While the Marlow 53 ME was released over two years ago, with over 20 sold worldwide, the boat I was aboard was the first of this model in Australia. Being marketed by Marlow’s East Coast dealer , Pacific Motor Yachts, the 53E is a beautiful example of a pilothouse motor yacht.
It has been over ten years since I have been aboard a Marlow and while from the outside I could see the new 53E is still very much stamped with that recognisable Marlow look, the interior has certainly changed. While still depicting a very traditional pilothouse arrangement with, Portuguese bridge, wheelhouse and galley forward on a raised platform, with a large spacious lower saloon aft, the new 53E offers a whole lot more.
David Ratcliffe, MD of Explorer Marine Australia, the importer for the Marlow range says that the big changes are in the volume of the boat. “Compared to the 70E you reviewed, the latest 53E has more space, especially in the accommodation areas”.
First glance it was hard to appreciate, but when I went back to the review I did in Pacific MotorYacht in Nov 2006, it was very evident. Although the 57E has a beam of 5.26m and the 70E is wider at 5.60m, it’s the way space has been utilised that makes the difference. Marlow has worked their magic on the design and layout of the accommodation to achieve a very efficient layout.
A wide starboard side companionway leads down to the three cabins; a forward VIP, port side guest with twin bunks and full beam master stateroom aft. The two guest cabins share a common bathroom, while the master has it’s own en-suite. The VIP has a queen bed with twin cedar-lined hanging lockers and a private entry door to the head. This head has a full glass enclosed shower and a glass fronted locker for linen.
Like the rest of the boat, the layout of the accommodation areas is owner driven. Our boat came with an athwarthships queen bed in the master stateroom, with hanging lockers and bureaus of drawers hull-side all around for storage. A bulkhead door leads through to a utility room, which also houses the washer/dryer, another freezer and gives easy access through to the engine room. Again this is optional and other arrangements for internal engine room access are available. You can even turn the space into a full width his/hers bathroom. It’s totally up to you. One benefit of the internal access is if you are doing a lot of passage making you don’t have to go outside the boat to get to the engine room.
Essentially the 49E and the 53E are the same boats, with the differences been that both the cockpit and saloon are longer in the 53E. Marlow doesn’t restrict you to a one layout design policy and there are a lot of individual aspects of every boat they build. In fact probably no two are ever the same. The lower saloon is particularly open to change, with the choice of cabinetry and lounging areas real owner specific. Icemakers, TVs, drink cabinets are all optional. I particularly love the big frameless side windows, which pour in the natural light and are at the right height for sneaking a look around the bay when at anchor. They have timber blinds when you want some privacy or to keep the sun out.
While traditional teak and holly are used on the sole of the boat I reviewed, you can change this to carpet and while we had a long lounger down the starboard side with a coffee table and ottomans, you can start with a clean sheet of paper and design exactly what you want. Timber in this area is all teak, with a lighter Maple used in the accommodation areas.
One aspect of this particular boat that Radcliffe incorporated was to open up the forward bulkhead between the pilothouse and saloon. This takes away that closed in feeling that solid bulkheads portray and it means there are good sightlines from the helm to the transom.
An interesting aspect of the construction of the 53E that Marlow utilises is the unique airframe design philosophy and technology provides an extremely low overall height and centre of gravity, while still providing exceptional headroom.
As soon as you move up to the pilothouse, you get the feeling of being in a passage maker and there is an air of professionalism about the layout. In fact the Marlow 53E is Ocean Category A rated, so it’s been officially approved to do the business! The Marlow 53E is a boat that you can quite comfortably cross oceans in and a trip across the Tasman, to the Pacific Islands or PNG, which might well be considered by the first owner of this boat.
Flush articulating doors either side give you immediate access to the side decks without having to go out through the saloon and cockpit. If you are short handed and need to assist someone with lines or anchoring, these can be a real bonus.
The lower helm, ahead of the single Stidd chair, can be equipped with your choice of electronics, such as the pair of glass screen Raymarine 17” MFDs aboard our boat. These are flanked by all the electronics, switches and navigational requirements you require in a serious vessel such as the Marlow 53E. Overhead is a mimic board with warning display of all systems.
