For yachtsmen who’ve owned flashy, highly stylized, day cruisers—perhaps in their younger years—and are intrigued by bluewater cruising, more remote locales, tradition, and a bit more leisurely pace, explorer type luxury yachts are increasingly popular. Here we take a look at the Marlow 78 Explorer, the Outer Reef 80, and the Offshore 80 Voyager.
Marlow 78 Explorer
Founded by David Marlow in 1995, luxurious and limited production Marlow Yachts are built in the eco-friendly, state-of-the-art Norsemen Shipyard in Xiamen, China. While traditional in looks and lines, Marlow’s state-of-the-art engineering, high-tech construction, and offshore capabilities make them modern marvels.
Hopping on board the Marlow 78 Explorer, you’ll find an aft cockpit deck with built-in seating and teak table for six, extended boat deck with full overhead protection, a ladder to the flybridge, and aft station engine controls with both bow and stern thruster controls. Twin transom doors and steps grace each side leading to a swim platform with ample storage underneath. The cockpit side deck is wide, ample, and protected from elements above.
Up on the flybridge, Stidd helm and passenger chairs beckon serious yachtsmen for adventures on the seas, accompanied by two, L-shaped sitting areas for more revelers. An electric motorized awning (9’ x 14’) aft of the hardtop protects occupants from the harsh sun and elements. Aft on the deck, there’s room for loungers and/or tender.
Enter the main salon of the Marlow 78 Explorer from the aft deck, and you’ll note a bright, deceivingly massive salon thanks to 10 large windows with unobstructed views to the pilothouse. Impeccable woodworking can be noted throughout—in fact one log supplies the veneers for the entire yacht, and a minimum of 10 coats of varnish coat the luxurious interiors. A forward area dining table shares easy access to a full sized wet bar with hidden sink to port. The galley is located centrally on the main deck aft of the pilothouse, up three steps from the salon.
Visibility forward and to the sides of the slightly raised pilothouse is excellent, and convenient side pilothouse doors and internal steps lead up to the flybridge. The pilothouse features a portside lounge/dinette with moveable teak table for eight or more and adjoining small helm station with helm chair on centerline (or not, if desired). The smaller helm allows for close-quarters control from this main deck with basic controls and a cabled handheld controller for vessel operation from either side deck. To starboard of the helm, is the main stairway leading below to four master/guest cabins, all located forward of the engine room.
The full-width master amidships is large and features his/hers heads at the rear. The VIP cabin is forward, and there is a twin berth guest cabin to port (or optional single bunk with storage or washer/dryer) and double guest cabin to starboard. Three have ensuite heads/showers. The full beam crew cabin is aft with twin bunks, separate head/shower, and generous stowage. It has an entrance from both the aft deck and transom door.
Marlow’s high tech construction techniques allow the yacht to be self-supporting, alleviating the use of interior bulkheads and weight-bearing walls to maximize space flexibility. This also translates into generous headroom in the air-conditioned engine room which boasts easy access to all sides of the engines and other equipment. It is accessible from the aft deck or via the transom door. A clever mechanical deck mid-ship houses sensitive equipment away from the engine room, like fresh water filters and pumps, vacuum system, and water heaters.
Thanks to modern innovations, the Marlow Explorer enjoys the strength of the heaviest of hulls at a much lesser weight enabling it to cruise at 20+ knots with typical power for fuel efficiency. Velocijet strut keels protect the running gear and improve directional stability. Marlow Yachts only utilizes three major molds for fewer seams and easier maintenance down the road.
The Marlow 78 Explorer’s LOA is 82’10”, her beam is 20’4”, and the draft is 4’10”. Her displacement is 100,000 lbs. dry with a standard fuel capacity of 3,000 gal. (twin tanks) and a fresh water tank capacity of 350 gal. Engines vary in the Marlow 78 Explorer, but a popular option is twin 1,550-hp Caterpillar C30 diesel inboards.
Offshore 80 Voyager
Currently built in Taiwan, Offshore Yachts began in 1948 by Richard O. Hunt who helped pioneer the use of laminated fiberglass for the Navy following World War II—which he successfully applied to pleasure craft. Offshore’s core values of maximum comfort, safety, and convenience in all sea conditions are reflected in every classic design of its semi-custom luxury yachts. Designs are traditional and functional without the sleek, European flash. Offshore deems its experience as “the softest ride on the water.”
A William Crealock design emphasizing sea kindliness, structural strength, and safety, the flagship Voyager line boasts the finest materials, unparalleled attention to detail, and superior craftsmanship—the utmost in refined elegance. Her heavy semi-displacement type hull isn’t the fastest boat on the water, but this offshore cruiser is solid, well insulated, and extremely seaworthy. The location of the pilothouse on a separate deck makes the Offshore 80 Voyager much taller than others in her class (and hence bigger). In fact, she’s somewhat of a tri-deck in an 80. Some have commented that the yacht is overbuilt for peace of mind, and we think that’s a good thing. (For instance, all living areas on the lower deck have an emergency access hatch, and a foyer with a watertight door from the owner’s cabin leads to the engine room.)
A covered afterdeck accessible from twin stairs from the boarding platform/large swim platform houses a pair of teak tables and a settee across the transom (cleverly concealing the tender’s fuel tank). Operators will appreciate conveniently located aft deck remote controls for maneuvering into slips. The upper boat deck covers the side decks (full walk-around), like the Marlow, for protection from the elements.
