This is a love story starring Bonnie and Harold Zeigler and Ziggy. The Zeiglers, in love since they were teenagers and now married for 54 years, are also over the moon about Ziggy, their new Ocean Alexander 35R.
On board their yacht at Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, they could not stop gushing about what a wonderful experience they had building Ziggy with designer Evan K. Marshall and their MarineMax broker, Scott Roberton. They love the sole-to-ceiling windows, light contemporary interior, walkaround side decks, vast hidden stowage, twin guest beds that can slide together without removing the center night table, and much more.
“We have owned approximately 35 boats,” Bonnie says. “That includes smaller ones such as ski boats. The first boat we had that we could actually sleep on was a 32-foot Trojan.”
In their youth, Harold and Bonnie each spent summers enjoying a retinue of watercraft on small lakes at their respective family cottages. It’s a toss-up as to who enjoys boating more.
Harold met Bonnie through her older brother, who was a friend of his. Somewhere between Bonnie’s junior and senior year of high school, their budding romance began. Bonnie went to Central Michigan University, and Harold transferred there to be near her. They got married while they were still in school. Bonnie went on to attain a master’s degree in speech pathology at Michigan State University, worked for 10 years and then became a full-time parent. Harold got a job selling cars.
“My father sold boat trailers and motor homes,” Harold says. “I worked with him, but I also had many other odd jobs on weekends, summers and holidays, and I put myself through college.”
Harold bought his first Ford dealership at age 28. “That dealership is in Lowell, Michigan, and we still have it,” he says with pride.
Harold grew his Zeigler Auto Group to span 35 dealerships in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. He credits his son, who is now running the business, with continuing growth. Harold is still chairman, but is more or less retired. He and Bonnie are snowbirds who reside at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, returning to Michigan when it suits them.
They began their search for a new yacht in 2019. They were chartering in the Mediterranean and went to the Cannes boat show to look around.
“We ran into Johnny Chueh, owner of Ocean Alexander,” Harold says. “He set us up with MarineMax broker Scott Roberton.”
A month or so later, they went with Roberton to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in search of a yacht in the 110-foot range. They toured the Ocean Alexander 90R and were impressed with its styling. But they wanted a five-stateroom boat for family and friends. During holidays like Thanksgiving, they wanted to be able to accommodate four generations on board, including their four grandchildren and Bonnie’s 96-year-old mother.
Marshall sat with the Zeiglers at the Ocean Alexander stand in Fort Lauderdale and gave them a sneak preview of a 116-foot model he was developing.
“On my MacBook Pro, I had a complete photorealistic fly-around animation presenting the 35R in all her detail and glory,” Marshall says. “I made a snap decision to show it to the Zeiglers. Much to my amazement, the next day, Scott Roberton came up to me and said, ‘Evan, we’ve got a signed agreement with the Zeiglers to build a boat for them.’ Needless to say, I was flabbergasted and extremely pleased.”
The Zeiglers liked not only what Marshall had shown them, but also the fact that Ocean Alexander was willing to work with them on special requests.
For instance, Bonnie wanted an extra washer and dryer adjacent to the master stateroom for her personal use. “They went above and beyond and installed all my preferred brands of appliances,” she says. “They even replaced all their standard stainless-steel sinks with composite granite sinks that I prefer and have at home.”
The Zeiglers had expected to buy an American-built yacht and at first had trepidations about building so far away in Taiwan. They intended to visit the yard during the build, however, the pandemic prevented them from traveling.
“Still, we had frequent remote meetings with the builder and with Evan,” Harold says. “It was easy to make decisions on various samples we saw. In the end, the yacht looks very much like the 3D renderings and animation we so loved that we first saw with Evan that day in Fort Lauderdale. OA kept us informed every step of the way. The process was completely seamless. They were phenomenal. It was unbelievable how fast they responded to everything.”
After the boat was delivered in summer 2021—on time—the Zeiglers spent several months cruising New England. Ziggy accommodated the whole family, and proved stable and quiet. Bonnie, who sometimes is susceptible to seasickness, says she felt fine. They hosted a party for about 25 friends and were pleased at how well the skylounge deck worked for entertaining.
Right now, the Zeiglers are cruising in the Bahamas, and this summer, they’ll likely be in the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes.
Since they tow a 35-foot Boston Whaler, they plan to go off on fishing excursions. Ziggy carries four crew and a chef, but Bonnie is quick to point out that Harold is quite capable of running the yacht himself. Harold says he has nothing to prove and simply takes the helm if he feels like it.
That’s a sure sign of true love: It’s effortless.
Designer Evan K. Marshall on the OA 35R
Ziggy is hull number one in Ocean Alexander’s 35R series, designed with the intention of being the largest boat in the Revolution series and the culmination of all the best design features in previous yachts that we have delivered to date. The objective was also to enhance some of the features found in the original 28R.
On the main deck, abaft the salon, we introduced one of Ziggy’s more interesting and unique features, which is the raised lounge seating facing aft. It forms part of the beach club and spa experience. From this lounging area, one has a view out to the sea or into the beach club through the curved glass skylight, connecting these spaces both visually and physically.
The beach club was first introduced on the 28R, but on Ziggy we have included additional features such as an exercise space, sauna and a bathroom with shower. All these elements then connect to the huge swim platform.
Ziggy’s furniture possesses a more residential-like style of freestanding furniture as opposed to traditional built-in yacht furniture. The finishes on board include mahogany bulkheads, and high-gloss ebony wood on the furniture fronts combined with a custom high-gloss lacquer wave insert pattern found throughout. The interior also features high-gloss lacquer accents throughout. The majority of the countertops are stone or high-gloss lacquer. To soften some of the bulkheads, we introduced leather-wrapped panels with patterns inspired by [Dutch painter] Piet Mondrian.
One of the more unique features is her direct passageway from the crew area to the guest lower foyer, which is hidden behind an invisible door. We are very proud of this feature because it functions well. We’re always mindful that we have to think about the operational side of going yachting, from making the crew’s life easier and more efficient to providing generous and easily accessible mechanical and equipment spaces.
We were very pleased that the OA 35R was awarded Best of the Show at the 2021 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
LOA: 116ft. 9in. (35.6m)
BEAM: 25ft. 1in. (7.64m)
DRAFT (full load): 6ft. 11in. (2.11m)
ENGINES: 2x 1,900-hp MAN V-12
SPEED (max./cruise): 18/14.5 knots
NAVAL ARCHITECTURE: Arrabito Naval Architects
INTERIOR DESIGN: Evan K. Marshall
BUILDER: Ocean Alexander
For more information: oceanalexander.com