Author : Roger McAfee
This world-class cruiser spares no expense and is exceptional value for money.
While many manufacturers focus on building bigger and bigger boats to get boaters’ attention, Horizon is bucking the trend with its new Vision 68, which is the second smallest craft in its line of yachts from 18.8m to more than 40m. Horizon has built more than 400 luxury yachts, and the new 68 is already creating buzz, thanks to its innovative design and impressive features.
Horizon is a Taiwanese manufacturer and has been building motor yachts for 20 years. It has established a separate shipyard to produce its smaller vessels (18.8m to 21.3m) sold under the Vision nameplate. CEO John Lu (who is also a naval architect) reported that vessels in this length can be better produced in a dedicated facility than in conjunction with larger vessels.
Our test vessel – a brand-new 2008 sky-lounge model – was supplied by Australian importer, Boats International. First impression on seeing the Vision 68 was that this is a very big boat that packs a lot into its overall length
While many are accustomed to the motto “a longer boat is a bigger boat,” it is important to remember that “bigness” is a function of beam and hull depth as well as length. It is the useful volume of a vessel that determines her true size. Adding 15cm to the beam of a 15m boat will create more interior space than adding 60cm to the length.
The Vision 68 is actually 21.3m in length overall, and carries a substantial 6.25m beam and displaces more than 55 tonnes. We quickly learned that these dimensions gave the boat an impressive amount of useful space for a 68-footer.
The vessel was solid underfoot as we boarded. All the deck hardware, including the stainless steel railings and stanchions, were the sizes usually reserved for vessels 23m and up. The decks have a non-skid surface, and the deck edges are protected by stainless steel and rubber strips where docking lines belay to cleats. All doors are bumper protected so their handles or latches won’t hit the walls on a back swing.
The true size of the Vision 68 becomes apparent on entering the main saloon. It’s almost 5m long and just about as wide. Headroom is 2.15m throughout the saloon and almost the same through most living spaces in the vessel. A raised skylight, lit at night, is a nice touch and adds to the overall feeling of largeness and openness.
Forward of the lounge is the galley, complete with stainless appliances, Corian countertops and wood cabinets. Freezers are drawer type, and the food preparation area has teak and holly solid wood flooring. This galley is conveniently laid out for preparing either a snack or a gourmet meal for a dozen people. The galley has dinette seating for six to eight people, plus a breakfast counter with two stools.
Three of the four staterooms are accessed from the main saloon down a spiral staircase – all staterooms have private heads and showers. The amidships full-width master stateroom head is equipped with a tub and two wash basins. Entry to the master stateroom is through double wooden engraved doors, the type usually reserved for suite doors in a five-star hotel. As on the main deck, all fittings, furnishings and woodwork are top-notch.
The fourth stateroom is aft of the full stand-up engine room and has its own head and shower. While this stateroom may be used as crew quarters, the quality of the finish, including material and fit, is the same as the rest of the vessel. It can be accessed from either a door off the main deck or through the engine room.
While the staterooms on the Vision 68 differ in size, even the smallest is comfortable by any standard — and all have more than enough storage and hanging space. All are also equipped with DVD players and flat-screen TVs.
There are two ways to access the sky lounge (which contains the control station), one is using the interior spiral stairs from the forward area of the main deck and the other is using an exterior stairwell from the main deck cockpit to the boat deck and food preparation area aft of the lounge.
The visibility from the control station is uninterrupted through 360 degrees. On some vessels with a raised pilothouse forward visibility over the bow is not very good in close because of the length of the foredeck and the relatively low height of the pilothouse itself. The Vision 68 has neither of these problems, and the resulting forward visibility is exceptional — an important factor when moving into crowded marinas or anchorages. Docking visibility alongside is equally good.
The control station is equipped with centre-line steering and an all-glass panel. Two sliding doors, port and starboard, make lateral movement from rail to rail through the area safe and easy. The chart desktop is big enough to handle paper charts and there’s good drawer storage underneath. The L-shaped raised leather dinette settee is big enough for at least four people to eat – and you can skip a trip to the galley thanks to the food preparation area immediately outside the aft door. It includes an electric grill top and oven, a sink and a refrigerator along with plenty of stowage. The lounge also has its own private, stand-up day head.
We fired the twin 1,000hp electronically controlled Caterpillar C18s and idled away from the dock at a civilised 4.5 knots – fast enough to maintain headway, even in a breeze, but slow enough to be under control at all times. There was no engine vibration at the control station, and the noise, even at wide open, was barely noticeable. The helm answered precisely.
At 10 knots the electronically controlled engines spooled along at 1300 rpm without vibration; they could probably run at that speed forever. At 1900 rpm (recommended continuous cruising revs) the vessel moved along nicely at 13.6 knots. The vessel performed well at all speeds from idle to full-out. We turned from hard port to hard starboard without the stabilisers activated – the lean in either direction was well within acceptable parameters. With stabilisers activated there would have been virtually no lean at all.
Water conditions on test day were flat calm, but we managed to stir up wake waves and ran the vessel through them. She handled them solidly and predictably. The hull design indicates that this would not be a wet vessel in a seaway.
I spent a fair amount of time in the master stateroom, which is immediately forward of the engine room – even with the engines running at top speed the noise was lower than I had expected, and engine vibration was barely noticeable. The engine noise was even less in the other two forward staterooms. Even the crew stateroom aft was relatively quiet.
There are a number of “nice touches” on this vessel, items that show a great deal of thought has gone into the construction. One of the touches is the complete lack of obvious electrical panels. I noticed that there are a few of what look like single cupboard doors that match the others on the vessel. Behind these doors are the electrical panels, neatly hidden away and protected from accidental contact with those on board.
Another nice touch is the shape of the sky-lounge settee table. Some of the boats I have been on have square tables and the distance between the helm seat and the table corner makes it almost impossible for a person to get from one side of the pilothouse to the other if the skipper is sitting in the helm seat. The table on the 68 is kidney-shaped, allowing enough room for easy passage – even for those of us on the husky side.
This vessel is designed so that a cruising couple could easily operate her without the help of a professional crew. The visibility is superb, the vessel is not very long from stem to stern and passage from the aft deck forward to the bow is safe, secure and easy. In addition, the vessel is designed with crew quarters as good as, and in many cases better than, many 30m plus boats I’ve been on.
The Vision 68 is one of the best in this size range that I’ve tested over the years. My only real suggestions for improvement include adding a starboard handrail to the aft stairwell and creating some opening windows in the sky lounge and main deck for additional ventilation.
Given what the Horizon Vision 68 has to offer, anyone in the market for a motor yacht of this size should take a close look.
- Boat Design Name: Vision 68
- Year Launched: 2008
- Designer: Gregory C. Marshall / Austin Lin
- Interior Designer: Gregory C. Marshall / Horizon Design Team
- Builder: Horizon Yachts
- LOA: 21.3m
- LWL: 18.6m
- Beam: 6.25m
- Draft: 1.49m
- Displacement: 50 tonnes
- Max Speed: 22 knots
- Cruise Speed: 18 knots
- Construction: PVC foam-cored hull and deckhouse, laminated using SCRIMP technology
- Fuel Capacity: 5299 litres
Water Capacity 1514 litres
- Engines: 2 x Caterpillar C18 @ 1000hp