The U shape composite surface galley to starboard aft features all the amenities needed for your gourmet dining. There is a full-size double door fridge/freezer, a Miele oven, with microwave function among the many cooking options and lots of overhead storage cabinetry.
Opposite is the dinette that’s available with a variety of table shapes and sizes and in fixed or drop down mode. This is the main dining area, with comfortable seating for conversation or dining. If you go for the 53E Command Helm, with a fully enclosed bridge, the lower helm goes and is usually replaced by a lot more seating and cupboards.
A port side stairway leads up to the open flybridge, where there’s a second helm station, with twin Stidd helm chairs, an L shape lounge and entertaining area, complete with bbq, wet bar, fridge and icemaker. You can use the aft deck to stow the tender and there’s provision for a crane. Our boat had the rise/fall platform for the tender stowage rather than the crane, so this area was left open. Soft clears clip around three sides of the hardtop, but if you want to be fully enclosed, then there is always the Command Bridge option.
An external ladder gives access to the cockpit, where you find a bench seat across the transom with a bench seat and table. This is flanked either side with walkthroughs to the boarding platform and rise/fall extension. Overall this makes the boat 17.98m overall. A storage cabinet and auxiliary helm are on the starboard bulkhead wall. Clear solid doors either side deflect any rain or wind coming down the bulwarks and help make the large cockpit another exceptional social area.
There is a wide selection of engine options for the 53E, from a pair of Cummins QSC 600s, through to 825hp Fiats. While Caterpillar 8.7 650 AC ERT and John Deere 6135SFM 750s are also available, Radcliffe chose a pair of Cummins QSM11 @ 715 hp. This gives a maximum speed of around 23 knots and 19 knots with the smallest engines.
The introduction of the new Marlow Explorer 53 in 2016, has brought a more fuel efficient vessel due to the enhanced beam to length ratio and underwater design.
The Marlow 53 comes with twin strut keels, which are designed to protect the running gear, props and rudders from groundings and collisions with debris. The bonus is, if you do find yourself aground, the strut keels allow the boat to sit upright. They also have the benefit of improving directional stability and dampening roll. According to Marlow Yachts, they also help in performance and efficiency.
The first Marlow brought into Australia by Radcliffe was in 2006 and this has since been joined by a further six. These have extended right across the range, including the 70E.
The 53 SE is an outstanding boat and it’s easy to see why the Marlow brand has such a good international reputation. While it is only the second Marlow I have ever been on, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the finish and quality right throughout the boat.
Built in China at a world class facility near Xiamen, the Marlow 53E sets a high standard for a semi-displacement, twin keel yacht with traditional lines. It’s probably not the ideal boat for a first-time buyer, but any experienced yachtsman will quickly appreciate what the Marlow 53E has to offer.
- Boat Design Name: Marlow Explorer 53
- Year Launched: 2016
- Designer: David Marlow
- Builder: Marlow Yachts
- LOA: 18.59m
- LOH: 17.25m
- Beam: 5.26m
- Draft: 1.35m
- Displ (full): 29.937 kg
- Max Speed: 28 knots
- Construction: GRP
- Fuel Capacity: 4524 L
- Water Capacity: 1135 L
- Engines Make/HP: 2 x Cummins QSM11 715 hp
- Drive Train: Shaft
- Generator: Onan 17.5kW & Onan 7.0kW
- Watermaker: Bluewater
- Thrusters: Lewmar
- Stabiliser: Seakeeper 9
- Lighting: Quick
- Hi-Low Platform: Aerotex
- Anchor Winch: Quick HR5
- MFD: Raymarine 2 x 12”
- Base Boat Price: $AU2.90m
- Price As Reviewed: $AU3.290m
- Contact: Pacific Motor Yachts Australia, 76-84 Waterway Drive, Coomera, QLD 4209, Ph +61 7 5519 4019 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: www.pacficmotoryachts.com.au