In 1957, Charles Johnson approached John Rybovich in his quest for a motoryacht to be the mother ship to his Rybovich sportfisher. The Florida builder was content producing what were considered to be the world’s best fishboats, and Rybovich declined the job. He suggested Johnson go upstairs and talk to “young Johnny Hargrave,” a recent hire who’d completed the Westlawn School of Yacht Design’s three-year course in seven months.
Johnson and the 35-year-old Hargrave talked. They agreed, and they shook hands. It was a moment in history. The resulting boat was the “yacht that launched a career.” Seven Seas set a new standard in American motoryacht design and established Hargrave as a designer of large yachts.
Seven Seas was built of steel and wood at Wisconsin’s Burger Boat Co. At 89 feet, 7 inches length overall and with a beam just under 21 feet, the design was described as “long and lean,” which became a Hargrave trademark. She carried 2,000 gallons of fuel for her twin GM 6-110 diesels, which delivered a 15-mph cruising speed.
Her clipper bow and upright superstructure gave her a military aspect, and the wheelhouse resembled the bridge of a ship. The layout included a saloon with a formal dining area and a galley with a dedicated storeroom below for dry goods and a freezer — another Hargrave touch. She had a master stateroom aft and a pair of guest staterooms amidships.
A report describes “staterooms finished in soft pastels with adjoining baths and fixtures to match” and a “light and cheerful topside galley with every convenience.” The saloon was paneled in mahogany, with a circular stairway to the aft accommodations. The dining area was “done in walnut” with a sideboard and buffet.
In addition to launching Hargrave’s career, Seven Seas’ “design, styling and layout helped the American motoryacht become the world’s standard,” the National Marine Manufacturers Association stated when it inducted Hargrave into its Hall of Fame.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue.