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.
Stepping aboard the Marlow 80 E is easy from any side: Twin staircases ascend from the teak platform to the aft deck, and when docked side to, there are boarding gates on both sides of the aft deck. Walk along the teak side decks with overhangs to the Portuguese bridge with built-in padded bench seats. This is a great area for a sunset cocktail while chilling with some Buffett playing in the background.
This is an all-season yacht thanks to the generously sized, enclosed command bridge. On our cruise, it made for a quiet, peaceful and enjoyable ride, allowing for normal conversation but with a full view of all around us. The bridge area is well thought-out, with twin helm seats, a console sizable for four multifunction displays as well as engine monitors, overhead console for switches and gauges, and a large flat surface to the left suitable for charts. With an additional captain or two, you can run the 80E around the clock on those long legs of your journey.
In keeping with the social spirit, there’s a corner L-settee with a high-gloss teak table inside. Outside on the deck are a large bar with four permanent bar stools, electric grill, sink, fridge and ice maker, and L-settee with table to port. Marlow also put a dayhead inside, a convenience that may be overlooked but at times much appreciated.
Of particular interest is that the davit Marlow uses for lifting toys to the upper deck is made by Aritex, the same guys that help build airplanes and car parts. Marlow likes their business model and products, and he helped to develop this new piece of machinery with them. It’s a standout and looks more like a robotic arm than a squared-off crane.
The Marlow refinement continues on the main deck. Finished with teak wood walls and cabinets and teak and holly flooring throughout, there’s a charm about the interior that makes it feel homey and inviting. There’s no lower helm station, so the forward area is dedicated to casual gatherings and the galley. A U-shaped settee with well-padded cushions and backrests sits under the windshield, with a split teak table. The table’s middle section folds up to create a large dining area, and the stanchions house several drawers for glassware, a thoughtful storage solution.
The U-shaped galley boasts everything you need for full meals or provisions for extended cruising. Features on this 80E include a Dacor four-burner stove with pot holders, Dacor convection oven, Sharp Carousel microwave, deep stainless sink and counter space, cabinets, pantry drawers and storage everywhere. Surprising is the design for eight (yes, that’s correct) Sub-Zero fridge/freezer drawers.
In the main salon, there’s a six-seat dining table forward, open to the rest of the room. Relax in the armchairs or on the comfy L-shaped sofa to port. Teak walls, accent and recessed lighting, TV, coffee table, wine cooler, and entertainment center fill out the area. A forward credenza is for glass and china storage or whatever you choose. A ceiling-mounted grab rail runs fore and aft and encircles a center recessed light, solving both an aesthetics and safety concern.
Access to the main staterooms is forward and down. Taking advantage of the 21’6″ beam, the 80E amidships master has a centerline king berth, walk-in closet, and ensuite head with a large (6+ feet of headroom) shower stall. Marlow options the bureaus and lockers as you like; in addition to a corner curios cabinet in the salon, this 80E has a 10-drawer bureau, 3-drawer end tables, and a starboard bench settee.
A VIP stateroom is in the peak, with center king berth, cabinets, cedar lockers, overhead hatches and ensuite head with glass shower. This could be mistaken for a master stateroom on other yachts. Two guest staterooms are furnished with twin berths and double bunks.
This Marlow 80E is powered by twin CAT C32 diesel engines with a top speed of 30 knots (yes, I saw it myself), twin Kohler 32kW generators, flexible drive couplings, Velocijet struts (a protective and enclosed one-piece keel for each shaft, that enhances performance by eliminating a spinning shaft through water), aft crew quarters, custom braces along railings for added strength, dovetail wood joinery, drawer ball latches, and much more.
When Marlow’s name can be found on his yachts, even stamped into the hawse pipes and cleats, it’s certain he has built the best yacht imaginable and stands behind it. The 80E is no exception. It is rather exceptional.
Marlow 80E Specifications
LOA: 86′ 8″
Beam: 21′ 6″
Draft: 5′ 3″
Displacement: 125,000 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 3,900/600 U.S. gals.
Power (tested): 2x Caterpillar C32 1800 hp
Cruise/Top Speed: 25/30 knots
Price: contact Marlow Yachts
Story and photos by Tom Serio, Southern Boating February 2018