Marlow Explorer 82By Capt. Bill Pike Photos by Neil Rabinowitz
Try this fantasy on for size: It's a sunny afternoon in Seattle, and your new Marlow Explorer 82 Cockpit Motor Yacht is ready to go at last. You step aboard the fully commissioned vessel at Chandler's Cove Marina on the south end of Lake Union, hard by the offices of Venwest Yachts, Marlow Yachts' West Coast dealership. You spend some time savoring the moment and shooting the breeze with Venwest's Randy Cowley in an extended fishing cockpit that sports a 40-inch, double-hung tuna door, optional Release fighting chair, Eskimo ice machine, tackle center, rod holders, auxiliary controls, a cockpit-activated winch (for hauling in the truly big ones), and a whopping 75-gallon bait tank with aeration pump and Lexan viewing port.
Then inexplicably—and remember, we're fantasizing here—a charming subject gently surfaces: Cabo San Lucas. You know, the cool little spot at the bottom of Mexico's reknowned Baja peninsula where the livin's easy, the chow's excellent, and the waters teem with striped marlin, yellowfin, and roosterfish. "Yeah," says Cowley, a guy who's done enough ocean ramblin' to know the score, "couple of thousand miles down to Cabo from here."
So being the wild-and-crazy sportfisherman and globetrotting bluewater cruiser that you are, you simply decide to hit the trail for Old Mexico. But here's the kicker: When you ultimately pull out of Chandler's and head south, with stores, spares, and pals aboard, you're a free agent, a world unto yourself. Topped off with 100 gallons of drinking/ potable water (in tankage fabricated from polished stainless steel to nix aftertaste), 400 gallons of domestic water (with a honkin' 900-gpd Sea Recovery watermaker as a backup), 3,000 gallons of fuel (in fiberglass tanks savvily shaped and longitudinally angled aft so virtually every last drop can be extracted), you can realistically make the whole trip nonstop if necessary. And to heck with chancing bad fuel and bad drinking water from dicey ports or, within reason, even bad weather on the high seas, considering the oceangoing potential of a vessel built to American Bureau of Shipping and ISO 9001 standards, and optionally offered with a Lloyds Germanischer Ocean Class A certificate rated for Beaufort Force Nine sea conditions.
Most fantasies harbor a nugget of truth, of course, and this baby's no exception. The 82 is in fact designed and built to service the sort of customer who wants to simultaneously live well and fish virtually anywhere in the world. But there's more to fulfilling this mission than merely integrating a complete fish-fighting arsenal; a voluminous, voyage-stretching assortment of tanks; and a bunch of resin-infused construction methods and materials that can stoutly contend with 18-foot seas and 50-mph winds.
Redundancy's one major consideration. Not only does the 82 have secondary hydraulics for her Naiad stabilizers, she also carries secondary steering hydraulics and two separate rams per rudder. Moreover, there's a water-manifolding system that lets the domestic pump stand in for the potable pump in an emergency and vice versa; separately fed Y-connected dripless shaft seals that route cooling water from one shaft to the other automatically; and a veritable phalanx of duplex Racor filters for domestic water, potable water, and diesel fuel.
Mechanical trustworthiness is another issue. Accessed either via a watertight door at the transom, another from the crew's stateroom just forward of the engine room, or yet a third scuttle-type hatch in the cockpit, the 82's engine room literally sparkles with solid, confidence-inspiring features, among them a set of custom, clear-Lexan-ported genset soundshields, four 3,700-gph bilge pumps, a sea chest (with a Lexan inspection/clean-out port) that obviates through-hulls, and a gutsy assortment of jewel-like, polished-stainless steel engine beds, exhaust risers, engine guardrails, and fuel manifolds.
Long-term livability's yet another vital concern. While the 82's fully enclosed command bridge topside, expansive saloon on the main deck (with incorporated galley, dining, and lounging areas), and four-stateroom, four-head accommodations below comprise a wholly conventional layout, the levels of finish and comfort throughout are extraordinarily high. Mix sophisticated construction and composite technologies engendering huge, uninterrupted living spaces into a mlange of exquisitely executed First European Quality Burmese Select teak joinery (with ebony and bird's-eye-maple accents) and top-notch auxiliary components (like doors and ports from Manship and appliances from Dacor and Franke), and what results is a signature mien, a striking ambiance that pushes comfort to the frontiers of art.
Then finally, there's performance, pure and simple. From Venwest's docks at Chandler's Cove, David Marlow and I boarded the prototype 82 (fresh off the ship from Norseman Shipyard, Marlow's boatbuilding facility near Xiamen, China) and subsequently sea trialed her in Seattle's Lake Washington. While the relatively mellifluous sea conditions extant nixed measuring rough-water capabilities, I managed to gauge other aspects of the 82's performance quite nicely.
The open-water stuff seemed solid. Visibility from one of two comfy Stidd seats on the command bridge (with snazzy blue piping and varnished teak ladder backs) was excellent thanks to the large windows and windshield panels encompassing the helm. The Hynautic hydraulic steering system was unusually responsive thanks in part to a proprietary effort-multiplying device that accelerates rudder response when the wheel is rapidly turned. And the average top speed of 31.3 mph was winsome, although a fuel burn of just 145 gph at WOT for both engines (Caterpillar specifies a total burn of approximately 161 gph at full load) tells me the wheels may have been slightly underpitched, a situation that typically shaves a knot or so off top end.
Dockside maneuvering also seemed solid. Besides excellent visibility, I found that manipulating our precisely detented Morse electronic engine controls produced prompt results, engaging the transmissions with little or no lag time and plenty of maneuvering oomph. In fact, backing down on a giant lakeside boathouse flanked by wharves with sailboats alongside went so smoothly, I simply skipped the two 48-volt, 20-hp Side-Power thrusters, one at the bow, the other at the stern. Not necessary.
"Fine boat handlin', Bill," said Marlow appreciatively when I finally pulled away, letting our test boat drift momentarily with the snow-capped mountains of the Pacific Northwest behind.
"Fine boat," I replied, thereby synopsizing the virtues I've already mentioned as well as the one I'll end with.
Not only does the Marlow Explorer 82 Cockpit Motor Yacht lend herself to lovely fish-fighting fantasies featuring far-out, faraway places, but she's designed and built to comfortably and reliably get you there.
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This article originally appeared in the February 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.