Boat Notes | Farr 60 Pilothouse Luka

“Boat Notes” is a collaboration between Three Sheets Northwest and Swiftsure Yachts to bring you an inside look at interesting new and used boats.
The author on the helm on a blustery day on Lake Union

The author at the helm on a blustery day on Lake Union

When I stepped up onto Luka’s deck before taking the Farr 60 Pilothouse out for a sprint around Lake Union, I had the nostalgic feeling of days gone by. In a past life I delivered and sailed several boats in the 60 to 90 foot range, so I was eager to get back out and feel the power that comes from sailing a boat of this size. Fortunately, this wasn’t going to be a day of drifting around the lake searching for wind to get the boat moving.

I arrived at the docks around noon as a windless, gray Seattle morning was coming to a close. Patches of blue sky soon began to appear overhead and gusts of wind started to roil the water. By the time we dropped Luka’s dock lines and maneuvered her out of the tight marina with help from the bow thruster, it was easily blowing into the 20s. Perfect!

A push button dream

A push button dream

Prior to leaving the dock I’d stood behind Luka’s helm and surveyed the buttons and instruments located at the pedestal. Neatly labeled covers told the story of the boat’s push-button prowess and I knew from past experiences that in a big breeze, the hydraulic controls would be handy for doing the brunt of the work so we could enjoy the sail. Out on the water, our fingers got a slight workout while rolling out the mainsail and staysail to match the conditions.

When trimmed for close hauled, the nicely cut staysail had us bounding upwind and was simple to tack back and forth across the deck while beating towards the Aurora Bridge. Though the wind was shifty in both velocity and direction, we got Luka galloping along in the 8 to 9 knot range without much effort. And when the bigger gusts hit, Luka took them in stride and the helm showed little change pressure. Like with the bigger boats I’d delivered in the past, I could envision getting this 60-footer out on the ocean on one tack, ticking off 200-plus mile days with ease.

Sailing upwind in towards the Aurora Bridge

Sailing upwind towards the Aurora Bridge

From the bridge we cracked the sheets off and sprinted past Gas Works Park on a reach. With three of us aboard, the sail handling was almost effortless and I could see how one person could actually handle every job from the cockpit — which was one of Farr’s original design directives. After putting in a few jibes we decided that going upwind was more fun and headed up for a another beat into the stiff breeze. It was the kind of afternoon on the water that we didn’t want to end.

The wide, clear dodger windows were easy to see through from the helm and, coupled with the height of the pilothouse, made for a comfortable windbreak while going to weather. A captain’s chair with access to autopilot controls and the multifunction display is located down below, and I’m sure that it would make an even better place to pilot the boat from while on watch on a cold night or underway during a Pacific Northwest winter.

captain's chair

A great view is provided from the captain’s seat down below

A Classic Farr Design

Being the premier design in the Farr pilothouse range of yachts, the Farr 60 made its debut at the Southampton Boat Show in 1995 and by all accounts was quite the belle of the ball.

Built by Najad Yachts of Sweden, Luka and her sisterships were seemingly ahead of their time in design. Today, as cruising boat builders and designers continuously try to hit on the principles of comfort, performance and safety, Farr was certainly on the right track in the mid 90s with this one.

The cockpit is spacious but not overwhelmingly large

The cockpit is spacious but not overwhelmingly large like many new boats today

Though she is 60-feet, Bruce Farr wanted the cruiser to be as easy and safe to sail shorthanded by a couple as it would be fully crewed. And with performance being a staple of all Farr designs, she had to be capable of covering a significant amount of ocean miles in a variety of weather conditions. And just as with many cruising boats on the market today, she was given a generous beam that is carried well aft to create volume below and make her comfortable to liveaboard at sea or at anchor.

Living Aboard

All angles of Luka's layout

All angles of Luka’s layout

Comfort wise, what can you say about a boat that has four cabins and four heads, a large galley and salon, and a storage room replete with a workbench? Whether it’s at a dock or exploring the oceans of the word, this is an interior layout that you can liveaboard in extreme comfort. There are almost too many amenities to list so I’ll name a few of my favorites.

Seven large windows provide a ton of light for Luka's salon, a great view out.

Seven large windows provide a ton of light for Luka’s salon, and a great view.

I’ve long been a fan of pilothouse cruisers because the large windows provide enough light in the salon to completely do away with the cave like feel that many other sailboats have. Luka’s seven large pilothouse windows accomplish that and more, and with her beautifully finished African mahogany joinery, teak and holly sole and plush ultraleather sand upholstery, the interior is quite gorgeous.

A large wrap-around galley is perfect for the gourmet chef aboard

A large wrap-around galley is perfect for the gourmet chef aboard

Like many sailors, I love to entertain aboard and the salon and galley area aboard Luka is perfect for having a bunch of friends aboard for dinner and a night cap. The wrap-around galley to port is sunken down and has enough counter space to prepare many full meals for your crew or guests. A raised counter between the galley and salon area separates the spaces and a mini-fridge and clever bottle storage cabinet will make preparing drinks a snap.

Bottle storage and fridge

Bottle storage, fridge and counter space

You can also count me as one of the many sailors that dreams of having a boat with ample sail and gear storage — and a workbench would be nice, too! Luka’s forepeak has just that. Accessed from a hatch on deck or via the forward head, the forepeak has sail and gear storage to starboard and cupboards and drawers to port that will hold all the spares needed for the boat. And the long workbench to port is ideal for just about any project you’d need to complete aboard.

A very functional forepeak has storage and a work bench

A very functional forepeak has storage and a workbench

Lastly is the stately aft cabin. When I first stepped in here from the passageway to starboard it was like walking into a nice hotel room. The centerline berth is the focal point of the cabin and two large overhead hatches throw plenty of light into the space. As would be expected in a cabin of this size, lockers and storage drawers are everywhere and a small desk to port and bench seat to starboard make for nice seating while dressing or working. Forward of the desk is an ensuite head with enclosed shower stall.

An impressive owner's cabin aft

An impressive owner’s cabin aft

Ensuite head looking forward

Ensuite head looking forward

A Timeless Cruiser

While Luka is the size of boat that certainly isn’t for every sailor or budget, it’s hard to say that she’s not the epitome of what many modern cruising yacht builders are striving for. Look at nearly every production boatbuilder these days and you’ll see that their newest models are pushing into and above the 60-foot range — and from early reports, they’re selling.

Farr might not have predicted this modern trend, but with this quality pilothouse cruiser that can take you anywhere in the world in style, safety and comfort, it is truly a design that was ahead of its time.

Or as it was aptly put by Farr when the boat was unveiled, the Pilothouse 60 is “A yacht for ocean living.”


For more information on the Farr 60 Pilothouse Luka, visit

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