Horizon 78 Motor Yacht — By Capt. Bill Pike
— April 2005
Part 2: Bookshelves, cabinets, and lockers occupy every conceivable spot, another of Mary Anne’s contributions.
Visibility was excellent from the comfy, electrically actuated Stidd seat, and the dashboard was logically laid out: Oft-used items, like tab rockers and indicators, autopilot, rudder-angle indicator, VHF, and depthsounder, were up close. Secondary stuff, like the three Vei screens (integrated with two Furuno NavNets and controllable via a RemotePoint RF handheld mouse), the Elbex closed-circuit TV, and the Tank Tender tankage monitor, were farther away. The only thing I didn’t like was the touchpad control for the Spelch windshield wipers—took me 20 minutes to figure it out!
As I was returning the 78 to her slip after the sea trial, adhering pretty much to the same scenario I’d used to depart (except going backwards), a big guy waved from the dock. It was Richard Kull, the boat’s owner. Having been occupied with one of his car dealerships or some other business matter for much of the day, he was finally ready to devote prime time to his primary avocation, boating. Kull helped Bonde deal with our lines as I tweaked the 78’s positioning, then came aboard and entered the sky lounge about the time I shut down the MANs.
One thing impressed me immediately: Kull was no swaggering dilettante when it came to running boats of this size. Since mustering out of the Coast Guard after serving in World War II (see “They Did It Their Way,” this story), he’s owned a slew of vessels and cruised and fished them all over the place and is perfectly capable of operating his 78 all by his lonesome. “Heinz runs her when I don’t feel like doing it myself,” he explained, resting a tattooed forearm on a helm chair.
Kull and I began examining his boat, starting with the engine room that’s accessed via either a stairway at the rear of the saloon or via a walkway from the transom that has a watertight door. My initial take was positive: Bulkheads and other surfaces were paneled with crisp, white, sound-absorbent, perforated aluminum. Beneath this, according to Kull, there were thick layers of sound/heat insulation. Flooring was of tough, serviceable, diamond-plate aluminum. Lighting overhead was abundant, and there were many examples of sea-savvy engineering, including triplex fuel-water filters for the mains, color-coded piping, and sight gauges on the welded-aluminum fuel tanks as backups for the electric gauges.
But one feature bugged me. At Kull’s behest Horizon had moved the forward firewall astern about one foot as part of custom modifications that stretched a standard 76-footer into our 78. While this measure added space to the voluminous master stateroom amidships, it crowded components at the forward end of the engine room (filters, stabilizer hydraulics, etc.), thereby restricting access.
Interior living spaces came next. The 78’s layout is expansive and features three staterooms forward on the lower deck (with a fourth all the way aft, across from the crew’s quarters), saloon, galley, and dining area on the main deck, and the sky lounge on the upper deck. Each stateroom has its own head with separate stall shower and Headhunter MSD. While the arrangement is basic and sensible in terms of liveaboard traffic flow, fit and finish is the real source of its appeal. The paneling and cabinetry of mahogany-like makore on the main and upper decks is elegantly crafted and joined, but no more so than the paneling and cabinetry of bird’s-eye maple in the master stateroom, crew’s quarters, and fourth stateroom on the lower deck. Fabrics, specified by Kull’s wife Mary Anne, refine the look, and bookshelves, cabinets, and lockers occupy every conceivable spot, another of Mary Anne’s contributions.
I went to dinner in Fort Lauderdale after the test with the Kulls and some friends. Sea stories were told, addresses were exchanged, an upcoming Virgin Islands voyage was anticipated, and between the festive outbursts that typically characterize gatherings of boaters, one or two serious questions were asked and answered.
“So what do you really think of our new boat, Bill?” asked Mary Anne at one point. “She hangs tough in the rough stuff,” I replied, hoisting yet another stone crab claw, “she handles like a champ dockside, and the fit and finish...”
“Yes?” she questioned.
“Absolutely delicious,” I concluded with a smile.
Horizon America ( (561) 626-5615. www.horizonyachting.com.
This article originally appeared in the March 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.