When I learned that I was going to test the newest Sea Ray Sundancer, the 350, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic. Nothing against the boat, mind you. Sundancers are fine craft. But they can be journalistically challenging, as changes from year to year often appear to be--at least at first glance--more incremental than revolutionary. Such is the case with the 350, which replaces the similar 340 and joins
If you want to get a real feel for what’s going on in the economy these days, try testing boats. One of the less glamorous but more enlightening aspects of this job is meeting with the folks on the front lines who sell boats and marine gear and services, many of whom own their own businesses. While bureaucrats and academics debate whether the current economic milieu is a downturn, a recession, or
A lot can change in seven years. Heck, I went from being a college student to a working professional (yes, this is actually a job) to a daddy in that amount of time, and from having near-black hair to a more refined salt-and-pepper duotone. Man, the time flies. As fast as life moves ahead, so does boat design and technology. I found proof of this during my latest testing adventure onboard Viking
The fuel berth in Palma, Mallorca, seemed unusually popular considering the recent rocketing price of oil. Sailboats drifted about, patiently awaiting their turn. Three or four motoryachts circled warily, their captains tweaking the throttles and burning out their bow thrusters in an effort to keep station in the afternoon breeze—alert to the imagined danger of some impertinent fishing boat
If you plan on building an 80-foot sportfisherman that's capable of more than 40 mph, you'd better build her strong. Donzi Yachts believes it's done just that. Bob Roscioli founded the company 22 years ago, purchasing the rights to the Donzi name from the legendary Dick Genth. Although Donzi Yachts by Roscioli remains a separate company from Donzi Marine—its boats are all over 50 feet,
I'm not sure exactly when it was—maybe the summer of 2002—but I do remember the conversation as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. Bob Van Grunsven, president of Carver Yachts, was telling me how he needed to build something bigger than the then-flagship Carver 56 Voyager and had decided to do so by creating an entirely new brand, separate from Carver. In implementing that
It was a spectacular morning. The sun was sparkling like diamonds on the Pacific, and a cobalt sky vaulted over the Gold Coast of Australia. Denby Browning, marketing honcho for Riviera Yachts, sat beside me on the flying bridge of our 38 Open Flybridge as she purred along quietly in slow-mo mode (70 dB-A at 1500 rpm and a speed of 10.5 knots).
"All the varnish you saw below decks is
Not your average boat test. Not by a long shot. Way back in 2001, off the coast of California, I'd sea trialed a raised-pilothouse motoryacht that would set a new course for Grand Banks. Called the 64 Aleutian Class, the boat sported a complicated and decidedly untrawlerly Tom Fexas hull form designed to optimize
The flags stood at attention. I directed my eyes toward the horizon and gazed at the "buffalo" (big swells) running across the Gulf Stream. It was about this time that I began to appreciate the nearly two-inch-thick, solid-fiberglass core sample I'd seen earlier. Uniesse Marine USA vice president Ralph Barca had pointed to it, as well as an image of the 65 Motoryacht's beefy grid-type stringer
The only other time I can remember getting myself into something that sounded this stark-raving mad was a dozen years ago. I'd just finished wringing out a high-performance screamer, and the photographer who was prepping for a follow-up helicopter shoot suggested I come along, not only "just for the livin' hell of it," but also to experience (after the shoot was "in the can," as they say) a
During a boat test, it's always a pleasure to speak with the owners and to hear about the yacht from their point of view. When those opportunities arise, one of my main goals is to understand why the owners chose a particular yacht; what features were the deciding factors? When I put this query to the owners of a new 72-foot Hatteras I recently tested, their reply was precise. Without hesitation,
Italy is renowned for setting the high-water mark in style. From the right slacks to the right hair to the right yacht, it's all got to be impeccable. It was in this atmosphere that I approached the quay in Ancona, Italy, to preview the Ferretti 592. She's a boat in two parts. Studio Zuccon International Project designed the superstructure and interior, while Ferretti Yachts' engineering
Zaffiro is Italian for sapphire, a gem known for its strength; sapphire ranks 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness (diamond is a 10). The jewel's strength owes much to its density—there's a lot of material in a compact space. Much like its namesake, the new launch from Cranchi is a tightly packed jewel. But the real feat of the builder is making the boat feel so
Italy has hundreds of little museums, most with something worth looking at behind their engraved doors. Sometimes the art is inspiring, sometimes just surprising, but usually adding up to something fine and enjoyable. Moreover, it helps you understand what style and craftsmanship are supposed to be about.
