Ice’s owner (who politely declined to be named) first met Marlow Yachts’ principal David Marlow when the builder took him for a ride on his personal 76-foot Voyager. At the time, the owner of Ice had “lost his crew” when his children moved on to college and was several years out of the game, thinking of getting back into boating. That ride convinced the former owner of a blazing-fast Fountain and a Hatteras 64—a 40-plus-knot boat—that slow and steady often wins the race. “It was so peaceful,” he told me, “taking in the moment as we cruised along at 9 knots.” But he wasn’t sold just yet.
He looked at other explorer-type vessels—and rattled off the names and attributes of each like an old salt—but was most impressed with the Marlow ethos over the last two-plus decades: To build a line of uncompromising vessels and seamlessly merge systems found on commercial ships with openness and superlative wood and metalwork craftsmanship that rank among the best in class.
I learned quite a few more tidbits from the owner, a self-professed gearhead. I was aware that the entire hull is cored and vacuum-bagged utilizing Kevlar and carbon fiber following Marlow’s Full Stack Infusion process that bonds hull and deck in one shot for the optimal strength-to-weight ratio. What I didn’t know was how the owner’s steadfast obsession with keeping a very low center of gravity would match—dare I say surpass—Marlow’s.
The owner insisted that the proprietary Velocijet keels be filled with 2,000 pounds of resin and steel shot, which was executed. Marlow’s team also kept the weight down up in the skybridge via extensive utilization of carbon fiber. In addition, her hull has additional layers of Kevlar from the boot stripe to the hull bottom and multiple layers of Kevlar on the leading edges. And the vessel’s bulbous bow doubles up with both extra layers of Kevlar and stainless steel. Ice’s owner has found that all of these attributes work in concert for a very stable ride at sea. “Because of the weight of the boat and the bulbous bow, it’s comfortable to work in the galley while running,” he told me.
For a traveler of the world, “redundancy is the marching order,” Marlow said, with all essential systems having back-ups to the back-up, including her three steering units and an electrical system that’s backed by a trio of transformers and, in case of failure, a transfer switch, inverters, two 55-kW gensets and industrial-duty 165-amp alternators on each of the mains if all goes kaput.
The 102-footer is also equipped with seven watertight compartments, each with dedicated pumps backed by Honda electric crash pumps. The proprietary heat exchange system utilizes cupronickel pipes, which are impermeable to barnacles and other parasites, a must for the voyager-class vessel that looks to make excursions from the Arctic to the Amazon. And in the engine room—one of the most stunning that I’ve seen in person, with its carbon fiber soles and twin, commercial-rated Baudouin diesels finished in French blue (I swear I heard “La Marseillaise”)—two additional Hayward pool pumps can back flush the sea chests or be pressed into service for firefighting.
When I asked where he’d go next if the world were not in a pandemic, he answered, without irony, “Greenland,” and waxed on about making a go at the Northwest Passage, or perhaps the opposite pole. He certainly chose the right vessel to make it a reality. —Jeff Moser
Displ. 224,000 lbs.
Fuel 5,500 gal.
Water 600 gal.
Power 2/1,500-hp Baudouin 12 M26.3 diesels
Cruise Speed 16 knots
Top Speed 22 knots
Cruising range 4,200 miles