PMY Boat Test: West Bay 58 PHMY
With high bulwarks, protected side decks, and solid construction, the West Bay 58 is ready to go to sea.
Some boats you ride on, some you ride in. Those you ride on–especially express cruisers–are typically sleek and stylish and put you close to the water. On a calm and sunny day, this is the boat to be aboard. But when the seas rise and the winds blow, it’s far better to be in a boat, surrounded by a solid structure, safe, secure, and relatively comfortable.
The semicustom West Bay 58 is this kind of boat. You don’t so much board her as enter her, and the moment you do you feel ensconced and secure. Her tall horizontal surfaces and sharp angles make her look serious, strong, and seaworthy, and her high bulwarks, solid handholds, and wide walkways confirm the impression.
Nowhere is this secure feeling more apparent than in the 58’s seven-foot-long cockpit, where internal freeboard exceeds three feet. Her flying bridge covers two-thirds of the space, providing shelter from sun and rain. Cabinets forward can hold not only gear but also accessories like a barbecue and sink; they’re to starboard of molded-in steps and a stainless steel ladder that provide a secure passageway to the bridge.
There’s even security on the three-foot deep swim platform, thanks to a nearly full-width transom grabrail, two smaller vertical grabrails at either side, and five massive, individually removable, three-foot-high stern rails. It’s two big steps from cockpit to platform, so although the standard transom baitwell makes fishing a definite possibility, an aft freeboard of 5'10" means you probably won’t be dragging any giant tuna through the port-side transom door.
The high cockpit sole produces a huge lazarette. Accessed through a large hatch in the center, the space on our test boat easily swallowed a central vacuum, Sea Recovery watermaker, water heater, two 130-gallon translucent water tanks (with gallons printed on them so you can see exactly how much water you have), and a variety of pumps and batteries, with plenty of room for spares and provisions left over.
Also accessed from the cockpit via a separate hatch beneath the saloon steps is the engine room with six-foot headroom and walkaround engine access. Indeed, amid the stark, white environs (including painted 500-gallon aluminum fuel tanks to either side), our boat’s Caterpillar 3196s looked positively Lilliputian. Everything here and in the lazarette is clearly labeled and accessible, especially the inboard-mounted sea strainers and duplex Racors. Simplicity provides operational security. The forward bulkhead has little more than a fuel manifold and d.c. main panel. Aft of each engine, our 58 had a 20-kW Northern Lights genset (one 12-kW unit is standard), aft of which were the a.c. electrical panels, the MSD manifold, and the reservoir for the power-assisted hydraulic steering. Powerful lights combine with the arctic ambience to make the space feel more like a kitchen than an engine room. Both fuel tanks have graduated sight glasses with seacocks top and bottom, and the prop shafts are oversize three-inch stainless steel.
There’s another kind of security topside. Simple barrel bolts accessed from the lockable cabinet beneath the cockpit sink can secure both the lazarette and engine room hatches. Thus it’s a matter of turning just two locks–the one on this cabinet and on the saloon doors–to secure the boat upon leaving.
You needn’t worry about compromising safety when you send someone forward to tend lines or ground tackle. Two steps to either side of the cockpit take you to foot-wide side decks (there is port and starboard side-deck access from the pilothouse via flush-opening doors) that are protected by a toerail and rock-solid, 2'6"-high welded rails. Once forward of the pilothouse, these side decks widen, and although it’s a moderate step from them to the cabin top, all surfaces are basically flat and covered in aggressive nonskid. The rail encloses the pulpit, and the standard windlass is self-tailing, so anchor hauling and retrieval can be accomplished from either helm.
The onlyplace you’ll feel exposed aboard the 58 is the flying bridge, and that’s by design, since the boat will no doubt be run from the lower station in deteriorated conditions. The helm is actually abaft midship, which puts a lot of boat in front of you. The cockpit overhang obscures most of the transom area, but that’s not unusual in this type of boat. The layout is simple: a centerline helm and single seat (a second helm chair is optional) with twin L-shape lounges aft to provide seating for eight. A stairway to the saloon lies to starboard, and there’s room for a wetbar with icemaker/refrigerator to port. The after third of the bridge deck is available for tender stowage (up to a 14-footer mounted athwartships), including a pad for an optional Nick Jackson davit.
Unlike many pilothouse boats, the 58’s lower station is the preferred operational venue. Well forward and well off the water, it has superb sightlines through the five-panel windshield (the three center ones have large wipers) and out large windows on either side. Visibility aft is almost as good, thanks to the open saloon/galley layout; only the extreme aft port quarter is obscured. There’s plenty of room for electronics. Our boat had the factory-installed package that includes a center-mounted OceanPC monitor flanked by a Furuno color depthsounder and radar monitor. There is no built-in helm seat, but there is a big chart area to port with a gooseneck lamp, chart drawers, and plenty of workspace.
Aft, the galley lies to port across from a large L-shape dinette. It’s U-shape and offers all the normal accoutrements and appliances, with one oddity: The dishwasher is on the forward side, facing the pilothouse, so you must walk around the forward leg to place the dishes in it.
At 12 feet by 12 feet and with more than seven-foot headroom, the saloon is big, but ours felt even bigger. That’s because new owners, who were about to take delivery of our test boat from Venwest Yachts of Seattle, West Bay’s Pacific Northwest distributor, had removed all the furniture so they could decorate it. About all that was left was the optional retractable television in an American cherry (like all the wood aboard) cabinet located forward and to starboard. It also contained the rest of the entertainment equipment. From the saloon, double doors lead out to the cockpit. Not only are they more solid than your typical sliding door, they have integral screens that roll out to either side when you don’t need them.
Below, everything forward of midship is accommodations. Our three-stateroom plan featured a large master amidships with centerline queen bed, a starboard side devoted to cherry built-ins, and an en suite head along the port side. Also en suite: a washer-dryer. Forward and to port is a midstateroom with bunks, then fully forward, a VIP that shares a starboard head with the other stateroom. At the foot of the pilothouse stairs, that head can also function as a day head.
Given the flat conditions on test day, there’s little I can say about the 58’s performance, other than she planes quickly for a 58,000-pound yacht and executes turns smartly. The Howard Apollonio-designed hull is available with or without propeller pockets; they save but four inches of draft (5'7" versus 6'1"), which is why most 58s–ours included–don’t have them.
This being a semicustom yacht, her standard equipment is purposely limited to give each owner wide latitude in customization. The list of options is long, and unlike most builders, West Bay offers entertainment equipment (18 items) and electronics (28 items) as groups. This makes it harder to compare prices (they’re also available individually), but ensures that you’re buying systems, not just components.
Our well-equipped 58 carried a price of less than $1.4 million, which considering her quality, construction, and seaworthiness, is an attractive figure. That, combined with West Bay’s limited production capacity, should ensure that each 58 maintains its value over the long haul.
Yet another form of security.
West Bay SonShip
Phone: (604) 946-6226. Fax: (604) 946-8722. www.west-bay.com.
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This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.