The Galeon 560 Skydeck is a surprise on several fronts. When it comes to functional, yet aesthetically pleasing design, she’s one of the cleverest yachts I’ve seen in years. She’s also one of the better-built craft I’ve recently come across. And, thanks to the current exchange rates, this import is reasonably affordable on this side of the pond.
A carbon-fiber cover slides into place electrically to protect the entire bridge when not in use, keeping it dry and clean with nary a snap or zipper needed. Indeed, when the bridge is buttoned up, the 560 Skydeck’s lines are so clean that she looks like a big express cruiser. Equally clever is the helm console, including wheel, throttles and instruments, that rises at the touch of a button to fit each skipper’s ergonomic needs. In addition, the companion seat’s backrest flips to create a chaise for lounging, and the rear settee converts into a full sun pad.
The 560 is all about light: Tall salon side windows stretch from seat-back height to overhead, brightening the interior. An oversize sunroof by the helm and dinette area forward enhances this sensation even more, and the sunroof glides open silently via motors from Mercedes-Benz. The helm and dinette windows lower at the touch of a button to create alfresco dining under the stars.
Underway, the 560 has the open-air feel of a runabout when you want it. When the sunroof is closed, hidden lighting recreates an outdoorsy feel. In the forward stateroom, long skylights bring in light too. A three-panel, stainless-steel-and-glass sliding salon door opens to blend the cockpit, aft galley and salon into a single entertainment space.
Tony Castro is an English yacht designer best known for his stylish mega-yachts, up to 410 feet length overall. But he’s no stranger to smaller builds, and he is Galeon’s house designer. Castro’s skill at creating striking, functional vessels has consistently earned him European yacht-design awards.
It appears to me that every nook and cranny has been turned into useful stowage. Hanging lockers have shelves in the back, and berths have drawers underneath on roller glides. Both the master and forward VIP staterooms have hidden lighted vanities with cosmetics stowage, and the flybridge has a glove box for all the gear that usually slides around on top of the dash.
This yacht offers two choices: a tender garage in the stern or a surprisingly comfortable crew cabin with a berth and head. The hydraulic swim platform has chocks for tender stowage; if you cruise without crew, teenagers will love having the cabin to themselves.
The galley is at cockpit level. The sliding doors allow the aft counter to serve double duty as a cockpit bar. U-shaped counters keep the chef out of the traffic flow, and a glass shelf on the inboard counter acts as a buffet station.
Galeon makes its own molds to high standards, so the resulting hull and deck are without frequently seen ridges or bumps. Each molded piece of the 560 fits together tightly without needing to rely on gallons of silicone to close the gaps. The in-house woodwork, in my opinion, is on par with mega-yachts from the finest Dutch builders. All the grain is bookmatched across doors and drawers. Our test boat had a high-gloss walnut finish with delicate inlaid panels of lighter pearwood. Solid wood, so rarely seen in the age of veneers, is used for the interior sole, and teak planking covers the cockpit. Even the steps to the bridge are solid teak.
Nearly every piece of metal on the 560 is done in Galeon’s metal shop, from sturdy stainless-steel rails to portholes that gleam like sterling silver. That includes the yacht’s fuel and water tanks, composed of 516 stainless steel. Those tanks, though unseen, are prime examples of the welders’ first-rate craftsmanship. And if you poke around a bit, you’ll find a gorgeous sea chest that combines all the drains — shower, sinks, air conditioning, etc. — into one hull opening.
Moving from the cockpit into the salon, the galley is to port; up a step, you’re in the lounge area and helm. A convertible dinette is to port. You can also jump for joy, literally: Headroom is 6 feet 5 inches. There’s a 48-inch pop-up TV too. Down five steps from the dinette/helm is a foyer leading to the staterooms. The amidships master suite spans the full beam, with a bureau of drawers and a hanging locker to starboard that will have you thinking about living aboard.
There’s also a walk-in closet to port. Rather than the usual couch found here, the 560 has a comfy seat with a desk. Forward, the VIP has a centerline berth, stowage in drawers and lockers, and en suite access to a head with electric toilet and a shower with a tower-style faucet like the master. A third stateroom abaft the VIP and to starboard starts with a pair of twin beds, but they can slide together, making the 560 a weekender for three couples.
I was particularly impressed with the wide side decks going forward, complemented by solidly welded rails and stanchions from the cockpit to the pulpit and recessed anchor winch. Twin sun pads with tilt backrests are on the foredeck on each side of the skylights for the VIP cabin. Nonslip decks and teak in the cockpit mean safe footing, while high coamings and locking gates to the transom provide kid security.
Our test boat had 800 hp Volvo Penta D13 diesels. These engines pushed the 560 along at a top speed of 30 knots, with a 25-knot cruise speed. At a 2,000 rpm cruise, those motors consume 40 gph. Future boats will have six-cylinder 725 hp Volvo Penta D11 diesels. Because the D11s are lighter, they should provide the same speed. And the D11 is known for being rugged and fuel-efficient. Other goodies you’ll find in the engine room include a 17.5 kW Onan genset, 50-amp shore-power cord on a Cablemaster reel (with remote) and Condaria chilled-water AC.
Volvo Penta’s single-lever controls and joysticks for the bow and stern thrusters are easily within arm’s reach. Rows of rocker switches are labeled and illuminated, and the instrument panel is on two levels. The analog engine gauges are below; the Raymarine electronics package is in the upper line-of-sight panel, with chart plotter, radar, autopilot and fish finder, plus Volvo Penta’s digital engine monitors, right where you can glance to keep an eye on them.
The Galeon 560 Skydeck is well-built, well-designed and should be on your short list if you’re looking at 60-footers (or larger). But don’t wait too long: MarineMax has 32 Galeon models on order, and several were sold before the dealer even announced the brand’s arrival in the United States. That’s a very warm welcome indeed.