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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Carver 59 Marquis

I was standing at Carver’s display at the Miami International Boat Show as a couple of Italians disembarked from the new 59 Marquis. Curious what they might have to say after touring what the builder was claiming to be a true American-European hybrid, I edged closer.

“It really looks Italian,” marveled one.

“It doesn’t look Italian,” corrected his paisano, “it is Italian.”

Well, not exactly. The Venice-based marine design firm of Nuvolari and Lenard certainly gave the 59 a continental look, but it was the men and women of Pulaski, Wisconsin, who built her. Still, after my turn aboard the 59 that night and a full-day sea trial on her in Fort Lauderdale a few weeks later, I felt this boat had more in common with an Azimut or Ferretti than with another Carver. That’s not to say she’s their peer. Her sapele and cherry joinery and lovely, three-panel, solid-cherry doors are a huge step up from other Carvers, but the company still has a way to go before it can match the flawless, deep lacquer that routinely comes out of Italy and England.

Yet the 59 is at her heart a different Carver. She’s even built differently, inspired by EU Class I standards, the most stringent classification. Her hull has a solid-glass bottom and a combination of foam and balsa cores in the hull sides. She uses what Carver calls U.S. Navy-style construction, featuring a deck that, when attached to the hull, creates a monolith that needs no structural support other than bulkheads. The separate superstructure is an aluminum grid onto which is attached the laminate. A metal flange on it mates to a steel-reinforced deck boss, where the two are married with urethane sealant and bolts. The deck itself is a combination of tubular aluminum, balsa core, and foam encapsulated in fiberglass. Windows are direct-bonded—no frames—and engine beds are engine-length U-shape steel rails bolted from the top down into tapped steel plate embedded in the stringers and also through-bolted horizontally. The shelf on which the steering quadrants attach is reinforced with carbon fiber, and bulkheads are triple-bonded to the hull and sealed at all penetrations.

Impressive? Undoubtedly, but it’s what people see when they walk through the 59 that will make them wonder if they’re on a Carver. Everything from the Mariner Italian Faucetry plumbing fixtures to the brushed-aluminum Olivari door hardware is upscale. Yet this is still a Carver, and that means superb space utilization. When you walk down from the main level to the accommodations level, you do so via a comfortable 2’5”-wide curved stairway that leads to a large foyer with a granite sole that has LEDs embedded in it.

Head forward and you come to the VIP, with port and starboard full-length hanging closets, 6’6” headroom, port and starboard ports, and an optional flat-panel TV that flips down from the overhead. There are plenty of high-power halogen lights—they need a dimmer—and a large en suite head with enclosed shower to starboard.

The midship master is abaft the foyer and offers two larger hanging closets, each with elegantly curved doors, plus two ports and large built-in cabinets on each side. The en suite head, like its forward mate, has a large enclosed shower.

Both staterooms are so spacious, you wonder how Carver did it on a 59-footer—until you see the third stateroom, midway between the two and to port. It has bunks and a shallow (five inches deep) closet but is so small Carver had to design a bi-fold door so you can get in and out of it. This one is definitely more confortable for kids.

Space is not lacking on the main deck. The optional lower station leaves room for a nice-size semicircular couch to starboard. Sightlines from the two pedestal seats are fine—the helm seat raises electrically to enhance your view—although a seven-inch-wide centerline mullion is a distraction. Should you not order the lower station, a larger semicircular settee occupies the area. An optional pneumatically operated port-side door provides ready access to the side deck, and even at $13,300, it’s a worthwhile option for crewless cruisers.

The large U-shape galley is aft and to starboard on this level, and as with the heads, its counters and sole are granite. A two-burner ceramic cooktop, stainless steel KitchenAid convection/microwave oven, and below-counter Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer are standard. An optional Fisher and Paykel drawer-style dishwasher fits handily under a seat just forward of the galley. Two features that fell into my gee-I-didn’t-know-I-needed-that category: a Cuisinart coffee maker that slides out electrically and a kitchen faucet with a clock in it.

Down three steps, the saloon has seven-foot headroom, is surrounded by glass on three sides, and can be ordered with a Sony 34-inch flat-panel TV in the forward starboard corner and a choice of furniture. Our boat had couches on either side—one with a big stowage drawer, the other that converted to two recliners—plus a barrel chair.

You exit the saloon for the cockpit via one of the prettiest and smoothest curved stainless steel sliding doors I’ve seen. (It has a curved screen door, too.) The cockpit is moderate in size—6’8” deep—and its entire sole can be removed to reach the engine space. A 3’ W x 4’6” L hatch provides easier access to the standard diesels via a large lazarette, part of which can be ordered as crew quarters. Our boat had optional warping winches in each aft corner atop molded fiberglass cabinets, but no way to feed line into the cabinets except through the cabinet door. The stainless steel work here and elsewhere is exemplary—as good as I’ve seen—and it’s all done by Carver. From bollards embossed with the Carver logo to turned-billet stanchions, the work shines—literally—and adds a custom feel.

Foredeck access from here is via 11/2-foot-wide side decks with waist-high bulwarks and ample grabrails, guaranteeing safe passage in all but the worst conditions. To make your way aft, step through the starboard transom gate down to an enormous swim platform—actually two platforms. There’s a fixed one 40 inches deep followed by a 43-inch-deep one that raises and lowers electrically—and it’s standard.

There’s only one way up to the bridge, via a comfortable enclosed cockpit stair. The helm station up here is massive and well-laid-out—plenty of room for two Raymarine monitors and the MTU engine displays—with good sightlines forward. There’s also lots of seating and entertaining space, plus a 4’8”-deep space aft for a tender (a davit is available) or additional sunning space to supplement the big pad on the foredeck.

All this rides on a Carver-designed hull with a 14-degree aft deadrise that generates good lift, as evidenced by our test boat’s ability to plane at around 1450 rpm. Running outside from Stuart to West Palm Beach, the 590 easily handled the two-foot chop, performing best with about one-quarter tab. The hull responded well to helm input but cried out for standard power-assisted steering.

Speaking of crying out, there were a lot of exclamatory comments on her debut night in Miami, and all those I heard—in many languages—were laudatory. No one seemed quite sure how much of the 59 was the work of Italians and how much the Americans, but everyone agreed this 59-footer had raised the bar, not only for Carver, but given a moderate base price of $1,295,000, for the whole boatbuilding industry, too.

Carver
(920) 822-3214

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.