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Horizon Vision 74

New and Improved

How Adding a cockpit made a good yacht better. Much better.

Nothing piques the interest of a boat fanatic like a new model. But as all of us know, some “new” models are newer than others.

Take the Horizon Vision 74 CMY. She is new but she’s also basically a Vision 68 to which a six-foot hull and cockpit extension have been added. So technically speaking she’s not really a new boat, right?

That’s what I thought before I boarded her in February. I quickly discovered (once again) that despite what I think I know about boats, I need to approach every one with an open mind and a blank notepad. In this case, the cockpit addition so vastly improved the 68, I was left wondering why anyone wouldn’t fork over the extra $250,000 for the 74.

First, as happens any time you add waterline, the cockpit version should have a higher hull speed, which should translate into better efficiency. Since PMY never tested the 68, I can’t prove this hypothesis, but it is one that has been born out time and again. And while the scale of any speed/efficiency improvement may be in question, the 74 nevertheless vastly exceeds the 68 in range. That’s because Horizon moved both of the 68’s standard gensets (27.5- and 17.5-kW Onans) to the new lazarette and the Sea Recovery watermaker to beneath the port-side crew berth, freeing the space outboard of each engine for a 520-gallon fuel saddle tank. That effectively doubles total fuel tankage from about 1,000 to 2,000 gallons. (The figure of 2,096 in our specs is derived from the graduated sight glasses on each tank.) It also gives the standard Caterpillar C18 ACERTs 360-degree access. Indeed, one could easily rebuild an engine in situ—although a removable panel above each engine allows either one to be extracted, too. Generous headroom—6'6" on center and 5'10" outboard—adds to the feeling of spaciousness here.

With four tanks instead of two, fuel distribution and sourcing complexity could have become issues had not Horizon manifolded all tanks so they are self-leveling and dedicated the center of the forward engine bulkhead (actually the aft face of fuel tanks) to one of the best fuel-manifolding systems I’ve seen on any boat of any size. Even the Racors—including those for the gensets—are here. In fact, everything that pertains to fuel is in one easy-to-get-to spot—except, oddly enough, the switch for the fuel-transfer pump; it’s abaft the starboard engine. But remember, you normally won’t need to move fuel around.

I spent a lot of time in this engine room because I so admired its layout and lack of clutter. Besides superb access and comprehensive labeling, all ancillary equipment (battery chargers, hydraulic reservoir, major breakers, etc.) is grouped on the aft bulkhead. (House and cranking batteries are under the crew-quarters sole, where your captain is a lot more likely to look in on them occasionally.)

I did manage to find two things to gripe about here: One, the top of one of the bolts securing the Cat engine mounts to the beefy stainless steel engine caps was rusted. This is in no way a potential structural problem; the issue’s purely aesthetic and rather annoying in such a clean, white space. The other is the lack of a crash pump. Everything else is so high-end here I can’t imagine why Horizon didn’t include one as standard equipment. Re-dundancy is certainly ubiquitous, including hydraulic pumps on each ZF gear (but, alas, only one engine-driven power steering pump).

There’s one more benefit accruing from the addition of a cockpit, one that’s a purely personal observation: The boat is better proportioned. If you opt for the skylounge ($159,900 on either the 68 or 74), it will fall roughly amidship with the cockpit version, making for a nice fore-to-aft balance.

The lone access to the engine room is from the crew quarters abaft it, which you reach either via a watertight transom door or, for times when there’s a sea running, an overhead hatch to the upper cockpit. The crew quarters on our boat were laid out to accommodate a single person (one berth and a nicely sized wet head aft of it), but the area can be configured pretty much any way you want it (i.e., two-person crew quarters, dive locker, etc.). In any guise it also contains the electrical distribution panel, inverters, and a small freezer. While Horizon is not a custom builder, it is happy to alter its boats in relatively minor ways to accommodate each owner.

Before leaving this area, I must mention one other feature that I found here and repeated many times elsewhere: Kidde combination CO-smoke alarms. In this issue you’ll find “Sound the Alarm,” an article decrying the lack of smoke alarms as standard equipment on boats. Horizon deserves praise for installing plenty of these critical-but-ridiculously-cheap life-saving devices.

Of course the cockpit is the major advantage of the 74 over the 68. Internally, it measures 5'8" fore to aft and comes with a standard transom door leading down to a 2'10" deep swim platform. Although not designed for serious fishing (there’s no room for a chair), the area includes a big, lighted transom livewell and lots of stowage in the transom. Port and starboard stairs lead to the upper cockpit from which you can access well-protected port and starboard 1'5"-wide side decks.

The 74’s interior is virtually identical to the 68’s, and the accompanying photos and accommodation plan should give you a good feel for its three-stateroom layout and for this builder’s fine joinery work. Noteworthy of mention is the galley, which on this boat was all the way forward on the main deck to make room for a formal dining area. It’s an unusual configuration in a boat of this size that provides the cook with panoramic views on three sides, plus plenty of stowage, including dedicated cabinets and drawers for the china, flatware, and crystal (plus linens) that come standard on this boat. (Horizon likes to say that when you buy any of its boats, all you need to bring aboard is a suitcase.) A smaller galley farther aft with dining area forward is also available.

Piloting the 74 was a thoroughly pleasant experience despite the four-footers that were running. Of particular note were her good manners running downsea; it’s not uncommon for vessels with hull extensions to bow steer since the center of balance has moved forward. Not here. The Greg Marshall-designed hull performed well on all points and provided a generally dry ride, even when taking the wind on the beam.

A yacht designer once told me that there are two ways to tweak an existing boat: the quick and easy way and the difficult and time-consuming way. An afternoon aboard the Vision 74 reminded me what a pleasant surprise it is when you’re aboard a vessel where the job’s been done right.

Horizon Yachts (561) 346-5966.

NOTEWORTHY

What’s ACERT?

The engines in our Vision 74 were Caterpillar C18 ACERTs. The C stands for Caterpillar and the 18 designates engine displacement in liters. But what’s ACERT?

It’s Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology, a package of modifications Cat developed to meet the EPA Tier 3 emissions standards that went into effect on January 1, 2005. These rules apply to all diesels, which is why ACERT is installed on 26 Cat engine models. The modifications include a fuel system that provides multiple fuel injections on each power stroke because smaller injections are more thoroughly combusted. There’s also a more responsive wastegate turbocharger, high-efficiency cross-flow cylinder heads, and an intake system that provides more cool air to the cylinders. Since cool air is denser, more fuel can be burned. —R.T.

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.