Putting the Moorings 534PC to the Test in Paradise

The debut of the Moorings 534PC (Leopard 53PC) at the Miami Boat Show in February of 2020 created yet another show stopping experience with people lining up to see our incredible new power catamaran.  While our previous power cats have shared the same interior layout of a closely sized sail catamaran (with differences built into the hulls to adapt to “power” coming from the sails versus the larger engines on the power cats), the 53PC is a completely new design with a focus on making it a true motor yacht. 

 

A whole new hull

Many of you have likely seen the Moorings 4800 sail cat, then walked into the saloon of a Moorings 514PC and felt like you were on the same yacht.  The 53PC takes a step up from her predecessors in design features and space planning, with upgrades including a FULL SIZE refrigerator with purified water (yay no more plastic bottles!) and ice machine (yay no more bags of ice taking up the freezer!), dishwasher (yay!!!), living room style saloon complete with tv on a motorized lift, interior helm station and controls, spacious cabins, shower sumps with automatic drainage, watermaker, air conditioned forepeak, bow thruster, and more. View the specs HERE.  The 350 hp Yanmar engines are no longer under the beds in the aft cabins, but are in engine rooms accessible from the deck, with sound deadening panels and ventilation. 

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A unique opportunity

I had the opportunity to test out the performance of the 53PC after the boat show ended, with a much anticipated passage from Fort Lauderdale to Bimini.  I have to admit, there were a few things I was nervous about leading up to the trip: 1. Being out of the office for a few more days after the busiest boat show of our year (so many new leads to contact and deals to follow up on!).  2. Getting seasick (lifelong boater, lifelong sufferer of seasickness).  3. While my personal goal for the trip was to experience the 53PC, we were going for a marketing photo shoot, and these photo shoots are really important for us to capture footage and images of our catamarans in very tight time frames.  I didn’t want my lack of skill as a model to mess anything up!

 

Preparing for a passage

Honesty being the best policy, I also have to admit that my excitement to cruise on the 53PC in the beautiful blue waters surrounding Bimini way outweighed my reasons for being nervous!   Even though this was not a charter in one of our charter areas, I noticed a few similarities right away.  I appreciated the captain of our boat and the lead of the photography team calling a meeting once we were all on board before we left the marina to go over a few things.  First and foremost safety procedures.  We had a wide variety of passengers: experienced boaters and charterers, first timers on one of our catamarans, and some of the photography crew that had an extreme opposition to going in the water.  No matter how many charters I go on, whether it is with a captain and chef on a crewed yacht, a skipper hired to operate the boat during my charter, or bareboating with friends, we always sit down shortly after stepping on board and refresh our memories, teach the newbies safety procedures, and make sure everyone can access life jackets, fire extinguishers, and life raft if needed.  The photographers also added something about being natural when the cameras are pointed at us but…well, I knew where the safety equipment was!

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Setting off for paradise

We set off from the dock with our ten person crew all comfortably seated throughout the flybridge.  Despite being a lifelong sufferer of seasickness, I usually avoid taking antiemetics to prevent it because of the drowsy side effects, and I have had so many unruffled rides on the sail and power catamarans in our charter fleet.  Plus I really wanted to test out (and remember) how the 53PC performed.  However, the confused seas coming out of Port Everglades immediately made me a bit concerned, but I quickly realized I had nothing to worry about.  The 53PC cut smoothly through the rough water, and it was an awesome crossing going 18-23 knots, getting us to Bimini in just under three hours.  Once we checked in with Bahamas Customs we headed back out on the water in time for some spectacular sunset photos (via drone and photographers circling us in a dinghy – my kind of modeling!).  A few brave souls ignored the recent shark sightings and jumped in the water for the best post boat show refreshment possible.  The blue underwater lights always add an allure to our catamarans, and the submersed swim/dinghy platform gave a bit of comfort when thoughts of sharks returned to the swimmers! 

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The perfect shot

We set our alarm clocks super early for the next day’s sunrise photo shoot, and were joined by the 53PC’s sail cat sisters, which we have in our charter fleet as the Moorings 4500 and Moorings 5000.  The Miami Boat Show was also the debut of our 45’ sail cat with the lounge deck, and everyone was thrilled to have that additional elevated exterior space, without losing any of the sail performance.  The 53PC became the headquarters for the photographers to shoot photos of the sail cats from all angles, and the perfectionist lead photographer had faith in our skilled captain and the maneuverability of the 53PC to get the exact shots he wanted.  Even if it meant several attempts of circling around, slowing down, speeding up, quickly moving the 53PC to not cast a shadow, and at one point, we essentially did donuts for the ideal shot.  The 53PC just purred along through all the captain demanded. 

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The community of catamarans

When chartering on our catamarans, I always appreciate how there is enough space for everyone to sit comfortably together in one area, but also plenty of different spots to sneak away for some quiet alone time when needed.  While the design of the 53PC is completely different than all of our other sail and power catamarans, having plenty of space to be together or apart was not left on the cutting room floor. 

For the afternoon photo shoot we rafted the three boats next to each other and one of our lovely sales agent/model was able to show off her impressive kiteboarding skills, while the rest of us had time to swim, snorkel, paddleboard, and take our pick of sunbed to lounge on (foredeck, aft cockpit and flybridge), depending on how much sun or shade we wanted.  As the day started to get away from us we moved the boats to the evening location, took advantage of the large cabins to change for evening photos (and check ourselves out in the full length mirrors), and our entire crew of 15 from the three boats gathered on the flybridge of the 53PC for a delicious dinner hot off the grill, and enjoyed having such a large dining table to set dishes and plates for the meal.

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Weather forces us back to reality

The weather forecast was not cooperative the next few days, so a few of us had to scramble to find another way back to Florida as the catamarans needed to stay to get some final photos once the weather improved.  Those of us that could not stay behind managed to get a flight booked with a day and a half to spare in Bimini.  Similar to when it rains on charter, we had breaks in the weather and were able to contemplate exercise, collected sea glass, and ended up in a local island bar with sand on the floor. 

I am so thankful I was one of the first to experience our award winning 53PC…I caught up on all my boat show leads, seasickness did not drag us down, my fellow models shined under the camera lens, and drone photos really capture the true models – our catamarans!

The first Moorings 534PC’s will be arriving in the BVI over the summer, and the next one available for purchase will be handed over from the factory in October of 2020. 

 

 

   

Laura Humbertson

Laura grew up in Miami and spent her early summers at sailing camp on Miami Beach and in the Florida Keys, and has been lucky to find ways to travel and be on boats frequently throughout life. Never forgetting her incredible first sailing trip around the BVI in 2004, she was thrilled to join the Moorings & Sunsail Yacht Ownership team in 2013. She is happy to answer all questions about the program and available yachts in English and Spanish.