BORN in the USA


Yachts International - - Boats Of Distinction -

Walk­ing the docks at the Monaco Yacht Show or Fort Laud­erdale In­ter­na­tional Boat Show, the brand names on most of the new builds make it clear that Amer­i­can ship­yards are in the mi­nor­ity on the world su­pery­acht-build­ing stage. The eco­nomic down­turn forced a cou­ple of play­ers to fold their tents, while many Euro­pean ship­yards are at the top of their games.

But count­ing out the United States would be a mis­take. Own­ers want­ing a new cus­tom or semi-cus­tom su­pery­acht have strong Amer­i­can op­tions to con­sider—ship­yards that bring decades of crafts­man­ship, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion to the ta­ble.

For Amer­i­can own­ers, build­ing with U.S. yards also of­fers ge­o­graph­i­cal con­ve­nience and a sense of pa­tri­o­tism in sup­port­ing the do­mes­tic econ­omy. Here’s a look at the ship­yards of­fer­ing new su­pery­achts with the “made in the USA” la­bel.

Burger Boat Com­pany, Man­i­towoc, Wisc.

Cus­tom yachts to 200 feet (61 me­ters), alu­minum and steel; re­fit and ser­vice

Founded in 1863, Burger has evolved from com­mer­cial boats to fully cus­tom yachts. “We’re a smaller ship­yard, so own­ers of boats up to 200 feet find us ad­van­ta­geous over some of the big­ger ship­yards; they get more at­ten­tion,” says Ron Clev­eringa, vice pres­i­dent of sales and mar­ket­ing.

Dur­ing the past decade, the ship­yard has re­turned to its roots by tak­ing on a num­ber of com­mer­cial projects. Two 98-foot (30-me­ter) com­mer­cial tour boats rein­tro­duced the build­ing of steel hulls to Burger, which lately had been con­struct­ing yachts in alu­minum. The

change came in handy when an owner con­tracted the yard to build the 103-foot, 6-inch (31.5-me­ter) lon­grange ex­plorer North­land, which Burger de­liv­ered this past Novem­ber. De­signed by Luiz DeBasto, North­land has a steel hull and alu­minum su­per­struc­ture.

The owner of North­land was happy to have his boat built in Amer­ica, Clev­eringa says: “He wanted to keep [the project] at home. He wanted it U.S.-flagged.”

Burger’s in-house team man­u­fac­tures most of its yacht com­po­nents, in­clud­ing cab­i­netry in its wood­work­ing shop. “We self-per­form ev­ery­thing ex­cept the stonework,” Clev­eringa said. “We are con­tin­u­ally doing im­prove­ments to the ship­yard, buy­ing equip­ment.”

In June, the ship­yard launched the first Burger 48 Cruiser, a 48-foot (14.6-me­ter) semi-cus­tom alu­minum mo­to­ry­acht with naval ar­chi­tec­ture by Vri­pack. Hull num­ber 2 is in build. burg­er­

Chris­tensen Ship­yards, Van­cou­ver, Wash.

Cus­tom and semi-cus­tom yachts to 164 feet (50 me­ters), com­pos­ite

Founded in 1983 by Dave Chris­tensen in or­der to build his own yacht, this ship­yard is still op­er­ated by yacht own­ers to­day, led by telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions en­tre­pre­neur Henry Luken, who ac­quired the ship­yard in 2015 out of re­ceiver­ship.

“Chris­tensen suf­fered be­cause it got too big,” Pres­i­dent Jim Gil­bert says. “It lost ef­fi­ciency.” Since the ac­qui­si­tion, Luken has helped to stream­line oper­a­tions. Cur­rently, Chris­tensen is build­ing two 164-foot (50-me­ter) projects: Hull 38, sold and sched­uled for de­liv­ery by late 2018 or early 2019, and Hull 42, still avail­able and 20 to 24 months out from de­liv­ery.

Chris­tensen says its vac­uum in­fu­sion process pro­duces a com­pos­ite hull with a strength-to-weight ra­tio that is seven times stronger than steel and solid lam­i­nate. “When peo­ple build yachts that are 50 me­ters and above, they think steel is safer,” Gil­bert says. “They don’t re­al­ize it’s not stronger than fiber­glass… [and] it’s more ex­pen­sive to main­tain.”

