By admin ~ October 4th, 2011. Filed under: New Boats.
It’s Not Magic— It’s a Marlow
David Marlow once again proves he’s always got something new up his sleeveStory by Chris Caswell • Photos by Billy Black
It was fitting that the debut of the Marlow 97E should have been at the 2011 Miami International Boat Show, because that’s where David Marlow first dipped his toes into the boatbuilding arena with a 65-footer just 10 years ago. Can it have been just a decade ago? Time flies.
In these few years, Marlow Yachts has not just established itself as a world-class builder of cruising yachts, but the company has raised the bar for the industry in many areas of design and construction, as well as for its ecologically “green” conscience.
This new 97 is both the flagship of their line and their first yacht over 100 feet (she’s nearly 101 feet) and I would call her a small ship⎯except that every Marlow I’ve ever seen has been built with the qualities of much larger yachts. Some builders start with small boats and then learn the niceties of large yacht construction, but David actually built smaller yachts (53s, 57s, and 61s) after that first 65.
More important, however, is that every Marlow yacht has always been built with a “small ship” mentality exhibited in the construction and equipment used aboard. The 97, like other Marlows, eliminates wood framing or stringers which take up space and, no matter how carefully encapsulated with fiberglass, still have the potential for rot. Similar to much larger megayachts, the Marlow 97 is built to Bureau Veritas Unrestricted Navigation certification, as well as the equally rigorous standards of ABS and Lloyd’s Register (Ocean Class A).
Born and bred around the water, David fulfills every requirement to be called a true “waterman,” and it was this lifetime of experience that led him to start playing with boat design. One result is his proprietary Marlow Velocijet Strut Keel, which he credits for both enhanced performance and stability. This design actually features twin keels on each side of a centerline skeg, and the twin propellers are protected by these short keels since there are also prop tunnels. In addition to keeping the running gear out of harms way, the keels also act as stabilizers to dampen the rolling motion.
An innate tinkerer, David wanted a hull that was strong and rigid but, as a former offshore racing sailor, he loathed the idea of adding any weight that would affect the performance. The result is another Marlow innovation: Full Stack Infusion. This process uses miles of tubing and extreme vacuum to impregnate an entire hull lay-up of unidirectional stitched fibers, Kevlar and Corecel foam coring with a carefully measured flow of resin and catalyst. An important point to understand about fiberglass construction is that any resin beyond the precise amount needed to fully saturate the lay-up actually reduces the strength of the final product. Not only does Full Stack Infusion create a laminate with maximum strength, it reduces the weight (by eliminating three barrels of resin) and slashes construction time from 36 days to 1 hour. It’s no surprise that Full Stack Infusion has won international awards for innovation.
The Marlow 97 shown on these pages is actually Hull #2 and, as such, is a significant departure from the first yacht. I have to admit that I loved the first 97, with its huge on-deck master suite where most builders put the pilothouse, and I enjoyed the enclosed skylounge that doubles as the pilothouse. Being able to step on deck directly from the owner’s suite, or soak in a hand-carved marble bathtub while looking out at the world, is hedonism usually reserved for the yachts of Russian oligarchs.
But then I saw Hull #2 and, once again, it was love at first sight. Step into the saloon and the vista sweeps all the way to the very bow without a bulkhead. And the owner’s suite is a private getaway spanning the full beam in the very center of the yacht for the least motion. The bridge? Protected by a fiberglass hardtop but wide open from the helm to a boat deck large enough for a fleet of water toys… or perhaps it was designed to host Dancing with the Stars.
Juggling the pros and cons of the two versions of the 97, I felt like a man faced with choosing between two beautiful women: one statuesque and blonde, the other sultry and brunette. It will be a difficult choice for buyers, who may wish they could be yacht bigamists.
The most obvious differences between the first and second 97 are the location of the master suite and the enclosed skylounge/bridge. But there are other subtleties as well. The first yacht had seven staterooms, including the master, two VIPs, two smaller staterooms with queen-berths and two kid cabins with bunks. This 97 has reduced the number of mouths to feed by having four staterooms: the master, plus a VIP; a large guest cabin; and a smaller kid’s cabin with singles. Decide how many people you want aboard and make your choice.
