Although I was aware that the new Marlow 49E Explorer was designed shorter at the waterline and in length overall than her seven sisterships (they range up to 97 feet length overall), it was easy to mistake her for one of those larger siblings at first glance. My eyes played along the lines of the flared bow and modestly raking stem. I gazed at the well-proportioned superstructure behind a stout Portuguese bridge and flanked by wide, protected side decks. The hint of tumblehome caught my attention, as did the gradually convex curving lines of the transom. This was a quick visual index of the elements that comprise nearly every Marlow yacht.
But there on Florida’s Gulf Coast, I learned that bringing the newest and smallest Marlow Explorer into being wasn’t as easy as replicating design lines.
“When you start downsizing a design, making things fit can get a little nutty,” said David E. Marlow, chairman of the company that has borne his name since it was founded in 2000. “When you begin to build a 49-footer and want it to have a beautiful engine room, good machinery spaces, lots of bilges for storage, great headroom and living spaces — like all the big Marlows have — the wish list can cause some problems.”
There were other parts to the intricate puzzle of the 49E. Keeping the fuel tanks low and on the center of buoyancy. Designing normal-size stairs to access all levels. Laying out an engine room with excellent access to all sides of the engines and to the systems. All of these things had to be solved while adhering to the seakeeping traits, economical operation and reliability over the long run that are part of the company’s tradition. Add to the list the handcrafted custom interiors that make each Marlow unique to her owners.
Leaving nothing to chance is a credo for Marlow Yachts. As I walked through the 49E, I found incredible fit and finish wherever I looked. An obvious example is the beautifully bookmatched teak planks, all from a single log purchased, sawed and installed at the company’s factory (built from scratch by Marlow) near Xiamen, China. There are art-quality, 316L stainless-steel fittings fabricated, welded and polished to an imperfection-free finish. A closer inspection reveals color-coded plumbing and number-referenced electrical wiring harnesses for easy refits and troubleshooting — the list of well-considered features, born in the crucible of yacht builders’ and owners’ experiences, is thorough.
Marlow had announced the 49E Explorer’s availability at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. By her 2015 debut at the Miami International Boat Show, pent-up demand had resulted in 11 orders before there was even a single vessel to inspect. The yacht was to become the first rung on the ladder to the company’s line of desirable cruising yachts, or the next landing place for those in larger vessels who were looking to downsize into a yacht more easily manageable by a couple. The fact that the 49E Explorer had been in development for nearly four years prior seemed not to be a limiting factor, so well-regarded is Marlow’s strength of build and reputation for paying attention to the most minute details.
Available in two- or three-cabin layouts, the 49E exhibits a spacious setup on the main deck, as well as in the full-beam master and forward VIP staterooms below. The large boat deck on the flybridge provides shelter to the entire aft cockpit, as well as the side decks going forward to a point just abaft the raised pilothouse.
The yacht’s large frameless windows, which are proprietary (tempered and laminated with half-inch thickness), are on both levels of the main deck. The result is superb views in all directions, particularly from the lower helm, which also benefits from a bulkhead opening into the salon. The helm is flanked to port with a dinette large enough for four to enjoy the view ahead, and to starboard by a door to the side deck. In keeping with David Marlow’s preference, the well-equipped galley is located just abaft the helm, so no one misses out on the enjoyment of the voyage while meals are being prepared.
From my vantage point, the future is bright for the 49E Explorer, not only given her early sales results, but also because she remains true to the top quality goals of every yacht Marlow builds.