With leading production craft such as the Princess 65, for all their size and grandeur it is the little things that make them truly great.
Issue: June 2001
Manufacturer: Princess Yachts
A great leader (I forget who) once said, "There go my people, I must keep up with them." It is the same, metaphorically, with leading production craft such as the Princess 65, because for all their size and grandeur it is the little things that make them truly great.
Such as a moulded hatch incorporated in the cockpit coamings to conceal the bollard, electric-powered docking winch and stern line. Each hatch has a small gas strut to lift and lower with finger-tip ease, even though the owner and guests are less likely to tackle the mooring duties than they are to make their own cappuccinos. Down below you find that the cutlery drawer has individual recesses for the various implements to stop them rattling and scratching, and the locking mechanisms on the doors and drawers give a crisp and reassuring click.
Courtesy lights surround the island bed in the main stateroom, emitting a pale and romantic glow, while in the for'ard stateroom a vanity mirror is fitted inside the hinged lid of a felt-lined locker, creating a fold-away dressing table. It is this attention to fine detail that sets the tone for the entire craft, all 65 feet and 29.5 tonnes of it. If the builders get the little aspects so right you can be confident they didn't take shortcuts anywhere else in the boat.
From afar the Princess is equally impressive and indeed has been labelled a "breakthrough in motor yacht design". The cabin lines are sleek and succinctly rounded, melding almost organically into a pod-like structure over a deep-vee bluewater hull.
The tour begins at a large boarding platform, which has twin stairwells leading to the cockpit. A hatch hides a set of electro-hydraulic davits, which can lift a three-seater PWC and store it on the platform.
On the cockpit side there's a central rear lounge and a generous amount of standing room on the teak-laid sole. It is awaiting a custom-made outdoor table. Lift the lounge cushions and access is gained to the crew quarters, boasting two single berths, hanging locker and a compact bathroom with "stooping" headroom. It is air-conditioned and reasonably bright. Immediately through the companionway doors you enter the dedicated entertainment area of the saloon, bedecked with light cherrywood joinery, plush carpet and creamy leather in all its finery.
The owner often entertains up to 20 guests without people tripping over themselves, though 10-12 is comfortable. A cocktail cabinet safely holds and displays the glasses while beneath, hidden behind two cupboard doors, is a bar fridge. Adjacent to it is a plush two-seater leather lounge, and to starboard is a C-shaped lounge that wraps around a coffee table.
The entertainment unit comprises a 51cm Grundig television, video, and a Bose CD system with surround speakers. In superyacht style the dinette, helm station and galley have been separated from the lounge area and set on split levels. The five-seater dining table is stepped up, gaining a panoramic view through the wrap-around windows.
The galley, conversely, is sunken to maximise the space utilisation, yet is far from isolated with a glass-panelled handrail allowing the cook to see the dinette. A fridge and freezer fill the area beneath the dinette floor level. They're complemented by an underbench icemaker and underfloor insulated cooler (perfect for beer). Catering requirements are served by a four-burner electric stove and a microwave/convection oven, along with a dishwasher and twin stainless steel sinks. Benchtops are a lustrous and user-friendly granite and there's ample cupboard space.
The internal helm station, to starboard and slightly forward of the dinette, is equally purposeful and professional in its presentation. The skipper and passenger are pampered with deeply-padded leather bucket seats (the former being slide adjustable) and a centre armrest. Laid before them is an array of Raytheon electronics (RC620 colour chartplotter, RP650 autopilot and ST60 instruments) along with a Furuno 1942 radar and VDO gauges. Making life even easier for the skipper, an 11hp bowthruster and power-assisted hydraulic steering are standard. The test boat also had synchronised MMC controls (optional).
The thruster would help greatly in tight berthing manoeuvres since the diesels are set relatively close in the deep-vee hull. For quick access to the sidedecks, meanwhile, the helmsman has an aircraft-style door; bulwarks and a full-length handrail ensure personal safety.
The five-star accommodation area is on the lower level, affording two sumptuous double staterooms, a guest room with twin single berths and two "occasional" bunks in the laundry. The latter sounds an odd mix but it works because the washer/drier is concealed in a bench and the bunks can both be lowered when not required. There's a struck match between the staterooms in terms of space and appointments. Both have island beds - one set at 45' in the amidships cabin and the other central in the forepeak - plus similar sized en suites and individual controls for the (56,000BTU) air-conditioning.
The amidships cabin has slightly more floor space and gains a permanent dressing table but only one hanging locker as opposed to two. Natural light is limited to two thru-hull ports, however five halogen downlights illuminate the room like the MCG. The guest cabin also has ensuite access to the main day bathroom, so you'll never be caught short on the Princess.
Internal access is provided to the flybridge, along with moulded stairs from the cockpit. After the subdued light of the cabin you have to take your darkest-tint sunnies and SPF30 sunscreen up to the gleaming all-white 'bridge. A bimini is on order, though it will detract from the 65's sleek lines. To help keep the white upholstery clean when berthed a full cover clips over the area.
The helm station features two bucket seats, a wood-rimmed sports steering wheel, and repeat instrumentation from the lower helm. Behind the station is a useful module housing an electric volcanic rock BBQ, sink and bar fridge, serving a nearby dinette.
A high-performance Zodiac jet boat stores at the rear of the cockpit, being handled by an electric crane. The Princess is no slouch itself in terms of performance. And nor should the test boat be with twin MAN 1050hp diesels nestling in the engine room (2 x 680hp is minimum power available). The motors are set beneath the saloon lounges, with propeller tunnels being incorporated in the underbody to improve shaft angle and limit the draft. It is a soft-riding hull shape that knifes through swells, yet it accelerates onto the plane like a thoroughbred, reaching a top speed of around 34 knots for 2400rpm. At 1800rpm it cruises at 22 knots, 2200 revs sees 27 knots, and with the big MANs burbling away it yearns for the ocean.
The fuel bills are not for the faint-hearted, though anyone who can afford to buy the boat in the first place would probably spend more on the Bollinger.
And unfortunately $3.2million is the price of near perfection in a production pleasure boat. But that includes everything down to Princess plates, cutlery and glasses and socks for the fenders. It's those little things that add up ...
Story by Mark Rothfield