At first blush a 65-foot express boat would seem a bit on the extreme side of large for that platform. However, the new Lyman Morse 65 represents a boat built for a specific purpose – one that fits perfectly with the social layout of an express. In my late teens, I ran an express boat, taking corporate bluefish trips on a 36-footer without a deckhand. Since the helm sits just a couple of steps away from the cockpit, I could run the boat and the cockpit while still entertaining and interacting with the guests. I loved that aspect of the design because we were all on the same level and I could work the crowd, resulting in better tips for me!
Lyman Morse built Ring Leader for the same reason; it’s a corporate entertainment tool for marque Florida Caterpillar dealer Ring Power. Owner Randy Ringhaver had some very specific criteria and ideas for the boat. Designer Robert Ullberg brought a proven bottom design and styling to the project, and Lyman Morse executed the fine details and engineering masterfully throughout. The woodwork, joinery and glass are as nice as you can find anywhere.
The 65 is a fully cored boat, utilizing thermoformed Core-Cell panels on the hull sides and a double-cored hull bottom. Lyman Morse heats the core panels in an infrared oven and places them in the boat while still warm so that they form to the shape of the hull, creating “thermoformed panels.” This makes it easier when vacuum bagging, keeping wet sections of glass from moving around as the bag is pulled tightly onto the core. The cored-composite boat makes a very strong and typically lighter boat.
Equipped with twin 1,850 hp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs, the boat is fast and nimble. It lifts to plane quickly with little bow rise, and the visibility from the helm over the bow is exceptional – a rarity among express models. Most express boats position the helm fully forward against the forward bulkhead, making it hard to see over the bow, but this 65 features a raised deck at the amidships helm area, allowing excellent visibility all the way around the boat. I never felt that I may miss a buoy or a small boat because I couldn’t see it. We ran the boat in Fernandina Beach, Florida, on a blustery December day with a biting northerly that offered a meager 38-degree air temperature. As we zipped out the channel, the boat rose and fell over the waves with little effort or strain and never banged, landed hard or slapped a chine.
At 1,400 rpm, Ring Leader produces 25 knots while burning 74 gph. If you push it up to 1,600, the boat hits 30 knots while burning only 98 gph. I found the sweet spot, however, around 1,800 rpm, and it makes a crisp 35 knots and burns 112 gph at this load. If you’re in a real hurry, at the corner this boat blisters along at 43 knots, turning 2,300 rpms, but it takes 186 gph to hit the top end.
The boat turns and handles nicely and reacts to its Humphree stern tabs almost too well. In fact, I’d call them a little on the sensitive side. It seemed that small adjustments made large changes – so perhaps they can be calibrated to “soften” their response.
The boat backs and spins quite well and reacts to the rudders in reverse, so maneuvering on fish is nice, especially if you turn the wheel. Just like any boat, it really fights the rudders when turning with the throttles and not spinning the wheel.
Cockpit and Helm
The helm deck offers up a spacious and well-laid-out space, with a nice console coming off the port side that accommodates three 19-inch Hatteland monitors across the dash. Three helm chairs sit behind the console as well as an L-shaped bench seat to starboard with storage underneath. Forward of the helm console on the forward bulkhead you’ll see the entrance to the cabin along centerline, with a refrigerated drink box to port. Air-conditioning vents are located along the forward brow and provide cool air that you can feel while standing at the helm.
Lyman Morse lays out the cockpit for efficiency, with a teak sole and covering boards, as well as enclosed storage lockers located under the gunwales. You’ll find heaps of storage along the forward bulkhead, a pair of bait freezers to starboard and the engine-room entrance along centerline. The steps leading to the helm deck are to port of the engine-room access, with a drink box all the way to starboard. Over the freezers a series of storage drawers for tackle and accessories stays within easy reach for the deckhands. To top it off, Lyman Morse chose a custom Hopewell tower.
Belowdecks, the 65 offers a lesson in simple functionality. A full head with shower sits forward, while aft of the head you’ll find two staterooms spilt by a bulkhead down the center of the boat with a door in it. Both staterooms provide private access to the head and the salon/galley. The starboard stateroom sports an over/under bunk arrangement with closets, and the starboard boasts a large bunk that sits atop the cabinet that houses the washer and dryer. The galley is set to starboard and comes nicely appointed with granite countertops, teak cabinetry and hardwood flooring. Lyman Morse places the dinette along the port side and a day head along the aft bulkhead to port.
The pump and engine rooms are expertly done. Thoughtfully laid out and equipped, they are as fine as any of the well-known custom builders – actually better than some. With easy access in the pump room to refrigeration compressors, the two air-conditioning chiller units, the watermaker and the pumps that feed them, service and maintenance won’t cause any headaches. The stand-up engine room is finished as cleanly as the exterior of the boat, and Lyman Morse mounts equipment and pumps on custom brackets in a methodical, practical layout for service. Access to the front, rear and outboard of the engines is as good as you could ask for – with plenty of light to see everything you are working on.
The Lyman Morse 65 express represents a unique blending of some of the best trends in rigging and machinery layout, offering common-sense placement and serviceability housed on a good running bottom.
POWER……T 1,850 hp Cat C32s WATER 450 gallons
Lyman Morse / Thomaston, Maine / 207-354-6904 / www.lymanmorse.com