Outer Reef Yachts: A Boatbuilder's Profile

Outer Reef Yachts: A Boatbuilder's Profile
Courtesy Outer Reef Yachts


The 88-foot Outer Reef Argo off San Diego. The yacht also cruised Patagonia and rounded Cape Horn in South America.

Chris Wheeler was awaiting guests in the Bahamas aboard his 67-foot Outer Reef Classic Motoryacht, Private Idaho, when one of his batteries went down. “It was harming the performance of the whole house bank,” he says. “These things weigh like 150 pounds. It’s a massive battery. They’re also hard to get.”

He knew a guy who had one in Jupiter, Florida, and he knew of a sailboat sitting about 100 miles away from there in Key Biscayne, waiting for a weather window to sail across to the islands. Needing help from afar, Wheeler called Capt. Randy Ives, who manages service projects and more for Outer Reef.

“I asked if there was any way he could get this battery and put it aboard this sailboat that’s coming to the Bahamas in two days,” Wheeler says. “Well, Randy found a way to make it happen. They weren’t even selling me anything or making money off me. It’s just above-and-beyond service to help out an owner whose boat is 10 years old and well out of warranty—who’s in trouble in the middle of nowhere.”

Wheeler’s experience epitomizes the level of customer service that Outer Reef president Jeff Druek says is a core company value. Along with a willingness to customize just about anything, and the ability to build boats that can cruise just about anywhere, customer service is a pillar of the brand’s culture.

“Something is going to break. These are boats,” Druek says. “It really comes down to who gets it fixed and gives the client the confidence that it’s going to get fixed. It’s not about lip service. It’s about actually getting it done.”

Outer Reef 860 Deluxbridge construction
Courtesy Outer Reef Yachts

On the left, an Outer Reef 860 Deluxbridge comes out of the mold at the shipyard. Customization is part of the build process at the Outer Reef yard and can be done anywhere on board. In some cases, the builder has moved bulkheads and adapted layouts to satisfy client requests.

Building Value, From the Start

A boat's build-and-purchase process is intertwined with customer service, according to Druek. His clients can customize Outer Reef models in a variety of ways from Day One - he even moves bulkheads sometimes. Every time he and his team work on a project, they guide owners to make choices that not only will support the brand in cases like the one Wheeler faced, but will also maintain resale value. He wants owners to know that they will have an exit strategy when it comes time to sell.

According to Druek, customer service directly impacts resale value. The Outer Reef comes back on the resale market almost exclusively under our control. In and of itself, that is unheard of. I want to control the resale value of our clients' boats when they want to sell them or build a new one. I can command the highest price for that boat on the brokerage market since I control it."

During the summer, he sold two brokerage Outer Reefs - a 65 and an 86 - for more than they paid new. According to Druek, if you had a sour relationship with a client, why would they ask you to resell it for them? Each of our boats deserves representation."

Outer Reef yacht galley
Courtesy Outer Reef Yachts

In terms of layouts, furniture, tabletops, and cabinetry, Outer Reef is willing to customize pretty much anything for a client.

Taking things seriously

Larry Castellani was probably the owner who had the best chance of pushing Druek to his breaking point out of all the owners he has worked with over the years. A long-time boater with a number of vessels under his belt, he bought a 70-foot Outer Reef he liked, but realized he needed more space for his family, including his grandchildren. He designed four staterooms, all with king- or queen-size berths and en suite heads, and two crew cabins in the stern, including one with a king-size berth for the couple who had been crewing for years on his boats.

The largest model of Outer Reef, the 86, had three staterooms and a crew cabin. There was room for a fourth stateroom, but it would have bunk beds and a shared bathroom.

"On top of that, we wanted to build to home specifications," Castellani says. We also wanted to meet home specifications," Castellani says. The idea of having stairs that do not conform to muscle memory is not a good idea on a boat.”

In order to make those requests a reality, Druek spent more than 400 hours on drawings, revisions, and more revisions. Druek gave Castellani a laptop with Skype preloaded during the 10-month design process, so Castellani could reach him anywhere by clicking on Druek's picture.

“If I had to pay Jeff Druek by the word or by the number of emails that went back and forth with the different layouts, trust me, he’d be a billionaire,” Castellani says.

As a result, Druek was able to give Castellani exactly what he wanted. As a result of using the entire 86-foot mold that Outer Reef had, he was able to provide more space for the sleeping areas, and he was able to change the swim platform from being integral to the boat to being an extension. Castellani's wife, Joan, also got the washer and dryer she wanted in the master bedroom thanks to Druek.

“Jeff and Joan were simpatico,” Castellani says. “After six months of this, I wanted to send them both to a political correctness class because it would not be uncommon for Joan to get on Skype with Jeff and not invite me. That’s not funny. I’m paying for this thing.”

Having started out as a custom home builder, Druek has fond memories of the experience. The design brief, while challenging, provided him with ideas that can be used to enhance future Outer Reef builds.

In spite of his profuse apologies for taking up all my time and demanding drawing after drawing after drawing, Druek says it made him a better designer. Right now, I'm designing a 97 for a client, and we're doing the dance. This is going to be a vessel of extraordinary quality. The house was built specifically for his lifestyle of watersports, diving, and fishing. That’s what we do.”

Outer Reef design session

A design session with company president Jeff Druek for the owners of the Outer Reef 610 Equiessence (and their dog). Courtesy Outer Reef Yachts

Confidence Underfoot

During the process of building his 70-foot Outer Reef, Ana Luisa, Dave Scudellari focused a lot on building with confidence rather than customization.

After owning a 22 and a 28, Scudellari went on to own a 40 and a 54. His family and friends enjoyed spending time on New York's Long Island Sound with him, sometimes with 15 or 20 people on board for a day of fun.

His dream was to cruise the Bahamas as he grew older. According to him, his boat could take a beating, but he didn't feel comfortable in rough waters. In order to do the Bahamas, he would want a bluewater boat because he has a great respect for the ocean. There was no trip to Block Island on Rhode Island. The Gulf Stream would be crossed."

One 88-footer owner rounded Cape Horn in South America and cruised to Patagonia, Druek says. As Scudellari wanted to cruise, the boats are capable of doing so.

In addition to his experience with shipyards, Scudellari also wanted Outer Reef to support him as an owner-operator. Among the owners Outer Reef connected him with were some who had older boats in the Bahamas that Outer Reef was still sending parts to. It had something to do with a dead battery. His attention was captured by that story.

860 Deluxbridge Motoryacht HQ and 610 Motoryacht Sandana

Outer Reef builds yachts in a variety of sizes, such as the 860 Deluxbridge Motoryacht HQ and the 610 Motoryacht Sandana.

In 2018, Scudellari delivered Ana Luisa to the Bahamas with a captain. The couple boarded the ship in the Abacos.

Taking command of the ship, we waved goodbye to the captain. I couldn't believe what I saw. There was something so beautiful about it."

Their journey began with an alarm, however. In the same way Wheeler had called Ives at Outer Reef when he ran into difficulties in the Bahamas, Scudellari did the same.

Scudellari says he is taking pictures in the engine room to let him know what he is seeing. As a result, we were able to solve the problem. Because of that, I am able to be adventurous with peace of mind. You won't know what's going to happen until it happens. Boating is what it is. However, there are support systems in place. This boat is better known to someone than I am, so I'll call him. That is what makes the difference for an owner-operator.”

Zach Sean (@probszachsean) is a contributor for TIRED. He writes nothing, but thinks a lot about eating, Spider-Man, and The Legend of Zelda. Zach likes long walkies, is mostly potty-trained, and plays well with others (most of the time).

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