I want to share with you the extraordinary last 15 months my wife and I have had living aboard our Prestige 500S, CALIFRENCHIES in Marina del Rey, California!
First, I’d like to thank Desirée Van Welsum for managing the Prestige Yacht Owners Group on Facebook with great discipline and always a great sense of humor. And also my wife, Estelle Garnier Ruben, who’s crazy enough to sponsor our way of life on the water 🙂
It all started awhile back in 2014. We never owned any boat before, when my wife and I started to browse the luxury yachts on YachtWorld and started dreaming of getting into boating…
We rapidly acquired our first boat, a 2004 Sea-Doo 22ft (8 seaters) which was fun to motor around Santa Monica Bay of Los Angeles. After a year, we learned especially what not to do, such as not being aware of cleaning the bottom during the entire 12 months it was in the water (we had 5 inches of seaweed and our speed got reduced from 60mph to 25mph). Or going from Marina del Rey, California to Catalina Island (40nm) without checking the weather and realizing that we would not have time to return before sunset. We were almost obliged to sleep aboard with the humidity. Or going back full speed from Newport Beach, California with the mother-in-law aboard and running out of gas at 8pm just 3 yards away from the dock!
Lessons learned, we decided to upgrade to a 2004 Sea-Ray 320 Sundancer with 2 engines that sleeps 4. We enjoyed it a lot! At the time, we were living in a tiny apartment in Marina Del Rey at Avalon and we were fortunate enough to have our boat docked by the apartment. We realized that we were spending more time on the boat than in the apartment. We had our ritual…. every day, after 5pm, my wife and I were going downstairs, jumping on the boat and talking until midnight. Most evenings, falling asleep aboard, and waking up at 6am going back to the apartment to have a shower and going to work.
After a year and a half and 250 hours running the Mercury engines, we decided that it was time to let it go and we started boat window shopping (it lasted more than a year) with the crazy dream of buying something big enough to live aboard…
We went to every boat show you can imagine, Newport Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, you name it… We learned a lot but the more we were looking at boats, the more we became picky with features, layout, quality, … and not the least we could not afford the boat of our dream. We eyed towards the Prestige brand not because my wife and I are French (🙂) but because of the unique layout and being more affordable compared to the Italian brands of this world.
We bought a beautiful 2012 Prestige 500S in France in a pristine condition with only 260 hours. We decided to dock the boat in Toulon, France just in front of the island of Porquerolles, Provence-Alpes-Cote D’Azur, France for a year so that we could enjoy the Med first. During all 2017, we spent almost 5 months aboard, cruising across the French Riviera, Corsica, it was such an amazing experience for our entire family.
At the end of 2017, we shipped the boat from Genoa (Italy) to Ensenada (Mexico) and then we cruised it ourselves to Los Angeles, our homeport. Since January 2018, my wife and I decided to rent out our Hollywood Hills house and move permanently into our 600sft boat. Most of our friends and family warned us that this would just be an infatuation, but after 15 months of live aboard status, it’s not an infatuation, it’s just love!
At the time I am writing these few words, my wife is in cooking a fantastic pea soup and making a nice apple/pear puree, she’s enjoying every moment, every inch of our boat. Sure, a boat is obviously more fragile than a house, but I have to admit that all the issues we encountered have been quite manageable and not crazy expensive. While I sometimes feel that Prestige could have used a slightly higher level of materials in places, overall the quality is good and the engineering behind the boat, quite remarkable.
The fact that we have a separate entrance to the master cabin is quite unique. We’ve installed a 55 inch, 4K TV, it’s really like home and even more cozy 🙂
The beauty of living aboard is that when you want to go somewhere with your boat, you take literally your entire house. You don’t have to plan much in going to the grocery store and choose which pair of shoes you want to take with you, you have them all aboard (well almost 🙂!
Talking about this, yes space is limited, but we’ve adapted to the space. We have a storage unit nearby where we have the winter clothes during summer season and vice-versa during winter. We learned to be extremely organized, we cannot afford to clean our stuff for 2 days, it would be a mess, so we do it as soon as we see something not in its place
Luckily my office is less than a mile from our boat, so I usually walk to the office or ride an electric scooter, we almost never use the car anymore. My wife decided to work from the boat, she installed a 23 inch monitor that she displays on the dining table during the day. In the evening, she places the external monitor on the side so that we can take advantage of clean space.
I inherited of the master cabin storage spaces and my wife hijacked the rest of the storages into the VIP and guest cabins. It’s quite OK, we have all the stuff we need aboard.
The life of the docks is quite amazing. I’m an early bird and when I drink my morning coffee at sunrise in the aft deck, that’s so delightful and relaxing. In the evening, my wife and I have kept our bad habits, we have a glass of wine, we smoke a bit of cigar, we work a bit and then we always keep dreaming of our next adventure on this boat or our next
We come to a point, after 15 months, that we have hard time thinking about that we might have to live into a house (or apartment) again, the freedom and pleasure the we have aboard is immense and quite joyful.
I hope this was not too long, I am quite excited when I talk about our “Califrenchies”.
Spend enough time on the water and it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself going aground. If you’re lucky, and you’re grounding is a soft one, as in mud or sand, the result is usually little to no damage; except to your pride which may be bruised but not broken. If you’re not so lucky and you’re grounding is a hard one, like hitting a rock, it’s an entirely different story altogether. Anyone who’s done this, knows that it causes your heart to jump right into your throat and rattles your bones from your head to your feet. It’s an experience you will never forget! If it sounds like I’m speaking from experience, I am. When I was in my late twenties, so along about 1987, I found myself in dungeon fog picking my way through Watch Hill Passage into Fisher’s Island Sound with a strong ebb tide under my keel. Although I navigated the passage OK, I misjudged the strength of the current and all of a sudden “CRACK,” I hit the reef and it was all granite. The rock felt nothing. But me, I still shiver when I reflect back on that moment, lost in fog and on the rocks. Definitely not one of my better days!
