Apreamare 64 FlyBy Kevin Koenig
Ticket to Paradise
This Italian-made yacht is built for fun in the sun, and she plays the part well.
I distinctly remember going to the zoo when I was a kid and seeing a cheetah in its cage. It had plenty of room, lots of red meat, and a nice warm rock to lounge on. The big cat seemed happy enough. But I wasn’t. It all seemed a little too controlled, a little bit removed from real circumstance. Even as a little boy I intuitively knew: You don’t pay money to see a cheetah pace a cage; you want to see it run in the wild.
I mention this not because I’m particularly into jungle cats but because I was reminded of it recently in Bimini where I was testing the Apreamare 64 Fly. Now normally for a PMY boat test, one of our editors flies down to Fort Lauderdale in the morning, gets on the boat, runs it through a series of tests to collect data for our charts, gets a feel for the boat’s agility and seaworthiness, and then hops on a plane and is back home, sometimes within 24 hours. The process is well controlled and very efficient. But sometimes it feels like seeing a cheetah in a cage. You get a chance to see what a boat can do, without getting a glimpse of what she actually does.
Which is to say that my test of the 64 Fly would be quite different. I was going to test the boat in the kind of environment for which she was designed—a cruise in the Bahamas.
The very first thing I noticed about the 64 as I approached her at the docks in Bimini was her unusual lines and throwback look. The boat seamlessly melds an old-school, salty profile with a dash of aggression, served up in large part by her exaggerated bow flare. The distinctive rounded stern also sets her apart. Apreamare—in a tip of the cap to its Italian heritage—modeled it after the traditional Sorrentine fishing gozzos, which had rounded sterns so their fishing nets would not get fouled when being hauled in. The choice is now purely aesthetic, a distinctive and utterly cool design characteristic that lets the boat stand out at the dock without sticking out. And when paired with an optional blue-and-red paint job, she makes for one hell of a fine-looking boat.
Stepping aboard I was introduced to the boat’s owners, Michael and Melissa Ryan, and their two-year-old son Thomas (Michael and Marc-Udo Broich run Maestro Yachts in the Americas). The young family seemed like a perfect match for the boat. Michael is a former beer distributor from Flint, Michigan, with a mop of white hair that calls to mind Albert Einstein, if Einstein had said “screw physics” and lived his life like it was a Jimmy Buffet song. One of the first things he said to me was “I just love being out on the water, and if I can have a cold Budweiser in my hand when I’m there, even better.” The 64 can certainly oblige his wishes. She was designed as a “sun-worshipper’s boat” with plenty of outdoor spaces in which to congregate and soak in some vitamin D while enjoying a frosty beverage. Her forward sunpad-and-lounge area (easily accessible thanks to wide side decks), cockpit, and roomy flying bridge are distinct spaces that harbor a certain livable feng shui that Melissa says is her favorite part of the boat. “It feels larger than it is,” she told me “because these areas are very separate but work together so well.”
One drawback to all of this outdoor space is somewhat unavoidable. To create exterior room, particularly in the stern, which already sacrifices square-footage due to its rounded shape, the 64’s saloon is somewhat smaller than one might expect on a boat of this size. But it’s still highly livable. For the Ryans, an important detail on the main interior deck is that there are very few sharp edges. Most everything is rounded off, which is a smart design feature on any boat but particularly reassuring when you have a high-energy, tumble-prone two-year-old tearing around the place with an ever-present ice cube crammed firmly in the side of his cheek.
As we cruised out of Bimini harbor and into open water, I noted the boat’s smooth ride. Granted, the ocean was preternaturally calm during the test, but the boat’s deep-V hull with 16 degrees of deadrise at the stern coupled with a generous 18'3" beam still had her rumbling along with nary a jostle. With a true fishboat-derived hull, the 64 is built for rough water in open seas (that aggressively flared bow isn’t just for show). In fact, it occurred to me that if she lost her beefy swim platform, and the convertible sunpad/dining area in her cockpit, the 64 would be eminently fishable. Her agility also impressed me. At just under WOT, I took the boat hard over in less than two boat lengths. That’s serious stuff.
Our cruise took us by the imposing wreck of the Sapona, a concrete ship of some fascinating provenance on our way to Honeymoon Harbor, a popular anchorage on the north end of Gun Cay. You know those escapist posters people hang in their cubicles, of islands with sugary sand and unbelievably blue water and maybe a lone palm tree offering succor from the sun? Smart money says pretty much every single one of those pictures was taken in Honeymoon Harbor.
We dropped the anchor and sampled some antipasti before jumping into the tender for the short hop to shore. There we partook in the activity for which the Harbor is perhaps best known: feeding the stingrays. The rays there—some of which are as big as welcome mats—have made a habit of swimming right up to wading humans, and using their sandpapery lips to docilely suck shrimp and other bits of food right out of their fingers. It is, to say the least, a strange sensation.
Not content just to wade, Broich and I grabbed snorkel equipment and splashed into the shallows. Underwater, rays glided eerily by in their crystal-clear universe, hungry for the abundant shrimp now dotting the water. A curious barracuda darted up to take a look at the intruding humans with a fearless, menacing eye. Then from off the tip of the beach, a shadow emerged, carving a lazy but unwavering path towards us. Shark! But it was just a nurse shark, and unthreatening, even when some of his more aggressive four-to-six-foot-long cousins soon joined him, swarming around us like pedestrians at a busy city crosswalk. Broich and I caught eyes and nodded excitedly. Then something zipped across the perimeter, where the clear shallows break off into a deep-blue hollow. I cocked my head. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a nurse shark. And there it was again, torpedoing closer this time. I made out a streamlined head and an unmistakably sturdy body. I popped my head out of the water, and without even thinking to remove my snorkel shouted “Hats-a-buhhh-shahk!” to Marc. He looked over at me quizzically. I took out my mouthpiece. “That’s a bull shark,” I repeated. We subsequently made our way closer to shore.
Back on land I found Michael in full island mode. He was sitting straight-legged on the beach, a cold beer nestled next to him as Thomas gleefully piled wet sand onto his father’s belly. “Honey,” he called out to his wife, who was dipping her toes in the warm tropical waters, “We’re too uptight. I think we need to relax more.” With his 64 Fly bobbing peacefully on the hook in the background, something told me that wouldn’t be a problem.
Maestro Yachts LLC
This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.