Uniesse 70

Europe's largest button-maker, Uniesse also builds yachts that are exquisite in their details. The new 70 is a fine example.

The Uniesse is beautifully molded with fitted parts that crated a seamless hull, and the teak decks that are planked by hand.
The Uniesse is beautifully molded with fitted parts that crated a seamless hull, and the teak decks that are planked by hand.

Say "Ooooh!" Then continue with the rest of the name: "nee-ess-ee." Simple. And as you walk through the new Uniesse 70 Motor Yacht, you'll get a lot of practice because you'll be ooohing every time you run your hands over the impossibly glossy and flawless joinerwork, ooohing as you nestle into the buttery leather seating, and ooohing as you imagine yourself waking to a view of the sea out the large windows in the master suite. And yes, "Oooh" means the same in both English and Italian.

The Uniesse 70 MY is the latest from this prolific Italian yacht builder that has become known worldwide in just 15 years. The 70 is built at the Uniesse yard near Viareggio on the coast of Tuscany but, when you look at the equipment list, you might mistake this for an American-built yacht-Onan gensets, Sony stereos and Raymarine instruments. Uniesse has set up its own factory dealership in Ft. Lauderdale, which serves as a sales office as well as a hub for all warranty, service and parts issues. As Uniesse's vice president Rafael Barca pointed out, it's more effective and more cost-efficient for him to send factory-trained service personnel to the boat, regardless of where it is located, than to rely on local dealers or boatyards to handle the work. "In the end," says Barca, "it's also best for our customer's satisfaction."

A Uniesse client buys directly from the builder, which means the retail price doesn't reflect a middleman's profit and the relationship encourages owners to customize their yachts. For example, the flying bridge on our test yacht could have been configured in several ways: with a spa; with an additional dining area; with more or less built-in seating. Belowdecks, the master stateroom can be expanded (at the cost of one guest cabin) to create an office, media room, or simply a larger suite with a sitting area. It's your choice.

The starting point for the 70 MY, like all Uniesses, is a stable and seaworthy hull from the drawing board of Fred Hudson, a longtime partner of performance designer Jim Wynne. The hull's variable deadrise ranges from a steeply overhanging bow with sharp sections for slicing seas aside to a relatively mild 14-degree deadrise at the transom that provides good lift for speed.

Construction is modern but not overly exotic, with solid fiberglass below the waterline and Airex coring in the topsides and superstructure. Vinylester resin protects against fiberglass blisters in the entire yacht, not just below the waterline as on many boats. Uniesse also takes great pride in its moldwork, as you might expect with a builder that finishes hulls in dark blue gelcoat. A dark hull shows off every imperfection, but the 100-millimeter thickness of the Uniesse finish is like a mirror. Even better, carefully fitted parts eliminate the usual wide bands of silicone sealant used between panels.

The 70's interior is an exultation of exotic wood and flawless joinerwork. That's perhaps not surprising, since parent company Grupo Uniesse is the leading producer of buttons in Europe. Early in the 20th century, the company specialized in selecting and finishing exotic wooden buttons and, since boats were another passion for the founders, the Scaburri brothers, they moved their expertise to the water.

The 70 MY is finished throughout in pale and knot-free tanganica, which has a pleasantly straight grain made even better by the fact that Uniesse carefully selects and mills the wood so it can be perfectly matched throughout the yacht. In fact, each log is grain-matched and then numbered to make this possible. The builders also take pride in using as few veneers as possible, with solid wood the preference for furniture and panels. Even the teak decks are individually planked by hand rather than using prefabricated sections.

With no bulkheads, the view from the after deck through the saloon and pilothouse is unblemished and large one-piece windows on each side only add to the openness. A curved counter swoops along the port side to conceal the pop-up television, and the facing couch is perfectly sited for easy viewing.

The galley and dining area are two steps up, and the glass-topped table makes the area seem as much for lounging as dining. The galley is European in styling, with a high counter capped by black marble as a pass-through or buffet, and an appliance layout that puts the cook within arm's reach of everything.

Separating the galley from the saloon is a circular stairway leading to the flying bridge, but Uniesse can also expand the galley aft and eliminate the inside stairs. Though the stairs make it simple to get food to the bridge and the 70 MY has excellent galley storage, I might be tempted to expand the galley for even more space.

