Phil Fried­man, Alaskan Yachts

Passage Maker - - Contents - BY JONATHAN COOPER

Seattle Yachts re­cently an­nounced their pur­chase of Alaskan Yachts and re­leased to the pub­lic brand­new de­signs for what will be the first Alaskan model in years. The re­turn of the Alaskan will bring back a clas­sic raised-pilothouse mo­to­ry­acht with mod­ern fea­tures and de­sign con­sid­er­a­tions. We reached out to Phil Fried­man, Seattle Yachts’ New-Build Man­ager, to find out more about the launch and what the fu­ture may hold for the iconic brand.

Can you talk about the de­ci­sion to bring back the Alaskan line?

Our de­ci­sion to ac­quire and rein­tro­duce the Alaskan brand was based on our strong be­lief in the dura­bil­ity and re­silience of mar­ket de­mand for sen­si­ble, sea­wor­thy long-range cruis­ing yachts in sizes and con­fig­u­ra­tions that al­low for owner-op­er­a­tion.

Rec­og­niz­ing this re­quires [just look­ing at] the num­ber of yacht brands that cur­rently style them­selves as “trawlers,” even though they bear vir­tu­ally no re­sem­blance to the genre.

In con­trast, Alaskan Yachts was truly an icon in the trawlery­acht niche. We con­se­quently felt the right way to go was to build on that ex­ist­ing tra­di­tion rather than seek to cre­ate a new brand from scratch. Not to men­tion that those of us in­volved in the Alaskan redux hap­pen to have al­ways re­ally liked Alaskan Yachts.

What is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the rein­tro­duced Alaskan and the Grand Alaskans of yore?

The rein­tro­duced Alaskan line of yachts shares with pre­vi­ous Alaskans a ded­i­ca­tion to the same set of core char­ac­ter­is­tics— pri­mar­ily, [it uses] a sea­wor­thy and sea-kindly semidis­place­ment hull form that, with ap­pro­pri­ate pow­er­ing, can op­er­ate at higher speeds for con­ve­nient coastal cruis­ing and is­land hop­ping while re­tain­ing the abil­ity to run fuel-ef­fi­ciently at lower dis­place­ment speeds for long-range pas­sage­mak­ing.

The im­por­tant char­ac­ter­is­tics in­volved in­clude a rel­a­tively low pro­file that keeps the yacht’s ver­ti­cal cen­ter of grav­ity low for both im­proved sta­bil­ity and a bet­ter range of pos­i­tive sta­bil­ity—[it’s a] rugged con­struc­tion that takes what­ever the sea has to mete out.

Just as im­por­tant are fea­tures such as a solid lam­i­nate bot­tom with dou­bled re­in­forc­ing all along the yacht’s keel, fore­foot, and stem; a fully wa­ter­tight anti-col­li­sion par­ti­tion for­ward; dou­bled ar­eas of re­in­forc­ing for in­stal­la­tion of rud­ders and prop shaft sup­ports; and ul­tra-durable hull-to-main­deck and house-to-deck joints that em­ploy both high-strength ad­he­sive and me­chan­i­cal bond­ing for fail­proof dura­bil­ity even un­der ex­treme use.

Th­ese aren’t just bul­let points cre­ated by a mar­ket­ing copy­writer but key el­e­ments [of ] a phi­los­o­phy that de­fines Alaskan Yachts, both past and present.

Can you talk about Steve Seaton’s ap­proach to mod­ern­iz­ing the orig­i­nal Art DeFever de­sign?

Look, we can’t speak for Steve Seaton—al­though we can say un­re­servedly that he is the best de­signer avail­able to take the legacy Alaskan de­signs to a new, con­tem­po­rary level.

It’s im­por­tant to note that Art DeFever was one of the de­sign­ers Seaton fol­lowed closely through the years, right from the time he was 15 years old and liv­ing in Seattle. Seaton stud­ied ev­ery DeFever de­sign he could find, and thus DeFever be­came a ma­jor in­flu­ence in his devel­op­ment. In­deed, Seaton and DeFever be­came friends over the years.

