Sometimes in the world of big-dollar boatbuilding, it’s hard to get noticed. With all the great boatbuilders out there publicizing their efforts, the little guys can easily be overlooked.
Tribute Performance Boats in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is such a company. With only four boats on the water so far (the 58-foot Escapade, 61-foot Speed Merchant, 62-foot Summer Girl and the brand-new 64-foot H.T. Hook), few people have noticed Tribute – unless, that is, they’ve watched one of those four boats pass them by at 40 knots.
Like many of south Florida’s custom boatbuilders, Tribute boats are cold-molded wood covered in epoxy and glass. Most interior floors, bulkheads and furniture are made from composite materials to save weight, and tackle lockers, mezzanine, cockpit sole, hatches and gutters are all composite and glass. This not only saves weight, but also eliminates moisture problems later in this highly vulnerable area.
Thanks to its light weight and a pair of beefy 1,350-hp Caterpillars sitting in the air-conditioned engine room, the H.T. Hook tops 40 knots at 2,300 rpm. Her cruise at 1,900 rpm is better than many similarly sized boats’ top speeds – 34 knots.
But thanks to more than a handful of nifty innovations, the Tribute 64 is much more than the performance boat the company’s name suggests. Built by Rich Scheffer, this boat is a skipper’s dream. Among the most impressive of these innovations is a two-step raised mezzanine in the forward end of the cockpit. Each of these steps extends the full width of the cockpit, and each opens fully to reveal a refrigerated fish box, ice storage, room for mops and gaffs, and catch-all space for the odds and ends that pile up on sport-fishing boats. This mezzanine also makes sitting on the tackle lockers easier. (The air-conditioned air blowing out of the overhang doesn’t hurt either.)
The custom interior designed by Jack Lindsey of Miami is finished in hand-picked southern cherry and Corian countertops. Below are two queen staterooms and an over/under berth for crew, three heads with stand-up showers and a washer/dryer in the passageway. The galley features two under-counter refrigerators and one freezer, and the salon features two large L-shaped couches with rod storage underneath. A unique workstation to starboard includes a computer desk with key pad, flat screen, printer, phone, SSB and stereo equipment, all located behind two fold-down lids that hide the equipment when not in use.
A second computer screen connected to the same CPU is located beneath the tip-up hydraulic helm console on the bridge, along with a state-of-the-art electronics package and Caterpillar’s engine monitoring package. The teak pod-style helm is as clean as a whistle, thanks to stainless-steel single-lever controls and the simple but effective Twin Scan instruments.