Recently, my friends Art and Sue Wittmack, had a similar experience aboard their Prestige 500S, Loofah lll. And while on the surface (no pun intended) this story is not an overly happy one, there are elements of it that make the whole thing not so bad. Before I go too much further, you should know that Art and Sue have been working their way around the eastern U.S. via the Great Loop. They started their adventures last September in Chicago and have been underway ever since, traveling counter-clockwise around the country. Up until, “the grounding” last week, they’ve had a marvelous trip with no significant issues. But as I said, spend enough time on the water and it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself going aground.
They were cruising through the North Sound at the very top of Lake Huron when they hit a submerged rock at a speed of 22 mph. As You can imagine, hitting a rock going this fast is not going to allow you to get away without some damage and it didn’t. This is however the low-point in this story, from here forward, it gets better!
So Loofah lll clipped the rock with her starboard Volvo IPS Pod, which is similar to the lower unit on an outboard engine. While this could have resulted in ripping a gaping hole in the hull, Volvo cleverly designed the IPS Pod to sheer away upon impact leaving the hull itself undamaged and the boat afloat. A good thing!
Art and Sue could have panicked and called “May Day,” many novice boaters would have, but they didn’t. Because they are seasoned mariners with thousands of miles under their hull now, they calmly brought their boat to a stop, marked their position using the MOB function on their GPS, then dropped anchor and assed the situation. This is the first thing I like about this story, they kept their heads and handled a bad situation like pros.
After realizing they weren’t sinking, they went back to find the drive unit which they did. It was laying on the bottom in about 4′ of water. Using their Kayaks, they managed to move it into deeper water and secure it to the back of the boat. And just to make things a tad more challenging, Art had to dive down 15′ to free their anchor that had gotten stuck in some rocks below. Never a dull moment when you’re on a boat!
With the drive safely secured and the boat still completely seaworthy, they got underway for Parry Sound using their undamaged second engine and dragging the drive behind. This is the second thing I like about this story, they moved from problem to problem-solving independent of outside help.
Today, Loofah lll is safely on the hard and in process of repair. The boat itself is fine, a real testament to both the quality of the Prestige 500S and the clever design of the Volvo IPS engines. And as for Art and Sue, they look at it this way, “The bad news is obvious. The good news is that no one was hurt, no other boats were involved, LOOFAH continued to float, and although the props were bent, the port engine and drive unit were able to get us back to port without assistance.”
Loofah’s crew has been characterized, by some, as being “Pollyanna’s,” overly optimistic, glass-half-full (or more), people. This trait, “optimism” in one of my favorites and one I constantly remind my kids to work towards. Optimistic people always see the bright side, they are problem-solvers. And this is what I like best about this story, for it was Art and Sue’s optimism, their ability to turn lemons into lemonade (OK maybe not quite lemonade) that enabled them to deal with this problem in the manner that they have.
It was not a great day for these “Loopers” but while they may have been on the rocks, they were never close to hitting rock-bottom.
Oh and by the way, it should be noted that after close examination and having a closer look at the chart, Art and Sue should have had plenty of water under their keel to make safe passage, especially since Lake Huron is currently 36″ above what the chart shows. I’m not sure if the rock they hit has a name but if not, it does now, Loofah’s Rock! Watch out for it!
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Yachting Magazine. By Patrick Sciacca
The Prestige 680 S is a well-balanced express cruiser and flybridge yacht combination.
Hybrid is a term often associated with diesel-electric- powered yachts these days, but the Prestige 680 Sportyacht represents a different type of amalgam, one of a sportlike express cruiser and a flybridge yacht.
The design’s linchpin is a retractable roof above the bridge-deck helm. You generally don’t see a retractable roof on the bridge deck of a flybridge yacht because the upper helm usually sits directly above the lower one. But take a look at the profile of the 680 S in the photograph above. The builder placed the upper helm station abaft the opening roof while keeping the vessel’s profile proportional. That’s no easy task. There’s always the risk that the flybridge will look like a cake topper sliding off the cake. Clever engineering and construction made the feature possible. The builder designed a series of supporting steps strategically placed into the yacht’s super structure above the salon head-liner, eliminating space-eating bulkheads. Each step drops the vessel’s height by about 12 inches, reducing the center of gravity, which leads to weight savings.
Additionally, the 680 S’s 16-foot- 5-inch air draft, sans radar arrays and such, helps create a relatively low and bridge-friendly profile.
I noted clean sightlines at both helms throughout the rpm range of the twin 900 hp Volvo Penta IPS1200s. The lower helm had raked, composite windows for-ward and house-spanning side windows. It also had side-deck access to starboard, helpful when cruising shorthanded.
Conditions on test day were flat-calm. The 680 S came close to the projected 30- knot top speed. From a stop to wide-open throttle, the yacht’s bow rise was subtle coming out of the hole and onto plane.
Supporting the design of the 680 S is an infused fiberglass hull. Longitudinal stringers and Airex-cored bulkheads are also infused to enhance strength without adding weight.
The salon layout follows the builder’s goal of space optimization. A galley-up aft and to port services guests at the L-shaped dinette across and at the teak cockpit table for alfresco meals. An L-shaped settee forward and to port provides another dining and conversation space. The salon feels wide open thanks to nearly 360 degrees of glass and 6-foot-6-inch average headroom.
The Prestige 680 S effectively blends two yacht styles into one yacht that has spirited performance. And who doesn’t like two yachts for the price of one?
350 NAUTICAL MILES
That’s the range of the 680 S at her 25-knot cruise speed, based on the vessel’s 911-gallon fuel capacity. At the yacht’s 30-knot top-end, her maximum range drops to
313 nautical miles.
