The quest for the perfect boat, month 14

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

28 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’m curious about why you want a Portuguese bridge? Is that about protecting the helm windows in heavy seas?

    But, sorry, no suggestions here. I haven’t shopped in this boat size, though I must say I enjoy seeing a Fleming 55 entering Camden Harbor or out in the wild. Stately.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      The main reason for the Portuguese bridge is crew safety. Especially if crew happens to be my children; I really like the idea of them being able to get from one side of the boat to the other while staying entirely within the nicely protected walkway of the sidewalks and Portuguese bridge. This is less urgent if the bow is entirely flat as it frequently is on the larger cruising motor-yachts but still not as well protected in my mind as the Portuguese bridge.

  2. Stephen Hill says:

    I’d go for an FPB64. Perfect for your needs. Comfortable. Safe. Easy to maintain and way more

  3. Ben, take a look at the old Hatteras Long Range Cruisers. A 58 fits all your criteria, I think, except modern diesels (instead you get a pair of bullet-proof Detroit 4-71s). We have an active Club that helps the members keep these great boats in fine form. Check out our web site!

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      We’ve looked at LRCs in photos quite a few times. Thus far our thinking has been that we’d prefer something a little newer with newer systems, interiors, etc. I know some of the LRCs have been beautifully updated so if one came along with updates we liked I’d be very open to it.

  4. Joe Pica says:

    Wow, I’m surprised that you eliminated the Great Harbour 47’s. As they meet all your requirements albeit without requiring stablizers as are self form stabilized. at a bargain price. Their tankages is huge as is the interior.. Skeg protected props, shallow 3′ draft, unsinkable hull, huge usable galley with household style and sized appliances. You should look at them. There are several used listed by MIrage. Good Luck.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


      I haven’t eliminated entirely the Great Harbour. I took a look at the two that are on the market now and and didn’t feel like either of them was the right fit. I will admit that coming from way too much power for what we need making the move to two 56hp diesels is a little hard to get my mind around. That’s exacerbated by having watched a GH 37 in a big blow in St Augustine end up sideways across the docks without enough power to maneuver off.

    • Jeffrey says:

      Really loving this thread which I found when trying to find comparable boats to a Fleming and Marlow at possibly a slightly lower price. Hope it keeps going!

      • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:


        I’m still on the hunt, but I’ve largely paused my search with the market craziness this year. I can also report that I haven’t found too many brands that haven’t been discussed in these comments. I think the Grand Alaskan still checks the most boxes for me but I haven’t found the right circumstance just yet to make a purchase.

        -Ben S.

  5. You noted attributes for cruising, but not living (other than sleeping and in the galley). What about sitting? Some vessels forget that the captain might want some company. Other vessels think you are going to enjoy a sofa seat for an entire year of Looping.

    I too am in the hunt for the perfect boat. Have a 60ft SeaRay now and find it hard to beat. It is fast when I want her to be (31kts) and yet I have cruised at 8-10kts for fuel efficiency throughout Mexico and the Sea of Cortez). My wife and I keep going back and forth on replacing Valkyrie for Coastal cruising where larger is even of interest and with something completely different for doing the Loop in the not too distant future.

    Anita is concerned about comfort (hence the seating discussion) while I look at the mechanics and seaworthiness.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Interior comfort is definitely a concern. I was worried that if I listed every criteria nobody would read my 100 page treatise. So, instead I tried to summarize down to some of the biggest issues.

      Our Carver currently has an immensely comfortable Flexsteel settee that compares very favorably to most everything we’ve seen on the boats we’ve looked at.

  6. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Please, keep the suggestions coming.. I’ve already spent some quality time on Yacht World this morning checking out everyone’s suggestions.

  7. Saffy The Pook says:

    Have you looked at Tanglewood?

    Definitely a previous owner you’d want to follow, even if he and the other Ben haven’t seen eye to eye.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I should have mentioned in my requirements / desires list that an air draft below 20′ is highly preferable so that I can clear the fixed bridge just west of Chicago. I’ll edit the list.

      I also fear that a 2014 Nordhavn 60′ is going to be out of my price range.

  8. Colin A says:

    The Flemming and Grand Banks up above are the first boats that came to mind. My personal choice in this category is the Nordhaven 62 I love them for some reason.
    For more the motor yacht side the Pacific Mariner 65 is a great boat. but does not quite hit some things on your list.
    I also think there may have been some Krogen’s with 3 staterooms but I’m not sure which ones.
    The Portuguese bridge requirement will be the most limiting

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I suspect that you’re correct about the Portuguese bridge being limiting. I’m a big fan of the N62s as well (and the N63s are pretty spectacular as well) though a lot of the N62s have kind of funky interiors. I’d never sell my wife on a boat with a rubber dot floor in the master stateroom.

      I have explored PM 65s as well. They’re great boats though as you say don’t hit all the (many) things on my list.

      Thus far I think everyone has been too kind by not calling me ridiculously picky. I want everything and I’d like it all for bottom dollar. But, I guess I’m willing to wait until I can find the right boat at the right price. I guess the big question is, how long will I wait?

