Captain builds tender for users’ comfort

Jul 8, 2020 by Tom Serio

Story and photos by Tom Serio

He’s a big guy, with a big voice, and with big miles under his keel. Now he has big goals.

Capt. Pedro Camargo has been plying the world’s oceans for over 36 years, most recently in charge of the M/Y Brunello, a 115-foot Benetti. At 18 years old, he sailed around the world on a 55-foot catamaran. Capt. Camargo was also behind the wheel of the 76-foot Brazilian research yacht Mar Sem Fim prior to its sinking in the Antarctic in 2012.  

With over 150,000 miles commanding sail and motoryachts up to 140 feet, which includes 24 trans-Atlantic crossings, Capt. Camargo has a lot of experience with the sea as well as private and charter guests. Boating since he was 8 years old in dinghy races and regattas, this 500gt licensed Italian/Brazilian now residing in the U.S. has stepped off the yachts for his next chapter.

Desiring to come ashore for a land-based position, Capt. Camargo has been able to take his desire of building a specialized boat and making it a reality. 

Through his time, he realized that superyachts were missing something. 

“The market doesn’t have a super tender,” he stated. That got him to thinking of a utilitarian craft to allow guests to not only have a safer experience on a tender but make for easy access when beaching as well as access for those with disabilities. To that end, PRJ Boats was formed by Capt. Camargo and partners to build a specialized tender to fit the needs of the clients. 

Capt. Pedro Camargo aboard the tender.

“I’m thinking from the owner’s viewpoint, not the crew’s,” he said.

With experience in yacht building — he was project manager on a 122-foot Riva a few years ago — Capt. Camargo has turned his attention toward that passion. 

“I’ve been a captain too many years,” he said. 

During his last five years on M/Y Brunello, Capt. Camargo spent a lot of time chartering and seeing the different kinds of people come and go. That’s what sparked his idea of a super tender. 

“For the old people to board boats, it’s difficult and dangerous,” he said.

With a base catamaran hull built by Mares International in Brazil, Capt. Camargo and team designed and built the rest of the carbon fiber tender at Universal Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale. PRJ’s design includes a landing-craft style, fold-down bow door that opens between the pontoons for walk-in access. Added to the door is an extra platform that extends the walkway to ensure dry transit beachside, improved access directly from the water or even transiting to/from the yacht. 

The 40-foot catamaran tender by PRJ.

“You can go to the stern of a big boat and land easily for safe access,” he said. 

The bow door was designed sufficiently wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, carts and other gear.

Capt. Camargo envisioned a versatile tender and designed a modular approach to the space. Guests are seated on cushioned bow bench seats or on the eight bucket seats mounted on fiberglass bases. For more space, the bucket seat assemblies can be disconnected from their side mounts and removed, making use of the full deck for gear, supplies or motorized vehicles. A lifting platform can be added at the helm so a person in a wheelchair can drive.

Capt. Camargo didn’t want a bulky anchor hanging off the pontoon and so incorporated it in an electric fold-out ground tackle assembly from the starboard hull.

As a tender, the 40-foot craft can be towed or kept on-board, thanks to the sleek profile and integrated low hardtop. 

Capt. Camargo sees the catamaran as a day or picnic boat to be used around the Bahamas, for fishing and cruising. 

“When you see a beautiful sand beach, you can offer to your guests if they want to walk along that beach without getting their shoes wet,” he said. The catamaran can be landed on the beach bow first, keeping running gear in deeper water. 

Trying to think of everything, the boat also includes a small cabin with head and berth, and air conditioning for the deck and below.

Twin Mercury Verado 400 hp outboards (up to 50 mph) are mounted outward on transom jack plates, leaving the center transom platform between the engines for boarding. Platform mounted guard rails allow for fishing while staying safe from the engines.

What’s next for Camargo? Another boat is on the table, likely larger. In the meantime, he is taking the catamaran to New England for the summer to show it off. And he may tackle some yacht management and consulting for his long-term clients. 

Will he return to captaining a large yacht? 

“Not really for the future,” Capt. Camargo said. 

But with his PRJ Cat 40 and future projects, he won’t be far from the water.

Tom Serio is a writer and photographer in South Florida. Comments are welcome below.