Used Boat Review: Cheoy Lee 98 Wanderlust
Longer. Beamier. Faster. Fuel efficient. Seakindly. Comfortable. These are all desirable qualities found aboard Wanderlust, a 98-foot Cheoy Lee Motoryacht that was launched as an 86-foot MY in 1988. And they were surely uppermost in the mind of the owner when he approached Tom Fexas, the designer and naval architect of record, to increase her appeal and usefulness.
If you’re considering moving up to a larger yacht, a proven vessel like Wanderlust will undoubtedly have great appeal. Any serious search begins with the reputation of the builder, and Cheoy Lee has that in spades. “Cheoy Lee has always been a forerunner in boatbuilding technology,” said Panu Virtanen, the company’s vice president of yacht sales, new construction, and brokerage. “We were one of the first yards to explore fiberglass, we were the first one to build a fiberglass yacht over 100 feet, one of the first ones to build with resin infusion—the list goes on. Over 5,100 vessels have launched since 1950.”
Cheoy Lee runs multiple shipyards with the help of fourth- and fifth-generation descendants of the company’s founders, the Lo family, which has owned Cheoy Lee for nearly 150 years. The continuity of traditions in excellence, quality, and dependability can be insightful when searching for background on a particular yacht. “B.Y. recalled that the Wanderlust extension was done here in the U.S., and was designed and supervised by Fexas,” Virtanen said, referencing B.Y. Lo, vice president, co-owner, and the most senior of the seven brothers who run Cheoy Lee. Virtanen also said that he has the capability to reach out to the factory for further information on earlier models when provided with the Hull Identification Number.
Under the watchful eye of Tom Fexas, Wanderlust’s LOA was extended from 86 feet to 92 in a 2004 refit. A pair of 825-horsepower Detroit Diesel 60 Series engines—inline-six, four-stroke diesels equipped with DDEC fly-by-wire electronic controls—were selected for increased power and improved fuel efficiency. Shafts were extended to move props farther aft, and to ensure the yacht’s proper balance and handling. Active stabilizers combine with the yacht’s 21-foot beam to increase comfort in a seaway.
The extended length not only looks good, but it also allows for several features that the previous owner prized. First, the extension of the boat deck increased room for a large RIB, a two-person PWC, and a Jacuzzi. On the main deck, additional space was dedicated to the size of the saloon, as well as the addition of a large, California-style mezzanine deck for entertaining or dining under cover. Here, too, you’ll find a ladder to the boat deck. But primary access to the flybridge, which has a custom hardtop that was added during the refit, is by way of forward-descending stairs on either side of the deckhouse.
Finally, the added length left plenty of room for a spacious, well-equipped fishing and diving cockpit, which features a large livewell with a window built into the transom, a deep fish freezer in the sole, and near-full-beam stowage with tackle drawers, a bait- prep station, and an array of rocket launchers overhead. Built-in lockers also house dedicated stowage for six compressed-air tanks, an outdoor galley with dedicated refrigerator and grill, and an extra helm—perfect for maneuvering astern into a slip or backing down to ease the strain on a fishing line.
The flybridge is separated into two areas: a forward helm and an after seating area with benches and two tables. Between is a built-in outdoor galley with fridge. The helm is wide, low, and flat on top, designed in the days when bracket-mount electronics were more popular. It would not be difficult to add a raised console for flush-mount displays. Three fore-and-aft adjustable, Pompano-style seats with movable footrests serve the helm, allowing plenty of space for the helmsman to stand or sit in comfort behind the large, stainless steel destroyer wheel.
The saloon is on the same level as the mezzanine deck. Stepping in through the wide, sliding door, you make the transition from hand-laid teak outside to designer carpet throughout the saloon. The added length of the renovated hull allows for additional side windows and great outside views. The deckhouse pushes right out to the full width of the beam, so the volume in the saloon is massive. The built-in bar with granite counters to starboard is truly sized for adults, as is the extended, L-shaped couch that runs nearly the length of the saloon along the port side, ending in a large, curved panel that masks the dayhead. Carefully matched teak paneling graces the entire saloon and built-in storage lockers, and the craftsmanship is superb—exactly what you’d expect in a Cheoy Lee. A four-person, glass-top table and chairs are forward, which might seem a bit small in a yacht with four staterooms, but there’s another dining space to consider.
The pilothouse is separated from the saloon by a solid bulkhead, but there’s an opening permitting the helmsman a quick look aft when required. That opening is equipped with screens that can close off the pilothouse for nighttime operation. The volume of the pilothouse allows for a raised, U-shaped lounge for spectators, and it’s equipped with a mechanism to lower the table in the center, creating a large berth for the off-watch during long passages.
Two large, flat areas flank the wheel on the centerline, creating usable spaces for charts, guidebooks, binoculars, and the like. Wanderlust has a full complement of Furuno electronics, an Ocean PC, ICOM VHF and SSB radios, a Robertson AP 35 Autopilot, and a Standard Horizon loud hailer. There’s plenty of room left over for the engine and thruster controls, the Detroit Diesel engine display monitors, and the camera monitor that helps keep an eye on the engine room. A sliding door to starboard offers quick access to either the flybridge or the foredeck.
The other dining area I mentioned is actually ahead of the helm and down several stairs. It’s configured as a country kitchen, with adjoining galley, and is clearly designed with comfortable entertaining in mind. Large, Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer units dominate the after part of the galley, with plenty of storage for an extended cruise. The Corian countertop is noteworthy for its beauty and size, with more than enough room for a Jenn-Air range, molded-in sink outboard, and stowage beneath. The dining area forward is notable for its striking, tiger wood flooring, as well as the custom dining table with chairs and bench seating that will easily accommodate eight people.
Four staterooms give owners plenty of flexibility when it comes to cruising with guests. The smallest is fitted with bunks, and has separate washer and dryer units on the inboard side. The VIP is closer to amidships, sharing the master’s positioning for minimal motion while at sea. The full-beam master is a spacious treasure trove of teak furniture and paneling, as well as designer fabrics. There’s excellent hanging locker and drawer stowage, and a private head.
A large yacht can bring thrills, but it can also bring headaches if attention is not paid. We all know which deities may exist in the details, but hoping for the best may not always produce the desired outcome.
“My general advice for any buyer is to create a buyer’s team of consultants by starting with a competent and real buyer broker,” said Curtis Stokes, president of Ft. Lauderdale-based Curtis Stokes & Associates, a firm that specializes in representing buyers as well as owners. “Then they should hire a competent hull surveyor and engine surveyor. For larger yachts, the buyer should also hire a separate electrical surveyor. And to complete the transaction, they should hire a competent documentation company or maritime attorney. By hiring the right buyer broker, this team falls into place and the process should be a smooth, rewarding experience.”
Older, well-cared-for yachts offer the kind of value that satisfy many owners who are prepared to buy up. Working with a competent broker helps, as does selecting a yacht from a builder you trust.
Fuel 3,800 gal.
Water 500 gal.
Power 2/825-hp Detroit Diesel Series 60