The foredeck has a sun pad and dodger for kicking back when on the hook, giving guests sun or shade. Bench seating here lets a few more guests take in the views while sipping a sundowner.
This yacht can be set up with a three- or four-stateroom layout, plus crew quarters for two abaft the engine room. In the four-stateroom setup, there are two twin-berth spaces for-ward of the amidships master, which has a notable headroom of 7 feet. In the three-stateroom scenario, the twins combine into a suite. There is a forepeak VIP in both arrangements.
This article appeared in the 2018 January issue of Sea Magazine.
New layout and design cues complement the quiet ride and maneuverability Prestige is known for.
HULL #3 OF THE Prestige 460 was so new that its first visit to the fuel dock was just before our trip in Southern California from Newport Beach to Long Beach. As Bayport Yachts owner JR Means and I waited for more than 300 gallons of fuel to slosh into the tank, we checked out the swanky Garroni design. Although it shares the same hull with its predecessor, the Prestige 450, which it also replaces, the refreshed model features new deck and interior layouts and follows design cues from its recently introduced larger siblings, the 630 and 680. And while the 450 did well, with the redesign, it seems good just morphed into better.
The changes that make the 460 enticing are visible immediately. The massive hydraulic swim platform carries up to 500 pounds and makes launching the tender easy, because it submerges a full 32 inches below the surface. It’s a $27,000 option but well worth it considering owners can now stand on it and cook at the optional outdoor galley that juts out from the transom.
The cockpit also gained a bit of room and teak decking is now standard. The forward-facing transom settee has been replaced by an L-shaped lounge in the starboard corner. It wraps around a high-low table and sits just ahead of a lazarette that is so large it can house optional crew quarters complete with a bed, a head and its own A/C.
A hatch on the cockpit sole provides access to the machinery space, which includes the Volvo Penta engines and pods and the standard 13.5 kw Onan genset. Due to the low headroom, the space is limited but workable for engine checks. Getting aft to the pods is a bit of a squeeze.
At the other end, the bow gained a lounge. No ordinary sunpad, this feature now includes popup headboards that form two chaise lounges complete with cupholders. An awning lifts up from the deck to form a superyacht-style cabana. The center cushion can be removed to reveal a skylight and a hatch, which bring light and air to the VIP stateroom below.
Readers counting along will note that the bow sunpad is the second outside area for people to gather. The third — and of course the magnet for most outdoor social activity — is the flybridge, which houses a second outdoor galley (optional), another sunpad for two and an aft dinette. The helm, to port, has a Raymarine display, a joystick, engine throttles and a seat that looks to be built for one and half humans. The steps that lead down to the cockpit are a bit steep, more like a ladder really, but two good railings provide plenty to hold onto during the descent.
Inside, the 460’s layout is different than its predecessor. By removing the signature second staircase that normally leads down to the secluded master stateroom on other Prestige models, the company created a master that is now 30 percent larger. The full-beam stateroom shares the forward stairs with the guest cabin but doesn’t sacrifice much in terms of privacy. It has an en suite head, a bed on the center-line and a lounge next to one of the large windows. To port is a dresser whose top drawer flips up to form a vanity mirror. It’s quite the posh pad.
Of course, the VIP cabin in the bow runs a close second. As mentioned before, plenty of light and air pour in through the overhead hatch and skylight, but there are also hull windows and opening ports. The centerline bed splits into two single berths. Just lift the aft ends and pivot them outboard. This versatile cabin will work for a couple, guests who can share a room but not a bed, or kids. An optional washer/dryer can be installed under the steps that lead up to the salon.
“Some folks might not believe it’s a production build.”
On the main deck, the galley is still aft to starboard. It can easily be used to serve guests at the interior portside dinette and in the cockpit. The chef will enjoy the convenience of a ceramic cooktop and a separate oven at knee level. A standup refrigerator and freezer combo is hidden behind matching wood paneling to port.
The salon is two steps up, which raises it enough so seated guests get a near-360-degree view through the newly enlarged windows. Five to six people can sit on the U-shaped settee that wraps around the foldout table to port, and a matching straight settee to starboard will fit additional guests. Nice touches include a bottle locker and digital switching via a Scheiber display panel.
To starboard, the helm is well laid out and compact, so most controls are easy to reach. Twin 12-inch Raymarine ES125 MFDs — touchscreens with a control wheel to the right — sit on an angled dash behind the wheel. They’re easy to see but hard to reach from a seated position. It would be nice if the control panels were outboard on the side pad and closer to the driver, but that’s already a crowded area, home to the Volvo Penta joystick, the bow thruster joystick and the engine throttles.
Other instrument interfaces include the Volvo engine display, the EV-2 autopilot and the Raymarine 260 dual-station VHF radio. Two cupholders, an opening side window and air vents provide comfort for the driver, and the dash is covered with a matte paint that cuts down on glare and windshield reflection.
Altogether, buyers can opt for three pod joysticks, including one in the aft cockpit. For anyone thinking that’s overkill, let me say that it’s the best place from which to dock, especially backing into a slip.
With each iteration of the line, Prestige has stepped up its fit and finish. Under-standing aspirational boating, the company knows that the owner of a 46-foot cruiser really wants to feel like he has a (smallish) superyacht and everything that implies. Our test boat featured gray oak wood surfaces — Means calls it “driftwood,” for better marketing appeal — and white headliner panels and white matte lacquered cabine-try that fit well with the Marline Pure White leather upholstery and leather handle accents. Sound-dampening fabric panels added to the feeling of luxury. Some folks might not believe it’s a production build.
We made our run up the coast at a cruising speed of 24 knots on a glorious Southern California day. Behind the Los Angeles Harbor jetty near Cabrillo Way Marina, we slowed down and put the boat through a few tests. It handled beautifully, making precise turns and taking just eight seconds to plane. Circling back over our wake, we felt no slamming or rolling. With the upgraded 435 hp IPS 6 engines, the 46 Fly topped out at 32.5 knots at 3600 rpm, where the engines burned about 45 gph. At a 24-knot cruise, the boat’s range is more than 200 nautical miles, depending on sea and wind conditions.
