An Italian Love Affair
Barry Thompson went to Italy and fell in love with an Italian.
When Henry Ford released the Model T Ford you could have any colour you liked as long as it was black. For Mochi it’s almost the opposite, for while you do have a choice of five vibrant colours, you can’t have black. Nor can you have white, the traditional colour for most boats.
But then who said Mochi was traditional? After all they are Italian and you would expect nothing less from this builder that has broken convention, both in style and in layout.
The Mochi Dolphin 54 is loosely based on the Maine lobster boats, although while the design is there in spirit, this is a boat that has taken that theme to a whole new level. The elegant Mochi 54 Dolphin lobster boat retains all the sophisticated vintage style embodied by the entire fleet, which comprises five models from the Dolphin 44 to the flagship Dolphin 74.
Now a well accepted boating genre, the lobster boat was brought to the recreational forefront by Hinckley a number of years ago as a picnic boat, a name that the company vigorously guards and all other brands that now follow a similar style have developed their own descriptive image such as gentleman cruiser, day cruiser or in the case of Mochi, a lobster boat. Not that you would really want to haul a lobster pot over the side.
It has long been my desire to review a Mochi and the opportunity arose during a recent visit to Italy. From the moment you see a Mochi you know you are in for something very special. They have now become “must haves” for owners who appreciate a product with a unique personality that embodies a perfect balance between amazing lines, the skilful choice of natural materials and the most superb on-board facilities and equipment.
Plenty of Power
I found my cream-yellow Dolphin 54 (hull #2) moored stern-to (as is the Mediterranean way) in the very tightly compact marina at Cesenatico, the closest marina to Mochi’s factory at Forli on the Adriatic coast. I was keen to get out on the water and see just how good the Mochi was. After our skipper delicately manoeuvred this Italian masterpiece out of an incredibly tight marina berth, past ageing fishing boats mixed in with a few brand new Mochi Craft and Ferrettis, we headed out to a mirror smooth sea off the marina.
Twin common rail 800hp MAN diesels provided the power and power it is, with the medium V hull rising smoothly onto the plane as the electronic controls are pushed forward. The brochure says 35 knots, but due to a reasonable amount of ‘marine’ growth on the hull, we could only get 33 knots. So what’s a knot or two between friends?
The ideal cruise is around 1900 rpm, which returns a speed of 26.5 knots and total fuel consumption for both engines of 190L/h. At 2000 rpm the speed increased by only half a knot but the fuel moved up to 220L/h. Mochi has obviously dedicated a lot attention to the engine room installation, as the boat’s noise levels are exceptionally low.
Handling and ride is superb, faultless, bellissimo! Comfort and stability are granted by the warped plane bottom which has a transom deadrise angle of 19°. On request, the Dolphin 54’ can be equipped with the Mitsubishi MSM 4000 ARG (Anti Rolling Gyro System), exclusive to the Ferretti Group, which reduces roll at sea and at anchor by over 50 per cent.
Mochi offers the 54 in two versions, the Suntop that I tested and the Flybridge version that was released in August this year. The Suntop has a single helm station with sliding sunroof and an aft sunpad. Obviously with the open flybridge all that goes but you have the advantage of a second steering position.
The flybridge offers an ingenious layout with a sunpad that has plenty of room for two people to stretch out and offers a retractable bimini to create shady areas for maximum on-board comfort. The instrument console opens electronically, and there’s also seating for two, with further seating for up to five on an adjacent C-shaped divan. The flybridge is accessed from the cockpit by the wood and steel stairs behind the wet bar unit, which can also be equipped with a grill on request. In the Suntop this space is still taken up with a ladder to the cabin top sunpad.
Visibility from the lower station is outstanding thanks to the ‘signature’ one-piece tempered glass 10mm windscreen that has no mullions interrupting your view. Massive wipers sweep away any rain or spray on the screen.
