Delta looks back to its much celebrated commercial past for a retrofit on a 70-foot expedition yacht that is definitely worth her salt.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
According to information posted on the Delta Marine site, the details on Project 175038 are confidential—it is however, a 175-footer as the first three numbers indicate—while those of the 164041 and 156039 builds, and the already-named Monarch, at 150’8”/46.2m and Invader, measuring an impressive 215’/66.5m, are not. Then there was one tagged as Project 70007 that I was most interested in.
P70007 was launched in 1990—the first 70 hull was delivered in 1986—and was one of five in the series of 70-foot boats built by Delta to yacht standards. They were designed after the builder’s easily recognized and sea-proven commercial fishing vessels; those with prominent high bows and a rough-and-tumble, no nonsense profile that promised adventure limited only by imagination and the will to be aboard a boat of this configuration. Indeed, one of them, the well-known Zoepilote, owned by former race car driver and film director Bruce Kessler, went around the world. Because it traveled so extensively and visited so many ports, especially in Europe, the dock talk spread far and wide and soon enough, Delta found itself picking up momentum in the yacht building industry. And like a dream come true, I found myself walking down the dock during a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest with P70007 sitting out there as the distant snow-capped mountain peaks began making an appearance in the mid-morning hours.
Delta began building commercial fishing boats back in the 1960’s when brothers Ivor and Jack Jones opened the yard on Seattle, Washington’s Duwamish River. With names such as Bobbi Dee, Tanaga, and Nakchamik emblazoned high on their proud bows, the fleet of rugged Delta-built vessels slid down the ways and plied the dangerous waters of Alaska and the Bering Sea in search of full nets and holds. They ranged in size from 30 feet up to 70 feet and their profiles were as varied as their missions: from charter boats to patrol and Coast Guard vessels to purse seiners and crabbers. When federal regulations caused the fishing industry to change in the mid to late 1980’s, the Jones brothers decided to take their largest commercial hull and build a yacht out of it. And it was with the John Shubert-designed 70 foot hull that things took on an extra special quality both in practical sea keeping abilities as well as function and appearance.
“This boat, being the transition hull from commercial builds to yachts, is part of Delta’s history and special to the company and to our family,” said Michelle Jones, Ivor’s daughter who, with her cousin Chris, Jack’s son, is for all intents and purposes, the next generation in charge of Delta Marine. His focus is in project management while hers is in sales and marketing.
“It means a lot to who we are and where we came from,” she added while we got comfortable in the main salon area. “The 70 hull is the perfect boat for a builder; it’s a manageable size where it can be taken out for some local fun and, of course, for much longer excursions,” Chris said. “The boat’s owner was getting on in years and decided to sell it. We bought it with the idea of a retrofit and decided to make it our first design project. And since we’re so well known for our expedition-style vessels, one of the things that we’re so keen on is her timelessness. I mean, just look at her lines.”
I had to agree with Chris. The same lines that were realized back in 1990 still look as dynamic and pleasing 22 years later. “Both of our parents are really good under pressure, have great ideas, and in the end, take the kinds of risks that usually result in a positive outcome,” recollected Michelle as we discussed the switch from the commercial/work boat end of the industry to the design and building of yachts and how important appearances were.
While some of the functions stay the same; that being a tough, ocean-going vessel with a lot of range—approximately 4,000 miles at 10 knots for Project 70007—one of the more important aspects of the refit conception was, while keeping her salty, no-nonsense exterior intact, to make sure all her interior creature comforts were properly upgraded to not only 21st century standards, but to those high bar factors Delta is so well known for as well. “If you go to a commercial yard that specializes in barges, you’re not going to get the kind of fit and finish that we deliver,” said Chris.
With the late 1980’s interior fairly modern for the time, including lots of color, the Delta Design Team, led by Jay Minor, who, by the way, came up under John Shubert, put on their building hats and began to figure out how to imbue the living spaces with the kind of timeless presentation they wanted. “As I said, this particular boat is very historic to the company so when we took on the project, we made sure to leave nothing to chance,” said Michelle. And that meant going back to classic yacht design.
