VIDEO: Over the moon about stitch-and-glue

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When you think of stitch-and-glue construction you might think kayaks and dinghies. Well, Moon River ain’t no dink.

She’s a 48-foot twin-screw motoryacht with two staterooms and all of the equipment for extended cruising.

Devlin Designing Boat Builders, pioneers of the stitch-and-glue method, designed and built Moon River. It took 18 months and 19,000 hours to get the job done, says Sam Devlin, founder and owner of the Turnwater, Wash., company.

“One of the hallmarks of what we do is everything is finished to a high level,” says Devlin, 59. “Inside, outside, underneath, upside-down — wherever you go in that boat it is done very well.”

Click play for a look at Moon River.

Stitch-and-glue — building from marine plywood (held together with wire sutures), epoxy and fiberglass — is less complex than traditional plank-on-frame construction or building in fiberglass from a mold. It requires no ribs or frames, and that simplicity contributes to the popularity of Devlin's boats. Devlin has 59 sets of boat plans and has sent them to 82 countries.

He founded the business in 1979 and has built 426 custom boats from 7 to 65 feet.

“Stitch-and-glue has allowed me to identify small niche markets and allowed me many times to build just one boat that satisfies that niche,” he says. “I can then move on to the next project. In the last seven to eight years we’ve done almost none of our stock designs. Almost every project is a stand-alone, full-on custom project. We don’t do sister ships.”

Ed Shulman, of Seattle, took delivery of Moon River in March. She was splashed at Swantown Marina in Olympia, Wash. “Everything was done around the idea that the boat would be a single-handed kind of boat that has the capability of carrying more and becoming a full-fledged daysailer,” Devlin says.

Moon River, which rides a semidisplacement hull and came in at $1.4 million, stands ready for cruising. Her $49,000 electronics package includes satellite communications, a FLIR thermo-imaging night vision camera and forward-scanning sonar. A crane on top of the pilothouse takes care of launching and retrieving the dinghy.

Twin 315-hp John Deere diesels push her to a top speed of 23 knots and she cruises at 15 to 18 knots, getting an estimated 3 to 4 nmpg.

“It’s a very easily driven hull and it loves its midspeed range,” Devlin says. “It’s very happy with that. It’s not in the upper end of the power-curve range, so we’re not sucking down fuel too bad.”

Look for a feature story on Sam Devlin and Moon River in the August issue of Soundings.