Once again, I noticed how quiet the Prestige line is — hardly a creak to be heard, even at speed. The hard-chine hull was designed from scratch to accommodate Volvo Penta IPS pod drives, which I never tire of, because they’re fun and easy to drive. The Prestige 460 will make driv-ers look like a rock star and take the anxi-ety out of docking. Owners may find them-selves wanting to go out and drive for any reason, just like when they got their first car. If we hadn’t been on a schedule, I’d have stayed out all day, maybe popping over to Catalina Island for a signature Buffalo Milk.
There’s really very little not to like on the Prestige 460, and that’s pretty good for a fresh-out-of-the-box model that hasn’t yet had the benefit of owner or dealer feedback. The larger swim platform and transom galley along with the wider cockpit and roomier master cabin are nice evolutions, while the quiet ride and the easy maneuverability that Prestige is known for continue. With four years of feedback and some creative thinking, good did indeed just get better — much better.
There’s really very little not to like on the Prestige 460, and that’s pretty good for a fresh-out-of-the-box model that hasn’t yet had the benefit of owner or dealer feedback. The larger swim platform and transom galley along with the wider cockpit and roomier master cabin are nice evolutions, while the quiet ride and the easy maneuverability that Prestige is known for continue.
Standard Equipment: Twin 370 hp Volvo Penta IPS500 engines, Onan 13.5 kw genset, bow thruster, swim platform, microwave/stove/refrigerator, window defogger and more.
Optional Equipment: Volvo Penta IPS600 435 HP diesels, elec-tronics package, custom hull colors, crew quarters, joystick in cockpit, foredeck Bimini, aft cockpit retractable sun awning, Glendinning CableMaster shore-power cord management, underwater LED lighting, washer/dryer and more.
Starting in September, 2017, Aboard their Prestige 500S, Loofah III, Sue and Art Wittmack open another chapter of their lives by embarking on a 6,000 mile, yearlong adventure called “America’s Great Loop.” Follow their journey! CLICK HERE
Frequently, as we are having breakfast, enjoying coffee, catching up email, planning the day and making entries into our various logs, the boat “CAPT SID S” returns to its mooring place. (Upon closer inspection, it appears that faint lines through the “S” renders it a “$” sign.)
A small, grey pickup truck is always there to greet it. Usually, a couple of coolers are passed from the “shrimper” to the shore. Today, there were none passed. Time, labor and fuel invested with no return. Again, we counted our blessings and prayed for those who work so hard, in so many diverse ways, to put food on our tables!
Time seems to fly by. It was 11:30 when we completed reading and returning email, observing marina operations, and starting to consider our next leg, down the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway. As some of our fellow mariners are already on their way, we get emails and text messages daily, with their observations, suggestions, and concerns.
We continued to receive some “guff” regarding our rental car. It’s a Yaris. When we initially drove it into the marina, a fellow Looper didn’t think it “was in keeping with our boat.” Today, someone asked if we were planning to put it on our swim platform. Enough! It’s a great size. We have downsized from a house to a condo; maybe it’s time to downsize cars as well!
As we did our circumnavigation of Mobile Bay the other day, we saw a “Camping World”, an RV/camping super store, selling everything from soup (dehydrated, awaiting water over the campfire) to a large inventory of RVs. We needed to return. And did. Is a “land cruise” in an RV, in our future?
The afternoon outing to Camping World served two purposes: 1) to see the store, 2) to help Bill and Bobby (First Forty) advance their car to the Homeport Marina. We agreed to meet them at Lulu’s at 5:00 and to have dinner at Ed’s Seafood Shed on the return.
Ed’s sits on the original causeway that runs across north Mobile Bay, which I-10 now parallels. Although just opening in 2000, it has become a well established favorite of locals. It is “Home of Yo Mama’s Platter”: “A cup of ED’s famous gumbo, a cup of garlic cheese grits, a cup of turnip greens, served before a platter of fish, oysters, shrimp, scallops and crab claws and Ed’s fries – finished with Yo Mama’s Dessert. Served family style (NO substitutions please) 39.95”. We passed, and choose to downsize.
Returning to the marina, we saw some water running down the parking lot. Concerned that a water main had broken, we surveyed the parking lot with our headlights. Shortly, we were able to determine the water was emanating from a marshy area on the north edge of the lot. High winds and a rising tide was piling water in the bay. As high tide was still three hours away, Art used his surveying skills and selected a high point to park the car.
We hit the sack… until the front went through and broadsided Loofah with 30- to 40-mph gusts. Art, in his pajamas, doubled the stern line as the frontline winds passed, and the rains began. It was a narrow front, lasting just a few minutes, but it was fierce. Happy that we were securely in a slip, and not at sea, we returned to our berth, and sleep.
Friday (11/17) Circumnavigation of Mobile Bay … by car!
It was time to burn some fuel, this time in the Yarus we had rented. Sue’s research indicated that we should head to Dauphin Island, about 20 miles south. We are always attracted to long causeways, bridges, car ferrys and forts. This had all of them!
As we toured the island, it was clear that this “barrier island” had been hit hard by recent hurricanes. The municipal fishing pier was now land locked in sand deposited around it by “Katrina.” More recently, hurricane “Nate” hit it with a good punch. There was a checkpoint on the only road to the west end of the island through which only residents and contractors could pass. Dumpsters topped with debris and “For Sale” signs were everywhere. For those interested a WKRG News 5 article, actually posted this afternoon at 4:12 PM, follows today’s entry. FEMA has been, and continues to be, busy!
Talking about properties “For Sale,” one of these five “boat houses” we passed was selling for $179,900. Not sure of the floor plan. Any takers?
