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Yachts - February 2010 - New Beginnings

Written by Jerry Stansfield


At the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in October 2009, a familiar design shared space with Westport Yacht's latest models, including a brand new 130' we took a closer look. Hull 16 of the Pacific Mariner 85 pilot house yacht sports new features, including more curves topping its original William Garden-designed hull, which provides an uncannily smooth, quiet ride.

The second thing a visitor might notice approaching the 16th of Pacific Mariner's series-built 85' pilot house yacht is a new nameplate that to the original badge adds the inscription "by Westport", reflecting the recent acquisition of the LaConner Washington, yard by the Megayacht giant based in Port Angeles. The transaction according to Westport Vice President Phil Purcell has been of considerable benefit to both parties. "The move enabled us to cross-pollinate and expand the yard's resources, especially in the area of product design and engineering," he said, adding that "for its size and reputation, the Pacific Mariner 85 provides an appropriate complement to the Westport 112 raised pilot house, the 164 tri-deck and the newly re-designed 40-meter tri-deck that we introduced earlier this year." The first thing to command our observer's attention, of course, would be the new profile and exterior styling elements that now define the composite 85. Keynoting these are rounded contours compared to the original 85's more angular appearance, larger port lights to illuminate the master stateroom, and, topside, flybridge-deck overhangs that allow an expanded boat deck.

The prime motivator in the transition from the original to the new style, unfortunately, was a fire that about two years ago scorched the Pacific Mariner lamination building and damaged beyond repair its hull and deck molds for the previous 85. After carefully evaluation its recovery options, Westport's management team decided on a two-part initiative: first, to reestablish production of the 65' pilot house cruiser, an enormously popular design that launched the company in 1997 and comprised its entire output – no fewer than 60 units – until the introduction of the 85 nearly four years ago. Tooling for the 65 had been well maintained, enabling Pacific Mariner crews to resume production immediately. "The company wanted to keep its people," Purcell noted. "Reinstating production of the 65 allowed that to happen, buying time to weigh further options for reintroducing the 85." Those options, he said were (a) to duplicate the original molds and continue building the yacht as originally designed, or (b) to take the opportunity to update exterior styling and to fine tune design elements where appropriate. After due deliberation, Westport chose the latter course, and assigned to its design team the task of creating the new look.

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