Yacht Review: Cheoy Lee 104
Built to accommodate an owner’s growing family and friends, Cheoy Lee’s Global Series 104 rivals larger yachts in form and function.
By Andrew Parkinson
For a yacht owner, crossing the 100-foot threshold is a big deal. For some, it’s a graduation to the next frontier of the great life afloat. For others, it might signify the end of an era, trading in the old captain’s hat, weathered and worn, for that mythical bottomless snifter of Louis XIII Cognac. For the owner of Cheoy Lee’s first Global 104, topping the century mark was a matter of necessity: the need for a much bigger boat to accommodate his growing family.
Moving up from an 84-footer (25.6-meter) by the same builder, the owner had certain requirements. He also had a vision of what size yacht would meet those requirements, and it was larger than 104 feet (31.7 meters). He needed entertainment spaces for the entire family and guests; a main-deck master with a same-level his-and-her bathroom; a galley where the family would have space to prepare their own meals; a bridge-deck “family room” with a day head; and comfortable quarters for his crew—all components of a vessel well into the 110- to 120-foot range.
He also had a budget.
“We wanted to create something for the client that would meet his requirements and save him a lot of money at the same time,” says Panu Virtanen, vice president of Cheoy Lee Shipyards. “The big challenge was not compromising volumes in other spaces of the yacht in the process.”
I’ve spent time on various Cheoy Lee models over the years, so when an opportunity arose to take the Global 104 for a spin last summer, I thought I had a fair notion of what to expect. But as with all yachts, it’s what you don’t expect that makes each its own, and this 104-footer is no exception, especially with regard to volume and speed.
The 104—an evolution of the builder’s Bravo and Global lines—has an expanded forward area and sky lounge, as the owner wanted, but to add them and still meet his 20-knot cruise requirement, Cheoy Lee had to counter those gains in volume with weight savings.
“Cheoy Lee rose to the occasion, employing a resin-infused, vacuum-packed hull construction process [with cored fiberglass] and lightweight interiors,” says Jon Overing, naval architect for the 104 and president of Overing Yacht Designs. “To keep draft down, we also incorporated parallel hull tunnels, making her ideal for the Bahamas,” where the owner plans to cruise.
The result is an excellent seakeeping hull. On sea trial, she felt robust and sturdy, which I’ve come to expect from a Cheoy Lee platform, yet she was surprisingly quick for her size, reaching a top speed just over 26 knots courtesy of twin 1,900-horsepower Caterpillar C32 ACERTs.
For times when the engines are off and the 104 is on the hook in, say, an Exumas cove, Overing collaborated with Sylvia Bolton of Sylvia Bolton Design in devising imaginative interior spaces to achieve precisely what the owner had in mind.
“We came up with an inventive layout resulting in features generally found on yachts much larger,” Overing says. “The master and sky lounge are full beam while maintaining access to all exterior decks without having to go inside.”
Not that going inside is a bad thing. The interior is lined in walnut with colorful stonework accents. Emperor stone in the main foyer, for example, adds a vibrant contrast from the cool, cream-colored walls, while a delicate Norwegian rose marble identifies the “her” staterooms belowdecks.
Both yard and client were keen to modify the salon’s forward bulkhead. “It opened up necessary space on the outboard sides and for a long corridor, which sets off the full-beam master suite forward on the main deck,” Bolton says.
Standing in the bright and airy master, I found it hard to believe the boat was 104 feet long. The volume is even more evident with the his-and-her bathroom being on the same level, typically a characteristic of larger vessels. And remember, there are still four sizable guest staterooms belowdecks.
Closer to amidships on that same main-deck level is the country-kitchen galley, another nice surprise, equipped with oversized fridge and freezer, a dinette to seat 10 (yes, 10) guests and a 40-inch flat-screen TV.
“The family doesn’t have a chef on board,” Virtanen says. “They want to spend time together, like they would if they were ashore, and for them, that means spending time in the galley preparing meals.”
Also at the owner’s behest, the sky lounge, which he refers to as the “family room” (or as I like to call it, “my new proposed venue for next year’s Super Bowl party”), accommodates up to 15 family members and friends in oversized settees with a 75-inch TV and booming surround sound. Just aft, with the sliding glass doors open, the room becomes one with the alfresco dining space and its wet bar, grill and additional TV.
Far from this family-centric area is the crew space, which is abaft the engine room.
The captain’s cabin has a private head, while the rest of the crew gets two cabins, a shared head and a lounge. The crew area also has side-deck access to the guest areas and pilothouse. While this owner contracted the boat for personal use, charter will be an option for the next owner.
A family-oriented owner with specific requirements sought the precise yacht for his needs—a yacht that, at the time, did not exist. With Cheoy Lee’s Global 104, he realized his dream boat: safe, seaworthy, and with the layout and interior volume to compete with larger builds.
Plenty of room, it seems to me, to store all that Louis XIII.
LOA: 104ft. (31.7m)
BEAM: 22ft. (6.7m)
DRAFT: 5ft 10in. (1.81m)
DISPLACEMENT (full load): 106 tons
ENGINES: 2 x 1,900-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT
FUEL: 5,000 gal. (18,927L)
WATER: 600 gal. (2,271L)
SPEED (max): 26 knots
SPEED (cruising): 20 knots
RANGE: 2,183 nm at 10 knots
GUESTS: 10 in 5 staterooms
CREW: 5 in 3 cabins
BUILDER: Cheoy Lee
BASE PRICE: $8.9 million