Princess 65 June 2001 Boat News, Review & Advice

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Princess 65

Princess 65 (June 2001)

The graceful Princess 65 reflects supermodel elegance with the intricate detail of a high-class couturier. But it’s not just a stately motoryacht or dignified English-made cruiser, says David Lockwood

The skipper tweaked the joystick of the bow thruster and the big boat kissed its berth goodbye. Not like you’d imagine a 65-footer might move, but with the alacrity of Claudia Schiffer on a catwalk in a Yves St Laurent silk dress. The minefield of giant white hulls were no obstacle; we slinked by, trawled past some waterfront estates and babbled about the lack of engine noise.

It was when we opened the throttles that things changed somewhat. Still not much noise to talk about, more the local jetboat tour driver who appeared like the proverbial moth to the flame. He took to our once-in-a-week wake with wild abandon, slewing this way and that, giving his customers a bang for their buck plus a mouthful of harbour water.

However, the defining moment was when we motored past a cargo ship from Devonport called Goliath and a warship tagged simply #41. For it’s at that point I deemed the Princess 65 to be not just another stately motoryacht with supermodel handling, but a mini-ship.

In the P65 you can cross the seven seas, partake in long coastal hops, embark on that voyage of a lifetime. Yet the big boat can be handled with confidence by a footloose husband-and-wife team. Bosuns, cabin boys, wharfies, boilermakers, painters and dockers need not apply.

A dignified English-made cruiser, the P65 has been designed to appeal to big-boat buyers who go wobbly at the knees with the mention of 65-footer. Despite its $3-million price tag, a surprising number of people are prepared to pay for such drive providing it doesn’t frighten the daylights out of them.

The local agents have sold 40 Princess boats in Australia in four years. In the last 18 months alone, they have shipped 18 boats and get this, just three of them have been under 50ft. Indeed, there are currently three Princess 65s in Australia — all of them in Sydney — with another two due in November.

While most Princess owners have worked their way through the ranks of production cruisers, many owners are, in fact, new to big boating — which should tell you something about these boats’ user-friendliness and seductive good looks.


LOFTY STANDARDS

The finish on the P65 matches the kind of standards set in lofty waterfront suburbs where European cars are ‘de rigeur’. To get some idea of the company these boats keep, a new Princess launch was held at Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast back in May.

We are developing people into larger boats and helping them gain the confidence to handle them. Husband-and-wife teams are among those who have progressed to the P65. There is a 50:50 owner-to-driver ratio on this model, explains Dean Husband from Princess Australia.

Akin to a Turbo Bentley R on sea, the P65 which I drove was destined for the Whitsundays in winter and marina berth in Sydney over summer. Wherever it goes, it’s not the sort of boat that looks or feels out of place.

ODE TO OLESINSKI

The P65 is an ode to marine architect, Bernard Olesinski. The boat has his signature underwater shape, with a modified vee, big reverse chines, aggressive strakes and props recessed in tunnels.

At displacement speeds, in coffee or Krug cruise mode, the P65 doesn’t travel with a bow-down attitude but instead rides delightfully flat. When you advance the throttle, it retains this trim angle.

It doesn’t flounder in its wake, spend an eternity winding-up to planing speed, nor does it create a disproportionately big wake.

And with just three turns on the wheel lock-to-lock, you don’t feel as though you are driving a ship.

Dare I say, its handling is probably more like the latest S-Class Benz, than Bentley’s finest.

You can rip the boat around town, all 30 tonnes of it, and get a buzz as you go. A performance-oriented motoryacht, the Princess 65 delivers driver confidence through your hands and passenger comfort via the pants.

The Princess boats are stiff craft built from hand-laid glass, with an integral girder system, and foam sandwich and/or balsa-cored sleek decks for a low centre of gravity. The company pairs its boats with a choice of motors, all of which give 30kt or more top-end speed.

We had top-shelf rockets: twin MAN V-10s producing 1050hp aside. With electronic controls and diagnostics, there’s not a lot to concern yourself with. But if you wanted to save some brass, the twin 800hp MANs are available.

ROOMS WITH VIEWS

The sense of shipboard living is conveyed by the layout with four separate cabins, three bathrooms and detached crew quarters. All but the latter are reached off big-boat companionways and through oval doors with double-locking catches to stop rattles.

Yet a sense of open-plan living comes from the fact you can see from the cockpit all the way through the saloon to the foredeck.

The saloon door is a heavy-duty stainless framed number. At the push of a button, a big electric window opens alongside, letting you fuse the indoors with the outdoors.

Indoors, the interior is haughty, dignified and princely. Joinery is natural cherrywood, stone-coloured Scottish Muirehead leather lines the lounges, Sierra sand-coloured soft carpet is underfoot, while clotted-cream coloured soft-touch liners and Mocha dash trim top things off.

There are buff-coloured venetian and roman blinds with a subtle blue stripe, Avonite galley tops in a Black Ice pattern, lights around the pelmets, a recessed ceiling feature, and elsewhere so you can create different moods.

At the same time, there is practical teak-and-holly flooring in the galley, teak decks outdoors, and lots of solid stainless for the deck fittings, window frames and internal ladder to the bridge. Beyond all this are features which make the Princess special for owners.

DEAL IS IN THE DETAILS

I came across crystal glasses in a timber cabinet above a wetbar and fridge, silverware bearing the Princess insignia in a galley drawer, an ice-maker, dishwasher, and side-by-side fridge/freezers with those rather excellent pub-like fasteners.

The set-down galley has dedicated racks for the Villeroy and Boch crockery, a subfloor storage area for victuals, electric four-burner Eff stove and convection microwave, neat stainless pot rests on the benchtops, and a powerful extractor fan.

