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Yachts International - May 2003

Written by Jamie Welch

Beirnes brought in some key people from Northcoast and assembled a 58-person workforce that will launch the second 98' this summer. But the way things are going in Hoquiam they might be floating hull number two even sooner.

"What Phil did was astonishing. If you would have told someone a year ago that we were going to have the 98' at a boat show in Miami in 2003 they'd say you were crazy."

There's a philosophy that says if you take away a deadline from someone who truly loves their craft, you will get a perfect product ahead of schedule. The Westport 98 was created in similar fashion. "It wasn't a situation where we told Phil: 'Damn all hours, damn all materials and just get it done,'" Wakefield says. "We were on budget and we make no excuses--the first 98' out of the box will be profitable."

The Hoquiam yard had the tooling for the 20 small mold pieces that Beirnes needed and the four major pieces--common with the 112'--were already made. The ABS-classed hull has an outer layer of fiberglass lamination with anti-blister resin that is seemingly flawless and topped off with high-gloss Awlgrip. The hull bottom is over 1.5" thick including the double coring mateiral. The skin sides are one-inch thick--typical of the previous boats Beirnes built at Northcoast. "The styling makes it the little sister to the 112', which makes it a big 98-footer," Beirnes says. "A lot of the parts are identical and she has the same look and feel as her big sister." The stainless work, including the windows and sliding companionway hatch demonstrates the skill of Westport's steelworkers.

Out in six-foot seas the boat feels lightweight, nimble and steady, and the sound deadening in the engine room keeps the twin 1,480 hp MTU 12V2OOOS silent up in the pilothouse, in the main-deck country kitchen and even in the midship master suite below. Only when the forty horses gallop in the 16" Wesmar bow thruster is there any noise in the galley. But she's silent up in the pilothouse where the Westport captain maneuvered her easily down, around and back through the small channel of the Fisher Island harbor. But underway the place to be is up on the boat deck, which includes a wet bar, tender davit, sun pad, settee, wing stations and entertainment system.

Twin 55 kW Northern Lights generators with remote start/stop in the pilothouse take care of business at anchor.

Electrical panels are neatly displayed in the standing-room doghouse--the main-deck control room under the pilothouse— which is the command center of the 98. Westport's Vessel Information Control system (VIC), defoggers, lighting, isolation transformers and battery chargers are all easily accessed. The electronics package is state-of-the-art, and includes sat phones, cellular phones, depth sounders, radar, autopilot, security systems, weather fax, VHF, SSB, loud hailers and a Northstar 941XD GPS.

Original works of art, such as a bright oil in the saloon by Di Ainsworth, bright blue and gold tones and lots of cherry and madrona burl add touches of color to the entertainment areas and accommodations: there's a VIP in the bow along with the giant master and two double cabins aft. Fine china, silver and even a full set of Baccarat crystal are part of the package.

It's hard to find any flaws in any part of the Westport 98'--not too exciting for a journalist looking for defects. But I'm sure it's extremely gratifying for Westport owners out at sea.

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