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Boating: Flying Right

The owner of San Juan Composites’ first San Juan48 Flybridge is not the type of person for which the Anacortes, Wash., company expected to build the boat. The new model derives from the company’s 48-foot express cruiser, which it introduced two years ago in response to requests for more interior space from owners of its acclaimed 38-foot lobster boat–style express model, the boat with which the builder made its debut in 1998. However, earlier this year SJC delivered the first flybridge to a young Seattle entrepreneur who never had owned a San Juan38. In fact, before acquiring Arockin, he had never owned any boat.


“I guess I’m probably the unusual case,” he says with a laugh of his $1.8 million purchase, “but when we first visited the yard, we hadn’t looked at anything else, not even in magazines. So, on the recommendation of a close friend, we went up on a Saturday morning and by that afternoon had signed a letter of intent. We really responded to the design. It was an impulse buy based on physical beauty.”

As Arockin’s owner later would learn, SJC boats offer more than just good looks. The company builds all of its structural composite parts using highly accurate computer-controlled machinery. Instead of traditional lay-up methods, the builder uses resin-infusion, a vacuum-assisted molding process that ensures the laminates are free of voids and are as light as possible without compromising strength. In addition, the company employs a number of other high-quality processes. Many of these, such as the use of laminated wood to impart strength and prevent checking, may not be apparent to the untrained eye, but the overall product is a stunner in terms of appearance, construction, and finish. “We really tried to find things that [the builders] did wrong,” confesses Arockin’s owner. “We couldn’t. This a well-thought-out design, and the fit and finish is perfect.”

Boat designers know all too well that it is difficult to add a flying bridge to an existing design without detracting from the original look of the boat. In the case of the 48, however, SJC’s initial plans included soft curves and a low profile—and a flying bridge, though it decided to first offer the boat with a sunroof in lieu of the bridge. As a result, the flying bridge version retains the sleek, attractive profile of the express model and suffers virtually no decrease in performance. With standard power—a pair of 825 hp MTU 60-series diesels—the 48 can cruise as fast as 35 knots.


Arockin’s owner has enjoyed the 48’s speed and sea keeping while cruising the waters of Puget Sound and British Columbia, but such performance, he says, is not what seduced him. “I just love looking at it.”

San Juan Composites



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