Built for Adventure
The aluminum-hulled Tactical 77 was built to cruise anywhere, and to scare the Coast Guard from a quarter mile away.
You know the saying, fortune favors the timid? Yeah, neither do I. That’s because it favors the bold, or possibly someone with a preference for a tough, military-style vessel that looks ready to take on an escalating conflict in the South China Sea. One such client approached Bill Prince of Bill Prince Yacht Design in Port Washington, Wisconsin (our new yacht design consultant and columnist of Inside Angle), with an incredibly detailed concept in mind. It would become the new Tactical 77.
“The owner has spent a lifetime defending our country and has a pretty serious business providing instruction to various government agencies,” said Prince, who hinted about this client’s special operations background. “He wants a really comfortable yacht that will scare the Coast Guard from a quarter mile away.”
Once the preliminary design was determined, Prince and his team shopped it around to various builders. It was a natural fit for Tactical Custom Boats, which specializes in the construction of high-performance, aluminum-hulled, luxury, all-weather vessels. The Tactical 77 is currently being designed and engineered by Prince, and will be built by Tactical at its shipyard in British Columbia, with sea trials currently planned for late 2019. The partnership is a first for Prince and the Canadian builder, “but based on their level of enthusiasm I don’t think it will be our last,” added Prince.
When the client approached Prince last year, he owned a custom 40-foot aluminum RIB with four outboards. “He used it like it was meant to be used,” said Prince, “but he wanted a much bigger boat so he could do some cruising with his family.”
The client sought out Prince for his experience designing a wide range of custom yachts from 30 to 190 feet. His current work includes an all-electric yacht being built in Lake Geneva, a refit of the first Huckins ever built that’s underway in Maine, a 131-foot aluminum motoryacht under construction in Asia and a replica of Ernest Hemingway’s 38-foot Wheeler, Pilar. And then there are the aluminum military and commercial vessels he’s designed, including boats in the fleet of the Bangladesh Coast Guard, fireboats in Los Angeles and patrol boats in New York City.
“This boat is specifically tailored to the owner’s lifetime of experience and that’s one thing that we really specialize in,” said Prince. “The next phone call will be another client and an utterly unique project.”
Prince was tasked with designing a cohesion of extremes. The client wanted a high-performance vessel with pseudo-military exterior styling and interiors that emphasized luxurious, superyacht-like accommodations. According to Prince, the interiors “are very masculine, almost monochromatic, black, silver, grey. The emphasis is on a really luxurious stateroom, with elevated overhead skylights and nine feet of headroom.”
The 77 will also feature a Seakeeper 26, suspension seating, three-station joystick controls, and an open cockpit layout with a unique articulating transom platform that will allow a variety of tenders and toys to be launched and retrieved without a davit. The aft cockpit area is designed to be very flexible, offering a wide variety of mounting chocks for toys of different sizes and shapes, including a 17-foot RIB, PWCs and even an eight-wheel amphibious landing craft—you know, when you just need to storm that beachhead.
While the hull and superstructure of the boat is aluminum, carbon fiber is being used on select features, including interior furniture, the hardtop, boarding ramps and transom gates. According to Prince, his team’s goal was to try and apply the material selectively where the most weight savings could be enjoyed, while maintaining the traditional, repair-it-anywhere-in-the-world aluminum hull.
And that’s because of the design’s north star: this yacht is built to travel. On the client’s to-do list is to take his family cruising in the Caribbean, the Great Loop and along the West Coast, among many other places. The boat is propelled by twin MAN 1,900hp inboard diesels for a combined 3,800hp offering a top speed estimated to be in the 35-knot range, which will be helpful when trying to outrun a pesky storm.
With the owner’s highly specialized background, you would think clients like him are exceedingly rare. Yet Prince had three people come to him separately a few years ago, asking for essentially the same thing: a low-maintenance, go-anywhere-in-any-kind-of-weather, aluminum cruising boat that doesn’t require a full-time crew. “In the space of six to eight weeks I listened to three gentlemen who were all experienced yachtsmen describe almost the same spec,” said Prince. “So, I’ve seen this coming for a couple of years. You have this new generation of younger yachtsmen that want nothing to do with the blue blazer or the ascot, they want to go kickass and catch fish. They’re looking for something unique.”