|Keeping It Classic|
Part 2: Maintaining a Rybovich pedigree is no small undertaking.
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — May 2001
Other mid-’80s’ revamping involved standardizing electrical systems. Remarkably, prior to this there had been no standard wiring diagrams or color-coding, since each boat was custom. Hilliard says this is also when the yard started looking at new materials. “We started using a lot of composites,” he says. For example, Nomex honeycomb coring was applied to hardtops where before heavier mahogany planking had been employed, which increased weight up top and added to the tendency to roll. Today Nomex is also used for all hatches, berths, and doors. In fact, what was once a door of solid 1 1/4-inch teak is now a Nomex core covered by 1/8-inch teak veneers. “[When] you look at the saloon door, it still looks like a teak door,” says Hilliard, but it’s not only much lighter, you can still sand and refinish it if it gets a little road worn.
As a matter of fact, Hilliard is pretty obsessive about teak. He travels to the Carolinas to personally pick out the teak for each Rybovich, selecting lumber for the toerails, decks, transoms, and interiors and then carefully labeling each. To provide a consistent look within the saloon, he selects most components from the same log. “There are certain things that have to stay pedigree,” he notes.
Maintaining a Rybovich pedigree is no small undertaking. It takes about 55,000 man-hours over 20 months to build a 60-footer, an average boat for the yard these days. But how does Rybovich balance that pedigree against a demanding customer’s requirements? Hilliard says the yard will not compromise the exterior look of a Rybovich, although it will customize the interior within reason. The task isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Hilliard notes that most customers who come to the yard are experienced boaters who want a Rybovich precisely because it is a Rybovich, and that certainly includes the Rybovich look.
But Hilliard says that on occasion he is presented with some interesting challenges. One project involved a customer who was moving from a sailboat to powerboat so he could fish more often. The challenge was that this customer wanted to run his 45-footer solo, so the project required steering stations on the tuna tower and flying bridge, in the cockpit (with an autopilot on a cord so he can move around), and in the saloon, all locations with full electronics. Talk about needing a new wiring diagram! (Clear glass was installed all around the saloon to make it easier to steer from the lower station.) In addition, since the owner would be fishing alone, Rybovich had to rig the cockpit with electric reels so he could bring in fish and maneuver the 45-footer at the same time. “We built it all for him and still kept it looking like a Rybovich,” recalls Hilliard. That was in 1994, and the owner not only still fishes the boat regularly, but also is considering stepping up to a bigger Rybovich.
For Hilliard and Rybovich, it all goes with the job, and it’s all part of tradition. “We operate on the edge of the envelope. We push all those things up to the next level,” Hilliard says, adding, “Things may evolve a little more slowly here, but they do evolve.” And while some things will continue to evolve at Rybovich, it’s nice to know some things will always stay the same.
Rybovich Phone: (561) 844-1800. Fax: (561) 845-8774. www.rybovich.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.