When one thinks of Pulaski, Wisconsin (pop. 2,200), international style and panache are likely not the first things that come to mind. That's about to change, thanks to Carver Boat Corp. and its new 65-foot Marquis motoryacht.
The company built its first boat 50 years ago, when Charlie Carter and George Verhagen got together in Verhagen's Milwaukee garage to build themselves a mahogany runabout. Transitioning from hobby to business, they soon began selling their creations to friends. From that simple beginning, Carver-a combination of their last names-was born.
The company has marked a lot of milestones since 1954, including its 1956 move from Milwaukee to Pulaski, the introduction of its full-cabin boats and flying-bridge models, in the '60s, and its progression from wood to fiberglass construction, in the early '70s. Later came distinctive models such as those in the Mariner series, boats beloved by owners for their abundance of interior volume.
Now comes a move sure to alter Carver's course significantly and set its direction for years to come: the introduction of the Marquis line. (The premiere Marquis, a 59-foot model, debuted last year.) The new 65-footer is not simply a bigger Carver, in concept or in execution; she is a whole new animal. The company reached beyond its own doors to ensure the new series would be not just what Carver wanted, but what knowledgeable yachtsmen would demand. She is nothing short of world-class.
Carver brought in renowned naval architect Donald L. Blount for advice on hull lines and performance. It tapped Ward's Marine Electric, a company with a great history of its own, to specify the electrical, control and navigational systems for the yachts. And after looking worldwide, Carver enlisted the Venetian design team of Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard for the exterior styling. The Italian duo also laid out the interior arrangement and worked with A La Mer on the décor.
The use of a team with this depth of experience is common for the world's largest custom superyachts, where cost is no object, but it is a bit unusual for a production boat company such as Carver to carry planning to this extent. The result is worth whatever Carver invested, for the Marquis 65 went well beyond my expectations. Built entirely in Wisconsin with uncompromising attention to the preferences of American buyers, the yacht is an exceptional combination of styling, accommodation and performance that has an undeniable Italian flair, yet is heir to the tradition of spacious comfort pioneered over the years by the Carver Mariners.
It was high tide at Ft. Lauderdale's Bahia Mar, so I boarded the Marquis via the stern rather than the side bulwark gate, across a sizable platform that can be dropped to water level for swimming or even lower for launching and retrieving a small tender. Up a few steps, and I was at the curved stainless-framed glass saloon door, where I found a little something extra: a screen. Blessed as this land of ours is with mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums, the screen is very sensible, and it rolled effortlessly into place.
Beyond the entry lay an uninterrupted vista that took in the saloon, dining room, galley, pilothouse and the horizon ahead. It is not easy to keep such a space from looking long and narrow, especially when a yacht carries full side decks, but the designers achieved it through a combination of several techniques. First, there is an abundance of windows along the sides of the house, expanding the apparent width of the room. Second, partial dividers-the port one holding the galley's refrigerator/freezer and the starboard one serving as a base for the open glass stairs to the flying bridge-visually differentiate the saloon from the remainder of the deck. Finally, the helm area is elevated slightly, providing a better view for the captain, who sits centerline on a comfortable Stidd helm chair, and his guests, who can relax nearby on the circular settee forward of the galley.
The feeling here, and throughout the Marquis, is one of refined modernity. There are no sharp corners, with joinery-edge moldings and bulkhead knuckles displaying large radii that are attractive and safe at sea. All woodwork is cherry with a deep, high-gloss finish. Veneer grain patterns are well matched, and many countertops are cut from burl to offer visual contrast.
The dining table is a work of art in itself, in appearance and function. The oval tabletop has a starburst veneer pattern, with Nuvolari & Lenard's trademark curved diamond in the center, a theme echoed in the saloon overhead and the backs of the dining chairs. The tabletop is mounted on a sturdy, fixed center post, but it slides outboard to create a wider passageway fore and aft when not in use.
Cream colors were selected for the carpets and overheads aboard our test boat, along with lighter colors for the leather chairs and settees, but décor and some other design elements are largely up to the buyer. Kim Riley, Carver's director of communications, and Randy Peterson, manager of propulsion and systems engineering, explained that while Carver does not offer customization of the Marquis 65, the company would consider reasonable "special options in addition to the extensive list of "owner preference items that forms part of the yacht's specifications.
Several of those items were aboard our test boat, including a full fiberglass hardtop that is sure to be a buyer favorite. In the sunny climes of Florida, it will keep things tolerable, with or without the available air-conditioning. Up on the Great Lakes, the top and removable enclosure curtains will extend the boating season considerably.
Belowdecks, the Marquis carries six guests in three cabins clustered around a marble-sole lower foyer. The VIP stateroom, forward with a queen island berth, has cedar-lined lockers to port and starboard. There's also a smaller guest cabin to port, with twin berths and an en suite head that doubles as a day head. Both guest heads have showers that are equipped with seats and grab rails.
The master stateroom, positioned amidships, is as large and well appointed as some I've seen on 100-footers. His-and-her baths flank a centerline tub, and the clear glass enclosure can be rendered opaque instantly, at the flip of a switch. Stowage is abundant, with multiple drawers and a locker to starboard that is not only a walk-in space, but a "walk around in space. A settee and vanity complete the outfitting.
The Marquis 65 is a dream under way, both at sea and in tight quarters. She rides like a much larger yacht, yet handles like one much smaller. We ran at speed through some confused slop offshore, and her quick response to the rudders and trim tabs hoisted the bow easily as we turned into the seas and passed a boat 30 feet longer having a much tougher time of it. We had bow- and sternthrusters, which are nice but not necessary, and did not have stabilizers. Frankly, I didn't miss them-I assumed they were fitted and operating until I looked for the controls. Our test boat carried an optional crew cabin abaft the engineroom, but the Marquis 65 is well within the capabilities of a skilled owner-operator. To me, half the pleasure of this yacht would be in driving her.
Contact: Carver Boat Corp., (920) 822-3214; www.marquisyachts.com. For more information, contact: (866) 922-4877