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The More Things Change...

A 1913 Matthews reminds Editor Dan Harding that smart design—like a love for being out on the water—is indeed timeless.

1913 Matthews, Nymph

“There is a beautiful classic boat at the other end of the show that would make for a great video!” exclaimed Digital Editor John Turner when we bumped into each other on the docks of the Palm Beach show.

He was right.

The stunning 1913 Matthews, Nymph, was attracting boat nuts like flies to a bug zapper.

Swatting them away was a young woman, representing Ocean Independence brokerage, who had spent the last four days guarding the boat.

Like my fellow boaters I sauntered up to plead my case and—if necessary—beg for the opportunity to go aboard. I walked up, cleared my throat, and smiled.

“By appointment only,” she said with a cool tone and a stare reminiscent of the Queen’s Guard.

Ship's bell

Eventually, I got past the gauntlet, no thanks to my charm. Standing at the ship’s entrance, one hand on the mahogany caprail and the other extended was Nick Linder, the 24-year-old captain of Nymph.

With an intimate knowledge of the boat and a sense of confidence beyond his years, he took John and I around and explained how a 7-year, $2-million restoration gave this piece of living history a second lease on life.

“The topsides and interior were stripped, although we kept the hull, which had been glassed over. And we kept as many original pieces as possible—like this Titanic-style throttle,” Linder explained, as he gripped the rechromed controls. “We’ve added a bow and stern thruster, which is really important when swinging the [75-foot LOA] boat into a slip.”

I admired a simple, yet sweet-looking forward spotlight and noted how similar its handle and movements were to today’s spotlights.

1913 forward spotlight

“That’s an original mechanism, a 104-year-old idea and it works very well,” said Linder. “It’s been re-chrome-plated. A lot of captains who come aboard say they’re jealous because their push-button version doesn’t shine exactly where you need it.”

Forward, I inspected the windlass, which again reminded me of anchor tackle I saw aboard new boats at the show.

This walkthrough was my last at the Palm Beach event, which many consider the end of the 2016-17 boat show-season, during which I had been led through more than 100 boats over the course of seven shows on three continents. So, I had the marketing points down pretty well by now. Single-level living; bright and airy spaces, aft galleys that service the cockpit and forward dining area, en suite, en suite, en suite …

But when I stepped belowdecks on the Matthews, through a saloon rich with brightwork and dripping with history, and entered the galley, I was surprised by what I saw. Big windows and smart use of space created a bright atrium overhead, something builders today are racking their brains to achieve.

The master stateroom and VIP were comparable in size, though headroom was less of a priority in 1913, and featured reasonably sized berths with a couch beside them. The master and captain’s quarters both had private entrances, and the most prominent social space was the cockpit, where handsome wicker chairs made it easy to imagine a titan of industry flipping through his morning paper.

1913 Matthews

“We have an in-line-six, 178-horsepower John Deere single turbo. It cruises at about 1900 rpm and we’re burning 5 gph and getting roughly 2 mpg,” added Linder as we continued through the accommodations level. “One of our cheapest costs on the boat is fuel.”

Between the boat’s efficiency, the single-level living area, the atrium in the galley and the emphasis on social spaces, you would think I was walking through a cutting-edge motoryacht, not a turn-of-the-last-century, wooden-hull cruiser.

This past show season proved to me that we’re in a Golden Age of innovation, from smarter uses of carbon fiber to design by virtual reality, hybrid propulsion systems, forward-looking sonar, and apps that control the entire onboard experience. The industry is changing, and for the better.

But as I stepped off the Matthews and my eyes readjusted to the Florida sun, I could clearly see that good design—like a love for being out on the water—is timeless.

Watch a recording of our live Facebook video here. ▶