Buccaneer 95By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
Get there from anywhere.
That's the mission of the stout-looking, passagemaking Buccaneer 95. To prove its point, the builder took this full-displacement, steel-hull vessel from the Inace yard in Brazil, where she was constructed, to last year's Miami International Boat Show on her own bottom. That's a 3,000-mile-plus haul. The crew told me that during the delivery there were several days of steady 12-footers, adding that the 95 still made a comfortable 10 knots throughout. This all sounded great, but I I wanted to see this kind of performance for myself. And that's just what I got to do.
Sea conditions on test day were ideal—if you like bad weather. It was blowing 25 to 30 knots, according to the 95's standard anemometer, and on a normal boat, the short-spaced six-plus-footers outside Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades inlet would be as inviting as a dentist's drill. However, this 95-footer has a displacement of nearly 195 tons fully loaded, a foredeck that makes her seem like the nautical equivalent of a skyscraper, and an all-weather hull with transverse steel plates spaced on 19.68-inch centers, a 3/4-inch steel-plate keel, 5/16-inch bottom plating, 1/4-inch side plating, and 1/4-inch bulkhead plating. And of course, there are eight water- and oiltight bulkheads. Perhaps stout is an understatement.
Buccaneer's Capt. Jim Blake was at the flying-bridge helm as the 95 exited the inlet, and the standard Quantum stabilizers kept the craft steady enough for a card game. (That is, if it weren't for those 30-knot winds.) I watched as a six-pack boat in the mid-40s bashed her way through the seas to try a hand at some weedline trolling. The occupants didn't look happy. I spent so much time watching the sportfisherman crash through waves and throw spray with reckless abandon that I'd hardly noticed the 95 was just motoring along as if we were on a cruise up the placid New River, despite the wind-driven spray that blew up onto the pilothouse windows once we broke the inlet.
Blake ran the boat cross-sea as I began to record my performance data. I looked at my Stalker radar gun for her top speed, waiting with the anticipation one has for ketchup to come out of the bottle. It took a while, but as the 95 crested and settled over each swell, the standard twin 440-hp Cat 3406Cs spooled up, and I recorded a top average speed of 14 mph with the engines spinning their rated 2100 rpm. With the engines dialed back to 1750 rpm, the 95 made a comfortable cruise of 12.2 mph with the stabilizers on. A little later we disengaged the stabilizers and gained about 0.5 mph or so at the top end. This came at the expense of some comfort, especially with the 95's high-sided nature. I occasionally found myself walking through the saloon with my arms outstretched for balance. I say lose the speed and keep the stabilizers engaged.
The flying-bridge helm station, like the pilothouse helm, features Kobelt single-lever controls and hydraulic steering. The flying-bridge helm has only lever/jog steering, while the pilothouse has a lever as well as a backup steering wheel. One crewmember told me that he didn't miss the wheel too much, as most of the passage from Brazil was made on autopilot. In order to engage that backup wheel, you must open a valve under the helm. The helm setup for the 95 worked great, but I prefer having the wheel as my primary steering; call me old-fashioned.
Okay, I thought. She's tough, albeit a bit roly-poly without the stabilizers. But after running her outside in the slop, I was confident in the 95's ability to do some serious long-distance cruising, especially when I calculated her cruise-speed range to be more than 7,000 miles. The windshield wipers dismissed the spray on the pilothouse window like it was swiping an annoying fly away, and as we cruised back up the New River, I decided it was a good time to see the 95's softer side.
Just aft of the pilothouse is a skylounge worth spending some quality time in, and not just because it's equipped with a bar, granite countertops, and an L-shape leather lounge that I briefly melted into. For me, it was because of the standard, massive 50-inch Sony plasma TV. Of course, the 42-inch Sony plasma TV in the full-beam (23'5") saloon one deck down wasn't too shabby, either, nor was the fact that every stateroom, of which there are five for guests (sleeping ten), has its own entertainment. There are also crew quarters for five in three cabins.
The centerpiece of this vessel accommodations standpoint is the main-deck master, which is full-beam and sports a king-size berth, vanity, computer desk, as well as his and her heads and your choice of marble or granite for the heads' soles (my test boat had granite). In short: This stateroom's palatial. Both the granite and the mahogany used on the 95 are native to Brazil. The former's colors are brilliant, attractive, and different for each stateroom, with some having the appearace of marble. The latter's dark tone provides the saloon, galley, and main- and lower-deck areas with an elegant feel and doesn't affect the open feel below, as the 95 is equipped with large side windows and portholes along her entire length. A word on the mahogany cabinetry in the galley (standard with GE appliances, including a full-size refrigerator that wouldn't fit in my house): I noted inconsistency in the quality of its finish. There were flat spots, almost as if they'd been sanded but not finished.
One place that is finished off in fine fashion is the 95's engine room. Everything here is white-glove clean. Those twin Cats have full walkaround access, and there's an average of 5'10" headroom. There's also a tool center any mechanic would be jealous of and a steel workbench with a four-inch bench vise for doing repairs. In addition, the area is so spacious, the standard twin 31-kW Northern Lights gensets, which are interfaced with a standard Atlas power-management system all the way aft, are almost lost. The Atlas system monitors the boat's power requirements underway and automatically engages the second genset if the load requires it—say, when all the TVs, lights, and 190,000 Btus of air conditioning are running. But don't worry about the gensets using too much diesel: The 95 carries 16,000 gallons of the stuff.
So you want to get anywhere from where you are now? The 95 can do it. She's got a tough build and long range, and she offers comfort where and when you want it. All of this comes at a price: $5.8 million, to be precise. Plus you'll pay around $40,000 to fuel her up. But once you do, the only thing stopping you from taking her anywhere is your imagination.
Buccaneer Cruising Yachts
This article originally appeared in the July 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.