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Horizon 74: Turning Over a Green Leaf

Horizon's Vision 74 stands out from the crowd with a refreshing interior and environmentally friendly systems.

May 12, 2010
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Horizon 74

As a color, green has a multitude of shades. There is the dark green of a forest primeval, and there is the pale green of Caribbean waters at the edge of an island.

But when it comes to environmentally friendly boats, there are even more shades of green. There is completely green, such as the new Horizon SunCat, a totally sun-powered catamaran bay launch that cruises all day without using a drop of fuel.

In a lighter shade of green is the Horizon Vision 74 Cockpit Motor Yacht, which combines an array of design and system features to reduce operating power requirements. Whether you’re judging the 74 by conventional standards or by eco-friendliness, she’s a winner on both counts.

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The Horizon Group, which is the corporate umbrella over the Vision series, as well as other lines such as their Bandido longrange cruisers and the larger Elegance yachts, has been actively investing in the green side of new product development and, to that end, this latest Vision 74 has been upgraded to include four solar panels atop the pilothouse.

These panels aren’t large enough to power the entire yacht, (that would require some serious panel acreage!) but they are enough to reduce the generator usage and the reliance on diesel fuel or shorepower during the night hours. The panels produce 180 watts of power each, which is used to charge emergency backup batteries for the electronic systems in case of a serious electrical failure. In addition, the solar panels power LED lighting throughout the interior, plus rope lights in the overhead and stairwells, and the yacht nameplates.

But that isn’t the only greening to be found on the Vision 74, because the yacht was designed from the outset to be as energy efficient as possible: The solar panels are just the latest frosting on an already mint-green cake.

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The Horizon design team redesigned the Vision 74 to take advantage of two plentiful natural elements: light and fresh air. For starters, the 74 has oversized portlights to supply fresh air to the living areas and reduce the need for power-hungry air conditioning in temperate climates.

The oversized windshields and maximum-height side windows in the skylounge and saloon not only provide panoramic views for the guests even while seated, they allow an increased amount of natural light to reduce the need for artificial light. But large windows can have a downside in tropical climates, when direct sunlight can heat the interior quickly. The Vision 74 side decks are covered by the extended boat deck, creating natural shade as well as protection in rainy weather.

For nighttime use, Horizon replaced the high-heat, high-wattage halogen overhead lighting with new T5 fluorescent indirect lights that provide more light at lower energy consumption.

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Taking that an interesting step further, the Horizon design team created a sophisticated skylight above the saloon. During the day, this floods the saloon with a soft, indirect light at no cost. At night, hidden T5 tubes in the skylight duplicate the daytime effect, casting a pleasant light over the entertaining area. This is the one time that Horizon has made sure a feature isn’t green: T5 lighting doesn’t have that dreadful greenish cast typical of most fluorescents and, instead, has a color temperature much like the sun (T5s are also used for indoor gardening).

The nighttime lighting of the skylight isn’t directed just downwards to the saloon, but up to the deck abaft the skylounge. There a translucent panel casts light over the boat deck, creating an inviting and romantic atmosphere. It’s perfect for using the outdoor grill, or just for enjoying a pleasant evening on deck.

Finally, since VIP staterooms in the bow are traditionally dark, the Vision 74 brightens that area with a circular overhead hatch, as well as additional side windows to provide ample natural light.

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The “greenness” of the Vision 74 extends back to the construction, which uses SCRIMP resin infusion technology that reduces the VOC emissions (the so-called greenhouse gases) by 80 to 85 percent over traditional lamination, while creating a stronger structure at the same time.

The Horizon Vision 74 is one of a family of four designs that use basically the same hull in either 68- and 74-foot lengths: That difference is the addition of a water-level cockpit. Each length can also have either an open flying bridge or an enclosed skylounge. The yacht seen on these pages, the first of the solar-paneled Horizons, is a 74 skylounge and, even if you don’t need the cockpit for fishing or swimming or boarding the tender, order this longer version: The extra length gives the yacht a more graceful and balanced appearance.

