Author : David Toyer
Approximately 800 km north of Hong Kong at a place called Xiamen, in mainland China you will find the Norseman Shipyard. On more than 75 acres of ocean front land Norseman have built the boating worlds first “fully green environmentally conscious production plant”, and its here that the Marlow Explorer motor yachts are built under the direct supervision of its founder David Marlow.
Established in 1995, Marlow Yachts has quickly established an international reputation for high standards of craftsmanship and exquisite design while the Norseman Shipyard is recognised as one of the most advanced in the industry.
So advanced, that in April 2006 was the recipient of the World Superyacht Environmental Award for the environmental responsible approach taken by the company with regard to boat manufacture.
The 30,000 sq. m. purpose built factory complex is just a small part of a garden type complex that includes 200 apartments (plus recreation, training and educational facilities) for staff who choose to live on site rather than travel to and from work, visitor and administration facilities, and space to expand in the future.
In applying for ISO 14001 Certification in 2005, the Norseman facilities committed to minimising the harmful effects of the materials and processes associated with modern boat building techniques and materials on the environment. To meet certification every segment of manufacturing needed to have environmental controls in place, ranging from purchase, receipt and full use of all products involved in the construction process.
To protect the pristine waterfront environment (and Norseman Shipyards were the first occupant of the Chi Valley Green Industrial complex), the entire park-like grounds were excavated and more than 600mm of crushed granite installed as part of an elaborate system of collection and recycling drains and pits reminiscent of the ancient roman drains. These drains and pits were a vast catchment reservoir for water (which was recycled for a number of uses including landscape watering or fire control) as well as a catchment for all liquids or accidental spill from any of the boat building processes.
Although Marlow Yachts was established in 1995, it wasn’t until the 2001 Miami Boat Show that the first of the Explorer Series – the 65C – was debuted. That Explorer series has now grown to include boats from 53 to 82 feet, and each is available with Lloyds and ABS (American Bureau of Shipping) Certification.
A very complex tooling and moulding process has been devised by the factory in order to limit the number of moulds that make up an assembled Explorer series yacht. Consequently, there are now only three major moulds being used where in the past (and still may be found on other brands) anything up to 40 or more moulds may be used in the assembly process. Fewer moulds result in fewer seams and joints, which, says the company, leads to a finished product that will potentially remain tight and leak free for decades.
Timber is a very dominant material throughout the interior, and it’s not just as a veneer, on plywood, or on composite board, but as a solid material. On the boat reviewed, teak was the dominant timber for most surfaces, though it was supplemented by a subtle use of Cherrywood in the joinery and panelling, and holley on the floors.
Internally, all the timbers are stained and sealed, while out on the decks, the teak inlays are left to weather to their natural grey/silver tone. And then, look inside any of the lockers, storage bins or cupboards and you will find a complete lining of natural cedar – not just a flow coated finish to the inside of moulded GRP construction – and the smell of that clear unsealed cedar is just so “nautical”.
For each Marlow Explorer, specific logs are selected and set aside for use in all the joinery and veneers, ensuring a matching of colours and grains as close as it is ever going to be without resorting to synthetic or composite materials for a match.
The Marlow Explorer 70E (the E meaning EURO) is a serious long haul cruising boat with separate aft crews quarters and three cabin accommodation for 6 people. Although it is more than 21 metres in length, I didn’t really appreciate the true size and proportions of this boat until I had walked right to the bow and turn around. Looking back from right out on the bow sprit, the true magnitude and scale of this boat come to the fore. From here, the boat looks every part a serious long range ocean cruising vessel.
The wide walk-round side decks that offer a safe and secure way about the boat in most conditions, appear to have minimal affect in “squeezing” of the saloon and pilot house/galley that occupy the entire main deck of this boat.
The layout provides a very spacious and open planned saloon (which includes a bar area) that opens aft to a three-quarter covered cockpit, and forward, steps up to the galley, dining area and pilot house. However the specific details of the fitout and the use of the main deck levels is, like the cabin arrangements below decks subject to buyer specification and requirements.
Off to the starboard side of the helm station, stairs lead down to the accommodation and services level consisting of three cabins (two with ensuites), a shared bathroom, and laundry facilities. The main stateroom occupies almost 50% of the below deck accommodation space (excluding the crews quarters), extending the full width of the boat and on top of all the usual built in vanity units, storage lockers, drawers and cupboards, lounges and sit out spaces, provides (aft of the island King berth), a walk in wardrobe (port side) and an ensuite (starboard side).
A king size berth is also provided in the second cabin that is tucked up into the bow, while full size single bunks (2 off) are provided in the third cabin. Essentially, all three cabins are provided with ensuite bathrooms, though that which serves the forward stateroom has dual access.
The crew quarters, located under the rear cockpit, are nowhere near as luxurious as the three main cabins. Accessed via the cockpit (and transom decor) And the flyscreen windows, are an option (and an after thought on the boat reviewed at the Sydney Boat Show) and form part of the workshop space aft of the engine room. The surfaces and finishes are all utilitarian and consequently stark and clinical, but they are designed to be practical and effective. Headroom in places is tight but the crew’s quarters are not necessarily always intended to be 5 star quality.
Accessible For Service
Engine room access is through the forward bulkhead of the crews quarters, and given the size of the engines and all the other equipment that is needed to be located into the main engine room (with a spill over into the crews quarters) the builders have done a great job in setting everything out so that the relevant parts and components are easily and readily accessible for service and on going maintenance.
Full access to all engineering components, all electrics and all services, is key policy for Marlow, hence there are numerous lift out hatches, removable linings removable backs or bases to built in fixtures, to ensure that this access and simplicity of service and maintenance policy is fully achieved. Down in the engine room, where most components are visible, this policy is still rigidly adhered to via colour coding of hydraulics and plumbing, and the set out and identification of all electronic cabling.
On top of this, the engines and all of their componentary are, in just about every instance, accessible from a regular servicing and maintenance point of view, as well as upgrade and overhaul works are concerned.
“Attention to detail” is, according to the Australian dealer, a proud claim by Marlow Yachts, and if the 70E is anything to go by, the company rigidly adheres to this. Look inside any cupboard, recess, built –in fixture or any piece of furniture and it is fully lined and backed – in the case of the reviewed boat – with cedar, adding that clean fresh timber smell that only cedar can provide. Inside the engine room or around any area of the lazarette and crew quarters, all surfaces are finished and sealed (usually flow coated) for ease of cleaning and maintenance.
Marlow Explorer Yachts are designed and built to cross the oceans of the world and are offered with Lloyds Certification Ocean Class Category One. They are certified ABS, Lloyds Register and ISO 9001 and are preparing for ISO 14001.As far as I am aware, precious few other companies can match this.
- Design Name: Marlow Explorer 70E
- Year Launched: 2006
- Designer: Doug Zurn and David Marlow
- Builder: Norseman Shipyard, China
- LOA: 21.7m
- Beam: 5.6m
- Draft: 1.3m
- Displacement: 37195 kg
- Max. Speed: 20 knots
- Cruise Speed: 16 knots
- Construction: GRP/Kevlar composite
- Fuel Capacity: 7190 litres
- Water Capacity: 1900 litres
- Engine: 2 x 700 hp CAT C12