Craft 51 Dolphin — By Capt. Bill Pike —
Hip, Slick, and Cool
|An Italian-built lobsteryacht blends 1950’s automotive sizzle with lots of modern technology.|
While driving from Florence to the Adriatic port of Cesenatico, Italy, some weeks ago, I spent a fair amount of time thinking about and anticipating my upcoming sea trial of the Mochi Craft 51 Dolphin. Having tested several other vessels of the same type, from stateside builders like San Juan, Rivolta, and Hinckley, I was interested in seeing exactly what the Italian take on a New England-style lobsteryacht might be.
Perhaps “interested” isn’t precisely the right word to use here, though, given the fact that I was able to ponder and speculate rather deeply while zooming down the autostrada in a rented Alfa Romeo at 110 mph! Perhaps the word “obsessed” would be a better fit.
After all, I love lobsteryachts. And more to the point, I’ve loved them from the first moment I saw one—a Volvo Penta-powered Sisu 22 chugging through a marina in Salem, Massachusetts, back in the early 1980’s. Sure, the humble little vessel was not exactly a yacht in the conventional sense, but she was as salty-looking as a four-masted barkentine and just as honest, gorgeous, and straightforward as her workaday cousins. I’ll never forget how quietly she swept past, hardly deigning to ripple the water.
When I arrived at the marina in Cesenatico, my Dolphin test boat was awash in extension cords, power tools, and cleaning products. She was also besieged by a platoon of workmen from Mochi Craft’s parent company, The Ferretti Group, based in nearby Forli. They explained they were gussying the boat up so her owner could officially take possession on the morrow. The delay inherent in this development was a tad depressing, but I remained seriously enthused. Tied stern-to, with her garage door gaping and teak-paved, stainless steel Besenzoni passarelle fully extended, the boat was a traditional beauty, no doubt about it, with 1950’s-era automotive curves and a racy but muscular look. I could hardly wait to get behind the wheel.
“We can perhaps do a tour while the workmen finish,” suggested Andrea Ameli, one of the Ferretti engineers on the Dolphin project. “There is much to see.”
The guy wasn’t kidding. We started with the machinery spaces, dropping first through an amidships cockpit hatch into what Ameli called “the pump room.” It was chock-a-block with top-shelf, Italian-made ancillaries, albeit some Americanization is planned for the stateside version, which will be marketed and serviced by Ferretti Group U.S.A. and introduced at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this year. Among the standards I noted were a Condaria chilled-water air conditioning unit, three big, gutsy Gianneschi & Ramaciotti pumps (for salt, fresh, and black water), a set of simplex 1000 MA Racor fuel-water separators (duplex Racors are optional), an Acorn PB water-manifold system, a Mastervolt battery charger, a Mastervolt inverter, and a nifty Anchor Marine Parts micro-bilge suction system.
Farther aft, the engine room proper offered 5'6" headroom and was just as finely outfitted, although I could see no easy way to get to the steering gear (access is achieved through a hatch in the floor of the garage, Ameli explained). Detailing was lackluster in spots—fabric-backed, foam-type sound insulation was raggedly trimmed here and there, for example, and while most fuel hoses had permanently swedged fittings, one was simply clamped. Access to the mains as well as the amidships 12-kW Mase genset was excellent, however. And the electrical firepower on hand was impressive, with wire runs encased in plastic chases and two banks of four 200-amp-hour batteries, one for cranking, the other for house usage. Yet another battery was dedicated to the genset.
This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.