Ferretti describes the 690 motoryacht as its “largest small yacht.” This 70-footer may be considered by some to be about the biggest size one wants as an owner-operator. She’s a family-oriented vessel with a fully open salon plan and accommodations in three or four cabins, but there is a not-so-obvious and impressive performance side to the 690 too.
The Italian builder aimed this yacht toward the owner who perhaps has a budding family, but who still wants to experience the thrill of speed. And the 690 provides plenty of it. She roars to life when you open up the throttles and makes a top hop at close to 35 knots with precision handling to match.
The power behind this performance comes courtesy of twin MTU 8V 2000 series diesels. My test boat featured the 1,268-horsepower M94 diesel option: The 1,102-horsepower M84 diesels are standard. Her engines turn conventional shafts and propellers via ZF V-drive gear boxes, which whined intermittently. (I have found this also to be true on several other yachts that use these gear boxes. )
Entry to the engine compartment is through a deck hatch in the cockpit. The space below is compact, but service points are accessible and the fuel tank across the forward end offers some sound insulation.
Ferretti 690’s notable speed is going to attract many buyers. She responded instantly to throttle input, and there was steady power throughout the motors’ rpm range. However, eye-watering speed is only one aspect of the boat-handling spectrum, and equally impressive was the 690’s sea-handling manners.
During my test, there were four-foot waves — a legacy swell from the previous day’s strong winds also created a confused sea. These were challenging conditions for any yacht, but the 690 took them in stride. As my confidence grew, there was a considerable thrill in driving this vessel hard.
You could feel the wave impact on the chine flats, likely accentuated because the helm is right above the point of impact, but it was quite tolerable considering the conditions. It was easy to moderate the ride by simply easing back on the throttles, and at 25 knots it was much smoother and quieter. On every heading the 690 performed well, and even with the gyrostabilizers switched off there was minimal rolling once planing speeds were reached and her dynamic stability took over.
Ferretti has gone to great lengths to make this yacht driver-friendly, and part of that pleasure comes from your close connection with the controls. The 690’s differential steering system independently varies the angle of each rudder, which means the yacht doesn’t heel steeply into a turn. The steering also has the ZF self-centering system, and while this centering is done electrically, it puts enough feel into the wheel to improve your relationship with the yacht.
The use of trim tabs can be a mystery to some so Ferretti has developed a trim indicator, which shows the recommended settings for a variety of speeds. This recommended setting is shown on the outside of the tab dial while the actual setting is displayed on its inner scale, offering an easily viewable and direct comparison. You have to manually set the tabs, and of course, you don’t have to follow the recommended setting, but it affords the most economical and efficient trim of the yacht. With regard to fuel efficiency, Ferretti has developed a fuel-consumption meter that shows the diesel burned for every mile covered rather than the usual per-hour fuel consumption data. Fuel per mile provides a much better feel of real-time consumption.
It’s detailed features like this that make a Ferretti stand out, and there is no disguising the pleasure you get from driving this yacht. Having said that, the pleasure could be diminished at speed if you are using the flybridge helm. There is little protection from the wind here, so you get the full blast when running the 690 at speed. This might be fine when you need a cooling breeze, but it can become uncomfortable. The visibility from the lower helm is adequate and it is also relatively quiet and sociable. This would be my helm of choice.
That flybridge, however, is well equipped for enjoying the sun at anchor with a large sun bed up front, plus seating and a barbecue and bar aft. There is a simple mast here too, and the radar antenna is set at the base of it. In this location the radar beam would be blocked by both the furniture on the flybridge and the people up here, which could mean gaps in coverage. (My test boat was the prototype and Ferretti plans to raise that antenna.)
Apart from a piece of exterior-styling molding that partly obscures the view outside, the 690’s salon setup is wonderful: light, airy and well-planned. The galley is positioned aft, and it can be fully enclosed with movable screens. There is an option for an open-plan galley if the cook wants to join in the fun. Both versions sport serious cooking amenities, including a wine cooler. One great feature is the serving counter that opens up into the cockpit for passing food and drinks to the outside dining table. For dining inside there is an expanding glass-top table surrounded by a settee, while farther forward opposite the helm there is a small glass-top desk with stool seating.
With two seats at the helm, one guest can participate in the action while other guests occupy the salon or cockpit seating when under way. The single-lever controls work well and the helm’s vertical wheel is best suited to stand-up driving. Two Simrad displays here offer all the necessary navigation information, supplemented by engine and systems monitoring displays.
Belowdecks there are two layout options, a three- or four-cabin setup. My 690 featured four and this made the stairways and passageways tight. The full-width master suite has the bathroom in the starboard after corner and a walk-in closet to port, which form a sound barrier between the engine room and the stateroom. This is helped further by the full-width crew quarters farther aft. The suite also has huge side windows where you can sit and watch the sea go by in a very intimate way.
On the four-cabin version, there are two guest cabins amidships. Both of these have twin beds that can be moved together to form a double. When three cabins are specified, the starboard cabin is considerably larger and the access stairs are wider so that everything becomes more manageable. In this version, each cabin has an en suite bath. With four cabins, the twin staterooms share one. Headroom averages 6 feet 6 inches, except in some parts of the two central cabins.
Ferretti’s interior decor uses a strongly grained oak that provides a great textured effect, and it is matched to more neutral-color fabrics, creating an overall impression of light and space. Stowage is ample, with dedicated drawers for cutlery and crockery and useful drawer space in the cabins.
Speaking of exterior stowage, this yacht’s tender stows aft on the swim platform and a hidden crane behind the cockpit settee deploys for launch and recovery. The after section of the swim platform can also be lowered for use as a step when swimming.
Remembering that my 690 test vessel was a prototype, there are a few things that could benefit from changes, and Ferretti will make some modifications on subsequent units. That said, she is one of the finest yachts I have seen in a long time. The 690 offers performance, range, serious cruising accommodations and comfort — and eye-catching looks, which are a recipe that should add up to much success for this Italian import.
Ferretti Yachts, +39 0543 787511; ferretti-yachts.com