Location, location, location. It’s an old saw that has been embraced by realtors and the HGTV set alike, but it can just as easily be muttered by boatbuilders jockeying for venue space at a major show. Perhaps the fiercest competition for real estate is during the Ft. Lauderdale show.

Tucked into the south corner of this year’s show was Italian giant Absolute. With brokerage boats beside it, my initial thought was that it wasn’t the best spot. Not many people were going to stumble upon their display. Then I found the newcomer to the builder’s Navetta line, the 68. Sandwiched in a lineup that includes the 48, 52, 58 and 73, the boat enjoyed an end spot overlooking the water.

On day five of the hectic, sultry show, my colleagues and I were at a familiar point: so deep in the weeds with new boat features that you begin to forget the point of it all. It’s not, in fact, a design competition—the boats on display are a means to a watery, leisure-filled end. The 68’s location reminded me of that.

What I like best about the Navetta line is that it offers the luxury appointments that are expected of today’s motoryachts while retaining safety features that any ocean-going ship should have. Case in point was the cockpit. Yes, it had a large table for dining and a sunshade aft for privacy, but it also had a dedicated, recessed space for a full-size, bright-orange life ring. And right behind the ring, also easily accessible, is a fire extinguisher. It’s nice to see that safety hasn’t gone out of style with Absolute.

Another example of form meeting function is the wide, protected side decks around the boat. Yacht photography today typically shows this as the ideal location for a size zero Italian model to look out onto the sunset with her sundress blowing gently in the breeze while George Clooney grabs a bottle of champagne. I have no qualms with selling the dream, but the reality is those decks are also used by full-sized humans carrying an armful of cleaning supplies up to the bow. Having enough space to walk forward with beefy handrails is something I think a lot of non-Clooney types can appreciate.

It’s probably because at this point in the show my dogs were barking, but I found myself drawn to the lower helm. This is a spot that transcends the yacht-meets-ship design philosophy. An electrically retractable partition between the salon and helm area allows the captain to either socialize or have privacy to better focus on the waters ahead. Sitting in the rich leather helm seats and looking over the three raised (and one recessed) Garmin MFDs at the open channel, it was easy to daydream about slipping the lines and pointing the 68 toward Bimini and beyond.

Standard twin 900-hp IPS1200 D13s should loan the boat a cruise speed in the 25-knot range, so getting to the islands should be a quick and, if my past experience aboard Absolutes is any indication, quiet affair. A four-stateroom layout with the master in the bow should allow four couples to cruise together.

Absolute Navetta 68

Absolute Navetta 68

One of the great industry clichés is to say that a space aboard feels like it belongs to a much larger yacht. Well, I suppose sometimes clichés are true; standing on the flybridge on the 68 certainly made me feel like I was aboard an 80-footer.

As I concluded my tour of the 68, I began to notice at every turn how large the windows were: From the salon to the guest stateroom, the connection with the water was everywhere. All these features, combined with the boat’s spot overlooking the water, allowed me to easily picture myself enjoying it the way it was intended to be used. Maybe they had the best spot in the show after all.

Absolute Navetta 68 Specifications:

LOA: 68'
Beam: 18'3"
Draft: 5'9"
Displ: 110,000 lbs.
Fuel: 924 gal.
Water: 264 gal.
Cruise Speed: 25 knots
Top Speed: Approx. 28 knots
Standard Power: 2/900-hp Volvo Penta IPS1200 D13s

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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