It was around 7 a.m. Kevin and Judy McGovern were enjoying a 20th wedding anniversary breakfast at Solomons Island, Maryland. Kevin turned his eyes toward the marina and gazed at the homage to fiberglass that lined the docks. He looked to his wife and said, “We should do that. We should get a boat.”
Most individuals discover the sport because a friend or family member introduces them to it. It’s an unusual (and very cool) thing for someone to simply look out onto a gaggle of yachts and decide over eggs and coffee to pick up the habit. But that’s just what happened to this now-hard-core cruising couple five years ago. I recently caught up with the McGoverns while in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to put their second boat, a brand-spanking-new Azimut 64, through a wring-out. She’s quite the choice for a second yacht too.
The duo’s first vessel was a 44-foot, pod-drive-equipped express cruiser. Kevin tells me that he was drawn to pod drives because they eliminated the trepidation of operating the boat around the dock as a new helmsman. Though the owner jumped up 20 feet in length with his current craft, he wanted a yacht that offered him the same confidence of command in tight spots. But the Azimut 64 is powered with twin 1,015-metric-horsepower Caterpillar C18 straight-shaft diesels — no pods here.
Enter the optional Xenta integrated docking system, which utilizes the boat’s electric bow thruster and propellers activated via, well, a joystick, to spin and dock the boat. The McGoverns, who have been putting in some serious sea time, say it’s working great. They logged about 140 hours of cruising between south Florida and the Bahamas during the first three months of ownership. Kevin says he’s quite comfortable operating the 64 around other boats, knowing that he can bump his yacht one way or the other with a fingertip’s touch. I noted the owner’s confidence during our sea trial as he maneuvered his vessel with an old salt’s hand.
Of course I couldn’t let him have all of the fun, so after gathering some speed and fuel data (and smiling nicely for the helicopter overhead doing our photo shoot), I took in some wheel time.
While operating the 64 from the lower helm, which is situated to the starboard side and forward of amidships, her modified-V hull with 17 degrees of deadrise in the after sections easily dispatched the two- to four-foot chop on the waters outside Port Everglades Inlet. (That hull is solid fiberglass and is constructed via resin infusion, as is the 64’s superstructure and decks, which results in a solid yet relatively lightweight vessel. Carbon fiber is used to reinforce areas of high stress, and structural bulkheads are comprised of fiberglass over a PVC foam core.)