Most yachtsmen want what the british rocker Frank Turner refers to as “plain-sailing weather.” Red skies at night, delighted sailors — that sort of thing. But when you test a new yacht, you tend to have quite the opposite desire. Calm seas can be a bit of a bummer. You need some slop to find out what a boat can really do.
Enter the Galeon 660 Fly. Also enter a front that whipped the Atlantic off Fort Lauderdale into a bit of a frenzy. There were 6-foot seas offshore, and even larger swells sloshing about the exit of the Port Everglades Inlet. Given the conditions, the majority of boatbuilders would have opted to stay in the Intracoastal Waterway, but not Galeon. The sales rep turned to me as we cast off the lines and said, “Let’s go see what she can do.”
Yachting Onboard: Galeon 660 Fly
Luckily, the 660 Fly is stoutly built, displacing a hefty 75,971 pounds dry, a weight that certainly aids her seafaring ability when it gets snotty. The burly twin 1,200 hp MAN engines had more than enough firepower to plow through the angry seas, while her hull’s fine entry and 17 degrees of deadrise at the transom sliced cleanly through the waves, tracking true even in a tough following sea. Well, all save one wave — one that the skipper maladroitly took at an awkward angle and which came up over the bow, properly drenching — and I mean drenching — everyone and everything aboard, including the skipper’s favorite notebook, which unfortunately Poseidon took as sacrifice.
I’m really going to miss that notebook.
GETTING AROUND GDAŃSK
Gdańsk, on Poland’s central northern coast flush against the Baltic Sea, is home to one of Galeon’s boatbuilding factories. The port city includes Dlugi Targ (Long Market), where visitors can get a taste of all things Polish. Local legend holds that the Neptune Fountain near Town Hall once spurted the city’s local liqueur, Goldwasser, from its trident. Goldwasser is strong, at about 40 percent ABV, and was a reported favorite of Catherine the Great. Good luck getting a drink from the fountain though; thanks to overzealous revelers, the statue has been fenced off since 1634.
Galeon produces 28 models ranging from a 300 to a 780 (the 660 is the largest offered in the United States by MarineMax, Galeon’s exclusive dealer in the Western Hemisphere). There seems to be a size and style for every type of boater. The 325 Open looks like she is dying to pull a water-skier behind her, while the 780 Crystal is a motoryacht that would most likely require a crew. Of course, with such a large staff and abundant facilities, it should come as no surprise that Galeon can offer such a range of boats. The company’s not exactly a mom-and-pop shop at this point.
Surrounding the upper helm on the bridge deck is a bevy of accouterments that make this yacht well suited to entertaining. A sizable sun pad forward can fit at least four people, and a U-shaped dinette is to starboard, abaft the helm. Opposite, a grill and sink make casual alfresco cookouts a desirable option, while a standard Fusion stereo lets the good times roll. Oh, and there are cup holders galore. You could play a full round of miniature golf on that bridge deck.
Despite her considerable heft, the 660 Fly draws just 3 feet 10 inches. And that, of course, makes her a good choice for cruising the Bahamas or the west coast of Florida. You can pull this boat right up next to a white, sandy beach somewhere in paradise, hop off the swim platform and wade ashore. That’s good living.
Here’s a little bit of “inside baseball” marine industry knowledge for you: There’s an old saw the European builders like to trot out during boat-show press conferences about how when you build an “Americanized” vessel, all you need to do is add cup holders everywhere they’ll go. Then the Europeans laugh heartily, and the Americans laugh politely. But let it be known, Galeon took that one to heart. Nobody’s going thirsty aboard the 660.
After testing our mettle up top for a bit, we decided to retire to the lower — read: indoor — helm. There I found highly comfortable seats by Opacmare, dual Raymarine HybridTouch screens, a Side-Power joystick and access to Humphree Interceptors. Windows with nearly 360 degrees of visibility added to the already excellent sightlines, which remained true even when turning hard over.
The 660 Fly’s engine room is quite a treat, not something you can say about all European builds of this size. Accessibility is impressive. In particular, access outboard of the engines is exemplary. Headroom at about 4½ feet is a tick too low for some, but it’s a small price to pay when you consider how well-designed the rest of the space is.
Those windows, by the way, serve a dual purpose. They’re sharply raked, almost to the point of looking like knives. That design feature, along with high bulwarks that play a visual trick and temper the flybridge’s height, gives this boat a remarkably sleek profile. To me, the 660 Fly looks like an Italian yacht when, in fact, Galeon’s construction facilities are in Poland. The 35-year-old builder has 193,750 square feet of space and more than 800 employees at two facilities, one in Gdańsk and one in Wislinka. Roughly 80 percent of this yacht is built in-house at each of those factories.
That factor, along with the relatively inexpensive labor and manufacturing costs in Poland, allows Galeon, with American partner MarineMax, to price the 660 Fly at approximately 20 percent less than other yachts in its size and class. And it doesn’t matter what tax bracket you find yourself in; 20 percent is a tantalizing figure to be sure.
Even with the savings on the production line, her detailing is notable. My test vessel had rich walnut woodwork throughout — available in matte or high gloss — and gray oak is another option. The joinery work is nice and tight everywhere, the wood grain is choice, and a high level of Old World craftsmanship is patent throughout.
Another onboard highlight is the full-beam amidships master stateroom, kept well-lit by large windows to either side. A useful and thoughtful design choice here is a mini fridge to port. Whether you want to stock it with Champagne or midnight snacks is up to you, but no stairs will be necessary at nighttime when hunger or thirst stirs as you lounge away in your stateroom. Aft and starboard is an office/vanity, with a proper door for privacy.
An en suite VIP in the forepeak is highlighted by a 7-foot-long skylight for a healthy dose of sunshine. Another guest stateroom is to starboard. There you’ll find twin berths that can convert into a double, and there’s a laundry room opposite. These all round out the highly functional and comfortable accommodations level.
The lower helm is where I ended the day, going full kung-fu grip on the wheel and bracing for battle against the seas. Although, really, in the end it all went rather smoothly. The 660 Fly easily glided up and down the 8-foot-tall watery sentries guarding the mouth of the inlet. The yacht was like a giant swan paddling its way unperturbed through a storm. My hair was still wet, and my notebook was a lost cause, but a big smile stretched across my face. Hey, sometimes you just get lucky.