One of my first and favorite boat tests was aboard the Huckins 45 sportfisherman. It blended modern technology with lines from a bygone era. It was comfortable but not stuffed with every amenity known to man. It was equally adept at cruising as it was chasing fish on the tournament circuit.
After my test I called up designer Bill Prince for insight on the 45. He was generous with his time. You knew right away he was a talented designer yet he didn’t feel the need to prove it. He was plainspoken and never too serious.
A few months ago I caught up with the designer for a meal at the Miami show. He swiped his finger across his phone, showing me some of the projects he’s working on: tenders, refits, sportfishermen and expedition yachts. The projects varied in size and scope. My eyes widened at the sight of a design that’s part superyacht, part SEAL Team Six assault craft. “Oh, yeah, that’s one we’re designing for a Green Beret,” he said nonchalantly, as if he were asking me to pass the ketchup.
He talked design. I talked about the boat show. Then we talked about what we both have in common: a respect for Power & Motor-yacht’s heritage, especially the longtime Spectator column by the late Tom Fexas. Bill and I are unique in that we’re the only two people I know who have a complete set of Power & Motor-yacht in our offices. I regularly look back in the archive for inspiration or entertainment. We’re also part of a nerdy boating brotherhood whose lives were influenced by reading the magazine at a young age.
“Remember the one where Tom talked about…” he’d ask. I didn’t. “What about the one where Tom ripped on…” Stumped again.
I spoke recently with Bonnie O’Boyle from her home in Pennsylvania. O’Boyle was the magazine’s founding editor who created the wildly popular Fexas column.
“Tom Fexas’ [Spectator] column actually happened totally by accident,” she explained in a soft, sweet voice. “I was spending a few days with him on a story when he asked, ‘Did you know that I can write?’ He ran off and pulled out an article he wrote for a car magazine and it was good. So I asked if he would be interested in writing a column for us. I didn’t know he was a budding author.”
Tom’s column would help legitimize the magazine. He went on to author the monthly column for an astonishing 18 years.
“A lot of people turned to Tom’s column first when they got the magazine, especially people in the industry,” said Bonnie. “His first column “Sailing is Silly” then “Boat Names” had a huge response. The other magazines didn’t have anything like that. He could be moody and difficult at times, and he could pinch our purse, but I really liked Tom. He was so funny. At his best he struck issues that people were thinking about; when he was good he was good.”
I shook my head as she spoke. She could have been talking about Mike Peters who, after six years with the magazine, will be moving on from his Sightlines column. It’s my hope that his byline will still appear in the pages of this magazine in the form of feature stories.
I spent months thinking about who would write the third generation of our designer column. In the end, the choice couldn’t be more obvious. I’m excited that Bill Prince will be joining the Power & Motoryacht team as our yacht design consultant and will pen the monthly column titled Inside Angle. Not only is Prince a gifted designer, he’s also one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read.
I was thinking back to my conversation with O’Boyle recently. Toward the end, we talked about the ways Power & Motoryacht has been able to differentiate from other brands. We’ve always been the authority on the subject of boats, but at the same time, we try not to take ourselves too seriously. “Yes,” she concluded. “We need humor in magazines.”
Thanks for the memories, Mike and welcome aboard, Bill.