You could say the same thing about Azimut's 58 Flying Bridge, specifically the
Robert Moss really likes boats. He enjoys them so much that he's owned nine new ones since 2004. I met Moss because he kindly let me test his most recent addition, a Viking Sport Cruisers 63 Motor Yacht. I arrived at the vessel's home at the Brewer Yacht Sales yard on Long Island's north shore, and this avid boater soon gave me the skinny on why he digs the 63.
"When I took delivery
Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe defined the minimalist art movement of the mid-1900's with the oft-quoted statement "Less is more." Both the quote and the movement have been reworked in numerous ways since then, but the key aesthetic remains unchanged: reduce a design to its basic elements. The result is a creation that is inherently simpler, and it's been my experience that this simplicity is
Sometimes a boat is built around the engines. At least that was the case with the Symbol 75 Flushdeck Motoryacht I recently tested out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida's Bahia Mar marina. A little more than 15 months ago, this boat's owner was seeking a vessel that could cruise in the low- to mid-20-knot range. She also needed to have four to five staterooms to accommodate his large family while
I heard an industry spokesperson say something the other day at a press event that seemed a little strange, at least at first. "The competitors for the products we build are not the manufacturers of other boats and engines," the guy said earnestly, "it's everything else—by which I mean golf courses, condominiums, RVs, motorcycles."
A couple of heads nodded. But otherwise the
The moment was bordering on silly fun. I took over the wheel of the Cabo 38 Flybridge (Hull No. 1) and with minimal input from the ZF electronic controls made her spin like a top. As I throttled the optional 800-mhp MAN diesels, she whipped around to port in a perfect circle while the 27x33 four-blade nibral wheels ate up the cobalt water off Port Everglades inlet. Thus this pocket battlewagon
Alongside the dictionary definition of the word unconventional, one might rightly expect to find an image of the Fjord 40. Quite simply, she looks like no other 40-footer around. Her styling is about the boldest I've ever seen in a waterborne craft, rivaling the over-the-top Wally Tender for imaginative pizzazz. And for good reason, it turns out: Both projects were developed by Patrick Banfield
In David Marlow's hands are two coffee stirrers buttressed at either end with the lids from our large Styrofoam cups. "You see," he explains as he leans his elbows on the granite countertop in the galley of the Marlow 86, "these lids represent the Kevlar skins..." As the owner and founder of Marlow Yachts begins his explanation, I sip on my coffee and pay careful attention, knowing that he and
While casting about for a way to convey my overall impression of San Juan Yachts' new 40 FB (Fly Bridge), I kept coming back to my good buddy Don. Some years ago he and I had dinner in a waterfront eatery in Panacea, Florida, and our conversation eventually got 'round, as it usually does, to a favorite topic, my beloved trawler Betty Jane. "She's quite simply a work of art, that little
One of the things I've learned in my years of owning and testing boats is that when you're getting ready to buy a new one, you need to not only ask yourself some hard questions but answer them realistically. When it comes to motoryachts, two of the most crucial interrogatories are, "Do I want/need a crew?" and "How fast do I want/need to go?" (Distinguishing between "want" and "need" is an even
The 350 Abaco is the biggest boat Scout has ever built, and because of that you'd assume that the builder would keep it simple—create a vessel with time-tested features that would subtly introduce the brand to the 30-foot-plus market without risking the pitfalls associated with new engineering. Well, the company didn't choose that path, and I say it built a better boat as a result. With at
When the first sailfish hit, we were running along the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream. The day was perfect, with the wind northerly, seas averaging six feet or more, and the sun bearing down just hard enough to ease the midmorning January chill. "Right kite," yelled Albemarle company captain Jamie Brandon from the cockpit of our Albemarle 290XF (Express Fisherman).
I'd been daydreamin'