Never wanting to miss a ferry ride, we drove to the east end of Dauphin Island for the 35-minute crossing to Ft. Morgan Peninsula and Gulf Shores.
We had read that a natural gas field had been discovered under Mobile Bay and it was hard to miss the abandoned wells that dotted this end of it.
Our destination was “Lulu’s.” Lulu, the owner, says she is Jimmy Buffet’s “crazy sister.” The gift shop (one t-shirt lighter) has all kinds of Lulu and Buffett memorabilia and CD’s. It is a large and popular spot (for both locals and Loopers), located in the Homeport Marina.
Lulu’s and Homeport are located at mile marker 155 of the Gulf Intercostal Water Way so we will see them again, in about 10 days.
Leaving LuLu’s, and all along the way, we were reminded that Christmas is coming! With sunny days, sandy beaches, and the warm waters of the Gulf replacing blowing snow, it just doesn’t seem right. Oh, well; we’ll take it.
Our mission completed, we headed up the East Shore, across the long I-10 causeway at the north end of the bay, and back to Loofah.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht.
The Prestige 520, an evolution of the popular 500, attracted huge crowds when it debuted at Cannes.
When walking various boat shows I’m always interested to see what boats are resonating with boaters. One quick and easy way to tell if a model is new and popular is by looking at the shoes on the dock beside it. It may sound like an odd trick, after all, to quote Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption, “How often do you really look at a man’s shoes?”
Sometimes you’ll see a nice selection of designer shoes (think polished Italian loafers). Other times you’ll spot a couple pairs of flip-flops. Every time I walked passed the Prestige 520 at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September I saw piles of shoes of all shapes and sizes: boat shoes, dress shoes, designer shoes. The point being the 520 was packed with visitors during the entire duration of the show. I set up an appointment with Prestige America’s President Nick Harvey to see what all the fuss was about.
The fuss, he explained, was expected. The 520 is the evolution of the brand’s popular 500, of which, coincidentally, 500 have been sold in the six years since its launch. “We’re still offering the 500 because it’s still really in demand and at a slightly lower price point,” explained Harvey as we ducked past a group touring the boat.
Indeed, the 520 is essentially the same hull as the 500, but with updated features and styling that reflect years of customer feedback. The changes start in the hull, where the fiberglass for the 500 is hand-laid, and the 520 is resin-infused.
From the hull up there are tweaks to the layout that take a careful eye to really appreciate. Things like the L-shaped sofa in the cockpit, a more modern/angular helm on the flybridge, a redesigned radar arch, a sunpad on the bow with a new adjustable seatback. It seems everywhere you look, Prestige has updated something.
One of the major changes Harvey pointed out was the sitting area in the salon; it’s to starboard just behind the helm. It’s a clever little seating area that is raised to allow for better views underway. The helm itself—with a bench seat for two—has an electrically adjusted seatback that actually raises and lowers at the push of a button. Push up and you’re sitting squarely at the helm with the ocean before you. Push down and it lowers, and suddenly you’re facing as many as 10 seated guests sharing the space with you.
In -between these two seats is a side door that customers demanded. I walked through it a couple times and noted how easy it was to get in and out, no morning calisthenics or gymnastics experience required.
I’ve learned from experience on other Prestige models that this builder puts a passagemaker-level premium on stowage. Every nook and cranny is used, which means there’s usually a creative space solution on each model. The 520 is no different. In the corner of the master stateroom is an angular closet that Harvey walked into for effect. On many boats it’s a space that would go unused or be dedicated to wire runs. Here you could hang enough clothes for a week or two underway.
Many of the differences between the 500 and the 520 may seem small, but in many ways it’s the details that were improved. When you add up all those little details, you realize this is a new model with a mountain of shoes behind it and a full order book ahead.
As we suspected all along when we planned this trip, we were not able to keep to our original itinerary. The plan was to stay in New York City until Friday, and then to head to Norwalk, CT. However, the weather forecast in NY and in CT for Friday was bad. So, we moved our itinerary up a day, and headed to Norwalk on Thursday instead. We will make up the day by staying two days in Mystic. So, trading one NYC day for a day in Mystic. Actually, I think that’s a good tradeoff, as even in 2 days we had our fill of the city.
I’m finding the marinas to be pretty flexible with cancellations and moving days around. Hopefully that will remain the case because as long as we are a day ahead of schedule, we’ll have to shift things around in several places.
This morning, Ann and Elana walked back to the vegan restaurant By Chloe and picked up “pancakes” and other breakfast “food”, and as soon as they returned to the boat around 8:45, I had everything ready, and we headed out for a 43 nautical mile boat ride to Norwalk. The Hudson was pretty rough, and in fact that was the roughest water we’ve encountered so far on this trip. We took it at around 10 knots so that Ann and Elana could eat in peace. Benny was still asleep.
As we circled Manhattan, heading South on the Hudson, I took in the views of Manhattan one more time. The East River is extremely heavily trafficked with commercial vessels and ships, and I had to stay really focused, but I managed to snap a few photos.
Once we got past Hell Gate (much ado about nothing), we headed into Long Island Sound. The water could not have been more calm. Not even one foot waves. We are getting spoiled. In the Sound, we saw the deepest water we’ve seen on the trip so far.
Had one hiccup leaving the Sound. My multi-function display plotter on the boat did not have chart details coming into the channel. So, I had no indication of depth or channel markers. I had two choices – just follow the channel markers and trust them, and use my waypoints to make sure I’m on course, or pull out my charting app on my iPhone and navigate using that. I ended up doing both – using my iPhone but following the waypoints on the charts and the channel markers. I will have to do the same when we leave tomorrow. Probably stressed me out more than it needed to, but I’m kind of a high strung person, and better safe than sorry in boating.
About 75 minutes after entering Long Island Sound, we arrived at Norwalk Cove Marina where we tied up stern-in to a really nice slip.
