The latest masterwork by Jim Smith Tournament Boats of Stuart, Florida, Marlena is a 105-footer designed and built for Sam Gershowitz, owner of Star Island Yacht Club in Montauk, New York. This version is actually the second one he commissioned from the builder in recent years; the day he took delivery of his 95-footer, he started the wheels rolling on the design of the 105.
“This is somewhere between my 40th and 50th boat,” Gershowitz told me as we sat in the spacious salon of the 105. “I love being a part of the project, and everything that goes into creating a magnificent boat, as much as I do the finished product,” he said. Both he and his wife were intimately involved throughout the build, taking the lead on the interior design and furnishings, which are warm and welcoming while at the same time artistic and opulent. Even the head outside on the mezzanine features a hand-painted, glazed sink with a fish motif. “I’ve loved fishing and fishing boats since I was a kid, but I wanted this one to be a yacht first and a fish boat second,” Gershowitz said. “Working with John Vance at Jim Smith on both boats was a wonderfully gratifying experience.” Although his boat is a yacht first, when asked how you’d fish on a 105-footer, Gershowitz just smiled and said, “Very comfortably.”
We lugged along at a conservative 21 knots through the darkness and pouring rain, which severely decreased visibility. When I think of a Jim Smith creation, the first thing that comes to mind is that signature long, lean look with the house set well back from the bow. Not so with Marlena. Gershowitz wanted maximum room for the salon, dining area and galley, so the house dimensions were greatly expanded forward. The look remains aesthetically pleasing, and actually balances well with the massive enclosed bridge and open sky lounge on the top deck. The increase in interior space it provides is almost overwhelming as you enter from the cockpit, and there is still plenty of room for the 18-foot Egret flats boat and davit perched on the bow. The striking yellow hull is set off from the gleaming white above decks by a teak toe rail. The rich look of the cockpit’s teak covering boards and decks plays second fiddle to the teak cabinetry and trim on the mezzanine. What appears to be a cabinet opens to reveal a stairway to the pump and engine rooms, and a beautiful curved cherry door opens to reveal the cockpit head.
Passing through the salon door, you have to stop yourself for a second to take it all in. The cabinetry throughout the boat is cherry, painstakingly stained and varnished, and balanced by countertops of matching granite with soft, mitered edges and subtle highlights. Against the bulkhead to starboard is a U-shaped bar with glass-front cabinets with Lexan shelves cut to fit each piece of fine crystal. Most of the drawers and cabinets throughout the boat feature custom interiors to exactly fit whatever the owner intended to keep in them, whether it’s dinnerware for the dining area or a complete set of tools in the custom cherry tool cabinet on the crew deck.
Gershowitz’s recliner sits to port with an end table and reading lamp. An oversize L-shaped settee extends forward, ending at a cabinet that acts as a divider for the dining area. Opposite the settee is a smaller table with four chairs and an artisan-built curved staircase with fluted columns, round finials, cast-metal balusters and gracefully flowing railings.
A half-step up and you’re in the dining area, a spacious room with a table that seats eight, and has overhead lighting, wine racks, and a serving station. Farther forward is a large galley with refrigerator/freezer space in a full-size side-by-side with two Sub-Zero drawers. Raise a section of the granite counter, and a multiburner stove appears. The oven is hidden in the center island, and a breakfast alcove that seats six finishes the luxurious culinary accommodations.
On the far starboard side of the galley area is a stairway that curves around to a tiled foyer. Behind the first door to your left lies the enormous master stateroom, with his and hers heads that sport a single oversize bath between them. Farther forward are four additional staterooms, each with a private head and shower, which brings to six the number of heads on this deck. Aft of the master and guest quarters and forward of the engine room are the crew quarters, which include two staterooms with bunks, and a complete shower and head for the captain and two mates.
