Spectator — 2001
By Tom Fexas
Ghosts of Cruisers Past
|Part 2: Ghosts continued|
The first boat on the wheel is the Morgan 83-foot motoryacht built in Italy. Leopoldo Rodriquez is a Roman of exceptionable taste and appreciation for classic designs. Last Christmas he sent me a card on which he inscribed, "A clipper bow and a tumblehome stern is the best wish for the year 2000." My kind of guy. Rodriquez has conceived Morgan Yachts, four classic boats from 44 to 130 feet, and the 83-footer, with magnificent teak work and custom stainless steel hardware, was recently launched just outside of Rome.
Number two is a custom 40-footer designed for an extremely experienced yachtsman and his wife. He'd had a similar smaller boat but wanted one that was bigger, faster, and classier. Commissioned this summer with a spoon bow, stepped sheer, and low trunk, she is a standout. Number three is a 40-footer we designed for Britannia Custom Yachts in Northport, New York. This is one of those times I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Number four may look familiar. She is the 42-footer I designed for myself in 1994/1995 based on the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle. We were making great progress with her until the builder absconded to Maine, leaving the molds, a hull, a deck, and some interior pieces. I am happy to say that this boat is now in production once again at Stuart Yacht Builders in Florida, the same builder (and in the very same shed) that built the original Midnight Lace in 1977. Going back there after 23 years to watch a similar boat come together gives me a strange feelings.
Numbers five and six are near and dear to my saltwater heart. The Midnight Lace is back with two new models. We designed the 41-footer, number five and what we call our "Mystic Series," for Don Canavan at Rex Yacht Sales in Fort Lauderdale, which sold most of the Midnight Laces in the `80s. Number six is a brand-new 50-foot Midnight Lace. The builder, Bluewater, which I've worked with for 20 years, agreed to joint venture this project with me. I want one. She is presently in production at its first-class yard in Taiwan, and we are expecting hull number one in about nine months.
So let's raise our glasses to the designers of yore who conceived such magnificent, stand-out vessels as the 1954 53-foot Chris-Craft Conqueror, the line of sleek, level-riding Matthews Sedans of the `50s and `60s, the timeless Wheelers, and of course the slick, PT boat-inspired postwar Elcos. We are in a great renaissance period in yacht design that I predict is here to stay. Happiness is, indeed, a clipper bow, graceful flare, and sweet tumblehome.
Tom Fexas is a naval architect and designer of powerboats. His offices are located in Stuart, Florida.
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.