Canadian yacht builder West Bay delivers a lot of boat for the money in its new 58...

Canadian yacht builder West Bay may have been busy building motoryachts from 75' co 103', but it has never abandoned the sometimes fickle market for smaller high-quality yachts.

West Bay has been building its SonShip 58 Pilothouse Cockpit Motoryacht since 1991. Those who have lost faith in this segment of the market might be surprised to learn that the company recently delivered its 37th 58 and has sold out production through hull No. 45. According co Rusty Preston of Westport Yacht Sales, East Coast representatives for West Bay, the 58 fills a marker niche he says many yacht builders have ignored in recent years. "Our customers are attracted to the 58's contemporary design and attractive performance," says Preston. "The 58's 20 knot cruising speed and shallow draft make her an ideal choice for exploring the Bahamas."

Like the five yachtsmen who have ordered new 58s in the last nine months, I was anxious to inspect and sea trial Preston's company demo.

I didn't have to dig deep to be impressed with the 58. Her interior design and finish are on a par with her larger sisters. There are no cheap tricks. Hers is an honest interior, skillfully finished in oak. The saloon is accessible from the afterdeck, and the galley is forward, separated by a bulkhead. An L-shape dinette adjacent to the galley is close to the pilothouse so the captain won't become lonesome. Clever two-position pilothouse doors (open/vent) lead to somewhat narrow side decks. A stairway in the pilothouse leads below to a full -beam owner's suite with a private head. Two guest staterooms, one with upper and lower berths and the other with a queen berth, share a head. The 58's exterior arrangement includes a cockpit with a transom door and an integral swim platform. The cockpit of our test boat was fitted with a built-in electric grill and remote engine and bow thruster controls, which tuck neatly away in the cabinetry when they aren't in use. The flying bridge has a seating area, a helm station and enough space to accommodate a 12' tender. A stair near the helm provides interior access, and a ladder aft leads to the cockpit.

Like many yacht builders in the Pacific Northwest, West Bay cut its teeth in the 1960s building commercial craft and migrated to yacht building when the demand for commercial vessels declined. This commercial experience shows in the 58's stout structure and business-like systems. Buyers in the Southeast, for example, get a 12kW and 20kW generator, two 50 amp shore circuits and an isolation transformer to handle the demands placed on the electrical system by the air conditioning and refrigeration. The engine room is accessible from the cockpit and has standing headroom, excellent access and piping runs that look like printed circuits. Engine room ventilation is provided by thermostatically controlled blowers. Engine removal hatches are provided in respect for a reality most production builders have chosen to ignore. The 58's stainless exhaust risers, V-struts and rudders are all custom-made by West Bay.

West Bay 58 Pilothouse Review PerformanceThe hull, superstructure and bridge cap are built in female tooling. The hull's bottom and topsides are cored with foam, and a combination of foam and balsa coring is used in the superstructure, bulkheads and decks. West Bay vacuum bags all core materials to ensure proper bonding. Fiberglass stringers are cored with foam except in the engine room and beneath the steering flat, where kiln dried spruce is used. The engine foundations are bolted to steel tapping plates laminated inside the stringers. Two 500 gallon aluminum fuel tanks are outboard of the engines, and water is carried in four polypropylene tanks in the lazarette. A polypropylene waste tank is beneath the master berth. I prefer another location and a fiberglass tank for this application-polypropylene holds odors.

A pair of 625 hp Detroit Diesel 6V92TIA DDECs powered our test boat, and West Bay is willing consider any powering request up to 800 hp a side. Our test data reveals a top speed of 22.9 knots at 2250 rpm. This is 50 turns short of wide open throttle, and I suspect that with a clean bottom we would have seen more than 23 knots. West Bay's data supports this and indicates a top speed of 24 knots and a 20 knot cruise. The 58's modified-V hull has chine ledges, a moderate keel and 12 degrees deadrise at the transom. Shallow propeller pockets are optional and reduce the draft from 4' 11 " to 4' 6 ".

The 58 responded quickly to the helm and delivered a dry, comfortable ride in the 4' seas we experienced. I would not opt for stabilizers unless I planned to cruise at the lower end of the speed range, because rhe boat has more than enough dynamic stability at speed. Our test data also reveal the 58's quiet ride, only 73 DbA in the pilothouse at cruising speed. This can be attributed to its well insulated engine room and her underwater exhaust, which incorporates a valve-actuated idle bypass.

The base price is $999,950 with Twin Detroit Diesel 485 hp 6-71TlBs. Our test boat, with twin 625 hp 6V92TIA DDECs and significant options, such as a second generator, cockpit wing station, air conditioning and a bow thruster, was priced at $1,250,000 (FOB factory).

Final Note: The West Bay SonShip 58 is styled in the modern conservative mode. Placing the galley and dinette right abaft the helm keeps the skipper from feeling left out. The galley has an electric cooktop and a microwave beneath. Interior joinery is oak. The guest stateroom forward is large enough to satisfy most VIPs. Stowage space is exceptional.


This review/article originally appeared in Yachting Magazine, November 1998 and is written by Jay Coyle. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at:

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