Volume 14 | Issue 1 | Year 2011

The reason you build a custom motor yacht is to own and enjoy a one-of-a-kind luxury vessel that reflects your personal style while achieving robust nautical performance standards. It’s sort of like building a mansion on the waves.
Indeed, building a custom motor yacht is much like custom home building. It’s a time consuming process in which vision must comply with functionality, where the highest quality in both materials and design realizes the personification of the owner’s aspirations translated into solid construction.

New World Yachts (NWY) floats such personal visions by developing and producing custom motor yachts recognized as the world’s most reliable, luxurious and comfortable vessels, designed, engineered and built entirely in-house. NWY specializes in FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer) construction of full displacement yachts, which are more fuel-efficient as well as particularly suited to tough trans-oceanic travel. All NWY vessels are one-of-a-kind creations, running from 57-foot to 150-foot lengths, a process that, depending upon the size and complexity of the particular yacht, can take anywhere from two to three years, at a cost of anywhere from two million dollars upwards to 30 million dollars.

“It’s a learning process for both of us,” notes Richard “Bud” LeMieux, the pioneering ship builder behind NWY. “We have to learn exactly what the customer wants, and the customer has to learn what’s actually achievable, and at what cost. We take our clients seamlessly through inception to completion, employing state-of-the-art naval architecture for interior and exterior design, structural and systems engineering. In some cases the customer knows exactly what he or she wants, in some cases it’s a discovery process, but in either event it’s our job to help define and meet customer expectations in ways that are technically and cost-efficiently feasible. I like to say it’s an education for the customer and the ship builder in which we both graduate together.”

LeMieux has himself graduated with high honors in a self-education of perfecting and introducing innovative approaches to yacht building. In 2003, for example, after taking a variety of courses and after a lot of experimentation, LeMieux and his former company, Northern Marine, launched the first resin infused hull for an expedition yacht. Compared with traditional techniques, resin infusion is not only faster, it’s stronger and lighter. A worthy goal for any ship builder, and a guiding principle for NWY.

In fact, NWY is essentially a “rose by any other name.” LeMieux points out, “I started Northern Marine in 1995 and sold it in 2006 after building 26 yachts. In 2009, I decided I wanted to get back into the business and essentially the same people that were originally behind Northern Marine are here with me at NWY. In this industry, reputation is everything, so although the NWY name is relatively new, our longstanding reputation stands behind it. People who know anything about yachts know who we are and our reputation for excellence.”

STIMULUS GROWTH
Indeed, in late summer 2009, NWY began its voyage at a 12,000-square-foot shipyard in Anacortes, Wash. with just two employees. “Today, our facilities total 56,000 square feet, with 50 employees and growing, building about two boats a year with a capacity to build three or four a year,” notes Andy McDonald, operations director. “That growth is not only good for us, it’s good for the region and boat building industry. Over the last few years, a lot of shipyards have had to shut down. Actually, we’re the last remaining custom motor yacht builder in the northwestern Washington region. So we’ve contributed directly to the state economy in being able to re-employ people. At the same time, we benefit from a labor pool that has the available talent with the skills and commitment to quality workmanship we require.”

Even if there were more competition in the area, NWY would leave most other undertakings in its wake because, “We build a unique, innovative product that despite its complexity is user-friendly, an important consideration not only for the owner, but the captain and crew who essentially live on these vessels 24/7,” says Randy Cowley, vice president of sales and marketing.

Adds Lemieux, “When you’re talking custom, and you’re talking about the time that goes into building something that costs millions of dollars, what really matters is getting the details right. All the details, no matter how small. If you can’t do that, you’ll never keep your head above water in this business. That’s why we don’t outsource anything. Everything we do, from design through interior and exterior construction is done in-house by us. That’s the only way you can maintain the highest level of quality control. Once you start dealing with subcontractors, you start losing some of that control.”

NO MOLD CONSTRUCTION
One significant detail of the NWY building methodology is its use of bead and cove construction. “When you’re making a truly ‘one-off ’ kind of vessel, there aren’t any pre-built components,” McDonald explains. “Normally that would mean casting huge molds for the hull and other parts of the vessel. However, bead and cove construction is sort of like tongue and groove assembly in which small individual pieces can be easily fitted together to form something much larger. The primary advantage of bead and cove, then, is that it eliminates the need for big molds. That save time and labor costs, which means prospective owners can get the custom yacht they want with the added advantage of a shorter production time, at less cost than other traditional ship building methods.”

He adds, “It’s also a green process. Because we aren’t making these molds, we’re not creating all this plastic that just ends up in the landfill.”

LeMieux says that while yacht building is to some extent recession proof, even people who can afford a multi-million dollar expense are still business people sensitive to trends in the economy. “I wouldn’t say that because of the economy people didn’t have the money to construct a yacht. But, like everyone else, they were being cautious. So, we believe that now that the economy is improving, there’s a lot of pent-up demand from prospective customers who’ve been waiting for things to settle down a bit before beginning this kind of time consuming and expensive endeavor.”

He adds, “Typically, our customers aren’t building a yacht as some kind of trophy and not really spend much time on it. In fact, they use the yacht for most of the year not only as a means of conducting trans-oceanic business, but also as a means to enjoy the lifestyle. These are people who have been very successful and reached a point in life where they’re looking to sit back a little and enjoy what they’ve worked for. Sometimes that can mean building the boat of their dreams. And sometimes that can also mean that after they’ve built the boat of their dreams, they now want to build an even bigger one. In either case, we can help provide them with a completely engineered vessel that makes their dream come true.”