One family's obsession with building the ultimate fishing boat.
THE DUTCH ARE nothing if not determined. What other race on the face of the earth would look at the raging, immutable North Sea, turn and consider the disputatious nations of central Europe, and decide that the ocean was a more formidable, ergo worthier, foe?
In the Age of Exploration (read: Exploitation), when the rest of the continent set out to conquer the New World by halberd and cutlass, the Dutch reasoned there had to be a better way. Long before the rise of the sharp-penciled Yuppie, they ruled by commerce. Today, Royal Dutch Shell is the largest and richest oil company in the world.
Jan Evert Landeweer, a 62-year-old native of this tentative soil, sort of felt that way about fishing. Sort of. At least, the determination to do it better was there.
Ten years ago, this wealthy importer of electronics components came to South Florida and went sportfishing for the first time. He came back again and liked it even better. So, he bought a boat, a Hatteras 58 convertible, and set out to learn all about this sublime madness practiced a hemisphere away.
Blue Blood – An aluminum boat, the Landeweer 67 was designed by Willem deVries Lentsch of Feadship fame.
During this time, he and his four sons fished up and down the East Coast and through the Caribbean, from Bimini to Barnegat, from Grand Bahamas to Gloucester. They caught blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish wahoo...all the classic pelagic gamefish. But their love was giant bluefin tuna.
“In one season," recalls 32-year-old second-to-eldest son Evert, “we caught 28 giant bluefin , some weighing up to 800 pounds.”
Well, it makes sense: why would a Dutchman settle for a mere marlin when there was a fish that ran with the energy and force of an errant locomotive, a fish that could drag a boat backward? Remember the Atlantic Ocean and all those dikes? These people love a challenge.
During this seven-year affair with the Hatt, the Landeweer family quite naturally decided that there had to be a better way to do this, too. Oh, yes.
So, they talked to boatbuilders. They talked to captains. They talked to owners. They observed. They made notes. They fished. They liked this. They didn't like that. And one fine day, Jan Evert, "... bought himself a 'French' ruler and drew the lines of the boat he wanted,” Evert the son, laughs. “The result owed as much to Buddy Davis as anybody," he says, "but you can see other influences as well: PT boats, for example.”
And maybe even the immortal Ray Hunt hull that became the first Moppie, the Bertram 31.
THE BUSINESS END - The Landeweer 67 has all the makings of sportfisherman including a PipeWelders tower and a big cockpit, chock full of amenities like fighting chair, lower helm station, bait-prep center, and livewell. The refrigerator, freezer and tackle drawers are contained in sleek, varnished teak cabinetry.
Jan Evert took his rough ideas to the famous naval architectural firm Willem deVries Lentsch, the designers of extraordinary sailboats and stunning mega-yachts, courtiers to the court of Feadship. They were intrigued. A sportfishing boat? Let's do the ultimate!
The architects and engineers rode on the Hatteras. They fished. They listened to the fervent ideas of Jan Evert, and of Evert and Peter and Mark and Kim.
The concept jelled. A 9’ model was constructed and tank-tested. The hull had a fine entry and a V that ran all the way aft to a 17.8-degree deadrise at the transom. The bow was high, haughty, and flared. Her heritage was Newport and Harkers Island and Cat Cay. Her construction took a page from the great sea barrier off Oosterschelde.
"We wanted more room. After all, we are big people,” Evert says. "We wanted more speed. We wanted a taller tower." Obviously, they also wanted more tuna.
INSIDE AND OUT – The cabin features Brazilian walnut cabinetry; she’s powered by twin DDC 12V-92TABs.
The first major decision was to build her of aluminum. The second was to package her for the American market. Or, perhaps, it was the other way around.
Aluminum? Aluminum boats don't catch fish. (Don't tell the guys at Striker...)
“We'd heard that,” Evert says, in the same tone, no doubt, that his forebears used when informed that the savage North Sea was Nature’s ungovernable brat. "Aluminum has the greatest weight-to-strength ratio."
She was built in a machine shop in Stellendam, Holland, in a special “hangar" that was maintained at a constant 65-degrees Fahrenheit during construction. As a result of this extraordinary care in her welding “... we used about a third of the fairing compound we thought we might have to use," Evert says.
Two years later, on Sept. 15, 1987, the 67’ Snow Goose was launched. After 85 hours of sea trials and after she had been fitted with her PipeWelders tower, she was loaded on a freighter and brought to her new home.
A remarkable yacht, there’s a feel of quality about her, a sense of robustness, of duty perceived and met.
There is no mistaking this boat. Peter Landeweer warned me over the telephone: “We have the tallest tower at Bahia Mar."
