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Azimut 64

One cruising couple looking for space, speed and creature comforts found all of this and much more in the Azimut 64.

March 15, 2013
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Azimut 64

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.

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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.

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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.)

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My test 64 ran with aplomb in all directions, and her optional auto tabs ensured that her trim angle was optimized for the sloppy sea state. Running her motors at a comfortable 2,000 rpm and with 50 percent tab, this yacht effortlessly made an average cruising speed of 28.2 knots, which, considering her 1,030-gallon fuel capacity, results in a comfortable range of 327 nautical miles at a fuel burn of 80 gph. She hit a top hop of 33.7 knots, which ups the fuel burn to 116 gph. The boat’s hydraulic, power-assisted steering enabled me to maneuver her like a sports car with hard-over turns at cruise speed resulting in three-plus boat-length turns.

I easily could’ve cut a half-boat length (maybe even a full one) off those turns and gained even more James Bond boatlike performance out of her if I’d temporarily turned off the two optional Seakeeper M8000 gyros set under the deck and all the way aft to port and starboard. The gyros steadied the vessel every time I spun the wheel. I’ve experienced this technology on numerous boats and am always amazed at how well it works. Earlier in the morning as the 64 sat in the white-topped swells awaiting the helicopter, no one aboard could tell there was a sea running unless they looked out the house-length side windows or helm-spanning front window. (Azimut was actually the first builder to embrace Seakeeper gyros for its line of boats.) Mal de mer shouldn’t be an issue for anyone on board this yacht.

In addition to assured handling, these cruisers were looking for a vessel with space for the family. Their 64 is equipped with three staterooms and three heads. There’s even a respectable-size crew quarters aft in the event the couple wants to take along an occasional captain for those weekend or longer Bahamas runs across the Gulf Stream.

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This yacht’s accommodations’ centerpiece is the full-beam master, which sports an athwartship berth, and makes this duo smile as they talk about the voluminous living space. Eight vertical hull side windows (four port, four starboard) enable natural light to bathe the area, which is complemented by soft lighting hidden behind the valances.

The McGoverns added optional HMC mattresses in all the staterooms, including that crew space. (When you’re putting in the many hours on the water that the McGoverns do, you want that blissful sleep that only happens at sea.)

Although the owners truly enjoyed their first vessel, another big attractor to move from an express-style boat to a flybridge one was the cave effect the 44-footer gave them, especially when transiting waterways during inclement weather. Simply put, belowdecks was too dark and not conducive to a fun boating experience. But their 64’s sizable salon windows provide 360-degree vistas. If it’s raining, they can just slide open the glass doors leading to the cockpit and the flybridge overhang will keep water from getting inside while still allowing for a breeze.

If it gets too hot or humid, just close that door and the 93,000 Btu Condaria chilled-water air-conditioning system can offer an Arctic-like cool that would make penguins shiver. Really. A 23 kW Kohler genset ensures that systems like that air conditioning stay running while under way.

The impressive view is enough of a reason to hang out in the salon, but another one is that its layout is geared for entertaining. Two great conversation areas are found immediately inside the salon door leading from the optional teak-covered cockpit. To port, a U-shape sofa is directly across from a settee to starboard. Also to starboard and a step up is the dining area for four to six people, which sits just abaft that lower helm and across from the galley. And wherever you plant yourself, you can converse without raising your voice because the 64 is fairly quiet, even when streaking across the ocean at almost 34 knots. Taking sound measurements at the lower helm, I never saw a reading above 77 dB(A). (The level of normal conversation is 65 dB(A).)

This 64-footer, which was also outfitted for the American market with a stylish retractable hardtop, is the first one to arrive stateside. But after seeing how well she handled in open water, noting her solid performance and build, and observing how well she accommodates the cruising family, I’d venture that many more should be en route here shortly.

It was around noon and the McGoverns sat in the shaded cockpit of their Azimut 64, smiling as they gazed out onto a gaggle of yachts lining the docks at the Bahia Mar marina. But they weren’t looking from a distance through a restaurant window; they were part of the flock.

LOA: 66’1″
Beam: 16’7″
Draft: 4’11” full load
Displ.: 70,000 lb. full load
Fuel: 1,030 gal.
Water: 258 gal.
Deadrise: 17 degrees
Engines: 2 x 1,015 mhp ­Caterpillar C18 diesels
Base Price: $2,650,000
Price (as tested): $3,043,890

Test Conditions: Speeds were measured by GPS off Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in choppy seas and 15-knot wind with full fuel, half water and seven people aboard. Sound levels were measured at the lower helm with doors closed. Fuel readings were taken from Caterpillar electronic engine-­monitoring system.

Azimut Yachts, +39 011 93 161; azimutyachts.com

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