Back in the saloon is a Bose five-speaker surround sound system on a hydraulic lift hidden inside a cabinet. Flanking the internal helm is a pilot door so you can step out onto the ship-like bulwarks. An opening window opposite gives natural ventilation, even though the 65-footer is fully airconditioned.

The controls are MMC electronic shifts with Auto Synchro and push-button Station Command, and there were lots of long-range electronics. This particular P65 had a 72nm Furuno radar, Rayplot 650 for hands-free driving, Raytheon chartplotter, Shipmate VHF and the oh-so-handy 11hp Sidepower bow thruster.

Note the wipers have an intermittent mode just like your car. I also liked the intercom with megaphone and mike pick-up so you can converse with crew on the foredeck. And the optional remote helm is a nice touch for short-handed parking.

Another nice design touch was the dinette to port. It is raised so you can enjoy the view. But when you remove the two false legs for the forward bed, which are actually stools or poufs, you can seat two more guests.

SLEEPING BEAUTY

Owners are given the royal treatment in the area of accommodation. Lying amidships, at the most stable point of the boat and away from water playing on the chines, is the master suite. It has an offset island double bed topped with a blue-metal coloured quilt, a camel bedhead and sensual padded surrounds.

There are huge hanging lockers, drawers, a dressing table with jewellery and perfume-bottle storage, a neat dirty washing basket concealed beneath a seat, and a television which lowers on a hydraulic platform in the ceiling. Plus controls for the aircon and sound system.

The ensuite is no less engaging. The shower has a trifold door, while the loo is a luxury Vacuflush model. Ice-coloured Avonite benchtops, overhead timber cupboards, and designer chrome fittings including towelrails and a glassholder surpass what you’d find in a topnotch hotel — or, for that matter, a cruise ship.

Guests have the choice of one of two cabins: the master in the forepeak has an island double, while the cabin to port has two singles. Each has an ensuite. The bathroom immediately to port doubles as the dayhead. The open-plan saloon means it’s not too hard to access.

A neat finishing touch was the timber strips on the walls in the guest cabin. They break-up what would otherwise be a large flat surface. Note also the separate sound systems and the quilted bedspreads and scatter cushions with embossed gold patterning.

The so-called maid’s quarters is a compact cabin immediately to port as you step down from the saloon. It has a bunk and a lower pullman berth which, when folded up allows plenty of working room alongside a large storage cabinet with a Neff washer/drier. This cabin can be ordered as an office.

Last but not least are the cool crew or kids quarters back under the rear lounge. The separate aft cabin is big enough to harbour two single berths, a washbasin and a head. And there is a storage centre comprising lots of lockers running right along the aft wall.

DELIGHT IN THE DECK

Princess 65

I found a hatch in the cockpit leading to a lazarette with the 15kVa Onan.

There’s room to store plenty of gear here, including a rubber duckie and another Onan. Fender storage baskets are in a nearby locker, with engine shut-offs and fuel valves opposite. There’s even scope to add a dive compressor.

Aft quarter lockers hold mooring lines and there are snubbing winches to make stern-in parking a snap. The boarding platform has a passarelle with 350kg lifting capacity. There is also a davit on the flybridge overhang which can swing another 250kg. So you can have your P65, and jetski and RIB it too.

Double transom doors, wide steps to safe bulwarks, a high bowrail, and fore-and-aft lounges make for an all-over accessible boat. There are deck and anchor washes, plus a transom shower. An internal ladder and external moulded staircase lead to the bridge.

I found driving the P65 from the flybridge an absolute snap. The rolled edge of the windscreen keeps the draft down, though there is some distortion along its leading edge. Seating exists for up to seven people fed and watered by a wetbar, fridge, electric barby and sink with hot and cold water.

SPORTSCAR HANDLING

Visually, the P65 derives its mini-ship looks from the bulwarks and superyacht-esque radar arch. It is an awesome sight in full flight.

Fast cruise is 31-32kt at 2150rpm and a very comfortable 27-28kt comes in at 2000rpm.

I recorded a top speed of 34.5kt between the Heads. Even at this clip the boat feels in control. There is a pleasant amount of detent in the trendy short-shift gear levers and, with just three turns in the wheel, not a lot of steering is needed to change course.

For truly long-range work you might consider running the boat in displacement mode. Unlike some hulls, the P65 will keep its bow above the swells at low speeds. And in low-speed mode, the twin V-10 MANs lose one whole bank. On five-cylinders aside, the motors won’t use much diesel.

Like David and Goliath combined, the P65 is a giant with the agility of a bantamweight.

Given the wherewithal, a private berth by the waterfront or a marina pen, I’d have no hesitation in taking my 65-footer out on short notice.

It rates as a great corporate entertainer, a luxury family boat, an indulgent weekender. But with this level of engineering, fuel, water (add a desalinator), power (second generator) and passenger capacities, the boat will shine on passages.

While the Brits reckon they are heroes when they Channel-hop and make it into the Med, imagine the adventure you could have on this neat little ship Down Under. The Reef, Lord Howe or further afield, the choice is yours. And there’s no professional skipper required.

HIGHS

Ease of handling, the great deportment, a lovely seaworthy profile at all speeds.

Top end of 34kt-plus is something to experience.

Interior finish is stunning, amenties surpass a house in dress circle, and the accommodation is indulgent.

You can also take comfort from the English engineering.

LOWS

You mightn’t need a skipper, but you will need someone to help with the maintenance.

Marina charges will be lofty and not too many private waterfronts have the space for a 65.

During testing cabinet door came of its hinges after banging around downstairs.

Maybe it needed something other than self-tappers.

Princess 65
Princess 65
Princess 65
Princess 65
Princess 65

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