Sitting in New Jersey traffic, I took a call from Palm Beach’s new Head of Sales and Marketing, Peter Truslow, who brought me up to speed on the recently launched Palm Beach 70. With a long, sweeping sheer and stunning good looks, he said it resembled a “modern commuter yacht.” I’d seen the renderings and early photos from the factory in Malaysia; I certainly couldn’t argue with him.
The Manhattan skyline was just behind my left shoulder and my tires were planted in bumper-to-bumper traffic. “What would it be like to own a commuter yacht today?” I wondered. “With today’s mass transit options readily available in many cities, could commuting by boat be a viable or practical option?” An experiment was born.
As the control for my experiment, I challenged a somewhat disgruntled Editor Simon Murray to a race from Rowayton, Connecticut to Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue.
The gentleman’s wager began dockside at Rowayton Boatworks, where we met the 70. Long, sleek and muscular with a small, forward-facing lounge cut into the bow, it looked like the well-adjusted offspring of a 20s commuter yacht and the Tom Fexas-designed Midnight Lace.
I stowed my gear aboard while photographer Onne van der Wal got settled aboard our chase boat, the auto-inspired Palm Beach GT50—a boat that could easily double as a modern commuter yacht itself. It was time to race. Simon and I shook hands. “3, 2, 1 … GO!”
The 70 meandered out of Five Mile River and toward Long Island Sound, leaving the rocky shoreline and multi-million-dollar mansions behind. With the optional Volvo Penta D13-1000s (IPS 1350s are also available, and I predict, will be a popular choice) under the hood, we had 30.3 knots to play with. As we climbed onto plane, I couldn’t help but notice how svelte the wake behind the boat was, more of a ripple than a wave. It’s the signature of Founder Mark Richards, and the mark of an efficient running surface.
Alas, we wouldn’t keep the throttle pinned for long. Boat traffic and obstacles continued to rear their heads as we covered ground toward the East River. (Not to mention the fact that it was an owner’s boat and hitting a submerged object was not a risk any of the crew wanted to take.) Eventually we settled into a more responsible speed in the 20- to 25-knot range. Still, we ate up the miles in serene comfort. The sun was shining and a cool breeze passed through the flybridge. The early (albeit predictable) verdict: Way more fun than a train.
You need only squint and use a little imagination to travel back in time to the 20s, watching a wooden commuter yacht shoot like an arrow through the gray mist and hook a left around Manhattan back to the Sound.
Today, a few famous models from that era have been lovingly restored and still ply the seas, but mostly this piece of yachting lore has been forgotten to the annals of yesteryear.
The elements that enticed the Wall Street execs of the 20s— the sun, the water, the relaxing sound of water sliding along a planing hull—those elements, and classically styled yachts like the Palm Beach 70, remain timeless. —Daniel Harding Jr.
- Builder: Boston Whaler
- Boat Type: Cruiser
- Base Price: $384,030
- LOA: 37’6″
- Draft: 2’0″
- Beam: 11’6″
- Weight: (dry) 13,500 lbs.
- Fuel Capacity: 450 gallons
- Water Capacity: 60 gallons
- Standard Power: 3250-hp Mercury Verados
- Cabins: 2 guest berths/settee