And, they do.
You could spot her all the way down at the end of D Dock, her antennae sprouting in the febrile Gulf Stream breeze. And when you came abreast of her, you could see what she was built to do: she was a headsea boat, an aristocratic sylph with the bread shoulders of a Channel swimmer, an extension of the Merritt mystique, a show stopper, a boat to be reckoned with even if she never left the dock. If form and style were everything, you'd win the tournament without ever wetting a precious foot of Ande.
Capt. Mike Ardito, a 35-year-old native of Long Island who grew up in the Merritt boatyard, runs his hand along the brightwork with the knowledge and pride of a midwife. And he was that: for three months he lived in Holland and supervised the yacht's completion.
"She's a real fine boat," he says, "Very comfortable. Amazingly strong. There haven't been too many times when we had to slow down, other than just to be comfortable, 'cause the boat'll take it. She's got the reach. Instead of coming down off one and wallowing, she's got the reach to catch the next one. And she backs down well. She turns well. She’s a great fishing boat…”
You check the tape recorder to see if it can catch up to his enthusiasm. Before signing on with the Landeweers, Mike skippered Jack Mulqueen’s 43’ Merritt Windsong.
Stepping aboard, the first thing you notice – other than the sheer size of everything – is the angled, all-Lexan after bulkhead on the deckhouse. Sea Ray did something similar on one of its convertibles some years ago, but not with this sense of grandeur. This is done in dark strips of Brazilian walnut, a precursor to what lies inside.
“We like to see what’s going on around us,” says Evert Landeweer. “In the majority of the boats we looked at, you always had to stand up to see through the windows, and find out what was going on in the cockpit.” The net effect is that of a bow-front window that at once isolates you in the air conditioning and gives you a spit-in-the-face front row seat. Also, Evert says, the angling helps reduce backwash in the cockpit while running.
Further, the sweeping vistas extend all around the salon – a sort of maritime Ste. Chapelle, minus the stained glass, of course, but with a lightness of being that is startling.
If form and style were everything, you’d win the tournament without wetting a precious for of Ande.
“American builders want to block the front windows because they lose strength there,” Mike says. “But this is all welded aluminum with I-beams. It holds its shape. It doesn’t move. It eliminates leakage. And, it’s so strong we were able to mount the tower on top of the house instead of bolting it to the deck.”
The salon is spacious, to say the least, with enough headroom to accommodate Michael Jordan on a fly-by slam dunk. My only complaint here is that there are no grabrails. I understand the aesthetic agony of deciding not to interrupt the sensuous flow of the Alcantara headliner, but in a seaway this could prove dangerous.
The cabinetry has the visceral appeal of a covey of Copocabana Lolitas. As mentioned, the wood used here is very dark Brazilin walnut. It is gorgeously (and expensively) curved and bent.
I must admit, though, that to an eye accustomed to the light, pastel fabrics of American designers, the décor is oddly Old World: both the elongated settee and the facing easy chairs are covered in a heavy, tapestry-like material and have a certain Dutch stolidity about them. I half expect to find Rembrandt’s Night Watch hanging on the bulkhead. As if somebody thought of this at the last minute, Frederick Remington’s bronze, Outlaw, resides, bucking away, on the galley countertop. Hey, we are ‘Murican!
The galley is to port and “up”. That is it occupies a corner of the salon and keeps the chef in the conversation. It is extremely neat and clean-looking, like the swept deck of a racing sloop. Nothing protrudes except the 24-karat gold-plated fixtures. The cabinets, where not walnut, are smoked Lexan.
The galley is U-shaped, running athwarships, which is the desirable configuration for anybody needing to make a sandwich at sea. (You have to think about these things, or you do not qualify as a serious sportfishing boat.)
AN UNUSUAL ARRANGEMENT
Down four steps the companionway makes a 90-degree turn to port and then another zag forward. Down here, the bulkheads are finished in burnished (and also dark) Turkish walnut. At the foot of the steps are rodholders for two large (huge) Fin-Nor 130s. (The other rods are stowed in the engine room next to the gensets.)
To starboard is a small over/under berth stateroom. Obviously meant for crew – or visiting kinder.
The guest/day head is just down the companionway and serves the forepeak accommodations, as well.
Right across the companionway, to port, is what I first mistook for a good-sized guest stateroom, only to discover that this is the master. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with it, mind you, it‘s just that in a 67’ yacht, we have come to expect something a little grander. In its gracious favor, however, let me hasten to add that it is commodious – in every aspect.
There are two fore-and-aft berths, another big Lewmar hatch and a portlight, a big hanging locker with interior shelving, plus a small chest/cabinet.
