir­teen 90-foot wooden tugs. After the war, the com­pany fol­lowed de­mand for lux­ury yachts built with steel, in­tro­duc­ing the first all-welded steel aux­il­iary ketch to the United States in 1938. Come World War II, the builder met de­mand for more mil­i­tary ships, tran­si­tion­ing back to yachts dur­ing peace­time.

Now best known for its su­pery­achts, the builder saw the propo­si­tion to build a 48-footer as an op­por­tu­nity to draw on its 150-year his­tory of ver­sa­tile crafts­man­ship. It was also a chance to ap­peal to a new gen­er­a­tion of yacht own­ers, says Clev­eringa, in­clud­ing own­ers who have a large yacht in, say, Florida, and want a smaller boat for their sec­ond home in, say, Martha’s Vine­yard.

Two weeks after her chance meet­ing with Clev­eringa on Lake Michi­gan, the prospec­tive client met Burger Boat Com­pany Pres­i­dent Jim Ruf­folo and toured the Man­i­towoc, Wis­con­sin fa­cil­i­ties. “To think that I could have my beau­ti­ful new boat built just two hours away from me by Wis­con­sin builders and ar­ti­sans was so com­pelling,” she says. “It wasn’t a hard de­ci­sion.” She signed a con­tract with the com­pany in the fall and got to work de­sign­ing her dream yacht. Through­out our con­ver­sa­tion she re­ferred to her 48 ex­clu­sively as “my beau­ti­ful boat.”

Burger em­ploys 100 crafts­men, and for some of them, it’s a fam­ily op­er­a­tion. An im­age on the com­pany’s Face­book page shows daugh­ter, fa­ther and grand­fa­ther smil­ing widely and wear­ing match­ing blue hard hats. “Qual­ity crafts­men are easy for us to find be­cause we’re a des­ti­na­tion for peo­ple who want to work in the boat­ing in­dus­try,” says Clev­eringa.

“A car­pen­ter could work in a cabi­net shop and build cab­i­nets all day long, or he could work at Burger where ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent. Their crafts­man­ship re­ally gets to shine.”

One of the 48’s sig­na­ture fea­tures is the Vri­pack­de­signed slide hull that re­duces slap in choppy wa­ter and lends the ves­sel fuel ef­fi­ciency. In ad­di­tion to the damp­ing hull, a Sea­keeper 6 gives the 48 sta­bil­ity, one of the owner-op­er­a­tor’s must-haves on ac­count of Lake Michi­gan’s volatile weather.

Another must-have for the client was qual­ity light­ing. “I didn’t want to feel like I was walk­ing into a tun­nel,” she says. She tapped Ce­leste Weg­man, who had de­signed her home, to de­sign the in­te­rior for Hull No. 1. Elec­tric slid­ing win­dows to port and star­board give 11 square feet of views on ei­ther side of the sa­lon, and the elec­tric re­tract­ing glass sun­roof cre­ates seam­less in­door-out­door liv­ing. The wind­shield is a sin­gle piece of glass. “You should have seen the look on the [glazier’s] face when we said, ‘Okay, here’s the wind­shield,’” Clev­eringa laughs. Each of the two heads, one in the owner’s cabin amid­ships and one ad­ja­cent to the VIP cabin for­ward, has its own sky­light. All that glass means max­i­mum nat­u­ral light and plenty of ven­ti­la­tion.

The owner has been op­er­at­ing boats since she was 8 years old, when she spent sum­mers on a 56-foot Chris-Craft with her mother. Tech­nol­ogy has come a long way since then, and she’s get­ting used to the state-of-the-art fea­tures on the Burger 48. She watched YouTube videos and read as much as she could about the joy­stick and twin 600-hp Volvo Penta IPS pod drives be­fore chris­ten­ing her boat this sum­mer. Dock­ing in Green Bay, Wis­con­sin, where she has a slip, can be chal­leng­ing with chang­ing wind speeds and di­rec­tions. But she says with every­thing at her fin­ger­tips it’s ac­tu­ally been quite easy.

Hull No. 2, which will have a Luiz de Basto-de­signed in­te­rior, is set to be com­pleted this win­ter. Ever adapt­able, Burger is ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a big sis­ter for the 48—some­where around 60 feet—which Clev­eringa says will have sim­i­lar DNA.

On the day we spoke, the owner of Hull No. 1 had only owned her boat for about a month but was pre­par­ing for a din­ner party the fol­low­ing week. The evening would start with an hour-long cruise around seven is­lands at sun­set, with hor d’oeu­vres in the spa­cious sa­lon be­fore re­turn­ing to the dock and serv­ing din­ner at her house, just a short dis­tance away. She’s also plan­ning trips around the lake to cities on the western shore, a lux­ury af­forded by the new yacht which has a longer range (300 nau­ti­cal miles at 28.5 knots) than her pre­vi­ous boat.

I ask whether she gets com­ments from on­look­ers for be­ing a fe­male owner-op­er­a­tor. “I get ev­ery kind of com­ment,” she says. She’s hum­bled by the com­pli­ments on how well she han­dles the boat, and some­times peo­ple say they’ve never seen a woman run a boat be­fore. A skilled boater, she still feels child­like amaze­ment when she sees the royal blue hull at the ma­rina. “Ev­ery time I walk down the dock my heart skips a beat and I can’t be­lieve it’s mine,” she says.

There’s a long pause on the other end of the phone when I ask why she loves be­ing on the wa­ter. Fi­nally she says qui­etly, “Oh, my. Why does one love breath­ing the air?”

The 48 Cruiser was chris­tened in June. Am­ple glass in the sa­lon and be­lowdecks makes for seam­less in­door-out­door liv­ing (op­po­site).

The sa­lon and helm are on a sin­gle level, al­low­ing the owner-op­er­a­tor to in­ter­act with guests. The sa­lon has am­ple nat­u­ral light (be­low).

Each of the two heads has a sky­light. Two spa­cious cab­ins make the 48 Cruiser com­fort­able for longer ad­ven­tures (be­low).

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