Benford 55′ Florida Bay Coaster – Design # 025 & 075


In the early nineties, as part of my post-university “overseas” experience I found myself in a delightful village by the name of St. Michaels on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA. There it was my good fortune to work with one of the most prolific and successful yacht designers ever, namely Jay Benford at his, appropriately named, Benford Design Group. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, and there cannot be many, please visit It is an experience not to be missed and there is every chance you may never be the same again…..

Since about 2001 Jay and I have rekindled our working relationship and this sturdy 55’ Coaster is the result of that. My part of the deal involves construction detailing and engineering, followed by the production of CNC profiling information that has become “de-rigueur” nowadays when contemplating building a metal boat.

“Teddi Bear” was the first vessel launched to this design and was crafted by Johnson Yachts International of Pine Harbour, just a short hop to the east of Auckland down the Tamaki Straits. She was launched late in 2006 after a lengthy fitout period, not unusual considering that there is loads of accommodation in the three-tiered structure.

The Coaster concept may not be everyone’s “cup of tea” but they offer accommodation volume that is second to none per foot of length. This vessel even has a helipad on the upper deck for the owner to indulge in his passion for flying! Note also the waist deck between the foc’sle and the house structure which accommodates the car. Yes, that’s correct the 55’ Coaster can easily handle a small 4WD with the 5 tonne crane mounted on the foredeck. Above the car, with folding davits cantilevered off the house front bulkhead is the tender, also launched by means of the deck crane.

Currently we have a second boat to this design underway in China and most likely there will be others, such is the popularity of the Coaster concept. Attached are some of the original arrangement sketches and also some photos of “Teddi Bear” underway during her sea-trials last year.

Principal Characteristics:
LOA – 16.76m (55’ 0.0”)
DWL – 16.76m (55’ 0.0”)
Beam – 6.10m (20’ 0.0”)
Draft – 1.37m ( 4’ 6.0”)
Displacement – 63500 kg (140 000 lbs)
Power – Twin 120 Hp to 180 Hp
Fuel Capacity – 7970 litres (2105 US Gallons)
Hull Material – Mild Steel (ASTM A36)