Squadron 74 — By Capt. Ken Kreisler
— January 2003
|Part 2: The 74 is easy to look at, with her low profile and distinctive windows.|
Aft of the dining area is the saloon seating area, with a leather couch to port and a pair of leather barrel chairs flanking a hand-crafted credenza to starboard. It holds a 30-inch plasma-screen television, which quickly and silently rises and disappears, as well as a bar with refrigerator.
But the 74 offers more than just exceptional design and accoutrements. Fairline made sure the 74 is well-equipped, too. With the flip of a switch, half of the integral, teak-soled swim platform raises to reveal the transom garage, which houses the optional jet-drive RIB tender. The platform itself is surrounded by a rail for safety, and I was impressed by its strength. In fact, I was impressed by the quality of all the hardware aboard, including the standard Lewmar warping winches in each cockpit corner.
Access to the stand-up engine room is through a gasketed door in the transom that is located on the vessel’s centerline just to starboard of the garage. The door is hinged on top and secured by two large latching dogs. It also rises and lowers on gas-assisted rams, as do all the hatches, for easy and safe operation. The engine room itself is work-friendly, as both inboard and outboard sides of the engines—on my boat, a pair of 1,400-hp Cat 3412E diesels—are easily reached.
Sure to be a focal point for any cruising party is the wide-open, teak-sole bridge deck. The pilot’s and co-pilot’s seats are flanked by seating areas, while a dining table and additional seating is located aft of the starboard side helm. There is a grill aft of the port seating, room for an optional Besenzoni davit on the starboard side of the bridge overhang, a sunpad, and a rail surrounding the aft section. Opening that grill top proved rather difficult as it’s quite heavy, and I found myself wanting to get my fingers out of there in a hurry while lowering it. A handle and perhaps more substantial rams than those already on it would help.
My test boat’s performance was also impressive. While the Solent was relatively calm, Fairline’s delivery captain assured me that: “We had been through quite a stink coming down and were still able to maintain 20 knots.” Our boat answered the helm quickly as I threw her hard-over during WOT runs and carved several 360s. I noticed an rpm drop of perhaps 100, a sign of good hull design, and when I let her go on her own, I watched her track straight and true. At 2000 rpm I calculated a 30.4-mph average with a 308-NM range, good for a boat with a fuel capacity of almost 1,300 gallons. Docking was easy thanks to bow and, on our test boat, the optional stern thruster and an optional remote control device that allows docking from a plug-in station in a cabinet located on the starboard side of the cockpit. This neat gizmo controls both throttles and thrusters.
The 74 is easy to look at, with her low profile and distinctive windows. (There are five verticals on either side.) However, there is a lot more to her that lies in places not easily seen. Her props are in tunnels to reduce both draft and shaft angle, and 3M Thinsulate is used throughout, including between the engine room and the liner for not only sound attenuation, but thermal insulation as well. The decks are polyurethane foam-cored for strength and thermal insulation, and transverse and longitudinal stringers as well as molded-in engine bearers make her a soundly built vessel.
The top-of-the-line Squadron 74 is sure to please Fairline owners wishing to step up to a larger vessel and may woo away a few owners of competitive brands as well. No wonder, for the 74 not only does just about everything well, she does it with a cool self confidence that is prototypically English.
Fairline Boats of North America Phone: (843) 342-3453. www.fairline.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.