North Star 71 Pilothouse
Star 71 Pilothouse Motoryacht — By Richard Thiel
— July 2000
|Four entrepreneurs create a company and a remarkable yacht starting with one revered hull form.|
Ed Monk is credited with creating some remarkable hulls. Indeed, among cruising aficionados, some of his forms have reached near-mythical status. But perhaps none is so revered as one he designed nearly two decades ago, that being the Tollycraft 61.
Tollycraft built 39 of these vessels during the ‘80s and then around 1990 lengthened the hull four feet and built 13 more. The hull, which combines fine foresections with flat aft sections and slightly rounded bilges, is easily powered and capable of planing speeds yet seakindly. By many accounts, the 61/65 was a near-perfect piece of work, and no one admired it more than Jerry Clark, who spent 18 years building them and other Tollycrafts. When Tollycraft ceased production in 1996, Clark, a third-generation boatbuilder and then production manager, knew its molds–particularly the 61/65–and experienced workforce were too valuable to waste.
After putting in time at Admiral Marine Works and Shaw Boatworks, Clark found a way to utilize both. In August 1998 he, Rick Baker, a broker experienced with large yachts and new construction, and entrepreneurs and experienced boaters Keith and Mark Huzyak officially started North Star Yachts using a good portion of Tollycraft’s molds (many were sold off) and people.
Baker had something specific in mind. Long an admirer of the 61/65 and the Nordlund 63-71 series of motoryachts based on that design (Nordlund actually built the 61 mold as part of a joint venture with Tollycraft), he called on Monk, who recommended a consultation with engineer Glenn Bauer. Bauer flattened the tumblehome, added prop tunnels, designed a new flying bridge and boat deck, redesigned the aft superstructure and aft deck, and fine-tuned the weight and balance. Thus was born the North Star 71, the subject of this test, which was launched in November 1999.
But the metamorphosis wasn’t complete. The owner of hull number two, a yachtfisherman, wanted a 30-knot cruise and more fuel capacity. To accommodate his Caterpillar 3412s and additional tankage, Clark and Bauer hinged the mold at the bow, spread the halves, and inserted a new, longer keel section that increased the beam from 18'0" to 18'4" and widened the boat at the transom by 1'6". The 3412’s larger props called for longer prop tunnels, so two feet was added. The result is the North Star 73, the first of which should launch about the time you read this; hull number two, with a curved transom, should follow a month later.
All this may sound like a lot more work than just drawing a new design, but it gives you some idea of the reverence the quartet holds for Monk’s 61. It also explains their concern that the boat have a strength equivalent to that hull’s seaworthiness, using a lamination schedule dictated–but not certified–by ABS. So below the chine, the hull is 14 layers of solid FRP; above, it’s cored with one inch of five-pound Divinycell, which is also used in the deck and stringers. Eighteen-pound foam, along with solid mahogany, is used in the way of engine mounts, which are aluminum L-plates bolted through aluminum backing plates. Vinylester resin is used throughout, not just in the exterior laminates, and the hull is fully laminated to the deck, plus bonded with 3M 5200 adhesive.
Two additional features reveal an innovative approach to boatbuilding. The hollow keel warrants mention not because it is filled but because of what it is filled with. At North Star all used acetone is poured into a still that removes contaminates and yields pure acetone, which can be reused. The dross, which looks like hard, gray clay, is ground fine, mixed with resin, and poured into the keel cavity.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.