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Private Preview 2003: Quick Change

Fluto Shinzawa

One day in July, David Ross, president and CEO of Burger Boat Co., picked up the phone and heard the frantic voice of Steve Bostic, one of his newest clients. “David, you’re going to flip when you hear what I have to say,” said Bostic, who was calling from the Bahamas while on vacation.

“Steve, what do you want?” Ross replied.

Bostic wanted the company to stop working on his 93-foot yacht, which is scheduled for completion by August 2003—in time for Bostic’s 60th birthday. After consultation with his family and his captain, Bostic decided to make a last-minute change to Best N Show and asked Ross to eliminate the cockpit from the boat. One problem: Burger already had begun cutting metal on the boat, and Bostic’s new plans would require the company to make major design and construction alterations.

Such is the difference between buying a production-model boat and ordering a custom-made yacht. Rather than waiting for a fall preview of next year’s models and then placing an order for the one you like, you’ve already determined a year or two in advance what will be carrying you across the water in 2003. The waiting period between design and delivery can be a passive or an active one in which you request changes and make last-minute  decisions—a process that can prove trying at times but ultimately rewarding upon the boat’s completion.

For Ross, the request from Bostic was unexpected. While some clients contact yards regularly for updates on their boats, others disappear between the contract signing and the delivery. Rarely do owners, especially first-timers such as Bostic, ask for dramatic changes once construction has begun. “I have one client who signed the contract, and the next time we saw him was when we had the launching of the boat,” Ross says. “It was like, ‘Call me when it’s ready, and I’ll see if I can fit it into my schedule.’ ”

However, Bostic was not the type of client to sit back and wait for Burger to tell him when his boat was finished. The 59-year-old retired design professional worked with architects and builders on health care facilities, and was heavily involved in conceptualizing the look and layout of Best N Show. In March, he presented three American boatmakers with sketches of what he wanted, and Burger’s prompt response, along with the positive feedback he had received from three Burger owners, convinced him to commission the Wisconsin company.

Once Bostic signed the agreement in May, he wanted to make sure his boat was perfect. Other owners might have taken a hands-off approach and allowed a captain or broker to oversee the process, but Bostic, who lives in Fort Lauderdale and Marietta, Ga., wanted to know everything.

A year earlier, Bostic had purchased his first ocean-going yacht, the first hull of a new design, but the 63-footer performed poorly and underwent a six-month refit. Even with the additional work, the boat’s value depreci-ated from $2.5 million to $1.6 million after a year. Given that experience, Bostic had no intention of buying another ill-performing yacht. “After going through the experience we previously incurred, it was almost a go or no-go,” Bostic says. “If we couldn’t find something more comfortable, we wouldn’t do it. The negative side of the experience was so overwhelming.”

Bostic was fishing with his wife and children aboard his 63-foot yacht, which he had extended by three feet to accommodate a fighting chair, when he decided that his new yacht, Best N Show, could be made more comfortable than this one. He was tired of prepping his boat and cleaning it after fishing and realized that he didn’t want to fish aboard his new yacht, so he decided to eliminate the cockpit, move the skylounge, and extend the saloon—if it wasn’t too late.

After Bostic’s initial call, Ross immediately ordered construction to cease and assembled his team of naval architects, mechanical engineers, and CAD designers. Fortunately, the company wasted only one plate of aluminum, but the challenge of Bostic’s request loomed. “The naval architects are very weight conscious,” Ross explains. “We had to do all forms of recalculations with our vertical center of gravity and center of buoyancy. It affected an awful lot of things.”

Despite the extra work for the Burger team, Ross welcomed Bostic’s request. Burger is known for designing and building classic, traditional yachts, but Bostic wanted to take a more contemporary approach with the boat’s exterior (as well as with the interior, which includes goatskin-covered tables and an abundance of leather upholstery). Bostic’s wish for a new look, combined with his request to remove the cockpit, pushed Ross to be innovative, and he enjoyed the challenge. “He’s the ideal owner,” Ross says of Bostic. “He loves conceptualiz-
ing. He loves making little drawings of things. He’s so integrated with the whole process. It’s such a pleasure to see the satisfaction he’s getting from the experience.”

After a flurry of faxes whirred between Wisconsin and the Bahamas, Bostic received a FedEx package from Ross containing the revised drawing of Best N Show—approximately 48 hours after his phone call. Ross declared that the cockpit could be eliminated and the saloon could be extended, adding eight feet of living space. “I think the vessel we’re building for the Bostics is absolutely incredible in terms of the amount of living space that we got into a 93-foot vessel,” Ross says. “Before, we had built a 118-foot raised pilothouse yacht for another client. This 93-footer, which was 25 feet shorter, has a saloon and dining combination that’s three feet longer. It will be absolutely amazing when one walks into the saloon from the aft deck to see the amount of space we created.”

Floor-to-ceiling glass wraps around the saloon, giving the Bostics an uninterrupted, 360-degree fishbowl-like view of their surroundings. The new owner plans to cruise around the Caribbean for a year aboard his new yacht. “I love projects,” Bostic says. “I like to go through the conceptualization, design, and build stages. I don’t want to take the boat tomorrow. I want to go through the process of building it and watching it come to life. It’s taken over the major part of my life—other than worrying about the stock market. The focus of building this thing is to have fun. We’re going to use it. I’ll be on the boat at least six months of the year, if not more.”

Burger Boat Co., 920.684.1600, www.burgerboat.com

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