OPEN SEA­SON

The New Kadey-Kro­gen 50 Jonathan Cooper

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When Kadey-Kro­gen Yachts launched the first hull of their new-for-the-new-mil­le­nium Kro­gen 58’, Pas­sage­Maker founder Bill Par­la­tore wrote this: “It can be a leap for a boat builder to in­tro­duce a new flag­ship, a ves­sel markedly dif­fer­ent or larger than its ex­ist­ing mod­els. This is es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult when the builder de­cides to raise the stan­dard of qual­ity and equip­ment at the same time. Kadey-Kro­gen has ap­par­ently done just that.”

Those same words could be writ­ten to­day, some 18 years later, to mark the launch of their new­est de­sign, the 50’ Open. I’m not sure whether the word “flag­ship” nec­es­sar­ily ap­plies to this re­lease, how­ever. On one hand, the 50 is not the long­est ship in the fleet, and she may not have the same ap­peal to trawler devo­tees who pre­fer the aes­thetic lines of low-sweep­ing free­board. But in other ways she is the def­i­ni­tion of a flag­ship. The 50 is a mean­ing­ful step—not a de­par­ture—for a com­pany that holds boat­build­ing acu­men, sea­keep­ing de­sign, and eco­nom­i­cal per­for­mance stan­dards in the high­est re­gard. And this model of­fers open floor­plan liv­ing by forg­ing a co­he­sive, com­mu­nal space out of the saloon, gal­ley, and helm. All other mod­els be­fore her have held fast to the en­closed raised pilothouse.

PRIN­CI­PLED DE­SIGN

Kadey-Kro­gen prides it­self on many de­sign prin­ci­ples, start­ing with the foun­da­tion: the hull. Com­mit­ted to never stretch­ing a hull to make a new model length, the com­pany de­vel­ops each new hull in­di­vid­u­ally to meet a spe­cific beam-to-length ra­tio that op­ti­mizes run­ning ef­fi­ciency and sea­wor­thi­ness. Not all man­u­fac­tur­ers do this, of course, as it is sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­pen­sive to de­velop all-new tool­ing and build up from scratch than it is to stretch an ex­ist­ing hull. From a con­struc­tion stand­point, the 50’ Open is no dif­fer­ent from her fleet­mates— solid fiber­glass layup be­low the wa­ter­line, foam-cored and vac­uum-bagged for weight sav­ings above the wa­ter­line. From the stand­point of aes­thet­ics, though there are mi­nor vari­a­tions

across the fleet, the 50 will still be im­me­di­ately rec­og­nized as an in­te­gral part of the fam­ily. De­spite the sim­i­lar DNA, the 50 has a weight­ier-look­ing su­per­struc­ture, start­ing with a high bow and a long, sweep­ing sheer that ends with the slight rise at the tran­som gate that is com­mon to all Kadey-Kro­gen de­signs. The sin­gle-level sheer and high free­board pro­vide an un­real amount of space in­side. The trade­off is that the boat presents more sur­face area to the wind. But the windage is mit­i­gated by pro­por­tional thrust con­trol at both ends, a wide and safe star­board side deck with bul­warks so tall a child could barely peep over the caprail, and the ad­di­tion of stan­dard wing con­trol sta­tions flank­ing both sides of the pilothouse. Heavy stain­less steel rail­ings and for­mi­da­ble deck fea­tures (large chocks, use­ful two-way cleats, bul­wark board­ing doors, and a well-built an­chor plat­form) com­bine to un­der­line Kadey-Kro­gen’s rigid com­mit­ment to strength of con­struc­tion and ease of use at all lev­els of de­tail.

IN­SIDE

On­board the 50 is where all that free­board and su­per­struc­ture en­gi­neer­ing re­ally pays off. If you’re a live­aboard cruiser or plan to spend mul­ti­ple weeks, if not months, at sea, the in­te­rior of the 50 will be quite ap­peal­ing. Tall win­dows and ex­pan­sive views greet you when you step into the saloon. Nat­u­ral light pours in, cre­at­ing a bright and open breezi­ness all the way to the helm, which is just a sin­gle step up from the saloon level. This open space and well-planned win­dow con­fig­u­ra­tion also fa­cil­i­tate bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion while ma­neu­ver­ing. This lay­out al­lows the ves­sel to be eas­ily man­aged by a cou­ple with a plan and some ex­pe­ri­ence, and sight­lines from both helm sta­tions make dock­ing and mon­i­tor­ing ves­sel traf­fic a cinch.

Through­out the 50 you can see how Kadey-Kro­gen might be in the early stages of a shift to­ward a more con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic. This sen­ti­ment was ver­i­fied by com­pany co-owner and vice pres­i­dent Larry Pol­ster, who said, “All through­out the boat, there are sub­tle stylis­tic changes and sur­prises—tray light­ing, square drawer pulls, more con­tem­po­rary lines—that cre­ate an all-to­gether new Kadey-Kro­gen ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Whether it was in­ten­tional or not, Larry’s use of the phrase “all-to­gether new” is key. Larry and his wife, Janet Baer, hap­pen to own the first 50’ Open. The ves­sel’s name: To­gether. The cou­ple are also avid chefs, so the gal­ley con­fig­u­ra­tion and hard­ware meet the de­mands of peo­ple who ac­tu­ally en­joy cook­ing at sea and want to repli­cate the feels-like-home culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence at as closely as pos­si­ble. The U-shape gal­ley fea­tures ei­ther a Vik­ing or Wolf four-burner cook­top, a full-size Sub-Zero fridge/ freezer, and gobs of drawer stor­age. In the usu­ally tricky part where the “L” of the gal­ley turns 90 degrees, en­gi­neers have de­signed an “ap­pli­ance garage” that rises out of the coun­ter­top on an elec­tric switch. This isn’t a gim­mick—the two-story unit

can store a num­ber of hard-to-stow de­vices in­clud­ing toast­ers, cof­fee mak­ers, and blenders.

