Ferretti 470

The Ferretti 470 offers a fresh take on how boats are really used.

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Like people, yachts sometimes have to compromise. Wonderful in most ways, they may not be perfect. That's life. And as with a college exam, you can miss a few answers and still get an "A"-such is the case with the new Ferretti 470.

I absolutely loved her. Mostly. She's a fresh take on how people really use their boats, she's built to impeccable standards, and, yes, she's got a few quirks.

The 470 follows the innovative layout of the Ferretti 510 and 630 models, which essentially turned the traditional main cabin around. Instead of putting the galley forward or-even worse for the cook-tucking it away on the lower deck, Ferretti celebrated the galley by placing it against the rear bulkhead of the salon.

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This frees up the middle of the salon for a comfy living area and, with the huge hinged window that opens into the cockpit, it puts the galley in a useful position. You can pass food out for alfresco meals and, if you want a soft drink while you're sunning, you don't have to tramp across the salon carpet to get it. The cockpit reinforces the reason for the galley-aft layout with a cleverly hidden dining table and a pair of built-in seats. It's a clever twist on the typical layout, and one that I expect other builders will embrace as well.

The midsalon "living room" benefits from immense windows and a wraparound sofa with electric hi-lo cocktail/ dining table to port, and another settee to starboard.

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Europeans like to joke about the American yachtsman's obsession with television and they have a point. But with all the Bose Lifestyle speakers and other amenities, the designers should consider appeasing the American market by adding a pop-up or swing-down flatscreen in place of the small television that currently sits atop the counter across from the galley.

Up a step, the lower helm is to port, which I found surprising because most builders put the helm to starboard for a clear view of right-of-way traffic. But then I looked forward and…wow! This is the biggest windshield I've seen on a yacht this size. Combined with narrow pillars and big side windows, the skipper (and guests seated aft) have superb all-around views. No boat is ever going to sneak up on the Ferretti 470. The glass work is simply magnificent!

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There are three staterooms on the lower deck. The forward stateroom is the master, and it's very generously sized and airy with lozenge-shaped ports, big hanging lockers, and a private head with bidet and shower.

The two after staterooms have a pair of single berths and they're nice enough cabins with good headroom and hanging lockers. But how can I phrase this delicately: Some guest couples might like to sleep together. Unlike the other models where the single berths can be combined into doubles as needed, the beds on the Ferretti 470 are firmly and chastely separated.

One of the cockpit seats lifts to reveal what, on our test boat, was an immense lazarette area. In Europe, this area can be fitted with a single berth and a head for a crew member, but no self-respecting crew here in the colonies would put up with it. That's the good news, because it will accommodate water toys, cases of wine, and whatever else you need stowed.

The bridge is pleasant, with a pop-up fiberglass pod to protect the electronics at the helm, a wraparound settee and table to port, and a console for grill, sink, and fridge behind the helm. Like most Euro designs, there is an immense sunpad aft, surrounded by beautifully welded rails.

The designers did away with the usual overhead electronics arch in favor of a trendy wing cantilevered behind the sunpad. That puts the radar right at eye level for anyone sitting in the cockpit or on the sunpad. Most manufacturers suggest a 13-foot distance. Whether the radar can really fry your eyes, brain, or other precious parts is a controversial topic, but putting the radar at this height without suitable research suggests simple indifference. I would add an extension mast for the radome.

The lower helm's sightlines are superb and it is laid out for efficiency, with a panel of clearly labeled switches at the skipper's elbow, a Furuno NavNet monitor for the electronics, and SmartCraft displays for the Cummins engines. On the bridge, the helm is equally well planned, and the 470 is nothing if not fun to steer.

With the standard power of a pair of 600-horsepower Cummins QSC 8.3 diesels, we topped out at more than 30 knots. And she didn't really drop off plane until we pulled the throttles back to 2100 rpm and 17 knots. That gives you a nicely sized performance band from which to pick a speed comfortable for the sea conditions and your fuel budget. One thoughtful touch is that Ferretti designers put the single fuel tank, which holds 423 gallons or nearly 3,000 pounds when full, directly amidships so that the fuel state doesn't affect the hull trim while at rest or underway.

Though you have to crouch, access in the engineroom is good, because the engines are well separated and there is space to move around on the diamondplate flooring. Oil filters and dipsticks have been moved inboard for convenience (although the coolant tanks are still outboard), and the Kohler 10 kW generator is close to the entry ladder.

Created by collaboration between Advanced Yacht Technology (the Ferretti engineering team) and Studio Zuccon, the 470 meets the EC Class A requirements for oceangoing yachts. Perhaps more important, the 470 is built to the same standards as their 880-so, while this may be an entry-level Ferretti, nothing has been compromised.

I've owned several Italian sports cars and I've loved each of them passionately in spite of their foibles. I'm sure that's the way I'd feel as an owner of a Ferretti 470, because none of the quirks outweigh the sheer delight of this innovative and elegant yacht.

Ferretti gets an "A" on this exam.

Allied Marine Group, (954) 462-5527; **www.alliedmarine.com**