Up Close and Per­sonal

Power & Motor Yacht - - CONTENTS -

Ed­i­tor-in-Chief Dan Harding re­counts a sum­mer of cruis­ing get­ting to know a Monte Carlo MC5.

IIt takes a cer­tain level of con­fi­dence for a boat­builder to lend a yacht to a mag­a­zine staff for a sum­mer-long re­view: con­fi­dence the boat will be re­turned in the same con­di­tion it was re­ceived; and that in all that time we won’t find any quirks or is­sues, that could po­ten­tially lead to a dis­parag­ing re­port. French boat­builder Beneteau Group had a pretty good ba­sis for be­liev­ing the MC5 was a proven per­former. With 83 boats sold it had plenty of pos­i­tive cus­tomer feed­back to hang its hat on be­fore de­cid­ing to let Power & Mo­to­ry­acht take hold of the throt­tle. When we took pos­ses­sion of the MC5 from Cast­aways Yacht Club in New Rochelle, New York, it was boat-show ready in ev­ery way. You could see your re­flec­tion in the stain­less and win­dows (there are a lot of both). Step­ping into the sa­lon for the first time felt akin to step­ping into a float­ing mu­seum. I didn’t want to touch or bump into any­thing. Heck, I didn’t even want to raise my voice or ra­dio vol­ume too loud—it was some­one else’s boat af­ter all. That feel­ing would even­tu­ally sub­side, as we got in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar with the boat, her ac­com­mo­da­tions, and per­for­mance.

Hav­ing had the unique op­por­tu­nity to see the fly­bridge be­fore any of the fur­ni­ture or even the helm was in­stalled, I could fully ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­pan­sive space here. Af­ter the huge C-shaped set­tee, the lounges, and sun­pads were in­stalled, the space some­how felt even big­ger. I hy­poth­e­sized that the team would spend a lot of time up here. And we did. We eas­ily sat around the ta­ble for morn­ing meet­ings and evening din­ners alike.

This space was also where most of the driv­ing took place. It was nice that up to four peo­ple could sit and chat com­fort­ably with the helms­man on longer cruises. Sightlines are sound all the way around the boat, and it’s pretty easy to see the aft star­board cor­ner by look­ing down the stairs. You can’t see the aft port cor­ner, so you’ll need a trust­wor­thy crew mem­ber there to help di­rect you when back­ing into a tight slip. Or, bet­ter yet, when you have the boat lined up you can hand the con­trol down to the star­board wing sta­tion. Our MC5 didn’t have the Volvo Penta DPS sys­tem ($26,000) in­stalled, and I wouldn’t say we needed it, but it would have been nice for sin­gle­handed dock­ing.

The fly­bridge can be equipped with a grill, fridge, and sink be­hind the helm. We learned the hard way that the cold stowage aft is a freezer. (“Who put so­das in here? They ex­ploded ev­ery­where!”) Our boat didn’t have the fly­bridge grill and to be hon­est it wasn’t an op­tion I would spring for. If the weather al­lows for a cook­out, the swim plat­form grill is where I’d want to be.

The liv­ing room of any boat is the cock­pit and swim plat­form, and that’s where the ma­jor­ity of our team’s wak­ing hours were spent. I could see clearly why the tran­som grill and lounge op­tion has ex­ploded on mod­ern mo­to­ry­achts. The abil­ity to lower the swim plat­form and grill a hot meal with your feet in cool, clear wa­ter is a spe­cial kind of re­lax­ing. In fact, when you have a setup this nice you find rea­sons to grill. I don’t know how many hot dogs we ate last sum­mer, but I’m pretty sure we’d put Kobayashi and Joey Ch­est­nut to shame. There is one down­side: Since the plat­form is so big it in­vites crew mem­bers to be­come back­seat chefs. (“You go­ing to flip that? That one looks done.”)

The cock­pit eas­ily ac­com­mo­dates eight adults and, thanks to fully open­ing sa­lon doors, in­te­grates well with the rest of the boat. The one thing we thought was strange at first was the deep cock­pit seat­ing. You feel as if you’re re­clin­ing back on it, which is great when do­ing most of the things you do on a boat, like tak­ing a nap or read­ing a book. But when you’re lean­ing back and talk­ing with a co­worker it feels odd. We got used to it quickly enough.

