Traditional lines and a Doug Zurn design create a couples cruiser with range and comfort.
We are cruising through Newport Harbor at 5 knots in a boat built by Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, just as dozens of people do every day in the Southern California harbor. But we aren’t in one of the ubiquitous electric Duffy boats that everyone is familiar with. This “Duffy boat” could use one of those Duffy boats as a tender. We are aboard a brand-new 60-foot flybridge yacht that will have folks asking, “That’s a Duffy?”
Actually, it’s a Duffield Yacht: the Duffield 58. Yes, it’s built by Duffy, but this one isn’t going to be named Watts Up, Doc?, or Charge It! This full-on yacht isn’t electric; it’s powered by a Caterpillar 12.9 diesel that cranks out 985 hp, and thanks to the efficiency of the Doug Zurn-designed semi-displacement hull, that single diesel — hooked up to a V-drive system that allows the engine to be placed far aft — pushes the 53,000-pound yacht to 26 knots. At least it did on test day on a heaving but otherwise calm Pacific Ocean. The CAT was burning 52 gph at that speed, for an efficient 0.5 mpg.
Change in Direction
Duffy looked into a diesel-electric hybrid system for the yacht, because he really wanted to build as efficient a yacht as possible, and he found a system he really liked, but the economics of it were prohibitive. If the cost had been double that of a traditional diesel system, he told me, he probably would have pursued it, but when the final number was closer to four times, he knew he had to grudgingly abandon the hybrid system.
At that point, the question became, “One engine or two?” Intensive research revealed a single diesel that could do what the builder wanted efficiently, and it was more powerful than expected. That was a bit of a breakthrough, giving Duffy the efficiency he was looking for while actually providing a faster cruise speed than the original goal of 17 knots. At 20 knots on test day, the CAT was burning 37 gph, yielding a range of about 490 miles (with a 10 percent reserve), so cruising between ports on the West Coast — and many other coasts — is well within range. Cruisers willing to slow down to 10.6 knots will more than double the range, to about 1,060 miles.
Duffy himself is convinced, after owning a twin-engine boat for 23 years, that a single diesel is the way to go. The two engine failures he’s experienced in that time were both his fault and both avoidable, and probably would have been dodged had he paid more attention, a state of mind having one engine engenders. To be sure potential buyers get the power package they prefer, the Duffield Yachts team created tooling that allows for twin pods and twin diesels hooked to traditional shaft drives, but the single diesel is standard.
There’s a lot more to the story — a fisherman father who owned lots of boats, designing a Transpac winner, owning a traditional 56-foot Bertram for two decades, thousands of smaller electric boats, two years of work with Zurn, a fortuitous visitor to the Duffy offices, an experienced first buyer who has been endlessly helpful — and Duffy is happy to share it with anyone interested in finding out more. I’m moving on to the boat itself.
Entry to the Duffield 58 from the swim platform, which is big enough to hold a dinghy and lowers into the water for easy launch and retrieval, is up two steps and through a wide opening created by a pair of doors that swing opposite each other. It’s different than most other boats I’ve been on, which typically have doors to either side of the transom, but it creates a striking visual effect — something like the bottom of a grand staircase from a bygone era. The cockpit on our test boat is wide open, with no furniture, though that can be changed to suit any owner. An eight–rod holder rack is bolted to the flybridge deck overhang.
Through a sliding door is the main cabin, which is basically on one level, with only a single step up to the helm area. A C-shaped dinette settee around a tri-fold table is to port, while a loveseat-sized settee is opposite. Forward of the dinette is the galley. The gas stove and oven are centered in the forward countertop and cabinet, while the sink occupies the aft countertop and cabinet. A refrigerator/freezer, a trash compactor, an ice-maker, a dishwasher and storage are under the quartz countertops. There is no overhead storage, which keeps the single-level feel and 360-degree views intact. Opposite the galley is a built-in wood cabinet unit with abundant drawer storage and the housing for the high-low TV.
