They’ve been dubbed “floating palaces.” The Burger Boat Company’s custom aluminum and steel mega-yachts reportedly span 75- to 200-feet. In thousands of square feet of space, these mega yachts boast features such as mahogany walls and columns, marble en suite baths with heated floors, expansive master salons, elevators and al fresco dining and entertainment areas. Lighting features above a spiral staircase in one Burger yacht simulate the night sky. Another vessel carries “water toys” such as sailboats and center consoles.
The Manitowoc, WI-based company traces its roots back to 1863, when German immigrant Henry Burger began manufacturing commercial fishing boats in this Midwestern city. Burger claims that it’s America’s oldest custom yacht builder and, according to Showboats International magazine’s Global Order book, it’s also one of the largest worldwide. Owning a yacht from this premier American builder, The Travel Channel’s “Million Dollar Yachts” noted, alerts others that you have “arrived.”
The Burger Boat Company moved from wooden schooners and steamers, including a steamship company ferry, to all-welded aluminum and steel hulls. The latter include a 65-foot flush deck cruiser said to still ply Midwestern waters. And a 58-foot aluminum yawl, thousands of pounds lighter than wooden or steel counterparts, went on to win races and set records, according to the company.
Burger Boats has worked with noted naval architects such as Sparkman and Stephens, J.B. Hargrave, C. Raymond Hunt and Don O'Keeffe. And generations of craftsmen who participate in a leadership training program known as Burger University have for years remained loyal to the mega-yacht builder, according to The Triton nautical newspaper. Jim Ruffolo and David Ross in the 1990s became co-owners, retaining many of these craftsmen and working with a previously hired business consultant named Henry Chriss.
Burger Boats has since launched several mega yachts recognized for environmentally friendly features, such as a 153-foot tri-deck motor yacht powered by twin Caterpillar 3508 engines said to be fuel efficient by burning 80 gallons an hour at 14 knots. Yachting magazine in 2005 named a Burger 113 one of the best superyachts of the year, noting that its full-displacement aluminum hull with round bilges minimizes fuel consumption and maximizes range. Recent Burger projects also include a 151-foot classic fantail cruiser, Sycara IV, and a 142-foot tri-deck motor yacht, Sea Owl II. The vessels were built with a high-strength, highly corrosive-resistant material known as Alustar that’s used by the Royal Heisman Yard in Germany, according to The Triton. Sycara IV, designed for low fuel consumption and a small wake that won’t damage the shoreline, is also a 2010 best displacement finalist in Boat International Media’s World Superyacht Awards, with winners to be announced in London in May.
Custom design/build Burger yachts in the 125- to 165-foot range can cost anywhere from around $10 million to $25 million, according to reports. Used vessels of 70-feet or so from the 1960s to 1980s can be priced as low as around $700,000.
- Burger Boats focuses on quality and accommodating owner desires that include everything from night sky-simulated lighting to environmentally friendly features.
- Buyers can reportedly opt for tri-deck, flush deck, raised pilothouse and full- and semi-displacement yachts and help with the planning.
- High-tech pilothouse equipment can reportedly include multiple screens interchangeable between radar, GPS, Chart Nav, security and more.
- Computer controlled, zero-speed stabilization systems can reportedly enhance hull stability in varied seas.
- Burger Yachts might be expensive to many, with used models costing in the hundreds of thousands.
- Custom design/build buyers might want to plan ahead. A Burger yacht can reportedly take between two to three years to complete.
Ingot, a 153-feet tri-deck motor yacht, awarded 2009 Showboats International Award for best motor yacht in its size category; Sycara IV, a 151-foot classic fantail motor yacht, awarded a LuxMedia Group 2009 World Yacht trophy for best custom design in its size category; the Burger 113 Top Times, styled in the fashion of an expedition/discovery yacht and a Yachting magazine 2005 super yacht of the year.
Burger Boats, with its rich heritage and reputation for quality and fine craftsmanship, has been recognized for fulfilling the varied desires of owners. And owners these days seem to share a common want for environmental friendliness. The company boasts that its fit, finishes, systems and equipment are exceedingly high quality. As Triton tells it, the quality extends into engine rooms, where leak-free, enduring stainless steel tubing and Swagelok fittings for hydraulics and fuel are standards. Burger’s custom design/build projects reportedly take 24 to 30 months to complete. Some mega yacht owners are said to offset the costs of their multi-million dollar vessels by chartering them.