A 65' motoryacht performing well in blue water is hardly news. Threading that same 17'3"-wide, 66,000-pound boat through a labyrinthine needle of a waterway like Fort Lauderdale's New River is another matter. Some sections of the New are less than 50' wide. Boats are moored along its entire length. Abundant commercial traffic, bountiful pleasureboats, and manatee restrictions require constant course and speed alterations. Blind turns abound.
It's these conditions, rather than big swells offshore, that are likely to give a skipper fits. Unfortunately, scheduled maintenance, hurricanes, and the desire to gunkhole can make threading such needles mandatory. How do you keep your sanity? You could hire a captain. But we think you should take the Pacific Mariner 65 through a sea trial first. With excellent visibility from its helm and crisp, inertia-defying response from its controls, the 65 threads backwater needles like a Saville Row tailor. Also, such standard features as the hydraulic bow thruster, power-rotating tender davit, and docking windlasses facilitate owner operation. By all means: Take the 65 offshore. We did. Its proud, 10'-high bow cleaves through swells. And as a big boat that a couple can handle, the 65 shines.
Gripes? Some. But these can be forgiven considering the 65 offers an overabundance of luxury and convenience at an all-inclusive price.
THE HIGHS: A luxurious camphorwood, silk, and mohair extravaganza! Nimble handling and extremely quiet. Easily owner operated.
THE LOWS: Need a special tool to service electrical panel. Solitary engine choice may leave you cold. Microwave and aft bulkhead rattled noisily underway.
HONEY HUSH. Put the tips of your thumb and forefinger on the ball atop the lever of the Mathers Clear Command electronic controls, which, unlike other electronic controls, have a backup system for redundant safety. With your pinky protruding, flex your wrist as though you were dunking a scone at a royal tea. Click! A moment later you're making six wake-free knots as twin 800-bhp Caterpillar 3406E diesel inboards turn five-bladed 32"-by-33" Nibral props. Shhh! What do you hear? Besides the lever clicking past neutral, and maybe the soft, white noise rush of air from the air conditioner, there's no other sound. The deckhouse, topsides, and stringer laminate are layed up with Airex foam core. The salon sole absorbs noise, thanks to lush carpeting, carpet padding, 2" of acoustic insulation, and the Nida-Core in its construction. Every pump and motor is isolation mounted and acoustical tiles are strategically placed inside the hull. Little noise escapes the 65's mechanical spaces and hull sounds are hushed. Plus, Pacific Mariner plumbs engine exhaust underwater and balances the 65's 2 1/2"-diameter propshafts to a tolerance of 1/4000". That's twice as precise as ABYC standards dictate. Combined with the 65's five-bladed wheels, this nearly eliminates vibration. Pop a guitar sonata in the CD player and you'll hear every trill.
Now pour on the coals. The 65 planes levelly, without the use of trim tabs, quickly attaining its 2100-rpm, 27.2-mph cruise speed. Though still extremely quiet, both the microwave and the stainless-steel frame of the salon's glass aft bulkhead buzzed annoyingly at this speed. That aside, aboard the 65, you experience that smooth, cool feeling of acceleration. Why? Its hull is hooked: A ramp built in aft of the props acts like a transom-wide trim tab. Also, the props represent the boat's maximum draft and reside in shallow pockets. Thrust isn't thwarted and the boat doesn't squat. Coupled with the 65's oversize rudders, the combination is just the ticket to provide agility while turning at high speed and confident control in close quarters. We were able to back and bring the bow into the wind using the shifters alone. For truly tight spots, a Naiad hydraulic bow thruster is standard. Unlike electric models that can burn out unless operated in short bursts, a hydraulic thruster lets you lean on the button for as long as it takes.
Propulsion downside? If you'd prefer to equip the 65 with other diesel engines, say the 635-bhp Cummins powering the McKinna 65 ($1,641,900) or the 1,200-bhp MANs that propel the Princess V65 ($1,244,378), forget it. Twin 800-bhp CAT 3406Es are the 65's only offering.
