The West Bay SonShip 68 is built on the Fraser River a half hour south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Since 1969, the company has expanded at a phenomenal rate, adding not only staff and facilities, but also the ability to launch progressively larger yachts.
In the 25 years since I first visited the plant, West Bay has grown to encompass more than six and a half acres. The last time I was there was about five years ago, so I was unprepared for the challenge of just finding a parking spot outside the office. West Bay has the infrastructure to build yachts up to 160 feet LOA, but currently builds up to 110 feet LOA.
Hull and Deck
This 68-footer is about mid-range on the list of boats built by West Bay. Its hull is a relatively flat deep-V with 16-degree deadrise at the transom and 18 degrees amidships. It is a thoroughly modern hull in every respect, incorporating construction techniques refined in the hulls of offshore racing boats to reduce weight, increase fuel economy and produce more efficient speeds.
West Bay, an early adopter of technology, has mastered vacuum bagging and infusion sandwiching. You see the result in this hull and deck.
Below the waterline, Hydrex vinylester resins are used to prevent blistering in the 68, while Core Cell and Divinycell foams have been used to reduce weight in the hull and sides.
The glasswork, even in the crannies where you seldom look, is flawless throughout. It's a testament to the crew and their ability to do a hand-layup on such a large vessel.
You enter the engine room of this 68-footer through a large, stylish watertight door in the center of the transom. Five steps down, you pass the crew quarters to port and a utility area to starboard.
The crew quarters are about standard for a boat this size. The boat is compact but comfortable, with minimalist cooking and shower/head facilities, separated from the engines by a heavy watertight bulkhead.
In the engine room itself, headroom is full-scale, about six feet, even in the corners.
In the center of the room, a pair of 3412 Cats straddles a walkway. There is ample room here for the engines and an abundance of hardware on the periphery. Given the size of the boat and the complexity of the systems, there seems to be very little tubing and hose routed through the work spaces.
Directly ahead of the engines are the fuel tanks. A full-length sight gauge and a manifold of valves are within easy access. This manifold is a work of art. Between the valves, a clearly defined flow chart on the bulkhead indicates the position of the tanks and engines with warning plaques to indicate what combinations to avoid when shifting fuel to balance the load.
The boat's electrical components are mounted on the bulkhead behind the engines, just as you enter the engine room. Twelve and 24v fuse boxes have clear protective lids, allowing the fuses to be inspected and serviced quickly.
Battery capacity includes four 8-D deep-cycle batteries putting out 24v for house use, and two 8-D starting batteries putting out 24v. Another 24v bank of batteries is dedicated to the engine controls and engine electronics, while two other 12v batteries are dedicated to the accessories and starting the generator.
The 80-foot, 50-amp shore power cord -- mounted on a Glendenning retractable cord organizer -- feeds through an isolator transformer. There is also an automatic 110v/208v/240v shore power selector to handle the variety of systems at marinas throughout North and South America. It's a decent system with lots of charging capacity for the various battery banks, lights, electronics and household electronics.
Upon boarding the 68 across a large dinghy platform, guests are greeted by sweeping staircases that rise up both sides of the transom. Four teak and Thiokol steps take you up to a covered aft deck. Teak flooring has been used in the lower outdoor living spaces. The wood serves as a warm contrast to the white glass bulkheads and overheads.
Protected from rain and intense summer sunlight, this aft deck will be a gorgeous living space, particularly on those evenings on the hook when westerlies are blowing through the anchorage. A settee for a half dozen guests runs along the transom.
One feature that should make this 68-footer easy to manage shorthanded is the helm station on the aft deck. A complete set of electronic controls at the helm eases the task of reversing into or exiting tight quarters.
Sliding glass doors lead from the aft deck into the main saloon.
Interior joinery is available in a choice of oak, American cherry or mahogany in a variety of finishes. The boats are built to a semi-custom standard, so owners get a say in what the result will look like.
The brightwork throughout the interior of our test boat was light and cheery, with white overheads. Soft tan colors were chosen for the carpet and upholstery to add to the brightness of the interior. Conventional broadloom installed underfoot carries up three steps to the edge of the galley.
The galley flooring is teak and holly, practical flooring for a food preparation area. This galley is laid out with all the amenities of a full-scale home kitchen. A large stainless Sub-Zero side-by-side refrigerator/freezer and a full-size Professional Series electric range with oven and a microwave fill the aft bulkhead. The sink, a deep sailboat-style double molded from the same Corian used in the countertops, looks out through windows toward the water. There is plenty of storage beneath the counters and in the overhead.
A counter and large dinette separate the galley from the pilothouse. This is a very social area, where everyone can watch the passage unfold, and the helmsman can participate in the conversations.
The pilothouse features watertight doors port and starboard. A Stidd helm seat is the centerpiece of this work area, with a stylish stainless wheel comfortably at hand. The instruments and electronics are arrayed within easy viewing distance.
A full Nauticomp and Furuno package on this boat includes a chart plotter/radar/sounder set with a C-map chart chip set. A separate monitor provides information from sensors arrayed throughout the boat. If there is a problem in a distant corner, the intention is that the helm will know about it quickly.
The usual route for a West Bay to arrive on the East Coast is to run it to the mouth of the Columbia, then transit the Columbia River to the Snake River in Idaho. From the Snake, the boats usually are trucked to Texas or Wisconsin, then relaunched and delivered on their own bottom.
The owners of this boat took delivery in Vancouver and were heading out for California the day following our sea trial. They were planning a trip down the coast, cruising Southern California, transiting the Panama Canal into the Caribbean, then cruising to their homeport in Florida.
It was an unusual boat test. There were about 15 people aboard when we pulled away from the dock. You could hear the sounds of saws and grinders deep in the bilge doing last-minute tweaking while we went for a run on the Fraser River.
Loaded with this large contingent, plus fuel, water and supplies for the trek down the coast, the boat came up onto plane at about 12 knots and gave us a knot or better for every 100 rpm up to a high cruise of 21 knots.
This is a pretty hull, and a slippery hull. What more can you ask?
West Bay SonShip 68 Raised Pilothouse Motoryacht Specifications
|Fuel capacity||1800 gallons|
|Water capacity||400 gallons|
|Price as tested (with twin Caterpillar 3412 1||400-hp engines)||$2,729,241|
|Top speed||28.5 knots|
|Range @ 12 knots:||634 miles|
Twin MTU Series 60 825 hp diesel inboard engines, select, flat-cut American cherry woodwork, flush-mounted halogen lights in ceiling with Vimar switching, white vinyl-upholstered helm seat with Stamoid weather cover, storage locker with vents, transom watertight hinged door, swim deck with a ladder, entertainment center with U-Line icemaker, Sub Zero side-by-side refrigerator/freezer, dishwasher, trash compactor, curved staircase down to staterooms, walk-in closet with a light in the master stateroom, king-size bed, VacuFlush toilets, two guest heads.
Additional fuel tank in the engine room, 7-foot cockpit with a bait tank on the centerline, raw water washdown, water-maker, 12-inch hydraulic Wesmar dual prop stern thruster, top-loading deep freezer, teak additions and other customized features and equipment.
Fiberglass, flat deep-V hull, with Hydrex vinylester resins and Core Cell and Divinycell foams.
For More Information
West Bay SonShip Yachts