The logo etched into the hub of the Palm Beach 65’s steering wheel reminded me of the badge on the nose of a Bentley Continental GT, but inverted so the wings appear to be locked in a power dive, instead of playfully soaring on a thermal.
Bentley Motors and Palm Beach Yachts: These two marques, one nearly as old as dirt and the other a fledgling founded in 1995, share a similar philosophy — provide the customer with a product that’s as close to perfection as humanly possible. “Ah,” you say to yourself, “the road to perfection is always under construction, full of detours, ‘a worrisome thing [that’ll] leave you to sing the blues … ’” to quote Johnny Mercer’s lyrics from “Blues in the Night.” In spite of the pitfalls, the team at Palm Beach Yachts may have succeeded.
You don’t have to be Hercule Poirot to find evidence of the builder’s efforts. Simply stroke the glossy woodwork with your fingertips or sight along the surface of the dinette table. You won’t see or feel any flaws in the finish. Powerful magnifying glass in hand, examine each joint for the tiniest gap or unevenness between two surfaces. Zero. In keeping with Palm Beach’s take on traditional New England styling, Herreshoff cleats of stainless steel sprout from the teak decks in all the right places. Custom stainless-steel chocks guide the mooring lines to their destinations. Gently run the tip of your finger over the welded joints of the safety rail. If you detect any evidence of the customary weld bead, you’ll get a prize — yet to be determined.
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I met Guilty, a flybridge model of the 65 with a unique general arrangement plan, floating serenely starboard, side-to, on a face dock in Santa Barbara, California. She dwarfed all of her slip mates, in spite of her low profile — that is, low for a 65-footer. As I walked toward the yacht, her dark-blue topsides and white trunk cabin, clearly visible between the line of boats on each side of my approach, began to dominate my view of the horizon. Flare in the bow sections of the PB 65 shaded that part of the hull from the midday sun, deepening the blue finish. When I turned left and headed for the stern, the tumblehome in the after sections captured the sun’s rays and reflected the glow of white from the neighboring boats.
This hull is all about shadows and highlights, and a person needs enough distance to catch the whole boat in a single look to appreciate how shapely she is. Mark Richards, owner of Palm Beach Motor Yachts, designed the 65 and her smaller siblings. He made his reputation building high-tech maxis and America’s Cup yachts, and setting records for victories in the Sydney Hobart race. He should be happy with the 65.
A lot of builders get the obvious markers correct — or “correct” enough to pass the normal examination — but the true clues to a company’s obsession with quality hide from the view of all but the most careful shopper. As I stepped through the doorway to the salon, admiring the finish on the bifold door and the surround, the hinges caught my eye. After I retrieved it (my eye), I saw that the crisscross on the head of each Phillips screw perfectly lined up with every other one on every hinge. Same for the hinges on the middle joint of the door, and I found details of this sort everywhere. To wit: The reveals of each door and drawer were very narrow, and when I looked at the bank of them in the galley, I discovered that all of the reveals were visually the same width. The drawers slid fluidly in and out, and the doors opened and closed without the slightest protest.