Cheoy Lee Serenity 68

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Cheoy Lee Serenity 68


Cheoy Lee Serenity 68 was re-launched into Australia at this year’s Sanctuary Cove Boat Show and as David Toyer found out, this iconic brand has lost none of its charm.

I would have assumed that Cheoy Lee was a company that needed no introduction to most of the Australian boating public. But then I realised that it was almost 30 years since former Gold Coast car dealer Mike Gore, the same man who a few years later would commence a development known as Sanctuary Cove, imported the first Cheoy Lees into Australia.

Gore’s unprecedentedly lavish and spectacular launch of the Cheoy Lee brand which involved craning a 50 footer from the Broadwater into Seaworld, was a major social event for the Gold Coast and set a standard for boat launchings that would last for decades before any manufacturer or distributor was game, or could afford, to go one better.

Those 30 years have been enough to see a whole new generation of buyers in the luxury cruiser market. As Adrian Alle, one of the principals behind the 2006 re-launch of Cheoy Lee into Australia said, 30 years ago the people who are now looking at buying multi million dollar boats such as the Cheoy Lee, were probably only about 20 to 30 years old and in the majority, not interested in or even able to afford, this class of boat.

To them, Cheoy Lee is a new and unknown brand, with an unknown background, and little established history and reputation.

Cheoy Lee is now into its fourth generation as a continuously family owned and operated business. It is a company with a long and diverse history.

The Lo family started building and repairing steam powered trader ships and dugout canoes in Shanghai, China in 1870. Their boat building facility was an integral part of the flourishing south east Asia trade market throughout the later decades of the nineteenth and then well into the twentieth century. Their boat designs and construction techniques were well to the forefront of the times.

When the Japanese invaded China, the Lo family was forced to move their operations to the British territory of Hong Kong in 1935. After the turmoil of the Second World War, the Cheoy Lee yards settled back into building commercial boats until the early 1950s, when due to demand from a number of their commercial customers, they began building teak sailing and motor yachts for the recreational market.

By the mid 1960s, when the company turned to fibreglass and phased out wood construction, half the boats rolling out of the Hong Kong yards were for recreational use.

Today, Cheoy Lee’s production is 30% pleasure boats, which are up to 45 metres in length, with the commercial side of the company building boats up to 70 metres in length. Both the recreational and pleasure boat ranges are constructed in fibreglass or other composites, aluminium, steel, or a combination of materials.  

Sanctuary Cove Debut

The 68 Serenity, which made its world debut at the 2008 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, is presently the smallest of the long range motor yacht series. This boat, with its relatively small twin 315hp engines, is designed to provide extended long range cruising at leisurely, comfortable speeds. Consequently it is designed and suitably equipped for a live aboard, self sufficient lifestyle that allows this boat to spend extended periods away from a base port.

Gaining inspiration for the Serenity 68 from the old 66 Long Range model which was only discontinued in 2007 after 30 years of continuous production, there is still that very distinguished high rounded stern that was a feature of the superseded model, but this has been blended into more modern styling of the saloon and pilothouse windows and the raked flybridge deck that now looks a lot better with the hardtop as part of the fit-out.

The Serenity 68 is a displacement hull with three double staterooms and a twin-berth cabin, and with the latter being positioned immediately below the pilot house at the base of the forward stairs, it is well positioned to serve as crew quarters if necessary.

Each of the cabins has its own ensuite bathroom, is independently air conditioned and the staterooms have individual sound systems and LCD TV’s connected into the Philips Streamix S700 wireless master system.

The owners’ stateroom is a gem! Located immediately under, and occupying almost the same amount of floor space as, the main saloon, this full width cabin has the space, comforts and quality décor of an upmarket apartment. There are twin basins in the ensuite as well as a full size spa bath that would keep the water maker busy.

Though the other two staterooms are not as large, they both follow the same high standard of décor and finish and the range of built-in facilities that are to be found in the owners’ stateroom.

The amidships engine room “splits” the two accommodation sections of the boat, with the two forward cabins accessed via the staircase in the pilothouse, while the aft cabins are down a reasonably wide spiral staircase in the aft starboard quarter of the saloon.

The engine room has full headroom and aluminium chequer plate flooring to give a good steady work base underfoot and around every piece of equipment. Within the volume of this engine bay, the de-rated twin 315hp C7 Cats look very insignificant, dwarfed by the twin 22.5kW Onan generators and even the stainless steel workbench that sits in the middle of everything, perched neatly over the main bank of batteries.

Long Range Cruiser

This is a displacement motor yacht, hence the relatively “small” 315hp Cats. These engines provide a cruise speed of 8 to 9 knots, and a range of around 1700 to 2000 nautical miles. At 6 knots this stretches out to more than 3500 nautical miles, but dropping to around 700 nautical miles at almost 12 knots, the full throttle speed. 

The main deck is a single level throughout, with the huge U-shaped galley and the internal flybridge stair separating the forward pilot house and the lounge/dining areas of the saloon. The pilothouse has side doors opening out onto the side bulwarks, while the saloon opens out the back onto a respectable aft deck with its own built-in lounge, table and wet bar. With shading provided via the overhang of the flybridge deck, this is a nice little alfresco dining and relaxation area.

Steps lead from this aft deck down onto the boarding and swim platform, or up to the flybridge. Glass doors close off the bulwarks each side of the saloon, just aft of each of the side boarding gates.

The flybridge has a second helm station, which is not as extensively equipped as that in the pilothouse. This top deck is more a casual living area where you might entertain guests while at anchor or while slowly idling along a sheltered waterway. A large lounge wraps around a fibreglass table, all opposite a well equipped wet bar and barbeque. With the main galley just by the base of the internal access stairs, what cannot be prepared or stored up on the flybridge, isn’t too far away in the main galley below.

Stone bench tops are installed on all the wet bar areas on the flybridge and aft deck, and all benches in the galley.

The optional hardtop (with clip-on and zippered clears) covers about half of the flybridge, but that’s all that is needed, as the 3.4-metre Zodiac with its 4-stroke 25hp Yamaha outboard is cradled aft of the lounge, with the 1500kg davit right alongside.

Seattle based Sylvia Bolton was engaged to do the décor throughout this first Serenity 68 and certainly there is no expense spared. The selection of fabrics, upholstery, loose furnishings and artwork has combined superbly with the high quality detail workmanship that the Cheoy Lee craftsmen have put into all the timber work and cabinetry. The patterns created in the teak panelling and the matching of the timber grains in the high gloss finished woodwork right through the boat, is spectacular.

This boat has been built to be a home away from home, and there has been nothing overlooked in the equipment and the fit-out. It is a boat that can spend weekends on the harbour or weeks at a time away from port. It is a true and aptly named self-contained long range motor yacht.


  • Design Name: Serenity 68 Long Range
  • Builder: Cheoy Lee Shipyards
  • Designer: Mike Burvenich Corporation
  • Interior Designer: Sylvia Bolton
  • Year Launched: 2008
  • LOA: 20.73m
  • LWL: 17.98m
  • Beam: 5.49m
  • Draft: 1.6m
  • Displacement: 52,600kg
  • Max Speed: 12 knots
  • Cruise Speed: 8 to10 knots
  • Fuel: 8,140 litres
  • Water: 2,230 litres
  • Construction: GRP Composite 
  • Engine:  2 x Caterpillar C7 @ 315hp each

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