Lightning 64 - Boat Review

This 64 sports the sharp entry inherent in Carolina designs for a righteous head-sea ride while blending hull shape and a modest 12-degree deadrise for straight-as-an-arrow down-sea tracking and a rock-solid ride.

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Yes, you can buy faster boats (even though this one hit 43 knots), but you'd be hard pressed to find one with better sea-keeping ability at cruising speeds. And some of us consider that to be the loftiest goal of all.

Lightning's first big boat - a 61-footer - ran so well that its designers kept every excellent attribute of the "smaller" hull and simply stretched the running surface.

This 64 sports the sharp entry inherent in Carolina designs for a righteous head-sea ride while blending hull shape and a modest 12-degree deadrise for straight-as-an-arrow down-sea tracking and a rock-solid ride.

This 64-footer smoothly reverses course in less than three boat lengths - it's every bit as nimble as most 35-footers. It rises onto plane almost unnoticeably thanks to its lightweight construction, hull design and a pair of Veem Sportfish series propellers.

While fishing, the 64 spins well using the wheel and gear/throttles - the addition of the Vetus bow thruster merely gilds the lily. The Lightning sports full controls in both the flybridge and tower, with equally impressive, unobstructed views fore and aft.

The interesting cockpit boasts modules containing an Eskimo ice dump, bait trays and a cockpit freezer, raised to more ergonomically comfortable heights. This height also creates a trough between modules and the seats, adding a touch more security for those up on that level in a heavy sea. The cockpit also features a unique offset chair stanchion that uses a custom sleeve, allowing you to switch easily from a fighting chair to a rocket launcher. The stanchion even has a built-in raw-water outlet for a cockpit washdown or to hook up to one of three portable livewells.

The engine room consists of three compartments separated by transverse bulkheads, with the forward pump room containing air-conditioning compressors, fuel tanks and transfer pumps. The aft compartment houses the noise-generating components, which are all rack-mounted for easy access. Though the main engine room lacks full standing headroom, it does offer loads of storage space and access to all sides of the engines.

In the living quarters, I love the door-mounted light switches that turn on the interior lights in the cabins and cabinets when opened and automatically shut them off when closed. Speaking of which, the owner wanted hidden push latches on all 55 drawers and 61 doors.

A chest-high double berth up front requires you to step on the lower oblique single berth to climb up. Just aft, an athwartship double to starboard effectively takes that berth out of use while under way. Nobody wants to be rolled back and forth with each wave.

The cherry veneers belowdecks all came from a single log, as did the maple wood in the salon. Lightning hand-carves all trim, fiddles and vent grilles to match. And finally, Lightning shaves marble and granite and mounts them to honeycomb bases for weight savings on the countertops. Overall, the Lightning's interior comes with all the bells and whistles you'd normally want but doesn't climb out on the ledge and jump overboard with gadgetry.

Lightning cold-molds its 64 using three layers of half-inch fir plywood in the bottom and sandwiches a one-inch layer of Divinycell between quarter-inch Meranti plywood layers in the topsides. The hull's outer skin gets a layer of Kevlar for puncture resistance, and the inner skin is made from biaxial E-glass. All bulkheads are Divinycell cored; decks are Nida-Core; and the entire interior is Tricel honeycomb.

I particularly like that the entire foredeck is nonskid. Handrails along the cabin side wrap around the front corners of the brow, providing a solid handhold in that no-man's land between the side walkway and the foredeck.

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA......64'6"
BEAM......18'2"
**DRAFT......
5'4"
WEIGHT......67,000 pounds (loaded)
POWER......T 1,652 Cat C32 diesels
DEADRISE......12 degrees at transom
FUEL......1,650 gallons
WATER......285 gallons
PRICE......On request**

Lightning Custom Yachts / Beaufort, North Carolina / 252-728-7817 / www.lightningyachts.com