Westport 98: Sea Trial

Westport 98: A 21st Century masterwork from the Olympic Peninsula.

1st December 2003.
By John Shinnick

The 98 has a relatively lightweight hull for its size. Its fine 60-degree entry angle forward flattens to 10.5 degrees of deadrise at the transom.

The 98 has a relatively lightweight hull for its size. Its fine 60-degree entry angle forward flattens to 10.5 degrees of deadrise at the transom.

Westport built its reputation on the West Coast of the Olympic Peninsula, launching tough fishboats for the North Pacific. Today, the company builds a semi-custom series of Jack Sarin motoryacht designs in the 112- to 130-foot range.

The newest member of its fleet, this 98-foot raised-pilothouse motoryacht, carries a proven, seakindly Sarin hull, along with styling from the drawing board of naval architect Greg Marshall.

The first thing you notice is that this boat seems to be already equipped with absolutely everything — including tools, cooking implements, dinner service, entertainment systems, furnishings and even artwork.

The 98 comes complete with place settings for eight — including cut crystal, Henkel cutlery and Limoges china. After a while, you are no longer surprised when you pull open a drawer in a stateroom and find plush bathrobes waiting for you.

“It’s all about cost control,” said Mike Williams, the company’s Seattle representative. “By making everything standard, you eliminate or reduce change orders. Change orders drive up the cost of construction.”

The other unusual detail was the fact that this was a “spec” boat.

Many yards close down when orders slow. They lay off staff, then go looking for crew — often fresh faces — when a boat is ordered.

Westport has been known for hiring and keeping its crew through thick and thin. This is not the first spec vessel the company has built, and I doubt it will be the last. The 300,000 hours that it takes to build a boat this size represent a considerable vote of confidence by the company in its boats and its craftsmen.

The 98 has a relatively lightweight hull for its size. Its fine 60-degree entry angle forward flattens to 10.5 degrees of deadrise at the transom.

The hull is a contemporary layup of fiberglass mat and roving over Airex PVC core, finished with anti-blister resin below the waterline. All stringers and hull stiffeners are laid up with fiberglass and foam.

The house, decks and flooring are also built of fiberglass and foam core materials. The lower and middle rubrails are constructed of molded fiberglass and high-density foam, with a stainless steel half-oval rub strip.

Where the Action Is

I started my tour of the Westport 98 in the engine room, where I found a surprisingly handsome, spacious layout with everything visible, easily accessible and well labeled.

Too often, the engine space can be an afterthought, and the engines may end up getting shoehorned into cramped quarters as one of the last details. That’s not the case here.

The Westport 98′s twin 1,480 hp MTU diesels dominate the space, but they actually look small and manageable because you can navigate around them with ease. We measured an impressive 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom in the engine room.

Bilges, shafts and wiring are all easily accessible, providing a clue that the design may have begun in this area. (Workboat designers often begin with the props, unlike production runabout designers, who often begin with the accommodations.)

The real power of any boat is found in its details, and one detail that exemplifies the quality of this boat leaps out at you when you enter the engine room: a tank manifold against the forward bulkhead.

Fuel management on a long-range cruiser with 3,500 gallons of fuel in three tanks is, obviously, a big deal — so, Westport has made this part of the chore quicker and easier to manage than on most boats a third of its size. The manifold is awesome, easy to find, easy to use and — in short — not hidden. It offers a series of yellow-handled valves and an easy-to-read diagram.

Just abaft the engine room lie two comfortable staterooms for the crew, a double for the skipper to port and a two-bunk guest stateroom to starboard, each with its own head. Here, as elsewhere on the boat, there is Corian-topped workspace.

There’s a decidedly European look to the transom. You exit the engine room onto a swim platform (a fuel nozzle for the tender is concealed underfoot), then step up to the aft deck via a pair of curved staircases.

The covered aft deck comes complete with a flat-screen television, a Whirlpool ice-maker, a Whirlpool refrigerator, a wet-gear locker and a high-low table that seats about a dozen people. The decking is teak.

This area is certain to become “party central,” even on the rainiest days of cruising among the whales and bergie bits in Alaska’s fjords.

You Have Arrived

We entered the saloon through a pair of heavy-duty sliding glass and stainless steel doors. Our eyes were drawn immediately to the boat’s dining table, set for eight, with a mirrored bulkhead forward, a crystal cabinet to port and a galley located just a few steps away.