There is another large sunpad area dedicated to sun lovers on the foredeck of both models. The elliptical-section teak handrail from the cockpit to the foredeck area that blends in with the curvature of the cabin top adds a touch of Italian elegance and flair. There are no conventional stainless steel rails to be seen. The attention to detail is everywhere, right down to the custom made fairleads, each produced from a single stainless steel billet and emblazoned with the Dolphin logo.
The design solutions include a reconfiguration of on-board spaces, giving this 16m motor yacht the comfort and functionality of a much larger design while retaining typical Dolphin features like the sinuous lines, highlighted by warm, bright new cream-yellow livery and the extensive use of solid wood, such as in the inviting teak floor in the roomy cockpit, which is furnished with two comfy divans at the sides and one flanking the dinette entrance. The beauty and practicality of the wood extends throughout the yacht’s interior and exterior surfaces.
The cockpit gives access to the tender garage where there is space enough for a 2.45m inflatable tender, plus the engine room. Entry is provided by two hatches – one is electro-hydraulically operated, and when fully open becomes a roomy swim platform. The other is operated manually. There is also an electro-hydraulic telescopic gangway in stainless steel and teak. Don’t look for rod holders – there are none!
On entering the living area you are overwhelmed by wide windows creating an ideal combination of sea and sky views. The full glass cabin door slides not only across but also down and out of sight, allowing the entire rear of the cabin to be open, providing one-level living space harmonising the inside and outside areas.
Quality leather in natural colours reflects the elegance of the saloon, which is furnished with a roomy C-shaped divan and an extendable teak table. The saloon sole is teak and maple, reflecting the old-world charm of the Lobster boats.
The spacious, well-equipped galley extends along the starboard side of the saloon, encouraging an atmosphere of warm sociability. The first of the Mochi boats to feature an aft galley, it has a composite benchtop, complete with ceramic cooking top, freezer, fridge and microwave convection oven. The galley gives access to a below-deck storage area which can be transformed on request into a crew cabin with separate head. It is the ideal place for the washing machine and dryer.
Next to the helm console to port on the starboard side of the saloon, is a co-pilot’s chair for any guest wishing to keep the owner company during a cruise.
Enjoying the Mood
All accommodation is below and for’ard, with the owner’s stateroom in the forepeak area. There two sweeping windows that flood the space with natural light and create the sensation of being able to plunge your hands directly into the sea and enjoy all its moods to the full. The cabin has two spacious cupboards, a large set of drawers beneath the bed and numerous wall units, and is flanked by a private ensuite with shower unit.
Mochi has chosen to go away from the trendy top-mounted vanity bowls that are so common in Italian boats these days, to the more traditional English style porcelain china vanity units. A combination electric ceramic toilet with built-in bidet is standard in both the guest and master bathrooms.
Two guest cabins are sited to either side of the central corridor, a twin to port and a cabin to starboard that offers the owner a choice between a standard version with a double bed and extra single above it that can accommodate up to three guests, or an optional version with large double bed and spacious wardrobe. All berths are generous in length and the cabins provide exceptional headroom. These cabins share the bathroom accessed from either the central corridor or the port cabin. Here too the spaces are filled with light flooding in through the large windows and the new opening portholes in the deckhouse.
Naturally all areas are fully air conditioned, with individual controls so that guests can enjoy comfort to their own levels. Timber venetians are hidden behind pelmets.
Since the first 51 Lobster was released in 2003, Mochi has added four further models, with the 54 being the latest. For Mochi it was an optimisation of everything the company had learned over the past years and is unquestionably its best yet. I have to admit to falling in love with an Italian!
- Design Name: Mochi Dolphin 54
- Builder: Ferretti Group / Mochi Craft
- Country of Origin: Italy
- Designer: Victory Design Studio
- Interior Designer: Victory Design Studio
- Year Launched: 2008
- LOA: 16.65m
- LWL: 15m
- Beam: 4.90m
- Draft: 1.42m
- Displacement: 21.5 tonnes (unladen)
- Max Speed: 33 knots
- Cruise Speed: 26.5 knots
- Fuel Cap.: 2550 litres
- Water Cap. : 710 litres
- Construction: GRP
- Engines: 2 x MAN R6 @ 800hp each