Pearl dealer Pablo Hayes of Baxter Marine met me at the Palma de Mallorca Airport and drove us the 20 minutes to Puerto Portals, his company’s base and one of Spain’s fashionable marina resorts. He parked his BMW X5 alongside what is referred to (locally at least) as the most valuable berth at this end of the Mediterranean. It’s a quayside corner at the marina entrance, just across the road from the marina’s famous Wellies Restaurant and a half-hearted stone’s throw from its Frontline Terrace, which has spectacular views across a mountain range of glimmering superstructures. Everyone arriving at or leaving the marina by land passes this spot, which makes it prime real estate if you’re a boat dealer.
The berth’s current occupant was the first all-new Pearl 65, which I had first stepped aboard briefly about five weeks earlier during her world premiere at the 2014 Cannes Yachting Festival. She is a flybridge motoryacht capable of around 30 knots at full speed thanks to triple 600-horsepower Cummins QSC8.3 engines and Zeus pod drives. Options include twin Volvo Penta IPS900s, which are what Hull No. 2 will have when she is delivered this spring. Volvo Penta D3 straight-shaft-driven diesels are also an option.
It has to be said that the Cummins/Zeus joystick maneuvering and station-keeping system works brilliantly aboard this first boat. It got us out of our prestigious, if rather tight, corner berth with ease and then helped me pick our way around one of the area’s most popular anchorages, Cala Portals Vells, which translates as Old Bay Portals. It also came in handy for an improvised man-overboard drill with a flyaway sofa cushion from the aft deck.
Like the rest of the Pearl family of boats, the 65 has exterior lines and hull geometry drawn by the U.K.’s Bill Dixon and his Hampshire-based studio. Dixon and his team know what they’re doing above and below the waterline. The hull and superstructure have a modern crispness helped by a profusion of hull windows and expressive superstructure glazing. The hull bit nicely when needed and smoothly when not during our test day romp around the Bay of Palma in a stiffish Force 3; not the most dramatic conditions, I know, but good, clean fun nonetheless.
There’s no drama on the inside either. It’s subtly modern and surprisingly tranquil. The scheme was conceived by celebrity stylist Kelly Hoppen, who is known for her low-key palettes and soft contrasts that major on white, beige and taupe — neutral, yes, but all very contemporary, very cool. The interior has a feel similar to that of the first Pearl 75, which launched in summer 2012 and was the first Pearl to get the Kelly Hoppen touch.
Aboard my Pearl 65, the main veneers are stained oaks highlighted by whitewashed paneling and doors and space emphasized by mirrors, lots of them. Stripes also figure heavily in most Hoppen interiors; note the broad white one that runs through the middle of the 65’s main salon sole and steps, and the ones on the backs of the stateroom doors.
The defining space on the main deck is the aft galley, by far the most sociable interpretation for those of us who like to cook and chat, yet don’t like being buried away from outside action. When the aft-deck doors are open, the aft deck and galley become the heart of the boat, a great indoor-outdoor family zone. There’s even a small portside sofa in the galley, which on the face of it is a great idea, until, that is, you try to sit on it and realize it’s more step than seat. Subsequent 65s will almost certainly have something else going on in this corner, as a full-size sofa would probably take up too much space and block passage.
The main salon and bridge area are up two steps from the galley and aft-deck level, and consequently offer the best side-window and windshield views. All the seating here is as comfortable as it looks too — big, deep, booth-dining sofas and a surprisingly deep pair of helm seats.
Belowdecks are four guest cabins and three heads accommodating up to eight, although the fourth guest cabin, on the port side, is a twin-bunk affair that would be something of a squeeze for most adults. But that fourth cabin for the children is optional — and could be specified as a more palatial companionway or an owner’s walk-in wardrobe.
All the other cabins are nicely proportioned, and there’s a good-size crew cabin for two hidden away beneath the main salon sole, once the rather awkward entrance is negotiated; there are steps beneath the lift-up flybridge stairs.
The Pearl 65 performed well in our hands and, for all intents and purposes, is well-built. Is she the very best quality planing flybridge motoryacht available in this size segment? No. Is she better than some mainstream European- and North American-built models? I believe so. And some of her obvious attributes will deservedly push her to the top of some owners’ short lists. Beyond the pedigree afforded by the top British yacht and interior design studios, and the solid build quality, the Pearl 65 delivers sound performance, individual style and value for money.