This second 97 also has an airy pilothouse that includes the galley, giving the chef a fine view not only forward over the skipper’s shoulder, but also aft through the saloon. This layout also allows for a formal dining area to seat eight without crowding, and the rest of the space is devoted to entertaining or as a media room with a big screen pop-up TV. This version has the wet bar on the after bulkhead, making it convenient to the cockpit which is a delight as well, with an outdoor kitchen, sitting area and day head.
The master suite, reached via a foyer with steps from the pilothouse, features a loveseat to port, a bow-front bureau to starboard and no fewer than five large hanging lockers. The his-and-hers head also spans the full beam, separated by a large shower.
A guest cabin with a queen-size berth is in the bows, with a pair of upper berths on each side of the centerline berth. This is a clever idea that allows four kids to share the cabin and, if used by a couple, the uppers are perfect for stashing gear or bedding. Another feature I liked on this 97 is an alcove off the foyer just outside the master suite. At first glance it seems unused, but it’s actually a full laundry with hidden washer and dryer, and what seems to be a table for folding clothes doubles as a bunk if needed.
Stairs from the saloon lead separately to the VIP suite which, like the master, spans the full beam and includes two head and shower compartments. No guest will feel like a second-class citizen in these quarters.
Weight (light): 147,000 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 5000/600 gals.
Power: 2 x Caterpillar C32 diesels @ 1760-hp
Top/Cruising Speed: 30/25 knots
Range: 1200nm at 25 knots, 4000nm at 9 knots
Classification: ABS/Bureau Veritas/Lloyd’s Register
But wait. There are crew quarters, too! With stairs from the after deck or through a watertight hatch off the swim platform, a crew of three has impeccably finished accommodations that include a mini-galley and crew mess, as well as three berths and head with shower.
Outdoor living is an important part of both Marlow 97s, with the bar and seating on the after deck protected by wing doors and easily enclosed with side curtains. The open bridge on this second 97 has two large settees with tables under the hardtop, plus a huge sunpad and outdoor kitchen outside the shade of the hardtop. But even that has been carefully planned, and a huge awning deploys electrically from the hardtop at the touch of a button.
I give David credit for knowing how people really enjoy their yachts, but you have to stroll up to the foredeck to fully appreciate his insightfulness. Usually the foredeck is wasted space as far as guests are concerned, instead being dedicated to anchor winches and storage for fenders and deck gear. On this yacht, however, there are two comfortable lounges built into the forward side of the Portuguese bridge. No, I wouldn’t put people up there while underway because the safety mavens would scream. But at anchor, as the sun is setting and the yacht is facing into a mild tropical breeze, this would be the most wonderful place on the yacht to savor life with something rummy and cold.
Power for the 97 comes from a pair of Caterpillar C32 diesels of 1760-hp each, and the yacht carries 5000 gallons of fuel. To David, performance isn’t just about speed, it’s about economy, and the 97 clearly has a very slippery hull indeed. Top speed is around 29-30 knots with a moderate load, and a comfortable cruise is 25 knots. Marlow’s testing shows that the 97 has a passagemaking range of 4300nm at 9 knots and, carrying equal fuel loads, David believes his 97 will cruise twice as far as most of his competitors at similar speeds.
The equipment list is long and distinguished, including a pair of Onan 32kW gensets and Naiad stabilizers. But it is in many of the thoughtful details where the Marlow 97 really shines: from the staggered anchor rollers forward, each with Maxwell 4000 winches, to the dual 100-amp shore power connectors at both the bow and stern for easy hook-ups, regardless of the docking situation. There are extra freezers tucked throughout the yacht for long-range provisioning and a hidden stern anchor and windlass to make bow-and-stern anchoring painless.
Good-looking and built to exceedingly high standards, the Marlow 97E enjoys the kind of performance that is only a dream to most builders. Whether you’re looking for a long-range cruiser, a weekender for family and friends or a liveaboard yacht, put the Marlow 97E on your short list. For his first entry into the Century Club of yachts, David Marlow has done it with his usual élan.