The lower helm is tucked to port with an electric double-wide helm seat, a racy wooden wheel and a spacious burled dashboard set in black leather. There's ample room for electronics screens, and a comprehensive and neatly labeled electrical panel is under a Lucite panel next to the helm. For once, the electrical panel is at a reasonable height. Another thoughtful touch is the opening panel under the dash, which leads into a large compartment where wiring and maintenance can be done without ripping up the wood and leather.

An offset stairwell leads to the sleeping accommodations, with the master suite spanning the full beam aft of the small foyer. A pair of large windows provide a panoramic view from the master stateroom. This particular 70 had a small table with two built-in seats next to the port window in place of the standard loveseat, and I loved the idea. Not only does it provide a pleasant vanity for m'lady (the tabletop flips up with mirror and cosmetic storage) but it's a perfect place to get away from guests. I can picture sitting there in the morning, nursing a coffee and croissant, while looking out at Portofino or Palm Beach or Nantucket. Opening ports above the big windows let you savor a fresh breeze.

The king-size berth with the leather and mirror headboard was low for my tastes, but it does open the room up visually. To starboard is a built-in bureau and one of the two large hanging lockers. The owner also gets a roomy head with full spa bathtub, shower, and stylish frosted glass-topped counters. The finish is white lacquer with silver lacquered cabinets for a look that will long stay in fashion.

Just forward, to starboard, is a double guest cabin that can be sacrificed for use as an office or sitting area. Since it's en suite with a large shower, this would add quite a bit of space to the master suite. The loss of a double cabin wouldn't be a problem since the VIP cabin in the bow is really a mini-master, with hanging lockers and en suite head with shower. The fourth cabin is to port, with twin berths and, surprise, a fourth en suite head.

The flying bridge is likely to be a primary living space and it's pleasantly arranged for flexibility. The skipper and a companion have a seat behind the helm console to port. My only complaint was that the Caterpillar electronic engine panels were mounted flat and hard to read. A U-shaped settee with a high/low table is immediately behind the helm for dining or entertaining, while a Miele barbecue, sink and fridge are in a console under the radar arch, which also serves to separate the boat deck. The large sunpad can be replaced with a spa or more lounge seating. With an 18-foot beam, she has ample room for a 12- to 14-foot tender with outboard to be chocked on the boat deck and launched by the Opacmare crane.

Crew quarters aft of the engineroom are finished to the same standards as the guest cabins. Two bunks and a head with shower are provided and, in the absence of crew, this area can double as a great cabin for teenagers.

Our test boat had the Caterpillar 1,570 hp diesels, and these proved to be a good choice, with a top speed of more than 35 knots. Other engine choices include both MAN and Caterpillar from 1,300 to 1,570 hp. I liked having hydraulic power takeoffs fitted to both engines, giving a flexibility to power the various systems with just one engine. Our test boat also had a pair of Onan 21.5kW generators and an upgraded MarineAir air-conditioning system for tropical conditions.

The 70 MY can easily be handled by a couple, and Uniesse has included some thoughtful touches to make that even simpler. Lids on each after quarter conceal warping winches and freshwater washdowns, so dock lines are not only stored out of sight, but can be rinsed off as well. To make line handling easier, the hawse pipes have rollers, too. The anchor windlass, which lifts a Bruce anchor into a beautifully welded stainless steel fitting to protect both bow and teak deck, can be controlled from the bow and also has a washdown fixture.

Underway, the 70 MY is a delight. Solid and dry, she ate up the Gulf Stream off Miami with aplomb at all angles to the seas. The motion is quite comfortable, the spray is thrown out flat to the sides and, even with the wheel hard over at full throttle, she banked around impeccably. Of particular note: She was very quiet, both in the saloon (as shown on the chart) and on the bridge, where I couldn't even get an engine sound reading on my decibelmeter.

Beautifully built, thoughtfully detailed and styled for classic good looks, the Uniesse 70 MY offers remarkable semi-custom flexibility. But then, you'd expect a buttonmaker to pay attention to the details.

Contact: Uniesse Marine USA, (954) 759-33424; www.uniesse.com