As with most successful companies that enjoy their kind of longevity, Delta Marine still has some of the original workers that were there when Ivor and Jack first opened the doors and are now on second generation family members as well. “It’s not only us,” Michelle said, indicating Chris. “Some of the same workers that started building this very boat back then have watched their sons work on this one. And that means the same kind of work ethic, and loyalty and pride in the job that results in the level of craftsmanship you see here.”
What is seen here is nothing short of the kind of wood and finish work that, even to the untrained eye, is quite impressive including mahogany soles, masterfully crafted built-in furniture with burl veneers and wood painted overheads. “We really liked the theme our team developed when they worked with the Setzer Design Group on the interior of the 123-foot Marama, one of our 2008 builds,” said Michelle. “And we decided to go with that look for our 70 project.” As they would find out, there was much more involved than just an interior makeover.
When Michelle and Chris first took the boat over, their thoughts were more in the fix or replace mode; new carpets, cabinets, soft goods and upholsteries. But that soon spiraled up to a let’s-get-rid-of-everything attitude. Every piece of woodwork is new as is the electronics, wiring and plumbing; the Dometic 10 ton air conditioning, Naiad stabilizers, 16-inch American Trac II bow thruster, 900gpd Aqua Whisper Sea Recovery water maker, 3,000 lb. Marquipt crane, and twin Kohler 36- and 20-kW gensets. “With the engine, that being a 402-hp Cat 3408, and since it only had a couple of thousand hours on it, we had a Cat tech put a fluoroscope inside and have a look. When everything checked out, it stayed.”
One of the more important considerations they kept in focus was in making the yacht quieter. “We did a good job back then,” Chris said, “But with sound technologies evolving over the years, we focused on the engine room, engine mounts and couplings, put in sub walls and triple overheads with lots of insulation, and replaced all the gaskets on the doors. Anywhere we could, we got sound levels down.”
“Our boats are continuing to evolve and we’re doing several proposals on some pretty big vessels right now. Hopefully Michelle and I, along with our fathers and other family members, can bring the company to the next tier by constantly focusing on how we can put out the very best product there is,” said Chris. With the kind of heritage Delta possesses, I would hard-pressed to think the company would not be on my short list twenty years from now without the same pedigree, legacy, and cache it now enjoys.
While we all have that special certain something for our boats, no matter what size or configuration she may be, it is the heart-thumping, dream-inducing kind of feelings one can easily conjure up while imagining being at the helm of the Delta 70 that I think best exemplifies a favorite and insightful quote of mine from Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat: “The mind of the master of a vessel is rooted deep in the timbers of her, though he command for a day or a decade…”. Indeed, she is the kind of boat that gets right into your very soul and confirms, beyond a doubt, why you even go out on the water in the first place. Delta Marine, 206.763.2383. http://www.deltamarine.com
DELTA 70007 SPECIFICATIONS
DRAFT: 9’/2.7m @ half load
DISPL.: 100 long tons @ half load
GROSS TONNAGE: 114 ITC
ENGINES: CAT 3408BHp @ 1800rpm
FUEL: 4,400 USg/16,656L
RANGE: 4,000nm @ 10kn
GENERATORS: Kohler 36kW/Kohler 20kW
STABILIZERS: Naiad 254 (updated 3-term electronic control)
BOW THRUSTER: American Trac II 16″
FRESH WATER: 2,000USg/7,571L
WATER MAKER: Sea Recovery Aqua Whisper @ 900gpd
AIR CONDITIONING: Dometic 10 ton
ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM: Definitive Audio
ACCOMMODATIONS: OWNER/GUESTS: 6; CREW: 3
NAVAL ARCHITECTURE/EXTERIOR/INTERIOR: Delta Design Group
TENDERS: 20′ C-Dory/12′ Rendova
CRANE: Marquipt 50K Sea Crane 3,000lb.