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Photo by Billy Black

A fast, coastal Maine-built cruiser with exquisite detailing.

Dubbed Whistler, Lyman-Morse’s newest custom build slipped into the St. Georges River in Thomaston, Maine, on a nippy, gray Thursday in late May. On her inaugural run she reportedly reached a top speed of 37 knots, one knot more than her designer, Raymond Hunt & Associates, had predicted when it first began plans for the boat more than two years before. The 54-footer’s speed is due, in part, to her lightweight FRP composite construction, employing Core-Cell PVC foam core.

But the twin 1,001-bhp Caterpillar C-18s that power Hamilton HJ403 waterjets don’t hurt either. The waterjets not only eliminate the props and the attendant appendage drag, but also reduce draft to just 2'11". No props also means no snagged lobster pots, a big benefit in New England waters.

The ‘jets are controlled by Hamilton’s Blue Arrow system, which offers three different inputs for maneuvering the vessel. The primary one is the basic wheel and dual-lever control (on Whistler, the levers command both the throttle and the angle of the buckets’ deflectors). There’s also a fail-safe joystick control built into the Station Control Panel, the “brain” that integrates all of the steering systems and displays thrust vectors on a small LCD screen. The third input is dubbed the Mouseboat. This arrowhead-shape joystick lets you precisely maneuver the vessel while docking, which is key when you consider a water-jet boat’s tendency to wander at low speeds.

The smart design continues in the interior. To port is the galley-down with granite countertops, while to starboard is an owner’s office that doubles as a guest stateroom. Forward of this, outboard and to port and starboard, are twin heads, while in the bow is the master, with a centerline queen berth. As with all Lyman-Morse vessels, the woodwork is exquisite. Mahogany with accents of walnut and white laminate graces the entire interior, which is replete with hand-carved embellishments and maple soles, beneath which are a 160-gallon fresh-water tank, plus a 267-gallon fuel tank forward and a 534-gallon one aft.

But there’s another concealed item that also enhances this boat’s coastal cruising abilities. When it comes time to go ashore, Whistler has a shrewdly engineered tender garage that can accommodate a dinghy up to ten feet in length. With the push of a button, the hydraulic gate lifts and a sled effortlessly slides out over the waterjets, ensuring smooth launch and retrieval. Whether the owner is taking a day trip from Bar Harbor to Boothbay in Whistler’s native state or exploring the shallow inlets of a Bahamian coast, he’ll have a versatile cruiser that’s tricked out and ready to go exploring.

CONTACT: Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding (207) 354-6904. .


  • Builder: Lyman Morse
  • Boat Type: Cruiser
  • Base Price: not available
  • LOA: 55'2"
  • Draft: 2'11"
  • Beam: 15'11"
  • Weight: 56,000 lbs (wet)
  • Fuel Capacity: 800 gal.
  • Water Capacity: 160 gal.
  • Standard Power: 2/1,001-bhp Caterpillar C-18s
  • Cabins: 1 master

This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.