Built for more than a river of dreams, Billy Joel's Runabout was meant to take on big water.

Singer Billy Joel may have been Nantucket-bound on the Downeaster Alexa, but his Runabout, the Shelter Island Runabout 38 would work well on the Great Lakes. "This is a boat design for Western Long Island waters -- long and skinny and made to cut through the chop", said yacht designer Doug Zurn. "The 38 would be fantastic for Lakes Huron and Michigan and perform just flawlessly on Lake Erie."

In 1996, Joel turned his lifelong passion for boats into a moneymaking venture, teaming up with Peter Needham of Coecles Harbor Marina and Boatyard on Shelter Island, New York. Together they formed the Long Island Boat Company and hired Zurn to design this classic runabout.

The 38 shows off a high waterline-to-beam ratio, Downeast lines and a proud bow that gives the appearance of a classic lobster yacht. A moderate V-hull with a 15 degree deadrise at the transom provides stability. And Joel wanted speed, so the company offers an optional set of Twin 415 HP Merc Magnum MPI's, which top the craft out at 48 knots.

"There are a lot of fun things to do on this boat," Zurn said. "The Twin gas engines are efficient. Its long-range and quiet."

Every 38 Shelter Island Runabout is customized, with the aft cockpit left open for a variety of positions for fighting chairs, lounging chairs and athwartship benches. A canvas top comes standard, while a hardtop, tuna tower and radar post are optional.

Below deck features a teak or mahogany joiner-work interior, panel doors and bulkheads in a variety of woods. Four ports and an overhead hatch open to allow breezes and natural lighting. Assorted lockers hold supplies, and 5-inch-thick cushions provide comfort for sleeping. According to Joel, however , this might not matter: there are giants out there in the canyons and a good captain can't fall asleep.



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68 Cartwright Road, Shelter Island, NY  •  (631) 749-0856