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Southern Boating

May 13, 2009

For more than a century, Cheoy Lee has been a boatbuilder of world renown, known mostly in the United States for motor and sailing yachts built initially in Hong Kong and, now on Mainland China. But Cheoy Lee also has a solid reputation in the commercial world for building everything from Panama Canal tugs to transoceanic fishing trawlers, and it is this background that can clearly be seen on the new Serenity 68 Long Range Motoryacht.

Even the most cursory tour of the Serenity 68 shows that she was built to the “iron fist in a velvet glove” theory. Every system…electrical, navigation, mechanical…has the seamanlike toughness and redundancy you’d expect from any vessel, commercial or pleasure, facing the world’s oceans. Yet she is built to yacht standards when it comes to luxury appointments. Certainly the most notable feature is the double-ended hull, which Cheoy Lee has used with great success on a long series of motorsailors. By their very design, a double-ended hull is slippery and comfortable at sea in all conditions, making the Serenity 68 both fuel-efficient and seaworthy. Though the canoe-sterned hull traces its lines far back in history, the profile of the superstructure is pure 21st century, with a rakish windshield, Euro-styled eyebrow over the pilothouse, and large windows for light and view.

Boarding the Serenity 68 is easy, because Cheoy Lee has solved a problem faced by all double-enders: In the absence of a stern platform, how do you clamber aboard? The answer is a stylish swim platform that morphs into gentle steps to the after deck, thus allowing easy access from floating dock, tender or even swimming.

The Sylvia Bolton interior is equally innovative, with warm teak and nubby wall coverings for an inviting look. Featuring loose furniture rather than built-ins, the layout combines chairs and a sofa into a conversation and entertainment area while still leaving room for a dining table for six in the forward starboard corner.

The galley is separated by a gorgeous inlaid teak bulkhead, and a day head is thoughtfully tucked to port under stairs to the bridge. The oversized Sub-Zero fridge has freezer drawers and the other appliances are stainless steel GE Profiles, but every chef is going to appreciate touches like the large window above the double stainless steel sink, the pass-through to the dining area, the wide granite counters, and the self-closing drawers.

The pilothouse can be closed off from the saloon for night (or undisturbed) operations and it has everything the offshore skipper could want, including a chart table next to the helm, centerline Stidd pedestal chair and twin KEP monitors for navigation next to the Caterpillar digital gauges. The two side doors may be finished in teak, but the massive pantograph hinges give away their strength. Once outside, the Portuguese bridge is a continuation of the covered side decks, so you can move around the entire vessel easily on one level.

The owner’s suite spans the full beam aft of the engine room, with a comfy loveseat, built-in bureau and a large walk-in closet that will appeal to liveaboards. The master head features a bathtub/shower combination. A VIP cabin is aft and, like the master, is finished off in yacht style with white-planked ceilings and built-in teak storage.

Master bedroom

More cabins are forward, with access via a stairwell from the pilothouse. A second VIP cabin is pleasantly sized and, like the aft cabin, has a spacious ensuite head with shower. A fourth cabin is tucked to starboard, which is comfortably suitable for either kids or a captain, particularly since it has its own ensuite head with large shower.

Cheoy Lee clearly understands that most people will spend their time on the bridge, with access from pilothouse stairs or a ladder from the after deck. Protected by a full fiberglass hardtop that carries the electronics, it is both cozy and pleasant. The helm has both a Stidd chair for the skipper and a forward-facing double seat for guests who may, however, be hard-pressed to abandon the comfortable settee aft with a dining table featuring mother-of-pearl inlays. The starboard side is taken up by a marble-topped mini-galley, with four-burner Jenn-Aire grille, sink, icemaker, and fridge.

The boat deck, which extends over the side decks, uses the full 18-foot beam to advantage with a 13-and-a-half-foot center console Nautica RIB on our test boat launched and retrieved with a Nautical Structures 1,500-pound crane.

Power for the 68 is a pair of 315-hp Caterpillar C7 diesels, and the engine room is a delight from the full-size watertight entry door to the walk-around access to the engines and systems.

Twin Kohler 20kW gensets are outboard of the mains, and the extensive standard equipment list includes Naiad stabilizers, bow thruster, shorepower transformer, and touch-screen monitoring system. Top speed is 11.5 knots and with 2,350 gallons of fuel she has a range of almost 2,000 nm at 8 knots.

Tough as nails but luxuriously appointed, the Cheoy Lee Serenity 68 is going to appeal to the serious cruising yachtsman.

This article was published in Southern Boating Magazine on  page 40-42 of the April 2009 issue .

By Chris Caswell 
  Photos By Billy Black