If you have cruised long enough, you've most likely entered into the age-old debate: Does the pleasure of yachting lie in the voyage or the destination? Recently I had the opportunity to sidestep this argument while on a South Florida golf adventure. Believe me, you'll be able to find full satisfaction during a cruise and upon arrival if the new Marquis 70 Tri-Deck is your chosen ride. She'll wrap you in five-star luxury while slicing through seas offshore and then transform into a premier base camp after you pull into the dock. In our case, she was far better than any golf course villa we could imagine.
You see, like many yachtsmen, I'm addicted to two expensive and time consuming hobbies-boating and golf. I've cruised the world's oceans, found isolated gunkholes in faraway coves, and even managed to get myself caught in some really foul weather-loving every minute of the experience! But playing eighteen on a good course is just as satisfying. Whatever your other passions-auto racing, baseball, diving-you can combine it with a love of boating. Your yacht can become your mothership to fun.
And this is how I come to embark on my civilized adventure."This was a great idea," Dick Nocenti, Marquis's director of marketing communications, said to me as we headed up the coast from Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach and The Champion course at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens. Along with us were his wife Joan, Randy Peterson, Marquis's manager of propulsion and systems engineering, and photographer Jim Raycroft. I smiled and nodded in agreement. The Marquis 70's 1,360-horsepower MTU diesels gave us a 24-knot cruising speed. One glance at the gauges and I could sit back and enjoy a ride made even more pleasurable by the comfortable leather helm seat and the air-conditioned bridge.
Besides the panoramic windows, the enclosed bridge offers a pair of settees, and a bar complete with refrigerator, ice maker, sink, and a pair of stools. On the bridge deck is a Gaggenau grill, the perfect complement to this versatile area. I also noted plenty of room up here for stowing a golf bag or two.
The cruise up to Lake Worth Inlet saw us in three- to four-foot quartering seas almost all the way courtesy of a 20-knot breeze. But I found the Marquis 70 was comfortable and stable. The relaxed environment also provided a perfect atmosphere for conversation.
"Marquis was formed in 2003 and resulted in a great meeting place between European style and American boatbuilding ability," Nocenti said as we discussed the flagship of the line (Marquis is currently working on larger models up to 100 feet). Our talk ranged from the vision of Venice, Italy-based naval architects Nuvolari- Lenard to the Pulaski, Wisconsin-based craftsmen who build the yachts, to construction techniques, to power options, and to layout and accommodations.
One of the best attributes of the Marquis 70 is spaciousness. The salon has plenty of seating and large entertainment areas. The fully equipped portside galley has an accompanying wet bar complete with wine cooler and two additional Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers to starboard. And large windows surround the forward dining table. In other words, the main deck offers wide open spaces.
This is also true in the living accommodations where several layouts are possible. This 70 was outfitted with four staterooms-forepeak VIP with en suite head, portside day-head with twin berth just aft, over/under quarters to starboard, amidships master-and a stern cabin for a captain or crew member. Other choices to consider are the three-stateroom and stern-cabin layout or the option of his-and-her heads in the master with double crew quarters aft. No matter the configuration, all have generous stowage. And accommodating semi-custom requests is part of the Marquis philosophy.
It was easy for me to safely roam the boat's main deck, thanks to wide side decks, robust railings, and high bulwarks forward and I could see we were a bit north of Lantana and therefore, nearing Lake Worth Inlet. The plan was to dock at the Soverel Harbor Marina, have a relaxing dinner at the River House Restaurant and some conversation on our afterdeck, and then enjoy a good night's rest in our respective staterooms.
Late the next morning we offloaded our gear and headed to the golf course. Now this was cruising! Located a few minutes away from the marina, PGA National is one of the premier golf resorts in South Florida. Originally designed by Tom Fazio for tournament play, it was reconfigured by Jack Nicklaus in 1990 and is home to the prestigious Honda Classic.
So there I was, walking in the footsteps of Nicklaus, Couples, O'Meara, Harrington, and Els, up to the first tee while the Marquis 70 waited close by. A hush fell over the crowd. I glanced down the fairway, taking it all in and noticing the bit of breeze on my back. I looked at the Titleist 1 ball I gently held in my gloved palm. "Go my friend," I silently intoned. "Let's show them where we live." I teed the ball up. I approached, I addressed, I swung. Ping! went my Cobra driver as I finished high and and looked up to follow my ball. Up and out. Still flying, continuing to resist gravity until, at its zenith, it started its return to terra firma. A bounce, another, and a roll, and it came to rest, 210 yards from where I stood. Right down the middle of the fairway! Okay, so there was no hushed crowd, but it was a great tee shot and a wonderful way to start the round on this special golf course.
Newcomers to the game, Joan and Jim hit the ball well and kept it in play most of the time. On The Champion course, 16 of 18 holes have water hazards and there are a total of 107 sand bunkers, so it was all too easy for us to find the beach or end up in the deep. We persevered however, and with smiles on our faces, took on the challenges of the round. But Mother Nature had other plans for us and with cloud-to-ground lightning in the area we retired to the 19th Hole Restaurant for lunch. Once cleared for play, we managed two more holes before the warning signal once again called us in, this time for the day.
I slept as well my second night aboard as I did my first, but this time I dreamed of straight fairway shots, the effortless swing of a five-iron, and the reassuring sound of my ball hitting the bottom of the cup.
On the way back to Ft. Lauderdale the next morning, my daydreams drifted to cruising Bahamian waters on the Marquis 70 Tri-Deck, or crossing the Gulf of Maine to Nova Scotia, or completing the final leg of a Great Loop trip. There's not much this boat can't do and it shows that it is definitely possible to enjoy both the voyage and the destination.
Marquis Yachts, (920) 822-3214; www.marquisyachts.com