Sea Magazine - December 2008 - Introducing Estancia
Story and Photos by Bridget Debernitz
He's a cruising veteran with more than 45 years of boat ownership; she's an award-winning trainer and rider of cutting horses with barely any boating experience. They are, however, a happy couple who have combined their shared passion for both activities on board their new Westport 112, Estancia.
Estancia, delivered last February, was the result of a 14-month labor of love between Westport and the boat's new owners, Bill McDowell and Julie Wrigley.
"It's everything we could have asked for in a new boat," McDowell said happily. "Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd own a Westport," he added.
Wrigley concurred. "This is my first time owning a boat, and it's truly a wonderful adventure," she said.
For McDowell, the decision to select a Westport was quite simple. He had fallen in love with the 98-foot Westport Golden Delicious when he reviewed it in the Pacific Northwest some time ago and had already known Westport CEO Orin Edson for more than 25 years.
In most cases, experienced boaters make the jump one size boat to the next in small increments. Not so for McDowell, however. He felt that his then-current boat, a 61-foot Tollycraft, wasn't the right fit for the new journey in life he was taking with Wrigley. He didn't hesitate to suggest a Westport, a 45-year old company that was already making waves with its 164-footer at the time. When he was told that Westport was underway with a new 112-foot motoryacht, he knew this would be the perfect yacht for the couple's long-range cruising plans.
"It's a very tried and true Northwest yacht," McDowell said. "Even though it's over a hundred feet long, I found it surprisingly comfortable to operate without a crew and very operator friendly," he added.
McDowell wouldn't suggest that a novice take on the formidable feat of taking on a 236,000-pound mega-yacht solo - he admitted that even he was overwhelmed at first. And naturally, being the company's first owner-operator, he originally believed the challenges making the huge size upgrade from 61 to 112 feet would not be easy.
"I attended a four-day-long orientation for Estancia at Westport's shipyard. At first, trying to understand the operating systems on a boat of this size was so overwhelming; I thought to myself, what the hell have I done?"
But after a thorough hands-on introduction to the boat and the one-on-one instruction sessions he received, McDowell was finally ready to pilot (and dock) Estancia with confidence.
"The boat is extremely easy to dock," he said. "They've even positioned the wing stations so you have a good view fore and aft." A pair of 40 hp bow thrusters give McDowell extra help with docking, as well.
Another selling point for Wrigley and McDowell was Westport's seemingly relentless customer care. "They [Westport's design team] were always available. I could contact them with questions or idea at any time," Wrigley commented. "I do not think I could have worked with a better company," McDowell said. "The quality of the workmanship, the attention to detail, and the quick response to our requests was totally unparalleled," he added.