Boating: Walking (Around) on Water

For years, owners and potential customers of Rybovich, a boatmaker known for its custom 60-foot-plus mahogany sportfishermen, clamored for a midsize and more user-friendly model. However, the company was reluctant to address this demand. Rybovich had constructed its models using a cold-molding process, which involves joining wood strips with resin—an expensive procedure that would require Rybovich to charge customers relatively lofty prices for a 40-footer.

Then, not long ago, one of the company’s clients proposed a 42-foot boat designed so that you could battle a marlin from anywhere on board, as opposed to a typical flybridge sportfisherman, which features a fixed-position fighting chair at the aft. Rybovich executives were intrigued enough to break from tradition and explore composite construction, which is less expensive than cold-molding. After more than two years of research, designing, and experimentation, the first Express Walkaround will be completed this fall.

“This boat is for people who are looking to get out on the water, who enjoy fishing and cruising, and who want a boat they can do anything with and go anywhere with,” says Rybovich President Jim Bronstien. “It’s an ideal boat for the megayacht owner who wants a smaller boat, or for someone stepping up into his first next-generation, high-end boat.”

Rybovich’s challenge was to find a material and a construction process for the Express Walkaround’s hull that would meet the boatbuilder’s high standards of quality. “We weren’t about to build just another fiberglass boat,” says Bill Kimball, Rybovich sales manager. A cold-molded craft, he explains, absorbs impacts from waves better than a fiberglass boat does. Also, some fishermen swear that a cold-molded hull “raises” fish more effectively than its fiberglass counterpart because it lessens the vessel’s noise and vibrations. “We were able to find a composite recipe that closely mimicked all the characteristics of the cold-molded boats that we’ve always built,” Kimball says. “That was our green light to go.” Understandably, Kimball refrains from sharing this recipe.

As its name implies, the Express Walkaround—which can reach 40 mph, thanks to its twin Cummins 650-hp diesels—features easy access to all sections of the vessel. “The main advantage is that you don’t need a big crew to fish on a walkaround boat,” Kimball says. “If you go out sportfishing on a traditional boat, the fighting chair is fixed, and you need a guy to maneuver the boat to keep the right direction with the fish. With a walkaround, an angler can simply move around the boat whichever way the fish is pointing and stay with it.”

Rybovich plans to build approximately 10 Express Walkarounds a year, each with a price of nearly $1 million. Hull number one, named Margaritavich, is already spoken for. Jimmy Buffett, its owner and a longtime Rybovich client, was the person who proposed the walkaround design. “We’ve known Jimmy for a long time,” Bronstien says. “When we were thinking about a midsize model, he was thinking about what would be his ideal boat. Things clicked, and we realized we were all talking about the same boat.”

Rybovich, 561.844.1800, www.rybovich.com

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