JIMMY BUF­FETT’S NEW RIDE

Cruising World - - Underway - —Herb Mccormick

Let’s turn the way-back ma­chine to 1978. A young trou­ba­dour on the rise named Jimmy Buf­fett was wan­der­ing through the Caribbean on his Cheoy Lee Clip­per 48, liv­ing the cruis­ing life­style and, per­haps not co­in­ci­den­tally, col­lect­ing ma­te­rial for the tunes that would be­come the sound­track to many a sailor’s life for the next four decades. Buf­fett’s Cheoy Lee was one salty sail­boat: ketch-rigged, with a sweep­ing sheer line, clip­per bow and long bowsprit. If Buf­fett wished to con­vey the aura of a lat­ter-day pi­rate, he had the right ride.

But times have changed. Buf­fett is now a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire with homes all over the planet. He has a play on Broad­way. And he’s got him­self one very cool new boat. Like his old Cheoy Lee, it’s 48 feet long. All sim­i­lar­i­ties stop there.

De­signed by Ted Fon­taine (a Ted Hood dis­ci­ple per­haps best known for large cus­tom yachts) and built in North Carolina by Pa­cific Seacraft, Buf­fett’s Drifter is the first boat in what Fon­taine calls his Sur­fari line (fontainedesign­group.com). Let’s just say, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing, it’s not your daddy’s — or Buf­fett’s — Oldsmo­bile.

No, Drifter is some­thing al­to­gether dif­fer­ent. It’s what Fon­taine un­abashedly calls a “life­style” boat, and your style of life better be damn ac­tive. Drifter is a high-per­for­mance boat meant to get you where you’re go­ing in a hurry, un­der power (with twin 80 hp aux­il­iaries) or sail (note the tall car­bon rig). It’s laid out on a sin­gle floor, with plenty of stor­age space for surf­boards, pad­dle­boards, dive tanks, kayaks and so forth. The idea is to get where you’re go­ing, get wet, blast the music and kick back. A lift­ing keel will en­able ac­cess to skinny wa­ter, where all the fun is.

Buf­fett’s pri­or­i­ties have clearly changed. These days, he still spends plenty of time tour­ing and on the road. Drifter is meant for short, in-be­tween respites. The “pi­rate,” now 71, put 40 in the rearview mir­ror a while back. But it’s clear he still likes to have a good time.

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