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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

McKinna 58 Motoryacht

My April 1 trip to West Palm Beach to test the McKinna 58 was going to offer an added bonus, a brief respite from the bitter cold winter that still gripped the Northeast. Alas, I should have known better—the date was a sure tip-off. As if to play an April Fool's prank, Florida's weather was unseasonably cold, and the winds had been howling out of the north for two days, roiling the inlet at Riviera Beach into a steep six-foot chop that seemed to be coming from every direction. With wind fighting tide, the only other boats we saw challenging the gnarly water were some big, gritty sportfishing types.

But although the skies were overcast, the McKinna 58 shined in these conditions. In fact, the strong winds and choppy seas provided an ideal venue for checking out this yacht's performance, and I was immediately impressed by the efficacy of her hydraulic stabilizer system. Even with wind and waves dead on her beam, she was rock-steady with virtually no roll. And with her unconventional hull configuration (double chine plus a spray knocker—but more on that later), we were able to stay on plane and make 18 knots or more in relative comfort on all headings. To be sure, in head seas we took an occasional dousing of wind-driven spray across the flying bridge, but hey, this was a genuinely nasty day. And, remarkably, the yacht's teak foredeck appeared to stay dry, thanks to the protection of a generous bulwark.

We completed our performance tests in a relatively sheltered area of Lake Worth, along the Intracoastal, where we again had the waterways largely to ourselves, save for the playful pair of dolphins that frolicked in our wake. But even the dolphins gave up the chase when we opened the throttles on the twin 800-hp Caterpillars, as the radar gun displayed a top speed just shy of 30 mph. More impressive was her agility. Helm response was decisive and predictable. With a turn on her wheel, she banked with authority, as steady as an Olympic skater.

As McKinna's president Bob Million described the 58's hull form, I began to understand why she handled so well. Like many, the hull has a big spray knocker above the waterline, plus upper and lower chines below. But contrary to the norm, there's an exceptionally wide separation between the two; the lower chine line is some 18 inches inboard of the upper. This creates a running bottom that's only about 12½ feet wide when the yacht is on plane, letting her cut and turn like a tailback. As she banks, the wide chine flats come into play to keep her feeling steady and secure.

While the 58 had performed brilliantly so far, in both rough and calm water, one aspect of our performance test remained that I thought would present a challenge. Backing into our slip at Palm Harbor Marina would be tricky enough in the stiff winds that still whipped out of the north, but looking aft from the upper helm station, I was dismayed to note that I couldn't even see the transom, hidden beneath the vast flying-bridge overhang. But with a coy smile, Million simply said, "Follow me." With that, we descended to the cockpit, where he gently lifted a small fiberglass panel, exposing an aft-facing control station built into the transom. With controls for the engines and for the hydraulic bow thruster, its close-up vantage point made docking a breeze despite the wind.

While the docking station is standard on the McKinna 58, the cockpit of our test boat was fitted with several options, including handsome teak decks and boarding doors to port and starboard that make it easier to step aboard from a low pier. Not yet installed, though, were the tender and davit, which are fitted to suit each customer's preference either on the flying bridge or with the davit built into the transom. In the latter case, the davit can also assist in lowering gear into the lazarette. In lieu of a davit, McKinna can build a 32-inch-wide hydraulic step into the swim platform to handle the tender.

Engine room access is via the lazarette, which houses several auxiliary systems, the 27.5-kW Onan genset, and a host of batteries (including separate starting batteries for each engine and the genset, plus six gel-cell house batteries that power a 3-kW sine-wave inverter). Except for the steering gear, which is aft of the genset, most equipment in the lazarette is within easy reach.

Within the engine room, there's better than five feet of headroom along a centerline walkway. Because of the wide chine flats and narrow running bottom, the engines are positioned a bit closer to the centerline than normal, which makes passage between them a bit tight, but certainly adequate. But it's nice to see that Caterpillar positions all engine-mounted filters, dipsticks, and other access points on the inboard side of each engine. I was also pleased to see bronze seacocks prominently located on each through-hull fitting and to note that all piping systems are clearly labeled and color-coded. Similar attention to ease of maintenance was evident throughout, most notably in a booklet that contains complete schematics for each system, along with a part number and the manufacturer's name, address, and phone number for virtually every component.

Even the layout of the A.C. and D.C. electrical control panels makes it easy to keep an eye on things. Located in the headliner above the lower helm station, the color-coded backlit panels are visible from the helm and from anywhere in the dinette, galley, or even the saloon. But the panels blend so seamlessly into the surrounding window frame, they're scarcely noticeable unless you know where to look for them.

I was also pleased to see that the yacht's interior was in keeping with the level of quality evidenced in her mechanical systems. Perhaps the most striking aspect of her design was the layout of the galley and saloon. Located on the upper deck, just abaft the main helm, the galley is a focal point of the interior. Designed specifically to accommodate a full-size Sub-Zero refrigerator with two pull-out freezer doors, the galley overlooks the entire saloon and aft deck, like a castle high on a hill, but close to the dinette and the helm.

In the saloon there's a large plasma TV recessed into a cabinet on the port side, opposite a glove-soft, Ultraleather settee. In the center, a hi-lo table with removable leaves can be raised to serve up to four for dining or lowered to suit a more intimate gathering.

Another of the yacht's more notable features is the layout of the master stateroom on the lower deck. A double-width, sliding pocket door provides entry into the head, along the port side. When the pocket door is fully open, it visually transforms the stateroom into a full-beam open space, yet the facilities, tucked further into the head, remain discretely concealed. And the stateroom itself boasts a pair of deep cedar-lined hanging lockers, a dressing table, and a built-in TV and stereo system opposite a luxurious queen-size berth.

Impeccably finished, packed with innovative features, and a solid performer in fair seas or foul, the McKinna 58 should be a great cruising companion.

McKinna Yachts
(386) 439-5272

This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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