We visited and discussed the parameters with the top builders in the world of yachting over several years. We traveled from New Zealand to Nova Scotia, Singapore to Siam and Canada to China. We examined every aspect of the building process with an open mind. There were no sacred cows and we began each subject with a clean sheet of paper. We found a great deal of room for improvement in virtually every area. We found archaic methods, materials and implementation. Except within certain custom building companies (less than 1% of the boat manufacturing companies) there was a great deal of room for improvement.
We found that many production boat companies routinely compromised already marginal standards of construction, purchasing and quality control. We found that some would spend an extra 15% in purchasing costs due to a weak financial position, poor planning or poor resources. At the same time some would reduce the quality level of basic foundation components, like resins, to save 5%. These choices invariably come with a cost to the customer. It may be blisters in a couple of years, stress cracking or faded, lackluster gelcoat.
We vowed to build strictly to top world standards and adhere to the strict requirements of standards organizations like ISO (International Standards Organization) and Det Norske Veritas. We determined not to use yesterday's technologies for tomorrow's products.
Utilizing our strong financial position, we negotiated from the most advantageous position to procure only top level products for use in the Marlow Explorer series. Instead of trading away advantageous pricing for credit terms, we negotiated the absolute best terms on the basis favored by the manufacturer of the product.
Kevlar was chosen for hull fabrics because it produces a hull that is many times more durable than common, old, low technology off-the-shelf fabrics. It also produces a hull that can withstand the punishment of rough seas and impact with floating objects. Kevlar is the chosen material for armor plating in the military and police forces.
No common polyester resins will be used in a Marlow Explorer. History has shown they are more prone to osmotic blistering, have lower initial strength, (by a large margin) suffer from ultraviolet degradation if exposed and have numerous other shortcomings. One of their largest shortcomings to us was the fact that in Military specifications, they are not considered to be a high enough quality adhesive to obtain a rating. The resin is, after all, the glue that holds the fabrics together. The Marlow Explorer is built with Vinylester resins and in selected areas where suitable, epoxy. Both these resins hold a favored MILSPEC rating. When we receive our resin it is checked for specifications and then stored in a climate controlled room to insure it remains at maximum specification.
We chose ATC Core-Cell for our sandwich construction when it became apparent ATC was a quality company with outstanding support and engineering. Laboratory destructive testing carried out by Sigma Laboratories provided independent data reflecting superior strength, impact absorption and numerous other benefits not available in competitive products.
Our own independent tests verified that their product was outstanding. With their impressive engineering library we arrived at a laminate schedule of remarkable ultimate strength and an impressive weight to strength ratio.
Marlow Yachts is a world leader in the exciting new technology of resin infusion. This technology literally infuses each fiber with precisely the right amount of resin while in the mold, with no room for human error in resin content. This is very important in that one drop of resin over the required amount to wet the fibers reduces the laminate strength. Our RIVAT© is simply the highest expression of this state of the art methodology. At the same time the exclusive closed molding process employed with RIVAT© (Resin Infused Vacuum Assisted Transfer) eliminates ozone depleting chemicals dispersion from the process. (See the full discussion of this process with photos).
The panel stiffness of a laminate is dependent on the cube of its thickness hence a sandwich laminate will have much greater panel stiffness and therefore less flexing than a single skin laminate. This prolongs the life of the laminate, preventing stress cracks with far better resistance to water penetration of the laminate by any method including the nemesis, osmosis.
The matched tooling built to produce the Marlow Explorer was specified to tolerance levels far lower than any normal industry standard. The tooling quality is what determines whether your new yacht's finish looks like fine porcelain, or has a lower quality exterior finish. Many manufacturers just add pieces of teak to hide these problem areas. Colored hulls are a standard option with Marlow Explorer. In fact we love them. Most manufacturers either try not to do them, charge a large premium or apologize for the poor finish when done. Look ours over with a magnifying glass. It's the best men and women can do.
This carefully matched tooling also produces parts that fit the way they were designed. We don't think you should have to hammer, pry, curse or cajole parts to fit together smoothly. Yes, it costs a bit more up front, but it pays you back with interest on each and every operation afterward. Some well known companies spend up to 1000 man hours in rework time per boat due to poor quality tooling, fixtures and methods. The math shows that a little more patience and a bit more up front investment pays big dividends. In order to make sure all the parts for these yachts fit perfectly we built a complete 65' wooden boat model, with the exterior details complete. We then assembled the components to make sure they fit perfectly. Then, and only then did we proceed to build the master set of tooling that allows such a technologically advanced yacht.
Many builders boast about the number of molds required to build their product. Our aim was a little higher. We chose to build very complex tooling that allows us to build the Marlow Explorer with a minimum number of pieces. You be the judge. Would you rather have a yacht built from three major molds like ours or one pieced together with 40-50 molds. We feel the less seams we have, the better the chances of our yachts remaining tight as a drum and leak free for decades to come.
Experience and testing show that the retention of strength of a laminate will decrease dramatically with increased panel flexing. The more one allows a panel to flex the faster its properties will decline. This applies especially to the very brittle Ortho-Polyester. Most builders today use Ortho-Polyester in combination with E-glass woven roving and chopped strand mat. From an engineering point of view this combination represents a relatively low quality and low cost laminate. Some yards using this method are yards with a high quality image and a good reputation. , we have used from the beginning, unidirectional stitched fibers such as Kevlar and other specifically engineered fabrics in combination with SAN foam sandwich construction. Through the years we have developed our laminating systems and today the minimum requirement for any part of a hull laminate is Iso-Polyester. There is no Ortho resin allowed. Our standard boats have vacuum-bagged Modified Epoxy laminate using Corecel foam as sandwich material and a hybrid roving using Kevlar/glass unidirectional as basic fibers in the laminate. There is no question that a sensible high tech laminate will be stronger, lighter and last longer thus increasing the life and second hand value of a yacht making it a good investment in safety, comfort and reliability for the owner.