A Star Is Born
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 sundrenched 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.
Three steps up forward finds the spacious galley and dinette. With a U-shaped layout the galley takes up about two-thirds of the yacht’s beam—any chef would be delighted—and flaunts acres of granite honeycomb counter space for prep, plating and cleanup. A Kenyon four-burner cooktop with potholders and Wolf microwave/convection oven take care of the hot stuff, while four under-counter fridge/freezer drawers chill it all. Add in a Franke double sink with Grohe faucet, louvered cabinets, exhaust blower, dish lockers, cutting boards, and well, you get the idea. Lest the chef feels left out of the conversation, the galley aft wall is open to the saloon for visibility and conversation. The dinette is forward and nestled under the windshield—no lower station needed here. U-shaped in style, large in size and able to accommodate at least eight plus two more on the fixed stools, it’s close to the galley for meals or morning coffee.
As the 80E is built for cruising she must be able to accommodate guests for extended stays, but there’s no skimping on the goods below deck. With a four-stateroom configuration plus crew quarters aft, there’s room for everyone. Forward is the VIP with king berth, vanity, 22″ TV, and ample storage, plus a private head with sink, toilet and glass shower stall. A twin guest stateroom to port offers a cedar-lined locker and private head with shower. Directly across a smaller room with a single bunk can double for laundry with washer/dryer or walk-in pantry, you decide.
The pièce de résistance is the mid-ship full-beam master that’s simple in elegance yet long on accoutrements, with a king centerline berth, more drawers than my house, vanity, 26″ flat panel TV, cedar lockers, port side bench seat, multiple portlights, and more. A burl wood panel behind the headboard complements teak woodwork and the teak and holly flooring. Shoji screens in front of the portlights keep the room private, and his-and-her heads are connected by a center stall shower.
Marlow’s 80E sports the same features found on the Explorer series of yachts from 58 to 97 feet: a standup engine room, semi-displacement hull and Velocijet strut keels—a one-piece keel that envelopes each strut protecting it while enhancing performance. Add that to the solid hull constructed with RIVAT (Resin Infused Vacuum Assisted Transfer) through DuPont Kevlar fabric. To manage weight, bulkheads, floors and stringers are of cored sandwich construction.
Propelling 100,000 pounds of beefcake through a liquid is no easy task, but thanks to the Caterpillar C-32 diesel engines generating 1,800 horsepower each, the 80E is nimble at slow speed and a bit of an adrenalin rush when the throttles are pinned. I know that because the CAT technicians were performing their final commissioning analysis and certification on the new engines after our test runs, and I tagged along to see how the 80E felt at speed. Well, and this was per the techs directions, it took only 15 seconds to get to 28 knots, topping out at 29.4 knots and 90.5 GPH (measured in one direction only). That is a wind-in-the-hair exhilarating speed on an 80-footer. Of course, you can always dial the throttle back for a more respectable speed (and range). Marlow Marine President Mike Canova rode along for the testing as he does on many of the engine commissioning runs. Of course, David Marlow would also have been along if he was in town. The point is that this is a very hands-on organization from the top all the way through each sales rep and technician.
Up top is the fully enclosed command bridge for all-weather cruising. The expansive helm houses four digital 19” displays for charts, cameras, radar, and sounder, but there’s still more room for CAT engine displays, thruster controls, throttle, radios, display pads, and pretty much anything else you need. Overhead are 12V/24V breakers, ship system indicator lamps, Naiad stabilizer controls, and switches. Twin Stidd helm chairs offer comfort as well as style. Doors on either side allow for easy side-to docking, especially with a remote control. Overhead hatches, a large aft door and big picture window alleviate any claustrophobic feelings you may have, while aft to starboard is an L-shaped settee and table for great viewing. Step out onto the aft deck for a breath of sea air, lounging, food prep on the grill, cold drinks, or to lower the aft tender.
Having explored the ME 80E on board and viewed from a distance, it’s clear that size does matter. But don’t take it from me. Size up the Marlow Explorer 80E and see for yourself.
Beam: 21′ 6″
Draft: 5′ 3″
Bridge Clearance: 19′ 3″
Weight: 100,000 lbs
Fuel/Water: 4,000/600 U.S. gals.
Standard Power: Twin Caterpillar C-32 ACERT 1,800-hp diesels
Cruise/Top Speed: 25/30 knots
Range: 700 nm @ cruise/3,100 nm @ 9 knots
MSRP: Contact Marlow Yachts
4204 13th Street Court
West Palmetto, FL 34221
Tom Serio, Southern Boating February 2014