There’s a fascinating story behind this latest addition to the Fleming motor yachts fleet, which goes back more than three decades. Tony Fleming originated it all. He had a background in aerospace and marine engineering, including being production manager for Grand Banks. He also had an enthusiasm for long-distance cruising.
The combination of his engineering and cruising experiences led Fleming to create the motor yachts that now bear his name. His objectives were safety, reliability, seaworthiness and ease of handling – all to be achieved regardless of cost.
In 1986, he developed his first boat – the Fleming 55 – and it obviously hit the spot. That same basic design, with refinements, is still the basis of the range today, which comprises the 55, 58, 65 and 78.
Fleming sought out the Tung Hwa boatbuilding company in Taiwan to meet his exacting standards, and a multi-decade association has ensued. The yard’s craftsmanship and attention to detail has proven beneficial to both parties, with Fleming quick to praise his builder of choice.
Tony cruises extensively himself. Including aboard his latest Fleming, the 65ft (19.8m) Venture, he has accumulated over 60,000nm of product development and quality control. He has experienced first-hand the finer aspects of what is needed to safely and enjoyably handle a boat in conditions from inland rivers to open oceans and from tropical to arctic environments. Some of his voyages have been to such extreme and remote destinations as the Aleutian Islands and a circumnavigation of Iceland. The lessons he has learned along the way are streamed directly back into the production line at Tung Hwa.
Perhaps ‘production line’ is misleading, as only 14 Flemings, on average, are built each year. The goal is to build to an exceptional standard and not to a cost or volume target. An outcome is that these cruisers cannot be judged on price alone. The Australian ‘base’ price for the 58 is $4.745 million, with extensive inclusions. As seen, with a number of further significant extras, this particular 58 represents a $5.375 million investment. To appreciate the genuine value that a Fleming represents takes an eye for engineering and practical details, plus either an experience of long-range cruising or a willingness to learn from an expert.
I was welcomed aboard the 58 by Sam Nicholas of Fleming Yachts Australia at its base on Sydney Harbour. Sam’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the boats he represents was immediately apparent. Egil Paulsen, who established FYA, owned a 55 and, with Tony Fleming aboard, took it on its maiden voyage from Southampton to Norway. Egil and Sam have also cruised extensively in Norwegian and other waters, often with Tony aboard, so there’s no shortage of real-world, hands-on experience in the company.
We simply don’t have the space to cover all the outstanding features of the 58 in detail, but it is genuinely exceptional in many areas.
The layout of the entire boat is eminently practical. Boarding is easy, either from doors in the bulwarks each side at two different levels to cater for different heights of pontoons and jetties, or across a large transom platform with removable handrails into a good-sized cockpit.
The spacious saloon is accessed via wide-opening doors that lead into a large galley that is U-shaped for convenience and security.
A few steps, large and straight, lead up past a handy toilet compartment to a wonderful wheelhouse with an exemplary, electronics-laden helm. To port there is an L-shaped settee around a table where crew or guests could comfortably keep the skipper company. Or the skipper could relax there, with a snack while on autopilot in open waters, as visibility is excellent. Additionally, the area converts to a very comfortable berth.
Doors on both sides of the wheelhouse lead out to wide and deeply protected sidedecks and the foredeck. Just inside the starboard door, a flight of stairs leads down to the three staterooms, two bathrooms and the laundry. Centre-aft of the wheelhouse is an easily traversed staircase that leads up to a huge flybridge, with extensive seating, a barbecue with other conveniences and another excellent helm position.
A key aspect of the 58 is its engineering. Back in the cockpit, a ladder gives access downward to a large engineroom with two MAN i6-800 diesels in immaculate surroundings. It’s worth an hour or two here just to appreciate the attention to detail in the engineering. The Fleming has redundant redundancies to provide back-ups to back-ups for those ‘what could possibly go so wrong?’ moments that actually can happen on long cruises away from any support.
One example is the hydraulic steering system, which has back-up power and three hydraulic pumps – ‘just in case’.
Another example of engineering thoughtfulness is the engineroom air intake, which originates under the side deck bulwarks where there’s little chance of salt contamination. But just in case, the air first flows into the large lazarette aft of the engineroom, where any salt spray that might get through would be contained. Flemings have immaculate enginerooms, partly because of this intake air filtration approach.
The two engines have totally discrete fuel and electrical systems for resilience and the 58 can still do 10 knots (18.5km/h) on one engine.
Indicative of comfort throughout are the six separate air-conditioning systems, including one for the engineroom.
The staterooms sleep six, with optional layouts available. The master stateroom can be amidships or forward. On this 58, it was full-beam amidships with an island queen berth, capacious en suite, a large walk-in robe plus side cabinetry, a settee to one side plus a vanity table or mini office opposite. The guest cabins can be to port and starboard, or with one forward and the other to port, and can have various layouts, including an island queen berth or twin singles or a single and office space.
For Australian-delivered Flemings, all the electronics are purchased locally and shipped to the factory for installation (or are locally installed where appropriate) so that Aussie servicing is readily available. Extensive documentation and manuals come with each yacht along with as much on-water tuition and familiarisation as each owner desires. After-sales support and assistance is emphasised.
There was no mistaking the feel of luxury, but it’s in no way ostentatious. There is obvious artisan care and skills in the cabinetry, which is all in selected teak and built in-situ for the ultimate in fit and longevity. Everything is intended to be easy to care for and maintain.
Details progressively become apparent as you tour the 58, such as the slide-out pantry, the separate wine fridge as part of the galley’s large fridge/freezer, the Royal Doulton china, the shaving mirror that opens to a convenient height, the heated towel racks in the bathrooms, the detailed labelling in the engineroom, the deck hardware carefully positioned to avoid toes, ankles and shins, the lift-up cleats on the boarding platform to secure a tender. Speaking of which, the centre-console, outboard-powered RIB is launched and retrieved via an articulated davit on the flybridge.
Other considered touches include the dual anchor winches, dedicated linen locker, the laundry with a stacked washer and dryer, the powered insect or block-out screens for hatches, the discretely concealed manoeuvring controls in the cockpit, and so much more.
The manoeuvring controls at all four stations (wheelhouse, bridge, cockpit and aft boat deck) are part of a fully integrated system with extensive data displays in the wheelhouse and, to a slightly lesser extent, on the flybridge. Intuitive joystick operation takes the stress out of close quarter operations, including berthing, while the solid engineering and construction deliver quiet and smooth cruising.
Fleming has the catch phrase “The Ultimate Cruising Yacht”, which seems very apt, indeed. If that is what you’re looking for and you want a benchmark to measure the other contenders, I’d suggest you give Sam a call and arrange a tour of the 58.
Length overall: 19.94m
Sleeping capacity: 6 persons
Fuel capacity: 5488 lt
Water capacity: 1211lt
Power (as tested): Twin 800hp MAN i6-800 Diesels
Price from: $4.745 million
Price as tested: $5.375 million
More information: Fleming Yachts Australia, tel 0412 864 443. Web: flemingyachts.com.au.