If you live in a 3,000-square-foot townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side and are loathe to leave it behind when you cruise, you'll be eternally grateful for the 165-foot Feadship Blue Moon. She's formal where she ought to be, casual where she needs to be, and always gracious and inviting.
An experienced yachtsman commissioned Blue Moon. This is his second Feadship, having owned Mi Gaea, which was launched in 1990. She was steel and drew almost 10 feet of water, which kept her out of many harbors and anchorages in the Caribbean. Blue Moon is aluminum and draws only 8 feet, which is quite shallow for her LOA and 692 gross tonnage. (This is a volume measurement based on the classification of commercial ships; it's not her displacement.)
Designed by F. de Voogt International Ship Design, Blue Moon is pure Feadship-an altogether fine thing to be. She has a full-displacement hull stabilized by a U-shape anti-roll tank and bilge keels. This is the third Feadship to benefit from the company's research on roll motion and its effects on the passengers and crew. The builder claims an 80 percent decrease in roll when the boat is at anchor. Quite a lot of dynamic stability comes from the bilge keels when the boat is at sea, steaming along at her 16-knot cruising speed.
Like most Feadships I've seen, Blue Moon will never be known merely as last year's design. Although the shapes that define her visual character are modern, they are also simple, bold and timeless. She looks like an indestructible global cruiser, though her designers avoided the tramp steamer motif rapidly becoming a cliché in so-called expedition yachts. I see a muscular beauty in the forward thrust of her stem, which repeats itself in the parallelogram windows of the owner's suite. The break in the main deck's sheerline reduces visual bulk back aft, as do the sharply delineated deck lines above.
The superstructure grows out of the foredeck at a severe angle, which appears again atop the wheelhouse. These angles, combined with the steeper rise of the wings that flow into the antenna arch, draw mass aft, making us think of speed. The forward angles of Blue Moon's after sections reinforce the bow's thrust and prevent the back of the yacht from being chunky. To reduce clutter on deck, literally and visually, the tenders are housed in recessed areas right abaft the wheelhouse. A rigid-bottom inflatable occupies the port side, a Boesch custom wood runabout the starboard side.
We owe Donald Starkey a huge "thank you" for his contribution to Blue Moon's exterior styling and superb interior. Feadship describes the interior as "free-spirited," a phrase that means something unique to every observer and one that is difficult to interpret without the benefit of going aboard to absorb the ambience, run a hand over the varnished woodwork and test the fabric with several fingertips. Though I've not seen it in the flesh, Starkey's interpretation appears to transcend the hopelessly idiosyncratic décor and arrangements found on some custom yachts. It is only a hairbreadth away from being universally appealing. Although I can't imagine plopping my salt-encrusted being, clothed only in wet swim trunks, onto a settee in the main saloon, I'm sure the furniture fabrics in the boat-deck saloon wouldn't mind.
Starkey artfully blended colorful fabrics, satin-finished teak and walnut, bright neutral carpeting and fanciful accessories in his treatment of the interior. Some of the geometric patterns are reminiscent of traditional Chinese designs, a theme that's especially strong in the main entrance. The sole wears a cross-shape design of botticino, golden onyx and brown emperator marbles. Opposite the bottom of the stairs is a goatskin parchment cabinet that's simply too beautiful for words. Shoji screens, some electrically operated, hide various parts of the accommodations, but the bright panels and the boat's size prevent any claustrophobic feelings. As the owner requested, the view from the foyer extends the boat's entire length on the main deck. To comply with MCA firebox regulations, a massive steel sliding door set behind the passageway forward seals off the after two-thirds of the main deck from the rest of the ship.
The owner's suite entrance, forward of amidships on the main deck, includes shoji screens and a marble-paved lobby. Opening the screens on the lobby's starboard side reveals a private exercise room. Right forward of that space is a cozy study accented by a kidney-shape desk adjacent to the windows. The desk rests atop a pedestal hard against the wall and cantilevers toward the center of the room. Forward of the study is an intimate lounge area, with the main part of the stateroom to its left. The lounge area offers a curved settee, armchair and coffee table. A wardrobe and dressing area are forward of the bedroom on the port side, and the head occupies a chunk of space equal to the lounge area on the starboard side. Understated furniture and a whimsical mural behind the king-size bed could charm a person into staying indoors for the duration of the cruise.
Though the owner's suite is embracing, guests would miss a great deal of pleasure if they didn't frequent Blue Moon's playpens. A favorite is the boat-deck saloon, or lounge. This is one of the casual gathering areas. Large windows give revelers a panoramic view of any anchorage, and comfortable seating provides a place to relax with a book from the well-stocked library, watch the plasma-screen TV, listen to music or simply daydream. For crowds, the karaoke, including a video camera, will help you blackmail your friends later.
Few will be able to resist the jacuzzi on the sundeck, especially on a cool starlit night with a bottle of champagne and a true love.
The guest staterooms and crew's quarters occupy the forward two-thirds of the lowest deck. Even these "steerage" accommodations are luxurious, in the Feadship tradition. Two huge VIP suites are amidships, spanning the yacht's beam. When the owner invites more than a handful of guests aboard, these VIP suites convert to four smaller staterooms. Sliding double doors close and minimize the transmission of sound between the staterooms, each of which has a private head. The anti-roll tanks occupy a significant amount of lateral space between the guest quarters, making them slightly smaller than they could be, but Feadship provided a sauna, a steam shower and additional stowage in this lobby area. This is an insignificant compromise between roll comfort and interior volume; I'd give up living space any day in the interest of preventing roll.
Blue Moon is the largest aluminum yacht Feadship has built, and the first in the world at more than 500 gross tons to win full MCA accreditation. Her classification pedigree contains enough acronyms to baffle a government bureaucrat.
"Blue moon" means "a very long time" in the American vernacular, so the name perfectly fits this yacht. She'll last a very long time, maintain her appeal and keep her owner happy in his quest for perfection.
Contact: Feadship Holland B.V., (011) 31 23 524 70 00; fax (011) 31 23 524 86 39.