Boat Reviews




Sometimes the stars align properly. The heavens over the Manatee River were cloudy, cold and gray to start, but the air warmed as dreariness gave way to sun-drenched blue skies by photo time. It was review day at the Marlow Yachts facility on Snead Island, Florida, for two new launches—the new Marlow Explorer (ME) 80E Command Bridge and the new 58E (for a later review). The 80E—the “E” stands for European-style transom—proudly carries on the Marlow style as the replacement for the 78E in a well-proportioned hull, superstructure, deck, and enclosed command bridge combination. The form is masterful. The pedigree is all Marlow.

Making its debut at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, hull number one for the ME 80E was the showpiece du jour. A gleaming white finish accentuates the length, while properly sized and located hull-side ports complement the overall style and classiness of the 80E. Whether slicing the water at speed or nonchalantly plying at a slower clip, the 80E is tuned to deliver inside and out. On board the foredeck offers twin bench seats on the forward side of the Portuguese Bridge for commanding vistas, and a covered aft deck with teak table to see where you have been. In between, there’s form and function focused on comfort and enjoyment. The saloon is, well, immense. Equally suitable for a family room or an evening cocktail gathering, you’d need a lot of bodies to fill it up. To port is a sectional sofa and coffee table with storage, while way across to starboard are twin chairs that flank their own coffee table. Teak and holly flooring throughout need nothing more than a throw rug if desired. Marlow uses primarily teak wood for walls and cabinetry for a classic and timeless interior finish. Couple that with the masterful craftsmanship attained at the Norsemen Shipyard in China where all Marlow Explorers are built, and it’s evident that those in charge do it right. Additional features include a wine locker, entertainment center with wet bar, sink and icemaker, TV cabinet, bookshelves seemingly everywhere, and overhead handrails (always a nice touch). Illumination is from recessed ceiling lights and wall sconces.

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When the Grand Banks Yachts’ design team conceived the new Eastbay 50 SX at the 2012 Miami International Boat Show, choosing Volvo Penta IPS (Integrated Propulsion System) propulsion was a landmark move. IPS was introduced in the mid-2000s and is now common, yet Grand Banks had never utilized the forward-facing propeller IPS design. “It’s our first foray with Volvo Penta and we are impressed,” explained Tucker West, general manager of Grand Banks Northwest in Seattle. Tucker was on hand at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to introduce the brand-new Eastbay 50 SX. (It will also be at the 2014 Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show this month.) “The horsepower is outstanding, and the location and setup of the engines allows us to keep the cockpit lower.”

Volvo Penta isn’t the only company offering pod propulsion, and Grand Banks has offered boats with Cummins diesel power and Zeus pod drives. However, the combination of new twin Volvo Penta D11 700-hp engines and IPS 950 drives are a superb fit for the low-profile Eastbay 50 SX (traditional shaft drives are also available.) The yacht features a swept-back look from bow to stern with large side windows that create a feeling of speed even at rest. “The IPS propulsion offers an improvement in fuel efficiency and excellent maneuverability with the joystick controls,” West said. “At 28 knots you are burning 45 gallons per hour of fuel, and that is excellent for a boat of this size.”

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Larry Bonadeo—the owner of Bonadeo Boatworks in Stuart, Florida—ignores naysayers. He builds two or three custom sportfishing boats a year and has a keen sense of what customers want. So when critics claimed the 34 Walkaround would be radically different from the successful 368 Walkaround he already built, Larry politely paid no heed and kept building. 

Larry’s team finished the new Bonadeo 34 Walkaround in time for the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and he stood by the boat’s side to explain the concept. “Everyone thought the 34 would be so astronomically different than the 368,” explained Larry, who along with his son Tony founded Bonadeo Boatworks and delivered their first boat in 2006. “I felt the cockpit would be smaller but it would have the same overall look and feel, and after a weight and balance study and working hard on the design, that’s exactly how it turned out.”

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