The saloon includes abundant built-in storage, with all of its cherry wood joinery finished to a high gloss. A flat-screen television drops down from the overhead, when it is needed.

Marble-inlaid foyers lead to the sidedecks, port and starboard. Just inside each foyer doorway is one of Westport’s proprietary Vessel Information and Control (VIC) panels. Using this system, the crew and owners can, at a glance, get up-to-date information on systems throughout the boat — including bilge pumps, tank levels, output from heat sensors and carbon-monoxide alarms, and the security system.

To port, just ahead of the dining table, there’s an electrical room, with terminals for electronics and systems at the helm, in the galley and elsewhere throughout the boat.

To starboard, forward of the saloon, lies a small day head, also finished to a high standard. Royalty has been offered facilities much inferior to this.

A Gourmet’s Delight

The galley is worthy of Martha Stewart: Even the most demanding chef will find every possible need fulfilled here. It’s a full-scale, no-compromise work of art, finished to high standards, made easy to keep clean, with ample storage close at hand. It’s complete with spice bottles, kitchen tools, a top-of-the line espresso maker and a drip coffeemaker.

Just when I thought Martha might have overlooked a couple of items, I located a KitchenAid stand mixer and a blender, hidden from view.

Just ahead of this world-class food prep area is a breakfast nook with a waterfront view to die for.

There are two large guest staterooms amidships and a VIP stateroom ahead of the galley. The full-beam master stateroom is in an ideal location close to midship, leaving the guests in the VIP to hear waves lapping against the bow at night.

The master stateroom, separated from the two smaller guest staterooms by a marble-inlaid foyer, features a glassed-in bathtub. Each stateroom has its own private head with a Headhunter Royal Flush Hydro Vac toilet.

Getting Under Way

The pilothouse and upper helm station are both laid out for serious passage-making. Adjacent guest seating offers breathtaking views while under way.

The 98′s MTU powerplants use Detroit Diesel’s DDEC system, with a full-function panel directly ahead of the destroyer-style wheel. Standard, too, is a set of Naiad stabilizers for making serious open water passages in maximum comfort.

We ran the vessel with the stabilizers operating, turned them off and found little difference in performance. With the bow thrusters, maneuverability of this supersize vessel was a piece of cake for the skipper, Dale Neifert.

With a full load of water and a half load of fuel, we reached a top speed of 23.8 knots, circumnavigated a nearby island, then cruised the harbor and had lunch — provided by Neifert’s wife, Anita (who rode comfortably during the sea trials on the aft deck with my wife, Judy, and Mike’s wife, Joann. We kept an eye on them via the video monitor at the dash).

The onboard sound levels were always whisper quiet in the pilothouse, reaching a peak of 70 dB at top speed — about the sound level inside a luxury car on a freeway. Six of us took the 98 out for a spin on Puget Sound on a calm fall day, but the boat would comfortably handle many times that number, even on a rainy winter cruise.

Westport 98 Specifications

Length 98′
Beam 23’9″
Draft 5’6″
Fuel capacity 3,500 gallons (in three tanks)
Water capacity 950 gallons
Displacement (full load) 220,000 pounds
Displacement (half load) 205,000 pounds
Propellers 42′ x38″ five-blade Michigan Wheel
Power twin 1480-hp MTU diesel engines
Price as tested $6.995 million

Performance

Top speed 23.8 knots
Cruising speed (low cruise) 12 knots
Cruising speed (high cruise) 19.7 knots
Miles per gallons at 19.7-knot cruising speed .44
Range at 10 knots 2,300 miles (with 10 percent fuel reserve)
Sound level at cruise 67 dB

Standard Features

Naiad stabilizers; bow thrusters; 12-ton AquaAir climate control system; twin 55 kw Northern Lights auxiliary generators; 1,200 gallon per day Sea Recovery water-maker; Maxwell windlass; Headhunter Royal Flush Hydro Vac heads.

Construction

Airex-cored fiberglass hull; anti-blister resin below the waterline. All stringers and hull stiffeners are laid up with fiberglass and foam; house and decks are constructed of fiberglass and foam core materials.

For More Information

Westport Yacht Sales
(206) 298-3360
www.westportyachtsales.com


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