A Trick of the Eye
The Mochi Craft Dolphin 54 Flybridge adds a dash of Italian design flair to a motoryacht with Down East lobster-boat salt.
A dolphin is an apt metaphor for what Mochi Craft has created in its Dolphin 54 Flybridge. Indeed the boat we tested on a rainy day in Newport, Rhode Island, was festooned with logos depicting this marine mammal, a creature renowned for its intelligence and enjoyment of the water. When one considers the combination of this yacht’s capable hull and her anything-but-traditional Italian homage to Down East style, many factors are coming into play. Like the namesake dolphin doing backflips, Mochi Craft makes it look easy. But mostly it was the uncooperative weather that let the true nature of this boat shine through.
Our test boat had the dark-blue topsides and white superstructure that is the yacht-club uniform for a Down East-inspired cruiser, but if you let your eye linger, the influence of European design will emerge. “Mochi Craft invented the Italian Lobster Boat style with our debut of the Dolphin 51 at the 2003 Cannes Boat Show,” says Giuseppe Menghetti, Mochi Craft Brand Manager for the Americas. “The Mochi 54 retains all of the sophisticated vintage style embodied by the entire fleet.” And indeed, stylish she was.. The bottom edge of the house-side windows curve downward in response to the swooping sheer, dropping below a horizontal line that extends back from the top of the trunk cabin, and accented, it turns out, by a teak handrail that springs into view. The entire setup makes going forward a lot more appetizing since our test boat had no bowrail, and that lower section of window opens up the feel of the interior considerably.
Stepping aboard the Mochi 54 I got the first impression that this boat was one of great, and surprising, volume. She feels much more open and large throughout than I would have expected for a 54-footer. Case in point, there were seven of us onboard, all intent on staying out of the rain, and none of us felt crowded in the saloon. And although we weren’t using it, the large teak-soled cockpit offered plenty of seating. A large middle section of the transom folds out to create a swim platform and steps for easy boarding, and it folds hydraulically at the touch of a button to grant access to the tender garage beneath the cockpit sole (see “Better Boat: In the Fold,” ).
There is a sliding door to enter the saloon, which features a U-shaped settee to port with a dinette. The galley is one step down to starboard, and features a four-burner Bosch cooktop with fiddles, a GE Profile microwave/convection oven, a Vitrifrigo fridge, and some handy stowage lockers. There’s an aft companionway at the forward end of the galley, lined with additional lockers and leading down to a pantry and utility area that can be fitted out as a crew’s quarters with a single berth. Owner-operators will find the washer and dryer on our test boat to be a terrific addition to that space, but the berth would be a nifty option.
The portside helm has a wide bench seat and excellent sighlines thanks to a large, mullion-free windshield. There is a bench seat to starboard as well where a navigator would feel right at home, with plenty of countertop space for handling paper charts.
The forward companionway on centerline leads belowdecks to the main accommodations area. There the roominess continues and I found a twin stateroom to port with 78½ inches of headroom. It has an en suite head that doubles as the dayhead. There’s a VIP with a large queen berth to starboard. The master is in the forepeak and has an island queen and en suite head with a standup separate shower. The headroom was consistent throughout the accommodations, and natural light is plentiful thanks to hull-side windows in the guest staterooms and master, where an overhead skylight hatch brightens things up even more.
The flying bridge is accessed via thick teak treads on a molded staircase on the starboard side of the cockpit, and once you get up there, you’ll see it’s cozy. The upper helm is to starboard, and there’s companion seating and a sunpad for those looking to enjoy a sunny cruise. A small table is suited to alfresco snacks.
The 54’s hull is solid fiberglass below the waterline with balsa and foam coring above, and she meets Italy’s RINA Class A certification, a rigorous process that follows the build from design and engineering stages through completed construction. A hatch in the cockpit sole leads to the engine room, and while it has stoop-to-work headroom, everything you need is accessible. She has Parker Racor fuel-water separators, a Fireboy fire-protection system, and top-of-the-line Gianneschi pumps. Her beefy 800-horsepower MAN diesels—the only engines offered for this boat—have 27 inches between them. That’s certainly enough to squeeze in when necessary.
Throughout the interior the joinery was, as far as I could tell, flawless, and the satin-finished teak and light color scheme of the soft goods adds to the boat’s bright feel.
The Mochi 54’s handling was like that of a luxury sedan—powerful and assertive, taking corners with ease and running straight as a speeding freight train thanks to her deep-V hull. She got on plane quickly and cruises comfortably at around 25 knots. At top hop we hit 30.3 knots (though company reps told us she can hit 32). While there wasn’t much in the way of rough seas on Narragansett Bay, we found a few wakes to run her through and she handled them all with aplomb, staying dry and feeling sturdy with no creaks or groans.
Back at the docks Mochi’s company captain slid her easily into her slip at Newport’s crowded 41 North Marina with the help of a standard Side-Power bow thruster (our test boat was equipped with an optional Side-Power stern thruster as well).
Mochi Craft’s Dolphin 54 Flybridge continues on the Italian Lobster Boat look, and while she certainly doesn’t hide her Italian heritage with her swooping lines and smart interior, she fit right in on those posh New England docks. And made it look easy.
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Better Boat: In the Fold
The Mochi Craft Dolphin 54 makes the most of its stern area, offering both a tender garage housed beneath the cockpit sole and big fold-down swim platform. When you pull into the dock or drop the hook and it’s time to disembark, the center of the transom folds down, revealing a nice set of stairs and at the same time creating an extended swim platform/passerelle (shown above). Then, to access the tender garage, the whole middle section (with the cockpit’s centerline settee included) lifts to reveal the tender garage. A pretty neat bit of engineering, and a very handy feature, especially on a boat that’s not even 55 feet in length.
Generator: 13-kW Kohler
Conditions During Boat Test
Air Temperature: 77°F; seas: 1-2'
Load During Boat Test
621 gal. fuel; 58 gal. water; 7 persons onboard, minimal gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF 325-1A, 2.37:1 gear ratio
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.