Clients are able to customize their saloons, but essentially the main deck is divided by a foyer (like on a much more sizeable yacht) amidships with deck access to port and starboard, a day head, stairs leading up to the wheelhouse, as well as stairs down to the master stateroom. The sides of the foyer pinch inward creating a wasp-waisted effect that allows for two forward-facing windows in the saloon as well as cross-ventilation when both doors are open underway. A fully outfitted galley is just forward, yet aft of the dining room and lounge area that contains a curved banquette, bar stools at a raised onyx counter, and stairs leading down to guest staterooms.
Cabins benefit from a variety of bedding choices in the guest staterooms, however both guest cabins have oversized molded showers, marble counters, and Tecma turbo flush heads. A full-beam master is located amidships with king-sized berth, his/hers head, and countertops along each side.
Crew quarters are aft with a double stateroom, lounge, and mini-galley. However, for owners who plan on grandkids or family on board with no crew, the space can have access from the aft corner of the saloon. With generous headroom and full walk-around access, the engine room is finished with Treadmaster covered walkways. A large lazarette can also be customized in its layout and storage requirements. Bottom of Form
On the top level, the fully enclosed pilothouse adds one more Stidd helm chair than the Marlow. Visibility is excellent, and a settee aft to starboard ensures company on long voyages. Abaft of the pilothouse is a boat deck that offers options for various configurations as well—tender, outside entertainment amenities, and seating. Tender and davit of your choice come as standard equipment.
The Offshore 80 Voyager’s LOA is 80’10”, her beam is 21’6”, and draft is 6’. Her displacement is 148,000 lbs. (dry) with the same fuel capacity (3,000 gal.) as the Marlow 78 Explorer. She features a 600 gal. water capacity. Engines vary, but twin 800-hp Caterpiller 3406E diesels allow a cruising range of 2,200 miles at 8.5 knots and 13 knots at the top.
Outer Reef 80
Outer Reefs are built by Tania Yacht Company in Taiwan with the goals of reliability, comfort, safety, ease of handling, minimal maintenance, and easy navigability by an experienced couple. Outer Reefs are built to open ocean, category A standards, unrestricted navigation, and the shipyard is ISO 9001 certified. Outer Reef recently brought on Ken Freivokh, designer of famed “Maltese Falcon,” to design a more contemporary interior for their trawler yachts, increasing their appeal to the European market and improving the delicate combination of luxury and safety. Some semi-customizing of interiors can be accommodated at no extra cost. Outer Reefs are manufactured using only three major molds ensuring watertight integrity and maximum rigidity. In addition, Outer Reefs stay in this mold for an extended period of time until interior components are installed and fiber-glassed into place.
The Outer Reef 80’s aft cockpit, with its twin stairs leading to the transom, features built-in seating and table alfresco. The basic layout (which can be altered) of the salon on the Outer Reef 80 includes an L-shaped settee aft to port that faces two freestanding chairs on either side of a TV housing unit. A formal dining table nestles up to a forward, U-shaped galley which is open to the salon. Some owners opt for all loose furniture or full U-shape settee, eliminating the formal dining area in lieu of a more casual breakfast counter with stools. A day head can be retained on the main deck opposite the galley or can be replaced with other uses such as a wine cooler and serving counter. Like the Marlow 78 Explorer and the Offshore 80 Voyager, walkaround side decks are covered and protected.
The elevated, main helm pilothouse with its good sightlines and side doors can accommodate twin Stidds and a large settee with dining table behind the helm. Here, stairs starboard lead up to the bridge and down to a foyer for owner/guest cabins. The standard guest accommodations on the Outer Reef 80 include a full-beam master amidships, a VIP stateroom forward, and two additional guest cabins in between (one has doubles and the other bunks). However, similar to the Offshore 80 Voyager, if immediate access to the engine room is desired, the Outer Reef can be configured with additional stairs from the salon abaft of the master with a watertight door to the engine room. Other owners have opted for more closet space in lieu of the bunk guest cabin.
Crew cabins (whether used for crew or guests) are luxuriously fitted with entry from the transom through watertight doors, and they boast easy access to the engine room. They contain a small galley and lounge, private cabin with double berth, and enclosed head with shower.
The covered flybridge (which can be enclosed) can be flanked aft by a seating and various dining arrangements, in addition to refrigerator and grill. Tender and davit with additional seating can be found aft of the helm.
The Outer Reef 80 boasts excellent performance and enjoyment. Owners have noted that the quality and build of the hull allows faster than displacement speeds without massive fuel consumption. A tight-radius lower chine and hard upper chine/spray knocker allows the Outer Reef 80 to run efficiently throughout various speeds while the wide upper chine/spray knocker reduces roll in a seaway. As far as comfort and stability, she is remarkably comfortable at anchor.
The Outer Reef 80’s LOA is 79’11”, her beam 21”, and the draft is 5’6”. Her displacement is 180,000 lbs. with the same fuel capacity as the Marlow and Offshore. Her water capacity is 500 gal. Standard power on the Outer Reef 80 comes from twin 705-hp Caterpillar C12s, however owners have upgraded to 1,015-hp Cat C18s, or even 1,550-hp C32s. With this range of power, top speeds can vary from 14.4 knots to more than 24 knots.
The Marlow 78 Explorer, Offshore 80 Voyager, and Outer Reef 80 are all high quality luxury, explorer yachts capable of long ranges. All three of these vessels feature a pilothouse, however the Marlow 78 Explorer and Outer Reef 80 do this in a raised pilothouse configuration forward of the galley, whereas the Offshore 80 Voyager feature the pilothouse on the top deck making her taller (and increasing her interior volume). The interiors of the Marlow 78 and the Offshore 80 Voyager tend to be very traditional, while the Outer Reef 80 offers more modern touches more appealing to those who prefer European styling.