The head, comparatively speaking, is very large. There is lots of elbow room. Thank you Jan, Evert, Mark, Kim, and Peter! How many times have you come out of a yacht’s head thinking you’d never play tennis again?
The forward stateroom has three berths: a over/under, a fore-and-aft to port, and a third to starboard over a long shelf, which could, in a pinch, accommodate a dwarf or a child.
Essentially, she sleeps seven in a rather curious arrangement. But, it works.
Still, if I were seriously marketing this boat to a U.S. audience at around $2.5 million (as is the case here), I’d think about making it look a little less like a Plain Jane cabin and a little more like the Pia Zadora Suite.
WHERE IT COUNTS
Okay, here is the business end.
The cockpit is spacious and well-thought-out. There are four steps up to the salon. Not much chance of a sea sweeping in here, even in a frantic back-down. The steps are very wide and split when the engine room hatch is up!
The bridge ladder is to starboard: beautiful workmanship, but the first few steps are virtually straight up, meaning they would be angled backward at speed, which is less than ideal. However, from there up they are properly angled.
The fridge, freezer, and tackle drawers (four) are contained in sleek, varnished teak cabinetry. There is a proper bait-prep center with hot and cold water taps. A cabinet to port holds the lower helm station with joy-stick steering.
The inwales are nicely padded and teak covering boards are lovely. A large tuna door is to starboard.
The lazarette is big enough to contain a deflated inflatable (which the Landeweers use as a tender), and there is a livewell under one of the four hatches in the cockpit. The hatches, by the way, are dogged down and require a special wrench to open. I find it a mite inconvenient, but Capt. Mike says, “…it’s just something you get used to. They lock down real tight, and they don’t leak a drop.”
So, there’s your trade-off.
The sidedecks are wide and the rail is capped in teak. There is a good grab rail here (which should start a little further aft), that nicely follows the curve of the house. But the absence of a bow rail – while stylish and very pleasing – is somewhat unnerving, even though the foredeck is only slightly cambered and is covered in good nonslip. This is a highly subjective observation and you may find it no problem at all.
The bridge is dominated by a very wide console. Very handsome, too, but it should be angled in at the end because the instruments located in those extremities are not easily observed.
The Landeweers have chosen an exotic electronics package that would be the envy of any marine mauler: Robertson AP9 MKII autopilot; Anschutz Nauto-alarm; Northstar 800 Loran-ICOM IC-M100 VHF; Apelco 1000 intercom/loud hailer/fog horn; Apelco AXL1500 ADF; Magnavox MX 4102 satnav; Roberson-Shipman RS4000/Y yacht navigator (similar to a loran, but different because it only works off the Decca chair); Furuno 48-mile radar; B&G depth sounder; Dytek water temperature gauge, and, in its own cabinet in the salon – an SSB.
ON THE RUN
When the Landeweers decided to Americanize this boat, they went complete: all of its systems are compatible with everything at your local marina.
“Whereas in Europe everything is 50 cycles,” Capt. Ardito says, “everything on this boat is 60 cycles.”
And, even though the Landeweers looked at every conceivable engine package, their final choice was a pair of DDC 12V-92TABs set in V-drive (ZF 195S gears with 2.57:1 reduction). Usable horsepower: 1,040 at 2300 rpm. The shafts are 4” wide four-bladed Nibral wheels by Osterman (38” diameter; 52” pitch) the cost $12,000 each.
“The tank test said we’d get 30 knots at top,” Evert Says, “and we get 38. Cruise is 33 knots at 2100.”
She holds 3,250 gallons of fuel and 260 gallons of water – augmented by a 600 gallon-per day Custom Engineering watermaker. Both gensets are 25kw Westerbekes. Range at cruise: approximately 800 miles, depending on how many Twinkies you stow in the galley.
The hull thickness varies from 12mm at the transom and through the engine room area, to 8mm (below the waterline; 6mm above) elsewhere forward. N deck and in the house, 5mm. Ribs are 1’ apart. All those gorgeous curves are attained by hand-rolling the aluminum plates.
There is one other unusual feature about the hull, and that is a double planking, as it were, for the first one-third of its length.
“The space serves as a fuel tank,” Evert says, “but it also gives you extra protection in case of a holing.”
Snow Goose is a remarkable yacht. There is a feel of quality about her, a sense of robustness, a duty perceived and met. Will she catch fish?
Capt. Mike gets a glint in his eye at the very mention.
“She’s a great fishing boat,” he says. “We’ve raised blues, whites and sails.”
So, take that, skeptics!
If part of your personal angst includes a need for bragging right, this is a great place to start. The Landeweers might even throw in the Remington bronze.