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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Symbol 75

Sometimes a boat is built around the engines. At least that was the case with the Symbol 75 Flushdeck Motoryacht I recently tested out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida's Bahia Mar marina. A little more than 15 months ago, this boat's owner was seeking a vessel that could cruise in the low- to mid-20-knot range. She also needed to have four to five staterooms to accommodate his large family while cruising around his native Puerto Rico. The owner, who is the operator, too, also wanted the 75's range to allow him to cruise between his home island and South Florida. In fact, she's likely making that trip as you're reading this.

With these requirements the originally planned 73-foot Flushdeck was fitted for a pair of 1,015-mhp Caterpillar C18 diesel inboards. Soon after the design for this modified-V-bottom, Jack Sarin-designed yacht started, the 1,652-hp Cat C32 ACERT diesels became available. To comfortably accommodate the larger engines, the boat grew about four feet feet in length and gained an extra foot of beam. While the boat is called the 75, she actually measures 79'1" LOA. The extra length and beam helped seal the deal on a fifth stateroom and allowed for a full-beam master aft, which can also be modified into crew quarters.

Aside from the speed and accommodation requirements, the owner let Symbol's U.S. dealer, Barin Cardenas of Lucid Marine, choose a majority of the layout and interior look of the boat. That's one of the benefits of working with a semicustom builder: Its expertise enables it to fit out a boat, and yet it's also happy to get owner input and insight. In fact, the owners of a future Symbol were onboard during my test, and I learned they have a strong sense of how they want their 82-foot yachtfisherman laid out. To that end, they're working closely with the builder and even retained Sarin on an individual basis to help with some of the details. However you want to build your boat, Symbol seems to make the wants and needs list happen for its owners.

And, like I said, this 75's owner's need was performance first. And she delivers. The boat was easily on plane at 1500 rpm. On a somewhat short-chop-topped (two- to four-foot) Atlantic, my test boat effortlessly made an average cruise speed of 25 mph at 2000 rpm, with a fuel burn of 131 gph. When I dialed her Cats back to 1750 rpm, the 75 effortlessly cruised at 21.6 mph with a fuel burn of 88 gph. Top average speed for this 152,200-pound yacht was 30 mph at 180 gph, but the engines weren't turning full rpm. The C32s are rated at 2300, but they were only reaching 2214 to 2230. Symbol's captain informed me the boat had bumped the bottom prior to my arrival and may have had a ding in her 44x43 four-blade nibral props. I did notice a slight vibration on the starboard side and think the 75 may have another half to full knot in her once the wheels are hammered out.

Wind-swept salt spray seemed ever present on the front of the four-sided EZ2CY enclosure as the yacht slid through the swells. I wondered if the boat could benefit from spray rails. She did, however, run smoothly in open water. The 75 felt bedrock solid underway, and I'm sure her beefy build, which is highlighted by a solid-fiberglass hull bottom and closed-cell high-density foam-cored hull sides, played a part. The standard Wesmar stabilizers kept the boat running without mal-de-mar-inducing wallowing, even when heading beam to the seas. After I asked for the stabilizers to be turned off, her roll was inconsequential. From her engine placement to her triple FRP fuel tanks and optional twin 30-kW Northern Lights genset, the 75 is an exercise in proper balance.

The Hynautic hydraulic power-assist steering was up to the task of smoothly turning this big-feel motoryacht at 21 mph within five-plus boat lengths, and the Glendinning controls were working in real-time fashion; opposing the throttles easily spun the boat on her axis. The standard 40-hp hydraulic Wesmar bow and stern thrusters were at the ready, but not needed. While I only operated the boat from the upper station, bad-weather days can easily be handled from the lower station. Of course, you don't have to have the lower station, and it can be replaced with a skylounge. The owners of the 82-footer are opting for the skylounge, as they prefer to run the boat from the flying bridge.

One final note on the upper station. My test boat had a long aft deck off the flying bridge, which is used to house the owner's 14-foot Zodiac and UMT hydraulic davit (both optional). This lengthy overhang impedes visibility aft from the upper helm. You can, however, use the lower station, which has a clear view aft, or use the optional wireless remote control from Yacht Controller for making close-quarter moves from anywhere onboard.

The 75's big-boat nature made her an easy-to-handle vessel, but her increased size also made for an equally impressive and wicked-huge interior space. From the cockpit through the saloon doors to the helm, it's a seemingly never-ending room. The area is made to feel even bigger, as Cardenas chose a light-tone high-gloss maple veneer, which is also used throughout this vessel. While teak is standard, the maple opens up the area by reflecting natural light coming through the cabin-length side windows. It's simply voluminous, but you don't feel lost. That's because with the use of elongated Ultraleather sofas, barrel chairs, and half walls near the galley, Cardenas has defined each of these areas while allowing them to flow in and out of each other. Call it boat feng shui.

To me the true centerpiece of the 75 is the full-beam master stateroom aft with en suite head. This space sits just a few feet aft of the engine room, which houses those big Cats, twin gensets, and ten air-conditioning handlers generating 110,000 Btus of calming coolness, but it's still quiet. Thick bulkheads, a fair amount of Soundown insulation, and solidly secured machinery (the polished stainless steel engine mounts are massive) surely help. In the stateroom there are two 47"Lx19"Wx48"H closets that flank the foot of the king-size berth and will make a great hide-and-seek spot for the kids. Just aft the mirrored headboard conceals an escape hatch that leads to the lazarette. With portholes that measure 21"Lx7.5"H, there's plenty of sunlight flooding in here as well as endless overhead LED lighting. And the stateroom is far enough back in the boat that you have privacy from the guest area.

When you blend the solid feel of the 75's ride and her sturdy build, which also includes 32-inch-high bulwarks and a heavy-duty pantograph-style watertight door at the lower helm, with the sophisticated high-gloss light woods, an open floorplan, and several-hundred-mile range, you get a boat built for the cruising family. Just pick a direction and go.

For more information on Symbol Yachts, including contact information, click here.

Unlike the owner of this Symbol 75 Flushdeck Motoryacht, most owners of mid-70-footers are not running their own vessels. So while this owner positioned his full-beam master stateroom all the way aft, you can also use this space for captain and crew quarters and leave the area forward of the engine room for owner and guest staterooms.—P.S.

This article originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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