      • Colin A says:

        The N62 in all honestly would not be the boat I would purchase either if I had the funds (even thou I have loved them since I saw a tiny blurb about it in boating magazine in the early 90’s). If cruising with my wife and 3 kids the Pacific mariner would likely be the choice. I used to have kind of a bad opinion of motor yachts as I get older they honestly appeal more then bluewater boats I would likely never use the capability of.

  9. Paul G says:

    A smaller Marlow (57/58) would fit the bill perfectly but it sounds like they may not fit the budget. If you look at your list, a GA64 Pilothouse ticks all the boxes. Dont worry about the fitted engines, just dont push them too hard and keep up the maintenance. The good thing about the overpowered ones is that the running gear was normally beefed up to cope so you have no problems there. While they have a semi displacement hull shape they are built so heavy that the only thing that gets on the plane is your fuel flow. They are a classic “constant speed/variable fuel flow” boat.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Thanks Paul, you’ve confirmed a lot of my thinking. I like your wisdom about “constant speed / variable fuel flow” and will remember that.

      Personally, I’m not a fan of Marlows. I’ve heard just enough anecdotal snippets to cause me some concern. You’re also likely right that my enthusiasm is probably moot because of issues of budget.

  10. Ray Parrish says:

    How about a Kadey Krogen 52 twin engine. That fits all the requirements, but not too many configure the 3rd cabin for sleeping, usually office. Great boat that seems to meet you requirements, however, budget may be a problem. The Krogen Express meets most criteria too, except they have the turbocharged engines.

  11. Nice little (!) boat here next to us in Deltaville – I know it’s been on the market for at least a year. Sure looks attractive, and seems to have all the toys. Might be a bit bigger than what you were looking for, tho.

  12. Grant Jenkins says:

    Ben, you might have more luck focusing on a hull that has the fundamentals you need, and then finding one under-budget and maybe a little tired that you can customize to your liking. Gensets, windlasses, refrigeration, ovens, etc., can be easily upgraded by a reputable yard. Even re-powering with modern diesels can make sense on the right boat. Plus, you get to see all the rest of the systems while the works being done, and end up with exactly the layout/material’s you want. Just add $$$ ! 🙂

  13. Thomas M. says:

    Ben….I ran across your post while boat shopping myself. I fully understand your requirements as the list is a mirror image of what I’ve been looking for. Our budgets look to be pretty similar as well. Selene 57 (early to mid 2000’s) has risen to the top as a boat that checks all the boxes. We are a retiring cruising couple but are looking for 3 cabins to accommodate kids, grandkids, and guests. I’m guessing by now you’ve made a decision. If so, what did you end up with? How is it working out for you? Do you have any thoughts on the Selene. Seems to me to be a pretty solid boat, just curious if I might be over looking something. Thank you in advance, any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      You would think we would have made a decision by now. But, unfortunately that’s not the case. We’re still looking and in fact in recent months we’ve honed back in on the Grand Alaskan 65 flush deck. We’ve made a few offers but haven’t been able to come to an agreement with any of the sellers so far.

      We like the Selenes a lot. In fact my wife likes them more than me. I find them to be just a little slower than I’d like and there’s an intangible about them that’s never spoken to me. They’re beautiful boats, very well built and a better compromise of space versus sea-keeping ability (as compared to Nordhavn, for example).

      Good luck and keep us updated on how it goes.

  14. Thomas M. says:

    Thank you for your response Ben. I guess if we had $2-3 mil to throw at the dilemma we could come up with a near perfect solution. The GA 65FD has caught my eye as well though I’m pretty set on single screw for economy of maintenance, operation, running gear protection and ease of moving about the engine room. I share your hesitation about the Selene and for me it’s the relative lack of attention they seem to receive in the pilot house arena. Not sure why that is, perhaps it’s just the lack of an aggressive marketing strategy such as Flemming or Nord. One of the criteria we established early on was the ability to navigate the Great Loop. That being said, our long range plans are coastal, Caribbean, and eventually the west coast, perhaps as far as Alaska. You’ve completed the loop in your 57, do you feel we are justified in limiting our options just to satisfy that single objective? More and more I’m thinking it’s rather foolish to buy a boat based on her ability to clear a bridge in Chicago.

  15. Ross Macdonald says:

    Ben…Also looking for a boat with much more range for our long trips from San Diego down to Mexico. Presently have a 58 ft. pilothouse with large Cats. I was wondering if you had looked at a 57 Nordhavn. Probably the only model that does not look top heavy and having talked to the owners of one, they travel easily at 9-10 kts. unlike most other NH that run at 7-8kts. Our big Cat engines can run slowly at 9 kts. but burn 18 gph at that speed where the N57 burns about 6 gph.

  1. September 10, 2018

    […] I mentioned in my blog entry, we’re on the search for our next boat.  In the meantime, we’re heading down the western rivers with Have Another Day, our Carver […]

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