Ben and Valentina Bethell only caught the boating bug seven years ago, but since discovering the lifestyle this cruising couple has learned, embraced, and lived it full throttle. After relocating from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Naples, Florida, the duo thought owning a boat went hand in hand with living in the Sunshine State, so they started out with a 15-foot jet boat. That quickly escalated to a 42 Grand Banks, which the Bethells still speak of fondly. But times changed, and the twin-diesel, 15-knot Grand Banks gave way to an Ocean Alexander, then a Fairline Squadron 55 and a Squadron 58.
Just when the Bethells thought they had worked out the bug and were ready to come ashore, they saw Fairline’s Targa 62.
“[Boat ownership] is not a logical thing,” says Valentina as she and her husband, their friends Elaine and Al Buffington, Capt. Mark Curreri, Fairline’s stateside rep Jim Renfrow, and I prepared to toss lines and test this sleek express cruiser. “It’s an emotional thing,” she adds, noting that when Ben first saw the 62, he immediately turned to her and asked, “‘Can we have it?’”
The answer, of course, was yes. So there we were, seven boating enthusiasts cruising past Fort Lauderdale’s Pier 66 toward the Atlantic to see what the Bethells’ 62, dubbed Valentina, could do. The answer is, a whole lot.
With a slight southeast breeze making for about a two-foot chop, the boat was ready for action. Her solid-fiberglass, deep-V hull form, which has an 18-degree aft deadrise, sliced through the chop sans trim tabs with authority and no hint of pound. She made her way to a comfortable cruise of 36.1 mph while burning 74 gph at 2000 rpm. A combination of her optional 1,015-hp Caterpillar C18 diesel powerplants, an effective running bottom, and solid-fiberglass construction (with the exception of minimal coring in the walkaround decks for soundproofing) all lent themselves to her speedy and bump-free ride. When her Cats reached their rated 2350 rpm, the 62 made a time-travel-like 42.8 mph, according to my radar gun. The payback for this is a 100-gph fuel burn.
The 62’s performance had me excited for some wheel time. Ben commented that while the boat doesn’t have many hours on her (about 60 as of this writing), he has cruised Valentina between Florida’s coasts to avoid hurricanes and says she handles easily. I concur; she’s one agile machine. The standard SeaStar hydraulic power-assist steering allowed me to maneuver this 62-footer like a speedy runabout. I put the 62 into 36-plus-mph hardover turns on a dime with barely a boat length in the turn and a nominal drop in rpm. However, visibility out the sleek, curved Euro windows when making these James Bond-type moves is obscured to the inboard side of the turn; I repeatedly ducked to double check there were no boats nearby. Otherwise, her single-lever electronic Cat controls were smooth when throttling through the engines’ rpm range, with a solid detent when shifting gears for slow-speed turning. While the 62 comes standard with a Sidepower bow thruster, I found the big Cats coupled to the ZF transmissions and 32x54 four-blade wheels made spinning this boat a breeze. In addition, sightlines aft are completely clear. The same can be said for forward visibility when the 62 is underway. Her trim angle never rose above five degrees; I’ve tested boats similar in style that had trim angles a few degrees higher.
But it wasn’t just performance that brought the Bethells to the 62. “We thought it’s great for entertaining,” Ben says. And she is certainly up to the task. For instance, how about some grilled mahi-mahi and a cold one? Just aft of the helm (to starboard) are a DeDietrich barbecue and Isotherm ice maker and ‘fridge. This gear is conveniently located across from the U-shape dining area, which becomes an alfresco spot when the 62’s retractable roof is open. Of course, if you prefer more sun, you can take your food and/or cocktails to the aft-deck sunpad. It lies over the tender garage, which houses a Polaris PWC for three and is awaiting the Bethells’ first outing. Ben says that the maiden voyage for each of his boats consists of cruising to Ocean Reef, Little Palm Island, and Key West. I’m sure he’ll get some use of that PWC along the way.
And while the couple could do their inaugural cruise in speedy fashion, Valentina is also set up with amenities for that slow trip to nowhere. Below decks is quite unexpress-like in terms of lighting, thanks to the saloon’s overhead hatch, which measures three feet across (headroom is 6’8”). The portholes to port and starboard add more ambient light. A U-shape leather lounge to port is bathed in this light and is quite comfy, too, and the cherrywood throughout the interior (maple is another option) defines fit and finish. Fairline only offers a high-gloss look, which is outstandingly crafted and is comprised of eight layers of lacquer. The wood on my test boat handsomely accented the standard Avonite countertops. In addition, the curves of the cabinetry in the galley to starboard and rounded bulkheads throughout are exquisite. Fairline bends all its laminates for the bulkheads in-house, and the grain-matching is top-notch. A nice and often-overlooked touch: All cabinets and countertops have safety rails, to prevent anything from flying away.
The accommodations on Valentina feature the same superb woodwork as the saloon. The full-beam (15’7”) aft master has an athwartships berth that is queen-like in size (Fairline calls it a double), with almost no taper toward the forward section, to keep toes from hanging over. An en suite head, vanity, and sofa rounds out the area. There’s also a double berth in the forepeak VIP and twin bunks in the guest quarters just aft and to starboard of the galley. Guests share a day head just aft and to port of the VIP. In addition, a standard fourth stateroom lies adjacent to the engine room, which can be used for crew quarters or stowage.
Fairline says its goal with this latest Targa was to build a boat with the fit and finish of its premium Squadron line. The builder also wanted to offer as many standard amenities as possible. I’d say it’s hit the mark on both scores, and the proof is in the excitement exuded by the Bethells. As Valentina noted, while they were looking to get out of boating, the 62 kept them in the game. She also refers to this vessel as their “perfect boat.” And, if you spend some time onboard, you may find the Targa 62 to be perfect for you, too.
Fairline Boats of North America
adjustable/tilt steering wheel; Lewmar windlass; Bose DVD/CD/radio home cinema surround-sound system; Sidepower bow thruster; cockpit galley w/ DeDietrich barbecue, Isotherm refrigerator, and ice maker; Raymarine electronics package with RL80C GPS/plotter/radar, ST6001 autopilot, and Tridata; Sharp LCD TVs in master stateroom and saloon; 2/Recaro helm seats; teak cockpit; high-gloss finish on all woodwork; Avonite countertops; central vacuum; black walnut galley sole; Isotherm stand-up refrigerator and freezer
crew cabin; A/C in crew cabin and cockpit; s/s aft door; digital combination safe; Sharp 13”, 15”, and 20” LCD TV/DVD/CD; underwater lights; blue LED lights in side decks; Splendide 6200 washer/dryer
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,015-hp Caterpillar C18 diesel inboards
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF/1.971:1
- Props: 32x54 4-blade nibral
- Price as Tested: $ 1,849,675
This article originally appeared in the December 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.