AT THE COVE. Getting into the slip is not the same as getting tied up. It's only the first step. With an offshore breeze and a boat of this size, I've had to stand on a dockline suspended over the water, one hand on a piling for balance, while tailing the line off a cleat and waiting for my weight to bring the boat in against the pier. A deckhand's job for sure. But one made obsolete by footswitch-operated capstan windlasses on the gunwales aboard the 65. With them, even my mom could snug up this boat. Launching a tender is also pushbutton easy. A standard hydraulically powered davit lets you raise the standard, custom-built 15' runabout, powered by a 50-hp outboard, and swing it onto its flying bridge davits. But don't think the standard amenities end with this davit and custom dinghy. Virtually every luxury is standard aboard the 65.
VISCERAL APPEAL. Step into the salon and peer into the top of the camphorwood table to see what I mean. The depth and complexity of its grain is so mesmerizing it evokes a visceral response. Mounted on a hydraulic pedestal, it rises from cocktail height to dining height at a single touch. This separates the 65 from the rest of the motoryacht pack by providing a formal dining area away from the pilothouse (there's also a pilothouse table if you prefer that view). Complete dinner service for eight is standard. Reach for a goblet from the rack above the wetbar. Go ahead - it has tensioning built-in tabs. Pacific Mariner designed this rack to keep glassware in place - and in one piece - while underway. It certainly worked during our test. No more packing away between ports. What I didn't like about the salon was the electrical panel near the companionway. It was wired and labeled fine. But it was secured with square-drive fasteners, which require what I daresay is an uncommon tool for the owner operator who wants to change a breaker. I'd prefer Phillips head fasteners.
Check the galley. Stainless-steel KitchenAid and Thermador appliances are arrayed in and around teak cabinetry and a faux-granite counter with a sea rail. Flooring here is faux wood for easy maintenance. Taste is the word.
Belowdecks, it's easy to see why the 65, like both the Princess and the McKinna, is arranged with three staterooms instead of four. Room, room, room. The huge master suite features a walk-in closet and a head with a home-size tub and shower. Plus, the forward berth's head boasts 7' of headroom and even the double berth to port has its own private entry to a head. Combined with the rice paper headliners (covering Velcroed-in-place panels for service access), teak-faced lift-and-lock cabinetry drawers, silk bedspreads, and mohair-covered pillows, the 65 proves that less can be more when the number of staterooms is at issue.
LAST WORD. Opulent motoryacht tailor-made for owner operation.
Displacement (lbs., approx.)..........66,000
Minimum cockpit depth...2'2"
Max. cabin headroom...6'8"
Fuel capacity (gal.).....1,100
Water capacity (gal.).....285
Price (w/standard power) ..........$1,595,000
Price (w/test power) ..........$1,595,000
STANDARD POWER: Twin 800-bhp Caterpillar 3406E in-line-6 diesel inboards
OPTIONAL POWER: None.
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 800-bhp Caterpillar 3406E in-line-6 diesel inboards with 893 cid, 5.4" bore x 6.5" stroke, swinging 32" x 33" five-bladed Nibral props through 1.92:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Power-rotated tender davit; 15' runabout w/50-hp outboard; docking windlasses; Mathers Clear Command controls w/backup; underwater exhaust; bow thruster; 60,000-Btu chilled-water a/c; engine room demisters; 12kW and 20kW gensets; inverter; 2 ISO transformers; anchor windlass; autopilot; VHF; radar; depthsounder; DGPS; gyro-compass; magnetic compass; chartplotter; spotlight; electric BBQ; 22 cu.-ft. refrigerator/ freezer; microwave; dishwasher; range w/oven; camphorwood dining table; TV/VCR/ CD stereos in salon and all staterooms; 3 heads; 3 showers; tub; washer/dryer.