Several decades ago, a species of yacht was developed in North America, primarily for coastal cruising and island hopping. The genre almost instantaneously became known as a “Bahamas Houseboat”; and yachts of the kind in the 10m to 15m LOA range were marketed for chartering and wintering in the mostly sheltered waters of the island chain that lies some 90 nm east of the Florida coast.
The type combined houseboat-like accommodations with a beamy, shallow-V hull form that was in distinction to the barge and pontoon bottoms then ubiquitously associated with such vessels. Like a barge or pontoon bottom, the broad beam, shallow-V hull form kept draft to a minimum, while still providing sufficient load carrying capacity for truly house-like accommodations and the fuel, water, and stores necessary for extended island hopping. In addition, however, the V-bottom provided just enough sea-keeping ability to be able to cross the Gulf Stream — at least in predictably good weather — from, say, Bimini right across the Bank to Grand Bahama. And the V-bottom was definitely better able to negotiate passages from the lee of one island to that of another, in the presence of slight to moderate seas — something at which previous “houseboats” were notoriously deficient. Unfortunately, the “Bahamas Houseboats” were, to my mind, produced in sizes too small to reap fully the nominally intended benefits of the type. Consequently, after less than ten years, the genre passed from the yachting scene.
But that was then, and this is now. Recently, Boundless Yachts LLC introduced a shallow draft, waterjet-driven, triple-decked yacht that takes the Island Cruiser concept to its next logical iteration. This yacht is 27.4m (90’) LOA by 6.7m (22’) in beam, and draws less than .75m (2’6”) of water. She sports house-like accommodations, with eight feet of headroom throughout, and accommodations for 12 in four double staterooms and two convertible sleeping areas. Her huge main saloon blends into a country-kitchen style dining and galley area, to provide more convivial common area than one sees on yachts twenty feet longer or more.
An array of three Yanmar marine diesel propulsion engines, each coupled to a Hamilton waterjet drive, gives her the ability to reach 29 knots top speed, while retaining joystick maneuverability for docking on her two wing engines, and more than ample island-hopping range when running at passagemaking speeds on just her single centerline engine.
The Boundless 90 constitutes an instance in which form truly follows function without, I might add, undue sacrifice in styling. Personally, I see in the type high potential, not only for the Bahamas, but for European coastal and canal cruising, as well as charter fleet duty. Moreover, this is especially so, when you consider that, due to smartly executed value engineering, her cost is probably little more than half that of a tri-deck motor yacht matching her interior volume and accommodations.
Phil Friedman is the Director of , Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. He has a long background in yacht design and construction, including several years as President and CEO of Palmer Johnson Yachts.