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In Yacht Pursuit

Long a staple for wealthy bachelors, mid-sized yachts have become family friendly

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A yacht with name recognition, such as a Ferretti, Sunseeker or Fairline, is also easier to resell. Consistently praised by such influential magazines as Power & Motor Yacht and Yachts International, these companies have become legends in the industry, reputed for cutting-edge engineering, swift, reliable service and futuristic styling.   Fairline's recently introduced deep V-hulled Squadron 62, for example, boasts three staterooms with large bathrooms, a split-level dining area and a wraparound flight deck, while Sunseeker's Manhattan 64 flaunts spacious accommodations for six, a massive galley and an airy salon accented by warm wood and tinted glass.  
"Only 300 to 350 Sunseekers are made in Britain each year and each boat has a finish and elegance that's difficult to match," says John Henry Falk, a sales representative with the Hideaway Yacht Group in Pompano Beach, Florida. "While Sea Ray might do fine boats, they just don't have the leathers, the stainless steel hardware or overall workmanship you get out of Europe. Hideaway gives a five-year warranty on major parts [for Sunseekers] because we're confident Sunseekers are the Bentley of its class."  
Despite their magnificent appointments and unique power to stir exciting visions of worldwide travel, all of these yachts must be subjected to a no-nonsense test.  
"I don't care what kind of boat people look at, they have to kick the tires," says Hull, a broker for 20 years. "The absolute worst mistake novices make is buying a yacht at a boat show or off the dealer's floor without first taking a demonstration ride. Spend time in that boat, and make sure your purchase agreement allows you to get back the deposit if the survey and sea trials are unsatisfactory. To do otherwise is very foolish."  
After failing to take a test ride, one recent buyer was blindsided. "This guy, who was a little overweight, to say the least, thought he had bought his dream boat," recalls Schrubb. "He eventually went out on it, and discovered he was just too large to fit through the door. Understandably, he's now very unhappy."  
Another mistake is taking advice from anyone who touts himself as an expert. These individuals might own a boat or have some seafaring experience, yet, as Hull counsels, "these people are so grossly unqualified to make reasoned judgments, they only muddy the waters with their grand pronouncements. Hire a surveyor instead, and keep 'Uncle Charlie' at home where he can't cause any trouble."  
Even if new buyers take these precautions, they will discover that yachting is not always about fun and adventure. Boats break down, they demand hands-on maintenance and, as Schrubb points out, "no matter how much effort neophytes put into acquiring their first boat, that yacht never turns out to be perfect. There's always some detail to dislike, so buyers shouldn't drag out the search looking for that 100-percent-perfect boat. It doesn't exist."  
Yet, Ferrettis, Fairlanes and Sunseekers do get close, according to yacht cognoscenti.  
"Freedom, feeling a new passion--that's the beauty of these flybridge yachts," Norberto Ferretti says, holding an unlit Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona as he walks in his Forli shipyard. "Racing against the wind, controlling a superbly engineered machine, or just discovering an inviting harbor, all kinds of adventures are possible on these boats. They're the ultimate toys for boys."  
Florida-based Edward Kiersh writes frequently for Cigar Aficionado.    
To learn more about flybridge yachts, visit the following Web sites or contact the companies directly. Most sites offer detailed descriptions of the company's models and a dealer directory.  
FAIRLINE BOATS PLC Oundle, England PE8 5PA. Tel. 44 (0) 1932273661 or Fairline Boats of North America P.O. Box 21376 Hilton Head Island, SC 29925. Tel. 843/342-3453  
Via Ansaldo 5/7, Zona Industriale Villa Selva, 47100 Forli, Italy. Tel. 39 (0)543 474411 or Ferretti of America Inc. 2300 East Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 33301 Tel. 954/527-1126  
SEA RAY BOATS INC. 2600 Sea Ray Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37914. Tel. 800-SRBOATS  
SUNSEEKER INTERNATIONAL LTD. 27-31 West Quay Rd. Poole, Dorset, England BH15 1HX. Tel. 44 (0) 1202381111  
VIKING YACHTS CO. Route 9, New Gretna, NJ 08224. Tel. 609/296-6000  
Hideaway Yacht Group, 750 S. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach, FL 33062. Tel. 954/943-3200  
Fraser Yachts, 2230 Southeast 17th St. Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316. Tel. 954/463-0600  
HMY Yacht Sales, Dania Beach, FL 33004. Tel. 561/309-2878
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