We are docked next to a gorgeous 80 foot yacht (named Dot Calm) with two tenders, including an open bow speedboat (Dot Net), with two 350HP outboards, that most people would probably be thrilled to have as their primary boat. I vowed not to have boat envy, as I just bought my dream boat, and no 80 foot yacht is going to change that. Amazing that no matter what you do, there is always one bigger.
After I checked in at the office, I had a nice chat with Grandpa Steve, my student Nick’s grandfather who is the marina manager. Of course he spoke very highly of his over-achieving grandson!
Once we settled in, and I plugged into shore power and took care of all the details associated with docking in a new slip (fastening and securing all the lines, lining up the fenders, shutting down the generator and the instruments, washing the boat, etc), we took our dingy out for a nice cruise around Norwalk Cove. We cruised around the marina admiring the boats, and then headed out into the open water on plane. The dingy does a good 25 knots at 3/4 throttle, and that’s as far as I felt like pushing it even though the water was completely flat. We crossed under a closed drawbridge which started opening, just as we were going under it, and scared the bejeebers out of me. Then we passed through an old spinning railroad bridge, and finally through a deep water marshy area where we saw a dozen or so swans. Gorgeous animals. Unfortunately, I did not bring my iPhone with me because I was worried about getting it wet, so we don’t have any pictures of that.
I let Benny drive the dingy, and we took it out into the Sound and drove around the Southern/Eastern shore where saw a really nice beach. Finally, we came back and put the dingy away. The process of stowing the dingy in the chocks, flushing its engine, securing everything, tying the paddle board to it, and washing everything took me over forty minutes. There’s always so much to do. We need to pump out again in the morning, but we’re good on fuel and water for our trip to Mystic tomorrow, and there seems to be a pretty wide weather window. I’d like to get out on the paddle boards once we get there tomorrow. Haven’t used them yet on this trip.
Shortly after we were done with the dingy, a strong storm came in. We enjoyed watching it from the comfort of our boat, secure in the slip and glad that we timed our travel well, but also aware that one day we may end up in something like that on the open water. Amazing how all of a sudden the waves whipped up, and it was awe inspiring to watch the fury with which water in the marina came to life.
Once the storm passed, we took an Uber to South Norwalk where every other establishment on Main Street looked like a nice restaurant. We settled for a Pho/Ramen place that accommodated all of our eating habits. I’ve never had Pho before, and probably won’t rush back to have it again, but it was okay.
We then settled in for the night. Ann reading, me working on my laptop, and Elana and Benny playing video games on their phones. Our plan is to watch a movie over Netflix using the high speed marina WiFi. Tomorrow, we head to Mystic, and we’ll time our departure based on the forecasts here and over there. Hopefully we can keep our great weather streak with no waves alive for at least another day.
Norwalk to Mystic
It rained all night in Norwalk, and when we got up, it was still raining hard. However, the weather forecast showed that the rain would let up some time around noon, and although thunderstorms were coming, they would not arrive until around 5:00 pm in Norwalk. The forecast for Mystic, our destination, was better, and although there were thunderstorms in the morning, the afternoon looked clear, with thunderstorms coming again in the evening. All of this to say that we had a window leaving Norwalk at mid day and getting to Mystic around 4:30.
We desperately needed to pump out our waste tanks, so as soon as there was a break in the rain, we headed over to the fuel dock and pumped out. Elana has become very handy on the boat, and she handled the bow line and helped me with the dreaded pump-out routine.
Of course, as we pulled out of the marina it began to rain again, so I drove the boat from the inside helm – first time ever. As soon as I tried to chart our course, I discovered that I still had no chart data in my MFD, and I had to use my iPhone app and the in water navigation aids to make our way through a somewhat tricky channel to get back to Long Island Sound. Visibility was low, it was raining, and my equipment was not ideal. I was pretty stressed out for about the first 20 minutes. Then we found open water, and I got the hang of using the app instead of the chart. The rest of the way was simple, but we encountered our first day with some waves. I’d say average waves were about three feet, and we were bouncing around. Still, the boat handled it great, and we were able to do about 21 knots without any discomfort. It was 66 degrees out and raining on and off, so none of us were up top where we normally like to ride, and we stayed inside the whole way. The water is deep in the Sound, and I noted the depth sounder reading 188 feet at one point. Unfortunately, we did not see any dolphins or other sea life. I guess those are more common in the ocean.
When we got close to Mystic, we found an easy to reach fuel dock, and I was impressed when my crew jumped into action, we had the lines and fenders in place in under a minute, just as I was pulling up to the dock. A huge improvement over our earlier experiences, and everything was handled much more calmly and smoothly with Ann, Elana and Benny each comfortable and experienced in their roles. Professionals!
The rest of the way to Mystic was in a marked channel in a no wake zone, and I was easily able to navigate it without any equipment, which was good, because according to my chart plotter we were on land some of the time. I wrote to Navionics who provides the data chip with the maps and asked them how come I have no data on my charts. Haven’t heard back yet. Looks like I’ll be dataless on my charts until Martha’s Vineyard in a few days.
As we approached Mystic, we had to wait for the railroad swing bridge to open. I called on the radio and the bridge tender said “5 minutes”. About 15 minutes later, a train went by, and then 5 minutes later the bridge opened, and we went through. The one bad thing about a marina next to a train bridge is that you are next to a train bridge, so now every 15-20 minutes a loud train goes by, and they seem to feel they need to honk when they are on a swinging bridge. We are docked about 50 yards from the tracks. Let’s see how late they run…
As soon as we got through the bridge, we saw the dockhand signaling at our slip. It was a scary looking docking situation. I had to turn us around in a busy bridge crossing channel with another large boat coming behind me. Once I did that, I had to back into a slip right next to another boat about the same size as ours, with a current pushing me away from that boat and into the edge of the moving bridge, and with little room and no pilings between us. Of course, the owner of the boat was on his bow cleaning it, so I got to do this right in front of him. I had to fight the current and straighten out the boat and line it up with the slip. Of course, Ann is behind me telling me I’m not going to make it, but I had a plan, and I stayed even with the slip, on the side away from the other boat and down current from it, and eased Sababa in until I had 6 inches to spare, and then I slowly started to move back and inch the boat into the current and away from the dock as I backed her in. It went very smoothly, and I was pretty proud of myself, but I realized how intense the whole experience was when I caught my breath afterwards. One of the more stressful docking experiences I’ve had in a while, but I felt very good when the guy on the other boat told me that as soon as he saw how I was approaching it, he was not in the least bit worried. Called me a pro!
