Cheoy Lee 66 LRC
The Cheoy Lee 66 LRC benefits from a rich pedigree and smart design. She’s ready to go if you are.
Son of a son, son of a son, son of a son of a sailor,” is a chorus line in a Buffett song that could very easily apply to the Lo family, founders and owners of Cheoy Lee Shipyards since 1870. The yard was originally founded as a repair facility for steam-powered vessels in Po Tung Point in Shanghai, China. Then in 1936 the Lo family moved the business to the British colony of Hong Kong and started specializing in the production of powered cargo vessels to outrun the Japanese blockades at the outbreak of World War II. At the end of the war, Cheoy Lee Shipyards started building wooden sail and power pleasurecraft of which the majority were shipped to the United States.
By the 1960s, Cheoy Lee had phased out the production of wooden vessels and was becoming a frontrunner in the use of fiberglass construction. In 1977, Cheoy Lee Shipyards built the largest molded-fiberglass boat that had ever been built up to that time, a 130-foot motorsailer named Shango II. That same year Cheoy Lee started production of a 66-foot Long Range Cruiser (LRC). The yard commissioned naval architect Charles Wittholz to design this stalwart beast. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in naval architecture, Wittholz would continue his studies at MIT and become the understudy of John Alden. Cheoy Lee has employed numerous notable naval architects through the years to design sail and powerboats; Fexas, Alden, Luders, Hargrave, and of course Wittholz, who designed sailing vessels as well as the 66 LRC.
The boating industry would see a shift during the ’70s towards more efficient cruising boats, a result of a series of oil embargos, gas shortages, and a general malaise over the economy. Top production builders such as Hatteras, known for sturdy motoryachts and sportfish boats capable of planing speeds, even weighed in on the long-range cruiser appeal and built models ranging from 42 to 65 feet. During this era of boating history, there was an influx of efficient trawler-style cruising boats, from companies like Marine Trader and Grand Banks to name a few. American builder, Gulfstar, also built trawlers from a hull designed for a sailboat. Perhaps it’s a quirky example, but it attests to the desire to capture the market demand for more efficient cruisers.
By commissioning Wittholz to design the LRC for their brand, Cheoy Lee made the statement that they were committed to that long-range segment of the industry. Wittholz’s touches in styling and function are obvious to those who study his designs. Even his sailing and rowing dinghies show elements of his distinctive approach. The most obvious aspect of the 66 LRC is the brute appearance; a strong, sturdy profile with a sharp, steep entry and deep forefoot, capable of splitting seas like a hot knife through butter. The canoe-style stern softens the stocky profile with the sexiness of earlier-era cruisers and ships. These exterior features coupled with Cheoy Lee Shipyards’ advanced use of fiberglass and coring materials make the 66 LRC a must-see if you are in the market for a used long-distance cruiser.
Built between 1977 and 1990, even the newest of used LRCs is now 25 years old, but don’t let that deter you. The glitz and bling we see on newer boats today will be hard pressed to look as good in 25 years as a pre-owned Cheoy Lee 66 LRC does today, built with the warmth of wood and traditional materials. Updating is a cinch, if that is what you have in mind, particularly when you have a solid foundation to work with. And don’t forget the vessel’s seakeeping ability, efficiency, and livability. (The builder reintroduced an updated version in the mid 2000s, yet only a few were built.)
Interior accommodations are palatial, by the way. There are several variations of interior layout, but all are nicely arranged with cabin privacy as a focal design element. I recently spoke to Joe Collins, broker for Luke Brown Yachts in Ft. Lauderdale who is listing the 1990, MAR-Y-SOL for $545,000. “I’ve sold that boat three times and every time it comes back for sale it’s improved,” says Collins—a guy who testifies to the strength of the platform and the care it’s been given by a group of discerning owners who understand its value.
MAR-Y-SOL has a master and a VIP with en suite heads on the lower deck abaft the engines. Crew’s quarters are forward, but you should not read into this that a crew is necessary for this boat, it’s just an option. Guests would be happy in this area as well. On the main deck are the saloon, a galley, and an aft deck that rivals the balcony of any beachfront condo. Also on the main deck is the wheelhouse, fit for cruising in the worst conditions with comfort. The bridge is massive with upgraded Stidd helm seating.
There are an abundance of Web sites dealing with Cheoy Lee Shipyards and most are informative and useful. I find the Cheoy Lee story fascinating: a 145-year old family-owned and managed shipbuilder still going strong. It’s a company that’s stood the test of time by building vessels that can stand up to decades of abuse and look no worse for the wear. The 66 Cheoy Lee LRC certainly lives up to her salty heritage, and then some.
Power & Motoryacht spoke to a couple of brokers who had Cheoy Lee motoryachts listed online. Here’s what they had to say about their boats and the response in the market to them. ▶
Base Price $395,000-$545,000
Displacement 90,000 lb.
Fuel 2,700 gal.
Water 700 gal.
Power 2/320-350 hp Caterpillar and Detroits diesels
Cruising Speed 10 knots
Holding 50 gal.