Marlow Mainship

In 2012, Marlow Yachts, the builder of multimillion-dollar luxury motoryachts, purchased the assets of Hunter Mainship and continued the production of Hunter sailboats in the Florida factory. In 2013, the first of a new design Mainship was introduced as the Marlow Mainship Pilot 32.

Then in 2014, the Mainship Pilot 37 was introduced at the Miami Boat Show. And, wouldn't you know that hull No. 1 was brought to Northern California by Club Nautique and is destined for the Alameda charter fleet. When my photographer for the day, Ty Mellott, and I arrived at Club Nautique's Alameda location for our sea trial, we were met by Don Durant, President of Club Nautique, and he was planning to be our host for the morning.

That is the double treat: running around San Francisco Bay on hull No. 1 of a Marlow Mainship motoryacht with Don Durant. Ty was excited as he rarely gets to ride on the boat while it's being reviewed as he is normally on the photo boat. However, in this case most of the photos had already been supplied by well-known photographer Billy Black freeing Ty up to enjoy the ride.

At The Dock

Walking to the boat the first impression is that of a down east lobster boat with a tall overhead similar to the old Mainship 34 Pilot rather than that of the Mainship 390 trawler that I was expecting. Personally, I like this style of boat and this new Mainship is very nice looking.

As the boat is sterned in to the dock at Ballena Bay, I see immediately one of many unique design touches: the hydraulic-operated folding transom. With the transom lowered, access to the cockpit is wide open and welcomes your guests aboard. On both sides of the transom door there are molded-in storage lockers large enough for lines and fenders helping to keep the decks clean while underway.

Don suggested that this area could be used to stow a small tender aboard, perhaps a couple of kayaks, or use it as a platform for swimming or diving. My idea was to put a couple of comfortable chairs on deck and enjoy a glass of port and a cigar.

The other thing I immediately noticed is the vast amount of teak. Real teak, not fake teak, covers the entire cockpit and continues into the cabin sole, forward and down a few steps to the galley sole, and then into the forward master stateroom. The bulkheads are teak, the cabinets are teak, the pilothouse sole is teak, the shower grate is teak, and the window treatments are teak.

The premium quality Marlow Explorer motoryachts are manufactured in China where the use of teak is common and they buy it by the shipload. It seems only natural that Marlow Mainship would leverage the supply of real teak and skills of the craftsmen from their sister company.

In the cockpit there are two hatches, one all the way aft that provides access to the steering gear and the stern thruster, and another just behind the saloon door that provides access to the generator, both outside mounted water tanks, and lots of storage space. The generator is housed in its own sound shield and is further isolated from the main cabin by a bulkhead. I later found out that you could hardly hear the running generator with the saloon door closed. I would expect that sleeping at the other end of the boat is quiet.

As we pass through the large sliding glass door, trimmed in teak inside and out of course, and into the saloon we find an L-shaped settee to starboard and bench seating to port with storage underneath. A removable table opens up the area when not needed for dining. Looking forward there is a built-in flat screen TV to port and under the helm seat to starboard is the strategically placed wine cooler.

The interior of the Mainship is an all-new design with a teak wainscot, large windows on both port and starboard, and two overhead opening hatches. This is very different from the previous generation of Mainship's. Headroom is a generous six and half feet and directly down the middle there is an overhead teak grab rail.

Under the saloon sole there are three hatches that open up to expose a fairly large engine room with easy access to the usual fluid checks and fills, seacocks and batteries. It appears that Marlow has put extra effort into sound insulation around our 320 horsepower Yanmar and we will see how effective it is keeping the noise and vibrations at bay once we get underway.

The layout of this boat is galley down and to port and the helm is to starboard with a double wide cushioned helm seat.

The helm is well laid out with all of the AC and DC power circuit breakers to the left, the usual system control switches in the center, and the Raymarine® touch screen multi-function display to the right. Also installed at your fingertips are the VHF radio, bow and stern thruster controls, trim tab controls, windlass and autopilot. Under the helm seat is more storage and the icemaker is located inboard with easy access from either the galley or saloon.

Everything is right there, no searching around for the right breaker or switch. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the classic teak wheel. Visibility from the helm is excellent. Large forward three-piece windscreen with narrow mullions, trimmed in teak naturally, tall side windows, and an unobstructed view aft make operating from the helm easy.

In a hatch under the helm, we find a 3000-watt pure sine wave inverter installed in a space that looks like what the designers had intended.

Down three steps into the galley, we find an efficiently designed space for the gourmet cook. Corian® countertops with a double stainless steel sink to the left, a three-burner electric cooktop to the right, a stainless steel refrigerator and freezer, icemaker, and convection microwave under. There are several drawers and cabinets for the galley essentials both overhead and under the counter. There is also an opening port to let in fresh air and a bit more light if the large forward windows and vaulted ceiling feeling are not already enough.

Forward from the galley is the master stateroom and across from the galley, on the starboard side, is the guest stateroom and day head. The guest stateroom has an L-shaped settee that converts to a double berth using the filler cushions and has storage underneath and in a hanging locker aft. An opening port lets in outside light and air if desired.

