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A New Standard

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Photos by Shaw McCutcheon

A few years ago, Tom Murphy was pretty sure he wanted absolutely nothing to do with Hargrave Custom Yachts.

A few months ago, having spent two years working with Murphy, Hargrave Custom Yachts was pretty sure it never wanted to deal with another yacht owner like him again.

Funny, then, how Hargrave's chief executive officer is now saying that Murphy's brand-new 97-footer, Cocktails—plus the attitude that Murphy brought to the project—will set the standard for all future custom builds at the yard, including a 122-footer that Murphy ordered before Cocktails was even launched.

Murphy, you see, is one of Florida's most sought-after builders for high-end hotels and homes. His Miami-based company, Coastal Construction Group, has overseen projects such as the Ritz-Carlton on South Beach, the Trump Royale waterfront condominium complex, and mansions for clients including Oprah Winfrey and Sylvester Stallone. Murphy is also an experienced boat owner, having owned 23- to 31-foot fishing boats, a high-performance sportboat, and 48- and 60-foot convertibles.

When he set out to buy his first motoryacht a few years ago, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with yards that build in the Pacific Rim, as Fort Lauderdale-based Hargrave does. Murphy wanted to combine the elegance of naval architecture that he found in European and American builds with the luxury of interior design that he's created in hotels and homes on land.

Quite frankly, he didn't think Hargrave's Taiwan-based construction team—or any workers in that part of the world—had the skills for the job. Neither did his longtime interior design collaborator, Jeffrey Howard of Jeffery Howard Associates in Miami.

"Everybody has an idea that Pacific Rim boats are square and chunky and have wood floors," Howard explains. "When you get to the Italian boats and some of the American boats, they're much more streamlined with graceful, flowing lines."

Yet after looking at boatyards the world over and not finding the kind of 200-foot-megayacht custom options that he wanted for his 97-footer, Murphy finally acquiesced to his broker, Craig Erickson, a retired seven-season NFL quarterback who's now with Allied Richard Bertram. Erickson had been telling Murphy for about two years that Hargrave could build his dream boat, and Murphy, out of frustration, finally agreed to meet with a few Hargrave clients.

"If it wasn't for this guy Craig Erickson getting me onboard, I never would've even gone there," Murphy recalls. "But once I talked to all these captains and owners, they all said the same thing: 'You'll never be serviced like this.' One of our company divisions is very high-end homes, starting at eight or nine million bucks. Everything is reputation, finish, follow up, taking care, and servicing after you're done building. They were willing to do for us what we do for our clients."

And so began a two-year build that almost convinced Michael Joyce, Hargrave's CEO, to leave the custom boatbuilding arena altogether and move wholly into launching production yachts in Hargrave's 70- to 130-foot size range.


  • Builder: Hargrave Custom Yachts

This article originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.