The morning was cool and misty as I boarded Dream, a 170-foot Feadship motoryacht, from the dock behind Amsterdam's venerable maritime museum. The weather drove me inside, but I had stayed out as long as possible, admiring her lines.
Dream is one of those rare yachts that looks just right at first glance and only gets better the longer you look. Utterly devoid of applied ostentation, her elegance comes from the simple interplay of light and shadow. Her hull and superstructure blend seamlessly into a cohesive whole that bespeaks careful planning and skillful design.
As I walked through Dream with Paul Knox, her captain, he explained that he and the entire crew had moved up together with the owner from his previous yacht, a 135-footer. Dream would be used for both personal cruising and charter, and the team had applied the lessons learned from the earlier boat to develop the concept and details of what they wanted in the new yacht. De Voogt Naval Architects and Donald Starkey Designs worked together to create the plans.
With additional length comes additional hull depth. Dream's design takes advantage of that to create two crew and service levels forward and a split-level arrangement in the superstructure. Not only does this utilize the yacht's volume quite effectively, it also establishes subtle physical divisions between crew and navigation areas, the owner's suite, guest rooms and public spaces.
Guest accommodations are nestled in the belly of the hull amidships. The five en suite staterooms are clustered around a central foyer, where a spiral staircase and three-person-capacity elevator offer direct access to the guest decks above. The four larger staterooms are identical in layout, but the light anigre is cut and finished differently in each space. Patterns include herringbone, diamond, sunburst and inlay. The fifth stateroom is smaller, and what could easily have been a sixth stateroom is fitted out as a gymnasium.
Forward, the main crew area sits a half-deck up. Six crew cabins, all en suite and finished in ash, share this space with a crew mess and huge lounge area. The lounge seating is a large C-shape, but two L-shape tables allow guests to access the center of the seating without disturbing those already in place. It is just one of many clever details that are clearly the result of experience.
Below the main crew area is another deck that carries service rooms, dry-store lockers, and walk-in refrigerators and freezers. A dumbwaiter serves this area, carrying supplies to and from the crew area and galley above. A second dumbwaiter runs from the galley to the skylounge and top-deck bar.
Above the crew area, and thus a half-deck above the saloon level, is the owner's suite. It takes advantage of its height above the hull and the privacy afforded by the lack of side decks to offer magnificent views forward and to either side through large vertical windows. The suite includes a dressing room and a spacious head with whirlpool bath to port. The owner's study is to starboard. All the way forward is the sleeping area, which also includes a desk/vanity, settee and an entertainment center just below the panoramic arc of windows overlooking the foredeck and the sea beyond.
Abaft the owner's suite and down a half-deck is the entry foyer to starboard and the galley to port, with the central guest stair and elevator between. The galley is accessed by inside and outside doors, as well as inside and outside stairs to the crew area below and pilothouse above. It is an intelligent arrangement that creates clear and direct traffic patterns to suit many functions, while keeping working crew separated from guests.
From the foyer, guests can enter the dining room for an elegant meal surrounded by custom sculpted carpets, tasteful original paintings and a collection of Chinese porcelain and other antiques. Mirrored china cabinets divide the dining room from the saloon, and doors to port and starboard can be closed for the utmost in privacy.
A collection of loose and fixed seating is arranged around a low, square table in the saloon. Dream's beam is adequate to allow passage outboard of the seating, so those moving through the room to the open afterdeck will not disturb those seated for conversation. Open side decks allow crew to transit aft to the transom garage, passerelle or engineroom.
The teak-finished pilothouse lies above the owner's suite, stepped aft and perfectly mirroring that area's window and brow lines. The captain's stateroom and office are adjacent to the navigation area. There is no helm station on the top deck, so docking and close-quarters maneuvering are handled from wing stations at the intersection of the side decks and Portuguese bridge. A central walkway and stair provide crew access to the foredeck for anchoring and mooring chores.
Down half a deck and past the elevator and central stair is a convertible space for VIP guests. Simply closing the door to the foyer causes the entire after part of this deck to become a private area with its own en suite stateroom, lounge and afterdeck. Alternatively, the stateroom can remain private while the other spaces remain open to all guests. The lounge has a large seating area and entertainment center to port, and a game table, bar and day head to starboard. The top deck is stepped well forward so that the VIP afterdeck gets lots of sun for tanning or alfresco dining.
The top deck, also split-level, is open except for a small house that enables the elevator to serve this deck from the three guest decks below. Forward of the house are riding seats and a bar. Aft is a whirlpool spa, elevated on centerline to allow views of the horizon over the side bulwarks. The after end of the deck, at the lower level, carried teak sun lounges during my visit, but these can be removed to accommodate large parties or carry tenders too big for the stern garage.
The after third of the hull is devoted to machinery spaces. Three 163kW Caterpillar 3306B generators occupy a separate, well-insulated room to port and abaft the main engineroom. An engineer's control room is to starboard. The engineroom houses twin Caterpillar 3512B diesels, as well as the auxiliary equipment, including one very special item of gear: On centerline abaft the engines is a retractable, rotating sternthruster.
Like the insulated genset room, the sternthruster is part of Feadship's overall plan to make Dream's guests as comfortable as possible. Coming out of research performed jointly by Feadship and Holland's respected MARIN maritime research facility, the objective is to minimize noise and motion while at anchor.
The sternthruster, powered by a 150kW electric motor, is an integral part of Dream's dynamic positioning system, or DPS. The DPS, developed by Kongsberg, also includes the bowthruster and KoopNautic zero-speed stabilizers. Controlled by computer software with feedback from GPS inputs and Dream's own motion, the various pieces of equipment work together to keep the yacht from swinging side to side and rolling while at anchor, a problem that can be particularly annoying when wind and waves are coming from different directions.
The technology for DPS is an outgrowth of the offshore oil industry, where it is used to keep oil drilling rigs and smaller support vessels in position. Though in common usage there, it has not been applied to yachts until recently.
Dream's DPS was included primarily for comfort at anchor, but it can also be used without anchoring, keeping the yacht positioned for a short stop or in areas where deep water, a reef or an otherwise unsuitable bottom makes anchoring problematic. In addition, the system is handy for maneuvering, and in a pinch, the sternthruster can even be used for propulsion, moving Dream at up to four knots without help from her main engines. Imagine the surprise, of those aboard and those observing, as this big yacht begins moving from her slip or through an anchorage with no apparent preparation and in virtual silence.
We often hear that if you're going to dream, you might as well dream big. Well, in the words of Hein Velema, Feadship's director of marketing, "This yacht is very big for its length. Dream is indeed a spacious yacht, but de Voogt and Starkey, with experienced input from her owner, captain and crew, have succeeded in keeping her from overwhelming her guests.
The arrangement is highly functional for the crew yet easy for first-time guests to grasp, an essential element in a yacht intended for charter. As Dream takes her first guests aboard in the Caribbean this winter, I expect they will enjoy their time aboard as much as I did.