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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Ryco 65

Thirty-six-plus years ago, a man was searching for a boat on which he and his son could fish blue water. The man, who did most of his fishing out of Florida, talked to three custom boatbuilding brothers named Rybovich about constructing his dreamboat. After some discussion the man commissioned a 53-footer dubbed Castabar. The sportfisherman was launched in 1968, and father and son enjoyed untold boating adventures onboard her.

The son, who wishes to remain anonymous, inherited this nautical heirloom and used her often. Now grown up and an experienced angler, he enjoyed Castabar’s build, ride, and layout. But after four decades of faithful service, the boat was tired, and the owner realized it was time for a change. Having liked Castabar so much, he turned to custom builder Ryco Marine and Michael Rybovich, son of the late Emil Rybovich, one of the three brothers who built Castabar, to craft him a 65-footer.

“I knew Michael Rybovich still possessed the same family traits that his dad and uncles had,” the owner explained to me. One of those traits is building a sturdy, cold-molded boat without excessive weight, and the new boat, also called Castabar, is no exception. Her bottom is comprised of three layers of 5/16-inch mahogany planks glued in opposing directions with epoxy resin to add strength. Two layers of 18.5-ounce fiberglass cloth encapsulate the exterior of the hull, adding rigidity and providing a moisture barrier, atop which is 1/16-inch of solid epoxy, which was faired out before being painted. The interior of the hull is also fiberglass-encapsulated, which stiffens and strengthens the entire structure. Engine beds and stringers are clear fir and mahogany, laminated into place; the engine beds are skinned with one-inch AB marine fir plywood and 3/8-inch-thick aluminum caps to support the boat’s 1,400-hp Caterpillar 3412 diesels.

As a result of her construction, Castabar comes in at 67,000 pounds (dry), 15,000 to 20,000 pounds less than comparably sized, conventionally laminated boats. Nevertheless, she’s built to chase horizons, as I learned on test day. The 10- to 20-mph northwest breeze cutting across Key Largo, Florida, didn’t whip up any seas that could challenge her hull form, which has a bell shape forward that modifies to a convex shape amidships, where deadrise is about 18 degrees. In fact, she made mincemeat of the two- to three-foot chop. Spray rails running her entire length prevented any of the squashed chop from riding up the hull. Castabar was dry the whole day; not even a sneeze of spray worked its way to the flying bridge. And she was stable, too, thanks to aft sections that flatten to nine degrees at the transom.

Seeing how that design translates into performance out of the water was almost as impressive to me as learning about her build. Castabar’s Cats are coupled to Twin Disc transmissions and 33x43 four-blade Veem wheels, all of which helped propel her to a top average speed of 45.5 mph (2320 rpm) while burning 138 gph. Castabar’s captain, Dominic Ullom, Jr., told me that he usually runs the boat at about 1800 rpm, where she burns around 80 gph (can you say fuel miserly?) at 35 mph. It’s here that you can best see how hull design, power, and weight savings come together.

Of course, I was curious to see if her handling was as good as her ride. Ullom handed me the wheel, and I throttled the single-lever Glendinning electronic controls, which are set in a Palm Beach-style pod of rich red-stained mahogany. The controls were buttery smooth, and the Hynautic steering allowed me to maneuver Castabar as easily as a runabout. Rybovich, who was along for the test, said, “Go ahead, Patrick, put her over.” Who was I to argue? I got Castabar up to a comfortable cruise of 35 mph and put the wheel hardover. She turned on a dime with nary a drop in rpm, another effect of Ryco’s efficient hull. Sightlines were clean at all speeds, compliments of a trim angle that never rose above four degrees sans trim tabs.

While I admittedly spent a lot of time admiring her performance, once we’d finished the sea trial I had the chance to really take in the 65’s highly finished brightwork, which, like her build, is a family trademark.

The owner wanted to keep a traditional look outside, so the cockpit sole is teak, but accented in a red-hued and Imron-finished Honduran mahogany. The look is stunning. My eyes were drawn to the rich-looking wood as I gazed past the aft-facing mezzanine seating to port and starboard, two custom sailfish chairs, and centerline rocket launcher (designed by the owner). Also worthy of note is the fact that the sailfish chairs are off centerline and positioned so the owner can rest his feet on the covering boards or rocket launcher. (I think Rybovich might cringe if he saw a pair of Docksiders resting on that artfully finished wood.) The chairs and rocket launcher are just part of Castabar’s big-game arsenal, which also includes two 60-gallon in-deck fishboxes (one rigged for tuna tubes), an in-deck fishbox with Eskimo ice maker to keep fish fresh, a bait freezer, and custom Rupp outriggers. “She’s a fishing boat,” Rybovich explains simply.

Castabar’s interior is equally impressive, in satin-finished teak and solid granite countertops with no openings, not even for the cooktop, which pulls out from under one of the cabinets. (The owner didn’t want crumbs falling into cracks.) “How often do you really use the cooktop?” the owner asks rhetorically.

There’s another learned-by-experience feature in all of Castabar’s three en suite heads: heated towel racks (not a Rybovich family trademark). The owner said that over the years he could never get a towel to dry in the humid environs of Florida and the Bahamas, so he had heaters and racks installed in the head. (I guess that also explains the three towel closets in the below-decks companionway.) That line of thinking must account for the air conditioning outlet under the king-size berth in the master forward. Ullom told me it prevents moisture and mildew buildup, and as paperwork is stowed here, the setup makes a lot of sense.

It’s details like these that make it tough to criticize a custom boat from the perspective of gear and layout, since she represents an owner’s vision. However, I would be curious to see how some of Castabar’s features hold up over time, like the pneumatic sliding doors that buffer the saloon and cockpit, the remote controlled-window shades, and the Crestron wireless-controlled entertainment center that allows you to watch DVDs, satellite TV, the tower cam, and engine diagnostics and access satellite Internet, on the saloon’s 32-inch Sony plasma TV.

But those items are gadgetry, not the meat and potatoes of this boat, which are her trademark lines, build, finish, and seakeeping ability. These are the things that have kept the Rybovich family legacy alive, and will likely continue to do so for decades to come, especially if they create the kinds of owner-builder relationships that span generations. At least, I hope so. After all, I wouldn’t mind testing, oh, let’s say, a 70-foot Ryco?

Ryco Marine
(561) 848-9490

This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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