We had the chance to step aboard both of the first two hulls, which gave us a unique per­spec­tive on the dif­fer­ent lay­out op­tions. On To­gether, Janet and Larry opted for the stan­dard­edi­tion two-state­room ver­sion with a large mas­ter cabin that sits just in front of the en­gine room bulk­head. A king-size berth sits athwarthships, and the mas­ter head con­tains twin basins, large mir­rors, a stun­ning off-white round mo­saic tile back­splash, inset mod­ern sink basins, and a full walk-in shower. Th­ese aes­thetic qual­i­ties are purely sub­jec­tive—and I find it odd to write this—but this was the most beau­ti­fully de­signed and well-ex­e­cuted head I’ve seen on any cruis­ing boat.

That’s not to take away from the rest. Both state­rooms are siz­able, in­clud­ing loads of stowage op­tions—both hang­ing and drawer. The im­mense com­part­ment un­der the mas­ter berth fits a full-size hu­man, though we don’t rec­om­mend us­ing it for this pur­pose. On To­gether, there is a small but tidy of­fice just off the port side where the stair­case drops down from the helm. On the sec­ond hull, the own­ers were look­ing to ac­com­mo­date a grow­ing fam­ily, so the boat es­chews the large mas­ter aft for mir­rored twin state­rooms to port and star­board. The mas­ter cabin lives un­der the fore­deck in this ar­range­ment. The ex­tra cab­ins are great and don’t com­pro­mise space, but the sec­ond head could get a lit­tle too cozy for any per­son with a wide beam.

UN­DER­WAY

Larry and Janet worked well in tan­dem to push out of To­gether’s slip. It was only about an hour up the In­tra­coastal to Stu­art, Florida, where the boat would be one of eight Kadey-Kro­gen

yachts on dis­play dur­ing TrawlerFest. The wind was gust­ing 10 to 15 knots across the beam as the cou­ple re­leased the lines and calmly ne­go­ti­ated the tran­si­tion from slip to fair­way to chan­nel. The use of head­sets sim­pli­fies com­mu­ni­ca­tion and re­duces the po­ten­tial for er­rors, but they were clearly well-versed in the art of con­trol­ling the 50 in tight spa­ces. I have a per­sonal affin­ity for boats that cater to cruis­ing cou­ples, and the 50’ Open— armed with a pair of pilothouse doors, the afore­men­tioned pair of wing sta­tion con­trols, a rear-fac­ing cam­era, and pro­por­tional thrusters fore and aft—does just that, and does it well.

Due to our in­abil­ity to stress-test dur­ing ad­verse con­di­tions, there was lit­tle else to re­port on ei­ther of our two sea tri­als (hull #1 in Florida; hull #2 in the Pa­cific North­west) as they were both tested in calm winds and seas. But th­ese are hardly un­proven boats. Kadey-Kro­gen has one of the best reputations on the wa­ter for seago­ing per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly in fol­low­ing seas where the tran­som de­sign pro­vides min­i­mal sur­face area for waves to push against. If I had one qualm it was that the bow thruster hy­draulics were aw­fully loud on the sec­ond sea trial, even from the fly­bridge.

AN­OTHER STAR

There is very lit­tle to nit­pick on this boat, and that is es­pe­cially true in the en­gine room. Due to the high free­board, the 50’ Open has a stand-up en­gine room for any­one ex­cept the tallest of the tall. It mea­sures 7 feet to­wards the for­ward bulk­head and 6.5 feet just aft of the en­gine. The room is well lit, and even in a twinengine con­fig­u­ra­tion, there is room to get around eas­ily. Typ­i­cal of Kadey-Kro­gen sys­tems, lay­outs of plumb­ing, wiring, and ac­ces­sory in­stal­la­tions are top-notch. Stan­dard power is a quiet John Deere Tier 3 (rated at 230 bhp), but own­ers can opt in­stead for twin Deere 125-bhp pow­er­plants. As with all Kadey-Kro­gens, the stan­dard equip­ment list is fairly lengthy, and the com­pany of­fers a vast ar­ray of cus­tomiza­tions for each or­der as well.

CONCLUSION

Larry and Janet have had lit­tle time to do much of any­thing ex­cept get the boat from one show to the next and ar­range me­dia sea tri­als, in­clud­ing our run with them to TrawlerFest. Be­fore the cou­ple scooted off to the Ba­hamas in be­tween shows and press events, we were for­tu­nate to have time to sit down with them to find out how their life­style may be evolv­ing to ac­com­mo­date more time on­board. “While we’re in the Ba­hamas, I’ll still be able to work,” Larry said. “So we hope to show peo­ple that you can have the best of both worlds—to be able to work and cruise be­fore you re­tire.” So far, so good.

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STORY BY JONATHAN COOPER

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