Mochi Craft 54 Fly: Downeast Italy

After a brief hiatus, Mochi Craft is back with its made-for-America Dolphin 54 Fly.

September 12, 2013
Mochi Craft 54
White-hulled powerboats and sailboats sat on moorings in the harbor like they were sprinkled out of a salt shaker, landing perfectly spaced and laid out to form what must’ve looked from above like a cool-shaped snowflake. In the foreground, I saw her. The yacht’s dark-blue hull caught my eye, and her upswept and proud bow dared the sea to come at her. This 54-footer’s broad beam and gently sweeping sheer line appeared at once rugged, yet elegant. She was nautical poetry and fit in well on these waters off Sag Harbor, New York. This was the downeast-style boat that has defined countless Northeast and New England boaters for decades, but this lady didn’t hail from Maine. This is the Mochi Craft Dolphin 54 Fly, and she’s from Italy. Courtesy Mochi Craft
I first came across the Mochi Craft line about seven years ago at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. These Italian lobster yachts, as I believe they were called at the time, came in sizes from 44 feet to 74 feet length overall and in about every hull color imaginable, along with modern interior styling options. Mochi’s models were some serious floating art. But around 2010, the brand halted its push into the United States as the global recession lingered. Luckily for us, Mochi Craft is back with this new flybridge edition that may seem a bit more traditional in its color palettes and wood choices than earlier offerings, but that still possesses the Italian craftsmanship that made this builder’s first foray into the American market notable.
There are two versions of the 54 Fly, a European and an American one. What differentiates the two starts with the teak-covered cockpit. My vessel, the U.S.-styled boat, featured full wraparound seating here with an adjustable foldaway table stowed behind a bench seat against the portside salon bulkhead. (Above the bench seat is a cool flip-up window that brings fresh air into the salon.) All guests can be kept comfortable outside thanks to the retractable Bimini built into the flybridge overhang. In the European version, there is no aft seating and a passer­elle is on the port side for boarding. In either version, the center section of the transom folds out at the push of a button to become a mini teak beach. It’s a neat feature, and one that may not be found on more traditional lobster boats (at least not the one I grew up on). Gunkholers will appreciate the fact that when the transom folds out there’s a small garage that accommodates an 8-foot tender.
The other major difference between the European 54 and this one is the flybridge on the American model. It is accessed via gently inclined teak steps to the right of the sliding-glass salon door. (Between those steps and the wide, easily transited teak side decks is a grill for an on-the-hook cookout.) In both 54s the helm station is to starboard, but next to the helm on the American version is a lounge area with a table. There is also a sink and small fridge to limit trips below for refreshments. On the European version, this table and seating would be a giant sun pad. A Bimini top prevents you and your guests from getting on the bad end of the sun while still allowing you to enjoy the breeze up here. Should you prefer the European layout, the builder can happily accommodate you.
The satin-finish teak found throughout the salon, lower helm and staterooms feels pleasingly familiar and warm, and the fit and finish are top-notch. Immediately to port when entering from the cockpit, there’s a U-shaped seating area adjacent to that flip-up window. The galley, which features a four-burner Bosch cooktop, Vitrifrigo refrigerator and GE Profile microwave/convection oven, is conveniently set across from here. Two steps down from the galley and behind a door is your stowage and laundry area. A single crew berth can also be placed here.
Making the most of this vessel’s 16-foot-1-inch beam, Mochi Craft handily fit three staterooms into the 54 Fly. Her forepeak master is equipped with a step-up berth featuring large drawers beneath for about a week’s worth of cruising clothes. For rainy days, the cabin includes a Toshiba flat-screen TV. There’s also an en suite head with Tecma toilet and shower stall. Two hull-side windows and an overhead hatch keep the stateroom bright and enhance the sense of space.
Abaft the master and one step down from the companionway on the starboard side is a double-berth stateroom with hanging locker. Another bunk set above the berth for the kids is an option. Across is the second guest stateroom, also set one step down off the companionway, and it sports side-by-side berths and an en suite head. It’s a solid accommodations setup for the growing cruising family.
Equally solid was this boat’s performance on the water. Granted, conditions were lakelike, but this allowed me to see the speedy end of this Italian downeaster. The 54’s hand-laid, solid fiberglass hull bottom is cleared to RINA Class A certification, which means she’s built to stringent standards to handle all but the worst of sea conditions. She features both balsa and foam coring above the waterline to ensure strength without added weight.
My test yacht has a 59,304-pound displacement, and she easily came up on plane with moderate bow rise. Her twin 800 hp MAN diesels, the only engine option, quickly spooled up to 2,000 rpm, propelling this vessel to an average cruise speed of 25.3 knots. At this velocity, the power plants consume 56 gph, which translates into 0.45 nmpg or an effective range of 273 nautical miles based on the yacht’s 674-gallon fuel capacity, and considering a 10 percent reserve. The engines are accessed via the cockpit, and these motors are lower profile than most in this size range. All major service points are easily accessible, as are the Racor fuel/water separators and standard 13 kW Kohler genset. At wide-open throttle, the 54 Fly skated across the water at an average top hop of 31.3 knots and at a cost of 81 gph with a reduced range of 234 nautical miles.
I flipped down the bolster-style seat at the starboard-side lower helm, took a look at my course on the Furuno NavNet 3D’s display and punched the single-lever ZF controls to the pins. She got up instantly, hitting stride effortlessly while gliding across the glassy bay. Sight lines were clean at all times via the house-length side windows and the large, one-piece, curved-glass front window. I stand at just 5 feet 7 inches tall and was pleasantly surprised that even with her proud bow I never had to get up on my toes to see forward, which isn’t always the case on some boats for me. With minimal trim tab input, her running attitude remained level. When I stopped to check out her close-quarters maneuvering, I felt that her controls, ZF transmission with 2:1 reduction and wheels were enough to make her dance. It was great that my boat featured a standard Side-Power bow thruster and optional stern thruster, which could come in handy in a big wind or current, but she handles fine without them.
Some boats are hard to leave, and this was assuredly the case with the Mochi Craft Dolphin 54 Fly. Yes, I grew up around downeast boats, so I have a natural affinity for them. But as we passed other vessels on the way into the harbor, I noticed people looking, staring, taking pictures and smiling at her. What’s not to like, really? Her lines flow like silk in the wind. She features a striking profile with a rich-tone hull and a glistening teak toe rail that would capture the gaze of any boat aficionado with a pulse. And she slides through the water as if an extension of it. This downeast yacht may have come from Italy, but she was born to boat here.
Speeds were measured by GPS off Sag Harbor, New York, in calm seas with 5 knots of wind, 75 percent fuel, 60 percent water and three persons aboard. Fuel consumption was measured with the MAN electronic engine-monitoring system. Sounds levels were measured at the lower helm with windows and doors closed. Specifications:
LOA: 54’8″
BEAM: 16’1″
DRAFT: 4’8″
DISPL.: 59,304 lb.
FUEL: 674 gal.
WATER: 188 gal.
DEADRISE: 19 degrees
ENGINES (tested): 2 x 800 hp MAN diesels
PRICE AS TESTED: $2,850,000 Click here to see more yachts from Mochi Craft. Mochi Craft, 954-462-5527;

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