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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Sea Spirit 60 Passagemaker

the Lauderdale Yacht Club’s a lovely little facility, just a stone’s throw from the ICW. Going in, the channel narrows considerably after you pivot to starboard at the last day mark, and the darn thing gets narrower still once you start sneaking past the pulpits and swim platforms protruding from the east dock. “Keep her as close to that stuff as possible,” advised Andrea Gaines, captain of our Sparkman & Stephens-designed Sea Spirit Passagemaker 60, while nodding toward the pulpits and platforms. “The channel’s tight in here.”

“Okey dokey,” I replied while cutting some fast glances, one at the depth readout on the Garmin GPS 5212 on the dash of the 60’s lower helm, another at a particularly menacing pulpit to port, and yet another at the tach for our single 340-bhp Lugger L1276 diesel. About the last thing I wanted to do at the moment was exceed idle speed.

We purred along. I applied a few degrees of starboard wheel to worm my way around the pulpit, threw a little port wheel into the mix once I was past, straightened ‘er out, and beelined for the spot where I needed to swing hard-over and back down. “She’s surprisingly lightfooted in tight places,” I told Gaines while looking over my shoulder into the cockpit through the saloon. The guy standing there signaled that he was ready to toss a line. I stepped away from the helm for a split second to peer through the starboard wing door and examine the foredeck below—the guy standing there signaled he was ready as well. “Sightlines are great, too,” I added.

Actually docking the 60 went down smoother than a slab of key lime pie. I simply kicked her bow around in front of the slip with full starboard rudder and a healthy shot of throttle and bumped her ZF electronic engine control astern a couple of times while using the Side Power bow thruster to steer. Then, once I’d got the boat as far astern as she needed to be, I used the bow thruster in league with the stern thruster to sidle up for a starboard-side tie-up, staying in touch with the crew the whole time via the aforementioned sightlines.

“Two people could handle this baby all by themselves,” I enthused. “In fact, I believe I could single-hand her if I had a linehandler on the dock.”

My fervor was not a wholly recent phenomenon. I’d already been captivated by a few of the 60’s open-water allures some hours earlier, the most delightful of the lot being the full-displacement operating efficiencies I’d recorded while we ran back and forth within the comparative calm of the Port Everglades jetties. Check out the performance figures at 1000 rpm: an average speed of 6.7 knots while burning 2.4 gph for a range of more than 6,000 nautical miles. To lend a little perspective to this last number, that’s once across the Atlantic and then halfway back—at a reasonable oceangoing speed!

Moreover, sound levels in the wheelhouse during our runs were so low that, for the most part, you could whisper and be heard, a virtue partly attributable to the Aquadrive flex-couple in the 60’s drivetrain, but more to do with a sound-and-vibration-attenuation system that’s both robust and thorough. Check out a 60 at the next big boat show—that’s not just Corecell-cored vacuum-bagged fiberglass behind the white perforated-aluminum in the engine room or under the teak-and-holly flooring in the saloon, wheelhouse, and staterooms. Sandwiched layers of acoustic-barrier material blanket bulkheads and hull sides in the machinery spaces, and Wavebar Quadzero foil-faced damping sheets underlie floorings. And virtually all motorized components (from main engines to water pumps) are isolation-mounted to nix structure-borne noise transmission.

There was one open-water detail that proved a tad disappointing, though. While romping in the offshore Atlantic once I’d collected my test data, I noted that the 60 cornered adroitly, stemmed headseas with comparative dryness, and evinced stability when taking prevailing three-footers abeam, but she tended to yaw going down-sea. This foible did not make steering overly difficult, but it was noticeable enough (particularly in light of the negative running angles I’d recorded earlier at 1000, 1250, and 1500 rpm) to prompt an eventual telephone call to Dan Fritz, Sea Spirit’s founder and a veteran of the noted Canadian builder Queenship.

His response was straightforward. He suggested that a “wedge” added at the rear of our test boat’s running surface had likely generated more lift than was necessary. Rather than raising the swim platform just enough to nix turbulence beneath, it was producing overly negative running attitudes, as well as a slight tendency to bow steer, under certain conditions. “Being light on fuel during your test exaggerated the phenomenon,” he explained further, “because our fuel tanks are mostly behind the LCG [longitudinal center of gravity].”

The 60’s stance dockside, however, was fetchingly balanced. She sat precisely on her marks once we’d finished with the tie-up and literally exuded practicality. Topside safety, for example, was an obvious priority—at 3'7", the height of the bulwarks forward was lofty and protective, as were the heights of the Portuguese Bridge (4'3") and the welded, stainless steel boat-deck railing (2'6"). Interior living spaces were expansive, cruise-comfortable, and finely crafted; our test boat, with a 17'6" long saloon, galley, and wheelhouse on the main deck and an engine room and three-stateroom, two-head accommodation area below, sported one of several optional layouts. Additionally, just about every piece of ancillary equipment I looked at while touring the vessel—from the residential-type appliances in the galley to the Key Power KP3500 genset-energized hydraulic get-home system in the machinery spaces—was standard issue. Indeed, I came across only four major options: granite countertops, electronics, a Bower davit, and an extra genset.

This last factor made summarization at the end of my tour especially easy. Sea Spirit’s Passagemaker 60 is an exceptionally efficient expeditionary-type cruiser with a repertoire of roomy, easy-livin’ conventional layouts, an operational ambiance of quiet comfort, and all the equipage necessary to make crossing oceans both safe and enjoyable. And best of all, at $1,690,000, she’s virtually turn-key.

Noteworthy: Machinery Spaces

Our test boat had simple, practical machinery spaces with 5'2" headroom, ample fluorescent lighting, and diamond-plate underfoot. Access to the engine is superb—I could walk all around the Lugger, which was guarded by high stainless steel railings, like I was strolling around a park.

The outboard fuel tanks are covered with noise-absorbent sheets and perforated aluminum and are equipped with sightglasses and large inspection covers. There’s also a standard Reverso fuel-polisher. Moreover, Racors for gensets and the main are conveniently marshaled in a single, easy-to-get-at location: on a StarBoard panel against one tank.

Thanks to the fact that the 60’s machinery spaces are so expansive and sparsely inhabited (electrical components are mostly in the lazarette), access to everything is superb, and there's no sweat grasping the logic of the place.


Sea Spirit (604) 888-617

This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.