Cheoy Lee 68 Sport Motoryacht — By Capt. Bill
|A big, 68-foot, three-stateroom motoryacht that’s also a poised performer.|
I was delighted. The guy who’d been driving the Cheoy Lee 68-foot Sport Motoryacht while I recorded radar-gun and other data during the sea trial pulled the Twin Disc electronic engine controls into neutral, centered the wheel, and hopped down from the Tracy helm chair. As he slid back the hatch over the stairway leading from the flying bridge down to the lower helm station and the rest of the interior, he offered a brief explanation for his departure. He was going below to make some coffee, he said. We’d departed Fort Lauderdale at such an ungainly hour, he’d missed his morning ration.
“She’s all yours,” he grinned, gesturing toward the rambunctious waters of the Gulf Stream ahead as well as the helm chair he’d just vacated. “You wanna cup when it’s finished?”
“Sure,” I replied, with an enthusiasm partly borne of novelty. I seldom have the opportunity to put a test boat through her paces without a manufacturer’s rep, dealer, or professional captain breathing down my neck. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a little company during a wring-out, of course. But hey, being left alone on the bridge of a $2.37-million motoryacht with the whole wild-blue Atlantic in the offing tends to boost a guy’s spirits as much as intensify his powers of concentration.
So here’s what I did. First, I settled comfortably into the helm chair. Then, I gave the Furuno NavNet plotter glowing on the dashboard a quick glance, clicked our two 1,400-hp Caterpillar 3412Es into forward idle, and aimed the Cheoy Lee’s big bow straight into the four- to six-footers that were rolling down from the north. Then finally, after scanning ahead for crossing vessels and tossing glances over both shoulders to make sure there were no overtaking ones, I firewalled the throttles, slowly but surely. Would the favorable impressions I’d already formed of the boat’s performance stand up to undistracted, solitary scrutiny?
The first six-footer encountered at full speed answered the question with a vengeance. Our test boat sundered the darn thing with the hungry efficiency of a bull shark hitting a mackerel. Great glops of spray, cupped by the bow’s dramatic flare, shot aft like low-flying rocket exhaust, leaving the entire superstructure bone-dry. The ride was limousine-smooth, too, thanks to an entry that’s both fine and deep, forward sections that are sharp, and a longitudinal center of gravity situated well aft, in large part due to a remote-coupled V-drive configuration that consigns engine weight to the back of the bus.
I piled a couple of turns onto the hydraulically actuated, power-assisted steering wheel and swung the bow through a tight, rousing U-shape turn, eventually steadying up on a southwesterly course, with wind and waves abaft the beam. Head seas weren’t the 68’s real forte, I was discovering. Tight turns and following seas were what truly showcased her talents.
Let’s talk about the turns first. Although the 68 possesses a substantial, lobsterboat-like keel, she banks smoothly and comfortably into turns, even tight ones, showing no tendency to lean precariously outboard. This latter condition is a disconcerting one for most people, including me, and results from the unhappy combination of top-heaviness with a keel that has so much broadside surface area that inboard pressure during turns tips the vessel outboard. The 68 avoids these pitfalls via two simple measures, according to the folks at Tom Fexas Yacht Design, the firm that designed the 68. First, Core-Cell coring was employed throughout the entire superstructure to cut weight aloft and obviate top-heaviness. And second, the surface area of the keel was reduced “just enough” by cutting it away aft, a technique sometimes seen in commercial fishing boats.
This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.