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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Neptunus 62 Flybridge

Brand loyalty is intriguing. Whatever we’re buying, be it a car, a burger, coffee, or a doughnut, we can develop a fierce loyalty to our preferred marque. I pondered this in the wee hours of the morning, roaring past several highway rest areas in search of my chosen caffeine purveyor, en route to the Jersey Shore to put the Neptunus 62 through her paces. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was about to encounter a couple of owners with a remarkable obsession for a particular brand of yacht.

In outward appearance, the Neptunus 62 presents herself as a stylish, contemporary, white-hulled flying-bridge yacht that may be one of the more successful designs of the genre. Her proportions are nicely balanced, and her profile is pleasingly low, softly accented by the reverse-canted windscreen forward and punctuated by a tubular stainless steel railing aft. And I was pleased to see that her owner had opted to forgo the optional tender stowage on the flying bridge, which tends to give all but the largest yachts a top-heavy look. But I still had no clue this yacht was so addictive.

No clue, that is, until I met two of the folks who would be onboard with me during the test. The first was introduced as Lee, the owner’s captain, who offered that our test boat (Hull No. 1) was the owner’s fourth Neptunus and that the owner had already expressed interest in placing an order for Hull No. 1 of a 72-foot Neptunus that is still in the early design stages. But even more interesting was the other gentleman onboard for the test, Tony. I was told that he had just placed an order for a Neptunus 62 (Hull No. 3) and was along for a sea trial that could make or break the deal. The 62 would be Tony’s second Neptunus. His first was a 56-footer that he bought just six months ago. What was it that made the whole Neptunus experience so attractive?

For both owners, a good relationship with the builder was an important factor. The fact that both are repeat customers speaks for itself on that issue. But both owners also put a high priority on performance. Indeed, for Tony, speed would be a pivotal factor in his decision to finalize the deal on the 62. For that, we would let my radar gun be the arbiter.

With rainstorms forecasted for the late afternoon, we wasted no time in getting started with our sea trial on the large bay just inside Manasquan Inlet. Revving the 1,000-hp Caterpillar C18s to their maximum rpm, I clocked a two-way average top speed of 39 mph on the radar gun. Glancing at the ear-to-ear grin on Tony’s face, I knew he was sold. And, frankly, my early morning caffeine high was slipping away as quickly as the sea rushing under our keel, replaced by the adrenaline rush of a big, fast motoryacht running at full tilt.

With the 62 throttled back to a comfortable 2000-rpm cruise, we were still making a respectable 33 mph (nearly 29 knots), and in a series of hard turns, the yacht banked decisively but dropped only a knot or two off her speed. With a deadrise of 19.5 degrees at the transom, her hull delivered an impressive combination of speed, stability, and maneuverability—not to mention a dry ride, even in a nasty two-foot chop whipped by winds up to 25 mph.

Though the helm station was fitted with an upgraded radar, plotter, and DGPS, the feature I was most taken with was the Cat electronic digital display and micro-controls. The display reads out virtually any engine performance parameter you could ask for, while the electronic controls can automatically sync the engines at any of several preprogrammed cruise settings. There’s full manual backup of the electronic controls right at the starboard-side helm station, along with a second command station on the port side that has engine and bow thruster controls for docking port-side-to.

Other notable features of the flying bridge include a large sunpad forward of the helm and a Jacuzzi alongside the helm on the port side, both standard equipment. As for safety at sea, I was pleased to observe handholds aplenty, even on the underside of the optional hardtop.

Having taken full measure of the yacht’s performance, I was now eager to check out her interior accommodations. Interior finish and the builder’s willingness to accommodate special requests were other factors important to both owners. One of our test yacht’s most unusual features was her lower helm station—or, more correctly, the lack thereof. At the owner’s request, Neptunus eliminated the lower helm, fitting in its place a day head just forward of the galley on the starboard side. To port, opposite the galley, there’s an oval cocktail table with a curved settee that affords guests an unobstructed view forward. My only gripe is that the table exhibits a disconcerting wiggle when the yacht is running at speed; a firmer base of support might be in order. I also didn’t care for the dark stain the owner specified for the cherry joinery and would have preferred the standard, lighter tone. But I certainly had no complaint with the 13 coats of varnish that gave the wood a rich, deep finish, nor with the beautifully matched wood grain juxtaposed with Ultraleather wall panels.

On the lower deck Neptunus offers a standard three-stateroom, three-head layout, but with a day head on the upper deck, the owner specified an office in place of the head that would normally be located at the base of the companionway. Standard features include large cedar hanging lockers, generous headroom (more than 6’6”), a full-size stackable washer and dryer, and individual climate controls in each stateroom.

At the heart of that whisper-quiet climate-control system is a 72,000-Btu Marine Air chilled-water system located (along with the genset) in an auxiliary machinery space beneath the cockpit, to reduce sound levels in the saloon. A doorway from that space leads forward into the engine room, which is sheathed in three-inch-thick soundproofing material. Twin six-cylinder Caterpillar C18 diesels flank a centerline passage at least three feet wide that offers easy access to cooling water intakes forward. Most other access points are easily accessible, except for bulkhead-mounted fuel filters that are outboard of the diesels. I was told that in later versions, these have been relocated to a more accessible spot on the aft bulkhead.

Brawny engine mounts and beefy longitudinal stringers give testament to the hull’s strength. Her bottom is a solid laminate that includes three layers of Kevlar for impact resistance, while her sides, decks, and superstructure are balsa-cored for stiffness and reduced weight. With six foam-cored longitudinal stringers and 20 transverse frames reinforcing her hull, her structural integrity is formidable.

As I was packing my test gear, I noticed that Tony was still grinning. Taking me aside, he confided that he was going ahead on his purchase of the 62, but he was already looking forward to the introduction of the 72. Maybe the Neptunus 62 should come with a warning label that reads: “Caution: Repeated exposure may be addictive.”

Neptunus Yachts
(877) 440-4434

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