If you build two boats the same, you haven’t learned anything,” is a motto often attributed to Broward Yachts. While it makes sense, that philosophy also makes you realize this is not a typical production builder. Each yacht has different capacities, layouts, and modifications—attributes that depend on the eye of the beholder now as much as they ever did.
Broward Marine transitioned from wood to aluminum construction in the early 1970s. The popularity of the builder grew along with their record for consistently fabricating sturdy yet uncomplicated large yachts. The flexibility, life span, and strength of an aluminum hull and superstructure, as well as the spacious communal areas and forward crew’s quarters, are the core appeal of Broward yachts on the brokerage market. At this writing there are nearly 50 on the market, ranging from a 70-foot 1980 motoryacht to a 125-footer from 2007. Indeed, Broward was a pioneer in introducing the series build to the over-100-foot market.
“Browards are a great buy and offer tremendous interiors,” says yacht interior designer Karen Lynn (www.karenlynninteriors.com). “They’re floating condos with huge staterooms. If she has good bones, a total refit will create a brand-new cruising yacht with great ability to charter.”
Each build features a huge saloon—the walkaround models offered saloons that were slightly narrower—and immense galley; most of those are set up country-kitchen style. The more favorable (in my opinion) walkaround design allows the crew to bypass social areas en route to their quarters when an owner is in privacy mode, gain access to the galley without interrupting events in the saloon, and service topside without trudging through the cabin.
On the market are complete and partial restorations and full-blown projects. Completely restored Browards in turn-key condition reside at the high end of the price scale, and some may come with existing books of charter business. As with all boats, a candidate with documented service records is a big plus.
Another way to get the Broward you want is to undertake a refit. Many industry executives agree the current economic climate has made this prime time for these projects as boatyards and corresponding marine-service providers remain somewhat competitive. But refits are not for the faint of heart: Budget and time constraints must be addressed faithfully.
Yachts of this dimension normally have at least a captain and mate (while no ticket is required by the U.S. Coast Guard for owner-operators with no commercial aspirations, insurance companies may require experienced crew). After the upgrades have been decided, plans drawn, and décor selected, it’s the captain and project manager who oversee the job with the contractors. A refit is an orchestrated event; cockpit extensions and belly-of-the-beast mechanicals are addressed first.
The hands-on owner with a vision will appreciate the options Broward’s straightforward construction offers. Project managers agree the builders’ conventional, uniform technique and uncomplicated structures have created a great sense of familiarity at shipyards that specialize in retrofits. You’ll hear it time and again: They say when you take a panel down anywhere on a Broward there will not be a surprise behind it.
“There are no molds required to lengthen a cockpit, add in modern reverse- or Euro-style transom stairs or a create a flat-out extension,” said one project manager. “It’s basically chop the old one off, and fabricate and weld the upgrade on. For the most part, when we do an extension, the refit is designed without moving the position of the rudders or running gear.” (For more on these projects see “Call in the Naval Architect” below.)
Broward’s original construction used familiar systems and common materials—most are readily available. Shipyards have a much easier time with a project when the components and ship’s systems are sourced domestically.
Broward hulls are noted for their dry, soft-riding, semi-placement design—the inherent comfort further adds to their popularity. Constant refinements and improvements were incorporated into succeeding bottoms consistent with the brand’s philosophy. Modern stabilizing systems and thrusters upgrade comfort underway and ease of docking.
“One of the biggest pitfalls on a refit is not having the right people, perspective, or proper team in place,” Lynn observed. “Communication is key. The captain and crew, yard, and vendors all need to be on same page.”
“We define the scope of the work and look at the most cost-effective way based on the owners’ input,” she added. “We look to see if it’s better to reface and top the joinery versus a gut job. I have consults with naval architects to look at the air conditioning and electrical systems to reroute wiring or ducts if need be for compatibility with the design.”
Nowhere do original Browards show their age more than their interiors, but some may retain usable joinery with varying finishes. Lynn likes to combine what she can from the original interiors—including bulkheads and headliners—with built-ins and darker woods to achieve a modern look. Accents and soft goods also are important, as is keeping in line with the set budget. Contemporary headboards and bedding, updated lighting, and sleek window treatments can improve staterooms without breaking the bank.
The owner’s mission for the vessel will dictate any exterior modifications. Tenders, Jet-Skis, dive equipment, and entertainment and sunbathing areas will fit into the scheme around previously in-place mechanicals such as winches and davits due to the prohibitive cost of moving those items.
Performance figures vary greatly depending upon power; cruising speeds range from 13 knots and go north from there. A large portion of Broward Yachts are powered by the workhorse 71 or 92 series Detroit Diesels, with a smattering of vessels with Caterpillar power. A predominant percentage of owners choose to overhaul existing powerplants. A full repower though will not disrupt the interior, as the preferred method is to cut a hole in the hullside and then reweld the removed aluminum plates and frames.
Any buyer should have an understanding of the hull material. “Aluminum hulls have some distinct advantages; they have a relatively high strength-to-weight ratio and can be repaired any time of year, regardless of temperature and weather conditions,” says certified marine surveyor Steve Maddock. “Most important is of course the inside-and-out visual inspection. The external inspection will include the condition of bottom paint, specifically looking for areas of peeling and signs of corrosion or localized wastage. It’s not uncommon to see wastage or pitting at the waterline as it is the area where the most mixing of air and water occurs as they lap at the hull. Electric current is an enemy of aluminum hulls. They require anodes to absorb stray current, however, they will be most likely magnesium and the not more familiar zinc material fiberglass boaters are accustomed to.”
A CAPAC or similar current-cathodic protection system is also a preventive measure used to stop electrolysis and galvanic corrosion from attacking the hull. It’s important this has been in continuous service.
Dents on the outside of the hull don’t necessarily reflect damage to the interior frames but a thorough inspection behind the dents will reveal structural issues. Replaced plates (and surrounding area) and areas of repair must be inspected and tested. Welded seams, cracks, wastage from corrosion, and repair work require in-depth scrutiny. “Oil canning” is a term for plates losing thickness in areas where frames are too far apart or see heavy usage, such as the bow. The aluminum plates can show possible bending in suspect areas. Any visual pitting can be measured with a pit gauge. There are accepted tolerances in relation to pitting with regard to the original thickness of the plate.
Hull distortion from poor blocking can also be an issue, especially in colder climes where heavy snow can add to the load on the blocks. The manufacturer will have specific points and procedures for storage on the hard.
A dry, clean bilge is paramount to a healthy aluminum boat. A buildup of sludge and debris around frames exacerbates corrosion. A dropped coin or tool in the bilge or engine room can cause localized wastage and corrosion from the reaction of dissimilar metals. Aluminum in many instances is the less noble metal and bears the consequences.
All electrical-system components must be in good condition. No deterioration of wiring insulation can be tolerated, and chafe protection in all areas where wiring passes through or across frames, bulkheads, etc. is a must.
A refit can be completed in stages. It’s all about solid planning, budget, team, and communication. Ms. Lynn believes a Broward is a piece of American yacht history and nostalgia. It seems hard to argue with that observation.
Power & Motoryacht spoke to three brokers who each had a Broward 100 listed here on BoatQuest.com. Here’s what they had to say about the market for buying and selling these motoryachts.
Base Price $725,000 to $4.95 million
LOA 100'0" (or varied)
Fuel 3,000-plus gal.
Water 500-plus gal.
Power Various twin Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar diesels