Finland is often ranked as the happiest country in the world as the Finns have high incomes, health care for all, and a top education system. Finland also has Oy Botnia Marin Ab, the makers of the original offshore motorboat, the Targa, which might also explain why everyone there is just so darn happy all the time.
If you look at the dealer map on the Oy Botnia Marin Ab website, it is undeniable that the Targa’s concentration is in Europe. In fact, the map has so many dealers in Europe that one can’t even make out the country boundaries on this map due to the plethora of dealer locator icons. Outside of Europe, however, there are only three other Targa dealers: there’s one in Japan, one in Greenland and one (just one) Targa dealer in all of North America! That one dealer is Matt Hardin, owner of Cardinal Yacht Sales in Bellingham, Washington.
Targa is the pinnacle of offshore boating and the Targa 46 has been described as the flagship of the fleet. Since 1976, Oy Botnia Marin Ab has been perfecting their boat designs and the yachts are renowned for its unparalleled quality and handling. “Targa is very far away from an off-the-shelf product,” explains Robert Carpelan, Targa sales director. “We provide our customers with a fully personalized boat. You choose the color, upholstery, navigation systems, pantry equipment, fittings and so on. Then we build it.”
I caught up with Matt Hardin and his lovely family at a private island in the San Juans this past month to take a peak at the Targa 46. Maybe it was the fact that we met at a private island up for sale and we could all dream a little, or that we were social distancing responsibly in Washington’s greatest boating playground, but one step onto the Targa, and I knew the Finns were on to something.
“It’s interesting to discuss the Targa because we all love them so much,” shares Matt Hardin during an exchange we had after our visit in the San Juans. “We just can’t go back to other boats. They are built to be used and to be driven in tough conditions. We all drive so many boats through the service side of my business, and now we have been totally spoiled by our Targa experience.”
Currently, Cardinal Yachts has a new Targa 27.2 flybridge model, a new 27.2 hardtop model, and a couple Targa trade-ins from owners who upgraded to larger Targa’s. It’s the perfect yacht for those who want to explore and enjoy the sea, even when conditions of the sea get rough like they can in Puget Sound. Owners have described the Targa as the ultimate “all weather sport utility boat” or “the 4×4 of the sea” and most have no intentions of ever looking outside the Targa lineup.
“As Targa 32 owner Ed Starinchak told me once,” shares Hardin, “the Targa totally changed his boating paradigm.” This sentiment came after running the boat to Seattle in gale force winds. “I figured he was a pretty good person to hear this from since his last boat was a bluewater sailboat that he cruised to the South Pacific with his wife and two kids.”
Other observations often shared by Targa owners is just how quiet the boats are while running from idle to a full 30-knot cruising speed. Being able to converse with everyone on board while underway is really satisfying. They are also warm and comfortable and with the teak, trim, practicality of the floor plans, walkability of the decks, owning a Targa makes people very happy.
The Targa 46 sleeps six comfortably, has two heads, and a salon area that feels airy and spacious. The flybridge seats seven persons comfortably and can be equipped with an extra foldable wind shield or Bimini top. The swim step is also brilliant and from where we easily launched a couple of sea kayaks. Due to the size of the engine room in the 46, it can be equipped with twin Volvo Penta D8-IPS800s for breathtaking performance.
Customization is a key component and prior to COVID-19, many owners enjoyed visits to the factory in Finland to watch their boats being built. “It seems that Targa has spent the years refining the original concept of an all-weather sport utility boat,” recounted Hardin. “Without massively redesigning the boats to keep up with trends, they have focused on a constant refinement.”
The Targa line is the perfect boat for anyone that has impeccable taste, appreciates great design, and enjoys smooth boating. It also seems to be adding to the happiness factor in all of Europe—maybe it can do the same thing here!