Friends at the Hampton Yacht Group in Seattle took and staffers for a Friday ride on a brand-new Hampton 680 motoryacht yesterday afternoon. While commuters did the bump and grind on the area highways and byways, we toured Lake Union, part of Lake Washington, and the canals and cuts in between.

The 68-footer at the base of the pier outside the Hampton Yacht Group office.

The 68-footer at the base of the pier outside the Hampton Yacht Group office.

What a cool ride! With its fine Makorie African cherry and redwood burl joinery, plush saloon, large upper deck, and comfortable seats all around, the 680 definitely spoiled us for the few hours we were aboard. We not only enjoyed the ride, of course, we also enjoyed each other's company, getting away from our computers and telephones. A few of us, in town from the East Coast for meetings, also got to see Seattle from a different perspective.

Dining and kitchen area; Robert Fiala

Robert Fiala leans on a helm seat, which can pivot around to join the fold-out dining table in the deckhouse saloon. The galley is just aft of the dining area.

We had a cooler and cloudier day than has been common in the area recently, but it was easy to find places to hang out that were protected from the sometimes chilly breeze. Robert Fiala, one of the yacht brokers who invited us along, showed me around the interior, pointing out that all of the cherry came from the same tree.

Part of the team on the bow enjoys the ride in the Montlake canal.

Management (Ian) and sale team members (Michael, Kirk, Ann, and Tom) enjoy the view from the bow in the Montlake canal.

We motored across Lake Union with the houseboat village on our right and seaplanes landing on our left. The conversation in progress ranged from views on website strategies to the results of the soccer, football and WhirlyBall games we'd played during the earlier part of our day-long staff retreat. (Note to future team captains; don't pick me for your WhirlyBall team if you want to score points.)

Our crew was ready at the controls on the bridge.

Design (Byron) and marketing/graphics (Laura) are ready to take the controls on the bridge.

We had plenty of volunteers to handle the docklines, fenders...even drive the boat from the open-air of the bridge. But Robert and his partner, Martin Snyder, didn't need what little help we provided, as they handled the yacht with ease. That included the tight little maneuver of getting us into and out of our narrow bulkhead berth, where the bow and stern thrusters made the job a tad easier.

Martin Snyder and Robert Fiala in command at the main helm station.

Martin Snyder and Robert Fiala in command at the main helm station.

A couple of plush seats in the saloon

Customer service (Bruce) and custom websites (Byron) enjoy the plush seats of the main saloon.

Hamptons are built in Shanghai, and most of them are delivered to one of three dealers in the U.S.—Hampton Yacht Group is one and the other two are in California and Florida. When I've written up a little more about the 680 itself, I'll give you a link to the review (and more pictures) here.

Meantime, thanks to Karon, Gilbey, Kirk, and others who arranged our staff day outside the office. My back and shoulders aren't sure about the WhirlyBall, but we've decided the Hampton 680 ride should be an annual outing.

—John Burnham

Not a bad looking crew considering this was the sometimes-routine post-cruise photo op.

The crew assembles for the staff-outing photo op. Robert Fiala photo