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Renovatio: The Passport 615 Page 2

Passport Yachts has been building semi-custom voyaging sailboats for three decades. For the last 20 years these boats have been produced in a modern facility in China. Thom Wagner has been the force behind the company from the beginning, and he still is the man to see when you are ready to buy one. His latest project is the Passport Vista 615 Twin Cockpit, designed by Bill Dixon.
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Accommodations

Handsome joinery belowdecks is standard on all Passports. Most of the custom work is done at the factory in China, but it can also be done at the company’s facilities in Maryland and Florida. “On this boat,” said Wagner, “both the owners like to cook and enjoy being in the galley together. But neither wants to get in the way of the other, which is why there is a large amount of galley workspace and storage areas. We have fitted drawers, shelves and lockers everywhere.

“We are still adding custom touches. When the dishes and cutlery come on board, for example, we will modify the storage arrangement accordingly. We’ll also put a handrail here, and a shelf or two there. It’s all part of the process. At this price you should get the boat the way you want it and not the way someone tells you it should be.”

Renovatio has a three-cabin layout with the owner’s stateroom aft, a pilot cabin to starboard ahead of the saloon for the couple’s child and a guest cabin forward. The interior looks unusually spacious, thanks to long sight lines that run through the galley and the saloon. There’s also a four-cabin layout with a slightly smaller engine room.

In the owner’s cabin, I particularly liked the custom stainless foldout vanity/computer station seat fabricated by the factory. There’s lots of storage back here and it’s divided equally into his and hers spaces. The owners have selected marble and granite counters for both the head—which is very spacious—and galley.

The collapsible dining table in the saloon opens and expands with a leaf. Eight can dine comfortably here.

When I commented on the nice treatment of the settee corner, Wagner explained, “Those C-shaped settees you often see do hold a lot of people, but there’s no place for someone to cuddle up in the corner and read a book. And you can’t sleep on them unless you like to sleep in a C-shape.”

“Because everything today is virtual, we give an owner a weekly report while the boat is under construction,” Wagner said. “It’s kind of like getting baby pictures. We also keep all the photos in a master file, both for future reference and for any modifications the owners might want to make later.” Renovatio’s owners, like 40 percent of all new Passport buyers, also flew to the yard to see firsthand how things were progressing.

Under Sail

Sailing off Annapolis, Maryland, in late October we were greeted with a lovely 8-12 knot breeze, with temperatures in the 50s, clear sky and smooth water. As we entered the bay, we unfurled the main and the 120 percent jib. As soon as the two sails began to draw, the big boat heeled over a little and began to pick up speed. It was a splendid ride that, again, felt as though it was being made aboard a much larger vessel. On this particular boat, Wagner said he would carry the genoa to about 18 knots of true wind and then switch over to the self-tacking blade jib. At this windspeed, the balance was perfect and the steering was effortless.

A few minutes later, simultaneously furling the genoa and unrolling the blade jib, there was no need to tack to trim sheets thanks to the boat’s powerful electric winches. Tacking angles with the blade jib were about 85 degrees, and even with the wind at a steady 12 knots, the speed loss from the smaller headsail was negligible and the boat did stand a bit more upright.

Under Power

Renovatio is surprisingly agile under power with a turning circle of just over one boat length. It can also stop and then go astern quickly, thanks to its well-matched VariFold four-blade prop. The boat powered up easily to a predicted speed of over 9 knots at 2,200 rpm and 8 knots at a cruising rpm of 1,600. Sound levels in the saloon were a rather low 72dB. Burning 1.75 gallons per hour at cruising rpm, the 510 gallons of fuel will take you a long way if you run out of wind.

Conclusion

Any boat this size that is finished to this standard won’t be inexpensive. Even so, the Passport 615 provides good value, and as an added benefit is handsome, comfortable and safe. It can also produce a good turn of speed under both power and sail. “It doesn’t look like a production boat,” Wagner said. “It looks like a custom boat, but it costs about a million dollars less.”

That shouldn’t come as a surprise because both the designer and builder have well-established records of achievement. On a more personal note, unlike many other boats this size, this one is also a lot of fun to sail.

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