Mochi Craft Dolphin 64 FlyBy Capt. Richard Thiel
There were plenty of snickers and a few guffaws back in 2001 when Norberto Ferretti announced to a group of American journalists that he'd built an "aragosta boat." It wasn't enough that here was an Italian builder trying to copy the lobsterboat, a uniquely American creation, but he was doing it under a name, Mochi, that the few of us who'd seen one considered to have all the charm of a floating shoebox. But some five years later, at the 2006 Genoa Boat Show, nobody was laughing. For not only had Ferretti's iconoclasm succeeded, here he was introducing its latest iteration, the Mochi Craft Dolphin 64, and he was not taking her to the States. Talk about cheek!
Truth is, not only had we all come to accept the Mochis, we'd come to lust after them, in part because Ferretti hadn't really copied the lobsterboat at all. He'd interpreted it, just like some American builders had. Yes, there were vestiges of the classic blue-collar workboat—tumblehome aft, a generous cockpit, and pilothouse well forward—but everything had been rounded and softened until the result was something uniquely sinuous and beautiful. And inside there was a kind of luxury and detailing the likes of which had rarely been seen coming out of a traditional Downeast yard. In the end, Ferretti had created a new kind of boat, one that to this day no one has really responded to.
So what's with not giving America the 64? Was Norberto miffed at our initial skepticism? Was this payback for us doubting the boat's authenticity? No, he's too smart for that. Turns out he had another 64 lined up for U.S. boaters, this one with a flying bridge, which he felt was better suited to American predilections. (She will also be offered in Europe.) And that explains why I was at the wheel of Hull No. 6 (No. 2 of the Flys) on a table-flat Adriatic, just south of Forli, where Mochis are built. No lobsterboat I'd ever driven had felt quite like this. Maybe it was her warped hull form with 19 degrees of deadrise at the transom and integral spray rails. Or perhaps it was the acceleration generated by the optional 1,224-mhp MAN V-12s sitting under her cockpit, forward of a tender garage that holds the optional 10'5" Synergy 320 RIB. More likely it was the feel of the perfectly modulated BCS electro-hydraulic steering that made figure-eights such a pleasure. The way this 33.7-ton beauty leaned into hard turns belied her Italian heritage.
Indeed, being aboard this Euro-spec 64 was a savory, sensory experience, and nowhere more so than in her interior spaces, which actually did remind me of some of the high-end custom lobster yachts I've been aboard. Most surfaces are superbly joined teak (even the window blinds are teak), and most of the interior sole is teak and maple, often accented by cream Berber carpet recessed into it. The main-deck layout is identical to the nonflying-bridge version, so there's a fully equipped lower station that has excellent sightlines, even aft, although the large cockpit settee can make it difficult to see line holders. (The standard liferaft, PFDs, fenders, boat hook, and scrub brush stow under its fore and aft seats.) Air conditioning is standard, but thankfully so are opening side windows. Alas, the 64's sunroof has been eliminated to accommodate the flying bridge, but the flip-up glass panel on the aft bulkhead—a trademark of Ferretti yachts—remains. Open it and the aft glass door, and the saloon spills into the cockpit.
Also unchanged from the nonflying bridge version is the accommodations: V-berth VIP, port-side guest cabin, and remarkably large midship master, which has an equally commodious head to port. All three heads have enclosed showers, the master's being exceptionally large and beautifully tiled; the guest head has two entrances, so it can double as the day head. Yet in spite of the berths and heads and a galley that, though small, is well equipped, I got the feeling that Ferretti intended the 64 to be more of a dayboat or perhaps a weekender—admittedly a very comfortable and stylish weekender.
Despite her Yankee influences, this boat is in her heart a European, and nowhere is that more obvious than in her crew quarters. Accessed via a starboard companionway beneath a sliding panel, it runs full beam. There's a single fixed berth to port with a pilot berth above it and a small—telephone-booth-size—head to starboard. Between the two our boat had shelving, a Splendide combination washer-dryer, and a wine cooler, but I was told that you can opt for yet another berth here. I'm afraid I may have looked a little shocked at that. Fitting three human beings into this space is, in my opinion, a feat worthy of David Copperfield and something no American owner would ever try. In fact, I'm not sure most Americans will ever exile any crewmember here, partially because the 68 can be easily handled by a couple, especially with the optional stern thruster. (A 13-hp SidePower bow thruster is standard.)
A better example of spatial sleight of hand is on display in the engine room, which is immediately aft of the crew quarters and accessed via a hatch in the teak cockpit sole. There are a lot of mechanicals in here, but generally everything is accessible with the exception of the ZF V-drives. They're up under the cockpit sole so as to be almost invisible and virtually unreachable. Thank goodness they need only occasional attention.
Overall, the 64 comes with a lot of standards, even for a boat with such a dear base price (the U.S. figure with options was not available at presstime): cutlery, china, and glassware for eight; Bose 3.2.1 home entertainment system; additional refrigerator in the lower companionway; crash-pump system that works off the engines; centerline fuel-tank sight gauge; 28-kW Onan genset; and no fewer than five electric and two manual bilge pumps.
And of course, there's that flying bridge with enough seating and sunpadding for the stateroom occupants and their lucky friends. The helmsman gets a comfortable adjustable seat and sightlines in every direction except to the transom. But really, the best aspect of the flying bridge is how perfectly it's integrated into the 64's profile. It doesn't look tacked on because it's not. The house mold is different from that for the Euro version, a decision that offers big dividends in aesthetics.
I'm tempted to add that aesthetics is what the Mochi Craft Dolphin 64 Fly is about, and they do play a big part. But she's also about performance, comfort, and agility. She's really a multifaceted creation that does many things well—just about anything except hauling aragosta pots.
For more information on Mochi Craft, including contact information, click here.
Every boat needs a throwable flotation device, but where do you put it on a vessel that's as beautiful and sleek as the Mochi and still keep it close at hand? Why, here, in the cockpit overhang. Just twist a lock, and a hatch opens to expose this necessary but not exactly beautiful piece of safety gear.—R.T.
This article originally appeared in the October 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.