Southern Boating

Marlow 80E

The newest Marlow Explorer, the Marlow 80 E, upholds the lineage of its predecessors with proven enhancements, perfecting the classic appeal for which the builder is known the world over.

On the west coast of Florida, there’s a little slice of heaven that yields good fishing, great vistas, and awesome sunsets. Nestled just off the mainland, Snead Island sits between the Manatee River and Tampa Bay in the shadows of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and but a hop to the Gulf of Mexico. It was in this general area that David Marlow grew up, hammering tin boats from metal roofing sheets at a tender young age, to now continuing his quest of making each Marlow yacht a little better than the last one.

It’s an unassuming approach when you visit him and his team at Marlow Marine. Simple signage leads you to either the yard or sales office. No glitz or flashing neon signs here, they just don’t fit. Pass the rusting ship-sized winch and wooden hull that is giving itself back up to the earth ever so slowly, and you’ll come to the nerve center of the operation. A yard that commissions new yachts, repairs those already loved, and resells those that still want to ply the local waterways or open oceans.

Marlow has several sizes of Explorer yachts, from 49 to 97 feet. This day, my focus is on the Explorer 80E. I’ll be honest, this is a big yacht. Not one of those wedding cake-styled behemoths that stack deck upon deck without a thought for design character. No, the 80E, like all the Marlow Explorer series, has a touch of class, from the exterior styling to the interior layouts to the fit and finish of the completed yacht. The Explorer series is timeless, recognizable from the signature lapstrake hulls to the teak wood interior.

Marlow doesn’t take big swings at making changes for the sake of change. He likes to use what has been proven and loved by many and expand on that. The Marlow 80E, like several others in the class, now has a transom that’s not vertical but with an outward
radius curve that breaks from the standard transom and offers more interior space in the lazarette. In Marlow’s office, he has several cutaway pieces that show how the lamination, coring, thru-hulls and other crucial components are made. I was impressed to see that what I thought were just decorative hull lapstrakes are actually glass encapsulated cored strips that reduce weight and also add rigidity to the hull.