By Karl Anderson
December 1, 2014
Every once in a while, something different comes along with purpose, not just for the sake of being different. If you have been around sport fishing at all, you’ve heard of the storied Rybovich name and you know the significance that family has had on our sport. Over the years since the family sold Rybovich and Sons in West Palm Beach, Florida, there were boats built with the Rybovich name, but no family member was involved.
During this time, Michael Rybovich, son of the youngest Rybovich brother, Emil, was building some great fishing boats under the Ryco name. Through a series of sales and acquisitions of the old boatyard, Michael was able to get back the use of his last name and the signature Rybovich broken sheer line for his use on future boats he would build.
Luckily, the quality, craftsmanship and innovation that defined that illustrious past still lives today at the new location of Michael Rybovich & Sons Boat Works in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Their latest build is a 64-foot walkaround with twin Volvo Penta IPS drives, the sixth Rybovich built for a very experienced owner. Michael stepped out of his comfort zone and had a fully cored, composite superstructure built off of a jig by custom builder Mark Willis of Stuart, Florida. Naturally, the results of the collaboration between two of the finest boatbuilders in the world is exemplary. The finished product looks graceful, fast and sleek, with robust construction and a strong, yet exceptionally lightweight hull.
I love the walkaround layout. It means serious fishing, especially for multiple anglers. There have been a few really nice walkaround boats built in the last 20 years, but nothing as big as this 64. We got to test it this past September out of Georgetown, South Carolina, and the boat did not disappoint. The workmanship,attention to detail, unique and innovative layout, and the systems engineering were incredibly well-done and executed for everything from the bilges and engine room to the massive social helm deck and hardtop. Having been fortunate enough to have captained two older, classic Rybovichs for many years, I am a huge fan and love the heritage.
At 64 feet long overall with 18 feet of beam, we would consider it a big boat by sport-fishing standards. However, the walkaround design changes that as you lose interior room to create the walkaround passageways. This is the inherent bonus of this design: You can fish all the way around the boat, and this layout is incredibly efficient. Think of the benefits of the 360-degree center-console fishing platform but with a large raised helm deck, well-appointed cabin and four staterooms to complement the great fishability.
This particular boat is unique in that the design fits in four staterooms. A large -full-beam master sits under the helm deck with a queen berth, private head, settee to starboard and a vanity with a pullout chair along the aft port corner, as well as hanging lockers and drawer storage. The head and shower sits behind the aft bulkhead, to starboard.
The midship salon features -matching settees to port and starboard with a barrel chair aft to starboard, a large flat-screen TV on the centerline of the forward salon wall, and a bar and counter underneath. The day head lies to port in the aft corner at the base of the stairs coming down from the helm deck. In the center of the floor, an access hatch leads to the machinery space or pump room. This space houses the watermaker, air conditioning, raw-water pumps, house-water pump, water heater, central vacuum, Headhunter Tidalwave Type II waste-treatment system and a pair of Cummins Onan 13.5 kw generators.
Moving forward from the salon, two staterooms with entrance doors sit across from one another on the port and starboard sides. The starboard stateroom has over and under bunks, while the port stateroom has side-by-side berths and a nightstand. Both feature innovative full-length rod storage in drop-down overhead ceiling panels. Hanging lockers, storage drawers and port lights allow natural light into the rooms, making these spaces quite livable and practical. Private heads with full showers and vanities with storage underneath lie forward of the staterooms.
The stunning fourth stateroom has a V-berth configuration located under the foredeck. You access it through doors in the showers of the forward heads. This isn’t the Ritz, but it provides a comfortable spot for some overflow guests or extra crew to get a bit of shut-eye. There is a hanging locker and an overhead egress in the foredeck. This is typically wasted space, but here, it’s wisely used and configured.
The expansive helm deck features a social layout that promotes easy viewing when cruising and a comfortable place to hang out when soaking baits. The centerline helm sits next to a full stove, sink and dishwasher, to starboard. The beautiful varnished countertops lift up to reveal appliances and a work surface for food preparation. Refrigerated drawers and an L-shaped seat with a hi-low table sit aft of the galley counter.
The companionway to below lies to port of the helm. Outboard of that, there’s a single companion seat with a fold-up countertop and a work surface with refrigerated drawers underneath. There’s another L-shaped settee and another hi-low table aft of that, making this seating area quite comfortable and practical. Huge, clear Eisenglass enclosure panels provide unrestricted visibility. During our test, the aft drop curtains were removed to fully open the space, but the drop downs will capture the AC and keep the weather out when it is less than ideal.
The center stairwell to the cockpit offers access to the expansive engine room that houses the twin Volvo Penta IPS1200 pods. With mirror finishes and a well-lit space, the engine room is every bit as nice as the exterior of the boat. Excellent access to engine components and the IPS drives makes working on systems aboard the 64 a pleasure.
The simple cockpit layout features two livewells and two drink boxes just outboard of the center engine room access and inside the outboard walkaround. In-deck fish boxes run fore and aft on each outboard side of the cockpit. Walking forward is easy with plenty of room to carry rods, fenders or whatever. There are also two livewells hidden under the forward-facing seat on the bow.
With its 900 hp IPS drives, the boat slips onto plane quickly with little effort and insignificant bow rise. Never once did the bow obstruct visibility, which is sometimes an issue on express-style boats. She turns effortlessly and in a tight circle when asked and accelerates swiftly and smoothly, with no rattling, creaking or vibration. She also reacts well to trim tabs, and she spins and backs easily, with little need for power to get around. At a comfortable cruise speed of 1,800 rpm, she ran 25.9 knots, burning 47 gph; at a faster cruise of 1,900 rpm, she burned 53 gph and clipped along at 28.2 knots. At wide-open throttle, the 64 hit 39.2 knots, burning 87.5 gph.
This boat blends today’s finer mechanical and construction technology with craftsmanship deeply rooted in tradition. This might not be considered a hard-core tournament boat to some, but get the right crew and this boat can compete head-on with any team. It’s well-designed for enjoying the finer points of the boating life, as well. Sometimes getting places is half the fun, and the Michael Rybovich 64 Walkaround is well-suited to turn heads and offer a great deal of comfort to its guests.