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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Ferretti 880

It’s a long-held (and long-proven) belief that Americans like their toys big: cars, boats, you name it. It’s not just an American male trait, either: Despite my 5’2” frame, I wanted&mdasah;no, needed&mdasah;a roomy SUV as my daily wheels. (Don’t even get me started about what size boat I want; suffice it to say it’s fitting that I’m nicknamed the Megayacht Queen in the Power & Motoryacht office.)

Unfortunately, it’s also proven that when it comes to imported yachts, particularly Italian ones, many have been long on style and sex appeal but short on the space arrangements we Americans favor and, yes, even demand. I’ve watched full-grown men turn into sad-faced boys in the same instant they realize that the boat they want would require them to duck when entering the stateroom doorway and contort themselves uncomfortably to use the coffin-like shower in the en suite head.

That’s not the case aboard the Ferretti 880, the largest yacht in the builder’s product range. While long on head-turning lines and speed (like her smaller sisters), the 880 shows that it is also possible to extend the same generosity to the interior, both in terms of living areas and mechanical spaces.

It starts with the 880’s beam: 22’1”, to be exact, which is upwards of three feet wider than similar-size craft I’ve been aboard. The roominess is especially apparent on the main deck, where the saloon and dining area occupy the same living space without making movie-watchers on the saloon sofas (there’s a pop-up plasma-screen TV to starboard) feel they’re sitting in the laps of diners at the eight-seater table just forward. Indeed, Jim Varela, product manager for Ferretti Yachts here in the States, relayed to me a story about how he invited a professional football player to walk through the yacht a few months ago to prove Ferretti’s dedication to space planning. The athlete was persuaded, according to Varela.

The main deck also manages to tuck the galley to port just forward of the dining area without squeezing it in&mdasah;or making the chef feel squeezed in, either. In fact, the space arrangement is quite clever. White-lacquer wall panels make the room feel larger, and a granite-top island extending out from the starboard side adds always-in-demand counter space without stretching so far as to make it awkward to open the full-size, side-by-side GE refrigerator.

Another clever arrangement waits below decks, in the amidships, full-beam master suite. While most builders place the berth flush against the back bulkhead, Ferretti essentially put it in the center of the room, creating a passageway behind it and putting that space to use: Two mirrored doors slide open in unison to reveal a walk-in wardrobe lined with sueded fabric, automatically illuminating light, and seat. This is in addition to the walk-in wardrobe you’d expect to find in any master (here, forward to starboard). And there’s still space left over for a vanity on one side of the room and settee opposite, plus separate heads (one with a bathtub, the other with a shower, both with MSDs).

But Ferretti didn’t reserve the extra space planning solely for accommodation areas. For example, there’s what Ferretti terms a “systems compartment” between the engine room (aft) and crew’s quarters (forward). Akin to an engineer’s room onboard a 150-foot-plus megayacht (albeit without a window into the engine room), it’s a long, narrow space containing everything from the main electric display board to a workbench (positioned atop the freshwater pumps). I’ve been aboard many yachts in this size range, yet this is the first time I’ve seen this.

It’s also the first time I’ve seen what Ferretti calls a “teak beach” on a yacht below the 100-foot-size range. More than just a tender garage, it’s a fully teak-lined bay; even better from a practical-use standpoint, the large bay door folds down, not up, transforming into an enormous swim platform. (Although there is one drawback to the layout: The steering gear concealed below steps leading from inside the bay to the platform partition would be more easily accessible if the tops of the steps were designed to be lifted out instead of unscrewed.) Ferretti leaves it up to owners to accessorize the garage as they wish, perhaps with a dive compressor and related gear as well as a RIB. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone taking a cue from the builder’s display at the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami, Florida, last February, where a pair of Harleys gave new meaning to the term hog wild.

While the speeds the 880 achieves aren’t exactly hog wild, they are impressive for a yacht this size. Due to technical difficulties with our radar gun during our test, we used a Northstar GPS installed at the upper helm to measure a top speed of 34.4 mph, or 29.9 knots. (Ferretti says the 880 will hit 30 knots or more, which seems credible for two reasons: In our experience radar guns typically read instantaneous speeds slightly higher than GPS equipment does, and our test boat had some propeller problems.) Courtesy of twin 2,000-hp MTUs and a variable-geometry hull with 12 degrees of deadrise aft, our 880 accelerated smoothly throughout the rpm range and responded well to the helm, whether we were carving turns or idling along with the trolling valves engaged as we returned to Ferretti Group USA’s docks on the New River.

Varela explained that even before the first layer of fiberglass was laid, Ferretti’s in-house design and engineering teams had “tested” the hull. He explained that proprietary software allows engineers to simulate things like the way the water spreads over the hull’s surfaces; by adjusting the shape and weight of the hull in the computer, the team can virtually optimize the design. Of equal importance, particularly in these days of heightened awareness about carbon monoxide poisoning, Varela says that the team was able to minimize the low-pressure area aft that creates the “station-wagon effect” and draws exhaust fumes into the living areas.

Regarding the engine room itself, there is access to the MTUs on three sides; reaching the outboard sides requires climbing over equipment. I was pleased to see that the entryway features a Plexiglas shield over the shut-off switches for things like fuel, air intakes, and batteries; all are readily accessible, but protected from being accidentally bumped into and activated.

Having exported its yachts to American shores for a little more than a decade, Ferretti has a good grasp of what U.S. yachtsmen want. The 880 in particular gives cruisers the high style they’ve come to expect without sacrificing space to spread out and relax for a few hours or even a few days of island-hopping. Even a petite person like me needs room to zoom.

Ferretti Group USA
(954) 525-4550

This article originally appeared in the August 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.