Sea Trialing the CL Yachts CLB88

The CL Yachts CLB88 combines modern looks and tech with 20-knot cruising speed and a 490-nautical-mile range.

“Looks like you’re going to thread a needle,” I remarked to our captain as he maneuvered the CL Yachts CLB88 out of a tight starboard-to space at Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The captain used the yacht’s bow and stern thrusters and popped the standard twin 1,600 hp Caterpillar C32 Acert diesels in and out of gear to ease the bow over to port. (Twin 1,900 hp C32s are available.) Clearing the stern, and squared away forward, we faced a trio of mega-yachts tied up to port and yachts lined up from bow to stern along the face dock to starboard. The scene created a narrow and indirect route out.

Inching the CLB88 along the tight corridor, sometimes with mere feet to spare on each side, and having to bump the yacht over carefully to port or starboard, our crew eventually made it to a wider portion of the channel. The collective pucker factor abated.

It was some deft maneuvering on a yacht measuring almost 89 feet in length and with a beam of 22 feet, 6 inches.

Panu Virtanen, vice president of CL Yachts, says the company’s goal with the CLB88 was to re-imagine traditional motoryacht design in ways that go beyond handling. “We conceived the interior to bring in the outside,” he says. “Teak flooring throughout continues from the aft deck, and the teak overhead in the salon combines with the large windows for maximum use of ambient light. Inside and out, you are part of the surroundings.”

The exterior and interior are by Italy-based designer Jozeph Forakis. The CLB88 is a well-proportioned, low-profile yacht with smart features. For instance, boarding is made safer and easier via a hydraulically operated, 1,500-pound-capacity swim platform. Entry to the crew and captain’s quarters, and engine room, is also near here. Stairs flanking the transom provide access to the cockpit.

The cockpit has a teak sole, alfresco dining with transom seating, and shade from overhead. Access to the bridge deck is to starboard, and a peek forward to either port or starboard reveals walkable side decks. They have bulwarks and high railings that should make transit safe to and from the bow seating and sun pad.

An electrically operated glass door to the salon reveals an interior with a teak-and-holly sole, as well as a teak overhead with recessed lighting. A day head is near the door, and directly to port is an L-shaped settee across from two chairs for cocktails and conversation. The settee faces an LCD TV that flips down from the ceiling. Forward and to starboard is a wet bar with a U-Line wine chiller, ice maker and refrigerator. The dining table expands with room for eight to 10 guests, and the superstructure’s side windows provide ocean views during meals. A “floating” stairway forward and to starboard leads to the flybridge.

Forward of the salon are the galley and dinette with seating for four. The lower helm station is to starboard and is outfitted with a pair of Garmin touchscreens, cameras, an autopilot, SiriusXM weather and a VHF radio.

Stairs from here lead to the forepeak and portside double-berth en suite guest staterooms. The amidships master and VIP staterooms, accessed from the salon, also have en suite heads. In all the accommodations, there is stowage to handle clothes for an extended cruise.

Up on the bridge deck, there’s a hardtop overhead, a centerline helm, a grill, L-shaped dining to port, and a bar to starboard with a refrigerator, ice maker and five stools. It’s an ideal spot for sundowners with friends.

The yacht is built to RINA classification with resin infusion in a combination of fiberglass and carbon fiber, reducing weight and maintaining strength. Fuel and water tanks are fiberglass and integral to the hull, creating a double-hull bottom. In total, the CLB88 has a 175,000-pound displacement. The yacht is finished with Alexseal paint.

“We follow through with all [American Boat and Yacht Council] standards and do as much purchasing such as wiring, materials, fabrics, hoses, pumps and even hose clamps in the US as possible so that all parts are easily accessible,” Virtanen says.

There is no wood in any part of the CLB88′s construction, except what’s used for the teak decking and interior decor. Craftsmanship is meticulous, with seamless curves and first-rate fit-and-finish. “If you lift up the soles, bulkheads and decorative panels, for example, you will not find any plywood there,” Virtanen says. “It’s all fiberglass.”

Given its design, size and class, the CL Yachts CLB88 is worth a look from owners ready to move to the crewed-yacht experience, or wishing to enter the charter market. The yacht is agile and stylish, with 25-knot performance and a stout build for bluewater cruising.

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Published by: Yachting Magazine