In addition to being green, the Vision 74 is a pleasant and thoughtfully arranged design that provides three comfortably sized staterooms plus crew quarters. The living areas take full advantage of the space available, but without the contrivances that some builders feel compelled to add in an effort to be on the cutting edge. Simply put, this is a yacht that just feels right.

Take the master stateroom, for example. It’s a wonderful retreat, with a comfortable chair facing the television, a vanity/desk, intricately inlaid wood on the headboard, and real bookshelves. The large windows and opening ports supply both light and air, and the head has twin vanities and an oversized shower. The VIP, en suite, stateroom is equally appealing. The third cabin has twin berths and direct access to the day-head. In the foyer is the washer/dryer but, just as important, a gorgeous inlaid wood sole.

The main deck really starts with the shaded afterdeck that overlooks the cockpit, and which has a built-in settee and table. Twin staircases lead gently down to the cockpit.

Once inside the saloon, however, this is a yacht to be savored. The L-shaped settee to port is arranged properly for watching the large television in the opposite corner. Nothing is more irritating (yes, this is my pet peeve) than a settee that gives you a stiff neck from looking sideways at the television. For entertaining, there’s also a settee on the opposite side under the large windows.

Too many boats seem to forget that people actually like to sit down together for dinner, but the Vision 74 celebrates that pleasure with a dedicated dining table that comfortably seats eight.

The galley should please the most demanding chef. All the right touches are here, from the bull-nosed granite counters to the big sink to the 5-burner stove. The drawers are fitted with molded inserts to hold utensils, and the chef enjoys a view in all directions. A short breakfast bar has a pair of swivel-out stools tucked underneath, creating a perfect spot to grab a quick bite.

While Horizon calls the wheelhouse a skylounge, it’s really more of an enclosed bridge, but it’s definitely a comfortable one. There’s a big L-shaped leather settee that should prove magnetic to guests while underway, and it can double as a pilot berth for anyone keeping the skipper company on long passages. The helm has a centerline Stidd chair behind the leather-trimmed instrument panel that held a single Furuno NavNet screen plus an array of displays for various systems. A large chart table to port has a pop-up television to amuse guests, and a double-wide companion chair is fitted to starboard.

There is a thoughtful half-door on the stairs down to the main deck to prevent a forgetful guest from suddenly disappearing down the rabbit hole. The stairs, by the way, would challenge a mountain goat: Those of us with older knees find them too steep and with too much riser.

Outside the wheelhouse is an immense full-beam boat deck that can handle a 14-foot tender, with a 1,500-pound Steelhead davit that extends far enough to launch it directly astern. Standard power is a pair of 1,001-horsepower Caterpillar C18 ACERT diesels in an engineroom arranged to make the crew happy. This happy crew, by the way, has its own quarters just abaft the engineroom, with entry from the cockpit. A double cabin is to port with head, and the starboard side is devoted to a spacious workshop with metal-topped benches and tons of stowage for spares.

Sharing the very accessible engineroom are the standard Onan 27.5 kW and 17 kW gensets. The fuel manifold on the engineroom bulkhead is userfriendly and clearly marked, and the Racor filters are moved to the bulkhead as well. Welded rails protect the crew from the engines and, like all the metalwork on the Vision 74, it is perfectly bent and welded.

Underway, this Greg Marshall-designed yacht feels solid and has an easy motion. This particular 74, with an enclosed pilothouse and everything aboard except the tender and the owner’s effects, topped out at 21.3 knots. That gives you the speed to outrun a front, albeit slurping diesel at a most unungreen rate. The “sweet spot” for the 74 seems to be at about 16.5 knots, at which speed she gets where she’s going comfortably.

My persnickety comments aside about things that can easily be remedied, I liked the Vision Horizon 74 a great deal. She has an interior that reflects how people really spend their time aboard, she is built to very high standards, and she’s fitted with the best equipment.

Oh, yes: She’s a very pleasant shade of green, too.

Horizon Yachts, (561) 346-5966, **www.horizonyacht.com**

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