So, of course, as soon as we get all the lines tied and the power connected, Ann suggests that maybe I should turn the boat around so that we can get our dingy out in the morning. Luckily, she agreed that maybe that’s something we should do tomorrow. Hopefully, she’ll decide we don’t really need our dingy in Mystic after all. Not loving the idea of docking it again here. But if I have to, I have to.
Once the boat was secured, I took a shower, and we headed into town. It was only a short walk, which gave me hope that we won’t need to use the dingy here.
Of course, we went to the restaurant that made this place famous, Mystic Pizza. Kind of corny because they had TVs all over the place running the movie on endless loop. The back of the menu told the story of how a movie producer traveling through town decided it was the perfect spot to stage her story, and the rest is history. The pizza was actually pretty good!
Besides a famous pizza restaurant, the town also has a pretty well known and seriously cool drawbridge. There are large cement blocks 50 feet in the air that counterbalance the bridge when it opens. The bridge opens every hour at 40 minutes after the hour, assuming there is a boat that wants to cross. During off season, they require 8 hours notice to open it. Presumably that’s how long it takes to get someone there to set everything up and open the bridge.
After dinner, we walked back to the boat, and I did a thorough washing down from stern to bow. It’s supposed to thunderstorm overnight, but a hard rain won’t wash off all the salt the way my washing does. So, we’re in for the evening. Benny on his video games, Elana texting on the phone with friends, Ann reading and talking on the phone, and I’m working on my laptop. Typical evening on the Rubin boat. On to Providence, Rhode Island!
This blog written by Avi Rubin chronicles the boating adventure of the Rubin family in July, 2017. Casting off in Baltimore with Boston as the destination and many stops along the way.
Two qualities of a truly successful boat builder are the ability to constantly innovate and consistently introduce new models that meet the changing needs of the modern boater. For the past 20 plus years, Prestige Yachts has proved to be this kind of builder which is why we’re inviting you to say “hello” to our newest model, the Prestige 520.
Designed by Garroni Design in conjunction with JP Concepts and the Prestige design team, the Prestige 520 succeeds her predecessor, the very successful Prestige 500. With an overall length of 52’9″, the Prestige 520 is powered with twin Volvo IPS 600’s, giving it great maneuverability while docking as well as exceptional on board comfort and performance underway.
Because outside living is an essential element to the boating life, special attention has been paid to creating great spaces for relaxing and dining while on deck, starting with a super-large and beautifully appointed flybridge complete with optional hardtop.
Prestige has always been known for having exceptional interiors and the Prestige 520 is no exception. A large, open salon with galley aft and plenty of light offers the perfect space to live your life with family and friends in grand style.
Down below, the Prestige 520 offers 3 separate cabins and two large heads and showers. The master cabin enjoys the benefit of being separate from the guest cabins and is accessed via a private stairway just opposite the galley above.
The Prestige 520 will be making its European debut next week in Cannes in the South of France at the annual Cannes Yachting Festival from September 12-17 and her North American debut at this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (E-Dock/Lime Zone) in Fort Lauderdale, FL from October 1-5. We look forward to welcoming you on board!
We “slept in” this morning until 7:15 am after getting to bed later than usual in Cape May. The kids were still asleep, so Ann and I had breakfast and got the boat ready without them. We pulled out of Cape May at 8:00 am and headed towards the inlet into the Atlantic Ocean.
The trip today was 38 miles along the Eastern Coast of the US. The most direct route took us about 5 miles offshore. We could still see the land the whole time. As soon as we left the inlet, I could feel the waves, although the ride was pretty flat. I don’t know if we even had 1 foot waves, but you somehow could sense that this was no longer the Chesapeake Bay. As soon as we turned North, I spotted dolphins, and called out to Ann. Elana and Benny showed up around that time. We slowed down and tried to get close, and we saw plenty of them but were not able to get any good pictures. The rest of the day, we were surrounded by dolphins all around us. Spectacular site! The trip took less than 2 hours.
So far, we’ve been extremely lucky with weather. However, tomorrow’s forecast in New York looks a bit dicey with a reasonable chance of thunderstorms starting at 3:00 pm, so we are planning on leaving the dock in Atlantic City no later than 6:30 a.m., which should get us in well before noon. I decided not to fill up the fuel tanks here, as we have around 420 gallons left and 95 nautical miles to go tomorrow. The trip to NYC should require about 250 gallons, so we can easily do that, and then we’ll fill up there.
Under normal circumstances, the weather is a casual conversation topic, but when boating, it is everything. A bad day can be really serious if the weather is not right. We check the weather forecasts all day long.
The trip to Atlantic City was easy and uneventful and very different from boating in the Chesapeake where I’ve done most of my water travel. I really like using the radar in the ocean. I took a 2-day course in marine electronics at the Annapolis School of Seamanship last year which focused on radar, and the open waters of the Atlantic make the radar extremely useful, to the point where I think I would seriously miss it if I didn’t have it. I always get into gadgets, and this boat offers limitless opportunities for me to geek out. Ann seemed surprised that I read the entire 400 page manual for my chart plotter/radar/AIS multi-function display. Well, maybe not too surprised.
