The Dettling 51 was the brainchild of Ed and Barrie Dettling, a married couple and lifelong cruisers who were residents of Denton, Maryland, when they got the idea to design a boat that could meet all of their needs. The first hull was produced in 1991, and only about a dozen of the boats were built during its production run, which ended in 2012. As it turns out, their vision for a large, safe and comfortable vessel that could be handled easily by a couple produced what is arguably one of the best cruising yachts in its class.
The Dettling’s profile and sheer are timeless and distinctive from some of the swoopy, overworked styles on the water today. Its safety appointments—right down to the 15-inch-wide sidedecks—are still leading edge and precisely what a serious cruising couple would look for in a liveaboard vessel for coastal waters.
The hull is a Ray Hunt deep-V that offers efficient performance and range from twin 420-hp Cummins diesels with V-drive transmissions. With its 14-foot, 5-inch beam and 3-foot, 5-inch draft, the boat delivers a 22-knot cruise and a top-end near 26 knots.
In the enclosed pilothouse, the helm is to starboard and surrounded with large glass panes for great visibility. Abaft the helm seat, a bench lounge seats four. There is a second, more compact command station to port that’s handy when approaching a slip on that side. Redundancy makes the vessel easy for a couple to handle, but the knockout punch is the opening skylight that lets you access a waterproof box on the roof, which contains another set of controls. Imagine how convenient this would be entering an anchorage in fog.
In the salon, headroom is 6 feet, 6 inches. Forward and down a few steps is a galley. While many boats in this size range have three staterooms, the Dettling 51 has two, for more comfort and privacy. The guest stateroom is abaft the salon and the master suite is forward with 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom, and an ensuite head.
Dettling 51s are well-designed, well-built motoryachts for experienced boaters, and they perform every bit as well as they look. They are rare, though. If you find one for sale, talk to its owners. They’ll be happy to tell you how to enjoy it as much as they did.
This article was originally published in the June 2022 issue.