Pacific Mariner 85 Pilothouse
Motoryacht — By Capt. Bill Pike —
Pacific Mariner’s totally outfitted 85-foot motoryacht is tops in performance, finish, and engineering.
Okay. Let’s get a couple of things out of the way right off the bat. First, you’re likely to wonder a little when you check the specifications for the Pacific Mariner 85 Pilothouse Motoryacht shown here. I kid you not: The standards list is so extraordinarily lengthy and replete with aristocratic brand names that it reads like a Russian novel. Second, if you’re the type to read fine print, you’re also likely to wonder a little when you peruse the specifics given under “Conditions”—you know, the verbiage concerning sea state, wind speed, etc. that appears just below the performance on the same page. What the heck were 30 people doing onboard the boat when I recently sea trialed her in Skagit Bay, not far from LaConner, Washington, the town where she was built?
The first mystery’s easy. The 85’s sold in such a solid turnkey fashion that, except for a flying-bridge hardtop and teak aft deck, there simply are no options. Standards include everything from remote engine/bow thruster control stations for docking (one in the cockpit and two others on either bridge wing) to a galley stocked with preeminent appliances, Reed & Barton flatware, and—would you believe?—a Starbucks Barista coffee pot!
The second mystery? Pacific Mariner was jammed tight against the 85’s delivery deadline on the foggy, rainy morning I arrived. Owners Troy and Bonnie Ducharme had signed a contract well over a year prior based solely on their four-year love affair with a Pacific Mariner 65 Motoryacht, the only model the builder previously offered. The Ducharmes were on fire with expectation, camped out at a hotel in town, and very antsy to start heading south for Mexico, the Panama Canal, Venezuela, Barbados, and finally Florida, for the Miami International Boat Show. “Bill,” apologized Pacific Mariner president Jack Edson, “No way around it, man—I gotta keep the guys workin’ while we do the test.”
This turn of events had ramifications, of course. On the test-data front, although the sound levels I recorded in the pilothouse were stunningly low—the 85 is easily the quietest boat in her size range I’ve ever tested—they were undoubtedly higher than they might have otherwise been, mostly because numerous sound-deadening panels had yet to be installed. And then, the weight of 30 workers onboard, coupled with the weight of their tools, was prodigious—it more than likely reduced the top-end speed I measured by at least a knot.
There was a comedic ramification as well. While I was standing at the lower helm driving the 85 back to the dock after the sea trial, a shipwright was installing headliner panels directly over my head with a big electric drill. His helper, a guy with a hearing problem perhaps, was positioned several feet astern, trying to hold up his end of the panel with acceptable precision. Coordinating such an operation was understandably frustrating to the shipwright, and at the precise moment I was swinging the corner into LaConner Narrows, a rock-infested, current-ravaged stretch that opens into LaConner harbor, he yelled, “No! To starboard…TO STARBOARD!”
My eyes shot back and forth like sombody’d tossed a hand grenade. Jeeeze…was I about to nail some gnarly, unseen obstruction dead ahead with a $4.7-million yacht?! I spun the wheel to starboard, and the boat responded with remarkable speed and sensitivity thanks to extra-robust power-assisted Teleflex hydraulics and a steering system that boasts just three turns lock to lock.
Edson, standing with arms akimbo on the back of the Stidd I had nervously braced my butt against said. “Ah...Bill, John was talkin’ to Ed, I believe. Go ahead and bring ’er back to port.”
The directive had gravitas to it, despite Edson’s calm tone. I spun the wheel back to port, to get the bow swinging fast, and then countered with just enough starboard wheel to steady her up. Whew! The whole maneuver took a couple of seconds at most. Didn’t even need to goose the starboard engine to facilitate.
Next page > Part 2: The dazzling finish of the interior complements the 85’s impressive handling and maneuverability. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.