Gil­bert terms Chris­tensen’s of­fer­ings “high-qual­ity semi-pro­duc­tion boats” be­cause they are built on a plat­form that in­cor­po­rates proven en­gi­neer­ing and elec­tri­cal sys­tems, rather than be­ing de­signed from scratch each time. “We tend to re­tain more of our value be­cause it isn’t wholly cus­tom,” he says. How­ever, he adds, “The in­te­rior is flex­i­ble; we will do pretty much any­thing any­body wants.”

Chris­tensen, which is known for its stonework, man­u­fac­tures most yacht com­po­nents in-house. “It saves time and cost,” Gil­bert says. “We can con­trol our pro­duc­tion sched­ule bet­ter if we are not re­ly­ing on out­side ven­dors, and it gives us more con­trol over the qual­ity of the prod­uct.”

Luken plans to de­velop a sec­ond yard on a 55-acre wa­ter­front site in Tel­lico Lake, Ten­nessee. No timetable has been an­nounced, but the new fa­cil­ity would al­low Chris­tensen to build yachts larger than 223 feet (68 me­ters). chris­tenseny­

Delta Ma­rine, Seat­tle

Cus­tom and semi-cus­tom yachts to 328 feet (100 me­ters), com­pos­ite, alu­minum and steel; re­fit and ser­vice

This fam­ily-owned and -op­er­ated ship­yard, which cel­e­brated its 50th an­niver­sary last year, is the only U.S. su­pery­acht builder ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing yachts up to 328 feet (100 me­ters).

“As our projects have be­come in­creas­ingly con­fi­den­tial, there are not a lot of de­tails to share; I can tell you that Delta’s last five de­liv­er­ies are a com­bined to­tal of nearly 1,000 lin­eal feet,” says Mar­ket­ing Man­ager Michelle Jones. “Our next de­liv­ery is a 53-me­ter with alu­minum hull and com­pos­ite su­per­struc­ture, de­signed by JQB De­sign.”

In 2018 alone, Delta de­liv­ered a steel-hull mo­to­ry­acht larger than 196 feet (60 me­ters) and started con­struc­tion on an all-com­pos­ite mo­to­ry­acht. Delta spe­cial­izes in com­pos­ite tech­nol­ogy, and typ­i­cally

builds its larger yachts with metal hulls and com­pos­ite su­per­struc­tures. The ship­yard of­fers all its clients the ser­vices of Delta De­sign Group, and prides it­self on col­lab­o­rat­ing with out­side yacht de­sign­ers.

“While we con­sider our­selves well suited to fully cus­tom yachts, we have a num­ber of prior projects on which we could base a new yacht,” Jones says. “The at­trac­tion of a pre-en­gi­neered plat­form is the lever­age in time, cost and proven per­for­mance.”

Delta has brought all the ma­rine trades in-house. “We feel by doing the work our­selves, on-site, we can con­trol the qual­ity of all com­po­nents,” Jones says. “We are com­pet­i­tive with the top-tier North­ern Euro­pean cus­tom yards, with the same level of qual­ity and at­ten­tion to de­tail.” delta­ma­

Nord­lund Boat Com­pany, Ta­coma, Wash.

Cus­tom and semi-cus­tom yachts to 120 feet (36.5 me­ters), com­pos­ite; re­fit and ser­vice

This year, fam­ily-owned and -op­er­ated Nord­lund is cel­e­brat­ing the 60th an­niver­sary of its found­ing.

“Our main ad­van­tage is that we build true cus­tom: If some­body has the de­sign in mind, and we can do it, we are set up to do it,” says Vice Pres­i­dent Gary Nord­lund. “We tell our em­ploy­ees, ‘ We do the same thing over and over again, but each time it’s some­thing dif­fer­ent.’”

Nord­lund uses an ex­pand­able hull mold to lay up most new yachts and builds the tool­ing for each su­per­struc­ture in-house. Af­ter the yacht is launched, the builder de­stroys that tool­ing so no two Nord­lunds are ever the same.

While the ship­yard will work with dif­fer­ent yacht de­sign­ers, it is known for its long­time col­lab­o­ra­tion with naval ar­chi­tec­ture firm R. Ed­win Monk. “All but three boats in the last 45 hulls have been done by Ed Monk,” Nord­lund says.

