Mission of the Marlow Mainship 32
Company owner David Marlow's intention with the new Marlow Mainship 32 is to occupy the space in the marketplace that was held for many years by the bankrupt Mainship brand -- namely, building an affordable cruising boat that looks salty for the cruising couple on a budget. This is a boat designed to appeal to a wide audience of Baby Boomers just now making plans to sail into the sunset as their reward for a lifetime of hard work -- and Marlow aims to make that dream possible with both a reasonable original price and low operating expenses.
Not Your Father’s Mainship
The most important difference between the new Marlow Mainship and the brand in its former life is the mind-set of the new owner and what he is trying to achieve. Like the previous owner, Marlow wants to build an affordable cruising boat and a good value. But as anyone who has seen his ads over the last decade for Marlow Yachts’ large cruising boats knows that David Marlow is very serious about providing a solid, comfortable vessel, one that is economical to operate and that has superior performance to existing boats on the market.
Quest for Performance.
Marlow’s orientation is one that respects classic lines and traditional yachting interiors. But he is also a maverick in as much as he is not hesitant to confront conventional wisdom or taken-for-granted concepts. He has no interest in building a “me-too” product. Many of the things he has done with his large, multi-million dollar yachts have been innovative and refreshing.
Like any entrepreneur Marlow wants to make money, but that is not why he got into the business. Rather, he bought Hunter Mainship to bring his lifetime of boat-building and marine industry expertise to a category of boats – both power and sail – that he feels has not been well served by American builders. Indeed, the new MM 32 will be built in the same Florida facility that the old Mainship once used. They will not be built in China like his large motoryachts.Marlow’s goal is to build more practical, better performing cruising boats that have state-of-the-art innovations (read: which are often Marlow innovations), that are well-built at a reasonable price. He also wants to build boats that owners can be proud of even though their purse is not as large as those who buy the multi-million dollar large motoryachts that he makes in China.
The Most Important Detail
Regular readers of BoatTEST.com know that we feel the most important detail of any boat is the passion and integrity of the owner or top management of the company that built it. They are the ones who determine if corners will be cut, if slightly inferior materials will be used, and if warranties will be as firm as Jell-O. Our experience is that underlings and even dealers are virtually powerless to help consumers in the face of flinty management. That's why it is important to know if their heart and mind is in the right place.
A Difficult Task.
This issue is particularly important in the case of boats in the “affordable” cruising class that Marlow has just entered. Building boats that are seaworthy, meet virtually all important ABYC Standards, have a yacht-quality finish AND have a relatively low price is probably the hardest boat of all to build. The multi-million dollar yachts are far easier in some respects – just load the boat up with engineering, construction man-hours, and the best materials and let the price fall where it may.
Indeed, the builders of affordable boats traditionally have the lowest margins, operate with the skinniest staffs, and are most vulnerable to the gyrations of the U.S. macro-economy which is bumpy at the margins even in good times. Names like Owens, Trojan, Tollycraft, Uniflite, Pacmaker, Egg Harbor and now Mainship (along with Silverton and Luhrs), and many others, have all succumbed when the middle class – more specifically, the upper middle class – got squeezed or scared by America’s economic contretemps.
Marlow—The Boat Builder.
David Marlow’s father was a builder of both commercial fishing boats and yachts made in the days of wood. That is where David, now 70, got his first instruction as a young lad, and his father’s advice was to always be “an artisan.” The first boats he built and sold at a young age were canoes. As a young man he crewed on shrimp boats in the Gulf of Mexico, in the mid 1960s he started a houseboat rental service in Florida, in the ‘70s he became a boat dealer and started taking over boat yards in Florida, in the ‘80s he took up sailboat racing and started building boats. In 1987 David Marlow’s 40’ racing sailboat Gunsmoke made the U.S. Admiral’s Cup team which is the World Series or Super Bowl of ocean racing. Along the way he learned what made boats fast (and slow), what made them seaworthy (and vulnerable), and what boaters really wanted in their vessels. Marlow was all at once a consumer, boat dealer, and boat builder. There are not many men like him in the boat business today.
In 2000, he started Marlow Yachts, built a 300,000 sq. ft. factory in China from scratch, and in one turbulent decade has become a major player in the luxury motoryacht business building powerboats from 37’ to 100’+ (11.27 to 30.48 m). In 2011, Marlow acquired Merrill Stevens Shipyard, America’s oldest and most iconic shipyard that is now 128 years old. These strategically located assets include complete service facilities on the east and west coast of Florida which will provide service for Marlow customers.
The Marlow Mainship 32
The Marlow Mainship 32 is based on the Mainship 31 Pilot, which was subsequently called a 355 when the bow pulpit and swim platform were added in. Being a no-nonsense boat builder Marlow has gone back to the more appropriate designation. Counting both the swim platform and the bow pulpit, the LOA of the new Marlow Mainship is 36’8-1/2” (11.19 m), with a 10'10" (3.30 m) beam. The displacement is about the same as before, at 11,725 lbs. (5,318 kgs), and the foredeck is similar, but otherwise the boat is quite different. From station 5 aft the sectional shape and the appendages are quite different from the Mainship Pilot.
