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Outer Reef 63

Putting pen to paper, I've often found myself mentioning horizons, the ones I've seen and the ones I hope to. Experiencing endless stretches of sky and water, fireball sunsets that melt into the sea, and graylight sunrises that seem to appear from the deepest bluewater depths are a few of the things that comprise the moments boaters can never get enough of.

Such smile-inducing thoughts came to me while sitting at the lower helm of the Taiwanese-built Outer Reef 63. Immersed in a traditional yacht environment created by standard satin-finish teak bulkheads, a teak-and-holly sole, and a beefy watertight pilothouse door that led to 19-inch-wide side decks, I gazed towards my anywhere destination. Looking over the helm console, through the full-beam, three-panel windshield, and beyond the Portuguese bridge, my eyes wandered towards the Gulf Stream. Another horizon was calling, and I had the sense that this vessel would be a willing and able partner to chase it. However time was short, and there was work to do. Damn.

But it was okay, because while enjoying the silence here underway—in this case 57 dB-A at 1000 rpm—I'd come to understand this boat's mission. She's an explorer.

Being such a vessel means more than just offering the helmsman moments of near-silent contemplation on the bridge deck, thanks in part to the Quiet Roll Spray System, which is said to deflect water away from the hull "more effectively than conventional spray rails." Underwater exhausts don't hurt either. But a yacht geared for such duty needs more—she has to be built to take on blue water.

To that end, Outer Reef constructed the 63—currently the smallest in a fleet of motoryachts ranging to 115 feet—with a traditional hand-laid FRP hull that's solid fiberglass below the waterline and cored with PVC sandwich above. This combination helps provide strength while keeping displacement at a moderate 73,000 pounds (dry). By comparison, the Fleming 65, which is admittedly larger by a few feet, is 15 tons heavier.

Additional hull stiffness is achieved via longitudinal stringers and transversals that are cored with closed-cell foam then fiberglassed. The deckhouse and flying bridge are of foam-cored fiberglass, too, which helps make them sturdy without adversely affecting weight aloft. Such solid construction and her salty exterior appearance hinted at the 63's potential as a bluewater cruiser. Her ride bore that out.

This well-balanced boat lacked any serious roll, both underway and on the drift. Even when I turned off the standard six-foot Trac fin stabilizers, the 63 offered only a minor gentle rocking in the short two-foot chop outside Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades inlet. With them on, roll was soft and still barely noticeable. What movement was there would more likely induce a relaxing nap than cause a case of mal de mar. (I later observed that all the drawers and doors were still closed when we arrived back at the dock, except one that was determined to have a weak magnetic catch. And all the pillows were on their respective berths.) Furthermore, Outer Reef's commissioning captain Walter McCuistom told me that there has been talk of equipping future 63s with an anti-roll gyro, which could further reduce roll motion while either underway or on the hook.

Whether your 63 is equipped with fins or a gyro, you'll be comfortable for a long time because this boat was meant to travel. For the feet-up, toe-driving, steady-as-she-goes crowd, her range can stretch to 3,150 statute miles at 9.1 mph (based a full 1,000-gallon tank with 90-percent usage). If you're more of a weekend, head-to-Bimini cruiser, you're probably more interested in the fact that our 63 hit a top average speed of 18.7 mph, which admittedly reduces statute-mile range to 343.

While taking those performance readings, I also noted that the 63 planed at around 1750 rpm and 13.8 mph and that she didn't have the kind of dramatic bow rise an express cruiser or convertible might have. Instead she rose gently to a maximum trim angle of just 2.5 degrees. This flat running angle can be attributed partly to an increase in transom deadrise of three degrees as compared to previous Outer Reef models. The 63's fairly flat running attitude is also helped by the boat's lower-cockpit extension, which adds waterline length and lift, preventing the stern from squatting when she's coming out of the hole.

Because bow rise is minimal, sightlines from both the lower and the flying-bridge helms remain good during planing. During docking, the lower helm provides a view back through the galley over your right shoulder to the upper cockpit. However, you're still unable to see the four rod holder-equipped lower cockpit from here.

The flying-bridge helm also has a restricted view aft due to the large cockpit overhang, which is home to the optional Nouvarania tender ($26,645) and 1,000-pound davit. But there is a plug-in here (plus on the foredeck and cockpit) for the also-optional ($6,020) Glendinning cable remote that operates both the engines and hydraulic bow and stern thrusters. I got to see the gadget in action as Capt. McCuistom displayed a surgeon's touch while dealing with wicked wind and current during a side-to move. The remote provides the best ability to see all angles during docking situations, and therefore I'd say it's a must-have.

Wherever you choose to dock for a night, weekend, or longer, you can rest assured that Outer Reef put plenty of thought into the 63's interior spaces. The centerpiece is the full-beam master with king-size berth. On our boat this area felt even bigger than it was thanks to soft light diffused by optional shoji screens above the headboard. A two-foot-wide entryway makes for easy room access, while pocket doors to the en suite head preserve precious square footage. A true walk-in closet ensures long-range travelers will have plenty of places to hang their blazers and dresses.

Although I'd determined that the helm area was quiet, I wasn't sure this would be the case in the master as it's just forward of the engine room and its standard 503-mhp Caterpillar Acert diesels. But even at midrange and top-end rpm, I barely noticed a rumble here. The quiet is partly the result of two heavily insulated, solidly locking doors leading from the ER to the master, which have a couple of feet of space between them. Guests in the bunks room forward to port and in the forepeak VIP should enjoy an even quieter rest, unless they're watching a late-night movie on the optional 15-inch Sharp LCD TVs.

One negative I noticed about the below-decks area is that you have to negotiate a five-inch lip to access the day head from the companionway. You'll also need to watch your step making your way to the flying bridge from the cockpit: The ladder is straight up and down. Boaters whose knees aren't what they used to be will find it easier to access the inside stairway near the lower helm, which offers a gradual incline. To reach it, you'll pass through a traditional-looking teak-drenched saloon where two brown leather chairs across from a port-side settee offer a great place to sit back and read a book when you're on the hook or, if the game's on, watch the optional 37-inch Sharp Aquos TV. If I were going to watch anything on that TV, it would probably be my video footage of the last trip I took onboard the 63. After all, once you've had a chance to chase some horizons, the next best thing is reliving the memory…until next time.

For more information on Outer Reef, including contact information,click here.

The lower-helm wheel immediately caught my eye: curved-spoke with a teak-and-holly inlay. It felt stout, more so than a wooden wheel. I wondered, how was this piece of art created? Turns out the builder starts by fabricating a stainless steel wheel, and then affixing curved pieces to the structure to provide the look you see here. Once the shape is complete, the teak covering and holly inlay are wrapped over the wheel to give it a warm touch and artisanal appeal. It also compliments the teak-and-holly sole. What you can't see here is that the inlay is on the forward section of the wheel, too. Now that's attention to detail. —P.S.

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.