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BOATS

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Vicem 67 Flybridge

Every afternoon at just before sunset in Tuzla, Turkey, a small town approximately 15 miles outside of Istanbul, loudspeakers summon Muslims to Magrib, or sunset prayer. If you were just offshore in the Sea of Marmara at this time, the prayers coming from the loudspeakers would certainly float over the onion-shape minarets of the city’s numerous mosques to reach your ears. Looking towards the shore, with the sun setting over the ancient boatbuilding city, would surely be an awesome sight.

It would also be a stunning setting in which new customers could sea trial a new Vicem. Indeed, says Dave Mallach of Down East Yachts, Vicem’s U.S. distributor, “We [often] take owners on their maiden voyage at this time of day.” Mallach explains that when the owners of Hull No. 1 of the 67 Flybridge visited Vicem’s Tuzla factory, they were ecstatic with their boat and mesmerized by the local color that Turkey offered. They were equally enthralled with the spirit of Salah—an Arabic word that describes spiritual relationships and interactions and how they are communicated—and the way in which it makes the jump from religion to first-rate boatbuilding at Vicem.

The setting for my sea trial, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was not quite as exotic as the waters off Asia Minor, though I doubt I’d have noticed the scenery no matter where I was after stepping aboard into the 67’s saloon via a mahogany and glass sliding door. Salah is said to use intense concentration to obtain harmony and accord, and those characteristics are reflected in the 67’s saloon: Occupying the entire 18’5” beam, its mahogany interior is simply astonishing. Honey-colored mahogany soles with sapele pommelle inlays play beautifully off the high-gloss Epifanes varnish of the dark, solid-mahogany cabinetry. In fact, most of the mahogany aboard is solid, with the exception of some of the larger bulkheads, which utilize veneers. Light from three big, forward-facing windows and four side windows, two of which slide open, and more than seven feet of headroom make the saloon open and airy.

While the mahogany is gorgeous, the artisanship applied to it places the Vicem’s saloon in elite territory. A credenza that graces the saloon’s port side features curved mahogany doors that open to reveal two sliding drawers stocked with wine glasses. To fill those glasses, another cabinet here houses a glass-front, 26-bottle wine cooler. And like nearly all the custom cabinetry aboard the 67, each cabinet door is louvered. This not only looks great, it allows for air circulation in spaces that are prone to mold. An optional 42-inch LCD TV (a 20-inch is standard) rises from the aft portion of the credenza and is easily viewable from the upholstered settee to starboard.

In addition to Vicem’s meticulous craftsmanship, the ability to work with a semicustom builder was a big selling point for the owners, says Mallach. This is revealed in two ways: in the 67’s interior decor and the design of her well-equipped galley.

The decor is by Sandy Mitchell Designs, and it is Mitchell, now Mrs. Brock, and her husband, former U.S. Senator Bill Brock, who are the owners of the 67 I am aboard. Because they reside in Annapolis, Maryland, the 67’s style is Chesapeake classical rather than trendy. Mrs. Brock smartly allowed the mahogany interior to take center stage, choosing subtle colors for the settee, bedspreads, and pillows, except in the four-berth starboard stateroom that’s reserved for the grandchildren, obviously fans of the vibrant hues and bold prints of Lilly Pulitzer.

The Brocks love to entertain and cook onboard their yacht, and nowhere was this more apparent than in the 67’s galley. Three steps down from the saloon and to port, it’s a distinct space that’s also within easy conversation range of the saloon. Its array of high-end appliances would make Wolfgang Puck envious: A Wolf steamer and two-burner cooktop are set in a cream-colored marble countertop and flanked by a stainless steel sink that’s deep enough to fit a tall colander of pasta. Stainless steel appliances—a Miele microwave/convection oven, a full-size Jenn-Air refrigerator/freezer, and a Fisher & Paykel drawer-style dishwasher—contrast nicely with the high-gloss mahogany of both the backsplash and cabinetry. There’s an abundance of stowage as well, and for those bleary-eyed mornings that often follow a lively evening of entertaining aboard, a slick Jura Capresso automatic coffee/espresso maker is recessed into a drawer near the oven.

Although the spirit of Salah was obvious in the 67’s layout and design, I wondered how it would translate during an offshore wring out. Unfortunately, an early-morning breeze that was blowing the flags stiffly at my hotel had waned, so while conditions offshore were gorgeous for cruising, they weren’t ideal for a sea trial. Still, as I put the 67 through the paces from the flying bridge, some attributes shone through.

The first of these is the location of the starboard-side helm. Sightlines are excellent on three sides although somewhat limited aft—I’d add a docking camera just above the aft deck for this purpose. I also found both the optional Northstar 6000i and Furuno NavNet chartplotters here easy to read at a glance under full sunlight, while still keeping my focus on the horizon.

Optional power for the 67 is twin 1,100- or 1,360-hp MANs. But with the standard 900-hp MAN V8s, our 67 performed admirably, with a top end just less than 30 mph at 2300 rpm and a cruise of 27 mph. I found the smooth and responsive single-lever ZF electronic controls a great match. While she took about five boat lengths to come around during high-speed, 180-degree turns, her helm response was nearly instantaneous. Additionally, from a dead stop to WOT, my test boat saw a running angle that never exceeded 4 degrees.

As I steered the 67 through the crowd of boats and ships in Port Everglades Inlet, I reflected on her unusual pedigree. In fact, for a moment, as I stood at the helm and looked to the south over the four red-and-white towers of a powerplant, I swore I heard chanting being carried in on the light breeze.

Of course, it was my imagination—or maybe it was the spirit of Salah infused into the Vicem’s cold-molded mahogany hull.

Down East Yachts
(631) 418-2700

This article originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.