Twin 75-hp Saildrives.
The most important aspect of the new boat is its power configuration. The standard boat is powered by twin 75-hp Yanmar 4JHTE 75-hp diesels with SD60 Saildrive lower units. The SD60 is the same as the SD 50, but more robust.
Originally made for sailboats years ago, the sail-drive concept has been refined and improved over several decades and while it does not swivel, otherwise it anticipated the modern pod drive system. Its pod presents minimal drag thanks to the fact that the reverse gears are in the transmission, its pod is minimal size. Saildrives help to eliminate shaft vibrations, unnecessary noise, alignment and space problems. In one fell swoop, Marlow has radically changed the propulsion system from a relatively large single engine to small twins, and from conventional straight shafts to far more efficient, slim-profile pods.
Tests conducted by BoatTEST.com comparing express cruisers with and without pod drives have shown an increase in fuel efficiency at best cruise from 30% to nearly 50% for pod drives over conventional straight shift drives. Although we have never conducted boat tests with and without Saildrives, we expect them to be more efficient, as well, but not quite as dramatic due to the fact that the Saildrive does not eliminate a rudder.
The 4-stroke Yanmar 4JHTE 75-hp diesel engine has 4 cylinders in a compact 2.0 L package that is turbocharged and fuel injected for greater engine torque at lower speeds, and to meet Tier 3 US emission requirements. The engine is fitted as standard with freshwater, closed loop cooling, and instrumentation. The alternator has a max rating of 80 Amps.
The next dramatic difference is a Marlow trademark – twin keels. These keels – which are about 44” (1.11 m) apart -- are foil-shaped and eliminate the turbulence of a drive shaft and strut. They also significantly reduce the stern wave, according to the builder, which reduces drag and allows an increase in speed without applying more horsepower. The twin keels also help the boat track better, as well as to protect the props from fouling lines and hard groundings. The latter is an advantage that the most pod drives don’t have.
Are They a Drag?
One might think that the twin keels present more drag and in fact they do in smooth water – but in a chop or rougher conditions hydrodynamic tests and modeling indicate that they actually reduce drag because of their foil shapes, according to Marlow. They also significantly reduce rolling both under way and at rest. Marlow has used these twin keels in his large Explorer Series with demonstrable success.
So what do the Saildrives, small diesel engines, and twin keels do for performance of the 32? Since we have not tested the boat, we don’t know. When we asked that question of the folks at Marlow Mainship it was clear that they had tested the boat. Here’s what they told us—1800 RPM 9.0 mph/ 7.82 kts 1.5 gph 6.0 mpg 1,080 statute mile range*2200 RPM 11.5 mph/ 9.99 kts 2.3 gph 5.0 mpg 899 statute mile range*2600 RPM 13.6 mph/11.80 kts 4.4 gph 3.0 mpg 556 statute mile range**200 gal. (760 L) fuel capacity, calculated with a 10% reserve.
Further, the Marlow spokesman said the new boat has a top speed of 17.1 knots with a light load, and 16 knots in a "normal cruise configuration." However, this is not really how this model is intended to be used, and Yanmar maximum continuous operation is 13.2 knots. The MM 32 is designed to be driven at displacement speeds, somewhere between 9 mph and 11 mph where its fuel efficiency is remarkable.
We reckon that the theoretical displacement hull speed of this vessel is something under 7 knots, but at 1800 RPM the Marlow Mainship can go 7.82 knots at an impressive 1.5 gph/6.0 mpg, according to the company.
We do not know the testing conditions or the weight of the boat as tested by Marlow techs, but even if these numbers are only reasonably close in actual cruising conditions, they are significant. It means with the 200 gallon (757 L) fuel capacity and a 10% reserve, the 32 can travel 120 hours before refueling. That translates to 20 6-hour cruising days on a tank of fuel. That’s about as economical as it can get for a cruising boat for a couple in reasonable comfort.
Marlow tells us that the boat's usable fuel capacity is actually 200 gallons. The MM 32 fuel tank has a "captive sump" as in commercial aviation so that virtually all of the fuel can be used. According to Marlow, "even in heavy seas [the fuel] cannot slosh out of the sump in up to 30-degree rolls."
Since we haven't tested the boat we cannot comment other than to say that with the two props 44" apart we suspect that the boat will be quite easy to dock without a bow thruster. However, one is available as an option. In the single engine version it will no doubt be more popular.
When we compare the numbers Marlow gave us for the MM 32 with our test numbers for other cruising boats in class which have single, larger engines, the fuel consumption of the MM 32 is significantly less at 9 mph. The reasons for this remarkable dichotomy includes the fact the boat is narrower and from 4,000 to 5,000 lbs.(1,818 to 2,272 kgs.) lighter. And, of course the MM 32 propulsion system does not have the power to go faster than 16 knots under normal conditions.
Optional Single Diesel.