Yacht own­ers who are an­glers prize Nord­lund for its yacht­fish­ers, a cat­e­gory of ocean­go­ing fish­ing yachts that the yard helped to de­velop. In Au­gust, Nord­lund launched a 115-foot (35-me­ter) ex­pe­di­tion yacht­fisher with naval ar­chi­tec­ture by Monk and in­te­rior de­sign by Mary Flores Yacht In­te­ri­ors.

Nord­lund says many own­ers who build, re­fit or ser­vice their yachts at the ship­yard use its lo­ca­tion as a jump­ing-off point for cruis­ing north to Bri­tish Columbia and Alaska or south to Costa Rica. Amer­i­can clients, he says, like keep­ing the work at home. “Most have a busi­ness in the U.S.,” he says. “It seems like the right thing to do. And, if you want truly cus­tom, that’s hard to find some­place else.” nord­lund­

West­port, Port An­ge­les and West­port, Wash.

Semi-cus­tom yachts to 165 (50 me­ters); com­pos­ite

“As far as our clients go, many do em­brace ‘made in the USA,’ as long as the qual­ity stan­dards are the same,” says Daryl Wake­field, pres­i­dent of West­port Yachts.

When most yachts­men think of Maine, they think of smaller, hand­crafted wooden boats. But Maine also is home to ship­yards that build cus­tom yachts in a range of ma­te­ri­als. Here is a look at two of the big­gest play­ers.


Cus­tom and semi-cus­tom yachts to about 100 feet (30.5 me­ters), com­pos­ite, wood and metal; re­fit and ser­vice

This fam­ily-run ship­yard just cel­e­brated its 40th an­niver­sary in true Down East style, with a lob­ster bake for own­ers. Ly­man-Morse builds sail­ing and mo­to­ry­achts in a range of ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing car­bon fiber. Its most re­cent launch, the 65-foot, 6-inch (20-me­ter) Stephens War­ing Yacht De­sign Anna, is made of cold-molded wood.

Ly­man-Morse builds yachts for re­tail and OEM clients, and does re­fit, ser­vice and bro­ker­age. It op­er­ates Way­farer Ma­rina in Cam­den, which it re­cently ac­quired, and does metal fab­ri­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent Drew Ly­man. “Things are re­ally di­ver­si­fied for us, which I like,” he says. “It evens out the work­flow.” ly­man­


Cus­tom and semi-cus­tom yachts to about 100 feet (30.5 me­ters), com­pos­ite/and wood; re­fit and ser­vice Founded in 1960 by Joel M. White, this fam­ily-owned ship­yard is now led by his son, Steve White. In May, the yard—which typ­i­cally pro­duces one to two sail or mo­to­ry­achts a year—launched the 91-foot (27.7-me­ter) cold-molded wood sloop Sonny III, de­signed by Bruce John­son.

“A lot of peo­ple are still afraid of wood,” Steve White says. “Cold-molded boats are no more work or main­te­nance than a fiber­glass or alu­minum boat.”

He adds that build­ing a cold-molded project also can cost less than cre­at­ing a mold and lay­ing up a com­pos­ite yacht.

The abil­ity to build a fully cus­tom project in the United States is an at­trac­tion for some of the yard’s Amer­i­can clients, White says, “but for many of them, they just want the best prod­uct they can get.” brook­lin­boat­

above: De­signer Luiz DeBasto of Mi­ami penned the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior of Burger Boat Com­pany’s hull num­ber 510, North­land.

be­low: The new Burger 48 Cruiser.

Be­low: A deck-plan draw­ing is all that is cur­rently avail­able to see of Chris­tensen’s Hull 42, which is still 20 to 24 months out from de­liv­ery. Right: Delta Ma­rine is ca­pa­ble of build­ing yachts up to 328 feet in com­pos­ite, alu­minum and steel.

above: Nord­lund’s 115-foot ex­pe­di­tion yacht­fisher. be­low: West­port’s new 125 model launched in 2017.

Brooklin Boat Yard’s 91-foot (27.7-me­ter) cold-molded wood sloop, Sonny III.

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