Barton & Gray's Daychaser 48 dayboat

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All images: courtesy of Barton & Gray

Trialling the Barton & Gray Daychaser 48, designed for long, lazy days at sea

27 March 2024 • Written by Kevin Koenig

The Daychaser 48 is a dayboater’s boat, with loads of space, thoughtful features and timeless aesthetics, as Kevin Koenig discovers...

The Barton & Gray Daychaser 48 is a boat that shouldn’t exist. And that’s not meant as a slight, it’s just a stated fact, according to Barton & Gray co-founder Doug Gray, who helped dream up the project.

“We tried so, so hard not to build this boat,” he says with a chuckle. “We went to a bunch of different boatbuilders and said, ‘We want to buy 15 multi-million-dollar boats from you, and send them to the most important ports in the world and fill them with the most influential people in the world,’ and no one — not one of them — bought in. The yachting industry is really lagging behind the private-jet industry when it comes to accepting these share programs. So we had to build a boat ourselves, and that’s the Daychaser 48.”

Gray is, of course, referring to his fleet of Barton & Gray boats that make the world’s most elegant boat-share company, with vessels in 36 ports in America and the Caribbean, with plans to expand to Europe in the not-too-distant future. The Barton & Gray fleet was heretofore largely made up of Hinckleys, but Gray and his partner, Tim Barton, thought they could improve upon some of their features for their specific purposes.

“Basically everything forward of the head was unusable. We don’t need a cabin; we do cocktail cruising mainly too, so a galley-down made no sense. Nobody wants to draw straws to go down below and make drinks. So a bow-lounge design started to become very appealing to us,” Gray says.

As part of his ongoing search for the right boat, Gray reached out to Zurn Yacht Design. “At first they wanted me to help them find something that already existed that fit their envelope, but there wasn’t anything out there,” Doug Zurn says, “so we crunched the numbers and realised they could do a custom job, and I got to work.”

What Zurn came up with is rather timeless, I think. I’ve been aboard the Daychaser twice and got an eyeful of her jetting VIPs up and down the Intracoastal at the 2023 Fort Lauderdale show, and her design has really grown on me. With a dark hull and loads of faux teak, at first I understood  her to be a Downeaster, an idea bolstered by her having been built at Boston Boatworks. 

But she isn’t quite that. A reverse sheer line and a plumb bow, not to mention that bow lounge, make her something all her own, and it’s a versatile aesthetic that looks just as at home plying the waters of Palm Beach as it would in Monaco’s Port Hercule.

Everything on board this boat is designed for dayboating, which suits not only Barton & Gray clients but also any private owner who wanted to shuttle a crowd from, say, Sag Harbor to their favourite waterside eatery in Montauk. It has not failed to attract attention beyond the membership base. 

Worth Avenue represents the boat for retail sales. “The boat has had considerable interest from owners/captains of large motor yachts and multiple boat programs as a chase boat/tender,” broker William Baldwin says.

It’s a flexible platform. Gray jokes that the Daychaser has the same layout as a pontoon boat, but there is a kernel of truth in all good humour. Aft of the forward bulkhead, the Daychaser has a highly customisable, flat 4-metre-by-12-metre main deck. Sapele furniture done by Release Marine is the order of the day. 

That oh-so-necessary bar is to port opposite a small dining table, while the cockpit is lined with upholstered bench seating and weighted throw pillows that won’t blow overboard. An oversized swim platform with two beefy gates to port and starboard is highlighted by an almost comically large pop-up shower to port — it looks like it should be on a Feadship.

The Daychaser also has integrated steps for boarding.  “We’ve found that the most dangerous part of boating is getting on and off the boat — a broken finger, a twisted ankle, it happens all the time,” Gray says. “So we wanted these super sturdy and large steps to make getting on and off our boats as seamless as possible, regardless of your sea legs.”

There is easy-to-use stowage nearly everywhere as well. “Our boats might make 10 or 12 stops a day so our captains need to be able to get to lines and fenders easily,” Gray says. “That’s one thing Doug Zurn doesn’t get enough credit for. People talk about the aesthetics and seakeeping on his boats, they don’t talk about his wizardry for arranging a boat in a usable way.”

Captains will appreciate the engine room, reached through an oversized hatch that provides good access to the twin 550- horsepower Cummins QSB6.7s and the Racor fuel-water filters. A white gelcoat sole makes spotting spills that much easier. Those who wheel this boat will also appreciate the massive rectangular windshield and good sight lines. 

For a vessel with this much onboard space, the Daychaser can actually get up and go to the tune of a top end of 36 knots. I found her steering to be quite responsive as well through slaloms and hard-overs at a 30-knot cruise. The boat can also access most places with a 2ft 3-inch draft, and a low-profile hardtop for bridge clearance (including the 14-person life raft mandated by the Coast Guard for Barton & Gray cruises).

The Daychaser 48 is a really nicely designed dayboat that will serve well not just Barton & Gray clients but any owner looking for something thoughtful and just a bit off the beaten path. Not too shabby for a model that was effectively willed into existence.

The Barton & Gray Daychaser 48
Builder Boston Boatworks
Design Zurn Yacht Design
LOA: 14.8m
Beam: 4.5m
Draft: 0.7m
Displacement: (1/2 load) 35,744lb Power 2 x 550hp Cummins QSB6.7
Propulsion: Hamilton Jet Drive
Fuel capacity: 584 gallons
Max speed: 36 knots
Passengers: 12+2
Build standard: ABS

First published in the April 2024 issue of BOAT International US Edition. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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