Several arrangements are available for the starboard cabin, but our 65 had one that Tony believes is likely to be the most popular: a pair of criss-crossed upper/lower berths. The lower berth can be used as a settee, and there's a desk on the forward bulkhead large enough to serve as an onboard office complete with computer.
The real living areas on the Fleming 65 are likely to be the saloon and pilothouse. Though separated by the galley bulkhead, these seem to flow into one large space. The saloon has a settee to starboard with a table that unfolds to become a dining table. A pair of Tony Fleming-designed swivel bucket chairs also serve as table seating, and a pair of Fleming-designed hassocks conceal large storage bins as well. A 37-inch Sharp Aquos TV pops up on an Inca swivel lift from a cabinet in the after corner, while a wet bar with a fridge is to port.
Our test boat was hull #1; it was being kept by Fleming as a demonstrator and to allow the company to try out new systems and equipment. In the galley, which fills the forward end of the saloon, is an unusual Brandt four-burner induction cooktop. Not only does it heat without heat (you can put your hand on the burners!) for safety at sea, but it also works very quickly: A pot of cold water boils in under two minutes.
The pilothouse is likely to be the gathering spot while underway, with a curved settee to port, a custom pedestal chair behind the helm, and an expanse of black dashboard that would be a challenge to fill with electronics. With big windows, the visibility is superb, but late-afternoon sun glare can be an issue. The solution is a set of pull-down blinds to shade the crew while imparting a 1940s film noir touch to the proceedings.
The large day head to starboard is a welcome addition, and future 65s will have a wet locker for foul-weather gear as well, since the crew will be coming and going in all conditions through the two sliding doors on each side of the pilothouse. Another thoughtful inclusion is the chart table built into the starboard side of the dashboard, since savvy skippers still use paper charts to back up their occasionally fallible chart plotters. There also are drawers to handle those charts underneath.
The flying bridge is just steps from the pilothouse, with a raised platform for the port-side helm to give the skipper a clear view of the bow. Just aft of the helm is a built-in barbecue with an undercounter fridge, and a huge Glacier freezer that will handle the frozen food for weeks of cruising. To starboard is a comfortable J-shaped settee. A Bimini top that uses a hinged fiberglass radar arch as a primary support, as well as for storage, protects the entire area.
Aft, the boat deck is as solid as a concrete sidewalk, and easily holds a 14-foot Zodiac tender on fore-and-aft fiberglass ribs. Key to this rigidity are the cradles, which are really aluminum weldments molded into the deck to create sturdy cantilevers that support the tender. A 1,500-pound Steelhead crane launches both tender and watertoys.
Standard power is a pair of Cummins QSM11 660 hp diesels (CATS to 1,000 hp are available options) in a spacious engineroom that has nearly full headroom, thanks to the clever use of space in the wide bilge area of the keel. Full-beam fiberglass tanks plus a pair of auxiliary tanks store 1,700 gallons of fuel, and a tidy manifold system allows for fuel transfer. With long-range roaming in mind, this 65 has a Sepa fuel polisher as well.
The standard Fleming 65 has an Onan 21.5kW genset, but Tony Fleming decided to tinker a bit with our test boat since he likes quiet while at anchor. A Mastervolt system of four 2,500w inverters plus banks of 1,100-amp-hour batteries provide silent power for the majority of the systems. Most unusual, however, is the Sterling external combustion generator, which provides AC power at the sound level of a sewing machine. External combustion engines, which were used on the space shuttle, are too complicated to explain here (go to www.howstuffworks.com), but make perfect sense in this usage.
Underway, the Fleming 65 was a delight. We topped out at nearly 17 knots, but 1,600 rpm give somewhere around 11.5 knots, a comfortable ride in most seas, and long-legged range. With bow and stern Sidepower thrusters, she was much more nimble in close quarters than you'd expect from her fiftyish tons, but all that weight and her hull shape give her a comfortable motion at sea, too.
Tony Fleming may say he has no plans for an empire but, with the Fleming 65 already sold out through 2009, his fans may build one for him.
Contact: Fleming Yachts, (949) 723-4225; www.flemingyachts.com