When running 90 miles in rough weather, you truly appreciate the enclosed flybridge on the Maritimo M55.
The tops of the palm trees bounced around like pom-poms at a homecoming game in the 20-knot northwest wind. As we made the turn toward South Florida’s notorious Haulover Inlet, the color of the water changed to a frothy baby blue as ocean swells pushed in with the tide. And there on the south breakwater was the paparazzi—a YouTuber with his tripod set up, hoping to capture a video of us stuffing the bow, or worse yet, ejecting a passenger.
Sitting inside the confines of the Maritimo M55’s enclosed bridge, I was plenty comfortable, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad nervous. So was the boat’s new owner, Brian Barr, a 78-year-old longtime boater. He and his wife, Corine, spent a good chunk of the prior evening looking at the forecast and debating whether they should cancel the run from Ft. Lauderdale to Marathon, some 90 miles south. The captain, Shawn Minahan, assured them it would all be okay—we were about to find out if his prediction was correct.
Maritimo M55 Enclosed Flybridge
Spooling up the twin, 1,000-hp Cat 12.9 diesels, the boat motored right into a set of breaking waves without as much as a creak. It parted its way through the sea with the bow landing softly on the backside of the waves. Spray smacked into the windshield on the bridge, but we hardly felt a shudder. The cameraman out on the hard followed the boat with his lens, but there was no viral footage to be had. “Nothing to see here, buddy,” I said. My comment got a few laughs from the group on board, including Maritimo’s Head of Design, Tom Barry-Cotter, and General Manager Phil Candler who made the long journey from Queensland, Australia, to join the owner’s cruise.
The 5- to 7-foot swell did not diminish our cruise speed by much as we motored along the Florida coast. Running at 80 percent load, the boat ticked along at 22 knots. Once south of Miami, we started our turn west toward Hawk’s Channel, which would deliver us safely to the Keys in waters so blue and clear you’d think you were in the Caribbean. With the wind on the stern, the M55’s cruise moved up to 25 knots. We made the run to Marathon in six hours, burning an average of 74 gph.
“We’re built for these conditions,” Barry-Cotter says. The young, charismatic designer grew up entrenched in boatbuilding. Tom’s father, Bill, is a legendary Australian boatman, having started three companies in his tenure, including the growing Maritimo brand. “In Australia, it’s generally a long distance between ports and you’re usually outside in what we call the ‘rough stuff,’” Barry-Cotter says. “The M series has the enclosed flybridge sky lounge, with the driving position in complete comfort so you can enjoy those longer cruises. There’s nothing daunting or scary about it.”
Besides protecting you from the elements, the enclosed bridge acts much like a second salon with ample seating for eight including two captain’s chairs and two sofas. The accommodations up top feel more like a fashionable living room than a flybridge, with a pop-up TV, fridge and storage. A large sliding glass door provides access to the aft bridge deck, which has more seating, a table and additional fridge space. I gravitated to the starboard corner of the outside bridge balcony, which placed me out of the wind and provided a clear view of the fellow Maritimo boats behind us.
Access to the sky lounge comes via an internal staircase through the cabin. During the cruise, guests went up and down the stairs to use the head or grab something out of the galley and never had to put on shoes. There’s no need to go outside and potentially get doused in spray or slip on a rain-soaked deck as you make your way to the bridge.
The helm is placed forward and is both uncluttered and well designed. The adjustable helm chair is situated to starboard with a sliding side window so the captain can stick his or her head out when docking to see the transom. There’s also a wing station in the cockpit. The throttle/gear controls and thrusters are mounted on the right side of the chair so you can drive with your left hand on the wheel and your right hand on the controls. Because of the conditions, I was uncomfortable opening the boat up to measure its performance at wide open, but honestly, how often are you going to run a boat like this on the pins? The more impressive number to me was the comfortable 23- to 25-knot cruise in heavy seas.
The steering was tight, more like a car than a boat. I’m used to making several turns of the wheel to go lock to lock, but not on this boat. A quarter turn of the wheel is all you need to make a 40-degree turn. The M55 is very responsive and requires little wheel work to keep her on track, though we relied mostly on autopilot while underway. When I did put her in a turn, the boat leaned into it, giving off the impression of a sports car. The hydraulic power steering system Maritimo uses on its motoryachts filtered down from the company’s race boats.
