Jefferson 64 Pilot House

A yacht designed for comfort no matter the distance.

Tommy and Barbara Cottle, owners of the Jefferson 64 Pilot House Strike II, called me to apologize. Weather had cost them a few days, and they had to bypass Yachting's editorial headquarters in South Norwalk, Connecticut, on their way to Maine. I turned emerald green with envy. I would have gladly swabbed the decks had they just swung by and fetched me.

Strike II is among the 400 boats that Jefferson Yachts' exclusive Taiwanese shipyard, Her Shine Marine, has delivered to the U.S. market during the past 20 years. At 64 feet, she's the biggest pilothouse in the Jefferson line, which includes boats as small as 49 feet LOA. Her design is intended to attract cruisers looking for comfort, performance and value.

The Cottles wanted just that for their long-term cruising plans. Maine was a mere stop on their itinerary, which included the Bahamas, Mexico, the Panama Canal and, eventually, Alaska. The yacht's four 400-gallon aluminum tanks, watermaker, twin Westerbeke generators and toy stowage were important to the couple, who wanted to feel at home while at sea.

Of course, the extra amenities increase displacement. Though the weight was evident in the boat's handling the day I tested her, the compromise is worth it for couples who put comfort first. There is no substitute for displacement when open ocean waters turn mean. The Long Island Sound mustered only 2- to 3-footers during my test. Still, I believe the boat will handle large head seas well, though her windshield wipers will get a workout.

Sporting a relatively narrow 16-foot beam, the 64 had a soft ride and proved very capable in a following sea. Sha also planed easily. She was a tad sluggish in executing evasive and man overboard maneuvers, but shined in close-quarters handling and docking.

At 1500 rpm, the hull sliced efficiently through the seas at just over 12 knots. The Cottles cruise her at 1725 rpm, achieving a 15-knot cruise with a burn rate of 46 gph total. The decibel level in the house was a quiet 76. At 2000 rpm, the 64 cruised at nearly 19 knots with a fuel consumption of 64 gph. With the throttles wide open and 2300 rpm on the tachometer, top speed was 22 knots.

The Cottles set their boat up for range, not speed, though the power to move is there when needed, and the hull will cooperate. Optional power from the manufacturer ranges from twin 330 to 825 hp. An out-of-the-box 64 with power similar to the Cottles' and standard fuel should see a top end of 26 knots, according to a Jefferson spokesman.

Beyond performance, the 64's dark hull draws the eye. Sometimes a colored hull is needed to soften a superstructure's hodgepodge of a look, but in this case, it is a classic touch. The house with Portuguese bridge is well positioned.

Atop the pilothouse is a flying bridge deck with a helm station and a social venue. Though there were a few quirks with Strike II's hardware and detail work, such as caulking, her flying bridge was a well-conceived area for cruising. The helmsman, particularly after a long leg, might find the low placement of the steering wheel and helm station less than advantageous, especially if he tends to stand, but the navigator's single bench to starboard is well placed. The folding arch will help owners transit low-clearance obstructions.

A tender stowage deck abaft the common area housed a Boston Whaler, mopeds and a davit on our test 64.

The Cottles' last boat was a Nordhavn 46, which they used to tow a 30-foot center console. That explains the fighting chair bolted to Strike II's cockpit sole. The cockpit itself is docking friendly, with hawseholes, a set of Glendinning controls and a transom door leading to the swim platform. Two hatches open to the large lazarette. The bridge deck overhang creates a patio-like afterdeck, elevated from the cockpit at saloon level. The overhang, along with bulwarks, protects the wide side decks that run the length of the saloon.

Construction is sound. Fiberglass surfaces are smooth, joinery is neat and finish work is well-executed. Vinylester resin is used in the skin coat and the first structural layer during hand layup of the solid-bottomed hull. The barrier-coated bottom is covered against blistering for five years. Hull sides and decks are Nidacore, and the yacht is finished with an Interlux Alcraft paint system.

In the machinery space, air handlers allow the engines to breathe deeply and keep the area cool, even with twin generators and a Heart inverter system within. Headroom in the compartment is 5 feet, 2 inches. On the centerline, access is good; outboard, the fuel tanks snug things up. Saloon sole hatches are provided.

Strike II might be the most extensively rigged 64 Pilot House that Jefferson will build. The engine compartment is packed as tightly as a plumber's basement, yet remains functional thanks in part to a stowage area abaft the main machinery room that's accessed by lifting the hinged cockpit steps and descending a few wide treads. The bulkheads and horizontal flats hold Cruisair compressors and a Sea Spring watermaker system, and provide room for individual stowage containers.

All of the above would be for naught were the accommodations cramped and dreary. Thankfully, Strike II melds rich teak joinery with white upholstery on two settees in the warmly appointed saloon. The settees also provide stowage for provisions. Wire runs are secure, clean and concealed to topsides, behind accessible teak panels.

The galley is U-shape, to starboard and forward of the saloon. Above-counter cabinets block the chef from guests' view, but a window allows the cook a full view of passing scenery.

Jefferson treats the pilothouse as it should. Each control and gauge is a tight reach or simple glance away. Long passages should be comfortable for the entire crew thanks to a spacious settee. Three large windshield panels are frameless, and access to the side decks is from port or starboard. I missed seeing twin helm chairs, which are fantastic when a passage is long and two people are on watch, but that is a matter of taste. Strike II has an extensive electronics package with room for more.

Below the pilothouse is the full-beam master cabin with head, shower and superb stowage. Almost every space throughout the boat has access for stowage, including the area beneath the master berth, where the Cottles stow a spare set of wheels. The VIP cabin is forward and the guest stateroom is to starboard, with a queen berth and bunks, respectively. Both cabins share a head to port, with access from the companionway and the VIP.

The factory option list is not extensive; many items are standard. But as the Cottles demonstrated, owners can take any vessel to a level perfectly suiting their needs, an arduous task made easier when the builder is part of the team.

Contact: Jefferson Yachts, Inc., (812) 282-8111; www.jeffersonyachts.com.