At first thought, this doesn’t seem like a logical partnership: Doug Zurn, who’s designed the sleek, fast MJM 50Z; the sleek, fast Shelter Island Runabout 38, and the sleek, fast 57-foot Vendetta for Billy Joel, has joined forces with John (Jock) Williams, who designs and builds the most traditional of all Maine lobster boats, originally for commercial fishermen and now for well-heeled owners who appreciate the “lobster yacht” aesthetic. But come together they did, with the new Williams 38 as the result – a classic-looking lobster boat above the waterline, with a state-of-the-art hull design below.
The visible part of the Williams 38 could be a floating advertisement for the made-in-Maine crowd; it’s an updated open layout, complete with Herreshoff-style white bulkheads, varnished mahogany trim and cherry overheads. The pilothouse has a large settee amidships (it’s also the engine hatch), an L-shaped settee to port and the helm station to starboard. Moveable teak benches are aft in the cockpit. The galley is to port, the head to starboard and the V-berth is in the bow. This is just about as traditional as they come.
But the hull, with an 18-degree deadrise at the transom, is laid up with vinylester resin, stitched e-glass and Corecell cored construction for low-weight, extra strength and long-life water resistance. Twin Volvo IPS 600 drives produce a 40-knot top speed; the Volvo diesels are projected to burn only 28 gph at a cruising speed, giving the boat a range of 300-plus nm.
With the Williams 38, Zurn, with offices in Marblehead, Mass., and Williams, with his yard in Somes Sound, Maine (just up from Southwest Harbor), seem to have created an alluring blend of lobster boat and modern technology. Over the years, I’ve tested many of Zurn’s designs – the Shelter Island Runabout in 1997; Billy Joel’s Vendetta in 2005; and Bob Johnstone’s MJM 50Z last year – and I’ve always come away both smiling and impressed. I expect no less from the new Williams 38.