This Horizon FD87 is a floating home to a family of nine: four humans and five dogs
Boating isn’t in Travis Fox’s blood, nor has he honed his skills over a lifetime. You could say he was a late bloomer. But when he did embrace the sea, he did so with an unusual level of enthusiasm that converted his formerly landlocked family into liveaboards on the massive Horizon FD87.
When he and his wife and daughters chose to relocate from Virginia to Southwest Florida, a boat seemed like a natural part of the picture. They sought a house on a deep-water canal, where, as Fox says, “three-foot-itis quickly turned into forty-foot-itis!” The family took to cruising like Trump to Twitter, cutting their teeth on a 50-foot Azimut Magellano, which appeared to shrink every day they spent in The Bahamas. Perhaps due to the fact that their five dogs travel everywhere with them. “After two months, it was really tiny,” Fox laughs.
A larger boat was clearly in order, and the 2016 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show was the medium for an exhaustive search. Fox spoke with 18 builders but felt an instant connection to the drawings of the Horizon FD85, conceived by the same designer as his Magellano, Cor D. Rover. He was also impressed with Horizon.
The Fast Displacement Phenom
Horizon unveiled the FD series (for fast displacement) three years ago, focusing on functional living space, huge interior volume and the ability to exceed displacement speed. The FD85 was the first in the range to go into production, and while it’s a lot of boat for 85 feet, Fox wanted more. He took one look at the concept and asked Rover if he could add a sky lounge, beach club, country kitchen, and a foredeck lounge.
Fox and Rover sat down at the boat show with John Lu, president of Horizon, and Roger Sowerbutts, head of Horizon Yacht USA, and hashed out his wish list. Out of this collaborative effort was born a brand-new model, the FD87. A mere 12 months later, it was sea-trialed in Taiwan.
With a background in engineering and the ability to visualize, Fox had input into every facet of the design, something that was embraced by Horizon as Lu acknowledges that owners make the best designers. The sense of support Fox intuited from Horizon initially at the boat show manifested throughout the build and continued after delivery, making him a customer for life.
In fact, he enjoyed the process so thoroughly, he named the yacht Skyline as a tribute to her builder. “We did a lot of unusual things (with some uncertainty about their success) in the design phase,” says Fox. Now with 1,600 nautical miles behind them, he is enjoying the fruits of this labor and happy to report success on all counts and an extremely short punch list.
After a shakedown trip to Bimini, the family set off from Fort Lauderdale to cruise the Eastern Seaboard. At press time, the boat is in Mystic, Connecticut. The family’s having so much fun that they aren’t sure if they’ll ever return to land. “Skyline is intended to be a vessel we can run ourselves,” says Fox.
“She’s designed to be our home rather than a vessel people enjoy for a few days at a time. We designed her to be comfortable while at sea for long periods of time and focused on safety and ease of operation since we’re the crew.”
Working from home… err…boat
Fox has worked full time since taking delivery, using part of the sky lounge as his office. “The view is incredible, and it works great for video conferences and in-person meetings.” Because the pilothouse shares this space, the main deck is free to deliver both an on-deck master and a congenial galley that opens to the main salon or can be closed off with a partition that rises over the breakfast bar.
Fox’s wife also works from the yacht, and their teenagers are home-schooled, so a place to plug in a computer was essential. Thus, the salon’s dining table top folds in half and the whole thing moves to the side to make a console, so it opens up the space as well as provides a spot to pull up a bar stool and unfold a laptop.
It’s not all work and no play on board, though. Behind the helm in the sky lounge is a forward-facing, sit-down bar. “We debated whether three captain’s chairs and the wet bar behind was a bit excessive, but there’s always a waiting list for them while underway. Turning the captain’s chairs backward while in port (facing the bar) has worked out to be a nice option for creating another entertaining area,” says Fox.
Throughout all three decks, natural light plays a prominent role. The expansive salon features floor-to-ceiling glass, and Fox also specified oversized windows for the lower deck’s midship queen cabins. “We’ve found that family members in those suites feel comfortable spending an afternoon or evening in their suites when they want some privacy.”
Outdoor living is also a priority with the aft deck taking a sizable portion of the main deck. Forward, a Portuguese walkway accesses the foredeck lounge, which features cocktail tables, settees, and a sunpad—a favorite spot underway, reports Fox. At anchor, alfresco life moves to sea level with a bar, lounge area, and television in the transom’s inviting beach club.
While Skyline can reach 16 knots, Fox ran the 1,400 nautical miles to Connecticut at the yacht’s displacement speed of 11 to 12 knots, loving the fact that he could go the entire way on less than the tank’s 3,500 gallons of fuel. “The boat rode great at these speeds, too. Thanks to her wave-piercing bow, any pounding was minimal in a head sea,” he explains. “Her keel and shape kept her straight in following or quartering seas, and the stabilizers handled anything else.”
The bow he speaks of is a new development, a collaboration between Horizon’s engineers and Cor D. Rover they have named the High-Performance Piercing Bow. Similar to a bulbous bow but with a sharp entry, the underwater appendage cuts through currents and reduces pitching in a head sea. This works alongside the hybrid hull shape and tunnel design to provide low resistance, a smooth transition over a range of speeds and shallow draft.
Bump out, Show out
Another of Fox’s specifications, wing stations he calls “bump-outs,” have been a fantastic addition. “The complete visibility alongside fore and aft really makes docking a pleasure and safer as it almost completely eliminates blind spots,” he says. He also designed the rails surrounding the decks with Plexiglas, which gives a clear view in all directions for the helmsman as well as a clean aesthetic.
Finally, Fox adds, “We really like the crisp blue color of the hull. The boat just looks sharp. While we’re not really people who enjoy getting attention, the boat is an absolute showstopper.”
Inside and out, Skyline has fulfilled some very high expectations aesthetically, operationally and, perhaps most importantly, on a personal level. “Whether a game night in the main salon, movie night in the sky lounge or a quiet night on the aft deck with friends, it’s common to hear laughter throughout the boat as soon as you step on board,” says Fox. “Rather than being pretentious or formal, she’s comfortable and warm. For lack of a better way to say it, Skyline really has good ‘soul.’”
LOA: 90′ 1″
Beam: 23′ 3″
Draft: 5′ 5″
Displacement: 209,440 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 3,480/400 gals.
Power: 2x Caterpillar C18 ACERT
Cruise/Top Speed: 11/16 knots
Range: 1,640 nm at 10 knots
MSRP: $7.5 million (base delivered)
By Kate Lardy, Southern Boating October 2018
Photos courtesy of Horizon Yachts and Jim Raycroft