JIMMY BUFFETT’S NEW RIDE
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.