Molded steps lead to the flying bridge, which is surprisingly large for a yacht of this size. The portside helm has a double, wide seat behind a simple molded fiberglass console marked by the wood-rimmed metal-style wheel.
Opposite the helm is a spacious sunpad, but I was surprised that it couldn't be tilted up to provide either a fore- or aft-facing backrest. The result is that anyone wanting to ride next to the skipper has to be either prone or sitting on the low sunpad without a backrest.
On the other hand, the wraparound settee aft with its round, plastic cocktail table is very comfortable, so leave the skipper alone to drive the boat up forward. On the port side of the bridge is a fiberglass console that holds the usual barbecue grill, sink and icemaker/fridge.
Down on deck, the walkarounds are well protected by the welded and socketed stainless steel double rails that extend literally from bow to stern. Because the bridge overhang narrows the shoulder space on the walkarounds, the 53 could benefit from inboard grab rails, perhaps concealed under the overhang. Once forward, there is a big sunpad on the house as well as a Lofrans windlass and stainless steel anchor roller at the bow. An absolutely huge gear locker is forward with its own washdown bib, and it also provides great access to the chain locker in case of a tangle.
One place you'll have trouble believing this is a 53-footer is when you venture into the engineroom, which is downright huge. Descend via stairs from the cockpit hatch, and you'll find yourself in a gear flat aft of the engineroom proper. Here you'll find the 9 kW Onan genset in its sound box, the MarineAir a/c system, and a host of neatly arranged filters, shut-offs and manifolds. You can actually touch the steering rams, too.
Access outboard of the Caterpillar C-12s is limited, but all the service features have been moved to the inboard sides and this compact version has the heat exchanger moved as well. I'd like to see a smooth finish in the bilge (or oil pans) to catch the inevitable dribbles, but the workmanship is tidy and seamanlike. Standard power is a pair of MAN 700 hp diesels but our test boat had Cat 710s driving through a ZF V-drive.
Under way, the Uniesse 53 was both pleasant and well mannered. Roll on the throttles and the yacht lifts smoothly onto plane without needing trim tabs for anything other than balancing out windage or the weight of guests on one side.
Considering that the saloon had hardwood floors with no carpet or soft goods to dampen the sound, the low sound levels were indicative of an effort made to insulate the engines and exhausts. On the bridge, our sound meter registered little except wind and water: Even at full throttle, the engines were a distant hum. As you can see on the performance chart, we topped out just shy of 33 knots, which is certainly more than respectable for a yacht of this size.
The Uniesse 53 is well built, sea kindly, and has an interesting and unusual layout with a number of thoughtful features that I'd like to see on more yachts. She's not for everyone, but I know that both Ned Land and Capt. Nemo would love her-and many couples will find her the epitome of Roman romance. Contact: Global Maine Group, (305) 371-2628; www.globalyachts.com.