On the centerline sits the helm and the single captain’s chair, in the loosely named pilothouse. It’s only raised one step and it’s not separated from the rest of the living space, but we have to call it something. A companion settee to port wraps around a table, and the captain’s chair swivels to join the action there when the boat’s at anchor. The molded fiberglass dash houses twin Garmin GPSmap XSV multifunction displays on its angled face and the engine throttle and joystick — both by Twin Disc — on its base. The joystick coordinates the main engine and the bow and stern thrusters to deliver precise docking maneuvers without the need for pods. Overhead, above the windshield, are more displays and instruments, which came in handy for collecting all of our test information at a glance.
The ladder to the flybridge and the stairs to the accommodation deck are both to starboard, aft and forward of the watertight aluminum door to the sidedeck. All around the main deck is window glass — a couple of the forward ones open to bring in fresh air — so every seat in the house has a 360-degree view.
While part of our conversation centered around the fact the 58 is designed and built as a couples coastal cruiser, it’s clear Duffy and his team had guests — perhaps for weekend island hops — in mind. Three staterooms and two heads are nestled below, all accessible from a landing at the bottom of the stairs from the main level, which are to the starboard side of the helm.
Directly aft and down two more steps is the third stateroom, with a berth just big enough for two people. Two opening portholes take care of natural light and fresh air, while overhead LEDs and two reading lights provide more illumination. To port, the second stateroom features a full-size mattress, a built-in bureau with drawers and shelf storage, a hanging locker and direct access to the second head, which is also the day head.
In the bow is where the owners will find their stateroom, complete with an en suite head that has a separate shower stall, quartz countertops and a Tecma toilet. The island queen berth has a built-in nightstand to each side and is tapered slightly at the foot, to create several inches of maneuvering space. The aft portion of the mattress lifts on gas shocks to reveal storage. Two hanging lockers, four portlights (two of which open), an overhead hatch, a 36-inch TV and dimmable LED lights are some of the stateroom’s other features.
For a couple on a cruise, being able to use both heads and convert the other two staterooms to storage would promote marital harmony and limit the need to provision along the way.
The flybridge on our test boat was fully enclosed, but it can be fully or partially open thanks to the individual canvas sections, depending on the weather and the owner’s desires. Its dash includes a single Garmin MFD, a CAT display, a compass, Garmin and Optimus instrument displays, Twin Disc throttle and joystick controls, and more. The Fusion stereo system can be controlled through the Garmin displays, so the party can definitely have a soundtrack.
A companion chair sits to starboard and a built-in console to port houses a refrigerator and serves as a convenient chart table. Directly aft is an L-shaped settee with a table that includes four cupholders. A larger built-in console aft of the companion seat houses a gas grill and provides a prep and/or serving space, and there’s room underneath for a cooler or other supplies. All the way aft is a boat deck, which could be home to a dinghy and a davit, but since our test boat has a hydraulic swim platform for the dinghy, the boat deck is wide open for chairs or chaises. The ladder from the cockpit comes up here. While I had to duck under the hardtop, most people will have no problem standing up.
As we were motoring along at cruising speed, Duffy showed me his phone screen, which was running a decibel meter app. It read 64 decibels. We were going 18 knots. My speaking voice caused it to jump, and then it settled back at 64. The aft door was closed, so it would be louder with it open, but not by a lot.
Our ride all day was solid and level, even when I cranked the wheel hard over at 20 knots, thanks to the Seakeeper 9 gyro. For a cruising boat, some kind of stabilization is key for the long legs, and Seakeeper gyros are gaining ground, especially since they work at rest in addition to at speed, to eliminate up to 95 percent of roll.
Finally, the joystick, in this case a Twin Disc, is a feature new boaters will latch onto right away and experienced boaters will come to appreciate, no matter how adept they are at docking the “right” way. The Twin Disc system integrates traditional engines with bow and stern thrusters (hydraulic, since they may run for longer periods) to create a slow-speed maneuvering system that allows micro movements and sideways motion, which takes a lot of the anxiety out of docking.
The Duffield 58 could be called the Triple C: couples coastal cruiser. The builder wasn’t aiming to build an ocean crosser, wasn’t trying to accommodate the entire family (though the boat can) and wasn’t trying to design a “Euro”-style yacht. Traditional lines, a traditional interior, a technologically advanced Zurn-designed hull below the waterline, stabilization, up-to-the-moment electronics and a heritage stretching back 40 years combined to create a yacht that runs quiet, runs far, and runs level and solid.