Down East pedigree in the Rockport 44

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Love at first sight defies explanation, especially when the object of our affection (affliction?) is a boat. Asked why a boat has smitten us, we describe the sweep of her sheer line, the flare in the bow, the seductive tumblehome in the transom. Truth is, we really don’t know why — we just fall for it, hook, line and sinker.

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An expert in yacht design may tell us that we’re suckers for the harmonious interaction of a boat’s elements — the perfection of its design. Perfection lies in the complexity of an 18th century Spanish galleon, but also in the stark simplicity of a 12-foot skiff. My pulse quickens for the skiff because its perfection doesn’t hide behind myriad details. The Rockport 44 Express is a similarly spare design.

LOA: 43 feet, 6 inches LWL: 42 feet 6 inches BEAM: 14 feet DRAFT: 2 feet, 4 inches DISPLACEMENT: 30,000 pounds TANKAGE: 450 gallons fuel, 100 gallons water POWER: twin 470-hp Cummins QSB6.7 diesels, Hamilton HJ322 waterjets TOP SPEED: 30 knots CONTACT: Rockport Marine, Rockport, Maine, (207) 236-9651. rockportmarine.com

Above the waterline, this yacht shows her lobster-boat pedigree in the proud bow and sweeping sheer line. Think of the sheer as an enchanting smile — the bait. A tip of the hat to the yachting crowd appears in the curve of her transom and the tumblehome aft — the hook. In the plan view (seen from above), her deck line has the shape of what designers used to call cod’s head and mackerel’s tail — broad forward, narrow aft — when they described the underbody of some ancient designs. This shape also echoes that of early 20th century runabouts, but you’d never see it on a working lobster boat because pinching the beam aft limits square footage and the number of traps she’ll be able to carry.

The Rockport 44’s nearly plumb stem meets the water with an elegant knuckle, further paying homage to classic lobster boats. In keeping with the purpose of Down East workboats, the sheer descends as it sweeps aft, giving the 44 a wonderfully low profile beneath the pilothouse — the line. This moderate freeboard takes some of the pain out of hoisting lobster traps, but on the Rockport it adds a touch of elegance. Imagine how bulky she’d look with another foot of height to the topsides aft.

Upright and practical, the pilothouse also mimics that of working lobster boats. The structure harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the design and allows big windows and maximum volume inside the house. We see a similar vertical treatment in the trunk cabin. Elliptical portlights, two on each side, and hatches in the roof of the trunk light the spaces below.

A 44-foot motoryacht of contemporary design and proportions might contain three staterooms. The Rockport 44 makes do with one, plus a convertible settee opposite the galley. This arrangement will please many couples, and it fits the boat’s purpose to a T.

Rockport Marine will custom-build this design of wood veneer set in epoxy resin and sheathed in fiberglass. She’ll be lightweight, stiff, durable and quiet. More than a collection of curves and straight lines, the Rockport 44 testifies to the quality of life afloat — and that’s the sinker.

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue.