Introducing Buffalo Nickel the Younger

A tad over two years in gestation, but it looks to us like she is worth every moment of the wait. Less than a week ago, FPB 70-1 finally splashed!

Image 8-11-18 at 2.16 PM

It seems like forever ago that the pic above of Stan was taken with our skeletal calf. I know many of you have been waiting, too, for updates on her build. While we’ve had progress photos e-mailed from Circa with semi-regularity, and even taken a few ourselves on visits to the yard, the surfaces have been too covered in protective materials and evidence of industrious activity to be meaningful to the casual observer.

This latest round, taken immediately before and after her splashing, does offer a good initial perspective on her layout and some key features.

This is a long one, my peeps. 22 photos, (with many more to follow) and loads of blathering by Yours Truly.



The shot above gives a good view of the aft deck, with Circa’s owner Bruce Farrand standing on the swim step. Her booms, unlike on the 64s, have gained a cradle for securing them in neutral position.


Following in the tradition of her sisters, the FPB 78s, Buffalo Nickel sports her make and model painted on the bow, in cryptic fashion just the way we like it.


I’m including this somewhat older photo to give some idea of just how cavernous our matrix deck seems, compared to the flying bridge on our 64 (which we adored.) And by the way, don’t ask me why it’s called the matrix deck on these boats. We have no earthly idea, only that the name landed during design of the first 78, and it stuck. Being a pair of veterinarians who insisted on referring to the aft crew quarters on our 64 as “the afterberth” we figure we are in no position to judge these things!

The view here is forward, from the aft settee. The overhead looks like a hardtop, but it isn’t. It’s an aluminum Bimini frame, as on the 64 but beefed up to support the added weight of our solar panels. The covering is Stamoid, lashed to the frame as on the 64s.


In this newer pic, you can appreciate the storage with counter and sink on the port side, the door for access to the forward house roof, and the enclosing glass. Some of the panels can open for ventilation, and the space has its own HVAC.


A peek at the matrix helm, though I will cover helm stuff in a future post… maybe after we get aboard, and remind ourselves what-all we ended up putting there? Perhaps even pretend to know how it all works? Yes, that does sound like the best plan.


Behold, 12 solar panels, 375 Watts each. I think I’m in luuuuuuv…


The house roof forward of the matrix deck received some consideration as a location for the solar panels, but it was decided that the benefit of avoiding shadows thrown by the matrix outweighed the disadvantage of pushing the weight of those panels a few feet higher.

But just look at that space! Excellent spot to cultivate one’s melanoma. And Stan has claimed it as his drone launch pad. (That drone would be Buffalo Soldier the Younger – replacing the Elder, which proved largely useless from day one. A pox on its overpriced head.)


Moving to the aft deck, we see the BBQ area just aft of the house. This useful and generous space will be a game-changer for us I believe, much as we love to grill.


Another view of the area, taken from outside the entry door, captures the settee just aft of the house. The pair of portlights open to provide fresh air to the aft guest staterooms even in the rain. Outboard of the settee you can see the stairway up to the matrix deck.


Here’s one last droolworthy shot of the foredeck, before we move indoors. The pair of black grilles on either side of the forward matrix entry door are intakes for some Big Ventilation to benefit the great room below.

Any guesses what that aluminum tube is for in the right lower corner of this pic, emerging from the deck like a comma on its side just aft of the stanchion base barely visible there? Because I have no idea. We had no such protuberance on the 64. The large open hatch forward is the entry to the forepeak, so that is the space involved. We’ll know soon enough, I suppose. And like most mysterious appendages on boats, it will prove to serve an important purpose.


The general layout of the galley is identical to the 64. The rolltop opening to the above-counter locker there was our solution to my issue with the inconvenience of wanting to access something inside that locker while the counter space in front of it is occupied with slicing and dicing. And by “our solution” I mean “Sylvia’s solution.” Sylvia Bolton is a Seattle-based designer of yacht interiors whose ideas and assistance proved invaluable to us. Not to put too fine a point on it, but she is a goddess and I worship her.


At the top of the stairs is the entry door. Moving left (forward) we see the pantry lockers and then the under-counter lockers that house the full sized washer and dryer. I treasure those particular appliances, possibly more than life itself.

Another of Sylvia’s recommendations was the horizontal orientation of the wood grain in the cabinetry. This might have sealed our label as “high maintenance” in the eyes of the  chippies (wood workers for you non-Kiwis) at Circa, but apparently they were up to the challenge of delivering to us exactly the boat we wanted. We are very happy with the aesthetic results. Let it be known that it’s entirely possible we worship them, too.


The flooring, leather upholstery, and dining table (NOT a work bench!) are protectively covered, but you can see that the overall layout of the great room in the 70 is remarkably similar to the 64.


Here are the makings of our main helm, to be explored in a future post. That metallic shiny thingy visible on the vertical wood face beneath the port side of the helm is a stainless steel pull-out bar, to keep a person standing to port of the helm seat from taking an unplanned tumble down the stairway. The open doorway at the bottom of that stairway leads forward to the master stateroom. Turning aft instead would take you through another doorway to the office area with standup desk, and the rest of the forward basement.


The master stateroom, viewed from the port side looking aft and starboard. The green striped wall covering on the bulkhead aft of the queen berth is made from strips of dyed hide. (Forgive me, solar panels, but I’m consciously uncoupling with you and marrying this wall covering. But we’re still friends! Totally!) The door aft, outboard of the sleeping berth, leads to the starboard side of the forward basement, which includes additional hanging clothing space and drawers.


Looking forward from the stateroom is the master head. The same lovely stone was used for the dining table.

We’ll give you a look at the two aft guest staterooms, one with double berth and one with 2 single bunks, each with ensuite head, in a later post.


Mounted on the bulkhead aft of the master sleeping berth are the black boxes for helm instrumentation and Maretron monitoring system. I can’t wait to read every label, to learn where every single connection leads…


In the forward basement area against the port side hull, some of our electrical panels are in progress. Inverters are below them. The electrical system aboard a new (NEW-new, or new to you) yacht is like having a new business partner. Idiosyncrasies must be learned, mutual goals defined and pursued, personality conflicts identified and avoided, at the risk of ruination. As one is with any new business, we are excited and optimistic. Stand by for the deets pertaining to THIS yacht based on impending real-life cruising experience.


Tucked into a basement cubbyhole, we have a generous chest freezer, and a slightly smaller one to be used as an additional refrigerator. These will supplement the refrigerator and freezer in the galley. A collective TON of space (I know, weight, volume… don’t @ me!), but I will use every cubic inch of it! We enjoy the ability to spend long stretches at anchor in remote areas, and features like this allow us to do just that.

If you’re still awake by now, you might have noticed the absence of photos of two of the most fascinating spaces on this boat, which do NOT match the 64 in design. Those would be the engine room, and the workshop (which Steve Dashew has been affectionately calling the Executive Lounge.) This should rightfully make your hearts ache, as it does ours.

I blame Thomas! Master and Commander of all things engine-related at Circa Marine, he has been tinkering with final touches in these hallowed spaces. We get the feeling he wants to wait for our arrival on Sept 15 to unveil his oeuvre. But it’s good to end on a cliffhanger, right?


18 thoughts on “Introducing Buffalo Nickel the Younger

  1. I’m actually in tears! Like welcoming a new born child! What a wonderful creation! I’m so happy for you and your new “Buffalo”!
    May you you have many safe and glorious adventures!

  2. Fantastic! We envy you and your new vessel. (We looked over your FPB 64 in Whangarei and were tempted, but having seen the 78 & 70 in build, we thought we should wait, now there are no more!

  3. Congrats, guys, looks outstanding. Especially love the light wood, stunning solar panels and BBQ area. Keep the posts coming!

  4. As a “thank you” for this wonderful update re your magnificent fpb 701, here are two posts remaining on of the originally several re the origin and naming of “the matrix deck”. — as you’ll read here, the need for a unique name arose as a function of the design of the “flybridge” for the 97. — the comments on this page are but a few of those proferred; my recollection is there were easily 50-60 — sadly, the better ones are not listed here, and the pages containing them are among the many, many pages which were deleted from the setsail-site after the closing of the fpb-program.

    gratefully looking forward to “Round Two” of the updates for 701 ….

    thanks, again, Val, for this update — the Buffalo Nickel is shinier than ever !!! : )

  5. Congratulations on a beautiful new yacht! Looking forward to posts detailing the new yacht and your travels.

    As regards the strange tube on the foredeck, apparently that’s the way bilge water leaves the forward compartment. This functions as a visual check its bilge pump is running without having to rely on high-water alarms.

    1. Yes Carl you are right about the tube from the forepeak. And in an interesting twist, the only bilge alarm that failed when all of them were tested during commissioning of the boat was that one!

    1. Nope, you’ve got good eyes. The dinghy chocks and davits have evolved from their initial design, with even a small modification after we got aboard. I’ll focus on that specifically in a future post. We are very happy with how easy it is to launch and retrieve our tenders!

  6. Fantastic! As a long time setsail junkie, very pleased to see these pics and thoughts as the postings trickled off from the source. Please do keep us updated, I imagine you’ll be aboard soon if not already. Im sure you will love it, and you can believe we love following along almost as much. Fair winds

  7. One thing I have found is if you use zip ties on a wiring harness, make sure to use toenail clippers to trim them smooth or the sharp ends will strip the insulation of nearby wires and end with shorts. Or hang your hands and arms while you diagnose wiring problems. We switched to toenail clippers and our RMA rates dropped a lot!

  8. As far as the forward tube. I would call it the eye duct. If it ever gets blocked, Buffalo has a nasolacrimal obstruction. 🙂 Amazing boat! A functional piece of mechanical art.

  9. You both have made an incredible build on top of a super-solid build – congratulations! I’d like to contact you in private with a few questions regarding another fpb – if open to a conversation, please contact me via email. Best wishes and safe travels to both of you 🙂

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