For our pur­poses, one of the most use­ful fea­tures aboard was the stowage un­der the aft cock­pit seat­ing. The space was cav­ernous and fea­tured stand-up head­room. In this locker we were able to stow all the gear: ev­ery­one’s bags; cases of, umm, wa­ter; food, and ev­ery other odd and end you need on an ex­tended cruise. It was a god­send. The one thing I might add here is some sort of shelv­ing in cer­tain places so you don’t need to stack ev­ery­thing.

In most as­pects, the MC5 is a spa­cious and lux­u­ri­ous yacht. Then the time fi­nally comes when the night ends and the crew is ready to go to sleep. This is when most boats have a funny way of shrink­ing, es­pe­cially if you’re stay­ing aboard with co­work­ers.

Thank­fully for us, the MC5 was up to the job. The full-beam mas­ter is ex­cep­tion­ally com­fort­able. There’s plenty of room to walk around and the side lounges proved to be a great place to es­cape to for a con­fer­ence call with­out los­ing your con­nec­tion to the wa­ter. The en suite VIP for­ward was another cov­eted spot on board. To star­board is a guest state­room with a pair of bunks. Things were tighter here, but the fact that both bunks have open­ing ports made this space feel much less claus­tro­pho­bic. Now if we could only set­tle who gets the top bunk in a civ­i­lized man­ner.

The sa­lon sports two sleep­ing spots. The U-shaped sofa to port, I can at­test, was very com­fort­able for one per­son. If a hi-lo ta­ble was put in here it would be more than com­fort­able for two peo­ple (not rec­om­mended for co­work­ers). There’s also a small set­tee to star­board that can be used in a pinch for a night—maybe two.

The head in the mas­ter state­room was the nicest on board with a good-size stall shower with a glass door. The sec­ond head, with a door from the VIP and day­head ac­cess from the pas­sage­way, was a lit­tle more cramped, es­pe­cially when it was time to shower. I have mixed feel­ings about the grow­ing-in-pop­u­lar­ity shower tube. It keeps the rest of the head dry, but I’m fairly trim, and I felt I was stand­ing in­side a test tube. It might have been bet­ter to just make this space a wet head.

When some­one signs over a $1.1 mil­lion dol­lar boat to your com­pany, even with in­sur­ance, you can (read: should) feel some pres­sure, es­pe­cially when dock­ing in a new ma­rina. This is when the Volvo Penta joy­stick puts its arm around you and says, “Don’t

worry, Dan. We got this.” OK, maybe that was a hal­lu­ci­na­tion con­jured by my sub­con­scious to help me. We en­coun­tered slips as tight as a snare drum and oth­ers sur­rounded by su­pery­achts. There were low bridges and a lock in the Shin­necock Canal that haunts me to this day. The truth is, the MC5 is highly ma­neu­ver­able, and with enough prac­tice we could park this boat just about any­where.

On the per­for­mance side, she seemed most com­fort­able cruis­ing be­tween 17 and 20 knots. She tracked ex­tremely well in a head sea and a lit­tle less so in a fol­low­ing sea, as ex­pected. She han­dled a stacked 3- to 4-foot chop re­ally well head on, again less so in a beam sea, but I never felt un­com­fort­able, let alone un­safe, in any sea con­di­tion we en­coun­tered.

Time, as it al­ways seems to do, flew by that sum­mer. And all too soon we were re­turn­ing the keys and rais­ing a glass to mem­o­ries— and a boat—come and gone.

A few of us saw “our” MC5 again at the New­port boat show a few weeks later. She was freshly waxed and pol­ished, a stand­out even by boat-show stan­dards. It made me think about how timid we were to use her at the begin­ning of sum­mer and how by the end it had be­come a sum­mer home, com­plete with can­non­balls from the fly­bridge, af­ter­noons on the Con­necti­cut River, and a host of count­less other mem­o­ries. It’s a proper yacht to many eyes, but when you peel back its lay­ers, it ends up be­ing a per­fect plat­form for mem­o­ries made out on the wa­ter.

The cock­pit lounge con­ceals a huge locker. Don’t be sur­prised if you find fam­ily mem­bers—or co­work­ers—en­joy­ing the com­fort of the sa­lon’s Ushaped sofa to port and star­board set­tee (top).

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