Walking through new boats is often deceiving. While docked at a boat show or a dealer's dock, each is buffed and polished to perfection. Interiors are camouflaged behind large flower arrangements ill suited for many funeral parlors. Table settings and soap dishes are sprinkled throughout. This is as good as many boats will ever look. Sun, salt water and general wear and tear are not kind to lesser-quality craft.
A 5-year-old Aprea Mare 9m I recently boarded, however, appeared as fresh as the day she left the factory. All the boat show decorations had been thrown in a box, and the interior varnish revealed no signs of fading or wear. It actually turned a more golden, rich color with age. Although five years is hardly old for a boat, a craft that looks as good as it did five years ago is indicative of the builder's dedication to quality.
The new Aprea Mare 10m replaces the 9m, which began production in 1988. Our test boat was equipped with twin 300 hp Yanmar 6LP-STE diesels. The turbocharged, in-line, six-cylinder diesels were a good fit for the 10m. The freshwater cooled compact engine measures 47.4 inches long by 26.2 inches wide by 29 inches high. Acceleration was smooth and clean, with minimal exhaust smoke blowing out the stern. The diesel has a waste gate, giving it improved acceleration by allowing the turbo to pressurize sooner. (The other engine package is twin 250 hp Detroit Diesels.)
Even with no tabs applied, she planed with little effort. The bow stalled only momentarily until the turbos kicked in and shot the 10m onto a plane. Had I applied a little tab, she would have made a smoother transition. We found choppy waters churning up the rest of the Ft. Lauderdale boating traffic, but our bow entered the seaway softly and effortlessly. Her 8-ton displacement helped provide a solid feel as we reached a top speed of 30.1 knots in the medium chop. Expect a comfortable cruising speed in the mid-20 knot range and, according to Aprea Mare, a range of 250 to 300 nautical miles with the 185-gallon fuel capacity.
Sound is kept in the engineroom and out of the cockpit by lead-lined foam insulation and gaskets that line the engine compartment. Our sound readings did not exceed 83 decibels.
The hull is designed with a fine entry forward that transitions into hard chines aft. The hull shape is deceiving. The rounded stern gives the illusion of a soft chine aft, but the hard chine of the hull is carried aft and can be seen lurking just under the water.
She tracks and turns well at slower speeds, a noticeable attribute while going under the 17th Street bridge with a swift current and a fair amount of traffic. The steering is tight and she backs easily, making docking in a tight slip fairly painless.
Her hull is laid-up with solid fiberglass, although some coring is used on the deck. Gelcoat work was well executed and created a reflection-like finish.
The deck hardware and layout demonstrate the Sorrento, Italy, yard's experience. For more than four generations, Aprea Mare has quietly built everything from commercial fishing boats to the models that make up the company's range today. The teak decks (the best nonslip there is if you are up for a little more maintenance) are wide and make going forward easy. No matter where you are on the side decks, there is a handhold within reach. The welds on the 2-inch stainless steel are flawless; no rough seams between the stanchion and the railing. They are high enough to provide a secure passage. Forward, the Lofrans windlass sits on a raised platform in the middle of two lockers serving a stainless-steel anchor roller. A remote panel is at the helm station. A sunpad stretches across most of the forward cabin trunk, as you would expect from a boat originally designed to cruise the Mediterranean.
There are noticeable differences between the 9m and 10m in the cockpit and helm area. To gain more space in the interior, Aprea Mare pushed the cabin aft, reducing the area in the cockpit. However, the space on the 10m is more functional. The helm seat width is increased, providing enough space for a companion to ride shotgun. Seating is curved around the transom and, when the table is set, creates an ideal perch for a meal. A teak step leads down to the huge teak grate swim platform with ladder.
The one criticism I had with the helm deck area involves the helm itself. The helm is dominated by the engine instrument panel and leaves little room for properly laying out the electronics. Reducing the panel could solve this problem.
The forward windshield is made up of two panels, and two large wipers easily slap water aside. The line of sight while seated or standing is excellent.
Interior volume is the most noticeable difference between the 9m and the 10m. The 11-foot beam affords the space of a larger vessel, complete with the amenities. Three steps curve down from the helm deck into the main cabin. An L-shape settee on the port side is large enough for lounging with the Sunday paper, delaying the trip back home while the boat tugs at her anchor. A galley is opposite and includes a two-burner stovetop, Corian countertops, a deep sink and a refrigerator.
A surprising feature on a boat this size is the separate shower stall in the head. Often, express-style boats need to be at least 40 feet long before they include a dry-head arrangement. Otherwise, you're forced to accept circular plastic doors in the middle of the head that appear ready to beam you up.
The forward stateroom includes an offset double berth, a seat and a hanging locker. Fresh breezes flowing in the interior will be plentiful thanks to six opening ports and an overhead hatch in the forward stateroom. The high-gloss finish of the American cherry and the boat's quality fabrics are above average.
With the opening of the Aprea Mare office in Ft. Lauderdale and the evolution of the product toward U.S. requirements, Aprea Mare is quickly establishing its own niche in North America. I counted seven boats in various stages of commissioning at their Ft. Lauderdale docks while teams hopped from boat to boat preparing the new models for eager owners. If the buzz around Aprea Mare's docks is indicative of general excitement surrounding these classy Mediterranean cruisers, expect to hear a lot more from Aprea Mare in the future.
Several new models are in development.
Aprea Mare of North America, Inc., (800) 695-5096; (954) 525-7451; www.apreamare.com.