The builder is aware that many people will want to go faster than 9 to 11 mph, so it is currently testing a prototype with single 260-hp and 320-hp diesel engines. It will have a straight-shaft drive with the propeller behind a single keel. The engineers are targeting a WOT speed range from 20 to 24 mph for the single engine model and have not yet determined which engine is most advantageous.
The house is newly designed and is completely enclosed, unlike the previous model. There are two hatches in the overhead above and just behind the helm and companion seat. A door leads to the cockpit. Inside the MM 32, on the main deck behind the companion seat to port, is the settee and table, which leaves open space in the center and to starboard to place two folding chairs. In this way four people can sit at the dining table. Headroom is 6'4" (1.93 m).
"Plan A" is the galley down version. Next to the galley is a wide seat for one. Opposite is a relatively large head for this size boat with a shower curtain between the toilet and the sink sections, so in this sense it is a wet head. Forward is a hanging locker and stowage space. Marlow has eschewed the typical island berth for the more conventional V-berth arrangement. With the addition of a filler cushion, this design can be made into one large bed. But when appropriate it can also be made up as two singles, which gives the space much more versatility than an island bed. It also makes the sleeping space bigger. Headroom below is 6'3" (1.90 m).Plan A will sleep three people as a third can sleep on the settee in the pilothouse. Plan B can sleep four people, two in the bow and one in the bottom of the settee and one in a Pullman berth above.
Let There Be Teak!
Because the Marlow Explorers are built in China and are premium-quality motoryachts the company is well versed in the teak market. It literally buys tons of it. So it is here where one of the synergies of Marlow's expanding business pays off yet again. The MM 32's interior is slathered in teak. Both the pilothouse and the cabin below have teak soles. The shower grate in the head is teak, the cabinets in the galley are all teak, the galley console is teak, and all window treatments are teak. But that's just the beginning.All of the bulkheads are teak, the table in the pilothouse is teak and there is teak wainscoting all around the cabin. The helm console is all teak as is the bulkhead in front of the companion as well as the dash. Even the bottom half of the door to the cockpit is teak, and matches the wainscoting. The swim platform is also teak. Needless to say this is a departure from Mainship interiors of the past, and probably better than anything, it indicates the future direction of this brand.
The Cockpit and Stern
Perhaps the most obvious difference in the new MM 32 is her stern. The angle of the reverse transom is one of the most severe we have seen lately and is reminiscent of some snazzy wooden boats built in the 1920s and '30s. It is a distinctive design feature and it is sure to get attention for the vessel wherever she travels.
On the centerline is an extra wide transom door that powers down to create a teak beach, swim platform, diving board, or dock where the owner can welcome guests coming over in their dinghy for a cocktail. Not shown in the pictures, but there is a rumble seat that slides onto the inside of this door. By raising the transom gate to the vertical position the rumble seat for two becomes functional.We're told by the folks at Marlow that there is enough room in the cockpit for two folding chairs. A deflated dinghy can be tucked in under the reverse transom and stowed there. A large hatch in the cockpit deck gives access to the lazarette and steering gear.
Major Standard Equipment
In addition to the items mentioned elsewhere in this report, there are other items of equipment that have caught our eye. They are-- ●Engine room fire suppression system ●Trim tabs with indicator ●Hydraulic steering ●Sea chest strainer system ●VHF radio ●50' of 30 Amp power cable ●Bose speakers and stereo
Marlow makes a colored hull optional in either gel coat or polyurethane paint. Air conditioning is optional (as is a Webasto diesel heater), and there are two 10,000 BTU units, one for the pilothouse and one for the cabin below. With that must come a 6-kW generator with sound shield. A QuietFlush head and propane stove are also available. For a complete list, see a Marlow Mainship dealer.
This is the shocker. The price of the new Marlow Mainship 32 is essentially the same as it was under the old regime -- $239,900 MSRP with twin 75-hp engines. The teak alone would justify a higher price, much less the twin keels, fully enclosed hardtop, power transom door, and all the rest of it. David Marlow has told us that the MM 32 is designed to put… " 'affordable' back into boating with no sacrifice in quality and seaworthiness."
Marlow tells us that the MM 32 is built to such robust standards that "she is classed CE Offshore Ocean Class 'A', the highest available designation." There are no other 32-foot powerboats -- currently in production -- that we know of that have that classification.
It is important to note that the MM 32's air draft is 9'6" (2.89 m) which allows her to visit many off-the-beaten-track waterway villages that date back to the Industrial Revolution and the advent of river and canal barge traffic. For example, all of the Great Loop Route around the eastern U.S. and parts of Canada are possible in the MM 32.Europe may prove to be another possible market for the MM 32 because of its low air draft for inland canals and rivers and its twin, fuel stingy diesel engines. Leisurely cruising is something that most boaters don't do much of, but we heartily recommend it. It is the only way to truly enjoy the beautiful waterways that North America has to offer. And having once done it the right way, most retired couples we know would have it no other way.
Standard and Optional Features
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!