The day head is just forward and is rather large for a 37-footer. Corian countertops, mirrored medicine cabinet, stainless steel sink, and a curtain to separate the head and the shower complete the attractive head, along with another opening port.

Open a door forward and the master stateroom is gorgeous with all the teak drawers and hanging lockers at the foot of the berth, the light-colored overhead, and large overhead opening hatch. To the left is the door into the private master head that is similar in design to the guest head with Corian countertops, stainless steel sink and shower curtain to separate the head and shower. And of course there is an opening port here as well.

The opening ports on both port and starboard contribute to the light and airy feeling of this stateroom. The berth is a traditional queen size V-berth utilizing the full width of the cabin rather than an island berth design.


The Yanmar 8LV320 was introduced in early 2012 and is a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V8 that meets tier 3 standards and fits in the space of the older 315HP six cylinder 6LPA. During the test runs our boat was lightly loaded with gear, had three persons onboard, full water tanks, and 200 gallons of fuel. We could not get the engine computer to give us fuel burn rate data, so I used the factory data to calculate MPG.

Taking the vessel out of the slip is straight forward, if you drive single engine boats on a regular basis, but I do not, and with a bit of wind on the beam it took me a few minutes to get the hang of it. The boat appears to be fitted with a left hand propeller so it made our right turn out of the berth and into the fairway just that much more difficult.

Refusing to use the thruster, I back and fill a few times to get straight in the fairway. For a relatively small boat, this Mainship is quite stable and feels heavier than her 16,000-pound displacement would indicate. Maneuvering through the marina I find the vessel to track true and do not need much rudder input, like the old Mainship 350's, to keep a straight course.

After we make our way out of the marina and into anchorage eight, I ease the boat on plane and start collecting data. At a 2000 RPM slow cruise we are making 8.8 knots and you can hardly hear the engine purring down below, proving that the sound insulation is as effective as expected.

The published data from Yanmar has the fuel consumption at 2000 RPM to be 3 gallons per hour, which has us making nearly 3 miles to the gallon. At this speed, our range is nearly 750 nm with a 20 percent reserve. Perhaps with a little lower RPM and a little less SOG the MPG might improve, but I am a power boater, and three miles to the gallon is just fine for me.

Bumping the throttle up a bit to 2500 RPM, we see our speed settle in at 10.8 knots. At 70 percent throttle, 3000 RPM, we are making 14.1 knots and burning 7.5 GPH, giving us a very respectable 1.88 MPG and a range of nearly 500 miles with that same 20 percent reserve.

At wide open throttle (WOT), our speed is 20.1 knots with the Yanmar spinning 3690 RPM and yields a very respectable fuel economy of 1.4 MPG. Even at WOT we can carry on a normal conversation at the helm; kudos to the sound control designers.

From a standing start, I nail the throttle and we are on a plane and climbing past 2500 RPM in 4 seconds, and keeping the throttle wide open we are making 19 knots in less than 20. Pretty good performance for a fuel-sipping trawler! As with any new boat there are always things that do not work and we find the first system that needs attention: the trim tabs. We were not able to get them to power on and would expect that had they been working, and with judicious use, we could improve on these performance numbers.

At wide open throttle and jetting along at 20+ knots, we carve a few perfect figure eights by putting the rudder hard left for a few circles that are around 2.5 times the boat length and then hard over to the right for a few circles about the same diameter. Our Mainship heels outward like a battleship and her turns are tight and precise.

Then it is time to hunt down a few larger wakes to see how she handles the rougher stuff. There always seems to be a ferry or crew boat in the vicinity to oblige, and in short order, we find some four footer's to plow through. Taking the wakes head on we get the expected bounce, but the boat remains stable and we see that the naval architects have done a good job with spray control; not a drop of water reaches our large windscreen.

Having done everything I can to get salt water on the topsides, and being unsuccessful, it is time to slow down for some beauty shots and check out the foredeck.


Access to the foredeck is easy with wide walkarounds, high safety rail and a well-placed handrail on the hardtop. Plenty of room awaits those charged with anchoring duties or just wanting to take a seat on the cabin top and enjoy the sunshine.

Handling lines and fenders for docking duties is safe and effortless with easy access to anywhere along the side decks. Forward in the cockpit, on both sides, there are molded-in steps and well-placed grab handles to aid in access.

The Marlow Mainship 37 comes standard with the 320 HP Yanmar or as optional power you can get twin 220 HP Yanmars. Our single-engine boat also had bow and stern thrusters for easy handling around the dock.

Marlow Yachts started in 2000 and built a 300,000-square-foot state-of-the-art factory in mainland China, Norseman Shipyards, producing luxury motoryachts from 37 to 97 feet in length.

The Marlow Mainship 37 is a solid comfortable vessel that will appeal to the serious cruisers and should provide many economical cruising hours on her 320 gallons of fuel. Cruising at 2000 RPM there is nearly 100 hours between fillups.

Since 1980 Club Nautique has provided a unique pathway into the world of sailing and powerboating with instruction, a sailboat and trawler fleet, club facilities and activities, and yacht sales.

If you want to see more of the Marlow Mainship 37, contact Club Nautique at or call 510/865-4700. Drop in at either their Sausalito or Alameda office for details on chartering or purchasing one.

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