Bill Barry-Cotter has been building and racing offshore boats for decades, and son Tom has followed right in stride—Tom drove a Class 1 race boat 155 mph when he was 15. “I’ve never been scared,” he says. “I like the competition. It’s not so much about the speed. I like going against the best and competing to win,” he says. Racing has also helped Maritimo test new technologies and build a winning company culture. “Find that extra one percent everywhere, whether it’s in manufacturing or performance. Never settle. Strive to win and push for better products,” Tom says.
The galley and cockpit feel like they were plucked from a much larger yacht and placed on the M55. The cockpit is broken into two areas. The lower cockpit, or “adventure deck,” is all about playing on the water. An open transom provides unfettered access to a hydraulic swim platform that lowers into the water and creates, in essence, an infinity-pool-type landscape with the deck leading right into the water. Maritimo provides removable rails to protect anyone from slipping off when underway. Some owners have mounted bartops and umbrellas on these rails, embracing the beach club vibe. A summer kitchen sits atop a massive garage that opens with the push of a button. This giant lazarette toy box is perfect for storing electric bikes or dive gear. You can also install a davit and house a Williams 280 MiniJet in this space under the deck so it’s fully concealed.
The upper cockpit is protected overhead by the flybridge so you’re out of the sun, but because this is the best dining location on the boat, the company wanted to make sure it was usable in any weather. “If you’re going out for weeks at a time you’re bound to get different weather conditions,” Barry-Cotter says. “You’ve got to expect that. What we’ve done with the hardtop overhang is designed it to transform with roll-down clears to get owners out of the wind or rain. Or, you can keep it open for a breezeway.” The isinglass curtains are recessed into the headliner, so you don’t even notice them when they’re stowed. The same system is used on the flybridge balcony.
For the Barrs, this versatility was a big selling point as they often travel with other boats and enjoy entertaining large groups. “I love the openness of the boat,” Corrine says, referring to how both the salon and bridge doors slide fully open to one side. The couple spends a good six weeks in the Bahamas every summer and they live aboard. “I love the adventure of being able to just pick up and go,” she says. “We’re relaxed boaters. If we are having fun, we like to stay an extra few days. No schedule.”
The aft galley facilitates easy entertaining. The large island is perfect for setting out appetizers, and with a full-size refrigerator next to the bulkhead, the food is never far away. The pantry slides out from under the staircase and can hold several days’ worth of snacks. Cold storage is located right where you want it so you don’t have to ask people to move to grab a drink. To create the ideal galley, Barry-Cotter says they worked directly with owners, keeping tabs on what layouts made the most sense. There are five different galley configurations to choose from, and they all conform to what Barry-Cotter calls the “three Cs:” comfort, capability and capacity. After all, you can’t just throw a heap of fuel in a boat and call it a long-range vessel. For it to truly meet that criteria you need storage and capability, and the M55 excels in these areas.
“What we’re after first and foremost is a practical boat,” Barry-Cotter says. “For that we have to tap into the knowledge of our owners and get that feedback.”
Not only does Maritimo attend owner cruises like the one I was on, but they track all the feedback they receive. Ideas on layout changes are heard, considered, and could ultimately influence the design. The M55 is proof of this process. The boat spent a long time in development, as the company ushered in a new era of flybridge motoryacht. With a network of owners around the globe, they wanted to make sure they built a boat suited for a wide range of uses. The end result is a three-stateroom, two en suite layout with a full-beam king master, offset queen forward stateroom and a twin single starboard guestroom. The salon is spacious and bright with a full glass windshield and side windows.
The M55 is offered with six different engine configurations to meet the diverse needs and locations of its owners. The construction process includes a one-piece hull liner that is bonded to the hull to create a solid, unibody vessel. These boats are meant to make long crossings, and after spending six hours in rough seas, I can attest to that. The only creaking I heard was in my joints, and that’s not on Maritimo one bit.
Pulling into Marathon, the unrelenting wind, again, made me a tad nervous as we approached the dock. And again, there was nothing to worry about. Using the thrusters, the captain made backing into the slip look easy. Over dinner, we all looked through the interwebs trying to find footage of the M55 running through Haulover, but we never found it. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t stuff the bow. Solid vessels running safely don’t make for good click bait, but they sure do make the long runs enjoyable.
Maritimo M55 Enclosed Flybridge Layout Diagrams:
Maritimo M55 Enclosed Flybridge Test Report:
Maritimo M55 Specifications:
Displ.: 67,850 lbs. (dry)
Fuel: 1,200 gal.
Water: 198 gal.
Power: 2/670-hp Volvo D11s; 2/1,000-hp Cat 12.9s