Once we got settled into our slip in Atlantic City, I washed down the boat and then headed to the Borgata to play some poker. I played 2-5 from 11:30 to about 4:00 pm and had a decent winning session. If I hadn’t lost my chips in one of the first hands when my QQ ran into AA, it would have been a very big winning session, but I spent most of the time just clawing back and was happy to book a modest win.
Later, our friend Aliya from New Jersey met us at the boat, and we went to Buddakan at Caesars for dinner.
Back at the marina, we have a great view of the Borgata at night, and are ready to turn in early because we need to start very early tomorrow.
Now if that damned band would stop playing that loud reggae music right by our boat, we could get some sleep! Oy.
Day 3: Atlantic City to Chelsea Piers in Manhattan
Concerned about the forecast for thunderstorms in the afternoon in NYC, Ann and I set an alarm for 6:10 a.m. this morning. We got up and immediately got the boat ready to go. At 6:25 we were under way. Our route took us along the East Coast of the United States, about 2-3 miles from shore in many spots. This was to be our first test of mother nature – the first time we were committed to several hours in the open ocean, which we believed was a completely different boating experience from previous outings. However, the weather was fantastic. The waves, to the extent that we had any, were 1-2 feet at most. The ride was relatively smooth. And there were dolphins everywhere, a wonderful sight I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. As we pulled out of port, we took one last look at Atlantic City, and I got a gorgeous shot of Ann on the bow putting the lines away as we headed into the sunrise at Atlantic City inlet and turned to port to head North to The Big Apple.
About an hour into our trip, we passed by the Shore house of our friends from New Jersey, Shery and Michael Jay who came out to the beach early, around 7:30 just to wave and see us go by. They saw our boat, and we saw two small people who we thought were them in the distance waving, but we couldn’t be sure. Text messages confirmed that they saw us, and I was kicking myself for leaving my binoculars below deck in the crew quarters storage area. That’s what happens when you leave port half asleep early in the morning. We’ll try to see them better (with binoculars!) on our return trip home.
After about three uneventful hours of boating, we approached the Verrazano bridge, which I remember crossing (by car) as a child when we drove to Brooklyn to visit my grandmothers. It was a bit nerve racking coming under the bridge because of the heavy amount of large ship traffic with no clear indication of where recreational boats such as ours were supposed to go, but it all worked out.
After crossing the bridge, we got our first real view of Manhattan. What a skyline! Still makes me sad to see New York without the twin towers. I don’t think I’ll ever get over 9/11. Every time I see New York I think of it.
Several moments later, we passed the Statue of Liberty. I wish they had a public dock where we could stop by and visit, but I’m pretty sure that only the tour boats are allowed to stop there. Anyway, we got our money shot, which is what really matters when you are a dedicated blogger.
As we made our way to Chelsea Piers, Ann noted that you could see the Lincoln Tunnel in our navigation chart on the plotter, and that I should take a picture. So I did.
This marina is known as a rough water marina. The boat shakes back and forth non-stop, and docking in this rough waters was a new challenge, but also confidence building, as I pulled her in slowly and smoothly with no hiccups. Starting to feel good about this docking thing, always the most stressful part of boating. If I can dock it here, I can dock it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York, New York!
After tying up, I spent a good 30-40 minutes washing the boat. There was salt on the metal rails and on the cleats, and the ocean water really did a number on the dingy and the rest of the big boat, so I gave her a serious hose down. I had to connect two fifty foot hoses to each other and wash from both sides as well as from on the bow to really clean everything. Came back on the boat sweaty and exhausted and downed a cold beer and relaxed before we headed out to explore New York. Although we arrived at NYC around 10:40 am, it wasn’t until 2 pm or so when we were fueled, emptied of waste, tied up and washed. There’s lots of work to do, but it’s a labor of love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After a quick shower, we took to the streets. The first shot here is at the entrance to Chelsea Piers. It had been a dream of mine to come here on a boat ever since my early 30s when Ann brought me to the city on my birthday, and we hit golf balls at Chelsea Piers driving range and had a nice dinner in the city. Today, I finally realized that dream. Hope she doesn’t take me to Thailand next for my birthday because getting there by boat will be a bigger challenge!
Every time I come to New York, I discover a new site that I had never heard of. This time it was the High Line. An amazing walking park in the city that covers many blocks, above ground. It’s a peaceful oasis in a crazy bustling city. I don’t think it’s been around that long, but somehow in all my recent trips to New York, I missed it.
Ann and the kids wanted to try out a famous vegan restaurant called By Chloe, and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about that. Luckily, I had been in touch with a former student of mine, Nick who I met at the Chelsea Market. We got some Hummus at DizenGoff restaurant and took it back to the boat where we sat on the flybridge, ate dinner, and he taught me about the ins and outs of statistical horse betting.
Tomorrow, we have tickets to see School of Rock on Broadway. I’m sure we’ll explore many other parts of the city as well, and I will sneak in some meat or dairy food whenever I can get away with it. We are going to be here 3 nights, and I’m going to take a break from this blog, which I always intended to cover our travel days more so than our multiple nights.
We have our eye on our departure day, which is Friday. Some concern about the forecast, so hoping there is a good window of time to get to Norwalk, CT. Also trying to time the tide at Hell Gate because apparently there is a reason they call it that. Between the projected thunderstorms (BTW, today they never came), and the rough currents in Hell Gate we have our work cut out for us. Finally, as it turns out (small world!) the dockmaster at the marina where we’re staying in Norwalk is Nick’s grandfather, so we look forward to seeing grandpa there.
So that’s it for the blog for a few days. Looking forward to a few days of fun, and then we’re back on the water on our way to Boston!
This blog written by Avi Rubin chronicles the boating adventure of the Rubin family in July, 2017. Casting off in Baltimore with Boston as the destination and many stops along the way.