The engine room houses a pair of MTU 2000 Series common rail diesels, each producing 2,600 horsepower -routed through ZF transmissions. For a vessel with 180,000 pounds displacement — up to 200,000 for longer voyages — that might seem slightly underpowered, but the hull is surprisingly efficient, with the vessel making 30 knots at cruise and 38 knots at wide-open throttle. An Alpha Laval fuel-polishing centrifuge is tucked away in a corner, along with an onboard oil-changing system with a 55-gallon spare lube-storage tank in the pump-room deck. The engines drive a hydraulic pump system that powers the anchor windlass and Wesmar 16-inch 50 hp bow thruster. In addition to seven bilge pumps, an emergency water-evacuation system is also driven off the engines. An 1,800-gallon-per-day FCI freshwater maker also resides here, and includes a digital remote control.
The pump room sits aft of the engine room, and features a SeaKeeper roll stabilizer, two 10-ton air-conditioning units, two 33 kW Onan generators, two 1,000 CFM engine-room blower systems, and additional pumps, all with backups. A stairway on the starboard side leads through what appears to be a cabinet on the mezzanine level and out into the cockpit with rod storage along the companionway.
The enclosed flybridge measures an incredible 30.5-feet-by-18.5-feet, and includes a second salon with another L-shaped settee, a coffee table, two upholstered chairs with footrests, an end table, and a reading lamp. A classic wood chess table and chairs are tucked into the aft-starboard corner of the space, and a large cabinet with a freezer, refrigerator and storage for refreshments and glasses rests under a granite top. A large flat-screen TV rises out of the cabinet.
The helm area is a captain’s dream, with a Stidd Admiral Helm chair providing a perfect view of the glass bridge. The bridge features four KEP Marine LCD monitors running the latest Furuno NavNet 3-D software, a backup Garmin chart plotter, FLIR, various communications devices, and a computer system with printer/drawer under the custom cherry seating areas. Tables flank the helm on either side. A 12-foot table fits into a rack beneath the settee, which replaces the 11-hole rocket launcher in the cockpit for outdoor entertaining. The table and launcher are both creations of Bluewater Chairs of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Located atop the flybridge, the -skybridge features couches where a dozen guests can sunbathe while enjoying refreshments from the drink box and sink. Under the beautifully molded sky top is an open-air helm station, complete with electronics, controls and two Bluewater helmsman chairs. Mounted on the skytop is a LOPO stacked -masthead with anchor lights, FLIR, Furuno 6-foot radome, KVH TracPhone, and TracVision domes and spotlights. The navigational, fishing and communications electronics were installed by IMS American of Stuart, Florida.
They just don’t come any bigger! Nowhere is Marlena’s 25-foot beam more evident than in the cockpit. Any of the three fish boxes can hold a small orchestra, and the transom livewell features a glass view plate for an aquariumlike appearance. Under the port and starboard gunwales you’ll find drop-down doors that hide a full selection of gaffs and cleaning equipment when wash time comes. Three custom freezer/refrigerators are located under the mezzanine deck along with an icebox fed by a below-deck ice maker.
Marlena’s new captain, Mel Matherne, made quick work of dockside maneuvers using the wing stations on either side of the flybridge aft bulkhead. They provide clear views of both sides of the vessel for tight quarters. After pulling away from the slip at Star Island Yacht Club, we exited Lake Montauk and headed toward the open -Atlantic. As the boat powered up, it seemed to respond slowly to the throttles, until I looked down at the GPS and realized we were making 28 knots! The big MTUs are remarkably quiet, owing to the underwater exhaust system and an intricate complex of sound deadening materials and engine isolators. The quietness, combined with the sheer size of the vessel, masks the perception of speed. That kind of performance and fuel economy for a vessel of this magnitude is a testament to the engineers and builders. With the throttles pushed to 2,470 rpm, Marlena slipped through the 2- to 4-foot sea at an impressive 38 knots, burning 220 gph. One could easily fill many more pages with pictures and comments, and still not capture the full flavor and atmosphere of Marlena. It is as Gershowitz desired it to be: a yacht of impeccable design and construction that also happens to be a fishing boat.