Marquis 630 Sport YachtBy Capt. Bill Pike Photos by Neil Rabinowitz
Stick and Move
The Marquis 630 Sport Yacht is a punchy combination of volvo joystick control and the most powerful IPS available.
Although I’ve backed a whole slew of vessels into a whole slew of slips over the years, under a whole slew of conditions, the exercise still produces a twinge or two of the same old anxious excitement I felt the first time out. So turning our new Marquis 630 into one of the fairways at Ft. Lauderdale’s Pier 66 Marina engendered a shot of uneasy elation that was altogether familiar.
Conditions were okay. The wind was gusty and blowing directly into the mouth of the slip I was heading for. There seemed to be little current from what I could tell by looking at the pilings in the water. And the boat’s two Volvo Penta IPS1200s—the most powerful pod-type propulsion plant Volvo’s put on the market to date—seemed responsive.
“Where you been puttin’ the bow when you turn her around,” I asked Steve Martin of YachtBlue (www.yachtblue.net), Marquis Yachts’ local dealer. As the boat’s captain, I figured he’d have a sensible backdown plan already worked out that I might use myself.
“That empty slip on the other side—then kinda go sideways while you’re going astern,” Martin replied in a clipped New Zealand accent.
Because of the fairway’s layout, as well as a few obtruding bow pulpits, following Martin’s advice required a little backing and filling before I began a careful rotation. And, slow learner that I am, I was well into the process, with the stern almost lined up on the slip’s entrance pilings, when it finally dawned on me—Geez! I was overdoing the IPS joystick’s throttle function big time. Indeed, turning the top of the stick until I could hear a rise in engine pitch put way too much power into the water. What worked a lot better, I saw, was merely twisting the top by an eighth of an inch or so, which made the boat respond elegantly, dynamically, and almost instantaneously.
Wow! The sense of control that resulted was enormous, in spite of the occasional buffeting from the gusts. “I guess it’s because the props are big and the engines have so much low-end torque,” I opined to Martin as he began heading below to handle our lines, “but this is by far the sweetest IPS boat I’ve ever operated.”
Martin paused and grinned. The maneuvering smoothness I was enjoying, he then suggested, was also seriously bolstered by an almost total lack of low-end drive rumble and the noise that goes with it. A new, standard-issue feature from Volvo called Clean Wake Exhaust System or CWES, he continued, was automatically rerouting much of the 630’s idle-speed exhaust from her drive units to a set of muffler-equipped hullside relief ports aft and above the waterline, an
arrangement that was both smoothifying and hushifying our docking experience.
I got a better look at the system once we’d got tied up. After entering the engine room via a beefy, watertight transom door, a short descending stairway, a crew-quarters hallway, and then another watertight door, Martin and I were able to see our CWES componentry crisply installed at the rear. Essentially, it consisted of an array of mufflers, electronically controlled valves, piping, couplings, and exhaust diverters. “Comes from the sportfishing side where a smooth, clear, bubble-free wake’s important for trolling,” Martin said, “but the principle’s obviously useful onboard a boat like this.”
I noted other standout engineering details in the ER. For starters, there were the blower mounts—to obviate vibration and related structural fatigue, each Rule In-Line blower motor was secured to a thick strap of reinforced rubber firmly stretched across a solidly secured bracket. A minor detail perhaps, but also one of the most thoughtful installations of its type I’ve seen in some time. And then there was the superb access to the drive units and jackshafts that lay on either side of the crew-quarters hallway—removable panels had been installed to facilitate routine fluid checks and other maintenance chores. And finally, there was the electrical system—not only did it boast a multitude of high-end components (including eight Deka 8Ds in battery boxes with tough but lightweight welded-aluminum lids, a virtual arsenal of Mastervolt battery charger/inverters, dual Glendinning CableMasters, and Charles Industries Iso-Boost transformers on both internal shorepower lines), it also featured schematically installed, stranded, color-coded, tinned-copper wiring harnesses with labels. Top notch? Oh yeah!
Although Martin and I followed up our tour of the engine room with an enjoyable walkthrough of the 630’s elegant, Nuvolari Lenard-designed interior, highlighted by residentially tiled shower stalls in the ample heads, precisely joined satin-walnut surfaces in the accommodation spaces (with herringbone-patterned cherry doors), California-king-size pillow-top mattresses in the master and VIP (and smaller innersprings in the other staterooms as well), and a full complement of LED lights, a cloud of omission continued to overhang the day. More to the point, earlier that morning, we’d failed to get accurate performance data on the boat due to exceptionally bad weather offshore, a development that made it necessary to schedule another sea trial.
As luck would have it, conditions on the coastal Atlantic were spectacular the second time around, with light to variable winds and soothingly smooth seas. Martin and I went through the testing procedure at the 630’s upper helm, enjoying a clear view ahead coming out of the hole, straight-forward tracking, optimum running attitudes (despite some sticky actuators on our Lectrotab trim tabs), and swoopy but sensible turns that were sweetly banked even with the helm hardover. Sound levels were modest although they were considerably higher than those I’d recorded earlier at the lower helm (63 dB(A) at 1000 rpm and 74 dB(A) at WOT), most likely due to the effects of water and wind noise.
A curious thing about top speed, however. Back when the 630 had first been launched, Marquis propulsion engineer Randy Peterson had recorded an average, trim-tab-assisted top hop of 31.9 knots under dulcet sea conditions. But the average top speed I was recording in a similar sea state was 29.3 knots, some 2.7 knots slower. Moreover, the boat’s tachs during my test were not maxing out at 2380 (the rpm that had produced Peterson’s 32-knot top speed) or even the manufacturer-rated rpm of 2300. Instead, the best I could get was 2295, well short of Peterson’s earlier findings.
The reason for the discrepancy revealed itself during a subsequent haulout—a problematic PropSpeed application had obviously failed, thereby allowing the 630’s two IPS propsets to foul significantly, presumably knocking a couple of knots off top end and keeping the engines from achieving full rpm and fuel burn.
Trust me though, the slight decrease in speed had no effect on drivability. As we zoomed past the Port Everglades sea buoy, en route back to our slip at Pier 66, the water glowed like a stretch of Bahamas shallows. The colors were frankly remarkable, perhaps the prettiest I’ve ever seen along the Florida coast. And riding the Marquis 630 Sport Yacht—a finely engineered, expertly crafted, elegantly designed performance cruiser—into the channel was a flat-out joyful exercise.
“What a day,” observed Martin with a grin.
“Yeah,” I concurred, looking around, “What a day indeed.”
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.