Marine’s Newcastle Voyager
— By Diane M. Byrne
— October 2003
|An intrepid Floridian and a Midwesterner are building rugged-looking travelers outfitted for pure pleasure.|
We've heard of repeat customers, but this is taking it to an extreme.
Kevin Keith, a native Floridian and experienced boatbuilder, and Lester Miller, the former chairman of St. Louis-based plastics company Contico, have known each other for more than a decade. Miller was a client of Keith's at Keith Marine in Palatka, Florida, in the early 1990's, when the yard built a 147-foot, steel-hulled yacht named Contico. Like many of his fellow yachtsmen, Miller decided to sell the boat after a few years and commission a new project. That same time period, the mid-1990's, also marked the emergence of the expedition style, and according to Keith, Miller became convinced it was the "hot ticket." The more the two of them thought about collaborating again, Keith says, the more they thought about turning their desire into a business.
Fast-forward about five years to today, and you'll see the result: Newcastle Marine. The Newcastle Voyager 125, the second yacht to emerge from the Florida-based facility, shows how the yard is focused on giving hard-core cruisers expedition-style yachts to satiate their salty side while simultaneously treating them to "white yacht" luxuries inside.
Before their desire could become reality, Keith and Miller needed to find an available facility. The search mostly centered around St. Augustine, Florida, as that's where Keith is from. A yard in nearby Palm Coast that had been building sailboats went out of business around the same time, so Keith and Miller acquired, gutted, and rebuilt it, adding a 1,000-ton marine railway and a six-story-high construction shed.
That's where their first launch, a steel-and-aluminum 102-footer, emerged from in 2002. The 125 debuted at this past February's Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami, Florida. While cognizant of the fact that these two sizes lend themselves well to fiberglass construction, Keith says they chose steel for the hulls not only because of its strength and durability but also because of both his and Miller's previous experience with metal.
While the choice of materials makes sense even without knowing about Contico, upon initial consideration the choice of designer might surprise you: Luiz De Basto. The Miami-based stylist and interior designer has contributed to a number of different projects within the past several years, but all have been marked by modern, sleek styling, and none has been an expedition yacht. Keith explains that this didn't matter: "If someone's got talent, why not?" (He adds, "It would be like saying Newcastle can't build a white boat.")
As you'd expect of an expedition yacht, everything aboard the 125 is big: She stands four decks tall, has large deck hardware and ground tackle (including two 600-pound anchors with 630 feet of 5⁄8-inch chain to each side), and a generous beam (28 feet), making for big space allocations. This certainly extends to the engine room, where, nestled among redundant systems, the twin 600-hp Caterpillars look practically like scale models due to the abundant clearance above, between, and around them. In keeping with the generous theme, the Newcastle Voyager has a reported range of 4,500 NM at her 11-knot cruising speed (top speed is still a leisurely 13.5 knots).
Next page > Part 2: It looks like Miller’s hunch about this “hot ticket” is paying off. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
This article originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.