What’s also im­por­tant to un­der­stand is that a “first prin­ci­ple” of good yacht de­sign is that it is, in most cases, evo­lu­tion­ary. De­signs are tried and tested. Lessons are learned and put to work in new de­signs.

The nav­i­ga­tional beam (on deck) of the new Alaskan fam­ily of hull forms is on av­er­age about 12% greater than in the older de­signs. For ex­am­ple, the older 66 had a nom­i­nal max beam of ap­prox­i­mately 17' 4'', whereas the new 66 Mk. II is de­signed with a beam of 19' 6''. Her wa­ter­line beam is pinched in just a bit to help with her ef­fi­ciency num­bers un­der­way. The ef­fect of this in­crease in beam is sig­nif­i­cant, es­pe­cially in semidis­place­ment hulls, which de­pend on gen­er­at­ing hy­dro­dy­namic lift in or­der to achieve op­er­at­ing speeds sig­nif­i­cantly be­yond those of pure dis­place­ment hull forms.

The prop tun­nels that are a fea­ture of the cur­rently de­signed

hulls were also fit­ted to some of the pre­vi­ous Alaskans.

Be­yond that, the new Alaskans will take ad­van­tage of the im­prove­ments that have been made to ma­rine diesel propul­sion en­gines dur­ing the last decade or so—changes that pro­vide ef­fi­cient per­for­mance over a broader range of op­er­at­ing speeds.

In other words, the mod­ern­iz­ing of Alaskan Yachts has much to do with re­fine­ments achieved through tak­ing ad­van­tage of im­proved de­sign tech­niques, in­clud­ing ad­vances in per­for­mance mod­el­ing as well as ad­vances in ma­te­ri­als and equip­ment since the older Alaskans were de­signed and built.

None of this should be taken to min­i­mize the level of in-depth ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­cu­mu­lated wis­dom, and no­table flair for prac­ti­cal de­sign that Seaton brings to the ta­ble on an on­go­ing ba­sis. In­deed, we at Alaskan can­not think of an­other con­tem­po­rary yacht de­signer who would be more suit­able than Steve for up­dat­ing and car­ry­ing for­ward the Alaskan le­gend.

The first model will be a 66 flush deck. Can you talk more about this spe­cific model and when it might be sched­uled?

Given the cur­rent state of our dis­cus­sions with Alaskan cus­tomers, it looks now as if the first new Alaskan Mk. II will be a 56-footer in an aft-cabin con­fig­u­ra­tion.

You are cor­rect that the orig­i­nal 66 was a flush-deck model. How­ever, the new 66 Mk. II will be con­fig­ured op­tion­ally as ei­ther a flush deck model with the pilothouse up a sin­gle step from the saloon or as a raised pilothouse (RPH) ver­sion with the pilothouse raised three steps up from the saloon deck level for im­proved op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties at the en­closed lower helm. I pre­dict the choice will be made based on whether the buyer ex­pects to spend more time at the fly­bridge helm or at the lower con­trol sta­tion.

The RPH con­fig­u­ra­tion also af­fords the ad­van­tage of in­creased head­room on the lower deck for a full-beam mas­ter suite that, again, takes ad­van­tage of the 12% beamier hull to bring megay­acht style ac­com­mo­da­tions to th­ese ves­sels of mod­er­ate over­all length.

As to sched­ule, we’re hop­ing to be tool­ing for the 56 Mk. II by the end of the sec­ond quar­ter and to be de­liv­er­ing the first of this model by next sum­mer. We ex­pect to tool for the 66 Mk. II by the end of this year.

Granted, that’s an ag­gres­sive sched­ule. But the new Alaskan team packs more than a cen­tury of com­bined hands-on yacht de­sign and boat­build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. More: alaskany­


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