Even after having lived in south Florida for 14 years, I'm still sometimes surprised the conditions can be so nice in the Waterway and so nasty just offshore. It was sunny, hot and utterly still as I boarded the sleek Pershing 65 along the face dock at Bahia Mar, so I didn't give sea conditions much thought. Even so, force of habit sent me around the boat, checking ports, closing doors and taking down the vases and knickknacks so carefully placed by decorators. Topside, Pershing of America's Mike Dickman and Darren Datson double-checked the anchor and hatches.
Good thing, too. As we passed tankers offloading cargos of liquid gold in Port Everglades, the swells coming in the inlet hinted of what was to come. Just outside the inlet, we were in a witch's brew stirred up by earlier weather and shifting winds. It didn't let up as we headed north. Wave height, topping out about 6 feet, was not the problem. The killer was the swells' confused nature. No matter which heading we chose, we were going to hit some of them wrong.
It was a perfect setting for a "fast commuter," as the factory calls the Pershings, to come into its own.
While the displacement and slower-planing boats around us wallowed along, pitching and rolling at degree measurements to match the Florida summer temperature, the Pershing 65 demonstrated its capabilities. At 1500 rpm, we hit 20 knots and started to climb on top of the slop, leaving the worst motions behind. At an easy cruise of 1800 rpm, speed topped 35 knots and things smoothed out considerably. The ride was not mill-pond calm, but it was quite comfortable whether sitting or standing. With the seas as they were, every additional knot pushed us farther toward an uncertain airborne mode, so I stopped the throttles at 43 knots. We weren't yet at the top of the Caterpillar power curve, which reportedly pushes this high-speed cruiser close to 50 knots, but I didn't want to risk serious damage (not to the solidly built boat's structure, but to the more fragile one that carries me daily).
Challenging conditions always make for a better sea trial, as simply listening to hull sounds and watching the bottom and side panels' flexure can reveal volumes about construction. The Pershing 65 has a solid bottom with PVC-cored stiffeners, and PVC sandwich construction is used in the hull sides and decks. The patented Scrimp vacuum-infusion process, developed by Seemann Composites in Mississippi and licensed by Pershing's factory on the Adriatic coast of Italy, ensures a well-bonded and void-free laminate without extra weight from excess resin. Bill Seemann developed the Scrimp system more than a decade ago for building high-performance military craft, but the process has been successful when building quality yacht structures, as well.
The Pershing 65's twin Caterpillar diesels are linked to Arneson 14 surface drives, turning Radice five-blade props tucked under a wide swim platform. With many surface-drive boats, you need to adjust the trim tabs and drive throughout the speed range, first to get on plane and then to optimize speed and ride. This installation seems so well-tuned, the tweaking is practically nonexistent. We climbed onto plane and ran at various speeds and headings with minimal adjustment.
Access to the drive lines for inspecting and maintaining U-joints is convenient on this American version of the boat, thanks to a decision to move crew's quarters to the bow from the standard location abaft the engineroom. That space is now available for access and additional equipment. It's easy to get to the seacocks and filters, but the batteries, outboard of the engines, are a bit less accessible. On the hull-side air intakes, there's a good set of remote-operated fire dampers that should be standard with a fixed fire extinguishing system but are too often omitted.
Above the engines is a large well-with a built-in davit, topped by a sunpad-large enough to stow a PWC. A second, smaller stowage area is just forward, suitable for fenders, lines and cleaning equipment. There's a fixed glass bulkhead with a large sliding door just forward of the sunpad, so the helm and cockpit area can be buttoned up tight in bad weather or air-conditioned when things get too hot. For those perfect days, there's a convertible panel in the overhead to let the sky in. With the aft door locked open, the feeling is more that of an open express boat.
The cockpit has a U-shape settee and table to port. On our test boat, a bin just forward of the settee had a cold plate for stowing food and drinks. Across the passageway is a large wet bar with an electric grill. When not in use, the whole bar disappears under three fold-down countertop sections. The helm is at the center of a two-person bench to starboard, convenient to drive from either the inboard or outboard seat. A matching bench to port carries two more passengers. Even in the roughest seas, I felt secure sitting there.
The compact galley and dinette are down a half-flight of steps. A turn aft and a few more steps take you into the private, surprisingly spacious master stateroom. There are two hanging lockers, and a dresser and vanity flank the queen-size berth to port and starboard, respectively. The master head looks a bit small on paper, but it feels much bigger thanks to good arrangement and lighting.
A guest cabin with twin berths and a single hanging locker is forward of the dinette, served by a head abaft the galley that doubles as the day head. The VIP guest stateroom is forward, featuring an island berth, two lockers and an en suite head.
The single-berth crew cabin with head, accessed by a hatch on the foredeck, is on the opposite side of the VIP stateroom forward bulkhead. It's compact and somewhat inconvenient, but a good tradeoff for the extra space it allows in the engineroom. After all, the Pershing 65 is so easily handled, few owners will have a full-time crew. With its combination of speed, performance and seakeeping, the Pershing 65 is fun to run all by yourself.
Contact: Pershing of America Inc., (954) 527-5940; fax (954) 527-5809; www.pershing.it.