When the Viking 55 Convertible debuted at the 1997 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, it was a definitive break from Viking “tradition.” She was softer and more curvy than the previous angular models. There was more bow flair, an absence of “knuckles” in the hull sides and an abbreviated bow rail. The saloon windows were blackened, and the flybridge overhang sheltering the cockpit was larger and created lots of room to maneuver behind the helm seats.
Many sailors gravitate to powerboats so they can cover more cruising ground in their shrinking leisure time. But how many end up owning five cruising powerboats from 38 to 50 feet in a 14-year span — all from the same designer and builder? Meet Jack Deupree of Camden, Maine, who last summer splashed his fifth Wesmac Down East express cruiser. All have been named after his wife, Kathleen.
“I’ve had nothing but great experiences with all of the boats, so there has been no reason to switch to anything else,” says Deupree, 68, a former certified public accountant. “Any time you can work with a boat of the same design and the same builder, you have a chance to make incremental modifications and improvements. What can I say? I like Wesmacs, and I like Steve and his company.”
Illustration by Jim Ewing
“Cabin-cruiser dazzle … dazzling performance … dazzling appointments.” The Seaflite Seville had it all. This 17-footer from the 1950s was the creation of Glastron, the pioneering Texas-based builder. No plank-on-frame here. The fiberglass Seville was “molded with majestic splendor” in “tu-tone” colors matched with “harmonizing pleated upholstery.” The automobile-style tail fins topped off the “exclusive Seaflite style.”
The Lower Manhattan waterfront, West Side, mid-20th century. A New York Central System tug kicks up a wake as it backs away from a Hudson River pier. The 90-foot, iron-hulled vessel — workhorse of the largest Eastern rail system — has just dropped off its tow, Barge 172, and the crewman is coiling lines, preparing for the next job.
In 1963 a retired Naval officer and World War II aircraft carrier veteran took off on a global voyage in a long-distance yacht of his own design. A dozen years and 60,000 miles later, Capt. Robert Beebe penned his story in Voyaging Under Power. The book ignited the imagination of would-be passagemakers everywhere. The idea of a recreational trawler, a boat that could circle the world for fun and adventure, was born.
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