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The fun factor

Isn’t it great that you can rediscover a place you thought you knew well? I had this experience recently when I met Alfonso Esper. A native of Mexico, Alfonso is in real estate and media and spends time in Miami for pleasure and business. He is in his mid-30s, single and is obviously enjoying life. This you can tell from the impressive array of cars and motorcycles in front of his Miami home and photos of Alfonso and friends flashing across the high-definition TV screen behind the bar.


Last year, he bought his first boat, a C54 by Italian builder Sessa Marine. “When I moved to Miami, I knew I had to get a boat,” Alfonso says.

My gaze wanders off to the sliding doors. His Miami house has spectacular water views as far as the eye can see. It sits on a strip of land that is barely wide enough for a two-lane road with a landscaped median, and rows of Mediterranean-style houses and waterfront condominiums. It takes less than 30 minutes—if you get the timing right and make the next bridge opening—to get out to open water. I have seen this scene thousands of times, but now I see it as someone who comes to Miami for the first time. It is, indeed, a boater’s paradise.

On this particular day, Alfonso graciously grants a request to head to Stiltsville—a favorite spot for Miami boaters, south of Key Biscayne—to test the boat. He rarely goes himself. He uses his boat mostly to go to clubs and restaurants, and why not? It’s a great way to beat the traffic. Plus, it’s practically door-to-door service—Alfonso had a private dock built a few steps away from his waterfront pool.

Admittedly, permits for the dock construction did not come easily (they never do, and regulations on Biscayne Bay, a delicate ecosystem, are among the toughest), but he persisted with the paperwork and surveys, and the reward is the ability to have his boat, right there, at the ready. And not just any boat. Alfonso says the C54, part of Sessa’s yacht series, was a bit more than what he had in mind. But the Sessa C54 is a great-looking boat—a Sport Coupe—designed by Christian Grande like all Sessa Marine’s models. This very boat, Hull No. 4 of that series, was exhibited at the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami, and that is where Alfonso, who bought it sight unseen, first got to touch and feel it.


The first question one may ask, especially at a time when new-boat sales seem to require more time and effort than ever, is how do you get a financially qualified buyer into his or her first boat? Alfonso is an action-oriented guy—he has the scars to prove it. He loves the outdoors, had Jet Skis before, took boating and marine safety classes and rented often. What helped take the step toward boat ownership? He replies without hesitation: “The swim platform, the IPS, the full-beam master, the height and Roberto,” he says. By Roberto, he means Roberto Camino, president of Camino Al Mare, Sessa’s dealer in Cancún. The two established a good rapport and that helped seal the deal. You cannot discount the human factor.

But the yacht itself had lots to do with his decision. It is spacious and bright, with plenty of headroom, which a tall man like Alfonso naturally finds inviting. He ruled out a couple of other contenders because they lacked ceiling height. The galley below is fully equipped and bright. Aside from the full-beam master stateroom aft, the boat has a VIP forward, a guest cabin amidships, plus a small crew cabin with separate entrance. The salon doors and large sunroof open and close at the touch of a button, and the aft deck is versatile. A two-step process transforms the banquette into a sun bed facing the swim platform, designed to go up and down. The aft deck’s teak planking is laid sideways instead of the usual front-to-back orientation, a small detail that is pleasing and visually expands the cockpit. The design is contemporary and appealing, but it is the attention to detail that makes the difference. For instance, the electric panel, protected by a glass door next to the salon entrance, is easy to get to and logically laid out.

This yacht is equipped with twin 1,100-horsepower Volvo Penta 900 engines and IPS2, which add to the fun of it with ease of maneuvering, the ability to cruise in shallow waters and eventually pick up speed in open water. Despite the incoming chop, the boat reaches 32.6 knots easily, and the noise level inside the cabin is such that we can continue to carry on a conversation without raising our voices.

The C54 has a nice, firm ride. Sessa Marine pays great attention to its hulls. For a number of models, it has taken the additional and expensive step to do tank testing (at the Krylov Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia).

It’s all part of the extras that Roberto convinced Alfonso he needed. Seated at the helm, one arm wrapped over the backrest, the boat’s owner turns toward a couple of friends seated at the dining table on the port side. “I could not think of any single other activity that would be as fun as this one,” he says.

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