42 Sport Cruiser
— By Capt. Bill Pike
— September 2003
Magicians of Mahogany
|Driving Miss Abbracci|
Before I left my home, Mullet Mansion, to go up to Michigan, I was saying to myself, “Ya know, I don’t think I’ve handled a 42-foot woodie before...at least not a Mays-Craft with a $1,650,000 price tag. This little trip should be interesting.”
No lie, guy! My first glimpse of Abbracci—that’s “hugs” in Italian, which reportedly captures the essence of the boat for her owner, Texas electronics entrepreneur Paul Andrews—dang near blew me out of the water. Not only was the boat entirely composed of wood, but she looked like Mozart, Beethoven, or some other big-wig genius had done the composing. Her white Awlgrip-coated topsides shown with flawless grandeur, thanks to Larry Mayea’s artistry with a three-inch, badger-hair brush—Mayea Boat Works doesn’t own a paint sprayer and never will, he says. And Abbracci’s stainless steel deck hardware, custom fabricated locally by a German who the Mayea family has known for years, exquisitely accented her deck and superstructure, an amalgam of South American mahogany, teak, walnut, and pure, ineffable artisnal flare.
I got behind the wheel ASAP. While waiting for the two hulking 750-hp BPMs to warm up, I’ll be darned if I didn’t feel like I was waiting for a classical concert to begin—one that had been in the works for a long time. It takes five years for the busy Mayeas to even get around to a new project and then two more to complete it. Larry’s only half-joking when he opens conversations with prospective clients by asking them how healthy they are!
As I drove Abbracci toward the sunny diamonds of Lake St. Clair, I reflected on just how meticulously, systematically, and magically the boat had been constructed. Key to the process was the first step—the creation of a scale model, carved by hand from a solid block of mahogany with the same knives, shaves, hollowing planes, and other tools violin makers use. Although computer-generated offsets taken from the model for lofting had come next, then the automated cutting of components on a CNC milling machine, and then the application of the latest WEST SYSTEM® epoxy methods and products, there was little doubt in my mind that the heart of the boat was artistry, not technology.
Vrrrroooooooooom! I firewalled Abbracci’s ZF/Mathers electronic engine controls, letting the big BPMs vociferously out of the bag. In five seconds flat I was skipping across Lake St. Clair like a stone, carving turns, swooshing figure-eights, and generally feeling like a kid.
The best was yet to come, though. Once I’d ascertained that Abbracci would do 43.7 mph WOT and 14 mph on one engine (should difficulties arise with the other), I headed the test boat cheerily for the barn. (See specifications box on page 78.) However, while turning the corner into the scarily narrow and shallow canal that serviced our slip, I said to Donny Mayea, “So Donny, you wanna take her in?” “Nah,” he replied, “You’re doin’ great.”
Abbracci was so responsive, so balanced, so quick, that docking her under close-quarters conditions was like hearing the “Adagio & Fugue for Strings” or “Moonlight Sonata” on a warm summer night. I loved it. —B.P.
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.