By Ben Ellison
|Some guys are just nuts about marine electronics.|
Is this crazy or what?!,” says John Corey, Jr., his face lit up like a nine-year-old gone wild under the Christmas tree. Torn-open boxes are actually strewn around the room, but they contain pretty serious stuff—like digital chart CDs and communications compression software—and we’re in the saloon of Corey’s own Eastbay 58, Blanchard, bombing toward Cape Cod, Massachusetts, at 28 knots. His friend is driving from the flying bridge while he and his ace electronics installer Rod Pervier tune and test the new yacht’s super-sophisticated electronics. Corey is both his own generous Santa plus one of the toy shop elves, and he’s loving every minute of it.
I interviewed Pervier last summer (“Problem Solver,” November 2004) when he was doing the initial installs on Blanchard, and I’d hoped to follow up with a trial spin to see the systems in action and meet the boat’s involved owner. The spin turned out to be an intense eight-hour blast from Yarmouth, Maine, to Newport, Rhode Island, and Corey turned out to be the pluperfect expression of a phenomenon that I call “The Enthusiast.” He’d expended an enormous amount of energy going over a zillion Blanchard details, particularly electronic ones, and now he was enjoying a giant rush of delayed gratification.
Corey put a deposit on the 58 in 2000, before she even was a 58. Then he patiently bided his time—heck, he already had an Eastbay 43 to use—as Grand Banks’ concept for a bigger, faster, luxury model went from 49 to 54 feet and finally to 58 feet, and then as the first hulls were built and debugged. Thus he had already toured fully commissioned 58s, once even with Pervier in tow, before he started detailing Hull No. 6 (not, by the way, No. 5 or No. 7, as there was superstition to consider, too). Then there were the three trips to the Far East—first to review an interior mock-up, then to check in as Blanchard took shape—and innumerable meetings and phone calls. A binder of blueprints a good inch thick sat in the saloon that day, and Corey seemed familiar with every single one.
Part of Corey’s style is to seek advice everywhere, often from multiple sources about the same systems. For instance, during the many months of electronics planning, he peppered questions not only at Pervier but also at a similarly expert Oyster Harbor Marine installer from his home port of Osterville, Massachusetts. Even yours truly got the treatment on the run to Newport as Corey contemplated little changes to this and that. “Hey, am I driving you crazy, too?” he joked. But Blanchard is rich with the results of Corey’s inquisitive, almost obsessive, attention to detail.
One I particularly fancy is the false bookcase covering up the conveniently located but otherwise unattractive breaker panels (see photo on next page). Corey “found” this feature in consultations with the 58’s interior designer, Patrick Knowles, who’d sketched it into early proposals. The real thing, as first seen on Blanchard, adds so much to the saloon’s elegance that Grand Banks is now considering putting it back in the stock design.
Corey, in fact, paid a lot of attention to the aesthetics and ergonomics of his systems. For example, he had a toekick added so that standing close to the flying-bridge helm is as relaxed as sitting in the big Stidd. And at both helms the casing tops have been lowered to maximize sightlines while still holding the twin Simrad 15-inch displays—to port is a CR54 radar/plotter down, repeater up, and to starboard is a computer monitor. The yacht’s main PC, an IBM desktop driving both monitors, is tucked away in the saloon furniture alongside a home-office style printer/fax/copier, also invisible but neatly accessible thanks to gas lifts built into the settee’s seat. Even Corey’s backup laptop PC has its own custom, easy-to-access hideaway built into the saloon chart table.
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.