Used Boat Review: Marlow Explorer 78E

Crafted for Cruising

The Marlow Explorer 78 Series is meant for serious voyaging in comfort and luxury.

Marlow Explorer 78E saloon

When Bandolero became available on the brokerage market, she must have captured the interest of more than a few independent-minded yachtsmen, particularly those with plans for long-range cruising. Like all the Marlow Explorers in the 78 series, she was designed by company owner David Marlow to be seakindly, with the equipment and layout her owners need to accomplish lengthy passages with fewer fuel stops.

This three-stateroom design is offered with crew’s quarters, upgraded Caterpillar C32 inboards with ZF transmissions and Aquadrives, two Northern Lights gensets, Side-Power bow and stern thrusters, Naiad stabilizers, an air compressor to fill dive tanks, and a 900-gallon-per-day Sea Recovery watermaker. On the flying bridge, the extended boat deck aft of the seating and helm, which is protected by a hardtop with full enclosure, includes a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with refrigerator, ice maker, stainless steel sink, and a large propane grill. The extended deck also includes a 1,600-pound-capacity crane for a custom Marlow Sprite dinghy with a 60-horsepower Mercury four-stroke outboard.

Marlow Explorer 78EBandolero idles in one of the many tropical locales she’s frequented.

High bulwarks topped with teak-capped stainless handrails, a full-width Portuguese bridge ahead of the pilothouse, and teak planking on all the weather decks—including the centerline walkway on the foredeck leading to the windlass and bow platform (where there are stainless steel Bruce and CQR anchors)—are hallmarks of the 78 series, which was designed for safety in remote anchorages.

On this 78E, the lower and upper helms are outfitted with identical navigation and communications electronics, including a pair of Furuno NavNet 3D multifunction displays, as well as ICOM VHF radios, and the control heads for a Simrad autopilot. The galley, located on the bridgedeck level forward, is likewise well equipped for long voyages, with not one but three sets of Sub-Zero 700BC refrigerator/freezers (there’s yet a fourth one in the crew’s quarters), a Dacor electric cooktop and oven, a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher, and much more.

The lower helm is situated on centerline; an adjacent lounge and table offers passengers the same unimpeded views forward that are enjoyed by the helmsman. Two ­watertight doors allow quick access to the side decks, which lead forward to the Portuguese bridge with double doors that open onto the foredeck. If you travel aft along the side decks, you head down two stairs to the aft deck. An inside stairway to port of the helm provides weather-protected access to the flying bridge. An overhead teak searail makes moving around the flying bridge in a rough conditions that much safer.

Everyone on the bridgedeck has unobstructed views of the saloon aft; this is in keeping with David Marlow’s philosophy of guest and crew inclusion and his desire to create pleasingly large and open spaces within the deckhouse structure. For crews who plan to run overnight, the company will create a barrier that serves to separate the flying bridge from the saloon, although Marlow says he gets few orders for this type of layout.

Marlow Explorer 78E engine roomSpace to walk between and inspect the engines is a Marlow staple throughout its line.

Large side windows bring plenty of natural light into the cabin and provide excellent views for those sitting at the eight-person dining table just abaft the galley. A serving area and bar, topped with the same granite found on the galley counters, is just opposite the dining table. Farther aft, in the saloon proper, are a C-shaped couch and custom hi/lo coffee table to starboard. Two comfortable upholstered easy chairs flank the teak entertainment console that’s to starboard, which houses a large flatscreen TV on a lift. Another overhead teak searail, which you don’t see on many boats headed offshore, adds safety. The hand-laid teak-and-holly sole, along with the finely crafted teak furniture and panels, are sure to impress.

Large teak double doors open wide for access between the aft deck and the saloon. Built-in seating and a custom table near the transom are well protected from the elements by the extension of the boat deck.

“The 78 series was built from 2002 until 2014, and we have delivered them in the Med, Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, Vancouver, Chile and, of course, Florida,” says Marlow, who is chairman of Marlow Marine located in Snead Island, Florida. “The 78E Bandolero was Hull No. 20 of the 78 series, which also included three 72-foot models with conventional transoms in the period. Her designation as a 78E refers to her European transom, with transom boarding stairs built at a diagonal as opposed to the vertical stairs of the 72C. I believe she was completed in late spring 2006 and delivered early summer of the same year in Florida.”

Marlow also told me that the tooling for the 78 series was produced in a new factory built by Marlow Marine in Xiamen, China, on the southeast coast, due west across the Taiwan (or Formosa) Strait from the island of Taiwan. It was built in the first hall that was completed, and was done entirely in-house by 15 Taiwanese master toolmakers that the company had hired in 2001. To develop the 78 series, the first hall was outfitted as a complete boatbuilding classroom staffed by the masters and their apprentices; here, they built a complete wooden 78-foot yacht, including superstructure and details, and taught the art of fine boatbuilding in the process. Today, the Xiamen facility has become a 150,000-square-foot series of halls for tooling, lamination, metalworking, soft goods, and production stations, all located on 25-plus acres of pristine grounds.

Marlow Explorer 78E master stateroomWhile this master stateroom is very traditional the living spaces are custom.

“The later iterations of the 78 series have 3,400 U.S. gallons of fuel for very long range at 9 knots,” Marlow says, “and on new boat sea trials, these models routinely reach speeds over 30 knots at half load with Caterpillar C32 series engines. With the inline six-cylinder C18s, a more than respectable 20-knot cruise can be maintained at Caterpillar’s recommended cruising speed.”

Marlow told me that resale of the 78 series has been strong as there are few boats in the size range with comparable power, other than a few sportfishing models that can reach and maintain similar speeds. Yet few boats can compare with the range of the Marlow models built with 3,400 usable gallons of fuel. That capacity is made possible by a trademark fiberglass tank. Located at the front of the stand-up-height engine room, the fuel tank is well positioned to optimize the balance of the yacht under way. Its location also helps mitigate sound that would otherwise be passed forward to the accommodations deck.

Among the other features that owners greatly appreciate are the Marlow’s very modest draft (it’s made possible by large tunnels and 9-degree shaft angles), and the company’s proprietary Velocijet Strut Keel technology, which offers great protection for running gear, especially when gunkholing. At the same time, the Strut Keels provide exceptional tracking in heavy following seas, acting like feathers on an arrow to maintain a straight course.

In 2015, after a 13-year model run, the 78 series was discontinued and the 80 series was developed in response to the demand among U.S. owners for larger crew’s quarters and the ability to run nonstop at 22 knots for long distances (think Florida to Chesapeake Bay) without a fuel bladder or auxiliary fuel tank. But the 78 series still has loyal fans. Boats like Bandolero were meant for serious cruising, and they have a lot to offer those who want to go the distance in luxury and comfort.

Click here for Marlow Yachts’ contact information and index of articles ▶


This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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