The U.K.-based builder delivers more than expected in 80 feet of yacht.
Here’s the scene: I walk out of a high-rise hotel in downtown Miami, the morning sun bouncing off numerous windows in the skyscrapers that line the Miami River. After taking a few steps toward the water, I see my ride, a new Pearl 80 motoryacht, its exterior glistening with not-yet-evaporated morning dew.
I think to myself, “This yacht doesn’t look 80 feet.” That’s probably due to the well-proportioned flybridge deck and house and the unbroken sheer line, not to mention the sizable salon glass and hull-side blackout windows. I step aboard, noting the minimal movement of the hull as my generous girth tests the stability of the underwater design. Hull wins.
Greeting me is Iain Smallridge, managing director for Pearl Yachts, a U.K.-based builder — Smallridge’s accent sufficiently thick to give that away. Pearl Yachts, founded in 1997, has mostly been a Euro-focused marketer of yachts from 50 to 95 feet and formally made its introduction to the U.S. market at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in late 2017.
Pearl certainly has created an eye-catching yacht with cool innovations and styling that is a bit of a departure from the norm. Entering the salon is akin to crossing the threshold of a swanky Park Avenue suite. Furnishings are low profile, so there’s visibility from stem to stern. Indirect and trace lighting and gloss finishes and mirrors illuminate the area and accentuate the grains and textures in the wood finishes and materials. The interior is designed by Kelly Hoppen MBE, of Kelly Hoppen Interiors (MBE stands for Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), and her choices — neutral palette, beautiful textures, suede and wood finishes — complement one another.
Hoppen laid out the yacht so every area is inviting and comfortable. In the salon, this Pearl 80 has an L-settee to port with a huge ottoman that can be used as a seat or with a tray as a coffee table. Interestingly, Pearl didn’t make this a dining area, as there are plenty of other places to enjoy a meal. Forward is a breakfast bar for casual dining, complete with low-back stools. Running the starboard side are cabinets and a hidden Samsung 40-inch flat TV.
Forward and up a few steps are the chic galley and the lower helm station. I say chic because when the galley cabinets, counters and appliances aren’t in use, they blend in with the overall style. When it’s time to use the galley, there’s a Miele induction flat cooktop, a Miele microwave oven, a Bosch dishwasher, four Vitrifrigo refrigerator/freezer drawers and more. With a concept that everything has its place, Pearl created custom silverware drawers with cutouts for each type of Robert Welch–designed utensils, plates, bar tools … you get it. Very cool is Pearl’s utilization of corner cabinet space. It installed a Lazy Susan-type storage device — upper and lower elongated trays that rotate and pull out for access. Finally!
The lower helm, to port just ahead of the galley, has a full complement of electronics. Pantograph doors on either side make for easy line handling and provisioning. A quaint settee and table are next to the helm, creating another gathering point. On the backrests are small cushions, held in place by wide mounted straps, so they flip back out of the way when not in use.
We run out Government Cut, hang a right for some ocean cruising and tuck in at Cape Florida for a run through Biscayne Bay. As yachting can make a man hungry, we opt to stop for a quick lunch of stone crabs at Monty’s at Miami Beach Marina.
On the exterior, this yacht has good running lines. It’s apparent that the emphasis by designer Bill Dixon of Dixon Yacht Design is on balance. An unbroken sheer carries the flow aft with a slight downturn, as the house lines blend into the flybridge deck line and curve upward, defining the aft deck with a full overhang.
From cruising the slow zones to hitting the higher rpms, the Pearl 80 keeps a steady attitude. With a pair of MAN V-12 1,800 hp diesel powerplants under the hood, the 80 sauntered along at 9.6 knots, burning 20 gph. Push the throttles to a cruise of 20 knots (1600 rpm) and the MANs burn 75 gph. Pin the sticks and the yacht reaches an eye-popping 35 knots at 2350 rpm, where fuel burn is 180 gph. We left the Miami skyline in our wake.
Up top, the flybridge is a destination unto itself. There is an upper helm tucked into the starboard corner, but other than that it’s all about comfort. Across the forward section is a padded sun lounge and an L-settee to port. It’s a perfect spot for hanging out with the captain and enjoying the sights. There’s a small teak table with a Corian inlay here and a larger one at the starboard U-shaped settee. Perfect spots for dining or sipping morning coffee.
It’s evident throughout the 80 that Pearl is not afraid to be bold with styling and layout in order to deliver an exceptional yacht. The VIP is smartly laid out, and the use of white paneling below and stateroom windows is intelligently insane. The end result speaks for itself.
To port is a wet bar with a Kenyon electric grill, a Vitrifrigo refrigerator, an ice-maker, a sink and storage. Notable is the two-person spa tub. It’s not a hot tub but smaller, with a contoured bottom with inlets on the bottom and sides. It’s more for a relaxing soak than a raucous party.
Our ride has teak hardwood flooring across the entire deck. With a pale tone, it fits in nicely with the rest of the décor. There’s a sunroof built into the hardtop, allowing for more open-air cruising.
Aft is an open deck, suitable for a few toys. I like that the Pearl 80 has a lower garage for extra gear, and an owner may want this upper area for a few extra chaise lounges. Facing aft, the view can be as dramatic as facing forward.
Pearl designed a few surprises into the lower-level accommodation area. First, the walls in the hallway are laminated white oak panels, giving the feel of Nantucket beach house. Second, the two twin-berth amidships guest staterooms have windows to the hallway, with blinds. Open them up for a fabulously open feel and allow ambient light to fill the lower level. The windows alone give more than a hint that Pearl is willing to reach out of the box. And the twin berths can be joined to create larger berths.
Additionally, the forward VIP is better appointed than some master staterooms I have seen. Pearl took the typical centerline berth and moved it catty-corner, making it a true walk-around berth. The space gained by offsetting the berth is enough for a two-person couch, which makes the VIP a destination for more than just sleeping. There’s a vanity/desk area and a walk-in closet with lights in the hanger bar — no excuse for mismatched clothing. An en suite head has a basin sink and shower stall with a seat.
With more than six feet of headroom, the full-beam master stateroom is cavernous. A center king berth is flanked by matching nightstands. A vanity to port can double as a work area. For lounging, a starboard sofa is sufficiently sized. Ambient light enters via the hull-side windows. An en suite head has a basin sink, a Tecma Silence Plus toilet, a large stall shower with a rainforest showerhead and recessed tray drainage.
For owners who choose to employ a crew, there are quarters aft with twin bunks, a head and a washer/dryer unit.
Forward on the main deck is a large lounge area. Not only are there dual sunpads but also a U-shaped settee with a foldaway teak table. Too sunny? No problem. A Bimini shade pulls up from a recessed storage channel and will cover the seating area.
Smallridge said Pearl is seeing a lot of middle-aged and younger boaters interested in this model. “The potential buyers are getting younger, in their mid-30s and 40s, and with families,” he said, adding that the Pearl 80 seeks to differentiate itself with maximum space and volume, a garage for a PWC, a hydraulic swim platform and a big master. “It has a contemporary interior design that works.”